Spock was just getting back to his room Thursday afternoon when his Padd chimed. He immediately set his bag down, pulled the padd out, and looked at it.
JKirk wants to chat. Yes or No? It was Jim. Spock immediately selected yes and waited for more text to appear.
Hey! Are you free this weekend? I’ve been waiting for six weeks to get back to the park. Spock replied quickly replied.
I am available. Is there anywhere in particular that you wish to see?
Not really. I want to see everything there that I haven’t already but I thought maybe we could just go and pick whatever seems best when we get there. Spock’s eyebrow raised. It wasn’t the Vulcan way to just do something spontaneously.
That will be acceptable. Are you returning for another appointment with Doctor McCoy?
Yeah, it looks like I’m still going to do the once a week thing. I still don’t think it’s necessary, but it’s not my kid, so I’m going along with it. It’s the same time, so I guess I’ll see you around 11:00.
I will be there. They both signed off. Spock immediately began researching the parts of Golden Gate Park that they hadn’t seen yet. There were still some bodies of water there that they could see. There was Kezar Stadium, the Music Concourse area, and the Bison Paddock, to name a few. There were still plenty of others. Logically, it would make more sense for them to view te ones that would require more strenuous activity while Jim’s energy level remained high. Then, Spock recalled something that Jim had said some time before he left. He’d said he wanted to see the AIDS Memorial Grove. AIDS had been cured in the mid twenty-first century, right before the events that led to the Eugenics war started happening. The Grove now served as a reminder to people of what life had been like before medicine and the laws were advanced enough to protect them from such a terrible disease and the cruel stigmas attached to it. It was a point of great sentimentality to humans, and even aliens whose races had suffered or were suffering from similar illnesses.
He decided that he would mention it when he and Jim got to the park. Jim had mentioned it the day that they ended up going to the library instead because Jim was exhausted and hormonal. Since he was fairly certain that Jim was not going to the park except on the weekends with him, he would not have had the chance to see it. Maybe Jim would be impressed or flattered that he’d remembered something he said. This made him stop and think for a moment. Just what would flatter or impress Jim? Would he enjoy being complimented and flattered, or would he prefer actions to words? Would he like to receive gifts for no reason? Spock dismissed that notion as highly unlikely. Jim seemed like the type of person who would prefer to give a gift than receive one.
What little Spock knew of courting practices was almost exclusively Vulcan, be they current, ancient, or anytime in between. He knew the odd fact about human customs, such as the fact that they typically made their partner selection based on what they learned through romantic social interaction, also known as ‘dating’. He also knew that many humans (though not all) had no problem being sexually intimate with someone they might not, or had no intention of marrying. He knew more about ancient Vulcan courting practices than modern human ones.
He knew he still had just a little less than two trimesters to figure out how to broach the subject of a relationship, or to learn just what Jim was looking for in a partner. Of course, Jim himself wasn’t certain of what he wanted. He’d only stated that he wanted to begin dating people who suited his more responsible lifestyle. Spock tried to compile a list of traits that might make someone an eligible partner for Jim based on his new outlook on life.
He’d stated that he did not discriminate between sexes, so it didn’t matter if his partner was male. Jim would probably also want someone who would allow him his independence. Spock didn’t care what he did as long as it was legal and he took proper precautions. He was from an old house. For all the talk about how mental compatibility was so important, there were many who preferred to marry within their ‘circle’, much like some of the humans Jim had mentioned in the past. Some might frown on the fact that Jim was a mechanic, and Spock even wondered sometimes when they talked if Jim was living up to his full potential. However, as long as it was honest work, Spock couldn’t bring himself to frown on Jim’s profession. Back to the list.
He wasn’t sure how Jim might feel about being involved with a non-human, or a half non-human, but he did know that Jim had no problem with being friends with one, and that was promising. He might think that Spock had no interest in him, but if allowed them to become close on a personal level, he would hopefully see that Spock was interested and be willing to consider ‘dating’ him. He realized that several of the things they’d done, while very friendly, could be counted as dating. It was amazing how much difference one could find in different gestures all because they had a specific word to define them. They were not considered romantically involved because all the activities they had done together were done in the name of friendship, and not romance.
Spock couldn’t help but wonder how Jim would feel about such activities as dates. As far as he knew, human dating involved two people spending time together in a public place where other people were present. These activities involved movies, dining together in restaurants, and sharing personal information. They had done all of that except for going to see a movie together. And, the information about themselves that they’d shared was acceptable for friends. Perhaps seeing a movie was something Spock could convince Jim to do with him, since it was something he was interested in experiencing as an average activity for humans everywhere.
Spock once more resigned himself to the fact that only time would give him his answers and his patience would be rewarded. He had come to the realization that whatever his true feelings for Jim were, whether he was in love with him or not, Jim was already important to him. Important enough to not want to risk damaging whatever might already be between them. He began lighting his meditation candles and taking his seat on the floor. He always managed to work himself into a mental twist while thinking about Jim. He needed to meditate.
As usual, Spock arrived a little early. He had been seated for no more than five minutes when Jim emerged looking quite healthy. He was wearing a shirt that was a little baggy, like the one he’d seen him wearing the day they’d had lunch with Doctor McCoy. It was likely covering the bulge he’d mentioned in his letters. Other than that, he did not look very different. His weight gain was not quite showing on his face or anywhere else on his body. He knew that the way humans carried pregnancy weight varied between individuals and their preferences for diet and exercise. It was possible that only Jim’s midsection would the evidence of his condition.
Jim’s eyes zeroed in on him immediately after he stepped though the door.
“Spock!” He said with a big grin. He strode over as Spock rose from his seat. “How’ve you been?”
“I have been well.” Said Spock as they moved out of the office and to the outside of the building. “You yourself are looking well.” Jim nodded.
“I am. I’m not throwing up much anymore; I don’t even get nauseous most days. My appetite’s back and I’m eating really well again.”
“I am glad to hear it.” Said Spock sincerely. “As it is nearly lunchtime, perhaps you would like to return to the restaurant in the Japanese Tea Garden. You seemed to enjoy it the last time.” Jim smiled.
“Yeah, that sounds great.” They got on the shuttle that would take them to the park, changing to one of the park’s shuttles once they got there. They arrived at the same restaurant they’d gone to before and ordered new dishes. Spock ordered a salad similar to his own, while Jim ordered some kind of chicken dish. Even though it was meat, Spock was glad to see Jim eating more than he had the first time they had come to this place. Once again, they sat outside, the only people to do so. There was a breeze in the air, but it was still bearable by his standards. As they sat and ate, they began to talk about Jim’s time in Iowa.
“I looked at the pictures you sent me. I saw horses in some of the images. Do you ride them?” Jim shrugged.
“I know how to ride, but those horses aren’t mine. I board them for some people who live in town. They don’t have room for them and even if they did, they just wouldn’t be allowed. Health codes, you know.” Spock nodded.
“So they pay you to care for the horses.” Jim shook his head.
“Sort of. They just pay for the space, really. They also give me money for their food and other supplies. It’s a bit like kenneling a pet while you’re out of town, except they haven’t gone anywhere, so they don’t need anything other than a place to keep them. I do take care of them sometimes. I might exercise, feed, and brush them if their owners are out of town, but it’s mostly them coming out to do it. The horses belong to their two kids, and their parents want them to be responsible with them. The cows are mine, though I once boarded some of a neighbor’s after a fire took down his barn and scorched a lot of the ground in his pasture. A lot of us did, dividing them up until he was able to take them all back. Land takes a long time to recover from a fire.” Spock nodded.
“Have you boarded other animals in the past?” Jim smiled and nodded.
“Sometimes I’ll have neighbors, if one of their dogs is about to have puppies, pay me to keep the mother and puppies on my property until they’re sold or old trained. We had a few old dog pens that we never actually kept filled. We had a few dogs while I was growing up, but we only ever had one at a time. We never had any reason for those kennels, but we held onto them, in case we could use them for something else.” Spock considered it.
“It is no burden on you?” Jim shook his head.
“No. I feed them and wash them sometimes, but they never stay for too long. Besides, I like dogs. And horses. Sometimes an animal can be one of the most loyal companions you’ll ever have.” Spock remembered I-Chaya and knew Jim was right, at least in his case.
“What about the other animals?”
“The pictures of the chickens and cows were actually old. I don’t have them anymore. My dad’s family kind of followed an old tradition there, keeping enough to provide eggs and milk for ourselves. My doctor always told me that my immune system was a little weak growing up, so if one of the cows picked up something and passed it along through the milk, I’d be the one affected the worst by it. Mom got rid of the cows and the chickens when she went back into space when I was little. It’s just as well; Sam and I were both too young to take care of them, and Frank, my uncle, wasn’t going to do it. Ours is just a small, family farm with no real output. My only real job is as a mechanic. I do grow my own produce, though. Just a fenced in patch of my yard really.” Spock still wanted to know more.
“What about the rest of your land? You seem to have a noticeable amount at your disposal.” Jim shrugged.
“I rent out space for animals. I also rent out space for crops and equipment. What better use for an empty barn and field?” Spock nodded.
“That is a logical solution.” He paused. “Your family did not wish to do much to change the land or house?” Jim shook his head.
“No, tradition was pretty important, at least to my dad’s side. His father’s parents were both history professors. That’s why his name was Tiberius.” Spock raised an eyebrow.
“Your great-grandparents gave your grandfather such an ancient name?” Jim nodded.
“Yup. And now it’s my middle name. My father wasn’t willing to give it to me as my first name, probably thought I’d be bullied within an inch of my life, but my mom picked still added it on.”
“How did she choose your first name?” Asked Spock.
“After my dad said no to calling me Tiberius, he said to use her dad’s name, Jim.” He replied. “And then, like I said, she chose to add Tiberius anyway.” Spock felt his lips twitch a bit in a repressed smile. Jim studied him.
“What about you? How did your parents name you? Do Vulcans ever recycle names?” Spock nodded.
“Yes, actually. I was named after Vulcan named Spock who assisted in the early building of our society. He was one of Surak’s original followers who continued to spread his ideals after he died as a result of nuclear fallout.” Jim grinned.
“That’s cool. I guess I inherited my love of history from my dad’s side. My mom and brother are the complete opposite. As soon as something is considered obsolete, they replace it.”
“My father is not completely dissimilar.” Replied Spock. “If something is still in working order, he will not replace it. However, if it proves inadequate for fulfilling its purpose, he will usually choose a newer model to replace it, whether the same thing is available or not.” Jim just shrugged.
“There’s always something new, right?” Spock just nodded.
“What about Vulcan?” Asked Jim suddenly. “Do you have farms there?” Spock nodded.
“We have certain equivalents of farms.” He replied. “Many of our edible plants were found in caves or close to underground springs, where it was cooler and moist. Once we developed the technology, they were grown in facilities built to meet their needs. We also have moisture farms.” Jim smiled in pleasant surprise.
“Kind of like Star Wars.”
“What?” Asked Spock, surprised and confused.
“Back in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, there were these sets of movies. They all had individual subtitles, but the whole thing was called Star Wars.” Explained Jim. “There were three put out in the late twentieth century, the 1970’s and 80’s. Then, a prequel trilogy was released. The first one came out in the last year of the twentieth century, and then the other two were released in the following five years, I think. Anyway, there was a planet that was shown in some of them, a desert world called Tatooine. Two of the main characters in the story were from there. And in this story, the planet Tatooine had moisture farms, where they used machines called vaporators to draw moisture from the air.” Spock nodded his understanding.
“I see the similarity. However, while we do have similar machines that are used during a certain more humid time of the year, ours are mostly used to extract water from underground. Also, those who live close to an oasis may draw water from there.” He paused, then thought of something.
“I believe I may have heard the name Tatooine before, used by a twenty-first century scientist as an unofficial title for planets orbiting multiple star systems.” Jim grinned.
“You’re right. I’ve heard about that too; he picked it based on a science fiction film. It’s pretty amazing really, how history is full of pieces of fiction from someone’s imagination that turn out to be very realistic.” Spock was intrigued.
“Do you know of any other examples?” Jim shrugged.
“Sure. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for one. While it’s true that if you tried to do exactly what she wrote, building someone out of different parts of dead bodies, including a brain, you’d probably end up with a brain dead person who couldn’t move even if he wasn’t, at best. But sometimes, if it’s done in time, severed limbs can be reattached. And people can be shocked back to life if their hearts have stopped beating for a short amount of time. And then there’s Jules Verne. His concept of a submarine wasn’t unique (he actually named it after a real one) but the scale of it was something that’s possible now. You’ve probably heard of Nautilus, the underwater station that can be divided by section and moved if it has to.”
“Indeed I have.” Replied Spock. “I did not know that it was named after a fictitious submarine.”
“Well it was. And it was actually named after a real submarine. I think one of my favorites though was one I was really interested in for a long time. It doesn’t just show some odd idea that we now know to be a possibility exactly, it was more of a really bizarre coincidence. It was a book called Futility, or Wreck of the Titan. It was one in a series of novels about the adventures of one particular character, but it’s one of the most famous because of an event that took place about halfway through it. It wasn’t considered very popular at the time it was written because that event was considered impossible at the time. But I guess the author thought it was possible enough, because he wrote it.”
“What happened?” Asked Spock. Jim leaned forward a bit.
“In the story, the main character is on a ship called the Titan. It’s the largest ship of its kind and is believed to be unsinkable. As a result, proper safety protocols aren’t followed. They only carry about the minimum number of lifeboats required by law. So when the ship hits an iceberg and begins to sink, most of the passengers are killed, because no one was prepared for anything like that to happen. Like I said, the story was pretty much dismissed back when it was written, since it was thought that such a ship would in fact be unsinkable, or at least too much for an iceberg to take down.” Spock was becoming more and more curious.
“What happened to change their minds?” Jim sat back.
“Over a decade later, a new ship was built, called the Titanic. She was the largest of her kind, and thought to be unsinkable.” Jim paused to take a sip of his drink, and Spock was given a moment to realize where the story was going.
“What happened to ship?” He asked, though he had a feeling he already knew.
“On her maiden voyage, she hit an iceberg and sank. There weren’t even enough lifeboats for half the passengers, and few of them were actually filled to capacity. Over half the people on board were killed. And that’s not all, the real wreak and the story both happened in April, the same distance from the same country, Newfoundland, I think. The iceberg even struck on the same side. What are the odds of that?”
“Rather slim.” Admitted Spock. It was certainly an intriguing story. Usually, when stories resembled historical events so closely, it was because the author was inspired by them and wrote something similar. Jim continued speaking.
“When people saw the similarities between the story and what happened in real life, they were pretty shocked. Some people went as far as to say the author somehow predicted the sinking.” Jim shrugged. “I don’t know if I believe in that sort of thing, but it’s definitely an amazing coincidence. I mean, the names are even similar. There were plenty of differences, though. Like the way the two ships sank, or the details of their collisions.” Spock nodded.
“It certainly is an astounding coincidence. I believe I would be interested in reading this book, and the others. I would also be interested in learning about the historical events behind them.” Jim grinned.
“It’s good to know someone exists who’s as interested in history as I am. I’ve got bits and pieces of information like that from all over history. Most of my friends back home can’t understand how I can be interested in anything that happened before the inventions of things like air travel, replicators, or toilets.” Spock nodded knowingly.
“They most likely do not anticipate ever finding themselves in a position where they may have to do without those things.”
“You’re probably right.” Agreed Jim. “I used to go camping a lot, so I know what it’s like to have to cook my own food and make…alternate arrangements for certain things. I’ve always been curious about people who really lived off the land, just making use of what nature gave them. When I was a kid, I learned about how a lot of people in the last few centuries talked about how humans would have had less war and crime and violence without technology, that in simpler times they would have found alternate solutions.”
“Do you believe that is true?” Asked Spock. Jim shrugged.
“Maybe. I mean, I think wherever or whenever you look, you’ll find people who deviate from the norm because of impulses based on greed, anger, fear, jealousy, or even mental illness. History’s full of killing, whether it was because of a war, or just a random act of violence. Maybe a lack of tools to kill with would slow things down, but there’ll always be something going on. Can you say with certainty that Vulcan is a crime free world because of Surak’s teachings?” Spock considered it. It was true, most crimes or violent acts were committed by those who chose to ignore Surak’s teachings, or tried to find a balance between logic and emotion, but even some of the most upstanding Vulcan citizens occasionally strayed from the path of logic in ways that could not be excused by duress or biology.
“No.” He replied simply. “I cannot.” They were silent for a moment, just focusing on their food. Jim broke the silence.
“How did we get to this?” Spock looked at him, confused.
“What do you mean?” Jim shrugged.
“A few minutes ago we were talking about my hometown and farm. How did we get to the flaws of society?” Spock was surprised.
“I do not know.” He admitted. “It seems we quickly moved through several different subjects, all quite interesting.” They had gone from Jim’s home to Vulcan agriculture, then science fiction, then literature, then history, and finally murder. Jim’s mind seemed to be eager enough to cause him to jump from subject to subject. But then, he’d said he didn’t discuss some of those things with his other friends; it was possible they did not share his other interests either. Spock knew what that was like. His only discussions with his age-mates were during classroom debates. He had little interaction with them otherwise, unless they were trying to provoke an emotional reaction from him. He’d never had such freedom in discussion before. He noticed then that Jim looked a little uncomfortable. “Is something the matter?”
“It’s just…why didn’t you want to go out with Uhura? I know it’s none of my business, but I don’t know any guy who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a shot with a girl like her.” Spock wasn’t sure what to say. If he answered too honestly, he’d incriminate himself in his desire to pursue a romantic relationship with Jim. But he also didn’t want to give the impression that he was in any way romantically interested in Uhura.
“I simply do not feel that such a relationship between us is possible. Vulcans can often tell by instinct if someone is a good match. We do not feel the urge to ‘date’ many people.” Jim nodded.
“I guess that makes sense. I’m human, so I can’t tell if someone’s the one just by instinct. We have to do things together to learn about each other, hence ‘dating’.” Spock saw his chance.
“What kinds of activities constitute a date? What would you expect from one?” Jim appeared to consider it.
“A lot of that varies between different people. Some people start off small and work their way up, once they become more and more sure that they want to be with the person they’re dating. Some people aren’t looking for commitment, and they just want to stay casual, at least for the moment. Sometimes people set their dating standards based on how they were raised, their social status and religion, that sort of thing. Everyone has their own idea of when they want to move things to the next level, whatever that is to them.
Myself, I don’t really care about where I’d go on a date. I don’t really date that much to begin with. I did in high school, just a few weeks per relationship, not really strange for that age. When I got older and started working, I didn’t have as much time for that sort of thing. I’d usually just hook up with someone looking for the same thing I was every now and then. But if I were to start dating someone, I’d be more focused on who I was with. It wouldn’t matter if we were in a fast food joint or some ridiculously expensive place. Some people think you can win someone’s love with expensive gifts, but it won’t last if you can’t just enjoy talking to each other.” Spock nodded. Jim’s idea of dating seemed quite practical, and preferable in Spock’s opinion.
They soon finished eating and paid their bill. Spock decided to make a suggestion.
“You stated once before that you wished to see the AIDS Memorial Grove. Would you perhaps like to go there now?” Jim looked surprised.
“Yeah, I remember that, that was the day I was all tired and angry, and we ended up going to the library instead. Sure, let’s go there.” They made their way there via shuttle. Once they were there, they circled it several times for over an hour, studying the many names etched into the stone. They discussed the history of AIDS, and many other subjects that came to mind. Eventually, they decided to leave. As always, they parted ways when Jim got on the shuttle. Before he got on, Jim turned to Spock.
“I’ve got my first parenting class with Sam and Aurelan next weekend, but I’m free again the one after that.” Spock nodded.
“I would be interested in hearing what these classes consist of.” He offered. Jim smiled.
“I’ll tell you in two weeks.” He turned to get on the shuttle when Spock remembered something.
“Did your brother and sister-in-law choose to learn the sex of the child?” Jim shook his head.
“Not exactly. They could have, but at the moment they’d decided not to. It’s even worse now that they know they can find out any time. They keep changing their minds because they can’t tell whether or not they want to know they’re having a son.” Spock looked at him, surprised.
“You learned the sex?” Jim grinned a little sheepishly.
“Yeah, I did. I saw on the monitor screen, and Bones confirmed it for me. They don’t know that I do, and I’m keeping it that way, or else they’ll be bugging me about it nonstop. So, you want to meet at the doctor’s office then, same time?” Spock nodded and he moved toward the shuttle again. “Then I’ll see you in two weeks.” And then he was gone.
Later on, Spock was trying to meditate on what he had learned about Jim’s dating preferences. He hadn’t really dated recently, but his requirements seemed rather simple. For the first time since he’d met Jim, the possibility of a romantic relationship between them was beginning to look promising. He would have two whole weeks to figure out how to use that to his advantage.