Spock’s life is mapped out from the age of seven.
With two paths stretching ahead of him, he is forced to make a choice; Vulcan or human. It is a choice that is no choice at all. His classmates already taunt him, and everyone around him, even his father, wishes him to be less human. So he ignores the longing in his mother’s eyes, suppresses the sense of loss in his heart, and devotes himself to becoming fully Vulcan.
He successfully completes the kahs’wan ritual, and soon after is introduced to T’Pring, she who will one day become his wife. The ceremony is tradition, he is told, but the reason is a mystery to him. He is left alone with T’Pring while their parents make preparations. Spock stares at her; she is pretty, but they are strangers. The idea that they will someday be married is difficult to grasp.
“I do not understand why we cannot choose for ourselves,” he says quietly.
For a moment he wonders if she is thinking the same, but her reply, when it comes, is simply, “It is logical.”
And Spock, who has chosen to devote himself to logic, can say nothing in response.
The ceremony itself is over quickly. This is Spock’s first experience of a mindmeld; his father has never melded with him, and his mother is, of course, incapable. When T’Pau touches his mind, he very nearly pulls away. She gives him a hard look and he drops his eyes, consenting silently to the mind link with T’Pring. When they turn to each other to touch fingers, Spock finds that T’Pring’s uncertainty mirrors his own, and yet it doesn’t make him feel any less alone.
For the next ten years, Spock plays the part of the perfect Vulcan. His classmates no longer taunt him; they do not seem to notice him at all. Spock prefers it this way, but he sometimes looks up at the stars and dreams of finding someone who will accept him for who he is. It is the one concession to emotion he allows himself.
Despite the fact that they will someday be married, he spends very little time with T’Pring. He understands, now, the purpose of the mind link, and no longer bothers to wish that he could have chosen for himself. It is not difficult to ignore the faint presence in his mind, and most of the time he does not even notice it. But he cannot help thinking of the day that will eventually come, when they will be drawn to one another in order to bond.
At the age of seventeen, he applies to Starfleet. He does not expect anything to come of it; he has been working towards admittance to the Vulcan Science Academy since the age of eleven. But when he realises that they will never accept him for who he is, will never see his human blood as anything other than a disadvantage, he cannot bear to accept their invitation. He leaves Vulcan with the knowledge that his father may never forgive him, but cannot bring himself to regret the decision.
He does not bother to visit T’Pring; he is not certain she will even notice his absence.
At Starfleet Academy he meets people of many different species, cultures, and backgrounds. After so many years learning to control and suppress his emotions, it is a shock to be surrounded by humans. He thought his mother emotional, at times, but he soon learns that she was quite subtle in her responses. These humans do not hide their emotions at all, they smile and rage and weep as though it were perfectly normal to do so.
Spock finds all this fascinating, but quickly learns that they will not accept him either. After a lifetime of being told he is too human, he now faces the problem of being insufficiently so. He has only been to Earth a few times before, and much of the culture is utterly baffling to him. His ignorance and inherent difference set him apart.
Instead he observes the humans from an outsider’s perspective. His classmates spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to engage in sexual intercourse with each other, which seems to him to be a waste of time and effort. Vulcans very rarely engage in intercourse outside of marriage, and never outside of a committed relationship; but then humans are different. Watching them, Spock begins to think that maybe the Vulcan way is more logical, even if the reasoning for it is not.
In contrast to his classmates, Spock concentrates all of his energy on his studies and graduates the Academy with honours. His first assignment is as Science Officer on the U.S.S Enterprise, serving under Captain Christopher Pike. The captain was something of a mentor to Spock at the academy and asks for him personally; it is an honour, and Spock makes certain to live up to it.
Pike is one of the few humans to show genuine interest in Spock, and he quickly gains the Vulcan’s complete loyalty. Spock still does not fit in with his human shipmates, but he finds he does not care. Captain Pike’s opinion is the only one that matters, and Spock makes certain to give Pike no reason to disapprove of him. The emotion that flares inside him when he is promoted to Lieutenant-Commander and Pike tells him warmly, “You’ve earned it” is worth any number of harsh words from the other crewmembers.
At the age of twenty-nine, he is briefly stationed on Earth. He is asked to help with some research and finds himself working with a botanist by the name of Leila Kalomi. They slowly get to know each other, and one evening she suggests that they have dinner together. He is so unfamiliar with human rituals that he does not realise she intended it to be a date until she kisses him. Other than surprise and confusion, he feels nothing, and he can see she is disappointed when she pulls away. He doesn’t explain that he isn’t – cannot be – attracted to her, allowing her to blame his lack of response on the fact that he is a Vulcan. They will not speak again for almost six years.
Spock serves on the Enterprise for three more years before Captain Pike steps down and he gains a new captain. This new captain – James Kirk – is completely different to Captain Pike, and Spock feels bereft at Pike’s absence.
Kirk is the youngest captain in Starfleet, younger than Spock himself, which is an adjustment. Kirk does not run the ship the way Pike did; he is much less formal, much friendlier with the crew – Spock included. He attempts to reach out to Spock, making small gestures such as asking him to play chess, or for information about the ship that could easily be gained from the computers.
Spock has always held himself apart from his human colleagues, but Kirk makes every effort to reach him, refusing to take no for an answer. Slowly they become closer, and the walls Spock has built around himself begin to crumble. One afternoon, during a chess game, Kirk grins and tells him, “My friends call me Jim.” Spock has never really had a friend before, but finds that the idea pleases him as nothing else.
When Kirk’s friend Gary Mitchell dies, Spock attempts to comfort him. He is not certain how much help he actually is; he has never tried to deal with human grief before. But Kirk seems to appreciate it, and the same unnameable emotion that Pike’s praise inspired flares up when Kirk smiles at him.
The Psi-2000 virus forces Spock, for the first time, to confront his emotions. The whole ship appears to be going crazy, and he goes down to sickbay in an attempt to locate Dr McCoy, only to find Christine Chapel instead. She takes his hands and tells him that she loves him and he is reminded of Leila Kalomi as he replies, “I’m sorry. I am sorry.” He doesn’t want to hurt her, but all he can think of is getting away.
He leaves sickbay as soon as possible, but quickly comes to the realisation that he is infected. He manages to find an empty conference room and, to his dismay, cannot keep himself from falling apart. Spock has not wept since he was a child, but he does so now. Pain and misery that he has kept hidden for years wells up inside until it overwhelms his controls and he lays his head on his arms and sobs.
When Kirk bursts in, yelling about the engines, Spock barely listens. He feels Kirk hit him, but it is difficult to concentrate on anything but the emotions coursing through him. He speaks without thinking; about his mother, his planet, then moves onto Kirk. “Jim, when I feel friendship for you, I’m ashamed.” Dimly he thinks that that isn’t right, there is something missing, but Kirk hits him again and the moment is gone.
Later, when the crisis is over, Spock considers the emotions stirred up and blames them on the virus.
Spock has never forgotten his gratitude to Captain Pike, however, and when word comes in about Pike’s accident, he immediately begins making plans. He regrets hurting Kirk, but cannot allow Pike to suffer when there is a way to help him. Spock is endlessly grateful to Kirk for understanding this, and relieved that the situation does not ruin their friendship.
Kirk asks, one evening not long after, “Who was he to you?”
Spock considers this, answering simply, “He was my captain.” The emotion that courses through him when Kirk smiles is becoming harder and harder to suppress.
It is some months later when the Enterprise is sent to Omicron Ceti III. That the colonists have somehow survived the Berthold radiation is a surprise, that one of them is Leila Kalomi is a bigger surprise. She wants to catch up, and, against his best judgement, he goes with her.
When he encounters the spores it is as though a switch has been flipped. He turns to her with a smile and says in awe, “I love you. I can love you.” The freedom is wonderful, and as the Enterprise crew come under the influence of the spores he begins to feel as though he truly belongs. The only problem is Kirk; the captain is resistant to the idea, no matter how much Spock tries to explain. He should be happy; he has Leila, and acceptance, but he doesn’t feel truly happy until Kirk joins them.
But, of course, it cannot last. Kirk finds a way to counteract the spores and, without them, Spock is back to being an outcast. Once again he has to explain to Leila that he does not – cannot – love her, and see the pain in her eyes. He tells himself it is logical; even if he did care for her in that way, he is still betrothed to T’Pring. The sense of freedom, though, of loving and being loved, is difficult to forget.
When the time finally comes for the mind link to fulfil its purpose, Spock is completely unprepared. He is years past the age when Vulcan males usually experience their first pon farr, and he had begun to believe that his human blood might spare him. He resists it for as long as he can, but the drive is too strong; it quickly becomes obvious that he will need to go back to Vulcan, where T’Pring is waiting.
His behaviour grows increasingly erratic as the fever takes hold, and he can tell Kirk is becoming concerned. He tells the captain that he must return to Vulcan, then makes every attempt to avoid him; it is more difficult to retain control when Kirk is close by. He tries not to think about why that might be as he focuses on his link to T’Pring.
He should have expected that it would not be so simple. The details of this time are not spoken about, even between Vulcans, but it comes down to a choice between giving Kirk an explanation, and condemning himself to death. (The taboo is so strong that he does, for a moment, consider the latter option.) The discussion is awkward and uncomfortable, but he is at least assured that Kirk will keep it to himself. And in return, his friend risks his career to take Spock to Vulcan.
He asks Kirk to accompany him to the ceremony and firmly suppresses the wish that things were different. Things are not different, and wishing will not change them. He realises McCoy is staring, and invites him along as well.
Spock has not seen T’Pring in almost twenty years; he barely recognises her. His blood burns for her, but he has no idea what will happen between them when his time is over. His thoughts are scattered by this point and events begin to blur together.
T’Pring challenges and chooses Kirk as her champion. Horror sparks along Spock’s nerves; no; please no, not him. With the last of his strength, he begs T’Pau to forbid Kirk from taking part; she refuses to listen, and the madness overtakes him.
He comes to his senses standing over Kirk’s dead body. Guilt and despair flood through him and he stumbles away, no longer at all interested in T’Pring. He makes an effort to focus as McCoy tells him he is in command, but is barely aware of what he says in response. It doesn’t matter; nothing matters now.
The doctor beams up to the ship with Kirk’s body and Spock pulls himself together enough to ask T’Pring why she challenged. Her reply is coldly logical, but there is an undercurrent that sends him back to that day when they were seven years old; his own words. I do not understand why we cannot choose for ourselves. He cannot quite blame her for wanting to choose her own partner, but neither can he forgive her for what has happened.
He cannot forgive himself, either. The rational part of his mind, the part that is not clouded with grief, reminds him that a Vulcan at this time is not in control of his own mind. But it does not matter that Vulcan law would consider him innocent of any wrongdoing; he cannot see he actions as anything but murder. He beams up to the ship intending to surrender himself to the authorities.
The joy and relief when he finds Kirk alive burst past his controls in a tidal wave. He smiles, and this time there are no spores to blame it on. Dr McCoy’s obvious amusement filters through and Spock manages to reign in his emotions, but the epiphany that the situation has given him stays with him.
He hopes that things between him and Kirk will go back to normal, although, after what has happened, he would not blame his friend for wanting to stay away from him. In contrast, Kirk acts as if the experience has brought them closer together.
Spock comes to the same conclusion, but in a slightly different manner. The breaking of his link with T’Pring means that he will have to find another bondmate, and that is where the trouble starts. He has known since the age of seven that he would one day marry T’Pring, and has never allowed himself to consider a relationship with anyone else – at least not while in his right mind. But now that there is nothing stopping him from acting on his desires, he is forced to confront them.
Spock is completely out of his depth in such matters. He has always tried to be a good Vulcan; to embrace logic, and there is nothing logical about the emotions the captain inspires in him. He thinks bitterly that a full Vulcan would be able to control these feelings, make them go away. He cannot.
He tries to shift his emotions on to someone else – if he were attracted to, say, Christine Chapel, life would be easier for everyone. It doesn’t work, doesn’t change the way his heart speeds up when Kirk touches his arm. Even thoughts of Leila do not help; he remembers being intimate with her under the influence of the spores, but cannot duplicate that desire now.
He remembers his time serving under Captain Pike, and realises that the warmth that flowed through him when Pike praised his work is the same warmth flows through him now when Kirk smiles. The idea that his attachment to his previous captain may not have been as logical as he believed is somewhat disquieting, and leads him to wonder if his classmates were right when they dubbed him not a real Vulcan.
He wishes he could discuss the situation with someone. Usually he would talk to Kirk, but that is out of the question. He considers Dr McCoy, but does not wish to speak of such private matters with the doctor. There is no one else he is close to, so he eventually falls back on his usual way of solving problems; research.
He feels a pang of shame as he sits down at the newly rebuilt computer terminal, and firmly puts aside the memories of how it felt to be so out of control. Taking a deep breath, he switches on the computer and begins his search.
It is a shock to discover how much he does not know; Vulcans rarely speak of the subject and so his knowledge of sex and sexuality has been limited to what would be useful when he and T’Pring consummated their bond. The realisation that this is merely a small part of the whole picture is astonishing, and he quickly becomes engrossed. He gathers some general information, then begins to search for an explanation for his emotions towards his captain and friend.
His observation of human behaviour has led him to the conclusion that gender of a partner is rarely an issue for them, but he is Vulcan. He assumes that his human blood is the cause of his illogical desires, and that Vulcan society would disapprove. As it turns out, both assumptions are false.
The information he finds speaks of the principle of IDIC; there are people like him in almost every species, and this does include Vulcans. He reads through the information again, letting it sink in. There are full blooded Vulcans like him; it is not a failure on his part. There is even a word for it; sa-ka-ashausu. Homosexual.
He focuses on the computer screen, the words written there. It is a relief to find out that he is not alone, and even more of a relief to find out that it is not his fault. The information paints it as something he was born with; as much a part of his makeup as his black hair. He learns that approximately five percent of Vulcans are born this way.
He also learns that his is not the only childhood betrothal to be dissolved; in fact, according to statistics from the Vulcan Science Academy, around eight percent do not work out. The vast majority of these are broken during adolescence or early adulthood, prior to the male’s first pon farr; his could have been, if he had not left Vulcan at such a young age. He discovers that the most common reason for the breaking of the betrothal link is mental incompatibility, and that homosexuality of one or both partners is among the causes of this.
There does not seem to be any stigma attached to this, but then, he thinks, if it is truly something innate, there would not be. Almost all of those involved in failed childhood bondings go on to take another bondmate, and it does not appear to matter to anyone whether the chosen partner is male or female.
Spock leans back in his chair to think. His emotions may not be as illogical as he believed, but that does not eliminate the problem, merely changes the scope of it. The fact that he is attracted to men may not be an issue, the fact that he is attracted to Kirk is.
There is little evidence that Kirk would reciprocate his feelings, and Spock cannot bear the thought of losing the only real friend he has ever had. With a sigh, he shuts down the computer and stands. There is only one choice open to him; to suppress his feelings and attempt to continue on as they have always been.
Spock tries to act normally over the next few weeks, but he is not certain he is entirely successful. It is difficult to be alone with Kirk without wanting to touch him, kiss him, but distancing himself would lead to suspicion.
He should have known Kirk would eventually broach the subject. Two weeks after the Altair conference – three weeks after the disastrous wedding ceremony and Spock’s epiphany – they are playing chess in Kirk’s quarters when his friend says lightly, “Have I offended you in some way, Spock?”
Spock swallows. “No; of course not. Why do you ask?”
Kirk shrugs, fiddling with a stray pawn. “I’m probably just being paranoid, but it seems like lately you’ve been finding reasons to avoid me.” He glances up at Spock.
“I...” Clearly he has not been successful in acting normally.
Spock looks into Kirk’s eyes and suddenly realises that he cannot continue on like this. If he risks losing Kirk’s friendship either way, there is no logic in keeping quiet. And Kirk has already forgiven him so much; for committing mutiny, for the incident with the spores, for nearly killing him... surely his friend can forgive him this. Spock gathers his courage and takes the leap of faith.
He focuses on the chessboard and slowly begins to speak. “You are correct that I have not been myself of late. However, the fault is in no way yours.” Spock takes a deep breath. “Since the link with T’Pring was severed I have been dealing with... unexpected emotions.” He risks a look at Kirk’s face.
His friend looks worried. “Is that normal?”
Spock nods, though he is not certain himself. “The emotions are not new; however, as the link meant that I could never act on them, it was not an issue before.”
He can see realisation begin to dawn, then a look of almost... hope crosses Kirk’s face. Spock looks away again; surely he must be imagining things. He feels Kirk’s hand on his arm, and hears his friend ask softly, “What emotions?”
Spock closes his eyes, and forces out, “Love.”
There is silence. Kirk takes his hand off Spock’s arm and he experiences a moment of crushing disappointment before he feels fingers curling around his own. Kirk’s emotions pour into him, and to Spock’s amazement they mirror his own. He opens his eyes to find the other man is smiling at him.
“I love you, too,” Kirk says softly, and Spock feels a familiar warmth flood through him.
Kirk stands and, letting go of Spock’s hand, comes round to his side of the desk. Spock stands up quickly and reaches out awkwardly to run his fingers down Kirk’s face. For a moment all they can do is stare at one another, then Kirk asks quietly, “Are you sure this is what you want?”
Spock nods, taking a few seconds to form actual words. “I confess to being somewhat inexperienced in this area, however.” He draws in a shaky breath and drops his hand.
Kirk grins. “I can fix that.” More seriously, he adds, “We can take it as slowly as you want. No pressure.” He reaches up carefully and pulls Spock into a kiss.
Spock quickly forgets his inexperience and focuses on the sensation; the kiss feels right in a way that nothing else ever has. This is what he dreamed of as a child; someone who would accept him for who he is, and the freedom to choose for himself. It is terrifying, like stepping off a cliff, but it is also the most incredible experience he has ever had; a feeling of absolute trust and understanding.
Spock closes his eyes and lets himself fall.