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Spock stared at the Eridani’s viewscreen, frowning slightly. In it, he could see the Earth ship called the Enterprise drawing nearer and nearer. He turned away from his science station, exiting the Bridge without a word. None of the fellow Vulcan crewmen stopped him; this was his usual behavior whenever they attacked another vessel.

He didn’t stop his journey until he reached his quarters. Occasionally, his movement was jolted as the ship rocked from being hit; but he wasn’t worried. The Enterprise, and all Earth ships, were no match for the Eridani warship. He did not understand why the Terrans continued to resist; it was inevitable they would lose to his fellow warmongering, relentless Vulcans. Yes, sometimes they managed to win a fight they should not have stood a chance in, but only a few Terran captains managed such a feat. As far as he knew, none of them captained the Enterprise.

By the same token, he did not agree with the tribes’ unusual, united decision to conquer Earth. In his view, the unleashed passions of Vulcans would lead to their gradual destruction. This was but another example of it. Vulcans dying, Vulcans separated from families, and for what purpose? To conquer, to enslave, but to no particular end other than for their own gratification. Spock did not believe in power without purpose.

But, these beliefs Spock kept to himself. The crewmen of the Eridani only knew that, unlike most Vulcans, he did not like to fight. Instead, he lent them his knowledge of science, therefore satisfying his duty to aid his tribe in their war. He knew that if they realized he did not support the war, he would shame his father, the only family he had. So he kept silent, doing his duty. Though he did not enjoy aiding in the destruction of humans, he had little reason to believe they were much better than they were: they also let their passions run free. He had no solid ground to stand on with his beliefs, other than philosophical, which they would not listen to. His love for his father won out.

He sat on his meditation mat, carefully removing a paper book from in between the mattresses: The Book of Surak. Though the Vulcan had died some time ago, his teachings were still passed on in secret. His father had informed him once that his mother had liked the book and read it many times before she died. After that, he’d secretly taken it and read it many times himself. Gradually he’d begun to apply the teachings to his life. He carefully read the instructions for meditation, and lightly sank into it as the minutes dragged on.

“All Senior Staff must report to the Bridge!” came Captain Soval’s voice through the comm system.

Spock knew this was mainly intended for himself, but appreciated Soval’s discreetness. He slowly opened his eyes, re-hid his book, and strode quickly back to the Bridge. The ship had been quiet and steady for several minutes now. No doubt they were victorious over the Enterprise, and the Captain wished to gloat, as usual. Spock would prevaricate, but he could not defy a direct order.

When he arrived, his eyes were immediately drawn to the cuffed human held tightly by two crewman. The human was good looking, or would be, if he weren’t glaring so hard at Captain Soval. “Why didn’t you let them all go? Why are you slaughtering us? We’ve never done anything to you!”

“You are lucky. It is rare that we are outmaneuvered by one of your ships enough that any of your crew got away. I’m sure they’re fine, wherever they are, thanks to your solo piloting skills.”

“What about my ship?” the man demanded, eyes blazing.

“Oh, the data we’ve gleaned from the banks will be useful enough, but the actual ship is as antiquated as a garbage scow,” Soval sneered. “Anyone that passes will think it’s a garbage dump. It’s not worth the firepower to finish it off.”

More likely, he wanted to leave it as a monument to his victory, Spock thought, never taking his eyes off the human.

“What do you want with me?” he human finally demanded.

Interesting, the order of his concerns, Spock added to himself. Perhaps there was some honor in the human race.

“You are a prize in and of yourself. Captain James Tiberius Kirk. The only Captain to have beaten us in battle three times in a row. It is a pleasure to have captured you at last.”

Spock had heard of him, but didn’t know he’d been transferred to the Enterprise. It must have been a recent development.

Soval abruptly turned. “Spock!”

Spock jerked his head toward him in surprise.

Soval grinned wide. “He’s yours.”

Spock swallowed. He did not want a slave. “Yours is the victory,” he said quietly, reasonably. “You deserve to keep what you won.”

“Nonsense!” said Soval. “You must take him!”

“Is that an order?” Spock said with irony in his voice.

“Yes! You’ll come to appreciate him, I’m sure,” Soval said with an unmistakable, suggestive leer to his voice.

“Very well,” said Spock reluctantly. “Take him to my quarters,” he told the crewman holding Kirk. He briefly met Kirk’s eyes, which were full of hatred. Hatred for him.

Spock did not have time to react, for Soval swung an arm around his shoulder, pulling his attention away. “Your father will be so proud! We have captured the notorious captain at last, and he is yours to command! This has struck a harsh blow right into the heart of our enemies! We must go and drink a toast!”

From there on out, it was the usual victory celebration. Spock excused himself as early as he could, wondering what he would find when he returned to his quarters.

He entered quietly. Kirk was sitting on a bedroll on the floor, his back to the door, his head resting against the wall. He appeared to be in a state of distress. Spock hadn’t the slightest clue of what to say to him. Each thing that occurred to him seemed more ridiculous and inappropriate than the last. Finally, he decided to just tell him the truth. “I have no desire for a slave. I imagine you have no desire to be enslaved. I would like your input on how to make this living situation tolerable for the both of us, since we cannot avoid it, for the time being.” He talked in what he called his “Surak” voice, a calmer, steadier one than he used with the more emotional Vulcans.

“Fuck off.”

Spock was not familiar with this particular phrase, but the tone was not encouraging. “I am not familiar with Terran idioms. To facilitate better communication, I request that you speak plainly.”

Kirk did not answer, but by the strange heaving of his sides, Spock judged him to be holding back sobs. Spock felt a pang of empathy; he was most likely grieving for those crew members that didn’t make it. Since Spock doubted Kirk would accept any attempts on his part to ease his pain, he did not offer any. “If you desire anything – food, drink, or something to read, perhaps – inform me.” Spock knew he couldn’t let him have the run of the ship; Soval wouldn’t allow it. He would be dependent on Spock for everything.

Kirk still didn’t acknowledge him, so Spock took out his datapad and started catching up on his reports. The silence was thick and heavy. Kirk never moved. Spock tried to ignore this, but it gradually got to him. “I have heard that humans need more sleep than Vulcans,” Spock said finally. “If you like, you may take the bed. I can sleep on the floor without difficulty.” In reality, he’d be meditating, an effective Surakian replacement for sleep, but Kirk, nor anyone else, need know that.

This finally got a reaction. Kirk turned his head a little towards Spock. “There will be no sleep for me tonight,” he whispered with venom.

This bothered Spock. He didn’t like the idea of Kirk being awake on the floor all night, in distress, while Spock slept on his bed. He could force Kirk to use the bed, but that was a precedent he had no wish to set. Yet, there was another alternative argument. “It is your choice. However, may I point out, that a lack of suitable rest will not leave you in a good state to make escape attempts.”

That got Kirk’s full attention, finally. The man spun around, his reddened eyes wide. “What?”

Spock clarified. “You serve no logical purpose here. They have gleaned the knowledge they need from your databanks; they have disabled your ship, and scattered your crew; and they have also fatally tarnished your reputation. Alone, you pose no concern to us. They merely wish to keep you for their own gratification. But I do not share their feelings. If I were to find you missing, I would not be troubled by it.” Also, with Kirk gone, he could go back to studying Surak in peace, something he dare not do even in front of Kirk. No one could know.

“You’re serious,” said Kirk in disbelief. “Why not just let me go, then?”

“I will not,” Spock said shortly. “I will not help you escape. But I will not prevent it, either.”

“Pretty passive for a warmonger,” Kirk said with a sneer in his voice, though his eyes were thoughtful and penetrating.

“If you think you can overpower me, you are mistaken. I am at least three times as strong as you, and well trained in hand to hand combat,” Spock warned him, guessing the train of Kirk’s thoughts. “I have no wish to harm you, but if you attack me, I cannot guarantee what will happen.”

They stared challengingly at each other for several long moments. Finally, Kirk spoke. “I’ll take the bed.”

Spock acquiesced with a quirk of his brow, and settled into meditation as he heard Kirk’s breaths even out. His mind eased. The human wasn’t completely unreasonable.

Still, when he came out of his meditation the next morning, he found Kirk was not in a much better mood. He ignored Spock, pretending to be asleep, when the Vulcan clearly knew it he was awake from his breathing patterns. He would have to be patient.  Kirk would come up with some clever way to get out of his hair before long. If any human could do it, he could.

Spock exited, “accidentally” leaving the door unlocked. He was only stepping out for a moment, and the human was “clearly” asleep. Of course, that would be what he’d say if he turned up missing. Still, he hoped Kirk would stay at least a day or two longer. Despite his frosty demeanor, he found him intriguing. He wished to know more about the brilliant, tactical mind the man possessed.

When he returned to his room, he wasn’t quite surprised that Kirk was gone already. He wondered what the man was up to. Crawling around the maintenance shafts, perhaps? Risky, especially right after a battle when repairs were made, but possible. It wasn’t his concern.

After barely stomaching his breakfast, Spock finally concluded that it was his concern, whether he liked it or not. What if he was caught? Spock would in no way be punished, but would Soval take it upon himself to punish Kirk before returning him to Spock? That thought did not sit well with him. Perhaps he ought to investigate.

He’d walked around the ship for nearly twenty minutes when he heard some rather disquieting sounds. He quietly entered the small conference room where the noises originated and froze at the sight that greeted him. Kirk was chained to the conference table and bent over it. Soval was just starting to strip him of his clothes while a couple Bridge officers watched. Was he going to rape him?

Something snapped inside of Spock.

“What is this?!” Spock demanded, blindly leaping forward and ripping Kirk’s chains free from the table with thunderous crack. He glared at Soval, his hands shaking, a hair’s breadth away from attacking his Captain.

“I was disciplining him for you. He was clearly taking advantage of your inexperience with slaves,” explained Soval. “I don’t understand why you are directing your anger on me, when he is clearly the one in the wrong.”

That evaporated what little control Spock had. He lunged at Soval. They grappled violently for the next few minutes while the Bridge officers present prevented Kirk from escaping and goaded the fight on. Finally, it ended.

“While fights are not uncommon on this ship, it is unusual for you to start one, Spock. I’m impressed.” Soval smiled, as if he’d given him a great compliment.

Spock, still shaking, wordlessly grabbed hold of Kirk’s chains and led him out, with a curt nod to Soval right before he exited. Kirk followed him wordlessly until they reentered Spock’s cabin. Spock released him and sat on the bed, his face in his hands.

“What are you going to do?” asked Kirk defiantly, when it was clear Spock didn’t plan on moving or speaking anytime soon. “You seem upset. What’s going on?”

“It is normal for Vulcans to be passionate and violent. I, however, prefer not to be,” explained Spock, finally raising his head to look at him. “If you are inquiring into repercussions, I have no plans. I do hope you come up with something better next time.”

“There won’t be a next time. There’s no way off this ship, unless you let me go,” said Kirk.

Spock frowned. “It is unlike you to admit defeat, even against considerable odds. Considering that I offer no opposition, I do not see how your statement is providing any tactical advantage.”

“You clearly don’t agree with how they treat humans. Why don’t you do something about it?” Kirk inquired, his eyes intense upon Spock.

“I am a Vulcan,” Spock said, as if that explained everything. “You are a human. You cannot understand.”

“Try me,” said Kirk. “I think you’d be surprised.”

“I have no wish to discuss the matter further,” said Spock with finality.

“You’re afraid, aren’t you? Afraid what will happen if you stand up for what you believe. You’re equally afraid of what will happen if you don’t. What’s going to get you out of this stalemate, Spock?”

Spock thought it inconvenient that when Kirk finally got chatty, it was about this subject. “You are remarkably perceptive. However, I maintain that you do not understand what it is to be Vulcan. There is no point in discussing the matter further.”

They stared each other down. Finally, Kirk shifted and spoke. “Thanks for showing me that not all Vulcans are completely cruel.”

Spock gave him a curt nod. “I have some reports to review,” he said, abruptly changing the subject. “If you would like anything in the meantime, ask.” Without another word, Spock picked up a PADD and began to read. He could feel Kirk staring at him for a while, before finally shifting his attention elsewhere.

Over the next few days, Kirk did little but eat, sleep, and read datapads that Spock gave him. His demeanor melted from frosty to almost companionable, as Spock did his best, under the circumstances, to treat him as a guest rather than a prisoner. Still, neither would give into the other’s point of view.

The impasse would’ve gone on indefinitely if Kirk had not acted on his instincts one day while Spock was retrieving their food. Kirk knew Spock was hiding something. He’d searched his quarters before, for a way out. Now, he searched with the idea of a secret in mind. It didn’t take long before he came upon a paper book hidden between Spock’s mattresses. He’d learned some Vulcan, of course, but it was rather spotty. Obviously, an antiquated paper book offered no translation into Standard, as the datapads did. Still, as he flipped through it, he was able to decipher the gist of it. It was written by some peace-loving Vulcan named Surak. Did Spock follow some kind of forbidden religion?

He didn’t have time to debate the matter further before Spock reentered abruptly. They froze, Kirk staring at Spock, and Spock staring at the book in his hand. Spock dropped the food on the table and snatched the book out of his hand. “I have shown you a great deal of respect. What gives you the right to search my things?” He asked, his face thunderously angry.

Kirk clenched his fists and forced himself not to back down or show his fear. He’d seen what Spock was capable of. Even if Spock was trying to curb his passions, he was still dangerous. “You’re hiding something. Why? What is this book?”

“It is none of your concern,” snarled Spock. “Do not touch it again, and do not tell the others!”

“What would happen? Why is it so important that you keep it to yourself?” Jim pressed, refusing to be intimidated.

Just then, an alarm sounded. “All senior officers to the Bridge! Man your stations! We are under attack!”

“Now is your chance to escape,” Spock told him. “I will not be pleased if I find you here when I return.” He tried to still his shaking hands. In reality, he would miss Kirk; something about the man resonated with him, and he wished he had more time to explore it. However, the fact that Kirk knew about Surak’s book filled him with fear. Kirk might not keep the secret. The results could be disastrous.

They stared at each other intensely for a moment. Then Spock spun on his heel and left.

He hadn’t even reached the Bridge yet when a violent explosion rocked the ship. Spock lost his balance and slammed into the corridor wall. As he hit the floor, parts of the opposite wall collapsed on top of him. As he lay there in intense pain, he employed some Surakian techniques to suppress it, enabling him to concentrate on freeing himself. Who was attacking them? Surely not the humans. They’d never managed to damage a Vulcan ship of this size, this badly.

Explosions continued to rock the ship, burying Spock deeper in the rubble. Undeterred, gritting his teeth against the pain, he continued his efforts. They needed him on the Bridge. He had to get there, no matter the cost. They would be destroyed, otherwise.

He’d just managed to crawl out into a clear area when he heard unfamiliar voices.

“Don’t worry, Captain, we’ll round ‘em up and get ‘em out of here in no time!” said one voice, in a peculiar accent. Spock stilled. They’d been boarded.

He heard footsteps moving closer. And indistinct voice spoke through what he assumed as a communicator. “Hear that, Captain? Fifteen of the crew are dead, and another ten are injured. We’ve sent them to Sickbay. We’ve got three quarters of the rest rounded up and sent to the holding cells. How’s that for a rescue mission, eh?”

Rescue? Spock’s pounding brain barely had time to whirr to a conclusion before Kirk rounded the corner, accompanied by several human men. They raised their weapons to fire.

“Don’t!” said Kirk, whipping his arm out quickly in a “stay” motion.

“Captain?” said the main with the peculiar accent.

Spock struggled to his feet, doing his best to hide his pain, staring down Kirk as he was surrounded by security officers and secured in cuffs.

Kirk turned to another man. “Ensign. Down the hall, you’ll find some quarters. Inside, you’ll find a paper book. Let him have it.”

“Aye, Captain,” said the human, saluting smartly, retrieving it in less than a minute. The ensign held it out to Spock, who took it gingerly and examined it. It had not suffered much damage, thankfully.

“Is there anything else you want before we abandon ship?” Kirk asked Spock.

“Negative,” Spock rasped.

“Very well. Take him to Sickbay. Hold him there until I give further instructions. The rest of you, gather tactical information, engage the self-destruct, and return to the Enterprise.”

Spock appeared moments later in a Sickbay run by a rather grumpy, frazzled man. “Another one! Are there more coming?”

“No, he’s the last one,” the security officer responded.

“Good,” the man grunted.

“Also, the Captain has special orders for this one. He isn’t to be put in a holding cell. He’s supposed to stay here until further notice.”

The doctor stared at Spock. “Well, I’ll be damned. Very well, secure him to the bed, take your posts.”

Spock submitted to the plan, in too much pain to even contemplate escaping at the moment. Now, Kirk had all the cards. What would he do with them?

“Name’s McCoy,” the doctor told him gruffly as he began treating his injuries.

“I am Spock,” he responded.

“So, what’s special about you? Why doesn’t the Captain want you held with the others?” McCoy asked bluntly.

Spock’s brows pulled together. On his ship, the doctor would not ask questions like that. Kirk must run things very differently. “He seems to believe I am different than other Vulcans.”

“Is it true?”

“Perhaps.”

McCoy gave him a disgusted look, but continued to treat him with surprising gentleness.

Kirk finally came some hours later, once Sickbay was cleared of patients. Spock himself was feeling much better. He sat up to greet Kirk, as far as his restraints allowed.

“Remove those and wait outside,” Kirk ordered the security officers.  They gave him bewildered, questioning looks, but obeyed. When it was just Kirk, Spock, and McCoy, he spoke again. “If you promise not to escape, I will give you quarters and confine you there.”

“I can give no such promise,” Spock stated.

“Very well, then you give me no choice than to put you in a holding cell. I’ll give you one separate from the others, and let you have your book. Is there anything else I can get you?”

“Not at this juncture.”

“You’re recovered? There’s no other injuries that need attention?”

“Your doctor has done a competent job,” Spock assured him.

“Damn it, Spock, what I am supposed to do with you?” Kirk demanded. “You really want me to throw you in a holding cell?”

“I have a duty to my tribe. I cannot break it,” Spock insisted.

“There are always possibilities,” Kirk countered.

“You are a human. You do not understand Vulcan ways,” Spock said. “Also, the rest of the Vulcan fleet will realize what happened, soon enough. How do you expect to escape their wrath?”

“Scotty’s taken care of that,” Kirk said dismissively. “I’m willing to strike a deal with you, if you’ll just take the chance. I’m not offering it to the rest of your crew.”

Spock paused, as he and Kirk stared each other down. He could not help but feel drawn to him, to want to work things out, to stay. Yet, they stood at the opposite ends of a war. He could not betray his own people. “I’m afraid my answer hasn’t changed.”

“Very well.”

Spock passed the next day in his holding cell, meditating and reading from his book. He wondered how the rest of the crew were faring. He’d been told that they’d had their injuries tended to, but nothing more. Late that evening, McCoy entered his cell, holding a datapad.

“I’ve had the chance to examine the medical demographics of you and the others,” he said. “And I’ve found something interesting that the Captain wants me to show you. Did you know that you’re half-human, Spock?”

“It will not work,” said Spock.

“What?” said McCoy, confused. He hadn’t quite expected this reaction. He’d thought it’d be something more violent, but it appeared Kirk was correct – Spock did try to curb his passions.

“Your attempt to win me over to your side. If I were really half-human, I would have been informed of this. My father certainly never mentioned it.”

“I don’t know why they would hide it from you, but I’ve got the proof right here!” said McCoy.

“You could have falsified it,” said Spock.

“You’re a scientist. You’re a computer expert. You can tell, can’t you?” McCoy demanded.

Spock quirked a brow. It would not hurt to examine the data. It would pass the time, at least. “Very well.”

McCoy handed it over, and left the cell.

Though skeptical at first, the more Spock examined the evidence, the more he could not deny there was something indeed odd. That perhaps, there was something to McCoy had said. Little things his father had said and did started adding up in his mind as well. Why had he shown him the Surak book, when it was forbidden? Why did he have no images of his mother? His description of his mother’s death had been vague, and the minor details somewhat contradictory. Was his mother human? Had she escaped instead of died? Could she even be alive somewhere?

Now that he’d finished examining the data inside the padd, he examined the padd itself. Unless he was mistaken, certain components of this particular type of datapad could be used to short out force-fields.  No doubt Kirk knew this when he ordered McCoy to give him the padd, and that Spock was one of the few clever enough to pull off that particular trick.

He’d already taken note of the guard’s rotation. When the right moment came, he collapsed the field, reinstated it, then quickly slipped out of the detention center. The datapad had also contained the schematics of the ship. No doubt Kirk believed he would take an escape pod, but he had other plans.

He managed to enter Kirk’s quarters without being seen by any of the crew. He found Kirk hunched over at his desk, half awake.

“That is not the optimal posture to maintain the structural health of your muscles and skeleton,” Spock informed him, causing Kirk to jump.

“Spock!” he said, with a quick smile. Spock stared. Here, on his own ship, in his own quarters, his demeanor was quite different. Happy, friendly, relaxed. Spock felt a surge of an inexplicable fondness for the man. “I wasn’t expecting you to come here.”

“You said you are willing to make a deal with me.”

“Yes,” said Kirk.

“I wish to propose one.”

“I thought you’d be off the ship by now. Finding answers,” said Kirk. “I was going to let you. What kind of deal do you want to make?”

“If my mother is indeed human, I wish to know more about her. What happened to her. If she is still alive,” said Spock. “If you will gather this information, I promise not to escape, or hinder any of your ship’s activities; unless, of course, you threaten my father.”

“I see,” said Kirk, giving him a penetrating stare. Having Spock aboard was a calculated risk. Yet, if he could be persuaded to join their side – and Kirk believed it possible – then it would be worth it. “Very well, agreed. I will not threaten Sarek, and if we come upon him, he is to be unharmed. I will use my connections to research your mother, and give you quarters next to mine. In turn, you will obey the ship’s rules, and stay aboard until further notice. Shall we shake on it?”

Spock hesitated. Joining of the hands had very different connotations for Vulcans than it did for humans. He doubted Kirk was aware of this. Still, as he surveyed Kirk, he deemed that it would not be unpleasant. “Very well.”

Spock took Kirk’s hand in his. The pleasure of the contact was much higher than he’d expected, and he found himself lingering longer than necessary. Kirk raised his eyebrows slightly but didn’t comment directly. “Have someone waiting at home for you, Spock?”

Spock stared. Had he projected his feelings to Kirk? Something in Kirk’s eyes suggested that he had. Spock swallowed. “I do not.”

“I see,” said Kirk, with a little smile. “Have your eye on anyone?”

“Perhaps,” said Spock mysteriously. “What about you?”

“Perhaps,” Kirk replied playfully.

They stared at each other, the air crackling with a different kind of tension.

“I think it’s time for me to get to bed,” said Kirk. “You may enter your quarters through the bathroom. They’re empty. I advise that you don’t leave them until I make the announcement tomorrow morning, that you are to be left alone.”

“Agreed,” said Spock. He hesitated a moment further.

“Goodnight, Spock.”

“Goodnight, Kirk.”

“Jim. You can call me Jim,” Kirk corrected.

Spock quirked a brow. “Goodnight, Jim.”

The search for Spock’s mother was not a short one. Spock stayed on the repaired Enterprise for several weeks before they received any encouraging news. In that time, Spock spent most of his time with Jim. He was introduced to the game of chess, among other human games and customs. The crew gradually got used to him and became friendly, though some of them were still understandably suspicious of him.

He and Jim flirted, and grew closer and closer. Yet, neither of them made a move. Not until they received the news.

“Spock!” Jim said, bursting into Spock’s quarters. “They found her. They found your mother. Her DNA’s a match. She’s agreed to rendezvous with the Enterprise in a few weeks.”

Spock picked up Jim’s hand, and read the truth there. “You have kept your word,” said Spock.

“Of course.”

Spock stepped forward, until they were barely an inch apart. He could feel his Vulcan passions rising within him. He’d hung back, before, still somewhat unsure what to make of Kirk. Yet, now, he wanted to have him. Have this enigmatic man who resonated with him, drew him in, attracted him. “Do you object?”

“No,” said Jim softly.

Spock needed no more encouragement. He crushed Jim to his chest, and kissed him the human way, and Jim responded with equal fervor. When they broke apart briefly, Jim whispered, “This will change things.”

“I know,” Spock acknowledged, before pulling him in again.

Their coupling was passionate and intense. While Spock did not meld with Jim, his telepathic shields were not strong, so he projected some of his feelings, as well as received some of Jim’s, which added to the intensity of the experience. They lay in Spock’s bed afterward, curled tightly together due to the small space. They stayed that way until the next morning. Spock contemplated how right it seemed to have Jim here with him. He could feel that it was much the same for Jim.

Despite their reciprocal feelings, they both knew the future was uncertain, and they slept together every night until his mother came aboard, as if they’d never have time with each other again.

When the time came to meet his mother, Jim granted him private use of a small conference room. Spock waited tensely, unsure of what to expect. How did she feel about him? About Vulcans? Had she loved his father? Did she look like him?

When an unfamiliar woman entered the room at last, Spock rose. “Amanda?” he questioned softly.

“Spock!” she cried, her hands flying up to her mouth. “Oh my god, Spock, it is you!” She ran up to him, and threw her arms around him. Spock gently returned the embrace, his chest tight. “I’ve missed you so much!” She stepped back, blinking tears in her eyes. “You’ve gotten so handsome! I’m so proud of you!”

“I am gratified to meet you at last,” said Spock, his throat tight as well.

“You must have many questions,” she said, sitting herself down.

Spock joined her. “I do.”

He listened to her story quietly. She’d been a slave in Sarek’s household, but gradually, they’d fallen in love. Sarek wanted to free her, but couldn’t. Spock came to be in secret. When Spock was old enough, Sarek helped Amanda escape back to Earth.

“He promised to take good care of you. I’ve missed you terribly and thought of you every day since then,” she explained.

“I have always wished I could at least have one memory of you. I never dreamed I would get the chance to actually meet you,” Spock confessed.

“I’m so glad you have joined the Enterprise,” she said. “Maybe I’ll get to see you again.”

“Mother, my future is uncertain,” Spock explained. “I do not believe I will be able to stay on the Enterprise much longer.”

“Why not? Spock, you could do much good here!”

“I am still a Vulcan. I still have obligations to my tribe,” Spock explained.

“You could find a way to bring peace! If anyone can do it, you can. Please stay here,” she pleaded. “There must be a way.”

He could not, unless… a new possibility formed in his mind, one that had been teasing at the edges for weeks, unacknowledged. “You might be right. I will propose a new agreement between Jim and me.”

“You two have a special bond, don’t you?” surmised Amanda, watching his face keenly.

“How do you know? You have never seen us together,” Spock wondered.

“Mother’s instincts,” she said with a smile. She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. “Make your proposal. Tell me how it goes. I’ll help you through this, Spock.”

Spock found Jim in their quarters, working at his desk. He rose when Spock entered. “Spock! How did it go?”

“Better than I’d hoped,” Spock confessed. “My mother is every bit as wonderful as I imagined her to be.”

“I’m very glad to hear it. But something else is on your mind, isn’t there?” Jim pressed.

“You are correct,” said Spock. “Jim, the conditions of our original agreement have been met. I am now obligated to return to my tribe.”

“Spock,” said Jim. “Spock, no. Surely there’s some alternative. Won’t you stay? Isn’t there anything that will keep you here?”

Spock stared into Jim’s earnest, distressed face. “There is one possibility. However, I am uncertain how you will take my proposal.”

“By all means,” Jim said, gesturing him to go on.

Spock swallowed nervously. “If you will bond with me in the Vulcan way, then nothing could take me from your side.”

Jim froze in shock. “Bond? Like, marriage?”

“That would be the human equivalent, yes,” Spock stated tensely.

“You’re proposing to me?” Jim asked, still recovering from his surprise. He’d come up with a whole bunch of tactical arguments to keep Spock on board, had he talked of leaving again. He’d never imagined the solution would be so personal.

“I am,” said Spock. “What is your response?”

“I’m not sure we’d be able to get my government to recognize it, at least right now,” Jim rambled on, gathering his thoughts. He loved Spock. Did he want to marry him?

“That is of no concern to me, at present. Vulcan will recognize our joining. Unless it matters to you?”

“No, no,” said Jim.

“Then you accept?”

Jim stared at him, a slow smile growing on his face. When he’d first met Spock, he’d never imagined it’d come to this. And yet, it had. “I do. I know we’ll face many challenges yet, and somehow, we must bring peace between our people. But I think that, together, we can do it.”

And so they did.

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