i. The way old Spock looks at him – like a jug that's been filled to the brim up with love, it's about to spill over – that's not the way anyone has looked at Jim, ever. That's how he knows old Spock is looking at a reflection, at some other Jim, some other Kirk, one who didn't fuck his life over young. Jim's willing to believe that there's a him somewhere out there in the multiverse who deserves a look like that, some bastard who dotted his i's and crossed his t's, had a father, was a hero.
But that's not Jim. And, really, Spock deserves better.
ii. It's difficult to watch his alternate self watch Jim Kirk. He wears an expression of such open and unadulterated affection that Spock has to avert his eyes. He has never had such a look on his own face, not even when he looked at his mother, his dear, human mother who –
Spock's not capable of loving like that, in the human way, in a way that's human and vulcan at once.
His captain – Jim deserves better than that.
iii. Spock looks at them and thinks, there is the moment when they will understand, and then there is every other moment before that – and each of them beautiful.