Considering that he knew very little about Spock, even after seven months of serving aboard the Enterprise with him, Jim couldn’t say just why he knew the Vulcan was worried about something—but he did know. So Jim was worried, too.
It hadn’t always been that way. Indeed, on the memorable occasion of their first meeting, Jim hadn’t been worried about Spock—he’d been wondering how much time he’d get in the Academy brig if he just walked across the room and bitch-slapped the Vulcan who was accusing him of cheating on the Kobiashi Maru. However, he’d managed to restrain himself.
Later, of course, when he was on the bridge of the Enterprise, pinned to a console, with Spock’s hands wrapped around his neck like an anaconda in heat, Jim was grateful that he hadn’t bitch-slapped Spock, since it was obvious that if he had, he would have died at the Academy, without ever getting into space. At least he’d follow the family tradition and die on-board a starship, Jim had thought fuzzily as Spock efficiently choked the life out of him.
Luckily for his future, Spock had been stopped before he could completely wring Jim’s neck like a plump frying chicken. Indeed, Spock had finally admitted he was “emotionally compromised” and had turned the ship over to Jim, who had promptly kicked Nero’s ass and saved the day. That led to the surprising result of Jim getting the captaincy of the Enterprise on a permanent basis, and the even more surprising result of Spock agreeing to act as his combination Science and First Officer. Every other ship of the line needed two people in that position, but Spock was so goddamned brilliant, he could do both and do them effortlessly. So it had remained for the last seven months. Jim was starting to get the hang of this captain thing; Spock was actually being useful and supportive (even though Jim suspected he’d rather die than admit that), and things were going well. They were even sort of becoming friends (even though Jim knew Spock would rather die before admitting that). But now Spock was worried, and Jim wanted to know why. He’d asked Spock, of course, and had been rebuffed with a cool, “My personal life is my own affair, sir.” But Jim wasn’t about to give up. After a few more days of watching Spock pick at his food and seeing the Vulcan slip from his cabin in the middle of the night and walk the ship’s corridors for hours (it turned out that deer hunting was great practice for trailing a sneaky Vulcan), Jim made up his mind to contact the one authority on Spock he knew—the other Spock, the one that had come through the looking glass, or at least through a wormhole.
“Jim.” Selik of New Vulcan greeted his young friend, his lined, noble features reflecting his pleasure at the sight of the human who was so much like his long-lost t’hy’la.
“I think Spock’s broken,” Jim started the conversation.
The elegantly slanted brows furrowed. “Broken? What do you mean, Jim?”
Jim gave him a wry grin. “Sorry, that wasn’t very helpful as a description, was it? It’s just, he’s worried, I think, and I didn’t think Vulcans ever worried. Isn’t it one of the five million illogical emotions you’re not allowed to have?”
Selik’s lips twitched slightly. “Most sentient beings worry, Jim; however, you are quite right. We are not supposed to do so.” He paused for a moment. “Do you know why Spock is worried?”
“That’s just it; he won’t tell me. He just keeps mumbling that his personal life is his own affair. I know he’s been calling home a lot though; I bribed Uhura with a new pair of shoes the next time we stop at a Starbase for supplies, and she admitted that she’s been putting calls through to New Vulcan for Spock nearly every day.”
Selik frowned faintly. “Then he is most likely speaking to Sarek, and if that is the case, I think I might know what is bothering him.”
Selik frowned again. “If I discuss this with you, I am being an interfering elder, as well as breaking about sixteen privacy taboos.”
“But you love me, and you’ll do it,” Jim replied.
Selik sighed. “I…am very fond of you both, and yes, I will do it. However, you must use the upmost delicacy when utilizing this information.” He paused for a moment. “I suspect that Sarek is urging Spock to…marry.”
“Marry,” Jim echoed flatly. For some reason, that word, when connected to Spock, gave Jim a faint bellyache.
“Indeed,” Selik replied. “The High Council is attempting to match all unmarried survivors, in the hopes of stabilizing our society.”
“And making more little Vulcans,” Jim added.
Selik’s raised brow acknowledged the truth of that statement. “Of course,” he replied.
“So you think Sarek’s trying to marry Spock off?” Again, there was that faint twinge of pain. “Seems pretty fucking medieval,” Jim said.
“Perhaps, but it is our way,” Selik told him. “Indeed, long before Nero, our people had always arranged marriages for their children, as soon as the child was seven years of age. Spock was no exception.”
“Wait a minute.” Jim leaned forward. “He was married???”
Selik shook his head. “More like betrothed,” he replied. Now he looked somber. “However, the young woman in question, T’Pring, was among the casualties of our planet’s implosion. I…checked on her status, and she was killed.”
Jim felt a chill. “You…were you married to a T’Pring in your world?” Jim asked gently.
Again, Selik shook his head. “No,” he replied quietly. “We were betrothed as children; however, that betrothal was broken when I…found another mate.” Selik had never told this Jim Kirk exactly what the other Jim Kirk had meant to him; he did not want to force the young man into a role that was wrong for him.
“So you checked on this T’Pring and found out she’s dead.”
“Indeed,” Selik agreed.
“And now you think Sarek is trying to find Spock a new wife.” Jim thought for a moment. “Well, that’s certainly enough to worry anybody. Thanks, Selik. I’ll see what I can do—delicately.” He signed off, and far away on New Vulcan, Selik had a quick conversation with his long-dead mate.
“I am not interfering,” he told his Jim firmly. “I am simply—facilitating.” Selik hadn’t missed the flash of pain in this Jim’s eyes when he’d heard the words ‘Spock’ and ‘marriage.’ Selik hoped the nudge he’d given would be enough.
It was very late, almost 0200. Spock sat cross-legged on the small Observation Lounge near his quarters, looking out at the stars.
There is no logic in wishing for what you canot obtain, he told himself. Your betrothed is gone; for the sake of your own sanity, you need another spouse. Spock knew his father was right about that; the place deep inside himself where T’Pring had been still ached faintly with the shock of her loss. Spock had never been ‘in love’ with her as the humans would label it; they had both been young, and Spock had not yet burned in the fires of plak tow. However, he knew those fires would come, perhaps within the next six to twelve months. Before that happened, he needed to be bonded again. Sarek had been very clear and direct.
“If you do not have a bond mate, you risk death or madness during your Time,” he’d said bluntly. “Only a mind healer will be able to help you, and there are few available and none on board your ship. You are my son, of the House of Surak. There are many suitable candidates available. You will not have to give up your career; we can find a female who is willing to accompany you aboard the Enterprise, and Starfleet Council has ruled that any bonded Vulcan cannot be separated from his or her spouse, even if that spouse is not a Starfleet officer. Please, my son. Let me make a match for you.”
Yet Spock still resisted, and he did not know why. He shook his head at the futility of lying to himself. He knew precisely why, but he did not know how to solve the problem. How could he even broach the subject? He had no proof that...he only suspected that perhaps, just possibly....
The door swished open behind him, and Spock tensed. Without turning, he knew who had come in; every nerve in his body responded to that presence.
“Couldn’t sleep, either, huh?” Barefoot and dressed in a ratty set of Academy sweats Jim dropped down next to Spock, close enough for the faint warmth of the human’s body to ghost along Spock’s skin. Spock forced himself to turn and meet those sea-blue eyes that seemed to possess the ability to look right through him.
“I am a Vulcan,” Spock replied coolly. “I need very little sleep.”
“I’d buy that if it weren’t for the shadows under your eyes. I could hide a black cat in them.” Jim turned slightly, laying his hand on Spock’s forearm.
“Look,” Jim said quietly, “I really don’t want to pry…”
“Untrue or you would not be here.”
Jim grinned. “Point taken.” His smile faded. “Spock, if you’re…having family problems or personal problems or hell, even if you’ve just got a pimple that irritating you, I wish you’d share with me.” He gently brushed his fingers along Spock’s arm again. “I really do care if you’re happy,” Jim continued quietly. “I know; Vulcans aren’t supposed to be happy. They’re supposed to exist in a cloud of lavender-scented logic. But I think that’s bullshit. You of all people ought to be happy.” He fell silent as Spock looked at him sharply.
“Why me of all people?” Spock asked.
Jim blushed, once again cursing his fair Northern European ancestry. “Well, I…I just meant…the pursuit of happiness is important for all…oh, fuck!”
Jim finally gave into the vague impulse that he now realized had been nagging him for months. He leaned over and gently but firmly kissed Spock, feeling the instinctive withdrawal but then feeling the equally sudden lunge as Spock wrapped his arms around Jim and kissed him back.
“I…I am sorry,” Spock stammered as they finally drew apart. Now Jim wasn’t the only one blushing. “I do not know why I responded that way.”
Jim simply reached out and stroked his thumb across Spock’s lower lip, feeling the faint moisture of his kiss still clinging to Spock’s skin. “Don’t you?” he asked gently. “I do. I think….I think I’ve known for a long time, Spock. There’s something between us, something that keeps me looking at you whenever we’re on the Bridge, something that makes me want to stop by your cabin every night and make sure you’re warm enough, something that makes me want to tell you that I don’t want you to marry some Vulcan chick just because your people think you should.”
“Selik.” Spock sounded less surprised than resigned.
“Yeah.” Jim shrugged. “Don’t be mad; I basically whined at him about how worried and upset you were until he caved. Look, Spock. I know this is all really sudden, and I don’t want you to make any commitment that you’re not ready for, but…I’m pretty sure I love you. I’m beginning to think you might love me. Can’t you just wait and let us explore how we feel, instead of running off to New Vulcan and hooking up with some skirt?”
Spock shook his head. “You do not understand,” he whispered. “I am…running out of time.”
“What?” Jim grabbed him again, instantly alarmed. “What do you mean? Are you sick? Do you have to have a wife before you die or else you haunt people, like the Chinese legends? What…”
“No, nothing like that,” Spock replied. He loosened Jim’s grip and gently gathered the human’s hands in his own.
“I would willingly explore with you,” he murmured, that faint green blush coming once again. “However, I have to be matched soon. I….” Spock hesitated, but Jim deserved to know the truth. He took a deep breath and, stumbling occasionally over the words, explained pon farr. Once his final hesitant words had died away, he looked down at the deck, unwilling to see scorn or fear—or worst of all, pity—in Jim’s eyes. He felt those cool fingers slip beneath his chin, and Jim gently raised Spock’s head.
“Spock, look at me,” Jim said softly. Spock made himself do so, seeing nothing in the human’s face but acceptance and tenderness, mixed with a faint amusement.
“You obviously don’t know much about the sex drive of the human male,” Jim told him, his voice gentle.
Spck shook his head. “I am…rather inexperienced,” he said, forced by Jim’s openness to be open as well. “Nyota and I…we never…”
Jim chuckled again. Well, I never thought I’d say this about Uhura, but I pity her.” Jim gently stroked Spock’s cheek. “Believe me, I can think of a lot worse fates than being locked naked in a room with you for several days.”
“But…you do not understand,” Spock told him, fear warring with hope. “I will…use you, dominate you…”
Jim chuckled. “Now I really know you’re clueless,” he said, but there was no sting in his words. “Spock, I’ve got no problem with being dominated, as long as I love and trust the one doing the domination.” Jim rose to his feet, extending a hand.
“Come on,” he said softly. “Why don’t we go back to your cabin and…take a little test drive.” Spock’s eyes widened, but Jim seemed quite sure of himself.
“We’ll never know if we’re compatible unless we try,” he said firmly. “If it doesn’t work, I’ll leave your cabin at dawn, and we’ll never talk about it again. I’ll even dance at your wedding, if you want.”
“Vulcans do not dance at bonding ceremonies,” Spock noted, but he took the hand that Jim held out.
At dawn, the door of Spock’s quarters remained closed.
“My son.” Sarek looked out of the view screen at Spock’s face. He noticed, with faint surprise, that Jim Kirk, Spock’s captain, was seated next to him.
“Father,” Spock replied. “I wish to give you a final answer regarding a new bond.”
Sarek’s eyebrow rose. “You wish to discuss this in front of James? No offense,” he added hastily.
Jim smiled faintly. “None taken.”
“It is appropriate,” Spock replied. He held up one hand, fingers extended. As Sarek watched, the human touched Spock’s fingers with his own in the traditional ozh’esta, the ‘kiss’ between Vulcan bond mates.
“Father,” Spock said calmly. “I believe it is appropriate for me to inform you that I am…I believe the term is happy.”
Jim chuckled. “Gay,” he supplied. Spock turned to look at him, the warmth in his eyes evident to Sarek even across the vastness of space.
“That too,” Spock said softly.
That night, Sarek contacted five families he had been negotiating with and informed each that Spock was no longer available. He contacted the sixth and formally asked for the daughter of the house, T’Saaria, as his new bond mate. If Spock wasn’t going to help repopulate his race, it was obvious that Sarek had a duty.
Six weeks later, the new colony witnessed its first father-son double bonding ceremony. All present agreed that both couples looked very…gay or perhaps the word was happy. Standard is such a strange language.