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Spock took a deep breath.  He sat cross-legged on the warm ground, placed his palms against his thighs and closed his eyes. His busy mind felt like a nest of bees: buzzing and busy, yet organized and effective. As usual Spock was considering several interesting problems at the same time, calculating, estimating and cross-referencing information he had gathered during his entire life. He never forgot, and he was never unsure. But now was no time to process information. Now was the time to meditate. Slowly and with some regret Spock took another deep breath and emptied his mind.

The wind was blowing from the vast deserts. It licked Spock’s tunic like flame, burned his skin and made his sleeves flutter. That was irrelevant: Spock let his mind ignore the sensation of the soft satin and the warm wind.  The remorseless sun of T’Khasi looked down at him. Its rays kissed Spock’s pale skin and penetrated his eyelids, but they too were ignored. The nictating membranes in Spock’s eyes emerged reflexively to protect his eyesight. The warmth of the sun was an unwanted irritation, so Spock blocked the sensation from his mind. He had no use for such things, not now. All he knew and felt was himself. All he needed was himself.

His tunic rustled quietly in the wind. Spock sat absolutely still, his eyes closed and his face calm. Slowly the burrow between his brows straightened, his jaws relaxed and his shoulders unwound. His mind was silence. Somewhere far away a dokai crowed in a shrill voice, and soon another responded to its call, but the voices of the birds passed Spock’s consciousness entirely. He had no time for such disturbances. In his mind a tiny cube appeared, then another, and he began to build a mental tower to help his focus.

A hayalit, a tiny bug-like lizard crawled over the red rocks of the meditation circle. Its carapace shone in the sunlight as it snuffled in search of prey, scuttered forward and tugged gently at a dokai feather laying on the ground. A gust of wind grabbed the feather and pulled it from the hayalit’s mouth. The animal let out a frustrated hiss. It climbed a strangely soft obstacle, covered in black canvas, and curiously munched on the chewy material. Its teeth made tiny holes to the canvas, but soon the animal spat it out and decided to try the shiny, soft and light satin instead. It fluttered interestingly in the wind. The hayalit took an experimental bite, but this thing too proved unedible. Disappointed at the menu the hayalit crawled down Spock’s calf, climbed over his ankle and stumbled back to the ground. Its thick tail left a swirling mark on the ground as the animal continued his search for food. Spock never noticed his visitor.

The cube in Spock’s mind was no longer a four-sided building block. Instead he now imagined them as dodecahedrons, pieces with 12 faces, which he used to build a tower. If a single disturbing thought or the merest flicker of an emotion crossed his mind the tower collapsed. It had done so 34 times by now, but only five times with the dodecahedrons. Spock’s mind calculated that the volume of the pieces in his tower was currently 8 765,54321 square liters. The information was useless. In his mind Spock saw the tower crumble, so he wiped his mind clean and started all over. One dodecahedron. Two. Was it getting hot in here? A disturbance: no dodecahedrons.

When the Vulcan sun was just a finger’s width above the horizon Spock stirred for the first time in hours. His eyelids fluttered, the nictating members retreated and slowly he opened his eyes.  The meditation had been a good one. For a long time he had been in complete control of his mind, blocking what he wanted to block and focusing only to what he wanted to focus on. Being in control was the essence of being a Vulcan. Outsiders thought it was about doing away with emotions, but that would have been the death of the entire race. Emotions were necessary to ensure survival of the species. Mere sense was not enough to make mothers tend to their offspring or for relatives to support a slow learner, who, logically, should’ve been destroyed to save valuable resources. Emotions were useful, but like everything else, they must be controlled.

That was what Spock aimed at. That is why he had even today sat still in the secluded meditation area of his mansion until the dust had piled up against his body. For countless days before this one he had sat there building his mental towers, and he would continue to do so until his mind was pure. He had to find control. No, finding wasn’t enough: he’d have to find control and make it the only possible option he had. Slowly he flexed his fingers and arms. He was strong and agile, both good traits but dangerous if used in a whim of a powerful emotion. When Spock got up from the ground his each muscle worked in perfect unison, and he moved like water. Control over mind was one thing, but control over his body was necessary as well. For a second Spock was pleased with his body and prowess. Then he snuffed out the feeling like it was a fluttering flame: pleasure and pride were useless to him. He’d work on this emotionalism tomorrow.

Now that Spock allowed his mind to listen to his body he realized just how hungry he was. A servant of his father’s House was sent to prepare a light dish for him while Spock browsed through his messages for the day. The computer screen was the only item on his desk and provided just enough light to see the dull plate brought before him. A plain plate with plain food. Only those herbs and spices which were essential to his body were used, which sometimes made the traditional Vulcan foods even duller than the ones produced by Starfleet’s standard replicators.

Spock stopped for an instant. He didn’t even breathe, he simply listened to himself. Somewhere deep, deep inside his brain there was that tiny pain he feared he’d find. The pain was there every time he thought of the Starfleet, which was illogical, since his time in the service had been most productive and useful. There were thoughts that caused even more distress, but Spock had learned to avoid them. Chewing his tasteless food Spock wondered about this. Was it due to his human genes that these pleasant memories caused discomfort while much more undesirable events did not?

His musings were interrupted suddenly when one of the servants rushed into the room in her black livery. The embroidery of the sigil of the House of Sarek was nearly invisible in the dim light. ‘The odva-dvinsu T’Shara asks to see you, Osu Spock,’ she said desperately, knowing that the acolyte asked to see no one and would simply come in at any moment. Common courtesies were not for the acolytes of Gol, who watched over those trying to obtain Kolinahr. And sure enough: the acolyte entered Spock’s study without permission, greeted him cordially and simply asked Spock to give her his thoughts.

Spock had no chance but to suppress the irritation he felt at this intrusion and to forget his strange memories. As he expected, the acolyte performed the mind-meld, nodded and walked away without saying a single word on how Spock was progressing. She never did. Spock had to know himself when he was ready.

That night Spock stayed awake, busied himself with House business and physical exercise, and spent not a second thinking about the life he had left behind when he resigned from the Starfleet.

***

James Kirk sat alone in his quarters at the Starfleet Academy. He adjusted the brightness of the computer screen, tried to get a better position on his uncomfortable chair and continued reviewing the essays of his students. His lips moved as he read, and sometimes his brow furrowed in exasperation.

‘No, that would just overheat the engines and reduce overall power, you oaf… and what’s this about the matter/antimatter mixture? The equation is all wrong!’ Jim muttered to himself, pressed a few buttons and sighed. ‘Sorry and welcome to try the course again later,’ he said and asked the computer to save that as his official reply. This kid had failed the course twice now, and most likely would get kicked out of Starfleet without anyone caring what city his father was the mayor of.

‘Next,’ he commanded the computer and watched as it fetched the exam answers of the next student attending Jim’s course EMEV010: Power-related Emergencies on Starfleet vessels. Jim’s frustration melted to a happy smile after he read the first two lines. The answers by this student were impeccable, as always. And no wonder: the student was a young Vulcan, whose father had been a renowned scientist until his untimely death due to a rapidly progressing illness. The boy was smart and no more arrogant than Vulcans usually were, so Jim expected to see him graduate as the top of his class within a year. The boy was also beautiful, his face elegant like a painting and his body slim yet strong.  His jade green eyes were highly intelligent and his smooth silky hair always neat and clean. The kid brought pleasant memories to Jim’s tired mind.

Spock. Yes, the boy was not so unlike Spock had been years and years ago, when they had attended the Academy together. Spock, too, had been smart and arrogant, but he had worked hard and always succeeded in everything he did. Remembering it made Jim smile, but more sorrowful memories followed.

It had been over a year since Jim had seen Spock last. A year, ten months and six days, exactly. Jim would know the hours and minutes too, if only he knew when exactly Spock’s shuttle had left. That was when their paths had separated: Jim had returned to the Academy, while Spock had greatly disappointed the Starfleet by resigning and returning to his home planet. To Spock it had been just another day. He had packed his belongings, left his official letter of resignation and left. Just like that, without a word to Jim, Scott, Bones or anyone else who had shared the last 5 years with him. To Jim the day had been one of pretending. He had pretended to be happy to be back on Earth, he had pretended to be happy to leave the confinement of the Enterprise, and he had pretended surprise when he was offered a position in the Academy. Most of all he had pretended not to care when Spock had left.

The first seven nights he had stayed awake and stared at the ceiling in his new quarters.  The next two nights he had been too drunk to remember, and then he had slept for an odd number of days and nights. ‘Culture shock,’ the local doctor had said. ‘He was one of the first people to spend five years in space! No wonder he’s stressed to return back to Earth,’ he had explained knowingly while stacking a bottle after bottle of pills before Jim, who had been dragged to the doctor’s office. Jim never took the pills. He knew what ailed him, and there was no drug to cure a broken heart.

The first month at the Academy had been the first. Jim had been assigned a course to teach, and in addition he had several management duties at the Starfleet and in the Academy. The second month had been utter horror as Jim was forced to get used to seeing young men, so much like himself and Spock years ago, wandering around the corridors. But he had swallowed his tears, climbed up to the lectern and given his lectures. After the first six months had gone and Jim had received no word from Spock Jim began to feel better. The most painful memories began to fade, and he found himself cherishing the times they had spent together instead of mourning for the loss of a friend.

A friend? Had Spock been just a friend?

That path was still too painful to walk. Jim ignored it, shook his head and continued with the student essay evaluations.  His mind kept wondering, but he kept trying to focus. Slowly, as the night progressed and the sun began to rise, Jim was again fully concentrated, his brow furrowed and his lips moving silently as he read, evaluated and graded an essay after an essay.

Chapter End Notes:

 

** Note: the rating (now all audiences) and the warnings may be changed as the story progresses. **

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