Reading Time: 90 Minutes
Author: Keira Marcos
Pairing: Kirk/Spock, Sarek/Amanda Grayson
Series: Tangled Destinies (check out series page for cast photos and estimate dates for future updates on the series)
Series Order: 1
Fandom: Star Trek XI (Reboot ‘Verse)
Genre: Alternate Universe, romance, pre-slash
Word Count: 22,600
Rating: PG (for adult language)
Betas: Chris King & Ladyholder
Summary: Spock convinces his father that his mother’s happiness is the most important consideration and the family moves to Earth where they meet Captain Christopher Pike and his adopted son, James Tiberius Kirk.
* * * *
He did not want any part of it and the sound of his mother crying when his father had refused to relent on the matter had left Spock bereft and so furious that his sixteen year old body could barely contain it. His parents had vehemently discussed his bonding for years and now—now it was upon him.
T’Pring. He knew her from school—knew her to be a petty, vicious creature with a placid face and a cruel mind. Suddenly, he realized he could not go through with the betrothal. He could not imagine having her be in his mind permanently. It was horrific. The healer reached out to them both, and Spock was instantly repelled. He pulled away before T’Pau could place her hand on his meld points. “No.”
T’Pring glanced him over, her eyes clear and cool. “Your Human mother has lost this fight. Do you plan to take up her mantel?”
She said ‘Human’ as if it were a vulgar word and in that moment Spock decided that he would rather die in the fires of his first Pon Farr than touch T’Pring. “I would rather burn and die than have a creature so corrupt as you in my mind.”
The insult of it was so unexpected that T’Pring blinked in complete surprise. Her gaze snapped to her parents, who were standing to her left, silently demanding the method of answering the insult and found only barely concealed shock. Her hands tightened into fists. “You? You would reject me? You are fortunate that I agreed to this situation—fortunate that I saw the logic of binding our two clans.”
“It is your clan that needed this union, not mine.” Spock took another step back from the healer and turned to his father. “I wish to leave.”
Sarek’s nostrils flared briefly but he inclined his head towards the door. “Our apologies, T’Pau, for the waste of your time. My son is clearly unprepared to undertake this joining at this time.”
* * * *
The silence in the transport wasn’t overwhelming, if anything Spock appreciated the silence for the 30 minutes it took for them to return to their home. He said nothing until the air car stopped and he cleared his throat. “I seek permission to speak my mind freely on this matter.”
Sarek huffed, the sound as close to outright laughter as Spock had ever heard from his father. “It seems that you have had no problems with speaking your mind on this day.”
“T’Pring is of little consequence. She is a petty, malicious girl who has the all the appearance of propriety but none of the dignity or discretion she outwardly projects. The casual intimacy she has with one of our classmates makes me question her ability to value the sanctity of her mind and body. I would not wish such a situation on my worst enemy.” Spock looked out the window and cleared his throat. “Do you love my mother?”
“It was logical that I marry her due to my position as Ambassador.”
“Do you love my mother?” Spock questioned again. “Am I to believe that I am a product of love or a monument to a vanity you fail to acknowledge?”
Sarek cleared his throat. “Making the choice to create a child together was a difficult. The process was a source of pain for your mother which is why we never chose to try again after you were born. We were unsuccessful twice before a viable pregnancy was achieved.” He paused. “It was done in love, Spock. Your mother… she is… everything. I found her beautiful and enchanting from our first meeting. Her laughter and joy of life is precious to me.”
The silence stretched between them and they both turned to find Amanda lingering in the front doorway of their home. Spock almost smiled at the sight of her. He wanted to smile for her, laugh the way he had when he’d been very young but it was no longer natural for him to do so. “Then why do you force her to live on a world where she is ignored on most days and barely tolerated on others? She would be far more comfortable and happy on Earth.”
“We came here for you,” Sarek admitted. “We thought you would be best served here.”
“You were mistaken,” Spock returned evenly, a slight bitterness tingeing his voice. “At least on Earth they attempt to teach their children tolerance.”
“You would not be content on Earth. It is nothing like Vulcan,” Sarek began.
“I am not content on Vulcan,” Spock said before his father continued. “I wish my mother’s happiness more than my own. I never wish to hear her cry as she did this morning when we left. I never wish to see or hear such despair in her ever again. She gives us everything of her and it is time. I believe that it is time for us both to honor that gift and see the woman we love comfortable and happy.”
Sarek focused on his wife and found she’d moved out of the entry way and onto the shaded porch she’d insisted on being built onto the house they had purchased all those years ago. A small frown played on her generous mouth and her eyes—her beautiful eyes were bright with tears yet to be shed. “I find logic in your position, Spock.”
* * * *
Two Months Later
“It will be fine mother.”
Amanda crossed her arms and frowned. “I know the hair cut…”
“No, you were right.” Spock paused. “It is important that I attempt to blend in and while this is something to get used to… I will adapt. It is a trait that I inherited from both of my parents.” He touched the short hair to which he’d begrudgingly applied a small amount of product. “I will try to fit in as much as I am able.” He glanced at her. “You need not worry that I will start fights with Humans—I realize that I could hurt them far more than I ever could my peers on Vulcan.”
Amanda smirked. “I think you did an admirable job on Stavar’s face. He’s never quite looked the same.”
Spock flushed, a slight green tint brushing across his cheek bones and the tips of his ears. “His words were illogical. I educated him.” He paused. “And he learned from his mistake.”
She laughed softly and picked up the jacket she’d bought for him. Spock had layered on two shirts and the light weight jacket would help him fight back the chill that he would live with on Earth. There were very few places he would be comfortable on her world. “Your father has yet to provide me with a satisfactory answer for our abrupt move to Earth.”
Spock took the jacket, frowning at the leather. He really had no desire to wear the flesh of an animal, unwittingly that thought made him think of the sturdy leather hiking boots he’d already put on and he sighed. “The leather…”
“It’s the best for regulating your temperature,” Amanda assured. “It’ll breathe well and it’s quite fashionable. The animal was used for food Spock, it would be illogical to waste the hide.”
Spock spared her a glance and took the jacket with a neutral expression. He pulled it on and glanced at his reflection. It was nothing like he wore when he went to school on Vulcan but a Human high school—even an upscale private one that the Humans referred to as a ‘magnet school’ wasn’t anything like his learning experience on Vulcan. Apparently, he wouldn’t even be taught by a computer. He picked up the satchel that he’d placed his PADDS in—a personal one and one used for educational purposes.
He shouldered the satchel. “When I could not bring myself to bond with T’Pring… I realized that I was just as uncomfortable on Vulcan as you were. In our home, it was easy to be content but… things were not the same once we left the privacy of the sanctuary you made for us.” He glanced at her as he fiddled with the zipper of his jacket. “Since you were only on Vulcan because you believed it best for me—it behooved me to explain that to Father.”
Amanda touched his face with careful fingers and he stilled himself against the love and pride that poured off of her. “I love you so much. I know I need not say it—but the words are important to me.”
“I…” He took a deep breath. “I love you as well, Mother. Your happiness is very important to me.” Spock leaned into her touch briefly before stepping back. “Father has decided to escort me to school this morning.”
Amanda smiled. “Yes, it should be an experience for you both. I found my tour… satisfactory.”
* * * *
It was chaos. Spock’s fingers tightened around the strap of his satchel as he followed his father into the headmaster’s office. His inclusion in the exclusive Human school had been easily achieved through the Vulcan Embassy and his mother had toured it before agreeing to Spock’s placement. Neither Spock nor his father had felt inclined to visit before the day he was to begin classes. He regretted it most intensely—as he would have much preferred the private tutors his father had first suggested to the insanity he was now in the midst of.
The headmaster had a wide open face and bright green eyes. Spock was relieved when the man did not offer his hand in greeting; at least he had bothered to learn a little about what how to treat his first Vulcan student.
“Ambassador Sarek, Spock. I am Dr. William Hill.” He motioned them both to sit. “As I’m sure Dr. Grayson explained, we have a small student population—just 195 students. Our maximum capacity is 200 and that is why it was relatively easy to fit Spock into our current school year.” Hill glanced briefly at Spock before focusing on Sarek entirely. “A little over half of our population are residents on the campus and we have a note that there may be times when Spock will board here.”
“Yes, as you know, as an Ambassador I am often required to travel. I prefer my wife to travel with me and while Spock is more than capable of taking care of himself in our home—we would prefer that he stay here during our trips off world. He is very new to Earth.”
“We actually have a pretty ideal situation for that circumstance. We have another student whose father is often off planet due to his responsibilities with Starfleet. When Captain Pike is on missions, his son boards with the school. Due to his own uniqueness, we find it best to house him alone so there is a suite of rooms in one of the dorms set aside for Mr. Kirk.”
Sarek lifted an eyebrow. “George Kirk’s son?”
“Yes, of course. Captain Pike adopted him some years ago; it was a big deal at the time but the details were rather hushed. Mr. Kirk is a brilliant young man but due to empathic gifts he received from a parent we are required to house him separately from the rest of our population. I believe that your Spock will not have a problem shielding his mind and therefore would make the ideal suite mate for Mr. Kirk.” Hill offered them a friendly smile. “Fortunately, Mr. Kirk is on campus this morning early and we can introduce you. He’s due to arrive in a few minutes. He’s agreed to get Spock settled into classes as they have an identical schedule.”
Sarek nodded abruptly and Spock relaxed. Humans, he thought, were very interesting. It appeared that Dr. Hill was doing everything within his power to make Spock feel welcome and that was a new experience. Before anyone could say anything else, there was a sharp knock on the door and Hill rose from his desk to answer it. The young Human male that entered the room was… very aesthetically pleasing. Spock flushed in disbelief even as his stomach clenched in anticipation; he could not ever remember noting someone’s physical attractiveness first.
The boy was wearing jeans and a t-shirt that stretched over broad shoulders. He had on Terran athletic shoes which Spock had agreed to buy but so far refused to wear. His face was full, not at all like the slender faces of his people and his eyes the brightest blue he had ever seen. Spock said nothing as Hill introduced them formally and was relieved when Kirk made no move to offer his hand to either of them in greeting.
Kirk’s too blue gaze settled on him and he smiled—flashing even white teeth. “I imagine this is a bit of a culture shock?”
“I have had the appropriate period of time to adjust to my new environment,” Spock responded, his gaze narrowed. “Why do you need to be sequestered from the other students to sleep? Do you not have proper shields?”
“I have limited shields when I sleep and have a difficult time achieving the right level of sleep to achieve REM. For a psi-null species, Humans are quite noisy empathically. They are worse when they are asleep.”
Spock understood this. He often had to push his own mother’s dreams away from him when he slept because of the small telepathic link that he had with her since his birth. He couldn’t imagine having to do that for two hundred plus people. “The distance helps?”
“Yeah, but only because I have a small psionic field generator that my grandmother sent me. It covers most of the suite. My grandmother insists that I will gain more control over my sleeping mind when I’m older or when I bond,” Jim flushed at that and averted his gaze. “I wasn’t bonded as a child because I’m only 1/4 Betazoid. We can talk about all of that stuff later if you want.” He looked toward Dr. Hill. “We have a half-hour before Xenolinguistics begins. I could show Spock and the Ambassador around before class begins?”
* * * *
Spock had never met a Betazoid before. He’d heard stories about them but… he hadn’t honestly believed some of things he’d heard. Surely they didn’t hold entire wedding ceremonies naked. It made no sense for everyone to be naked. Well, it hardly made any sense for anyone to be naked in public but that was beside the point. James Kirk guided them around the facility quickly and without touching either of them.
“Betazoids have black eyes.” Spock flushed when his father cleared his throat. He really hadn’t meant to say something so rude but Kirk just seemed to invite conversation.
“Yeah, my father was half-Betazoid but inherited very few of his mother’s physical traits. He was a gifted empath with a low score on telepathy. My brother Sam… he’s psi-null but he has the black eyes. Genetics are a tricky thing.” Kirk shot him a sly look. “But, then you would know.”
Spock nodded. His status as the first Vulcan/Human hybrid was hardly a secret. “I would, indeed.”
* * * *
“I met your son.”
Christopher Pike started in surprise but collected himself quickly and nodded. “How did you come about meeting Jim?”
“I have enrolled my son Spock in the Horizon Academy and Jim was our…” Sarek inclined his head. “Welcome wagon?”
Pike grinned. “I see. Well, I’m sure you had a very colorful tour of the place. He’s a brilliant kid but kind of exuberant like his biological father. Did you ever meet George?”
“No, I did not have that honor.” Sarek tucked his hands behind his back as he walked beside the Human. They were heading into a fairly large mission brief. “Spock will share quarters with James during our time off Earth. Dr. Hill believes that the situation will work well.”
Pike lifted an eyebrow. “A Betazoid and a Vulcan sharing space?”
“Spock has adequate mental shields and is a gifted telepath—gifted far beyond even some full Vulcans. He will not cause harm to your son.”
“I worry for Spock,” Pike said with a wry grin. “Jim isn’t exactly conducive to a quite night of meditation.”
“He was… spirited,” Sarek offered.
“Ever the diplomat,” Pike said with a laugh.
“May I ask how you came to adopt George Kirk’s son?”
Pike’s smile faded away abruptly. “It is a long story and a difficult one. Let’s just say, I took him because no one else wanted him at the time. I’ve never regretted it.”
“He seems bright and well-adjusted,” Sarek offered after a few moments of silence. “That is all that any parent may wish for their child.”
* * * *
Spock wasn’t quite certain that James T. Kirk was sane. His exposures to Humans were limited, of course, but this boy—this loud boy who insisted on being called Jim was like nothing and no one Spock had ever met before in his life. He was both intrigued and gravely concerned. Their first four classes had passed in a blur and he’d been very relieved to discover that his lessons had been tailored to meet his intellectual needs. It seemed that each student at the school was treated slightly different when it came to their ability to learn and process information. His teachers had proved to be eager to interact with him yet competent in their various fields.
Privately, he had thought his formal education would suffer on Earth but he was relieved to be mistaken. His every request had been granted or arranged for so far—his physics teacher had gone so far as to point him towards several seminars that he could attend in the city and promised to arrange enrollment for him. Jim had immediately offered his assistance in getting around town and to attend the seminars as well though he seemed to have no pressing interest in physics.
He had been dreading lunch—immediately prepared for Jim to abandon him in favor of established friendships but Kirk had stuck to him throughout the process of standing in line at replicators. They had gone through the menu together and he learned that Kirk had already made a sub-menu for Spock full of all of the vegetarian options available. He’d blushed as he’d explained that Dr. Hill had told him about Spock the week prior so Jim had plenty of time to think of things to make the change of schools easier.
Spock had agreed that it was a logical and thoughtful thing to do. He’d paid for both of their lunches as a ‘thank you’ – something his father had always said was unnecessary but his mother had encouraged out of simple good manners. Jim directed them to a small two-person table and settled in without a single hesitation.
“You do not …” Spock trailed off. How exactly was he supposed to ask someone if they have friends? “Do you normally sit with…” He glanced around the room. “A certain group of people?”
Jim offered him a smile, but it was a little strained. “Who should I sit with, Spock? The ‘fleet brats who all want to talk about what a big damn hero my biological dad was? Or there are the really smart kids who get pissed when I blow the grading curve—which I hope to thoroughly decimate with your help for the remainder of our time at this fine institution.” He leaned back in his chair. “There is the chess club—but they think I cheat so they won’t play with me. Then there are the normal kids—bussed in from around the city because of their potential and political reasons. To them, I’m a creepy alien they have to be nice to or they’ll get kicked out of school for being xenophobic. Then you know there are the aliens but I’m mostly Human so they don’t dig that so much. Everyone kind of sticks with their own around here and I don’t have anyone like me.”
“You have me,” Spock offered and the flushed when Jim grinned. He focused on his food momentarily and then inclined his head. “It must be difficult to make friends when the motivations of others are so clear to you.”
“You’d know that as well as I do,” Jim offered. “I don’t imagine those Vulcan kids were exactly tactful in the delivery of their opinions on your hybrid status.”
“No, tact is not achievement many Vulcans seek,” Spock concentrated on his food. “I play chess. Three dimensional chess. I believe myself a challenging player if you are interested.”
Jim smiled. “I’ve got a board in our quarters. We can check it out after classes and set up your access for the door. Then I’ll make sure you get on the right transport to go home.”
* * * *
Dinner on Vulcan had been formal and often silent. In the weeks since they’d arrived on Earth and settled in the house that his mother had picked out—that had changed. Often, there was music playing somewhere in the house and his father had relaxed ever so slightly in his dealings with both his wife and Spock. He really didn’t know what to make of his father’s behavior except to think that perhaps on Vulcan he’d forced himself to be as Vulcan as possible to make up for the fact that he’d married a Human woman and created what a great many people on Vulcan considered an abberation.
“How was school?”
“Interesting,” Spock answered and then pursed his lips. “It was different, less organized perhaps as we moved around the campus to other buildings for each class. I did not know what to expect from the teachers because—the proctors on Vulcan were never really interested in interacting with the students. I found the experience organic in comparison.”
His mother smiled and his father’s facial expression twitched just slightly. A sign that Spock had learned over the years meant neither displeasure nor happiness—but curiosity. As always, his mother anticipated her bondmate’s needs by prodding Spock. “Which do you prefer?”
“I must withhold judgment until I have had proper time to observe the differences. I do find the self-directed educational path that I was able to design for each of my classes rewarding and logical. I have requested several outside seminars on mathematics, physics, and mechanical engineering—so I will need credits transferred into my account to cover admission.” He paused. “Since Mr. Kirk offered to help me attend these and go with me, should I offer to pay his admission as well?”
Amanda paused and then shook her head. “No, if he could not attend due to financial difficulties he wouldn’t have offered. There is a fine line between gratitude and what some would consider charity. Pride is a Human failing I’m afraid.”
Spock nodded and returned his attention to his meal. His father who had yet to speak a word since sitting down at the table put down his utensils precisely and focused on him. “You spent a great deal of time with James Kirk today. Do you believe you will have a difficult time sharing quarters with him when your mother and I are off world?”
Spock considered that and after drinking from his water glass responded, “I am not quite sure he is sane but he is fascinating.”
Both of his parents stared at in silence at him for several seconds and then Amanda laughed softly. “Oh, Spock.”
“What?” He turned to her with a raised eyebrow.
“That’s almost word for word what you’re father said about me the day we met,” Amanda admitted with a soft blush and propped her chin on her hand with a grin. “I’ve not seen any pictures of him. Is he… aesthetically pleasing?”
Spock spared a glance in his father’s direction and was relieved that he seemed relaxed, even amused by the turn of the conversation. “I believe you told me when I was quite small that I should not consider physical attractiveness an important issue when choosing a friend.”
* * * *
Chris Pike slid a plate full of steak and potatoes Jim’s way as they settled at the kitchen bar to eat. “Ambassador Sarek is going on my mission next week so we met today. He mentioned meeting you.”
Jim looked up from his plate and raised an eyebrow in a fair imitation of a Vulcan. “His son is gorgeous. All pale, lean, with pretty little pointed ears and spiky black hair. His mom must have talked him into a Earth haircut ‘cause I’ve never seen a Vulcan look that stylish before.”
Pike groaned softly and sat back on the stool. “Jim.”
“Relax,” Jim winked. “I know Vulcans take intimacy and pair bonds very seriously—I wouldn’t play with someone’s heart that way. That does not change the fact that the guy is hot and really smart. He also plays chess and we’re kind of in the same boat—academically and socially. People are going to be pretty leery of making friends with a touch telepath. The teachers were cool with him though and I made sure last week that the cafeteria had enough vegetarian items for him to chose from.”
“That’s pretty nice of you since you’d never met the kid,” Pike pointed out.
“He bought me lunch to say thanks,” Jim admitted but he frowned. “I know what it’s like to come somewhere new and to have little or no help with just the little stuff that can make life really frustrating.”
Pike nodded. “So it’s your birthday next week. Sorry I won’t be here for it.”
Jim shrugged. “You know I don’t like to celebrate it. I mean—who’d want to celebrate the day their father was murdered by a Romulan?”
“I wish you wouldn’t view it like that but you’re entitled to consider your dad’s sacrifice in any way you chose,” Chris said and then tackled his steak. “There is going to be a remembrance service at Starfleet but you know that. Your mother will be there.”
“Father. He was my Father and you’re my Dad.”
Pike smiled, thoroughly pleased. “Most people don’t see a distinction between those two words.”
“Most people have never had to even think about it.” Jim responded. “Too bad school is in session or I’d beg to go on the mission.”
Pike laughed. He rarely if ever took Jim on missions but when he did the crew always enjoyed the hell out of him. “When we get back we can go to Iowa and check out the Enterprise construction. I know you’re pretty interested in that.”
“Can we take Spock with us?”
Christ inclined his head in surprise and drank from his beer. “If his parents don’t mind. His father knows me professionally and by reputation so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get permission if Spock is interested.” He paused and then pushed on. “So your mother asked to see you. Asked me to bring you to the memorial. I told her I won’t be on Earth.”
“I don’t want to see her,” Jim said, his jaw tightening. “I make her miserable. Just looking at me makes her miserable and I shouldn’t have to feel that from the woman who gave birth to me. It’s not my fault I look like his fucking ghost.”
“Language,” Pike muttered and thumped Jim in the back of the head gently. “I understand, kiddo, and my custody agreement is very clear. I don’t have to let her see you at all—so I’ll tell her no. If she calls or tries to see you while I’m gone—let me know and I’ll report her to our attorney.”
“I don’t blame her for what Frank did to me—not any more. I mean I did for a long time but I know she had no idea what he was like when she wasn’t on Earth.” Jim paused and shrugged. “I was just lucky that day—lucky that I’d put you on my emergency contact and that you were on Earth. If the hospital hadn’t called you—it would’ve been the same as all the other times he kicked the shit out of me.”
Pike didn’t bother to correct his language that time. “Let’s discuss something else—I have to talk to your mother in the morning and I’d rather not have this stew in my gut all night.”
Jim smiled. “Can I talk about how truly hot Spock is? I mean—he’s so hot I hope I have dirty dreams about him.”
Pike choked on his beer.
* * * *
Lt. Commander Winona Kirk was beautiful—she always had been but Chris Pike hadn’t been able to see her as anything more than a selfish bitch in nearly five years. The five years since he’d stood over the very still form of an eleven year old Jim Kirk while it was explained to him that his godson might have brain damage due to a “car accident”.
The bruises on the kid’s body hadn’t looked like a car accident and Chris hadn’t hesitated to call the police. Hadn’t hesitated to file emergency custody papers for his godson. Hadn’t hesitated one damn bit in sueing Winona Kirk for custody of her eleven year old son when she categorically denied the abuse and tried to return Jim to the home where he’d nearly been murdered.
Pike hadn’t had a hard time finding a lawyer that would work to defend George Kirk’s baby boy pro bono but he would have wiped out his retirement if he’d had to. He’d have filed for custody of Sam Kirk too if the kid had been around but Sam had run away the year before and hadn’t been heard from since. Pike was on every Federation database in creation as Sam’s emergency contact should he ever surface. Chris didn’t think he would—at least not under the name he was given when he was born.
“Jim doesn’t want to see you.”
Winona flinched and glared. “He’s my son, Captain. I’ve seen him twice in five years. You can’t think the court would agree with you if I pressed this matter.”
“Jim will be sixteen years old in a week, Commander. If you tried to take me to court—he’d probably file for custody of himself and just disappear. You must know I’ve been in contact with George’s mother.”
“She mentioned it,” Winona admitted. “She said that Jim had developed an empathy.”
“An empathy?” Chris laughed bitterly. “He’s a full blown telepath, Winona, with all the bells and whistles that comes with it. The healer I took him to on Betazed could hardly believe he wasn’t a full blooded Betazoid. They did DNA tests on him—that’s how much they couldn’t believe me.” He turned his chair slightly and looked out the window. “He hid it from me for a while because they figure he manifested at the onset of puberty—but he blew the last time he agreed to meet with you. All of your resentment and grief and anger at him—just poured all over him. He doesn’t deserve it. Jim has spent the last two years building himself back up—learning to deal with his gifts and getting training from a teaher at the Betazed Embassy here on Earth. I’m doing the best I can for him in that respect and he’ll probably spend the summer on Betazed getting some more in depth training if I can talk him into it.”
“How is that even possible?”
“They think it was a circumstance of his birth—exposure during the destruction of the Kelvin. The loss of his father who was half-Betazoid. They theorize that George reached out for his son and poured all of his love and psionic energy into him in the moment he died. The Betazoid are a romantic people but nothing else makes much sense. If he was touched with that much empathic emotion in the instant he was born… his brain developed away to deal with it and process it.”
“He didn’t…” Winona flushed. “I was his wife—why didn’t he reach out for me?”
“His last words were of his love for you but it was my understanding that you refused to bond with him mentally,” Pike returned evenly. “George’s mother is still quite angry over that—even more angry that she didn’t have access to her grandchildren after his death. If she had—she would’ve known Jim was gifted and could have protected him from the worst of his gifts when he first manifested. She also would’ve known your ex-husband was a monster.”
“And that’s my fault as well?” Winona demanded.
“Yes,” Chris returned plainly. “Jim doesn’t want to see you and I won’t force him. End of discussion.”
* * * *
There was a ‘substitute teacher’ for their Theoretical Mathematics class and from the onset Jim had vibrated with irritation so much so that the students around them were getting agitated as well. Spock didn’t know why the woman had Jim on edge so much but it was distracting and irritating. Concentrating on his PADD was taking a serious amount of effort on his part—so much so that he was considering elbowing Kirk fairly hard in the side.
Before he could lift his head Ms. Brandt reached out and grabbed his hand. He hissed in horrified shock but was so overwhelmed he couldn’t even breathe.
“Let him go!” Jim shouted and smacked her arm sharply. “He’s a touch telepath. You’re hurting him.”
She released him just as quickly as she’d grabbed him but the damage was done. He hadn’t been prepared to be touched and his mind was reeling in shock and revulsion. Her disdain, her hatred for aliens had bled all over him. Jim must have picked it up the moment she entered the room. In the future, Spock thought, as he lost his battle with consciousness—he would trust Kirk’s first impressions and pay attention when he pouted.
“Spock?” Jim caught his friend and they both tumbled out of their chairs under the weight of Vulcan. He fumbled his communicator out of his pocket and hit the emergency button without even thinking about it. It was a direct line to his Dad.
“Jim? Jim are you hurt?”
“Dad, fuck, hurry. It’s Spock—we’re at the school and this woman she grabbed his hand—he passed out.”
* * * *
Sarek did not run into the school building but he walked just as swiftly as Captain Pike was allowing himself. Amanda was across town but through their bond he could feel her worry. He knew she was on his way. The classroom was emptied out—Dr. Hill had told them that much and that Jim hadn’t let anyone, not even the medics, touch Spock since the incident.
James Kirk was braced against a wall at the back of the room, one arm wrapped around Spock and while his free hand flexed around the still active communicator. Sarek, who prided himself on not panicking when it came to his child, rushed forward—pushing aside the medical staff and the headmaster of the school with the kind of strength he rarely allowed himself to demonstrate.
Kirk’s eyes were glittering with fury, as dark and turbulent as the ocean during a storm. “She grabbed his hand. Just for no good reason at all—she came into the room with all of this negative emotion pouring off of her. She was mad because Dr. Hill assigned her classes today in the advanced subjects—where all the alien kids are. She touched him before I could stop her—I’m sorry.”
Sarek paused at the apology and reached out for his son. He ran his hand over the short mess of Spock’s hair and wondered yet again what his wife had been thinking. “You need not apologize for the ignorance of others. Can you hold him a little while longer? How are your shields?”
“Strong. I’d never hurt him.” Jim glanced at Pike and shifted. “I can hold him.”
Sarek sought out the meld points on his son’s face with practiced ease. He hadn’t melded with Spock in several years—out of respect for his son’s privacy and growing abilities. He relaxed and took a deep breath as he released him. “I will take him now, James. He will be well.”
Jim nodded and released Spock to his father without hesitation.
* * * *
Ambassador Sarek may be a cool customer but his wife was a volcano and completely badass. Amanda Grayson had swept into the school like a hurricane and rounded on Dr. Hill with the fury only a mother who cared was capable of. Jim envied Spock his mother—it was a thing to behold and he had a ring side seat.
“I trusted you with the safety of my son and the second day he attends your school he is attacked by a member of your staff!” Amanda shouted. She turned and glared at Ms. Brandt, her whole body trembling. “On Vulcan, I could have you charged with the sexual assault of a minor.”
Jim glared at Brandt and Pike’s mouth dropped open.
Susan Brandt shook her head in denial. “I did no such thing! I grabbed his hand because he was ignoring me.”
“He was doing his work,” Jim protested. “You never even said his name until you were seconds from grabbing him. You just wanted to hurt someone in that room and he was an easy target because he’s a touch telepath.”
“Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Brandt snapped.
“Be careful,” Pike shifted closer to where Jim was slouched in a chair. “I won’t tolerate you abusing my kid either.”
“Mr. Kirk slapped me,” Brandt returned and lifted her arm. There was a hand print across her lower arm stretching over her wrist. “I want him disciplined for it, Dr. Hill.”
Hill stared at her for a second and then laughed hysterically. “Are you insane? I’m not going to discipline a Starfleet Captain’s son for protecting a fellow student from an assault. Had he not forced you to let go of Spock there is no telling what kind of damage you might have done to him.”
Jim stared at his the headmaster for a few seconds and then got up. He went to the replicator and ordered the man some tea. It appeared and he carried it over to the desk. “Here, Dr. Hill. This will help you calm down. It does you no good to get this worked up—not with your heart condition.” He spared Amanda Grayson and his Dad a look as he pulled open a drawer and rummaged out a hypo. “Here take your blood pressure medicine, I think you missed a dose.”
Hill nodded numbly and checked the hypo. “Yes, I did. How did you…” He trailed off and shook his head. “I thought you agreed you wouldn’t go rummaging around my brain, Mr. Kirk.”
Jim offered him a warm smile. “Only in emergencies and trust me—you don’t laugh at all. You have no sense of humor. This is an emergency.”
Amanda waited until the hypo had been administered and cleared her throat. “This woman will be fired and I will discuss with my husband as to whether or not we’ll pursue criminal charges. Your entire staff will be educated on how they may physically interact with Vulcans and other alien species with empathic or telepathic abilities. Since very few on this planet are qualified to teach such a class—I will do it myself. You will notify me within the next three days on when this can be accomplished. Spock will not stay on this campus over night until I’m assured you all understand his boundaries. Am I understood?”
“Yes, Dr. Grayson, you are understood.”
* * * *
The Ambassador’s home was nice but not as homey as the one he shared with Pike. Still, Jim thought it was pretty cool with all of the Vulcan stuff in it. One of the Ambassador’s assistants had lead him and Pike to a small sitting room and offered them refreshments before departing at their negative reply.
Only a few minutes passed before Sarek himself came into the room followed closely by Dr. Grayson. Jim lifted Spock’s satchel off his shoulder and cleared his throat. “I thought he might want his things. His personal PADD is in here and I… well that’s personal stuff.”
Amanda took the satchel with a smile. “Thank you, Jim. I appreciate you doing this.”
“I went around to his professors and got his assignments for today and tomorrow in case he can’t make it in,” Jim paused. “Unless you plan to take him out of Horizon and then I guess it won’t matter.”
“No, he wishes to return,” Amanda touched his face with gentle fingers like she often did her own son. “Thank you for your help today—he would’ve suffered more so if you hadn’t been there.”
Jim blushed and Pike laughed softly. “It’s you know… no one should be allowed to do something like that. She was a new substitute teacher—I usually report the bad ones that get past the hiring board to Dr. Hill as soon as I meet them. I can’t believe that she passed a mental evaluation with that level of xenophobia.”
Amanda frowned. “You scan the people around you all the time, Jim?”
“I don’t know if it’s because of my gifts or because of my experiences but I really don’t have much of a choice. I have to know where the threats are. It’s a compulsion that I’ve worked on in training to correct. My teacher doesn’t think I’ll ever be to fully control the urge to do it. I really didn’t think she’d get physical. It was so weird, really, because Spock is sort of famous—because of his Dad and you know…”
“The first hybrid,” Amanda murmured. “It’s always been a burden for him but I can’t regret giving him life.”
Jim grinned then. “Nah, I can’t see how you could. He’s great.”
Amanda bit down on her lower lip, completely taken with Jim’s smile. “Spock’s room is on the third level, second door to the left.” She passed him back the satchel. “Perhaps he’d like to get this back from you personally.”
“Cool. I won’t stay long.”
Sarek cleared his throat as Jim closed the door behind him. “Well?”
Amanda shot her husband a knowing look. “He’s very aesthetically pleasing.” She looked toward Pike. “Why does he have to look for threats?”
Pike sighed and ran his fingers through his hair in a rare show of frustration. “The first eleven years of his life were very difficult. I adopted him after his stepfather nearly beat him to death. It’s not something I like to talk about and he’d prefer it be discussed as little as humanly possible. I nearly caused a diplomatic incident to get custody of that kid—fought his mother and eventually the Betazed government in two different trials. I do everything in my power to make him feel safe.”
“It’s all that you can do,” Amanda murmured. “His mother?”
“Isn’t allowed to come near him without my permission.”
* * * *
“So, then your Dad comes in and shoves people aside like they are weightless.” Jim grinned at Spock’s eyebrow of incredulity. “I couldn’t make that up, man. Then my Dad takes me to the headmaster’s office and your mother comes in like a force of nature and yells at practically everyone but me.”
“My mother does not yell,” Spock responded with a small frown drifting over his mouth.
“Oh yes she does,” Jim countered. “And with a great deal of skill and coherency. Some people—when they get that mad they don’t even make sense. Your mom could shout down a Klingon. It was fantastic.”
Spock inclined his head. “It takes a strong personality to bond with a Vulcan.”
Jim turned his head from his place on Spock’s bed and grinned. “I bet.” He sat up abruptly. “I should go. I promised I wouldn’t stay long and you need to meditate all of that woman’s crap out of your head.”
“My father took care of it,” Spock admitted at a near whisper. “She is an unpleasant woman, Jim.”
“Your mom got her fired,” Jim offered.
* * * *
“So apparently you’re very aesthetically pleasing,” Chris explained as Jim got settled in the passenger seat of the air car.
Jim laughed. “That’s Vulcan for gorgeous.”
Chris rolled his eyes. “Your ego has never been a concern for me.” They eased out into traffic easily. “How was Spock?”
“He looked tired,” Jim admitted. “I mean, you know—like if I’d stayed up for three days straight playing video games or something.”
“How about you? Are you tired? You used your own shields to protect him until his father got there, right?” Chris glanced his way and wasn’t surprised to see his son blushing. “Jim?”
“Yeah, I mean—Vulcans are touch telepaths but Spock has a strong telepathic gift. I think he gets a small bleed off of me and people who get close to him. I could feel his shields shatter. It was horrible. No one has touched him like that in years—not even his mother has held his hand since he was very small. That is the most sensitive part of a Vulcan when it comes to their telepathy.”
“So the sexual assault thing?”
“Well, let’s put it this way,” Jim started with a small smile. “If Spock ever lets me hold his hand—I’ll consider that second base.”
Pike sighed and shook his head. “James.”
Jim laughed briefly and then sobered. “I… hit a woman today. You told me to never do that. I’m sorry.”
“She had it coming,” Pike muttered. “And you have nothing to feel guilty about.” He paused and the continued. “I was surprised that Dr. Grayson didn’t just punch her in the face.”
“I was waiting for it,” Jim confided. “Because she definitely wanted to.”
* * * *
Spock watched Jim through the multilayered glass chess board thoughtfully. The Human’s playing style was chaotic and frustrating if he were going to be at all honest about it. They’d gotten lunch about half way through the game. Jim had shown up at his house when school had been canceled for an “in service” day. Jim had explained that Spock’s mother was up at the academy teaching “How Not To Be An Asshat and Make Alien Friends 101”. Spock desperately wanted to forget the definition of ‘asshat’ and he silently cursed his eidetic memory.
“So why did you decide not to press charges against Ms. Brandt?” Jim questioned. “I mean—I can’t see your parents deciding against it so it had to be you.”
“I did not wish to be involved in a criminal process over such a private matter,” Spock admitted. “It would have required explaining how sensitive my hands are and what that means… and why it is considered sexual in some situations. The process would have been more of a violation than what she did.”
“Well, she got fired and she’ll probably lose her license to teach,” Jim said as he munched on a sandwich. “It’s not a jail cell which she totally deserves but at least she won’t be in a position to teach kids anymore.”
“That is more than satisfactory to me,” Spock admitted and made his next move. “My mother did not tell me what she was doing today.”
“Were you in here being all Vulcany when she left?”
“My father insisted I spend the morning in meditation and he helped me achieve that state before he left for work,” Spock admitted. “It was… relieving to have him with me. I have never lost my shielding in such a way before.”
“I haven’t since I was taught how to really build one. I hid my manifestation for a while and tried to train myself. It was a bad idea. I just didn’t want one more thing to set me apart from everyone else.”
“May I ask a personal question?”
“Sure,” Jim shrugged. “I had my mind wrapped around yours yesterday so I guess we’re kind of like impossibly close now. Sorry in advance if you get twitchy with me. I’m pretty sure it will fade if there were any side effects.”
“My father said you were very gifted and your shielding was adequate to the task,” Spock explained. “As to the question, your mother is alive and you do not live with her. May I know why?”
Jim picked up one of the pawns he’d already pulled from the board and rolled it in his fingers. “You know about my Dad right?”
“Yes, of course. My father was on the Kelvin that day—it took several days for my mother to find out if he was one of the survivors,” Spock admitted. “I was six standard months old.”
“Right. Wow, I didn’t know he was on board. Okay, my mom never really recovered from that—giving birth in an evacuation, listening to my father sacrifice himself so that his crew could live. It doesn’t help that I look like a clone of him—it’s ridiculous how much I look like him.” Jim frowned. “I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of him.”
Spock nodded. “Yes, you resemble one another superficially.”
“At any rate, mom couldn’t handle being at home with me and my brother Sam so she marries this sorry bastard named Frank who just wanted my Dad’s land in Iowa. Dad had inherited land from his father’s side of the family. A lot of land. I sold it to Starfleet a few years back and put the money in a trust fund for education and stuff. I didn’t want my Dad to sacrifice his pension to raise me.”
“That is commendable,” Spock reasoned. “And logical.”
“High praise,” Jim murmured and then leaned forward to make his next move. “Check in four.”
Spock’s gaze swept over the board, but he managed to keep his frown to himself. “So Frank was…”
“Horrible. Really horrible,” Jim cleared his throat. “My father had this old car—the kind with wheels, a real antique. Apparently George Kirk really liked old cars. Frank decided he was going to sell it. I was eleven.”
“It was not his to sell.”
“No, but my mother was off-planet and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to stop him legally from selling the car.” Jim smirked. “So I stole it and drove it off a cliff.”
Spock’s eyes widened in alarm. “Jim.”
“I know—it wasn’t the brightest idea ever but it ruined Frank’s plans to sell my father’s car.” Jim sighed. “He refused to press charges and they let me go home with him.”
“He hurt you?”
“He beat me up so badly he got scared and called for medical services. He said I’d been in a car accident. It wasn’t the first time I’d been so clumsy. The year my mother went to Vega IV I fell out of the barn loft and broke my arm.” Jim frowned. “At any rate, unbeknownest to dear Frank I’d fixed my records so when I was admitted to the hospital it notified my mother off planet immediately and my godfather, Christopher Pike. He came to Iowa immediately—took one look at me and called the authorities.”
“My mother didn’t even call and didn’t even try to come home until Chris Pike filed emergency custody papers to keep me from being sent home with Frank. Then she came back to Earth and took Frank’s side. She told them I was a liar and all of that jazz. So, the lawyer Chris hired found all of my medical records and presented them in court.” Jim shrugged. “Chris got custody and now my mother only has to pretend to want to see me on the anniversary of my father’s death.”
“I am very sorry, Jim.”
“As your father would say—you need not apologize for the ignorance of others.” Jim made his next move and shrugged. “Dad is the best thing that could’ve happened to me—I just wish it could’ve happened before Sam ran away. We tried to find him but it was no use. Frank was twice as twisted with Sam until he just couldn’t take it anymore and he ran. He would give Sam a choice of taking a beating or letting me get beat in his place.”
“Is this man in jail?”
“Yeah, for several more years at least. He got ten for criminal child abuse but since he called for medical help they couldn’t charge him with attempted murder. He obviously had no intentions of outright killing me.” Jim shrugged. “Starfleet turned the land into a big ship yard—they are building the new Enterprise there. Dad said he’d take me after his mission, did you want to come along?”
“He would not mind?”
“Nah, he said it was cool if your parents agreed.”
Spock nodded and came to the uncomfortable realization that he really was going to lose the game. It was unexpected. “It is no wonder the chess club at school thinks you cheat—you play phenomenally well.”
“They just suck at it,” Jim offered with a grin. “So you’ll ask your parents? It’ll be on a Saturday—so we’d stay overnight and then come back on Monday.”
“I will,” Spock assured. “Vulcans do not celebrate birthdays but my mother has always prepared me a special meal on the date of my birthday. I am aware that your birthday is next week.”
“Everyone is aware that my birthday is next week,” Jim responded dryly. “I don’t celebrate it.”
“I can not imagine how you would ever want to,” Spock agreed. “That being said—since our fathers will be on a mission—I thought perhaps you could come have dinner here. I know you will not want to eat at the school cafeteria for the evening meal. The students will be less supervised and more likely to bother you about the events surrounding your father’s sacrifice.”
Jim grinned. “Did you just offer to make me a birthday dinner, Spock?”
“No, I had assumed I would ask my mother to program the meal.” Spock blushed slightly and stared hard at the chess board. “She has decided to stay here due to my problem from Monday.”
“It sounds great and you’re right—the kids at school always get extra nosy on my birthday.”
* * * *
Jim really didn’t hate his birthday but he hadn’t appreciated celebrating it since Frank had told him about his father and the Kelvin. He wondered if his mother even knew Frank was the one who’d told him. Jim had been talking about his birthday party and wanting a cake—his fifth birthday. Frank had called him a ‘sick little fuck’ for wanting to celebrate the day his Daddy died.
The Kelvin Memorial was gated and part of Starfleet Academy but there was a security guard waiting at the big gates to let Jim in. He’d been coming in the early morning hours of his birthday since Pike had brought him to San Francisco. The first time—he’d tried to climb the fence and security had come running. One look at his face, however, had told them all exactly who he was and they’d let him in without a word.
The memorial was tempered glass and beautifully constructed. Each crew member lost on the Kelvin had a holographic picture embedded in the glass in a latinum frame. Jim sat down on the ground in front of his father’s picture and sighed. “So, things are good with Pike. Even when I do fucked up things he doesn’t lose it on me like Frank did. He loves me like I’m his kid—like he fathered me which I think you would appreciate since you can’t be here to do that. He does good work with Starfleet and received a commendation a few months back for bravery. I know you know how brave and honest he is—he wouldn’t have been your best friend if he weren’t pretty damn great in his own right.”
Jim shifted on his back and let his hand fall to his stomach as he sighed. “There is a new kid at school—his name is Spock. He’s a hybrid, half Vulcan. His Dad is iced and is the Vulcan Ambassador for Earth. His mom is beautiful and warm and kind. I like her a lot but also I kind of resent her for being so amazing which makes me feel like a complete and total asshole. She made peanut butter cookies—like on her own without the replicator. It was bizarre but they tasted awesome. She sent me home with a dozen for Dad and he was just as stunned as I was when I told him she actually baked them in an oven. We don’t even have an oven in our house. I think there used to be one but Chris replaced it with a replicator/recycle unit before I came to live with him.”
Jim let his hand drift up the glass and the tips of his fingers curled around the edge of the frame that held his father’s hologram. “Sixteen years. Last year I was pretty pissy with you so I’m sorry about that but mom had left a message on my personal comm at the house and seeing her brought up all this anger. Coming over here to vent on you wasn’t all that cool but I couldn’t spew on Chris, he doesn’t deserve it.” He offered his father’s picture a sly grin. “And you took it like a Kirk—right on the chin.”
He let his hand slide down the glass and rest on the cool concrete he was sprawled on. “I like Spock a lot. I’ve only known him for a week but he’s brilliant and vivid—like a star. Don’t get me wrong—he’s physically hot as hell. I noticed that right up front but he’s also smart and strong. His control over his mental gifts is probably the most attractive thing I’ve ever encountered in my life. I feel safe when I’m with him and that’s pretty rare. Obviously, I should’ve started hanging out at the Vulcan Embassy when my telepathy manifested. His Dad is really comfortable to be around—it’s like he has this big mental shield that he envelopes his entire family in and when I’m there he includes me in it. Spock says it’s a ‘family imperative’ that is natural to Vulcans and he was surprised when I felt it but wasn’t repelled by it. It’s pretty cool that his Dad trusts me.”
Jim sat up and sighed. “Well, it’s almost time for school and they’re going to open this place up to the bloody tourists any minute.” He rolled to his feet and touched his George Kirk’s face. The image blurred and shifted where his fingers touched. “I have a good life. Thank you for giving me the chance to live it. I won’t ever let someone say you did it in vain.”
He shouldered his back pack and headed towards the gate. There was a large crowd already gathered and he winced at the news cameras. Thankfully a security guard started his way. “Hey, Tom.”
“Hey, kiddo, they caught us by surprise. The front gates of the academy opened early because of the…” Tom trailed off and sighed. “We’ll take you out the side entrance.”
* * * *
Chris Pike’s hand tightened into a fist as the news-vid footage of Jim at George Kirk’s memorial. It was just maybe a minute of video. Jim reaching out to touch the holograph and saying something. Thankfully, there was no audio but the damage was done as far as Pike was concerned. It was a clusterfuck but some people in Starfleet were viewing it as a sweet piece of PR and he wanted to chew someone a new asshole.
Unfortunately, he was hell and gone from Earth and wouldn’t be there for a week or more. His call into headquarters hadn’t been returned and the officers he’d ordered to locate Jim hadn’t reported since they’d failed to locate him at school. The door chimes rang on his private office and he swallowed back a fair amount of temper. “Enter.”
Ambassador Sarek glided into the room. “I wished to inform you that my Amanda has confiscated your son from the academy where the entire school was apparently under siege. She has taken him and Spock to the Vulcan Embassy where Human reporters know better than to go uninvited.”
Pike chuckled and relaxed. “That’s good to know. I had a team searching for him but he wasn’t at the school and the headmaster refused to answer their questions concerning his whereabouts.” He frowned. “Did you see the footage?”
Sarek shook her head. “Amanda did not forward me anything beyond a brief message with her location and what she had already done to harbor James.”
Chris restarted the video he’d received from Admiral Archer without a word and shifted the screen so the Vulcan could see it. The distaste that filtered across Sarek’s face was so obvious that Pike blinked in surprise. “Security reported he was there for almost a half-hour so we’re fortunate they only got this small bit of footage.”
“It is poor taste to intrude on such a private and emotional moment,” Sarek said finally. “He does very well not to let the grief over his father’s death plague him regularly though it is obvious he carries a burden for it.” The Vulcan walked away from the desk and went to stand beside the window. The warp field provided a brilliant light show but Sarek didn’t spare it a glance. “It is not so different than the burden that everyone who survived the Kelvin carries—to live on when that brilliant, young, and courageous man died for us. Died for his child.”
“A father could do less,” Pike said and lifted an eyebrow in a fair imitation of the man he hoped to become friends with when Sarek looked his way.
“I agree,” Sarek nodded. “I will work hard when we arrive on Beta Corius III to conclude negotiations quickly so we may return to our families quickly.” He paused and glanced around the office. “It is good that Amanda stayed on Earth to monitor Spock’s recovery so she was there to shelter young James from this distasteful attention.”
“It certainly makes me feel better.”
* * * *
“Has he said anything to you?”
Spock shook his head. “Not since he arrived at the school—he was late for our first class but the professor did not question him. I was unaware that the school campus was full of reporters until you arrived to retrieve us.” He clasped his hands behind his back. “Why would they intrude on such a private thing, Mother?”
Amanda paused and took a deep breath. “You’ll find that the Humans involved in the media on Earth do not value the privacy of the individual as they should. The news broadcasts are often a source of entertainment as well as a source of information so they seek special interest stories like… the son of a dead hero visiting his memorial on the anniversary of his death.”
“It is barbaric and distasteful,” Spock muttered in return. “I will get him some tea but the replicators here are not programmed with Terran food. He must be hungry as well.”
“I will have something delivered for him. There is a security team from Starfleet downstairs on standby on orders from Captain Pike. They arrived a few minutes ago.” Amanda patted Spock’s arm. “Something sweet—Jim won’t like that bitter Vulcan tea you prefer.”
* * * *
“Your mom is badass.”
Spock paused, a genuine frown spreading over his face. “I beg your pardon?”
Jim’s gaze widened and he laughed. “It’s a good thing. It means she’s strong and brave. A force to be reckoned with.”
Spock settled the tray of tea on the table in front of Jim. “Very well, I would agree. My mother is indeed badass.” He poured the tea carefully and lifted an eyebrow until Jim gamely picked up his cup. “She once went before the Vulcan High Council and scolded them as if they were all children concerning the lack of humanitarian aid to a desert settlement that was suffering contagion. The virus had killed many and the government on Vulcan had quarantined the area but offered little medical services.”
Jim grimaced. “Did they do what she wanted?”
“They sent medical supplies, food, and equipment out immediately after she finished berating them and implying that they were of a poorer moral fiber than even the Ferengi,” Spock admitted. “Nearly seventy percent of the settlement survived due to her efforts, among them the Chieftain’s wife—she bore a female child later that year and she was named T’Amana after my mother.”
“That’s great,” Jim said with a smile. “So yeah—she’s badass.”
“Today has been a trial for you,” Spock began. “It must have been difficult having your time with your father’s memorial disturbed by the press.”
“I didn’t realize they were there until I was getting ready to leave,” Jim admitted and blushed. “I’m pretty pissed that I didn’t notice they were there and that I let them catch me in such a position. That was between me and my father—it wasn’t mean to be fodder for the news networks ratings.”
“You go every year?”
“Yeah, I have in the past.” Jim grimaced. “I guess I’ll have to do something different next year.”
“Next year I will go with you and monitor the situation myself so you will have the privacy you are entitled to,” Spock offered seriously.
“You’re a great friend, Spock.”
“I’ve never… had a friend.”
Jim glanced at him, surprised and sad at the same time. “I had a few in Iowa—kids that really didn’t care who I was because they all knew I was getting my ass kicked at home. It’s different here between being adopted by Pike and being a survivor of the Kelvin Massacre—I get a lot of attention but I wouldn’t say it’s positive. I guess I’m a little jaded when it comes to other kids because the first school I was put in after I recovered enough to go to school wasn’t great. Chris didn’t know a lot about how things worked on that front so it was trial and error. I was bored as hell and still pissed about my life. I wasn’t convinced he wasn’t going to just throw me away at the first opportunity.”
“He cares for you a great deal.”
“Yeah,” Jim smiled into his tea cup. “I was telling George that this morning and I told him about you.”
Spock was silent for a minute. “What did you… I do not understand the custom of talking to a picture, Jim.”
“It’s not something… being at the memorial at Starfleet Academy is about as close as I will ever come to actually touching my dad. He went to school there, he trained to be an officer there and he died on a Starfleet ship. So I go there and talk to him on my birthday. I tell him about my life and what’s going on it.”
Spock nodded and wondered if it offered the comfort that Jim was trying to project. He couldn’t imagine an object taking the place of one of his parents; being all he had of his parents. “What did you tell him about me?”
“That you’re smart and hot,” Jim said with an unrepentant grin.
“My body temperature is several degrees higher than yours…” Spock trailed off and frowned. “Why would you tell him that?”
Jim laughed and glanced up at the sound of female laughter. Amanda Grayson was standing near their chairs with a tray of food. “Ma’am.”
“I had Ensign Collins bring you some food from a local restaurant because as Spock pointed out—the replicators in the embassy aren’t ideal for the Terran diet.” She settled the tray on the table and with another soft laugh walked away. “Do not leave my son in the dark on the matter of his ‘hotness’, James.”
“No, ma’am, I wouldn’t dream of it!” Jim called after her and snagged a chicken finger off his plate. “I see she got your food from the replicators.”
“Yes.” Spock settled back in his chair with his bowl of soup and regarded Jim with one raised eyebrow. “I believe you promised to educate me.”
“Oh,” Jim chuckled. “Smart and hot.”
“In that context the word ‘hot’ refers to your physical attractiveness.”
“And ‘hot’ is good?”
“Hot is great,” Jim assured.
Spock flushed slightly and concentrated on his food. “Did you flirt with me in front of my mother?”
“I believe I did but not entirely on purpose,” Jim admitted with a smirk. “I hardly meant to do it in front of your mother.”
* * * *
“Ma’am, if it’s alright, embassy security has given us permission to stay here and monitor the Captain’s son.”
Amanda nodded as she closed the door. “There is only one entrance leading into this room and the windows are glazed so no one can see into the building from the outside. My son is with him and Jim seems at ease. I have a few meetings to take care of and then I’d like to take the boys to my home. You are welcome to stay on guard there if you chose.”
Collins nodded. “We do. Captain Pike is very concerned and Admiral Archer made it clear that we weren’t to let the press harass the kid. They hope the interest will die down in a few days.”
“Good. I’ll be gone several hours but I’m wearing a communicator that both boys have the access codes to contact.” Amanda checked her wrist chronometer and sighed. “I’ll check back with you gentlemen as I can.”
Amanda hurried down the hall but slowed to a sedate walk as she rounded the corner. She made it a point to never rush in front of Vulcans. Most saw it as a weakness of her Human condition and she’d always figured they had enough ammunition on that front without adding to it with her behavior. She couldn’t control the emotions she put out all the time—didn’t even want to if she was going to be honest but she could control her physical body to a great degree.
Elder T’Pol was already seated at the table with a pot of tea when Amanda entered the room. T’Pol was one of the few Vulcan females that Amanda had ever met that she could consider a friend. T’Pol had the unique experience of having lived among Humans for most of her life. It was rumored that she’d even been bonded to a Human male when she was younger.
“How is the boy?”
“Irritated, resigned.” Amanda offered as she settled and accepted the tea that was offered. “Teenage boys try to hide far more than they should.”
“Yes,” T’Pol agreed. “I found the boys far more disagreeable than my daughter in that respect. My T’Char was quite reasonable from a very early age.”
“A credit to her mother,” Amanda offered with a smile.
“Certainly not to her namesake,” T’Pol offered her eyes darkening slightly as she spoke. “I have been in touch with the Betazed Embassy—they are concerned about James. I’m not sure if you are aware but he is a citizen of Betazed. They are disturbed by Starfleet’s disregard for his welfare.”
“Is this because Captain Pike is on a mission this week?”
“Yes.” T’Pol set aside her tea. “I tried to explain to Ambassador Deloia that Starfleet operations cannot be altered to cater to a single person—even if that person is George Kirk’s son. Admiral Archer could hardly afford to put off a diplomatic mission that served both Earth and the Federation to a great degree because of the anniversary of the Kelvin Massacre.”
“I don’t disagree,” Amanda admitted. “I do believe James would’ve better served if Christopher Pike was here to relieve some of the burden of the press and in that regard—I acted as soon as I saw the problem.”
“You are credit to your husband and our people, Amanda,” T’Pol returned. “Though it was hardly your intention, your decision to retrieve young James and sequester him here as done much to soften our relationship with the Betazoid. There have been some concerns of late between our two peoples. Your protection of one of their citizens—a favored citizen as I’ve learned—has earned you quite a personal boon from their government and facilitated a more friendly dialogue between our two governments.”
Amanda blinked in surprise. “That is unexpected. Sarek hadn’t mentioned tensions between Vulcan and Betazed.”
“It is not one of the matters that is necessary for him to be overly concerned about,” T’Pol responded. “His workload has always been quite heavy and his return to Earth has only increased that. The more he is available to the Federation—the more they demand of him as you know.”
“Yes,” Amanda admitted. “It is one reason why we’ve made the decision that I will travel with him as much as we are able. Spock is at an age now where we feel he can be left with limited supervision. The school he’s enrolled in has helped in that regard. It is how our family came to know James Kirk. He’s shares quarters with Spock on the campus when his own father travels.”
T’Pol nodded. “I was already made aware of that situation. I trust Spock has recovered from the unfortunate acts of the Human woman at his school?”
“Yes.” Amanda took a deep breath. “Spock declined to press charges. He was distressed by the intimacy of the attack and did not wish to call attention to that in criminal proceedings—even when we promised it would be private and sealed to public scrutiny.” She paused. “I did get her fired and her license to teach removed. She won’t be granted another on any Federation planet.”
A small barely noticeable smile drifted over T’Pol’s mouth and disappeared just as swiftly. “I once told T’Pau that no mother on Vulcan could compare to you when it came to the protection of their child. She agreed that you are formidable.”
“I see no higher purpose in my life than the protection of my son,” Amanda murmured. “Perhaps I’ve been unreasonable in the past but I can’t regret it.”
“There is much polite speculation on the matter of Spock’s bond with T’Pring.”
Amanda snorted and then blushed. “My apologies.”
T’Pol quirked an eyebrow and sat aside her tea. “Some blame you and others have said that Spock rejected her at the moment when they would have been joined. T’Pau has not spoken of the event to me.”
“I did not attend the ceremony because I was furious with Sarek,” Amanda admitted. “But when they returned—Spock was unbonded and Sarek informed me that we would returning to Earth for an undetermined amount of time.”
“Men,” T’Pol began coolly. “Are the source of much…”
“Irritation?” Amanda supplied and just smiled when T’Pol nodded abruptly. “I’m not sure what happened exactly but Sarek did tell me that Spock made it clear to everyone that he would not tolerate being bonded to T’Pring.”
“She’s a petulant and ambitious child,” T’Pol began. “Our clan is not particularly served by bonding Spock to her. T’Pau and I have spoken at length about it because she felt it her duty to change Spock’s mind. Fortunately, I’ve made her realize the error of bonding someone as gifted as Spock against his better judgment. I believe the circumstances would have been disastrous if he had allowed the bond with someone he found so contemptible.”
Amanda’s gaze widened. “I don’t… what did he say?”
T’Pol all but smirked. “He told T’Pring he would rather burn and die than have her. I was not there to witness it but that is what her parents said when they lodged their complaint with the Council.”
Amanda bit down on her lip. “That is… Spock is normally so much more gentle with females.”
“T’Pring made the mistake of bringing you up after he stopped the ceremony,” T’Pol continued. “As much as you have always protected your son—your son has defended your honor vigorously whenever it was called for.”
“To his detriment as far as many Vulcans are concerned,” Amanda murmured. “I’ve told him more than once that he need not do it… that what they say does not bother me.”
“He is a child of two worlds and it is unfair to him that he has not been allowed to fully explore that,” T’Pol said in return. “He is half-Human and I have met very few Human males that would not lay waste to an entire continent for their mother.” Amanda inclined her head in acknowledgement—T’Pol lips shifted slightly at the very Vulcan gesture. “There is a problem you should be aware of.”
Amanda’s gaze narrowed. “As far as I know, T’Pol, she doesn’t have the right to see James without permission from Captain Pike.”
“Yes, that was pressed upon her by the admiralty when she lodged a complaint with them this morning over James being sequestered here after the press followed him to school,” T’Pol explained. “Admiral Archer did not, as Humans would say, pull his punches when he explained the heinous circumstances of Captain Pike’s adoption of James Kirk.”
“Admiral Archer hasn’t pulled his punches on any matter since he turned tripped over the century mark,” Amanda said with a laugh. “If I reach that age I do hope I’m afforded the same privilege.”
T’Pol lifted one eyebrow. “I was always under the impression that you say exactly what you want whenever you want. Though T’Pau would hardly admit it aloud, she finds your intensity and compassion quite refreshing.”
Amanda’s mouth dropped open.
* * * *
Collins tossed down his cards with a sigh. “I’m taking you two to Vegas.”
Jim laughed and gathered up the small round plastic chips Spock had gotten the replicator to spit out at his request. “I’m not allowed in casinos and I doubt they’d let a Vulcan play either. They have the ultimate poker face and the ability to count cards must be unparalleled. You know they put PSI scanners in at the door to keep empaths out.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow at him and began to shuffle the cards expertly. Jim had taught him how to do it in about five minutes. They’d played a game called gin rummy for an hour before inviting the Starfleet security team in to play “poker”.
“What is in Vegas?” Spock questioned.
“Places where you can play these kinds of game for money,” Jim explained. “I could clean up in a poker tournament.”
“Your trust fund is quite adequate, is it not?” Spock questioned. “I doubt Captain Pike would approve gambling.”
Jim grinned. “No, he’d have my hide.”
“What do kids do on Vulcan for fun?” Collins asked sharing a glance with his partner Mark Phillips.
“Nothing,” Spock returned, his tone dry. He lifted one eyebrow when they all laughed. “There is little time for play after education starts.”
“No sports?” Jim questioned.
“Not as such, no. There was a time in our past when the Vulcan people engaged in blood sports. In modern society, Vulcans are dedicated to scientific research and continued education almost exclusively.”
“That’s…” Jim trailed off. “Don’t be offended but that sounds boring as hell.”
Spock inclined his head. “From what I know of the concept of hell in Terran society—that is where all the truly interesting people go. I doubt it is boring. Dangerous perhaps, but not boring.”
Collins choked on his drink and Jim burst out laughing.
* * * *
Amanda had settled on a small settee to wait for Winona Kirk to be brought to her. She wasn’t exactly surprised that the woman had shown up at the embassy. It had been a bit startling that T’Pol had authorized her entry and arranged for the two of them to meet. She busied herself with a few pieces of correspondence on her PADD and started making notes on one of the speeches Sarek intended to give at the next quarterly meeting of the Federation Council. It had become her habit to soften the blunt edges of her husband’s personality early on in their marriage and he allowed it without complaint. His ideas and concerns had been better received since they’d reached the arrangement.
She glanced up when the door was opened and a woman her age entered the room in a Starfleet uniform. “Lt. Commander Kirk.”
“Please, call me Winona, Lady Amanda.”
Amanda nodded and gestured her to sit. “Just Amanda will do. The title is largely ceremonial and honorary due to my husband’s position on Vulcan. James is upstairs with my son and a Starfleet security detail so he is quite safe from the press.”
“I’d like to see him.”
“You must realize that I don’t have the legal authority to allow that and if James wanted to see you he would’ve responded to one of your messages from this morning. Right now, we have him an empathically shielded room—one of the private rooms in the embassy for Vulcans who require sequestering during physical illness. The attention he received this morning from the press was upsetting to him and the healer that examined him on our arrival prescribed that he relax in the shielded room for the remainder of the afternoon with as little interference as was possible.”
“I’m his mother—surely you understand that I have a right to see him.”
Amanda sat aside her PADD and clasped her hands together. “It is not my place to determine such a thing. The Federation courts have ruled on this matter more than once I believe—both times in favor of Christopher Pike. They decided that neither you nor his grandmother on Betazed had the legal right to custody of James. Captain Pike sent me a communication several hours ago granting me temporary physical custody of his son until he returns to Earth. He told me explicitly that you were not allowed contact with James because you are a threat to his emotional well being.”
Winona’s cheeks darkened with embarrassment and anger. “I love my son.”
“I don’t doubt that. I also don’t doubt that being around you hurts your son. As the mother of a sensitive child, I spent years learning to shield my emotions and thoughts from him. I’m not always successful but I do try. James has no defense against you, Commander Kirk, because you are his mother and he will always desperately want your love and approval. Neither of which you can give him unconditionally—if you could you wouldn’t have spent so many years running away from him and he wouldn’t have been left in the care of a man currently serving a jail term for child abuse.”
* * * *
The security team from Starfleet had been changed out for another pair of men by the time the boys were settling into the meditation room. Amanda hadn’t been overly surprised to find that one of the new team was a Napean. They were a partially empathic race—Admiral Archer had probably requested a mental health status check done on James when the Vulcan Embassy had outright refused to discuss his medical condition with Starfleet officials. Amanda had sent an encrypted report to Captain Pike because she’d felt it her duty but at no point had she felt like Starfleet had a right to know the state of James’ mental health.
She eyed the young man for several seconds before shifting away from the door to allow them entry into her home. “Ensign Knowles, I’m afraid you’ll have to let the admiralty that you were unsuccessful in scanning James while you’re here this evening.”
“Ma’am, I have orders…”
“The Vulcan healers at the embassy helped him with his shields and right now he’s in meditation with my son. I assure you—you’d have better luck banging your head on a wall than you do getting a read on his mental status.”
Knowles offered her a rueful and relieved smile. “Yes, ma’am. Thank you. I did tell Admiral Archer that it would be difficult to reach him if he were in a good place. I doubt he’d have the ability to maintain his shield or meditate at his young age if he were not in good shape.”
“I’m apt to agree,” Amanda closed the door firmly and set the security. “So far we haven’t had any problems—the security forces at the embassy managed to scare everyone away but that doesn’t mean they aren’t lying in wait for him to leave the house.”
* * * *
Jim shifted out of the lotus position and stretched his body leisurely as he watched Spock put out the fire pot. “That was cool. I don’t normally use a focus object.”
“How do you normally focus?” Spock questioned.
Jim flushed. “When Chris is at home—I use him as my focal point. He has an orderly mind and consistant feel. I think I was doing it even before I realized I’d manifested empathy. The scientists on Betazed theorize that my paracortex was flooded with my father’s emotions at the moment of my birth. His gifts were somewhat limited by because he was half-Human but the situation was obviously very intense. That my gifts lay dormant until I entered puberty was a big surprise for everyone.”
Spock stilled. “You said you manifested at twelve. You began puberty at twelve?”
Jim’s gaze widened at the shock in the Vulcan’s voice. “Umm, actually my doctor thinks I’m nearly done with it.” He blushed when Spock raised an eyebrow.
“And the age? Is that common for Betazoids?”
“Actually pretty common for Humans—I’m not sure about Betazoid males since I’m mostly Human it never really came up in my doctor visits. I’m fairly normal outside of my psionic abilities.”
“I see.” Spock put away the fire pot carefully and said nothing else as they tidied the room. “Did you wish to shower? I can provide some clothes to sleep in.”
“Sure that would be great,” Jim said with a soft smile. “Hmmm, you aren’t in puberty?”
Spock flushed and averted his gaze. “I have just begun that process. It is a source of concern because of my hybrid physiology.”
“Well, I’m here if you want to talk about it.”
* * * *
Amanda sat aside her PADD at the abrupt knock on her office door. Despite his attempts to be as Vulcan as possible, Spock had always had an impatient knock. “Enter.” Spock came in quickly and shut the door tightly. She shifted in her chair at look on her son’s face. “Is something wrong?”
Spock sat down in the chair in front of her stiffly and said, “I am completely abnormal, Mother.”
Amanda blinked and took a deep breath. “Now, Spock…”
“Jim has nearly finished puberty and I have only begun. Vulcans and Humans obviously have a similar development period—why did I begin so late and what does that mean for…” He blushed dark and averted his gaze.
“Your Pon Farr?”
“Do not…” Spock hissed and trailed off. “I can not discuss that with you, Mother.”
Amanda laughed sadly. “No, I’m sorry, of course not. I’m sure the documents your father provided you on the subject were most educational.”
“They were sufficient,” Spock returned evenly. “Is something wrong with me?”
“No, of course, not Spock and you’re not abnormal at all. Puberty has no definite schedule and each man—Vulcan and Human—develops in their own way. You’re perfectly normal and there is some hope that you’ll be spared…well that thing you don’t wish to talk about.”
“Father does not think I will be spared,” Spock murmured. “If he had—he would not have fought so long with you about my bonding with T’Pring.”
“Why are you upset really?” Amanda questioned.
“Jim is sexually mature,” Spock muttered. “He is likely to seek romantic partners long before I am physically interested in such relationships.”
“You fear he’ll leave you behind for a romantic relationship?” Amanda questioned. “You’ve become very close in just a few short days so that must be difficult for you to consider.”
“I have never had a friend before,” Spock admitted frankly. “I did not know what it meant to have one until Jim.”
Amanda blinked back tears and took a deep breath. “Spock.”
“Do not be upset,” Spock said quickly. “My situation on Vulcan was not your fault. Our friendship did form fast—perhaps because he shielded my mind with his when my own mental shields failed…” Spock flushed. “It was like being wrapped in a very warm blanket.”
“Oh.” Amanda took a deep breath. “That must have been comforting.”
“It was extraordinary. His mind is beautiful.”
* * * *
Jim despite the outward appearance of arrogance wasn’t all that vain about his appearance. He realized people found him attractive and that wasn’t always to his benefit. In recent years he’d encountered plenty of people—some his father’s age who found him interesting in ways that were seriously very inappropriate. So, he wasn’t vain and he didn’t spend a lot of time looking in the mirror—all he ever saw was his father’s face staring back at him anyway.
Still he did take care with brushing his hair, teeth, and might have spent more time than was strictly necessary trying to decide if he should just wear the bottom part of the PJs Spock had provided. He decided that he would leave the top off because the house was very hot compared to his own. He knew that was because even Lady Amanda was used to an elevated temperature on Vulcan. The Vulcan Embassy had been like an oven, too.
The bedroom he’d been given for the night was richly appointed and far more comforting than he’d expected in a Vulcan house hold. The rest of the house was rather spartan—so the super comfortable bed with all of the pillows had been a very pleasant surprise. He left the bathroom and paused at the sight of Spock standing near the end of the bed. He was dressed in black PJs, his hands tucked behind his back.
Spock glanced up, his gaze widened slightly, and he lowered it quickly. “I wanted to make sure you were settled for the night. Mother said she would contact Dr. Hill in the morning to determine whether or not you can return to school for a normal schedule.”
“Well, one good thing is that the school is private property so they can get the police to clear the campus if it becomes a madhouse again.” Jim hopped up on the bed and swung his feet. “Did you want to hang out for a while? I’m not really tired.”
“No, you should sleep—Humans require at least seven hours of sleep every twenty-four for optimal performance.”
Jim laughed. “Whatever you say, man.”
Spock cleared his throat. “I do not know how to wish you a ‘happy birthday’ because that doesn’t seem appropriate considering other factors.”
Jim turned on the bed and looked at him with a small, sad smile playing on his generous mouth. “I met a Klingon once—on a space station when I was traveling with my Dad for a shore leave. We had a great time—regardless—this Klingon recognized me and he came up to me and pointed his finger at me. His hand was huge!” Jim laughed when Spock finally lifted his gaze and looked at him. “Anyways, I’m thirteen years old and he was like a giant compared—you know how big Klingons are. Anyway, he pointed his finger at me and he said—your father was a hero and you should live your life like a hero’s son.”
“What did you say?”
“Well, I was taught not to argue with a Klingon if it could be avoided so I said ‘yes, sir’.” Jim grinned and then he grew serious. “Then he said that had he been in my father’s place he would’ve considered it a good day to die. That it was an honorable death and that there is no better fate for a man of integrity.”
“That’s surprising coming from a Klingon in reference to a human.”
“Pike was stunned,” Jim agreed. “I guess the point I’m making is that while I don’t think my birthday is anything to celebrate—I do believe in acknowledging what my father did on this day sixteen years ago.”
“So we should say, ‘it was a good day to die’?” Spock questioned.
Jim nodded. “Yeah, absolutely. It was a good day to die.”
* * * *
Thursdays were normally great because Jim loved his mechanical engineering class and it was two hours long. Unfortunately, after being seen on the vid talking to his dead father—things were slightly different in his most unstructured class. Jim had been without a partner for the ‘lab’ section of the class for the entire school year until Spock came along. The class had been uneven in number due to a student leaving the school and Jim had specifically asked not to receive a partner. In the past, he’d always ended up doing all the work anyway. Spock had gravitated to Jim’s station naturally the first Thursday he was at the school and the teacher had accepted the situation with a small, relieved smile.
None of the students at Horizon were below average but the roughest ones were the ones with a mechanical engineering focus. Jim had a multifocus program as he adored many subjects and could hardly bare to part with any of them long term. Horizon was the perfect learning environment for him in that respect even if he did think most of the guys in his engineering classes were one step out of the cave.
The biggest caveman in the class was a guy named Rob David who made it his business to ask Jim as many personal questions as he could get away with in front as many people as possible. It was a petty revenge from when Jim had refused to scan the teacher’s mind for a schedule on the ‘surprise’ tests she gave on a supposed random basis. It wasn’t random at all. It had taken Jim one quarter to confirm her pattern and he hadn’t taken a dive in her head to do it.
“So, Kirk, did Starfleet set up your little spot on the news as a promo stunt or do you go around talking dead people all the time?”
Jim sighed and glanced up from the tricorder he had in pieces. But before he could respond, Spock cleared his throat and said, “Vulcans are three times stronger than the average human male.” Spock looked Rob over with the kind of casual almost disdain that only Vulcans were capable of. “Would you consider yourself average?”
Rob flushed. “I—what the hell are you talking about?”
Jeff Marty, Rob’s usual partner in crime, laughed. “I think he just threatened you, Rob.”
“Is that right? Did you threaten me?”
Spock glanced him over again and dismissed him. “Vulcans do not make threats.” He picked up a tool and started working on the circuit board Jim had wordlessly passed his way. “However, it would be a disservice to you if I did not point out that on Vulcan I was schooled in martial arts starting when I was five years old and I know more about the frailty of the Human body than you will ever know in your life time.”
“Still not threatening me, huh?” Rob questioned his eyes starting to light up with the first genuine amusement Jim had ever seen.
“Vulcans do not make threats,” Spock continued without bothering to look at the boy. He picked up small screw driver. “I am, of course, only half-Vulcan.” He fixed the loose chipset and returned it to Jim before focusing on Rob. “On Vulcan, it is the height of poor taste to disparage the dead or to make light of those who grieve a loss of life. You will forgive me if I misunderstood your words when you approached our workstation. Was it actually your intention to insult Jim by discussing his father’s sacrifice as if it were something to laugh about?”
Jim blinked when Rob paled and averted his gaze. “Spock, it’s okay. I know he was just messing around.”
“He should find another topic on which to ‘mess around’.” Spock responded. “For instance, I do not think you attended your hair this morning.”
Jim laughed and ran his fingers through the short dark blond mess on his head which he had forgotten to pull a comb through. “Jerk.”
“Kirk always looks a mess; he thinks it’s gonna get him a girl.” Rob turned back to his own station with a little grin in their direction. “Like having a bed head is sexy or something.”
“I know you want me, Rob,” Jim called after him. “Don’t hide from your feelings. Everyone wants me, right Spock?”
Spock didn’t roll his eyes but Jim knew he wanted to. He reached into their work box and pulled out a ‘broken’ scanner. “Of course, Jim, you are very aesthetically pleasing.”
“That was very sarcastic, Mr. Spock.”
“Vulcans do not participate in acts of sarcasm.”
Jim laughed and everyone around them joined in as well. “Right.”
* * * *
Amanda was sitting at her desk waiting for Sarek’s communication to be routed to her from Starfleet command—she’d been waiting for 15 minutes so it was hardly her fault she’d zoned out reading an article on her PADD when his face finally appeared. She screamed a little when he cleared his throat loudly, almost tossing the PADD in the process.
She offered her clearly amused husband a practiced glare before smiling. “Sarek.”
“Wife.” Sarek lifted an eyebrow. “How do you fair?”
“I am well.”
“I received a communication from T’Pol praising your handling of the press yesterday. Everyone is quite impressed with you—apparently you have improved our diplomatic relationship with Betazed with your compassion and good grace.”
Amanda flushed. “I was just being a mother, Sarek.”
“It is a role at which you have always excelled. How are Spock and James?”
“We arranged for them to go to school today. Starfleet helped the school get an injunction barring the press from the school grounds and Admiral Archer released a statement requesting that the press leave James alone out of respect. It seemed to have cooled down some of the interest. I sent a note to Captain Pike last night—I met Jim’s mother yesterday.”
“He informed me over the morning meal,” Sarek admitted. “Since I did not get any communication from you last night—I have contacted you to confirm that I am, in fact, still your husband.”
She offered him a saucy grin. “Captain Pike is quite attractive.”
“Yes, he is.” Sarek agreed lifting one dark eyebrow when his wife gasped. “I do take note of such things.”
“Hmm, I bet you do.” Amanda relaxed in her chair and set aside the PADD. “How is your bromance with the Captain going? Did you engage him in any of male bonding rituals you researched for the trip?”
“I fail to understand why you insist on calling the professional relationship I wish to develop with Captain Pike a bromance.” Sarek responded, just short of snotty which his wife took to mean he was amused. “We watched a football game. He is fond of the San Francisco 49ers. He mentioned taking James and Spock to a game later in the year.”
“That sounds good—because their bromance is coming along great.”
Sarek’s mouth quirked. “Amanda.”
“Oh, Spock came to me last night a perfect wreck over the fact that Jim is apparently at the end of puberty and might seek romantic partners soon.” Amanda curled a piece of hair around her finger and bit down on her lip at her husband’s stoic expression. She could see the shock and alarm working under the muscles of his face. “I, yet again, assured him that his own development was not abnormal and he need not be overly concerned about his own level of sexual maturity. He was most mortified to bring it up to me.”
“I am most mortified to hear about it,” Sarek responded dryly.
“I live in hope that he comes directly to you with questions about his first morning erection,” Amanda offered with a smirk.
“You are a cruel and vicious creature, Wife.”
“You married me.”
Sarek eyed her as if she were an experiment. “At the time it was the most logical of my options. It seemed unreasonable that I should spend the rest of my life walking around missing a piece of myself.”
* * * *
Jim shouldered his back pack as he got out of the air car that Starfleet security had sent for him and turned to Spock. “You don’t have to come.”
“I would not mind watching unless it would make you uncomfortable.”
“No, not at all.” Jim inclined his head and they headed up the narrow sidewalk to the gates of the Betazed Embassy. “My teacher’s name is Jaret and he’s pretty cool. Right now I’m learning to screen out the thoughts of others when I open a window in my shields. It’s a self-defense measure of sorts and something I have to learn if I’m going to function in Starfleet as a telepath.”
“You intend on joining Starfleet?”
“Yeah.” Jim shrugged. “I really can’t imagine another career I’d rather have. I know my Dad wants me to join—wants me to carry on the family tradition in my biological father’s name.” He paused as they got close to the doors. “This place is kind of noisy mentally. Are your shields good?”
“Yes, I shored them up on the way here.”
“Good. No one in here would intentionally hurt you but there are quite a few Betazoids living on Earth with their families. Often the embassy is nearly over run with the children of diplomats and staff. They like to keep their little ones close and the smaller kids don’t have a lot of control. This whole building is shielded to protect both them and their surrounding neighbors from empathic bleed-off as a result.”
“Your psionic strength is high,” Spock started and then paused as they approached the guards. The two men opened the doors without saying a word and Jim motioned him to follow. “Is it dangerous for you?”
“It would’ve been if it hadn’t lain dormant when I was a baby,” Jim admitted. “I’m getting the training I need and my Dad has mentioned taking me to Betazed for the summer. I would receive intensive instruction there.”
“You do not want to do it?”
Jim grimaced. “My grandmother would probably try to arrange my marriage while I’m there and I’m so not interested in that.”
“You can say no, correct?”
“Yeah, of course, and if need be I could totally hide behind Pike. I’m not legally allowed to make my own decisions about things until I’m eighteen per Federation law and Betazed is a Federation planet.”
“And would you be willing to hide behind Captain Pike?” Spock questioned as they entered a lift.
Jim picked the destination and threw Spock a grin. “Yeah, absolutely—I wouldn’t even hesitate.”
* * * *
Spock had hoped to simply observe Jim’s lesson with Jaret but the older Betazoid man had included him in the lesson immediately. The difference in mind organization that Jaret was leading Jim in was so fascinating that Spock surrendered himself to the lesson almost immediately. The man was meticulous in his explanation of the technique he was teaching—and in his own control. Spock never once felt either him or Jim brush up his own mental shields.
When he finally managed to open the small window in his shields for sensory input he was so stunned that it closed immediately. “Oh.”
Jaret laughed. “Is that a good ‘oh’, Spock?”
Spock nodded. “This is a most unusual experience for me. Am I permitted to share it with my father at a later date?”
“Of course,” Jaret said with a small smile. “I would be interested to know what he thinks of it. Vulcans have such unique and interesting gifts. I once met a priestess with telekinesis. I’m to understand that you are very gifted—do you believe you are capable of telekinesis?”
Spock inclined his head as he considered it. “When I was created—the geneticist who saw to the blending of my DNA purposefully made my mental gifts as strong as was possible, to off set the Human genes. He believed it logical to do so. As a result, I am far more powerful than even my father in regards to my psionic abilities. It is believed with practice and dedication that I am capable of telekinsis.”
“Fascinating,” Jaret said with a quirked eyebrow and merriment twinkling in his black eyes. “I do hope you’ll attend more of Jim’s lessons. I believe today is the first time he’s fallen so easily into his lesson.”
“I meditated with Spock last night,” Jim said as he shifted his body around. “With a Vulcan fire pot—it was very relaxing to have a inanimate focal point.”
Jaret paused and inclined his head. “What have you used in the past?”
“Normally, my Dad.”
“You use your human adoptive father as your focal point for meditation,” Jaret repeated obviously stunned. “Why have I never asked this question?”
Jim shrugged. “I don’t know. Is that bad or wrong?”
“No, Jim, it’s just highly unusual to pick a sentient being for a focal point. How was the experience different for you last night?”
“Well, normally, meditation serves to center me and build up my shields. My Dad has an orderly mind and a very hardy personality. I don’t have to worry that he’s going to fly off the handle and get ill tempered while he’s watching the vid or working in his office.”
“So, often you aren’t even in the same room with him?”
Jim flushed. “He doesn’t even have to be at home. As long as he’s in San Francisco it’s pretty easy to focus on him. I even managed it once when he was in orbit. I didn’t realize he’d beamed up to the space station or I would’ve never thought to try it.”
It was Spock’s turn to look at him with undisguised surprise. “Fascinating.”
“Why did you pick him as your focal point to begin with?” Jaret questioned.
“Because he’s first thing in my life to be constant, unmoving,” Jim admitted, a blush stealing across his cheek bones. “He doesn’t yield or surrender to anything or anyone.”
“And last night, with the fire pot? How was it different?”
“I felt relaxed and very mellow at the end. I’m not sure if it’s because of the change in focal point or because of Spock himself.” Jim paused and seemed to consider his next words. “My mind relaxes when I’m with him. Does that make sense?”
Jaret glanced at Spock and then tilted his head carefully as he studied him. “I do find him quite relaxing to be around myself. His shields are very strong for such a young Vulcan. Spock, how does your mind respond to Jim’s presence?”
“I find him easy to be around but I attribute that to the close mental contact we had the second day we knew each other. My primary mental shield failed due to an incident—a human grabbed my hand.” He paused when Jaret’s eyes widened. “It was stressful. Jim wrapped his own mental shields around me until my father could come for me. Since that time I have found Jim’s presence a source of comfort.”
Jaret glanced between them. “Have you melded?”
“No,” they responded in unison.
“I would be careful if you chose to do so,” Jaret admitted. “You might find your mental compatibility so strong that a bond could form. Though it is rare—spontaneous bonds between Betazoids have happened. I know little of Vulcan bonds so I can’t say what fail safes might be in place for you Spock to prevent an accidental bond.”
Spock was pretty there weren’t any precautions he could take. Spontaneous bonds between Vulcans could happen with a simple touch. For one selfish moment, he wished for it because such a bond would tie his friend to him for life. Horrified by his thoughts, he pushed it deep and cleared his throat. “I will discuss it with my father.”
* * * *
They were in the lobby of the embassy waiting for the car his mother had sent for them to arrive when she made an appearance. The girl was their age, maybe slightly older and she had her eyes set on Jim. Spock thought she looked like a hunter and if that was so, his friend was definitely the prey.
“Spock, this is Casina—she’s a friend of the family,” Jim offered and moved closer to Spock.
Spock wasn’t surprised when a strong presence brushed up against his shields and he stared at her without a flicker of emotion, he made certain. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”
She smiled, utterly fake and oddly threatening. “I’ve never met a Vulcan before. Your mind is… rigid.”
“His mind is private,” Jim snapped. “You know better than to try that—you’re lucky he has more discipline than you.”
She flushed and crossed her arms over her breasts. “You’re no fun at all, Jimmy.”
Jim glanced out the door and saw the Vulcan Embassy car at the gates. “Our ride is here, Spock.”
Spock said nothing until they were getting settled in the back of the car with his mother. Amanda was settled in with a series of PADDS to occupy herself. Spock noticed that she was much more involved in his father’s work than she ever had been on Earth. He wondered at the change and if she enjoyed it for herself or because it was part of Sarek’s world.
“She upset you?”
“She’s potential wife number six,” Jim muttered. “My grandmother has been throwing pretty, vapid girls at me for a year now. Six months ago, I told her that I thought I preferred men and I was introduced to three different guys at a embassy party the next week. She has no shame.”
Amanda chuckled. “Yes, well, I’ve always found the Betazoid people to be oddly refreshing in their blunt honesty. It’s caused problems in diplomacy, of course, as they have even less tact than Vulcans. Putting a Vulcan diplomat in a room with a Betazoid diplomat is asking for scandal and/or incident of epic proportions.” She put her PADDs in a small case clearly designed for storing the slim computers and focused on them. “How was school?”
“Spock made nice with the biggest bully in the school,” Jim offered with a sunny grin which made Spock outright glare at him. “It was practically flirting through death threats.”
“Vulcans do not flirt. Therefore, I did not flirt with that disagreeable boy.”
“Oh, maybe not in your mind,” Jim inclined his head. “But guys like that—they enjoy being told they could be snapped like a twig. I bet he invites you to his next party and then you can tell him something great like ‘Vulcans do not party’ in your best snotty Vulcany tone. You can say party like it’s a profanity.”
Amanda laughed at the look of pure indignation that crossed Spock’s face which lasted all of two seconds before he schooled his features completely. “I have a dinner appointment so you’ll both be on your own for most of the evening. The car is going to drop me off and then take Jim home to gather some clothes for your stay with us.”
“I could stay on campus,” Jim murmured.
“No, your father would prefer that you stay with me until the situation is more controllable.”
“Translation, Winona hasn’t left the planet yet,” Jim said with a small laugh. “It’s an interesting experience… being mothered… I don’t think I’ve ever had it.”
Amanda called on years of experience and for once was relieved that though she didn’t like to do it she was perfectly capable of concealing her horror at his words. She shared a glance with Spock who seemed distinctly unsettled by Jim’s words. “When I return home—I expect all of your lessons completed and a full hour of meditation achieved. No excuses allowed.”
Spock said nothing until the car had stopped and his mother had quickly exited. He turned to Jim when the transport started moving again. “Do you really prefer men romantically?”
“I’m open. I don’t think it’s a good idea to limit yourself to one half of a population. It’s kind of boring, don’t you think?” Jim popped over into the seat Amanda had abandoned and spread out. “Traffic is a crap shoot this time of day it could be an hour before we get home.” He rubbed his head with both hands with a sigh. “What about you? Are same-sex pairings taboo on Vulcan?”
“Not at all, Vulcans place a high priority on the compatibility of two minds—the gender of a bondmate is secondary. Most betrothal bonds are created at a very young age but they can be broken if one in the pair finds themselves drawn mentally to another.”
“Do you have a betrothed?” Jim asked with a frown.
“No, I declined the bonding arranged by my clan on the grounds that she was… difficult.”
“Wow, is that Vulcan for ‘horrible bitch’?” Jim asked with a laugh.
“Yes,” Spock confirmed without hesitation.
* * * *
6 Weeks Later
“I’ve had a communication from Jim’s grandmother.” Chris notched back in his chair and sighed. “She says that his relationship with Spock is detrimental to him finding a bondmate and wants me to separate them.”
Sarek lifted an eyebrow. “And your response?”
“That James is too damn young to think about a bondmate and I wasn’t going to tell him who he can be friends with. Personally, I think Spock has been a good influence on him and the challenge of having a really smart friend can only serve him in his life.” Chris sighed. “Jim is probably going to lose it when he gets his version of this communication because I know she sent him one, too.”
“While I understand her concern when it comes to securing a proper bondmate for her grandson, I do harbor some reservation on her ability to determine what would be proper for Jim,” Sarek admitted. “Despite his mental abilities—he is decidedly Human. It would be a mistake for her to treat him as if he is entirely Betazoid.”
Chris frowned. “You understand the bondmate thing?”
“Yes, Jim is a very talented and powerful telepath—in bonding he would gain the strength of his partner and it would help him settle. It is why I tried in vain to arrange a betrothal bond for Spock.” Sarek watched worry replace disbelief on Pike’s face.
“Does Jim need a bondmate? Are his abilities hurting him?”
“He guards himself well,” Sarek allowed. “I believe that if he were in distress that he would be compelled to seek out a bondmate. You need not worry that he would suffer in silence. At that point, especially since he is basically an adult physically—he would be unable to deny the drive to seek out a bondmate if it were necessary.” He paused and then shifted slightly in his chair. “Granted, I have no experience with Betazoid bonds but from what I have read they are not nearly as integral to sanity as what takes place between Vulcans.”
“Then why is his grandmother pushing this?”
“Jim’s gifts are extreme and rare,” Sarek began. “It is entirely likely she wants him to propagate for the continuation of her family line. The Betazoids have artificial womb technology so she need not concern herself with luring him with a breeding female.”
“That seriously pisses me off. He’s just sixteen years old.”
“At this point she probably seeks to betroth him,” Sarek offered in an effort to soothe.
“Not helping,” Chris muttered. “Not helping at all. I don’t even know if he wants kids. Frankly, considering his childhood I don’t know that he would.”
“There is one matter we should consider.”
“I’m listening,” Chris responded ruefully.
“She is entirely accurate that Spock is a detriment to Jim seeking out or accepting a bondmate at this time. They are entirely preoccupied with one another and orbit around each other as much as they are physically able. It is obvious to me that their near instant affinity for each other is growing into something tangible. If we allow it to continue, they will likely form a bond link with each other based on proximity and compatibility alone.”
Chris’ expression went entirely neutral. “Is that a problem for you? Your son being bonded to a Human male?”
Sarek stared at him for several seconds and then cleared his throat. “Of course not, same sex pairings are considered honorable on Vulcan. There is no preference given to gender and we also have artificial methods of reproduction for such couples. Even when we did not have those options—warrior bondmates were coveted by clans. It was a sign of good fortune and strength to have such a pair in the family.”
Chris relaxed. “Well, okay.” He frowned. “They are way too young for it though.”
“Spock is in the first stage of the adult development, Captain. Their bond, if it happens, will remain platonic for several more years at least.” Sarek flushed and averted his gaze. “I have taught my son to respect the sanctity of his mind and body.”
Chris smirked. “I just begged Jim not to get anyone pregnant.”
* * * *
Chris winced and pulled ordered a beer from the replicator. He was settled on the couch by the time Jim stormed out of his bedroom. “Hey, kiddo.”
“She sent you a letter, too?”
“Yep.” Chris watched Jim pace back and forth across their living room silently. His first lesson in fatherhood had been to let Jim talk when he was ready and mostly keep his mouth shut until the kid was done. Because when the kid got going nothing short of a phaser set on stun really put a dent in his temper.
“She has met me twice my whole life!” Jim exploded. “When you took me to Betazoid for treatment, she visited me once for an hour in the hospital! I didn’t see her again until she tried to sue you for custody and then it was only for ten minutes while she tried to convince me to choose her because having her grandson raised by a human was distasteful.”
Pike winced but resolutely took a long drink of his beer.
“She didn’t even give a flying fuck about me until I manifested this stupid uber telepathy and then all of a sudden I had something valuable to add to her goddamned family gene pool. Who the hell is she to just tell me who I can be friends with? Who is she to tell me who I’m going to fucking marry? She sent me a picture of him and I have to say he looks like an asshole.”
“Whoa, whoa, back up. She sent you what?”
Jim paused and frowned at him. “She didn’t send you a profile and a picture of the guy she picked out for me to marry and bond with?”
“Huh, no.” Chris blew out a breath in frustration. “You know I won’t allow her to force you into such a thing.”
“What if she sends him here?” Jim demanded. “I’m not sure I’ve had enough training to fight him off if he tried to bond with me without my permission.”
“Well, kid, you’d have a bondmate for as long as it took for me to hunt him down and kill him,” Pike responded darkly. “No one is ever going to force you into something you don’t want. Understood?”
“Yeah.” Jim nodded and went to the replicator. “Can I have a beer?”
“Absolutely not. I don’t want you to get in the habit of drowning your temper in alcohol. Get junk food like a normal teenager.”
Jim ordered up a bag of chips and a soda. “Want anything?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
Jim brought his loot over to the couch and dropped down beside him. “It’s bullshit.”
“I’ve never had a friend like Spock. I’ve never had a friend I could trust as much as I trust you. I won’t let her ruin that for me because she has some petty agenda. I may look like her son but I can’t take his place and I sure as hell won’t jack off in a cup so she can fill artificial wombs with man-love babies.”
Chris snorted and then laughed abruptly. “Kid.”
“She’s insane,” Jim responded. “Someone at the embassy told her about Spock. He’s been coming with me to my classes there, you know. He finds the process fascinating and Jaret pretty much creams his pants over Spock’s abilities. I think he has a crush on him or something.”
Pike snorted. “Well, he wouldn’t be the only with a crush on Spock, would he?”
Jim frowned and stared at his foot. He shoved a handful of chips in his mouth and chewed loudly. “No. There are couple of stupid girls at school who follow us around ask Spock all kinds of ridiculous questions about Vulcan and tell him how cute his ears are.”
Chris laughed softly. “I mean you, Jim.”
“Oh.” Jim blushed and then huffed dramatically. “Well, I saw him first so I’m entitled to have a crush on him. Those stupid girls… they should just leave us alone. They don’t even seem to care that all of that attention makes him uncomfortable and freaks him out.”
* * * *
“Your psilosynine levels are elevated,” Dr. Leonard McCoy muttered and offered Jim a practiced glare as he continued to scan him with a tricorder. “And you haven’t been keeping up the records after your training sessions at the embassy like I ordered you to.”
“Oh, come on Bones,” Jim rubbed the back of his neck when he was jabbed without warning with a hypospray. “What was that?”
“Vitamins,” McCoy muttered. He glanced towards the Vulcan kid who had accompanied the Captain’s son on board the ship. “What’s up with your pointed eared shadow?”
Jim poked him with a frown. “Don’t talk about Spock like that. We just beamed back from Iowa. The ship yard is awesome.”
“Only you would find that interesting,” McCoy muttered.
Spock moved closer. “Dr. McCoy, if you will make a list of diagnostic readings Jim is required to document after his training sessions with Jaret I will make sure they are done properly.”
McCoy smirked at Jim’s groan. “Now that sounds promising.”
“Psilosynine is the neurotransmitter responsible for the psionic activity in the Betazoid brain. I will review research on the matter if you will make it available so I can make a detailed study of his responses to the training.” Spock tucked his hands behind his back and offered Jim a single elevated eyebrow when he huffed dramatically. “Your mental health is important, James, do not be an infant about it.”
Jim shot McCoy a wry look. “He only calls me James when my Humanness surpasses his ability to tolerate it.”
McCoy turned to Spock. “I’ll get you a PADD for the study.”
Jim sighed as McCoy walked away and turned to Spock. “I’m not a science experiment, ya know.”
“No, I would never presume to think you were.”
* * * *
Sarek did a double take at the sight of his son coming down the central staircase of their home. He was wearing a pair of jeans, a dark blue undershirt, and a San Francisco 49ers football jersey—the leather jacket his mother insisted he needed for the cool temperatures of Earth folded over one arm. His hair was still incredible short and sticking up in a variety of directions. He took a deep breath and for once in a very long time said the first thing he thought. “If you get your body pierced in any fashion, Spock, I will be very concerned.”
Spock paused in his efforts to put on his coat. “I would never mutilate my person in such a way, Father. It would be illogical.” He went to the hall closet and pulled out a motorcycle helmet. “Jim will be here shortly—we are going to meet Captain Pike for a game. Did you wish to attend?”
“I had to decline the offer already with the Captain—I have a comm conference that I can not postpone.” Sarek opened his mouth and then closed it abruptly.
“Is something wrong?” Spock questioned as the checked the communication system in the helmet.
“Why do you have a motorcycle helmet?”
“Captain Pike gave it to me when he gave Jim a motorcycle for an un-birthday present last week. I am not allowed to ride with Jim without it and today Jim finished his safety class for the motorcycle and received his license,” Spock explained patiently. “It has a parental reporting system built in and Captain Pike informed me that you will receive reports on where the vehicle goes and at what speeds it travels whenever I ride with Jim. Although both Jim and I both could alter the computer system to prevent that—we have both promised Captain Pike that we will not.”
“Un-birthday present,” Sarek repeated. “I fail to…” He trailed off, clearly at a loss.
“Jim does not celebrate his birthday. Captain Pike usually gives him a gift on the day the adoption became official which is today. It is Jim’s “un-birthday”. I do not understand it but there was an explanation involving something called a tea party, a mad hatter, and an unfortunate female child who took all manner of drugs in a place called Wonderland.”
Amanda’s startled laughter from the top of the stairs caught both of their attention. She came down, big smile on her face and amusement all but dancing in her eyes. “It’s a children’s story. I’ll send the text to your personal PADDs so you’ll both be thoroughly educated on the matter of ‘un-birthdays’.”
Sarek nodded abruptly. “That would be satisfactory, Wife.” He offered her his fingers and relaxed minutely when she accepted them. Her amusement and genuine happiness rolled over him in a wave of contentment. It was being on Earth—being around people who respected her that had given her this and he felt cruel for the years he’d allowed her to wither on Vulcan.
They both watched Spock pull a communicator out of the basket Amanda kept on a table near the front door and check its power cell. “I will be home directly after the game unless Jim decides he must eat again.”
Sarek merely nodded and his son exited the house. He started in surprise as Amanda moved close to him and wrapped her arms around him. “His hair.”
“Is fashionable for Earth.”
“Helps him blend in and be more part of the environment he lives in. I wore Vulcan clothes without exception for sixteen years. I still wear the more formal attire for my visits to the embassy and when we travel for your work. He’ll work out what is comfortable for him as he grows up.”
She snickered. “They are so adorable.” Amanda hummed a little under her breath. “You’d look great in a pair of jeans… I could get…”
“Absolutely not,” Sarek said without a hint of hesitation and touched her face. He let his thumb rub over a meld point and she shivered in his embrace. “I have 87.62 minutes before I must attend a comm conference with the Andorian Ambassador.”
She pretended to frown and then sighed dramatically. “Well, if I can’t convince you to wear a pair of jeans the least you can do is get naked for me.”
“I believe I was required to promise you something called ‘naked time’ no less than three times a week when you agreed to marry me.”
* * * *
Spock paused at the bottom of the stone steps that lead up to the front entry way of his home and lifted one eyebrow at his friend. Jim was sitting astride the motorcycle his father had given him, his helmet off and in his lap. The boy offered him a smile that could only be called breezy and winked. “Hey there, you look worried.”
“I do not,” Spock returned evenly. “Vulcans do not look worried.”
Jim laughed and took a deep breath as Spock gracefully slid astride the back of the motorcycle and moved closer. “You’ll have to hold onto my waist.”
“I read the manual you sent,” Spock declared and secured his helmet. He activated the comm link on the side and it synced with the helmet that Jim pulled on. “We have 22.54 minutes before the game starts.”
“Plenty of time,” Jim assured and offered him a pair of leather gloves over his shoulder. “Extra layer of protection for your touch and it’ll help keep your fingers warm.”
Spock pulled the supple leather gloves on without complaint and then wrapped his arms around Jim’s waist. His gloved hands settling on his stomach just above his belt buckle. It was entirely intimate but he found he liked it a lot. The machine rumbled to life beneath him and his stomach lurched slightly. Jim reached back and patted his thigh which Spock was sure he meant to soothe but it hardly did anything of the kind.
“Just move with me and let your body relax against mine. I’ll take care of everything.”
“I understand.” Inwardly, Spock wondered if he’d just been flirted with again because Jim’s instructions had been oddly exciting.
* * * *
Spock adored his mother but for the most part he found Human women strangely threatening and predatory. Starfleet had what Jim called a ‘box’ at the stadium so they had a large semi-private space at the top of the stadium where they could watch the game. It was preferable to being out in the crowd which seemed unspeakably horrible to Spock. Captain Pike had arranged for them to have tickets to sit in the box but they weren’t the only people in the room.
Spock had found himself introduced to three Admirals, two Admiral’s wives, and one Admiral’s daughter who had briefly tried to attach herself to Jim before he’d feigned an exuberant amount of interest in Admiral Archer’s little dog. The dog, which he been informed was a beagle, adored Jim back and had followed them to their seats. Spock had learned the rules of North American football and he’d watched several games so that he could see the more practical application of the game. He found it barbaric but fascinating as it said something about Humans that they still indulged in ‘gladiator’ type sports.
Captain Pike sat down beside them and passed them both bottled drinks. “Sorry about that—I didn’t realize Admiral Boyle had tickets to this box or I’d have gotten us tickets for the other Starfleet box.”
“It’s okay,” Jim muttered. “I don’t even know why Jenna likes me so much. I never return her comms, I only went on that one date with her so she would realize how little we have in common, and I already lied and told her I was completely, utterly gay.”
Pike snorted. “I don’t think she believes you.” He glanced towards Spock. “Though she might now—with all the glaring Spock was doing at her.”
“I did not glare at the silly girl,” Spock returned evenly and resolutely focused on the game.
“You know I spent a lot of time with your Dad,” Chris offered with a small smile.
“I am aware of your association with my father.”
“So I’m learning what a Vulcan looks like when he glares,” Pike explained and lifted one eyebrow when Spock opened his mouth to respond. Spock promptly shut his mouth.
Jim laughed softly. “He can not-Vulcan glare at her all he wants.”
* * * *
It’s nearly eight weeks to the day from the first time they met that Spock purposely brushed his fingers against Jim’s when they are playing a game of chess in their quarters at school. His parents have been on a mission for a few days and Captain Pike had gone on a two week diplomatic mission they weren’t authorized to know the details of.
“You just kissed me,” Jim said casually as he made his next move. “On purpose.”
“Perhaps,” Spock responded neutrally. “It might have been an accident.”
“Hmm,” Jim murmured. “An accident you say?”
“Perhaps.” Spock felt amusement and relief settle around him. He thought some of it might be Jim’s.
“You’re my best friend,” Jim said seriously. He reached out and carefully laid his hand on top of Spock’s. Slowly, he tangled their fingers together loosely—it was the most intimate physical thing Spock had ever known. “You were like my instant best friend and I won’t sacrifice that friendship with you for anyone or anything—not even for a romantic connection between us. Don’t get me wrong—I want it and I’m more than willing to wait out your entirely glacial courtship ritual but I can live without it if there is a single chance that if things go wrong between us that I’ll lose your friendship.”
Spock swallowed hard and looked down at their linked fingers. He flexed his hand slightly and shivered at the way Jim’s cooler skin brushed over his. Finally, he lifted his head and focused on those too blue eyes. “I am and always will be your friend.”
Jim reached out with his free hand and made his final move of the evening with a small smirk. “Check mate.”
“Even if you cheat at chess,” Spock continued.
Jim laughed and rubbed the top of Spock’s hand with his thumb. “It’s epic.”
“Our friendship,” Jim responded. “I knew the minute I met you that I’d have something life changing with you. I know Vulcan’s don’t believe in fate but I feel like my destiny is…” He trailed off and looked down at their hands. “Tangled with yours.”