Jim hesitated in the doorway of the observation deck, his eyes trained on the figure at the far end half shadowed in darkness. He was sure, given the Vulcan’s enhanced hearing, that he knew he was there, but he gave no indication of it and so Jim was given the opportunity to observe him undisturbed. Spock was faced away from the door, his gaze seemingly fixed on the stars flying by, but Jim was sure he probably wasn’t really seeing them. He could only speculate at this point what exactly the Vulcan was thinking, however he was pretty sure he could guess and the guilt he’d felt upon the Bridge came back to him full force.
He hadn’t wanted to say what he had, especially after spending the night talking with the older Spock. He’d learned so very much about him then, not just from the mind-meld, but the conversation as well. He’d come to respect and look at Spock in a way that it hadn’t occurred to him to look before. It killed him to realize when he was confronted with this younger Spock that nothing between them had changed. That if he wanted it to change, he had to be the one to start the process. After everything he had suffered god knows Spock wasn’t going to make that move – he shouldn’t have to – and his words, if they’d done anything, had just served to widen the gap between them.
But what else could he do? Spock wasn’t aware of what had happened to him down on the planet, couldn’t be made aware and so he had to keep on pretending that he didn’t care one way or the other for him...that hurting Spock made little difference to him even as he felt like he was driving a knife into his own chest.
“Was there something you wanted, Captain?” Spock’s cold voice broke through his wandering thoughts, startling him slightly. The Vulcan still hadn’t given any indication that he knew Jim was there and if it weren’t for the coldly spoken words, he still would have believed that Spock was ignoring him. However, as his gaze lengthen on that still form, he noticed Spock tensing ever so slightly.
He stepped further into the room, watching as Spock’s form tensed even more. What could he be thinking right now? Did he think that perhaps he was here to finish what was started on the Bridge? Regret and guilt welled up within him at the thought and his mind drew up for him in sharp relief the remember feelings of the elder Vulcan on Delta Vega – such strong emotions, running so deep that no Human could hope to survive it. It was with a bit of irony that he recalled what he’d thought about Spock as he’d stood in Pike’s shuttle, looking out of the window over the stark landscape of Vulcan, waiting for the drop. He remembered thinking how he now understood where the cold personality of Enterprise’s overbearing science officer must have come from. Having now experience firsthand what Vulcan emotions were like and remembering the emotional anger and pain that had swirled in those golden-brown eyes on the Bridge, Jim knew he’d been terribly wrong. Spock’s personality was anything but cold. Having felt what he did during that meld, he knew of the warmth it was capable of, knew it shone brighter than anything and anyone he had ever known.
...out of all the souls I have encountered among my travels, his was the most...human. The words echoed softly in his mind. He was not sure where they came from but for the moment he simply ignored them, focusing all his attention on the Spock which stood before him.
“I wanted to apologize,” he began softly, knowing very well that Spock probably didn’t want him here right now. So far he had yet to say anything to the contrary, but Jim couldn’t help but be a little surprised by how easy it was for him to read the Vulcan now. The straightness of his stance as well as the tension in his shoulders told him everything he needed to know.
Spock was clearly surprised by Jim’s attempt at an apology, shown merely in the way in which he titled his head before he spoke, “You needed to elicit an emotional response. Your choice of words was designed to provoke such a response.” There was nothing in his voice that alluded to his turmoil, but Jim could still hear it, still see it. What was it Spock Prime had said: All these events have cumulated to put him in a much darker place than I ever was at such a young age. Another consequence of the timeline disruption which needed to be place at Nero’s door.
“That doesn’t make it right,” he replied, his voice tinged with regret.
From the little bit of Spock’s expression he could see in the reflection of the window, Jim could tell he was slightly confused. “I am emotionally comprised by the situation a hand,” did his voice quiver just a little as he spoke those words? “What you did was only logical given the situation you were faced with.”
It was times like this that Jim wanted to tell Spock just where he could shove his logic, but given all that had occurred; it wasn’t a surprise to realize that Spock was clinging to it because it was all he had left.
“Still,” Jim continued, his gaze lowering slightly, “I hope you know that I only did what I thought needed to be done, what I thought was right, regardless if it was logical or not. I don’t actually believe anything that I said to you, nor was it a picnic for me to know how much my words hurt you, but I knew it was the quickest way for you to admit, to everyone and yourself, that you are affected by what’s going on.” He sighed. “I’ve come to understand that just because Vulcans practice emotional suppression and the pursuit of logic doesn’t mean that those emotions don’t exist.”
Spock remained silent at this, his hands clasped behind his back and his gaze still fixed on the stars as they whizzed by. Even so, Jim knew his words were having some kind of affect. Though his stance was still ridged, it was clear that Spock was at least considering what Jim was saying. What he thought about it though still remained to be seen.
Taking a breath, Jim slowly approached him, not sure if he should continue trying to explain himself, to try and correct the misunderstanding that existed between them to form that relationship that he knew they both needed, or whether it was better if he let Spock be.
“I know you loved her,” he pressed on, watching as Spock tensed further if that were possible and knew that he had to tread carefully here. “It was obvious by the way you looking when you were beamed back aboard the ship.” Spock remained silent and Jim took the last few steps needed to bring himself level with the Vulcan. He could see his face clearly now, but even with his new understanding, he couldn’t decipher the look in Spock’s eyes.
“The only reason I brought her up at all was because I realized that as Vulcan as you are, you’re also human.”
Spock turned his head to look at him then, a slight look of indignation in his features that Jim couldn’t help but smile at, realizing that Spock probably considered such words to be an insult and therefore tried to lessen them with a soft look of fondness. He hadn’t meant them to be taken in that light and he hoped that Spock would realize that, even as he knew, could remember how much Spock disliked being compared to humans. The feeling was a bit disconcerting, but he hoped that it’d all settle and dissipate with time.
At Jim’s slight smile, Spock’s expression changed, his eyes seeming to search for something in Jim’s features. Almost as if he were attempting to solve some kind of puzzle that Jim was unaware of. He couldn’t help but frown slightly at it. Was there something he was missing?
Spock’s gaze didn’t change even as he began speaking again. “I do not understand,” he confessed. “How is my heritage in any way an indicator of my reaction to your words? I am Vulcan; I was raised as a Vulcan. Therefore it is only logical that I should have managed to maintain control over myself...and yet I did not.”
Jim smiled softly at the admission, nodding. “I know, but emotions aren’t logical.” He sighed, looking down, wondering if what he was about to impart was more for his benefit or for Spock’s. Perhaps it was both. If he was in any way going to fix what the hearing had disrupted with then, then he would have to tell Spock this.
“I didn’t know my Father...well, you knew that,” he gestured towards him. “He died moments after I was born, but I’ve lived with his ghost all my life. Everywhere I go, when people look at me I can tell that they’re not seeing me. They’re seeing him. My mother...I know that she tried her best to do with me what she could, but she was probably the worst one of the bunch. She had trouble looking at me sometimes because of how much I reminded her of him. So I’ve spend most of my life trying to be nothing like him.” He looked back up and met Spock’s stilled gaze. “I said what I did about your mother because I knew you’d react in the same way that I had wanted to when you brought up my father at the hearing. I wanted nothing more than to stride over to you and beat your face in.”
The eyebrow rose. “An illogical reaction as I was merely stating facts.”
Jim couldn’t help but chuckle slightly at the all too familiar words. “True, but that didn’t mean they didn’t hurt at the time, that they didn’t get any sort of reaction from me.”
“You managed to control yourself. I, however, was unable to do so,” Spock looked away.
Jim shifted a little closer, trying to draw Spock’s gaze back to him. “Spock, you’d just watched your mother die; watched your whole planet get swallowed by a black hole. I never knew my father and I was angry at what you said. I can’t begin to imagine what it would have felt like if I’d experienced even a portion of what you have.”
Spock was already shaking his head, his eyes closed in a sure sign of emotional repression. “It still should not have shown. I have spent many hours of my life meditating at working with my control.”
Jim watched him silently struggle, knowing he should probably back off and give him some space, but he also knew that if he didn’t say what he needed to now, it would never get said. “That much was obvious, but no one’s perfect. You’re bound to slip up every now and then. Given what’s been happening, I’d say you’re entitled to it.” When Spock gave no sign that he’d heard his words, Jim tried another route. “Just think of it this way. You may be Vulcan, but your mother was human. I’m not going to pretend that I in any way know what she could have been thinking, but I can guess that she tried to get you to embrace your human heritage as much as you tried to embrace your Vulcan one.”
It was playing a little dirty on his part as the memories Spock Prime had given him were giving him a bit of an unfair advantage over Spock in this moment, but he needed him to understand. Understand that Jim hadn’t meant anything that he’d said, understand that he understood what Spock was going through and that Spock shouldn’t feel guilty at anything he’d done or for anything he was currently feeling.
If Jim had expected anything in that moment, it was to have Spock turned to him and request that he leave. He was a little surprised then when all Spock did was turn to look back at him thoughtfully; again searching for something in Jim’s features that may or may not be there. He seemed to be considering Jim’s words if nothing else.
“I know we still have a lot to work through,” Jim continued slowly, wondering where he was going with this exactly before just saying to hell with it. “We didn’t exactly get started on the right foot,” Spock’s eyes glimmered with faint amusement and Jim smiled in response at recognizing it, “but regardless of what’s happened, the Enterprise needs her science officer...and so do I.”
Spock regarded him for a long moment, his golden brown eyes flashing before he nodded slowly. “I will offer my expertise in whatever capacity is required. However, at the present time, I do require solitude.
Jim breathed an inward sigh of relief and nodded his understanding. “You got it.” He turned then and began making his way back out of the observation deck, trying to bring his mind back around to the situation at hand. There was a lot of planning that needed to get done if and before they caught up with Nero, not the least of which was what they were going to do once they finally got there. They had little time and he knew they really couldn’t spare any moment of it, but after everything that had happened – after having seen what would have been between himself and Spock had the time continuum not been changed – he couldn’t just stand by and watch the Vulcan suffer alone. Spock may be good at hiding it, but thanks to the mind-meld it was more than apparent to Jim and he couldn’t just have let that stand, especially since he knew some of that pain was his own doing.
“Jim?” Spock’s voice surprised him and even as he turned back to face the Vulcan, he couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face at the informal address.
Spock studied him again for a moment, that unidentifiable glint shinning in his eyes once more before he spoke, “Thank you.”
Jim’s grin widened, if that was possible. “No problem. That’s what friends are for.”
Spock’s eyebrow rose. “Is that what we are? Friends?”
There were a million different ways he could have answered that and he couldn’t help but think about the words Spock Prime had spoken to him once his identity was confirmed. I have been, and always shall be, our friend.
“I hope so,” he said simply. “See you on the bridge.” Spock nodded and with one last look, Jim left him to his solitude.
Now he understood what Spock Prime had been attempting to explain to him and not for the first time he felt anger over Nero’s interference. He’d lost the Father he never knew and though that in itself bothered him a great deal, it didn’t hurt as much as knowing that though he may still yet gain Spock’s friendship, thanks to Nero, he’d never have the love that he’d glimpsed so clearly in the elder Vulcan’s golden brown eyes.