Author: Keira Marcos
Pairing: Kirk/Spock, Sarek/Amanda Grayson
Series: Tangled Destinies
Series Order: 2
Fandom: Star Trek XI (Reboot ‘Verse)
Genre: Alternate Universe, romance
Word Count: 20,600
Rating: PG (for adult language, violence, and situations)
Warnings: Discussions of past physical abuse and off-screen sexual abuse of an OC, and some violence.
Summary: Jim and Spock attend a physics conference at the Vulcan Embassy, Jim’s grandmother tries to get him to agree to an arranged marriage, and the boys develop a mutual dislike for the mall.
* * * *
Jim stored his helmet in the closet near the front door as the Ambassador’s aide disappeared. The young Vulcan woman never spoke to him and rarely did more than raise an eyebrow at him when she answered the door. He joked once to Spock that she was just stunned silent by his grandness—the look on his face still made Jim laugh a little when he thought about it.
Ambassador Sarek was taking him and Spock both to the embassy with him for an intellectual lecture that was being presented. He had informed them they would attend it earlier in the week and though Jim had absolutely no interest in ‘black hole dynamics’, it didn’t even cross his mind to tell Spock’s father that.
He checked his reflection and frowned at his hair. A haircut was due but he’d been putting off because he’d rather spend his time with Spock than fight his way downtown to the salon he preferred for haircuts. He’d dug his best suit out of the closet which had amused his father a little but Jim couldn’t imagine going to the Vulcan Embassy in jeans. The suit was cut in a Euro-Asian style that buttoned up to a narrow collar. He’d bought it because the style was the exact opposite of anything involving a tie and he knew he looked great in it.
“You’re very beautiful,” Amanda said dryly and grinned when he looked her way. “I know women who’d cheerfully murder for your eyelashes.”
Jim grinned and blushed at the same time. He wondered if Amanda Grayson had always been so blunt or if that was something she’d picked up from her Vulcan husband. “Is this okay? I have time to go home and change if…”
“It’s fine.” She walked to him and brushed her hands over her shoulders, tugged gently at his collar to straighten the line of buttons, and stepped back. “Vulcans are a formal people both in their mannerisms and their form of dress. They downplay their physical appearance, shroud their bodies as completely as possible, and make every effort not to stand out in any way.” She looked him over. “In that respect, you will never fit in among them. Your eyes, the color of your hair, and the pleasure you take in your physical body will draw their unwilling attention and in some extreme cases their ire.”
“And if someone gets hostile with me in a Vulcan way?” Jim questioned softly.
“You are Sarek’s guest and you will be accorded a certain level of respect for that alone. That being said, not everyone attending the conference works for the embassy. Vulcans run the spectrum when it comes to personalities. Some can be quite judgmental and cruel in their own way. I find it best not to respond to such cruelty when it is directed at me and it often has been in the past based solely on the fact that I’m Human.”
“You just take it?” Jim questioned with a frown.
“I have always endeavored not to embarrass my husband. As a diplomat’s wife I’m required more often than not to keep my mouth shut when I would be perfectly content to kick someone in the neck.”
Kirk laughed before he could help himself but reached out and touched her arm. “I don’t know that I could keep my mouth shut if someone insulted you in front of me.”
“Spock never has,” Amanda returned dryly. She patted him and then looped her arm around his. “Come—I made a quiche I want you to try.”
In the dining room, he let himself be prodded into a chair beside Spock while Amanda went into the kitchen. Both Vulcans were sitting at the table tense and obviously quite irritated despite the stoic expressions. “Good morning.”
Spock exhaled sharply, turned to him, and whispered fiercely, “Do not ever just take it if one of my people mistreats you. I will not be embarrassed by your actions.”
Jim blinked in surprise but before he could say anything Amanda returned and slid a plate onto the table in front of him. He picked up his fork and regarded his food with not quite a frown. “You know—I’ve never had food that wasn’t replicated, outside of a restaurant, until I met you.”
Amanda took her seat and smiled. “Spock refused to eat replicated food as a child. It was as if he knew it wasn’t quite what it should be. Eventually, I did convince him to eat food from the replicator after I reprogrammed 90% of the menu. But I do enjoy the process—the science of cooking. One of my degrees is in chemistry.”
They finished up the meal quickly and Jim found himself in the front hall watching Spock pull a long, heavy, but fairly plain black cloak on. It accentuated his height and his leanness and Jim found he rather didn’t like at all. It made him look hotter than normal somehow. Spock hadn’t put any product in his hair so it lay flat and silky against his head. Still too short to look entirely like the Vulcan preference but serviceable, he supposed. He was so busy staring at Spock that he started in surprise when Sarek moved to stand directly in front of him.
Sarek eyes brightened just slightly in what he figured was amusement when Jim lifted a single eyebrow at him. “How are your shields?”
“Good. I woke up early enough to do an hour of meditation before I came here.” Jim fiddled with one of his cuff links and cleared his throat. “You want to check, right?”
“It was would ease my concerns, yes.”
He bit down on his bottom lip and glanced briefly at Spock. “Sir, are you aware of the term imzadi?”
“It is a Betazoid word that translates as ‘beloved’ in Standard,” Sarek responded as he tucked his hands behind his back. He glanced briefly at Amanda who had paused in her efforts to straighten Spock to her yet to be determined satisfaction.
“Basically—yes but it really means—the first. As in the first person to share physical and mental intimacy.” Jim blushed and cleared his throat. “I’ve never let anyone touch my mind on the level you are requesting. Not even the healers on Betazed dared to probe that deeply.”
“The day you protected Spock at the school…” Amanda questioned softly.
“I wrapped my primary shield around him but my shields are layered and deep due to both my telepathy and advanced empathy. Even when I’m asleep, the core of my mind is heavily protected. I use the psionic shield generator because I fall in and out of REM sleep without it. It’s not restful.”
Sarek tugged at his sleeves, clearly uncomfortable. “I was not aware that Betazoids were as concerned about their mental privacy as Vulcans.”
“Jaret says I’m a prude,” Jim offered a small smile and Amanda laughed. “But then Jaret took his first lover when he was fourteen.”
Sarek’s gaze widened fractionally and both Vulcans in the room tinged green. “I see. Very well. Do pay attention to your shields during your visit to the embassy and report any problems to Spock immediately. While I do not doubt your abilities or your discipline—there are some individuals in the embassy that would be grossly offended if you were meander mentally. It is the biggest stumbling block our government has with the Betazoid.”
“Trust me, if I offend someone it won’t be because I lose control of my abilities and for the record most adult Betazoids meander mentally on purpose unless they are ill. If they say otherwise—they’re being dishonest.”
Amanda laughed, continued her fussing over Spock’s appearance and then permitted herself one little adjustment to her husband’s collar before she reviewed them critically. “Very well, you may leave. Don’t start an intergalactic incident if it as at all possible. There will be many different species at the presentation.”
* * * *
“You’re James Kirk.”
Jim unconsciously moved closer to Spock and swallowed back a frown at the greeting. The Andorian had announced his discovery as if he were throwing down a gauntlet. “Yes. And you are?”
“I am called Thalus.” The Andorian’s antennae shifted, curled at the tips and seemed to point in his direction before he shifted his gaze away from Jim and focused on Spock. “And you are Spock of Vulcan.”
“I am.” Spock’s face was like ice and Jim wondered briefly if it was the first time he’d ever met an Andorian. “You are the grandson of General Thy’lek Shran.”
“Yes.” Thalus focused entirely on Jim. “Did you enjoy the first part of the lecture this morning, James?”
“It was interesting,” Jim said which was his way of saying that he almost fell asleep half way through and Spock had kept not so gently nudging him with an elbow. Something hard and fierce pushed against his shield—nothing like the gentle pressure he normally felt from Spock’s mind and it was almost immediately intensely uncomfortable. He took a deep breath and noticed that a Vulcan woman that he had not met had started toward them followed closely by Sarek. “My natural defenses against psionic invasion are quite adequate, Thalus. I suggest you find someone less likely to punch you in the face to play your games with.”
Thalus’ antennae stilled and he smirked. “You interest me, James. Truly.”
“He is not available for your interests,” Spock returned icily just as they were joined by his father and the woman.
“Thalus,” T’Pol began with a narrowed gaze. “I warned you that during your stay here you would have to maintain strict control over your abilities.”
“He’s not out of control,” James responded before Thalus could speak. He turned to Spock. “As much as I really enjoy watching a beautiful woman rip a man to pieces with words, I’m kind of thirsty. It’s warm in here.”
Spock shot the young Andorian a thoroughly Human glare and curled his fingers into Jim’s sleeve as he led him away from the encounter. They left the large presentation room silently and Spock didn’t say anything until he was leading Jim into a large, beautifully decorated office.
“Please,” Jim murmured and sat down on a couch. “This is your Dad’s office?”
“Yes.” Spock spoke in Vulcan to the replicator and it produced a chilled glass of water which he brought to him. “Did he hurt you?”
Jim snorted and didn’t look up when the office door opened. Sarek’s cool presence drifted over him and he relaxed. “No, Spock, not at all he’s practically psi-null. Thalus has a few parlor tricks at his disposal but he’s never bothered to train and I’ve encountered puddles of rain water with more depth. Even a full-blood Aenar would have a difficult time breaching my mental defenses. The first thing Jaret taught me was how to defend myself mentally. He was diligent in his teachings.” Jim glanced up from this water and regarded Sarek with serious eyes. “I didn’t respond. I could’ve. I could’ve put him on the floor.”
“I am aware of your self-control as well as Thalus’ complete and utter disregard for propriety. T’Pol has dealt with him and he will not approach you again.” Sarek glanced at his son. “The presentation will begin again in 22.54 minutes. I expect you both to collect yourselves during that time period and return to your seats.”
Jim watched him leave and then set aside the glass. He walked to the window where Spock was lingering and leaned against the wall beside it. “Look—when we are in the Betazed Embassy—do you take notice of the others besides Jaret?”
Jim sighed. “What was the first thing you thought when you met me?” He laughed when Spock blushed. “Okay, okay—you don’t have to say it. I’m unbonded, Spock, and for a Betazoid my age that’s kind of rare. We are normally bonded genetically as infants. I put off a lot of feel good vibes that telepaths like Thalus can pick up. You don’t get the full brunt of it as your gifts are largely related to touch. I know you pick up a little of it but more importantly you’re probably saturated in my pheromones. Vulcans have advanced olfactory glands right?”
“Females more than males but yes, I would say that is an accurate description of my state in your presence. I am aware of the pheromones you produce.” Spock flushed.
Kirk sighed and reached out. He carefully tangled his pinky and ring finger with Spock’s. The Vulcan immediately relaxed and he took a deep breath. “Others will respond to me, they will express their interest in a variety of subtle and not-so subtle ways. This will be something we both have to deal with for…” He trailed off. “Well, just until we reach a place in our relationship where we can take the next step.”
“If you were bonded this would stop?”
“My body chemistry would stabilize and I would stop throwing off mating pheromones, yes.” He grinned and swung their hands gently. “Still, I’m really hot so people would probably still hit on me.”
“Your ego is incredible.” Spock moved closer to Jim briefly and then released his fingers. “We should return to the conference; our departure was most improper.”
“That was all you, ya know.” Jim followed towards the door and then grinned suddenly. “Wait; is this like when my Dad takes us to a football game or something? This is your Dad’s way of… reciprocating?”
Spock inclined his head as he opened door. “I believe so, yes.”
“Cool. Let’s go learn more about black holes.”
* * * *
Betazoid wedding ceremonies were done entirely in the nude. Spock had consulted six different texts before resigning himself to that fact. It was horrific. He set aside his PADD at the chime at his door. “Enter.”
Sarek came into the room and closed the door. “I have sent some documents to your personal PADD, Spock. They concern some matters of physiology and biology that might interest you as it relates to unbonded Betazoids.” He tucked his hands behind his back. “Your mother was able to secure the information from the Betazed Embassy as they are quite enamored with her at the moment. Please treat the information as confidential as it is far more comprehensive than that the Betazed government normally makes available to interested parties and delete it once you have reviewed it.”
“Of course, Father.” Spock eyed his PADD with growing trepidation. “May I know what made you request this information?”
“Your reaction this afternoon,” Sarek explained without hesitation. “It was territorial. Human males do not always react well to such displays as they may be construed as some form of ownership. I would not wish for you to alienate your friend because you fail to properly understand events that are outside of his control. While James is largely Human, he does have some distinct Betazoid traits that must be taken into account.”
“I was not angry with him for the attention he garnered from the Andorian. I am well aware of Jim’s attractiveness. My own mother even comments on it quite frequently. She called him beautiful this morning.” Spock averted his gaze and concentrated on the floor in front of him. “Many different species find Humans attractive sexually—they are passionate and vivid people. Jim approaches life as if it were a rich meal spread out just for his pleasure. I see that in him and so do others.”
Sarek inclined his head thoughtfully and walked to stand by the large bay window that made up a large portion of the exterior wall of Spock’s bedroom. “When I met your mother she had another suitor. I had a function at Federation Headquarters to attend and she was available to attend with me. I agreed though I knew of the other man’s interest—he was overt in his pursuit of her. It was an impulsive thing to do—something I believed myself far too old to even be capable of.”
“Were you territorial with the other man?”
Sarek exhaled sharply. “Your mother and I had been dating for several months when the man returned from a mission. He was a member of Starfleet—still is actually. He was promoted to Vice Admiral shortly before we returned to Earth. At any rate, then Captain Komack made it perfectly clear to Amanda that she had no business being involved with an alien. While I did not know it at the time, your mother did harbor some misconceptions about the depth of my affections for her. My reaction to Captain Komack allayed those concerns and we bonded several weeks later.”
Spock lifted an eyebrow. “What did you do?”
Sarek flushed, his cheek bones darkening. “I walked into a room and found him touching your mother against her vocal protests. I broke his arm and his jaw.”
He had the strangest urge to say ‘holy shit’ and for that Spock blamed Jim entirely. His friend had the foulest mouth in the Federation. Spock was relieved he managed to swallow back the exclamation and settled for lifting one eyebrow. “And she agreed to marry you after seeing the violence you were capable of?”
Amanda’s laughter startled them both. Spock turned to find his mother leaning in the doorway. She rarely if ever sought permission to enter his rooms—he thought perhaps he’d start locking his door. What if he’d been naked or playing chess with Jim? They often touch with their fingers when they play and his mother didn’t need to see that.
“It was quite interesting to know that I had inspired such a display of emotion from your father. I don’t have Jim’s gifts and I didn’t know enough about Vulcans to understand the difference between not having emotions and choosing not to express emotions openly.” Amanda inclined her head. “What did Jim say about what happened?”
Spock flushed. He really didn’t want to say but he’d never evaded his mother’s questions—not even when the answers were mortifying. “He explained that in his unbonded state he produces pheromones that will basically lure potential mates to him and he has no control over it. It is a response to his unbonded state. I read in my research that the pheromones Betazoids produce is one of the reasons that full Betazoids are almost exclusively bonded at birth. The information that Dr. McCoy was able to provide me was sparse at best. Dr. McCoy theorizes that Jim’s mental abilities influence his brain chemistry and hormone production to a greater degree than should be possible in a hybrid of his kind. It is as if his brain does not realize he is only 1/4 Betazoid.”
“Jim’s personal doctor shared this with you?” Amanda asked with a frown.
“I attend Jim’s appointments. Jim and I are conducting a study on the production of neurotransmitters for Dr. McCoy. It is so he can take care of him. It seemed logical to help and now that I participate in the data gathering the records are complete and orderly. Jim is brilliant but his organization is incredibly lax.”
Amanda paused and then nodded. “Very well then.”
Sarek left the window and walked to stand with his wife. “We will leave you with your reading, Spock. Should you have any questions—I will be available.”
“Very well, Father.” Spock allowed himself to frown after the door closed.
* * * *
Jim was wearing a dark blue suit for the second day of the conference and it called entirely too much attention to his eyes and to the fitness of his body. Spock wanted to throw his own robe over his friend and glare at anyone who came their way. He was so preoccupied with the matter that he failed to notice the arrival of T’Pring and her father until it was entirely too late to remove Jim from the situation.
T’Pring stopped in front of the two of them but her father glanced over at them, dismissed them, and continued to the other side of the room. Spock suppressed a sigh and lifted one eyebrow at her. “T’Pring.” He could almost hear the pieces clicking together for Jim by the way his eyes darkened and his usual smile slipped away. “This is James Kirk. Jim, this is T’Pring, she is of a different but close clan. Our fathers attended the Vulcan Science Academy at the same time. Her father, Staval, at one time worked as an Ambassador on Betazed. He was instrumental in bringing Betazoid into the Federation when he was still a very young man.”
Jim offered her an abrupt nod. “Good afternoon.”
T’Pring’s gaze flicked between them—assessing. “Is there some place we can talk privately, Spock? I have a personal matter to discuss with you on the behest of my father.”
“No,” Spock responded without hesitating. “Anything your father would request from me should be sent to my own father for consideration as you well know. Jim is my guest at this conference and it is my responsibility to remain with him.”
“Surely he will understand that you need to discuss a private matter with your future bondmate,” T’Pring said, her voice taking a sharp edge.
Spock didn’t so much as blink at her claim but Jim laughed softly—it was a beautiful sound and so out of place in a room nearly full of Vulcans. He looked at Jim and the Human offered him a breathtaking smile. “What?”
“Is this what stalking looks like when Vulcans do it?”
Spock had to fight desperately not smile in return. In the end, his mouth did quirk minutely. Jim had explained the concept of ‘stalking’ to him earlier in the week when Rob, from school, had invited him to the same party 15 different times. Spock just thought that Rob liked to hear him say, “Vulcans do not party” but he couldn’t be certain. By Friday, Rob’s stalking of Spock had taken on a life of its own and the final time he’d asked him and Jim both to come to his party their entire mechanical engineering class had mimicked Spock’s habitual response loudly.
Finally, when he was certain he had his voice under control he responded, “I would not know. I was not aware Vulcans were capable of stalking.”
Jim looked T’Pring over the way the way he did everyone—assessing the level of threat she represented in a blink of an eye. “Remind me later, Spock, I want to show you a movie called Fatal Attraction.”
“Movie?” T’Pring questioned with a frown.
“It is a form of storytelling, entertainment—told in video format by actors. The original version is pretty lame but the remake they did several years back will make your eyes bleed it’s so scary,” Jim responded with a bright grin. “In this particular movie, this man has an illicit sexual affair with an Orion woman who takes it far more seriously than he does. After he ends the relationship, she stalks him and his family and eventually kills their pet and tries to kill him as well. My Dad showed it to me as a cautionary tale so I would remember to avoid difficult women.”
T’Pring’s left eyebrow twitched and she stalked off without saying another word.
Amanda joined them as they watched the girl cross the room at a faster pace than any adult Vulcan would even contemplate. She slid her arm around Jim’s and he tucked his arm up so that her hand fell naturally on his forearm. She offered him a bright smile. “James, I adore you.”
“It’s a great movie,” Jim defended, his eyes bright with laughter. “At least I didn’t tell her I’d prefer to die in a fire than marry her.”
Spock sighed. He’d told James the story of his almost bonding in an effort to further the emotional intimacy of their relationship but he hadn’t really told the Human what he’d meant by the ‘burn and die’ declaration. Jim had taken it quite literally which had lead to Spock learning more about the short hand language used to send instant text messages than he’d ever thought he’d want to. He had become fluent in Imspeak both in Federation Standard and Ferengi but he wasn’t sure that was something he could put down as an academic achievement.
Amanda patted Jim and offered her son a soft smile. “And Spock?”
“That was an entirely Human male territorial response,” she said with a wink when Jim groaned his distress and walked away.
Spock glanced at Jim and cleared his throat. He busied himself checking the cuff links of his formal shirt before pulling the sleeve of his robe back into place. “Jealousy would be illogical.”
“She’s attractive,” Jim offered in a neutral tone. “Far more attractive than you led me to believe.”
“The turn of her face may be a distraction at first but the coldness of her mind is as stark and unwelcoming as the ice fields of Delta Vega.”
“It seems like that kind of cold logic would be sought after among Vulcans,” Jim murmured.
“I am half-Human and it is not attractive at all.” Spock inclined his head towards the dining tables. “We are being seated for the meal. Do you remember the layout of the utensils?”
“Yes, of course, I’ll never forget. I got the Eyebrow of Doom from your Father every time I got it wrong in the car on the way over here.”
Spock was disgruntled to find that he and Jim were seated at a table separately from his parents but he knew that his parents were also at the reception for ‘work’ so he accepted the circumstances without comment. He was also rather horrified when T’Pol swept into place at their table and focused on Jim. He considered family relationships on Earth briefly before he began introductions.
“James Kirk, may I present Ambassador T’Pol, she is as you would see it—my Great Aunt by marriage. Ambassador T’Pol has worked for the Federation since even before its inception and held the position of science officer on the very first Enterprise in the Earth Starfleet armada.”
“James it is my pleasure to you meet you. I wish to apologize for not taking the time to meet you when you visited the embassy in the past. I did not wish to make an already stressful day more difficult for you.” T’Pol inclined her head. “This Elder Stavik; he is the current administrator of the Vulcan Science Academy, one of the leading theorists on wormhole physics on Vulcan, and my first cousin. He was also at one time bonded with Spock’s paternal grandmother but is not Ambassador Sarek’s father. On Spock’s left is Elder T’Lina; she is on the Vulcan High Council and is related to Spock and I quite distantly but is still of our clan. T’Lina is instrumental in the warp theory research on Vulcan and recently a ship of her design achieved warp 7.”
Two hours later, Spock was quite convinced that if he left Jim’s side T’Pol or T’Lina would have the young Human male betrothed to one of their granddaughters before he could return to rescue him. Jim had been friendly, attentive, mannerly, and above all other things brilliant throughout the meal. Their table was easily the noisiest in the entire room as several times during the course of the meal T’Lina and Stavik had lapsed into spirited debates over the answer to a question Jim had posed.
After the meal, most of the embassy guests vacated the room and T’Pol had ordered a tea pot, taking care to order a different kind of tea for Jim without it looking like an afterthought. Elder T’Lina had left after promising to comm Jim with a response to one of the questions she couldn’t answer.
Spock was kind of perplexed. He and his mother had always been treated very well within the clan so he hadn’t expected any of his family to be cruel or vicious with Jim but he had been prepared to buffer their actions and words. He thought that maybe it wasn’t his family’s reaction to Jim but Jim’s reaction to them. Kirk was relaxed, genuinely amused when most Humans would’ve felt insulted by the bluntness of his kind, and very comfortable with the entire conversation. Spock wondered what emotions the empath was picking up from those around him that made him so comfortable.
T’Pol arranged her tea as Amanda and Sarek joined them at the table. “James, I believe that is the first time I have ever seen T’Lina at a loss. I am certain she skipped tea so that she could rush back to her lab on board her research vessel to figure out the answer.”
Jim, who had been studiously preparing his tea, lifted his head and offered T’Pol a grin. “Should I send her an apology?”
T’Pol all but smiled back at him and Spock found it very unnerving. “No, the stimulation is good for her constitution. She has many students who study under her on Vulcan but few in recent years have bothered to question her theories. Your questions about warp speed and time travel should keep her busy for years and at our age that kind of intellectual curiosity is good for the soul.”
Elder Stavik put aside his tea cup and focused entirely on Spock. “Spock, how are your studies on Earth? Do you need supplementary tutoring to prepare for the Vulcan Science Academy entrance exam?”
Spock glanced at his father briefly and under the table casually linked his fingers with Jim when the Human slid them within his reach. “I have not made a decision as to whether or not I will attend the VSA, Elder. That being said, I could take the exam tomorrow without difficulty.”
Stavik quirked one ancient eyebrow at him and focused on Jim. “And what are your plans for the future, Mr. Kirk.”
“Starfleet is a tradition in my family, Elder.” Jim twisted his tea cup around with his free hand and Spock felt his fingers clench around his briefly. “But I already have some offers for further education both here on Earth and on Betazed. The most attractive offers for me are here on Earth. Both Cambridge and the Daystrom Institute have expressed interest in my academic achievements. As I will likely finish my secondary education sometime within the next eighteen months—I will have several years of study available to me before my father will allow me to enlist in Starfleet.”
“The enlistment age for Starfleet was eighteen,” Spock said neutrally.
“My Dad made it clear he would prefer that I wait until I’m at least twenty-one. That leaves me time to obtain several advanced degrees before I think about Starfleet as a career.”
Elder Stavik cleared his throat to get their undivided attention. “Did you know that we have never had a Human achieve a satisfactory score for the entrance exam for the Vulcan Science Academy?”
Jim’s fingers clamped down on his so hard for a second Spock wondered if he intended to try to break them before he relaxed. He tapped gently in a contrite apology and Spock rubbed his thumb over the top of Jim’s hand in forgiveness. “I was aware of that actually—the exam is a legend in the science communities on Earth. Some consider it a rite of adulthood to even attempt it and the stories of the psychological torture one suffers for years afterward are epic.”
Stavik sat back with his tea obviously very satisfied with the answer. “Then I look forward to seeing how you do on it.”
Jim grinned suddenly and that made Amanda lean forward a little in anticipation. “What would you do if I achieved a satisfactory score?”
Stavik put down his cup decisively. “I believe I would have to prove young Spock wrong and throw you a party.”
Jim laughed completely without reserve and both boys turned to look at Amanda who had spent the week thoroughly enjoying the stories they’d brought home about Rob’s stalking behaviors.
Amanda blinked innocently. “What? Was that supposed to be a secret? Because quite frankly out of all the stories I told this evening—that one earned me the most positive response from practically everyone.”
* * * *
Spock hadn’t been remotely surprised to be separated from Jim shortly after tea and lead into T’Pol’s office. His father did not sit but T’Pol sat down at her desk and regarded him silently for nearly a full minute. The effort to not fidget under her gaze was extreme.
“T’Pring approached you this evening.”
“Yes, she requested time alone with me and when I would not grant it—she made a point of asserting a claim of being my future wife.” Spock’s jaw tightened. “You must know I would never tolerate a bond with her.”
“No, you have made yourself quite clear and your intentions towards James Kirk are obvious to even the most unobservant. He is a charming and brilliant boy—I do not disapprove of the match and I will inform T’Pau of my opinion in my next communication with her. Your rapid adjustment to life on Earth and your friendship with James have disturbed some in our clan who feel you should have been asked to remain on Vulcan and to endure the treatment you suffered outside the confines of our clan. Your academic and mental achievements have not suffered at all which is a source of concern for the entirety of the council as they feel it undermines their policy of Vulcan superiority.”
“My mother suffered on Vulcan—was shunned, insulted, and was often treated as if she were not even sentient by those outside of our clan. You can all be grateful that I refrained from murder in her defense,” Spock murmured. “My humanity has always stood in the way of my mental discipline as far as suppressing emotions goes. I will never be the ideal and as I stood before the healer and prepared to take a proper Vulcan bondmate, the very idea of pretending that was possible my entire long life seemed immensely illogical.”
T’Pol inclined her head in agreement. “T’Pring has petitioned T’Pau to compel the bond as per the arrangement reached by our clans. Her father brought her to Earth to facilitate the bond in anticipation of T’Pau’s decision because he seems certain she will side in her favor.”
Spock looked down at his hands, the ghost of Jim’s touch lingered on his skin even now and it had been nearly a half hour since they’d held hands under the table. “Will she?”
“What will you do if she does?”
Spock exhaled sharply. “I am 98.96 percent certain that I could mentally protect myself in such a way that a bond would be absolutely impossible without my consent.”
“So you would refuse T’Pau’s order?” T’Pol questioned with no hint of ire or amusement in her voice.
“I would find myself with no other logical choice. It would be foolish to accept a bond with someone I find intolerable when I have found my t’hy’la in James Kirk.”
* * * *
Jim was thumbing through the screens of his communicator, checking his messages and sending off a few texts to people from school. He published a status report on his school profile page confirming that he went to a Vulcan “dinner” and it was definitely “not a party”. He was sure the kids from school would get a kick out of that.
His Dad often wrote him text letters while he was on the bridge so he had one rambling communication from Pike that was several pages long and it offered a bunch of different observations about the Yorktown and her crew. He was smirking at his father’s description of the new shorter dress style uniform for women when a shadow fell over him. Jim glanced up and sighed dramatically.
T’Pring’s gaze narrowed. “Why are you still here, Human? Who would leave you unsupervised in the embassy?”
“Ambassador Sarek told me to sit here so I’m sitting here,” Jim returned dryly. “Go away. I’m not allowed to talk to strangers.”
“I can not even begin to understand Spock’s fascination with you but it will not last. My family is influential and my father will have this match for me. Spock is not going to be given a choice.”
Jim frowned at her. “You really shouldn’t be discussing this with me—it’s indiscreet but if we’re going to go there—I should point out that you live on Vulcan and Spock lives here with me. I’m smarter than you, definitely hotter than you, his mother loves me, and I’m really awesome. It may not be entirely modest to say this, sweetheart, but I’m a great catch and you’re sort of insane.” He held up a hand when she started to speak. “I can’t say that the insane thing isn’t kind of working for you—because you’re not bad looking in a cold, cruel kind of way. Spock doesn’t want you—he’d rather die than be with you and you’re getting creepy here so go away.”
She hissed in fury and failed to notice the audience they’d suddenly had when T’Pol’s office door opened. “You will never survive his first Pon Farr. He will snap your frail Human body into pieces and then he will die as he deserves.”
Jim stared at her for a few seconds and then laughed without an ounce of reserve. T’Pring jerked in surprise. “Are you serious? Really?” Jim crossed his legs, lounged back on the bench casually, and smirked. “Go away—you’ve embarrassed the other Vulcans and you’re boring me to death.”
T’Pring turned at that and paled dramatically at the sight of T’Pol, Sarek, and Spock.
Sarek took a deep breath. “James, come, we are leaving.” He spared T’Pring a hard glance and then turned to T’Pol. “You will tell T’Pau that I will have this creature in our family over my rotting corpse.”
T’Pol inclined her head. “It would please me greatly to use those exact words.”
“Then you may do so.”
Jim glided off the bench and with one final arrogant smirk in T’Pring’s direction moved past her. He really didn’t expect her to reach out for him but she caught his arm in a tight grip. He glanced at her and frowned. Spock rushed toward them but she was already sliding boneless to the floor in a dead faint by the time he reached Jim.
Jim turned to him in shock and said, “She really is crazy.”
Spock reached out for him but hesitated to touch him in front of his father. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah.” Jim squatted down beside T’Pring and checked her pulse. “You’re going to need to get a healer down here for her—she wasn’t prepared for what she got for efforts. She’s not damaged permanently but she’ll need a healer to assist her into a healing trance.” He looked at T’Pol. “This is a problem, right? Trouble for your clan?”
T’Pol shook her head. “Trouble for hers. These halls have security cameras—we will have proof that she initiated contact.” She took a deep breath. “What about you? Do you need a healer?”
“No, I’m fine. Defending myself against the little trick she tried with me is one of the first things I learned. She tried to push physical pain on me—unfortunately for her it literally doubled back on her and overwhelmed her psionic centers.” Jim stood up. “She’s a mess and hardly trained at all. Her shields are thin normally and now they are non-existent. I think the healer will find that she hasn’t achieved a meditative state in months.” He glanced towards Spock. “Perhaps since before the attempted bonding which could be why you reacted so poorly to her.”
“I will call for assistance.” T’Pol walked back into her office without another word.
Sarek went to pick T’Pring up but Jim spoke again before he could. “Sir, I don’t recommend that. She’s broadcasting a serious amount of rage and frustration right now. Do you have an adept in the embassy? It would best if someone of that level handled her.”
Sarek backed away in surprise. “James, you continue to surprise me.” He glanced at Spock who shook his head minutely to indicate he hadn’t discussed such things with his friend.
* * * *
“I cannot discuss Pon Farr with him!” Spock hissed and started to pace back and forth in his father’s office in their home. “She did this on purpose—to turn him away from me before there is even a chance…”
“He did not seem all that concerned.” Sarek pointed towards a chair. “Sit. Calm yourself immediately. You can be emotional and overwrought with your mother later if it is entirely necessary.”
Spock sat down and pressed his lips together firmly as his father retrieved Jim from the hallway. For the first time since he’d met James Kirk, he honestly wished to be completely alone. Jim entered silently and sat down in the chair next to him in front of Sarek’s desk. This was mortifying and horrible and he wanted the very Earth to open up and swallow him whole.
Jim took a deep breath. “Let’s…hmmm. You’re both very upset and nervous so let’s just cut to the chase. I know exactly what Pon Farr is because Jaret told me. When he discovered the direction my relationship with Spock was going in… he educated me thoroughly on the subject including the mental and physical aspects of it. You don’t need to explain it to me—I’ve known for a few weeks. I didn’t tell either of you what he explained to me because he also made it very clear that it was a situation that the Vulcan people as whole find shameful. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable with my knowledge of this very sensitive and personal topic.”
Sarek all but slouched down in his chair. “Jaret is your Betazoid teacher.”
“Yes. As for his knowledge of Pon Farr, he said he was once stationed on a outpost with a Vulcan as part of a science exchange program with his government. The Vulcan went into Pon Farr and Jaret is a powerful telepath. It took him precious little time to get all the information he needed from the man because he was deep into plak-tow before Jaret became aware of his state.”
“Did Jaret get the man to Vulcan in time to help him?”
“They were a month from Vulcan at warp 5. There was no getting him to Vulcan. Jaret helped the man through Pon Farr and with this help he survived. He was also able to prevent a bond but provide the Vulcan with all of the mental intimacy he required for Pon Farr. Jaret opened up his mind and shared the entire experience with me.” Jim flushed and shrugged when both of Sarek’s eyebrows shot up into his hairline. “I’m not afraid of it, okay, and we don’t ever have to actually discuss it again.”
Sarek was flushed but he leaned forward obviously determined. “And you have no concerns or questions?”
“I said I wasn’t afraid of it,” Jim murmured. “I am concerned that I will fall into Pon Farr with Spock due to my own abilities. That being said—it would be a private matter between the two of us to be discussed at a much later date.”
Sarek stood abruptly. “I am going to go ask Amanda to make double chocolate chip cookies.”
Spock leaned forward and buried his face in his hands as soon as his father left the room. “When did you have this discussion with Jaret? Was I sitting there the whole time?”
Jim left his chair and dropped to his knees in front of Spock. He tugged his hands away from his face with a laugh. “No, it was a day your mother picked you up from school for your monthly appointment with the healer at the embassy. I went to visit Jaret to discuss a few topics that I didn’t want to bring up in front of you.”
“Like what?” Spock demanded and then frowned. “You did not take readings for that visit… our data is no longer accurate.”
“I took readings. I just didn’t add them to the PADD. We can do that later.” Jim shifted his hands and threaded his fingers through Spock’s slowly. “I love how warm your hands are against mine. Even when you aren’t touching me—I can feel your heat lingering on my skin.” He cleared his throat. “As for what we discussed, I asked him what he knew about Vulcan bonds and what would be the best way for you and I to make a bond. When I asked him that—he immediately launched in a lecture about Pon Farr.” Jim leaned in and pressed a soft kiss against Spock’s cheek. “He said it was the hottest, most amazing sexual experience of his life. The man, whom he did not name, has had another more Pon Farr since that day and Jaret went to him. They aren’t inclined to bond for reasons I’m not privy to but they’ve been lovers for nearly fourteen years.”
Spock took a deep breath as Jim placed another kiss on his opposite cheek. The cool feel of the Human’s mouth on his skin was intoxicating. “You are not afraid.”
“God, no, Spock. I’m looking forward to it.” Jim sat back on his heels. “There, now I’ve kissed you twice the Human way—absolutely on purpose.”
Spock sat back in his chair and looked down at the hands. “I was worried that you would…it has been my biggest fear. I would never want to hurt you, Jim, not ever.”
“You won’t. We’ll practice the sex thing a lot before your first Pon Farr and then you know we’ll just lock ourselves in a room somewhere, throw on some music, stock up on water and vitamin shots, and make the most of it.” Jim stood up and pulled his hands free gently. “Frankly, I’m far more concerned about our Betazoid wedding ceremony.” He smirked at the ill-disguised horror that drifted over Spock’s face. “Just kidding, babe, I’d never make your Mom get naked in public.”
* * * *
Christopher Pike reviewed the pending charges against his son with rising temper. Though the Vulcan Embassy had assured him personally that the matter would remain internal—the girl’s father had filed assault charges against Jim. It had just been four days since the ‘incident’ as Sarek had insisted on calling it.
He dropped the PADD on his desk and lifted his gaze to the detective from Federation Security. “Has the Vulcan Embassy received a copy of this?”
“My partner is delivering the charges personally to Ambassador Sarek as we speak,” Detective Eli Butler shifted on his feet clearly uncomfortable under Pike’s scrutiny. “Sir, we’d rather not retrieve your son from his school and take him into custody. It’s preferred that you bring him in.”
“I will pick him up from school, contact our lawyer, and bring him to the security center to answer your questions.” Pike tapped the PADD. “This is not a list of formal charges and you don’t have an arrest warrant. You will not speak to my son without me, you will not threaten or attempt to intimidate my son, and he will not be injected with a psi inhibitor prior to your questions without a court order.”
“Sir, the charges pending against him involve the telepathic attack of a 15 year old Vulcan female. You can’t expect us not to inject him with an inhibitor when he’s already demonstrated how dangerous he is.”
“Not only do I expect it, I will have your job if you even think about attempting it without the authorization from a judge.”
* * * *
Jim’s hands were steady as he took the seat he was pointed toward in the interrogation room. He didn’t look at his Dad who was ten thousands kinds of pissed off or Mr. Gregor who was reviewing the PADD that held the pending charges against him. Anger and fear was mixing in his gut. It wasn’t a good thing.
“State your name for the record.”
“James Tiberius Kirk.” Jim took the bottle of water when his Dad offered it.
Butler arranged a PADD on the table in front of him. “Let the record show that it is stardate 2249.102. Attending this interview is Captain Christopher Pike, legal guardian of one James Tiberius Kirk, and Mr. Anthony Gregor, lawyer for James Tiberius Kirk. I am Detective Eli Butler and this is a formal interview into the matter of the charges filed against James Kirk regarding the psionic attack on the Vulcan female known as T’Pring on stardate 2249.98.”
Jim used his finger to draw a circle on the table in front of him. The last time he’d been in front of a Federation Security officer he’d been just hours away from Frank nearly beating him to death. The memory of it was all suddenly very vivid and painful. He’d called Jaret on his way over to the security center so he knew that the Betazed Embassy was about to stick their foot in this mess and for once he was rather looking forward to it. Having a really rich grandma with enough titles that it took ten minutes for her to enter a room was suddenly pretty fucking great.
“Mr. Kirk, in your own words, describe the altercation between you and the Vulcan female T’Pring.”
“She copped an attitude with me because she thinks I stole the man she wanted to marry,” Jim responded evenly. “I was an arrogant asshole to her because that’s my default setting when people are snotty and unreasonable with me. Ambassador Sarek arrived near the end of the conversation and effectively rescued me from her bitchiness. As I walked past her she grabbed my arm so hard for a few seconds I thought she intended to break it. Vulcans, even their females, are three times stronger than a Human. So I didn’t doubt she was capable of kicking my ass if that was on her agenda.” He shrugged when Butler’s mouth dropped open. “But instead she attacked me mentally. Unfortunately for her, her attack bounced off my own mental shielding and doubled back on her. It caused her pass out and overloaded her mesiofrontal cortex. A healer was called and retrieved her. I was told by the people at the Vulcan Embassy that she recovered from the episode with no problems or permanent damage.”
Butler cleared his throat. “So, hmm, to sum up? This girl attacked you verbally because you stole her boyfriend and then made physical contact with you in an attempt to cause you mental damage. However, due to your own mental abilities she only managed to damage herself temporarily.”
“Yes, I’m only ¼ Betazoid—so I’m somewhat limited but I’ve been taught to protect my mind from telepathic threats.” The lie flowed smoothly out of his mouth and he didn’t even feel a twinge of guilt. The last thing he wanted was for anyone in an official government type role with the Federation to know what he was capable of.
“And you didn’t file charges against her for attempted assault because?”
“I was endeavoring to avoid a diplomatic incident. I’m the son of a dead war hero, the adopted son of an active duty Starfleet Captain, dating the son of the Vulcan Ambassador to Earth, and my grandmother is for all intents and purposes minor royalty on Betazed.” Jim dropped back in his chair with a sigh. “So, congratulations Detective Butler—you could to be famous if this goes to court. If you put cuffs on me you can claim to be the fifth cop to arrest the son of one George Samuel Kirk.” He saluted him smartly with his water bottle and ignored Pike’s snort of laughter.
Butler consulted his PADD. “Your record is clean—no convictions.”
“My stepdad liked to get me arrested when I was a little kid—sometimes I even deserved it. He never pressed charges. Frank liked to take me home and beat me half-dead instead. And that was actually one of his least heinous hobbies.”
“Jim.” Pike moved away from the door where he’d been leaning and touched his son’s shoulder. “Let’s not go there kid; you don’t want to spend the night in the infirmary at Bones’ tender mercies do you?”
“Nah, I’m allergic to good drugs anyways.” Jim took a long drink of water. “So, do I get to hear her version of events?”
Butler cleared his throat. “Apparently, from her point of view you attacked her in a jealous rage over the Ambassador’s son.”
* * * *
“Staval has made it clear that they will not go through with formal charges against James if Spock will agree to betrothal and to an immediate marriage bond,” T’Pol said—her tone so dry and tight that Amanda actually flinched. She focused on Sarek. “I was informed that James is in Security custody at this time being questioned.” She held up a hand when Spock stood abruptly from his seat. “His father is with him and from all reports he’s holding his ground with the detective. James has not been given any inhibitors and he does have a lawyer present. He’s quite safe.”
“Bring her in here,” Spock snapped. “Right now.”
T’Pol lifted an eyebrow at the demand but nodded to her assistant who was lingering near the door. Spock walked to the window, his hands tight behind his back and when the door opened again to admit T’Pring and her father he turned.
T’Pring lifted an eyebrow. “You look upset, Spock.”
“I am half-Human, T’Pring. I can look fucking upset all I want,” Spock snapped and even Amanda’s mouth dropped open in shock. “You look smug—if my humanity is my excuse what exactly is yours?”
“It is logical to proceed with our bonding and put this entire matter behind us. You can keep your little Human until we marry if you must. If you do not I will file formal charges and he will be convicted. You know they are not going to release the embassy security footage to Federation Security. The last thing anyone in this room wants is to have to explain Pon Farr to an off-worlder much less have it presented a trial.”
Spock suspected she was nearly right about that and it was infuriating. “I would. I would stand up in front of the Federation’s highest court and explain it in detail if it would protect him from your petty and foolish games. As for the security footage—I have secured a copy and I will not hesitate to turn it over to Federation Security.”
“Your father will not let you,” T’Pring exclaimed, her eyes widening fractionally when Sarek lifted one eyebrow at her. “You would do this to our people for a Human?”
“You would do this to our people to marry a Vulcan/Human hybrid?” Spock returned evenly. “As it stands, even if I were prepared to follow through with this contemptible situation—I would likily murder you in my first Pon Farr. Because while the Vulcan in me can almost appreciate your meticulous planning in this incident; the Human in me hates your guts.”
T’Pol cleared her throat when Staval started to speak. She closed her comm station with a sharp punch of a button. “The Betazed Ambassador is here and is demanding entry.”
Staval moved closer to his daughter. “Why would they have a voice in this matter?”
“James Kirk is the grandson of one of their matriarchs, the fifth house if you are interested,” T’Pol returned coolly. “And you have insulted his integrity, the honor of his house on Betazed, and generally irritated them as much as you have apparently irritated Spock.” She glanced at Spock who was now leaning against the wall near the window—practically vibrating with fury. “Which is to say a lot.”
* * * *
“At this point, Mr. Kirk, we’d like you to submit to deep psi-scan to provide a record of the events from your point of view.”
Jim laughed abruptly. “No way in hell.” He pointed a finger at the detective. “Federation law puts the burden of proof on you; not on me. That means if you want to scan someone for the truth it’s going to be her.”
“She’s not a citizen of Earth and her father is a diplomat so there is some question of how much we can push her…”
“Neither am I, detective,” Jim responded evenly. “I was born in Klingon space and because my father was half-Betazoid his alien heritage took precedence over any other citizenship I could’ve been offered. If I’d been born on Earth I would have dual citizenship—as it stands I’m citizen of Betazed and good luck getting anyone on that planet to order me to submit to a deep psi-scan.” He pulled his communicator out of his pocket and shot the detective a practiced glare when he started to protest and viewed his incoming messages. He opened the one from Spock and blew a breath out. “Shit, well, looks like my boyfriend is just this side of crazy so I should go before he decides to come over here.”
“I have more questions.”
Jim looked at his lawyer. “I’m done here, man. Seriously, Spock is livid. Do you know how much bullshit it takes to make even a half-Vulcan livid? And I’m missing it!”
* * * *
Ambassador Deloia was beautiful like one of the paintings he’d seen in the human museum his mother had taken to him during their first week on Earth and Spock resented the hell out of the fact that he noticed. She offered him a smirk he’d seen on Jim’s face three hundred twenty-six times since they’d met and he wondered if they were related.
“Yes,” Alexa Deloia said with a small smile. “James is a first cousin and we share the same truly outrageous grandmother. She talks to me like a child. It’s as annoying and as insulting as you presume it to be. And thank you—I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone compare me to Botticelli’s Venus before. Your practical visual recall is stunning and your imagination very flattering.” She turned to the rest of the room. “Forgive me; Spock is a spirited and dynamic mental presence in the room. I see why our James is smitten with him.” She sat down in a chair next to Amanda and accepted the tea that she was offered. “Thank you, dear one. I apologize for missing dinner last month. I abhor traveling and I’d hope to avoid that trip altogether. I was not lucky.”
“It’s quite alright, Alexa.” Amanda arranged some delicate, wafer thin chocolate cookies on a plate, and sat them on the desk in front of the Ambassador. “Your favorite from Switzerland.”
Alexa Deloia sighed dramatically and took a cookie. “Glorious.” She took a bite and glanced around at the Vulcans. “This is like being the only drinker at a party.”
T’Pol inclined her head. “By the end of the day I will be asking Amanda to get out the rest of that box for me.”
Alexa smiled broadly. “I spoke with Captain Pike as I was being escorted back here. James was not detained and Federation Security will be requesting a deep psi-scan for evidence purposes before they can even consider going forth with charges.”
“They are going to order a deep psi-scan on James?” T’Pol questioned her eyebrow shooting straight up in her bangs.
“No, they can’t. The burden of proof is not on him.” Alexa turned and looked at T’Pring without hesitation. “They are going to request a deep psi-scan on her. If she refuses, the pending charges will be tossed out due to lack of evidence. I’ve been assured by the Chief of the Federation Security Service that if that happens his record will be cleared of this incident entirely.”
“I will not submit to some primitive deep psi-scan,” T’Pring snapped. “I am the victim here.”
“In your case, darling, it wouldn’t have to be deep scan. You’re really quite shallow.” Alexa returned evenly. “Though I don’t disagree with you on one front.” Her gaze flicked over Staval. “I do consider you a victim here—just not James’ victim. I pity you but I will not allow you to damage my cousin for your father’s political and monetary gain. It’s hardly anyone’s fault but his own that he’s nearly bankrupted his clan in his dealings with the Ferengi.”
“What?” Amanda questioned wide eyed.
“Oh,” Alexa smiled. “Was that a secret? My apologies, I’m just not fit for company when I’m this upset.”
Spock liked her a lot which probably wasn’t a good indication of his current mental health.
Alexa laughed suddenly and glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “You’ll be fine, dear one, getting furious every once in a while is good for your soul.”
Spock’s gaze narrowed. “Jim does not pluck my thoughts from my head like this.”
“He could,” Alexa returned with a small smile. “Easily. He doesn’t because Captain Pike taught him manners that we don’t bother with on Betazed. James is quite polite but he’s young yet—I don’t imagine he’ll always be so nice.” She focused on T’Pring. “Nor will he always be so forgiving when he is attacked or misused for someone’s gain. He’s too good natured to even realize how much power he could wield on Betazed. If you had managed to hurt him, it could’ve damaged relationships between Vulcan and Betazed for generations.”
“He is 1/4 Betazoid. I cannot imagine how he could be important to your people,” T’Pring responded, lifting her chin. “He cannot be valuable for mating purposes.”
“Betazoids on the whole aren’t xenophobic, child, as a people we value and adore life in all of its forms. We blend easily and with much success with many other species. It is that ability that makes us more likely to survive as a people and as a society.” Alexa picked out another cookie. “T’Pol.”
T’Pol quirked an eyebrow. “T’Pring, you will submit yourself to Federation Security for a deep psi-scan so the truth of this matter will be revealed. If you do not, I will see criminal charges filed against you on Vulcan for the willful psionic attack of another sentient being outside of government service whereupon your mind will be subject to the will of T’Pau. Staval, you and your child are dismissed.”
Alexa continued munching her cookie in silence and then drank from her tea cup after the door closed on father and daughter. “You are aware, of course, that Staval is half-Romulan? He was working very hard to keep the information from me but the record of his birth…” She trailed off and regarded T’Pol with a small smile. “I see, you didn’t know. His father will be the Romulan but Staval did not learn this information until much later in his life—after the Kevlin Massacre I believe. The poor girl has no idea—raised by a racist who hates himself as much as he hates young Spock there.”
T’Pol reached out and snatched a cookie from Alexa’s plate and put half in her mouth. She sat back, chewed it calmly, and swallowed. “Amanda, retrieve the box. Sarek, Spock—find somewhere more productive to be. Perhaps you can go foster relations in your respective bromances with Captain Pike and James Kirk.”
Sarek turned to stare at his wife. “Amanda.”
“It made her smile. Do you know how much I have to work get a smile out of T’Pol?” Amanda defended with a frown. “It’s like getting the Klingons to sit down for a peace talk.”
T’Pol opened a drawer and pulled out a bottle of Andorian brandy. “I believe this is your favorite, Amanda.” She turned and looked at Sarek pointedly. “Live long and prosper.”
Sarek looked toward his wife. “I will have the car return here and wait on you. Come Spock.”
* * * *
Jim was sprawled on his bed staring at the ceiling when the door chimed. Before he could respond, Spock entered and locked the door. “Hey.”
Spock pulled off his cloak, draped it over the chair next to Jim’s desk, and crawled right into the bed beside his friend. “Are you quite alright?”
“I’m fine,” Jim murmured and turned on his side to face Spock. “Really. My dad was there the whole time and no one tried to threaten me or get rough with me. It wasn’t a great time but I’ve certainly had more difficult visits in the hands of the Federation Security Service.”
Their hands blended together, fingers brushing together in relief without either one of them making the conscious choice to touch. Spock leaned forward and let his forehead rest on Jim’s. “I was… upset.”
“I said the ‘f’ word in front of my mother,” Spock confessed. “Much later, when I have calmed down I am sure to be mortified by my behavior today. I threatened to kill T’Pring and her father.”
“You said fuck.” Jim sighed. “I can’t believe I missed it. I’m stunned and extremely disappointed.” He sighed. “Did you have to see her today?”
“Her father offered to drop the pending charges against you if I would bond with her,” Spock admitted.
“Jeez, Spock, that makes no sense. I mean, don’t get me wrong—you’re my everything—but why would she want to mate this badly with someone who is half-Human when she obviously hates Humans?” Jim frowned. “I should’ve scanned her but you were right about her mind being so harsh and cold. It was really uncomfortable and I didn’t take her seriously as a result.”
“My family is very wealthy and had we completed the marriage bond—there would have been a ‘bride price’ paid for T’Pring’s care until the time of our marriage.” Spock shifted closer to Jim and closed his eyes. “They wanted the credits, not me. They would have put off the marriage until my first Pon Farr, effectively taking a great deal of wealth from my family and eventually me as I would have been responsible for the ‘bride price’ after I reached adulthood. She never wanted me and I imagine she would have challenged me in my darkest hour—leaving me to die in combat.”
“I want you,” James murmured. “And she can most certainly die in a fire.”
Spock huffed out a small, completely unexpected laugh and opened his eyes. “You always knew exactly what you were saying.”
“Yeah.” Jim wet his bottom lip with the tip of his tongue. “Mr. Spock, I would very much like to engage your mouth in an activity called kissing.”
“I would not mind such an activity,” Spock responded.
Jim smiled suddenly, brilliant and so exotic that Spock could hardly contain an answering smile. He leaned in and brushed his cool lips over Spock’s once—gentle, soft, and slightly damp from his tongue. They came together again and Jim shifted closer, releasing Spock’s fingers in favor of settling his hand on one lean hip. Spock’s hand drifted up over Jim’s shoulder and before either of them even realized it his fingers were ghosting over the meld points on Jim’s face.
They sprung apart swiftly, each rolling off the bed in opposite directions. Spock averted his gaze, not surprised by alarm on Jim’s face. They’d already agreed that melding couldn’t be casual with them and Jim had never had anyone touch his mind the way Spock had almost done instinctually.
“I should not be anywhere near you right now,” Spock murmured. “Not in my condition—I have no self-control and I am certainly emotionally compromised. I cannot be trusted.”
Jim took a deep audible breath. “Spock, give yourself a break here. We’ve both had pretty stressful day and melding is a pretty integral part of intimacy for you. I shouldn’t have released your hand so that I could cop a feel.”
Spock paused. “My hip is worthy of copping a feel?”
“Well, you’re all worthy of copping a feel but I was working my way around.” Jim swished his hand in the air and blushed at Spock’s lifted eyebrow. “You have a great ass.”
Spock felt heat rush over his face and he cleared his throat. “Perhaps we could play a game of chess.”
“Yeah, okay.” Jim motioned toward the board. “Unlock the door so we won’t be tempted.”
* * * *
“You are very angry. I do not believe that an apology is enough for this situation.”
Chris glanced over at Sarek who was sitting in the chair he always sat in when they were in his home office. “I’m not angry at you. I know no one at the embassy anticipated that Staval and his daughter would involve outside parties in what was clearly Vulcan business. I’ve never known the Vulcan people to resort to taking an issue to Federation Security unless it involved outright murder.”
“We are a private people,” Sarek allowed. “I apologize for not protecting your son in this matter. I left him alone in the embassy when I knew T’Pring and her father were there. While I have often had concern for my wife and son when we are outside of our home—I have never believed there were threats in the embassy. That ignorance on my part allowed James to be the subject of an attack. Were he not so well trained it would have been quite painful for him.”
“I’d like to say you don’t have to apologize but if the reverse were true and I had allowed something to happen to Spock while he was in my care—the need to apologize would be overwhelming on my part.” Chris sighed. “So apology accepted.”
Sarek nodded. “Staval is half-Romulan.”
Chris turned his head at that clearly surprised. “I see. Was that new information for your people?”
“Yes. You must know since the Kelvin… there have been concerns on Vulcan concerning the shared ancestry we have the Romulans. While we have made no effort to determine if there are Romulans living on Vulcan in secret—but we have actively monitored immigration to our planet concerning even our own colonies since the massacre. Staval was on Vulcan when I was a boy—we were in school together and attended the Science Academy together.”
“You feel betrayed by him.”
Sarek averted his gaze. “Feelings of betrayal would be illogical, Captain.”
Chris snorted. “You always call me Captain when I make you uncomfortable, Sarek. I know you feel things, okay. I’ve seen you with your family—with your wife and son. I know how much you love them and what you would do to protect them. What you’ve already done to make your son more comfortable with his genetics. That you created him at all—gave your wife a child because she wanted one speaks to the depth of the emotions you have for her.”
“It is a misconception by some humans that Vulcans are emotionless. The choice to control our more primitive natures was the best for our people but at times I wonder how much it serves us when it comes to our relations with other races.” Sarek paused. “Staval has destroyed his clan’s financial position and wanted the bonding with my son due to the amount of credits I would settle on them for her care. It is an ancient and time honored tradition on my planet. As I have a great deal of credits, they would have received enough financial support to recover the losses they had suffered and prevent the loss of their ancestral land.”
“How did Spock take that news?”
“He was already so emotionally compromised by that point that it crossed my mind more than once that I should just render him unconscious before he attacked one of them physically.”
Chris sat up abruptly in his chair. “Sarek, I’ve only known Spock for a few months but I can’t imagine that he would be violent.”
“My species is capable of great violence when provoked,” Sarek corrected in a mild voice. “You should ask Vice Admiral Komack how he came to have his arm broken in six places the next time he irritates you with his ridiculous demands.”
“No shit?” Pike exclaimed and then laughed softly. “What did he do to piss you off?”
“He put his hands on my Amanda.”
Pike grew serious. “That fucker.”
“Indeed.” Sarek inclined his head.
* * * *
“May I ask a personal question?”
Jim paused briefly and then continued, picking up his rook and moving it decisively. “Absolutely.”
“Have you had a sexual partner?”
“I…” Jim took a deep breath. “Why do you ask, Spock?”
“You seemed practiced at the kissing,” Spock returned, a flush crossing his cheekbones.
“Oh.” Jim laughed. “Okay, to answer your real question—I am mentally and physically a virgin. I’ve dated casually in the past but the relationships never last long because I can never stop myself from scanning their surface thoughts when they are with me. What I’ve always discovered there in the past has been a real downer and usually spells the end of my relationship with that person.”
“I’m sorry that you have been hurt that way.”
“It’s not your fault,” Jim said off-hand and then grinned. “You just used a contraction.”
“I probably have in the past—they come naturally to me as my mother was the primary source from which I learned to speak Standard. My father does not like it and considers it quite lazy to shorten words in such a way.” Spock glanced over the board and held back a sigh. “You realize that I am actually very talented at this game.”
“I know you are—I’ve never had anyone challenge me like you.” Jim paused. “If I were allowed to compete, I’d probably have an FIDE rating in the 2200s but telepaths like me aren’t allowed without wearing a psi-collar which I absolutely refuse to wear.”
Spock made his next move. “I grant that you would be higher. I have an FIDE rating of 2450 and I win as many games as I lose with you.” He was silent while Jim considered and made his next play. “You said you would finish your secondary education in around eighteen months. My current educational goals have me finishing within twelve. Should I slow down and redevelop my plans so we are together?”
Jim frowned. “Absolutely not, I’ll redevelop mine and speed it up.” He reached out and grabbed Spock’s hand. “Don’t ever hold yourself back for me, Spock, I won’t tolerate it.” He released him when Spock nodded abruptly. “Will you go to the Vulcan Science Academy?”
“Spock,” Jim started with a frown. “That’s an honored tradition on Vulcan and you’re entitled to it.”
“I spent the first sixteen years of my life being told that I am quite intelligent despite my genetic disadvantage,” Spock returned. “I will take the entrance exam because my father expects it but I will not spend another four to six years being treated as if having a Human mother makes me some kind of aberration.” He made his next move and the piece connected with the chess board with a decisive click. “Besides, even if I do well on the exam—there are rarely more than twenty slots for the VSA and they will not offer me one of them.”
“Even with with your step-grandpa on the board?” Jim asked.
“The decisions are made by committee and my time on Earth will not have endeared me to that board,” Spock admitted. “Especially since they all know I requested it of my father. Many on Vulcan have called my father a race traitor for years behind his back and by requesting the move to Earth—they now think the same of me when before I was just the son of a race traitor.”
“That’s very not logical,” Jim returned dryly.
“The public presentation of Vulcan is much different than what is reality.”
Jim laughed softly and relaxed in his chair. “You just called your whole planet two-faced.”
* * * *
Spock hated the mall but when Jim had shown up at his house on his motorcycle with a request for him to join him on a trip downtown to get his hair cut, he couldn’t say no. Still, Spock hated the mall. He abhorred shopping and didn’t understand why it couldn’t be done via digital catalog exclusively. Half the shops in the place were run by Ferengi and the loudness of that species spread easily throughout the entire structure. They had stored the bike, their helmets, and jackets in a unit before entering the facility and Spock wished he had his because the environmental controls were set very low and he was chilled to the bone.
As much as Spock seemed to hate the mall, Jim adored it. He knew many of the shop keepers and stopped to talk to half a dozen before they’d been in the facility 30 minutes. Spock had been introduced to a pair of Orion sisters, three Ferengi, one Deltan woman who had flirted with Jim shamelessly, and a Trill who had insisted on feeding them snacks while trying to get Jim to buy a pair of leather boots.
By the time they reached the hair salon where Jim had an appointment—they were almost late and Spock was carrying several shopping bags. Some of which, to his shame, were even his own. The arguments on buying leather pants and boots for the motorcycle had been remarkably sound and logical at the time. The woman made quick working of shaping and cutting Jim’s hair and then turned her gaze on Spock.
“Well, come on over here. You need a trim yourself.”
Spock stared at her in alarm. “My hair is fine, thank you.”
“Nope, over here.” She patted the back of the chair Jim just had abandoned. “Your mother wants half an inch snipped off. She was quite clear.”
Spock stared at Jim as he sat down in the chair. “Were you aware of this?”
Jim laughed. “No, come on. I would’ve warned you. I mean, your mom asked me where we were going when you were upstairs changing and where I was getting my hair cut. I didn’t know she had a devious plan in mind.”
* * * *
Sarek pulled out his communicator and flipped it open. He punched in the code that would connect him with home. Amanda’s lovely face filled the small screen almost immediately. “Wife.”
She smiled. “Husband. Is something wrong?”
“Jim and Spock are 45.89 minutes late. I have tried both of their communicators with no response. Have they contacted you?”
Amanda frowned and shook her head. “No. They had appointments to get their hair cut over an hour ago and Spock did comm shortly after his appointment to wiggle his eyebrow at me in displeasure because I made his appointment without his knowledge.” She demonstrated the eyebrow wiggling and grinned when Sarek lifted his own eyebrow. “Have you contacted Captain Pike?”
“Not yet. I did not wish to worry him if there was no need.”
Amanda nodded. “Let me check the news vids and see if there are any accidents that might have slowed them down in traffic.”
* * * *
“Would you hold still? There is no need for this fidgeting.” Jim demanded as he tried to dab at the blood on Spock’s forehead. “To quote you—do not be an infant.”
“I am in Federation Security custody—there is every reason to fidget.”
Jim laughed softly and sat back on his heels. “Well, we aren’t actually in custody. When they put you in custody there is a jail cell involved and stuff like that. This more like—‘holy shit—you guys almost got kidnapped but you kicked their asses instead and we don’t know what to do with you so we called your daddies’.”
Spock huffed but didn’t actually laugh. He did frown when Jim returned from the first aid kid they’d been given with a small dermal regenerator. “Are you aware of how to properly use that?”
Jim nodded. “Yeah, since I was pretty small actually. We had a small one like this at the house and Sam… whenever Sam took a beating from Frank for me I’d use it on his face before we went to school.”
Spock said nothing while Jim worked but when he was done and the Human boy had sat back on his heels to rummage through the kit some more. “If you will show me how to do it, we can take care of your split lip.”
“I hate the mall,” Jim said and winced as he ran his tongue over his bottom lip.
Spock nodded. “It is best to shop from catalogs.”
He laughed. “How is your hand? Did you damage it badly?”
Spock presented his hand which was horribly bruised. “We are taught to strike with precision and to avoid damaging the more sensitive pads of the fingers in the process.”
* * * *
Chris shook his head. “No, detectives, neither of them look remotely familiar. What happened to them exactly?”
“Well, these are two of the four men that attempted to kidnap your son,” Butler responded. “The other two are in critical condition in our hospital wing. They are both expected to live—though the one will likely never walk again. The Vulcan kid apparently shattered his spine. The other is catatonic. Neither Kirk nor Spock offered a reason for the man’s mental state and we didn’t push.” He glanced at Sarek. “We have video footage of the incident.”
“Are you charging our sons with anything, Detective Butler?” Sarek questioned, his gaze narrow and hard.
“No, of course not. They defended themselves and each other because they were attacked. If they hadn’t defended themselves it’s entirely likely that we’d have never found the Kirk kid alive.”
Pike paled. “They meant to kill my son?”
“Not on purpose,” Butler finally said, his gaze focused on the two prisoners he had in his interrogation room. “There is a thriving market for slaves off world, Captain Pike, and having met your son he would’ve fought a situation like that until he was dead or so broken there would’ve been nothing left to rescue.”
“Was he targeted because of one of us?” Sarek questioned. “We both have made enemies on and off the planet during the course of our jobs.”
“No, one of them already gave a full confession,” Butler paused and Chris thought that if the answer was as bad as it appeared maybe he didn’t want to know. “They just said that Kirk was attractive and fair skinned—the kind of Human that would’ve sold for a great deal of cash in the Orion slave markets.” Butler flushed. “One of them also mentioned something about the way he smelled—hormones or something.”
“So it wasn’t because they knew who he was?” Pike questioned. “You’re sure?”
“Sir, the last thing slavers want is a high profile victim like a Starfleet Captain’s son,” Butler promised. “It was just a case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There is something good coming out of this—due to the incident we received the appropriate permission to search their ship at the space port and found ten missing teenagers. They’d taken them from cities across the planet over the last week. They were due to depart from the planet six hours from now.”
Chris shoved his shaking hands into his pockets and looked at Sarek clearly at a loss for words.
“Detective Butler, we would see the footage of the incident and then we would like to take our children home.”
Butler motioned them to sit and then activated a large screen on the back wall. “We have it from several different angles; the mall has excellent security—far better than these guys were aware of. If they’d managed to get Kirk off the planet—we would have had plenty on them to identify.”
That wasn’t a comfort at all and Pike resolved to get some kind of tracking device permanently implanted in his kid at the first opportunity. He was sure McCoy would have some options and would be more than willing to knock Jim out for the procedure if he fought it.
The boys exited into the garage through a pair of double doors—both carrying quite a few shopping bags. They walked over to a transporter system that was designed to send purchases to a set of coordinates. It took them four minutes to separate their things out and beam them home. After they were done, he watched Jim snag Spock’s fingers in a loose hold and they walked out of the range of the camera. The view changed immediately and they were walking towards a storage unit.
It happened quickly—far too quickly for Pike’s nerves. Spock managed a nerve pinch on one of his attackers and knocked the other one out cold with his fist. It was the two they were holding in the interrogation room. Then one of the men started screaming and Spock rushed forward and delivered four extremely vicious blows to the back of the man holding Jim. Then it was over. It was stunning—all of that violence in forty-five seconds. Forty-five seconds that could’ve changed his life forever, taken his son from him—taken the only part of George he had left.
“Look, today had the makings of every parent’s nightmare,” Butler began. “But they are both okay. They had some abrasions and bruises but they refused to let any of our medical staff touch them. Considering the amount of violence they’d already suffered we didn’t feel comfortable forcing medical care on them. We brought Kirk a medical kit at his request and left them alone.”
“We will be taken to our children now,” Sarek declared and stood.
* * * *
“You need to see Dr. McCoy.”
“No, I don’t,” Jim declared.
“I am going to comm him and tell him that your rib is cracked,” Spock returned evenly. He set aside the tricorder. “Honestly, James, you try me.”
Jim laughed. “I try you?” He groaned then and clutched his side. “I’m not the one hiding ninja skills. I’m put out with you, Spock.”
“I am not a ninja. That is ridiculous and I believe I told you that I studied Vulcan martial arts since I was five years of age.” Spock crossed his arms and tilted his head. “Your psionic readings are at dangerously high levels and are four times higher than anything we have previously recorded.”
“Yeah, well, I really couldn’t help myself and I didn’t think Vulcan martial arts were you know actual martial arts. I thought it was some kind of intense meditation and maybe really tranquil katas involving holding the same body position for hours. You know—an art of patience rather than actual defense.” Jim frowned at him. “You’re supposed to be a pacifist.”
“Vulcans see no logic in being defenseless in the face of a threat.” Spock lifted one eyebrow. “What did you mean, you could not help yourself? Is it common for you to lash out telepathically when you are threatened physically?”
“No,” Jim averted his gaze. “I don’t want to tell you what I saw in their heads, okay? You don’t need to know. You’re… too innocent for it, Spock. Just let it go.”
The door opened before Spock could respond and they both turned. Christopher Pike moved into the room and grabbed Jim in a careful hug. “Dad, I’m fine.”
“I doubt it,” Chris murmured against his head. “Don’t think you’re going to get out of seeing Bones.”
Jim sighed. “My bike is at the mall.”
“I’ll send someone to retrieve it,” Pike said and clenched his hands in Jim’s t-shirt. “Let’s get you over to headquarters. I already called McCoy and told him to expect us.”
Jim paused and looked at Spock, then Sarek. “You guys coming?”
“Go with your father,” Spock murmured. “I will take care of this equipment—I need to meditate as well.”
“Okay, I’ll comm you when I’m done.”
Sarek closed the door behind Jim and Pike and regarded his son who had pulled a dermal regenerator out of the medical kit. “What are you doing?”
“We used several pieces of equipment in this bag to repair the minor abrasions we suffered and to do a scan for more serious injuries. I do not wish to leave records of our readings—especially not Jim’s psionic readings. I will make note of the readings for Dr. McCoy but Federation Security does not need to know.”
Sarek nodded and picked up the tricorder. “Are you well?”
“I am .”
“You performed admirably and calmly today during the incident. I saw the video of the matter—your teacher on Vulcan would be pleased with the skill you utilized in defending yourself and James.” Sarek’s fingers trembled slightly and he forced himself to push the images of his son in danger out of his head. “I am pleased with your performance.”
“Did Detective Butler tell you their purpose? He refused to discuss it with me but I’m sure Jim knows.”
“They were likely employed freelance by the Orion Syndicate. Through your actions today, ten other young people were rescued from their ship.”
“Sexual slavery then,” Spock responded, his tone cool and collected. “Jim said I was too innocent to know their purpose for taking him.”
“I find his protection of you in that circumstance illogical but admirable.” Sarek set the tricorder on another cycle and then checked the memory core again. “He was not targeted because of who he is so there is no threat of others coming for him—in fact, if they had realized who he was they would have never thought to take him. The son of a starship Captain is hardly the kind of anonymous target they would prefer for the trade.”
“This would not have happened on Vulcan.”
“No, but Earth is the headquarters of the Federation and access cannot be as heavily restricted as what we enjoyed on Vulcan,” Sarek finished with the tricorder. “Did you use the chemical analysis unit?”
Sarek nodded and picked it up. “Captain Pike is very upset.”
“Yes,” Spock agreed. “So is Jim but he tried not to show it.”
“Your mother and I would never recover your loss, Spock.”
Spock blinked in surprise but continued to focus on the dermal regenerator in his hand. “I will endeavor not to become lost, Father.”
“That would ease your mother greatly.”
* * * *
“And then Spock did this thing.” Jim flipped his hands as Bones continued to scan him with a tricorder. “And the bad guy went over his shoulder and hit the ground so hard I felt it. He did the neck pinch thing too—which is all kinds of awesome. I want to learn how to do it.”
Bones shot Pike a glance and then cleared his throat. “Stop evading my question, Jim. Your psionic readings are off the charts—I’ve never seen anything like this. Not even in a full Betazoid.”
Jim’s fingers clenched in his jeans. “They were slavers, Bones. The one—he was thinking about how much fun he was going to have with me before he sold me to the Orions. His head was just full of some really fucked up shit. The kind of stuff I haven’t seen since Frank…” Jim took a deep breath. “And all I could see was that last girl Frank brought home and her screams were echoing in my head. I didn’t think anyone could be worse than Frank, I mean not really. Who could be worse than him?”
“What did you do?” Chris asked in a neutral tone.
“I guess the term would be a mental castration,” Jim admitted in a near whisper. “They won’t be able to figure it out—it would take a Vulcan adept or an advanced healer from Betazed to figure it out and it can’t be undone.”
Jim looked at his Dad, his eyes intense and focused. “He’ll never be able to rape another kid and when he tries to think about doing it—it’ll hurt so much he’ll want to die.” Jim focused on his hands and then gifted Bones a wry grin. “Then Spock did this ninja thing though he claims to totally not be one where he broke this guy’s back in four different places.”
“Good for Spock,” Bones muttered.
* * * *
He rarely took water showers—the indulgence of it had been illogical on Vulcan and on Earth he often saw it as a capitulation to his humanity. Still, the feel of intensely hot water flowing over his body was comforting. He knew this was a quirk of his hybrid physiology, his father found bathing in water extremely distasteful though on more than one occasion Spock had found both his parents with wet hair. He refused to speculate on the matter when it occurred.
He clenched his still bruised fist and leaned his forehead against the cool tile of his shower stall. The fury that had lit in him the very moment Jim had been grabbed by the men hadn’t lessened in the least—he burned with it, his stomach was churning, and his heart still raced against his side. Spock let himself stand there for several minutes, under water so hot it would have blistered a pure human and then he washed himself methodically—blood, green and red, tinted the water and disappeared down the drain. He wished his temper was so easy to wash away.
He turned off the water, left the shower, and picked up a towel. The large mirror in his bathroom was fogged with condensation which was good. The last thing he wanted was to see how Human he must look—how angry he must look. There was a brisk knock on the bathroom door and Spock took a deep breath.
“I am without clothing, Mother.”
Amanda sighed very loudly. “I gave birth to you, Spock. Nothing you have is a mystery. Do you have any injuries? I insist you come out at once so I can check.”
“May I have four minutes, please?”
“Four minutes,” Amanda agreed.
Spock dried himself briskly, combed his hair, brushed his teeth to ease the taste of bile in his mouth, and then pulled on a thick black robe. He fastened the collar quickly and then the buttons that trailed down the side. The material was warm and comfortable against his skin but he normally did not wear it without his sleep clothes.
When he exited the bathroom his father was standing near his bay window and his mother had a medical kit open on his desk. “I am fine, Mother. I suffered no injuries beyond a few bruises. They will be gone by morning.”
Amanda frowned at him and pointed at the chair. “Sit. Endure my mothering, it’s my right.”
Spock sat and endured. His mother was brisk and touched him more in the next ten minutes than she had in over a year. The older he got the less free she felt to touch him. He understood it but there was part of him that missed the coolness of her hand on his.
“How is James?”
“Upset,” Spock said immediately. “He wished to hide it from me and I felt it best for his ego if I allowed it.” He glanced at her when she sighed. “Was this the wrong choice?”
“No, no. Considering his past, it was probably a very good thing for you to not press him on his emotional upset. Alexa has shared a great deal with me about Jim’s relationship with his mother and with his step-father. She felt that since I am the primary female in his life that I should know these things in case he needs my support.”
“Was he… did his step-father abuse him sexually as well as physically?” Spock questioned, his tone as neutral as it was possible.
“No, not in the way you might think. It is something that you will have to hear from James when he is ready, Spock. It’s not my intention to keep a secret from you—it’s just this particular story is not mine to tell.” Amanda motioned him to lift his hand and she frowned over the bruises. “You didn’t use a dermal regenerator on this?”
“Yes, but the bruising was quite extensive,” Spock admitted. “I will use a healing trance to take care of the matter, Mother. I promise.”
“Very well.” Amanda leaned against the desk and stared at him hard. “Is there anything you’d like to ask concerning the events of today?”
“Father already explained to me that they were slavers,” Spock murmured. “I have no problems theorizing the plans for Jim and the other children they had taken onto their ship. Knowing this, I have no regrets for my physical actions and perhaps harbor some irritation that I did not hurt them all four much more severely. Slavery is abhorrent, Mother.”
“I agree.” Amanda reached out hesitantly and then smiled when he didn’t flinch away. She stroked her fingers gently down his face, brushing over one of his meld points carefully. Fear, love, protection, and the desire for revenge filtered over his mind from his mother’s and he caught her hand in his.
“I am well, Mother. I will not suffer mentally or physically from the events of the day. I am concerned about Jim but I am confident his father will see that he has proper medical care. I will make sure to bring up the events of the day to Jaret when we go for Jim’s lesson on Thursday.” He paused and then released her hand when she relaxed minutely. “I would like to meditate now.”
“Very well.” She gathered up her first aid kit with a glance in her husband’s direction. “If the healing trance does not take care of the bruising, you will be visiting a healer in the morning.”
* * * *
Chris eased into his favorite chair with a beer and looked at the clock. Jim had been asleep for an hour or more so if the nightmares were going to start it would be soon. He’d already contacted the school to report that Jim would not be in classes for the next few days due to injury. Bones had repaired the cracked rib but he’d ordered Jim to rest for three days and that meant no school. They both knew the kid would probably have nightmares.
He’d finished a little over half of his beer when the first scream pierced the silence of the house. By the time he reached Jim’s room, the kid was shouting and screaming in a near continuous stream. Experience had taught him not to touch, not to try to shake Jim loose from the dream. He stopped at the foot of the bed and shouted. “Jim!”
Jim woke up abruptly, sobbing and gagging at the same time. Pike pulled a trashcan into place beside the bed just in time and went in search for a washcloth. He brought back a dry one and a wet one. Jim took them both silently. “I’ll get you some water, kid.”
“Thanks,” Jim whispered. “Jesus fuck.”
Pike couldn’t have agreed more. He retrieved a glass of cold water from the replicator in the kitchen and took it to his son. “Same one as always?”
Jim nodded and then shook his head. “It changed a little—was worse. I haven’t had it in years so I guess that’s to be expected. Do nightmares get more complicated the older you are? I would’ve hoped my memories would fade a little with time but they are so vivid when I dream.” He drank all of the water and shuddered. “Do you think I’ve repressed some of the things that Frank did?”
“What do you mean?” Pike asked alarmed.
“I—I don’t believe he ever touched me sexually. He definitely preferred females and he liked them around fourteen or so.” Jim took a deep breath and stared at the empty glass in his hand. “I think… I think he killed one of those girls he brought home, Dad. I think he killed her.”
“Jim.” Chris sat down on the edge of the bed. “Are you sure? The mind can play tricks, change events so they are worse than what they actually were. When I dream about trauma that I’ve suffered—it always seems to be worse than it actually was.”
Jim’s fingers tightened around the glass. “I can’t… she’s in my head now. In one instance she is shy but relieved to be eating and the next she is screaming. I remember feeling so guilty because I didn’t tell her why Frank really brought her home—what he would do to her. The last time I did that—he nearly killed Sam. I remember thinking that this girl was a stranger to me and she wasn’t more important than my own brother. I couldn’t let her be and that makes me feel like such a fucking monster. Just as bad as Frank.”
“You were a child, Jim. No one expects… you’re nothing like that son of a bitch, okay?” Chris reached out and touched his shoulder. “Look at me, son.” Jim met his gaze reluctantly. “You’re a good man with a strong and brave heart. George would be so puffed up with pride at the sight of you that we wouldn’t be able to find a uniform to fit him.” He grinned when Jim laughed reluctantly and then grew serious. “Let’s walk through the rest of it and see how much of what you dreamt was reality, okay?”
“Yeah.” Jim swallowed. “We eat dinner and then Frank offers to let her take a bath. He says he has some clothes she can have—clothes his niece left behind. That’s a big fat lie but this girl has been on the streets for just a month or so from the look of her so she doesn’t know bullshit when she sees it. She’s not even turning tricks yet—and it’d been a while since Frank had brought home anything but really young hookers.”
“How old are you?”
“Eight.” Jim swallowed. “Sam was twelve.” He rubbed his face with both hands. “Frank told me to go to bed but my bedroom was right next door to his. He made Sam sit in a chair in the room and watch. Most of the time I didn’t have to watch as long as Sam was around and the one time Sam refused to watch, he beat me unconscious as punishment.”
Pike forced his body to relax. This was nothing new to him—the details had come out in Jim’s testimony at trial. They hadn’t been able to charge Frank with any of the rapes Sam and Jim were forced to witness because they hadn’t been able to find any of his victims.
“She screamed louder and longer than any of the others. Begs him not to hurt her—promises him that he’ll never tell what he tried to do if he’ll stop touching her. Screams that she’s a virgin and she wanted to save it for someone important. She doesn’t stop screaming for two hours.” Jim paused. “I don’t see her the next day until Frank is putting her in the car—my Father’s car. Frank tells me and Sam not to leave the house that he’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Was she awake and talking when he put her in the car?”
Jim relaxed. “Yeah. Silent, and seriously fucked up but awake.” He pushed back the rest of his covers and stumbled out of the bed towards the bathroom. “You know I don’t even know how many there were. I can’t tell you how many lives Frank Edgars destroyed before he was put in jail. How horrible is that?”
“It’s not your responsibility, Jim and there is nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. I saw the records—you reported him to the authorities four times and they did nothing for you, your brother, or those girls Frank was abusing. Your mother didn’t help you and the police ignored you.”
“I should’ve told you,” Jim murmured. “I thought so more than once over the years. I knew you’d come for me if I did but my mom hated you and I wanted her to love me so I didn’t reach out for you. I didn’t understand why she hated you, maybe not even until two years ago when I saw her and got all… fucked up and ended up in the infirmary for a month. It was easy to see that she was jealous of the relationship you had with George before he died.”
Pike flushed. “Jim.”
“No, it’s okay.” Jim laughed softly, a rueful grin crossing his mouth. “I mean she thinks you were lovers even after they got married because she found letters the two of you wrote after he was killed. But I know you weren’t—I know you went from friends to lovers and back to friends again before he even met her. I told her that and you know what she said?”
“What?” Chris asked with a sigh.
“She said it didn’t matter that the two of you weren’t fucking—that he didn’t love her as much as he loved you. She said she was second best for him and that he’d been the love of her life. Said it wasn’t fair that you were his.” Jim wet a cloth and washed his face briskly. “It’s probably true and it’s definitely why she fought so hard to keep me away from you. The only reason she didn’t remove you as my godfather from the legal records is because people would’ve asked her questions. They would’ve wanted to know why she didn’t want her dead husband’s best friend near her kids.”
“I never once tried to interfere in their marriage. I stood up as his best man for fuck’s sake.” Chris shook his head. “And he loved her. He wouldn’t have married her and had kids with her if he hadn’t loved her. As far as I know, I was the only man he’d ever been involved with physically. He’d had a few crushes while at the academy but he’d never considered acting on them.” Pike paused and then pushed on. “Is that why you got so upset? Because you found out your dad and I….”
“I already knew about that. It was one of the first things I learned when my gifts started to manifest. Every time you think of him—it’s all right there on the surface and the love you have for him isn’t brotherly. I never minded that and since I never sense that kind of love coming from my mother in relation to him it’s nice to know that he was genuinely loved in his life before he died.” Jim paused. “Don’t get me wrong—my mom loved him right up until the day she found out he’d had a homosexual relationship. She had a real problem with that and it killed part of her feelings for him. She’s never loved unconditionally and I pity her for that.”
“It’s her feelings about homosexuals that upset you so much.”
Jim shrugged. “I was already having some pretty heady sexual feelings about people and even then when I masturbated I mostly thought about guys. I like girls but I prefer boys. I accepted that pretty early on and I was okay with it. It was easy to be okay with it because I knew you’d dated men in the past and you wouldn’t be upset with me.”
“No, never.” Pike promised.
“I don’t know how Spock’s dad feels about it. I haven’t dared poke into his head to see. I don’t think I could continue my relationship with Spock if I found out Sarek hates it or finds it offensive.”
“He doesn’t. When we talked about it—he was frank and we discussed Vulcan history and pair bonds. Apparently there was a time when bonds between men were viewed as lucky for a clan. He called it Warrior Bonding.”
Jim grinned. “Well, Spock’s totally a warrior. You saw what he did right?”
“I agree with you that it is entirely possible that he’s a ninja,” Chris admitted and laughed when Jim did. “Hungry?”
“No not at all but I should eat anyways.”
* * * *
“Where’s the boyfriend?”
Spock looked up from his work and regarded Rob with open curiosity. “Do you ask this question because you wish to take his place or because you miss his presence so much that it is a distraction for you?”
Most of the class snickered and Rob flushed. “Man, just when I think you can’t get any…” He waved a hand. “More Vulcan. You go and prove me wrong.” He leaned on the station. “I heard there was this big deal at the mall—a Human kid and a Vulcan were involved in an altercation with slavers. Well, I only know one Human kid that hangs out with a Vulcan and you’re the Vulcan. So is he okay?”
“He is well,” Spock answered. “And will likely return to school on Wednesday. I will be collecting his assignments for him. Would you like to send him a note describing how much you miss him and wish him to return?”
Rob grinned. “You’re a pointed-eared jerk. Tell him I asked about him.”
“Mr. David! You will apologize to Spock for referring to his ears in a derogatory manner.” The teacher demanded from the front of the class room.
“Ah, Ms. Grant, he knows I didn’t mean it bad, right Spock?”
“Right,” Spock responded without hesitation. “Mr. David cannot help he is jealous over my ears—they are much more attractive than his own.”
Rob laughed and dropped back on his stool. “Sure they are.”
“I agree,” one of the girls from the cross the aisle offered with a smile in Spock’s direction.
Rob grinned. “Better watch it, Stephanie, or you’ll get a lecture on how Vulcans do not appreciate being stalked.”
Spock flushed green. “Must you persist? The girl was most disagreeable. I seriously doubt Stephanie would attempt to follow me home to meet my mother.”
Stephanie for her part laughed. “Well, if I did it would just because I think your mom is awesome. I watched her on the vid last week speaking in front of the Federation Council about humanitarian aid for Tarsus IV. I want to be awesome like that. I mean it’s been three years since Kodos and I really agree with your mom that there hasn’t been enough done for the colony. It’s like the Federation wants to forget what happened and they can’t do that. There are people still living on that world that deserve our unreserved support.”
“Agreed.” Spock inclined his head. “If you would really like to meet her—I can ask if you may join us for dinner.”
She grinned. “Just make sure Jim is invited so he won’t think it’s a date.”
“Vulcans do not date,” Spock returned severely and smiled inwardly when the kids around him laughed.
A part of him had been worried about being at school without Jim but he’d found that he was treated much the same. The alien kids were cordial, the Human kids either engaged him or ignored him, and their mechanical engineering class remained the most friendly. He’d eaten lunch in the quarters they were assigned on campus, a habit Jim and he had fallen into since his mother had insisted on activating and paying to stock the replicator in their room. She’d been horrified to learn neither of them had intended to bother with it.
* * * *
Jim shifted on the meditation mat and for the first time since he’d known Spock sought out the gentle press of his mind for his focal point. It was nothing like Pike’s. His Dad’s mind was a warm, comforting presence in his mind. Spock’s mental touch was cool, orderly, and above all else welcoming. He wondered if Spock could feel him reaching out for him but he let that thought go as he surrendered to the process.
He shifted through the mental remnants of his dream from the night before and stored each fractured piece of memory in the vault Jaret had helped him create. Jaret was one of the most talented Betazoids alive and he’d come to Earth to train Jim. Jim’s grandmother had insisted he receive the best training possible when she’d lost the custody fight and couldn’t return him to Betazed permanently.
Jim easily latched onto the memories he’d gathered from his attackers and stored them in a different vault—one full of thoughts and experiences that were not his own. At least, the unpleasant thoughts and experiences that were not his own. He had an entirely different place in his mind for the memories and experiences he’d received from Jaret. It was special and carefully protected because what was in that place were someone else’s pleasures and secrets. He held that trust sacred and not just because the information there was so valuable as it pertained to his future relationship with Spock.
Spock had his room place as well—a mental room full of impressions, touches, feelings, and the soft pleasure of the Vulcan’s mouth on his. It was guarded as well—protected because it was precious and perfect. In this room, Jim settled and pulled out the bond he was crafting for Spock. In his mind, the red psionic rope pulsed with passion and love. The rope was thick and durable. He’d made certain of that because in the instant he’d started to build the bond he’d put all of his strength and concentration into it. Once the connection was made it would be impossible to sever accidently. It was almost ready, he thought and he wondered if Spock was preparing something similar. Jaret hadn’t had a lot of information about the Vulcan marriage bond as he’d never experienced it.
He had explained that their bond would have to have a dual nature as he’d been lead to believe that the Vulcan bond alone wouldn’t be fulfilling for Jim. Jim hadn’t discussed that part of things with Spock yet but he couldn’t imagine that the Vulcan would deny him the bond his mind required to be healthy. He knew he wouldn’t deny Spock anything. He’d give him everything and anything he needed or wanted. It had been that way since the near instant they met. The call of Spock’s mind had been so seductive and perfect that Jim had felt he would burst from his skin if he couldn’t touch the Vulcan.
The next day, when he’d cradled Spock’s mind and body—he’d realized that it was far more than just attraction. He had been stunned to find that the half-Vulcan who made him edgy and hard was also the fucking love of his life. It had been an overwhelming and not exactly welcome revelation. But the weeks that followed had changed him—made him realize what he’d been missing all of his life.
He stored the bond in the box he’d created for it and then closed the door tightly on Spock’s place in his mind. Jim wrapped several mental shields around the room to protect it and then allowed himself lift out of the meditative state. He was surprised to find that he was no longer alone with Jaret. The other boy in the room was several feet away and was stretching leisurely.
“Jim, this is Devone Jax. This is his normal time with me and I did not think you’d mind if I got him started.”
Jim nodded. He’d known when he’d come to the embassy that he’d have to share Jaret—the man might have come to Earth for him but his time was valuable and he’d quickly put together a full schedule. Jim was the only one with private lessons but he couldn’t expect Jaret to empty out his whole schedule because Jim was a little sick.
“I heard you were attacked yesterday.”
Jim glanced at Devone. “Yeah, but I’d rather not talk about it. I’m not hurt badly but it wasn’t cool.”
Devone nodded. “I can imagine. I’m sorry you had such a trying experience.” He leaned forward and pushed his hands flat on the mat out in front of him as he pressed his forehead against the floor. “I’ve noticed you before—with your Vulcan friend. That must be an interesting friendship.”
Jim’s gaze narrowed slightly and he took a deep breath. “Yes, I’m very lucky.” He inclined his head. “And you’re very flexible.”
Devone laughed. “I’ve been in training my whole life. My mother is Human and she has instructed me in yoga principles since I could walk. It’s good for the body and helps me achieve my meditative state easier. You should try it.” He glanced over Jim in frank admiration. “You’re in great shape already—it wouldn’t take much for you to increase your flexibility.”
“I work out with my Dad. It’s one of our father/son activities. We tried to take a yoga class at the academy but we both agreed the instructor was entirely too attractive and it was hard to concentrate on what she was saying when she kept bending over.”
Jaret laughed softly. “Such is life, I’m afraid. Always to be distracted by beautiful people.”
Devone hummed softly and offered Jim a warm smile. “I could teach you.”
“My schedule is already pretty full but thanks.” Jim paused and frowned at the gentle prod against his mind. Jaret knew better than to try to speak inside Jim’s head but apparently Devone hadn’t been warned. “Do not try to touch my mind!”
Devone sat up in surprise. “My apologies, Jim. I didn’t mean to offend.”
“Just don’t ever do it again and try to remember that some people actually value their privacy.” Jim rolled to his feet and with a brief glance in Jaret’s direction went to retrieve his things. “Can I come back tomorrow as well? I’m not allowed to go back to school until Wednesday.”
Jaret checked his schedule. “How about I come to you tomorrow? I have nothing after two and we can have dinner. Your father wanted a status report anyway.”
Jim nodded. “I’ll let him know. Spock will be there so if you want to see our results so far on the neurotransmitter study…”
Jaret grinned. “That would be great—he’s such a fun boy and his scientific curiosity is intoxicating. Ask Dr. McCoy as well—we’ll make it a ‘let’s discuss Jim like he’s not even there’ festival.”
Jim rolled his eyes but nodded. He walked briskly from the training room and was almost out of the embassy when Devone caught up with. He felt the boy’s approach and turned on him with a glare. “What?”
“I just…” Devone blushed. “I wanted to apologize again. It really wasn’t my intention to offend or upset you. I knew you were raised on Earth but I didn’t understand what that would mean concerning your views on privacy until Jaret berated me.” He reached out hesitantly and touched Jim’s arm. “Truly, I’m very sorry. I might be half-Human but I was raised on Betazed among my father’s family. My mother really wasn’t allowed to press her moral ideals on me.”
Jim nodded and carefully pulled away. “I’m sorry as well. I got more irritated with you than I normally would because I had a difficult day yesterday and also because you’re attracted to me.”
“You’re offended that I find you attractive?” Devone asked with a grin. “Seriously? If that is the case than you will find yourself offended a lot throughout your whole life.” He reached out and touched Jim’s arm again. “You’re really very beautiful.”
“I’m really very taken,” Jim corrected gently. “Spock and I are… together.”
Devone removed his hand with a pout. “A day late and a dollar short as my Human grandfather is fond of saying.” He grinned then. “Still, I’d like to be your friend if you’d allow it—Spock’s too. I find him fascinating and…I adore his ears.”
Jim laughed. “If only you were the only one.”
“Jaret warned me that your grandmother keeps throwing potential mates your way. I’m not one of them—she’d never throw a half-Betazoid at you when full Betazoids are lining up around the block for an introduction.” Devone grinned when Jim paled. “I mean, it isn’t like she’s set up a marriage auction or anything. Though I think she’d be tempted if she had the legal means to do so.”
“So what you’re saying is,” Jim began with a rueful smile. “If I were single—you’d be just the guy to hook up with to piss her off.”
Devone laughed softly, his black eyes dancing with cheer and amusement. “Well, she’s hardly xenophobic but she is from a very traditional family and they pride themselves on passing on the genes of powerful telepaths.”
“I sent her a communication earlier in the month telling her that it would snow on Vulcan before I’d jack off in a cup so she could fill artificial wombs with man-love babies.” Jim checked his chronometer. “I do have to go. My Dad is expecting me and after yesterday I don’t think he’d take me being late with any kind of patience or good grace.”
“Well, I’ll see you later then. Tell Spock I said hi.”
“Sure,” Jim agreed and watched the young Betazoid walk away. After a few seconds, he turned and headed to the doors. He was surprised to find Spock leaning on the motorcycle, a helmet dangling from his fingers. “Hey, how was school?”
“It was relevant to my interests.” Spock quirked an eyebrow. “Did you know Vulcans have superior hearing?”
Jim grinned. “Yes, I’m aware of that.” He grabbed his own helmet and looked him over. “You heard Devone, huh?”
“I’m not surprised he took the opportunity to speak with you privately. He has spoken of you often and with glowing terms with others on the occasions that he has seen you over the past several weeks.” Spock stepped away from the bike so Jim could slide astride and then slid on the back of it with practiced grace. They donned their helmets and linked the comm systems. “You are taken.”
“I am,” Jim agreed with a small laugh. He patted one of Spock’s gloved hands as the Vulcan settled against him and their body heat blended together. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”