Chapter One: T’hy’la at First Sight
Spock had wanted to stay home.
His parents, Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda, were obligated to go to the reception for the new Administrator of Starbase Two and his staff. There was a room provided for the children of those attending; however, Spock did not wish to go. Even at the age of seven, he had learned that such evenings were unproductive and sometimes frustrating. Even after nearly a year on his mother’s home planet, Spock still found that human children were no more accepting than Vulcan youth—they were simply more open about it.
Spock’s parents, however, had insisted.
“It is unhealthy for you to stay behind with no one but the house staff,” his father had informed him. “It is important that you practice your social skills with your peers.”
“Please, sweetie,” his mother had added softly, stroking Spock’s bangs off his forehead. “There won’t be any babies there, I promise. It’s only school-age children. The babies and toddlers will be in a different room.”
Spock obeyed his father because it was his duty, but he obeyed his mother because he loved her. So he sighed.
“Very well,” he said with all the put-upon feelings of any seven-year-old, no matter his IQ. “I will attend.”
So he had, and now he was bored and lonely, just as he’d feared. All of the children in attendance were human, with the exception of Spock himself. Most of the other children were his approximate chronological age, which meant that mentally, he was at least four years beyond them. The males stood in small groups and engaged in ritualistic shoving matches in order to establish dominance. The females stood in another group and giggled as they watched the males. Spock retreated to the side of the room and wished he’d been allowed to bring his padd along. There were several fascinating advanced algebra problems that he was currently working for his tutor, and such exercises would have been a far more productive use of his time.
They were serving milk and cookies and fruit now. Spock knew he could not eat the cookies; they had chocolate chips in them. His mother had told Spock that he was allergic to chocolate, but Spock knew that was not true; his mother had indulged in what was called a ‘white lie,’ because she did not wish to explain the biological issues involved. His father had told him the truth, because Sarek believed in small ones knowing the truth. He had explained that when Spock was grown-up, he could have small amounts of chocolate if he wished, just like adult humans were allowed to consume alcohol. For now, however, it was inappropriate for him to consume a foodstuff that would make him act irrationally. Spock agreed with that line of reasoning. However, the fruit looked appealing. Spock wanted a piece, but in order to get it, he would have to come in contact with the blonde human female who would probably pat his head again. Spock did not like it when human females patted him. So he stayed where he was.
“Don’t you want a cookie?”
Spock turned around. He had been so intent on his own thoughts he had not even heard anyone approach. Next to him stood a human male, a very small one. He was blonde like the lady who was watching them, but his hair was darker than hers, sort of a wheat color. He had very blue eyes in a face whose features were arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner. He held out his pressed-paper plate to Spock.
“You can have one of mine,” he said. “Ms. Olson gave me too many; she thinks I’m skinny.”
“You do appear to be both undersized and underweight for a human of elementary school age,” Spock said before he remembered that commenting on the physical appearance of others was rude.
The small face fell. “It’s not my fault I’m little,” he said. “My mom says I was pre-ma-ture.” He enunciated the word carefully. “And I’m only five—next week. My mom wasn’t s’posed to bring me tonight, but Frank was sick and couldn’t watch me, so she brought me anyway, and I told her I wouldn’t go in the baby room, and if she made me,. I’d run away. Don’t tell anyone I’m only five, okay?”
“I see,” Spock replied. He hesitated. He should let the human boy go away, but suddenly, Spock did not want him to leave. “I cannot eat the cookies; I am allergic to chocolate,” he explained. He glanced at the plate the human still held. “However, I would enjoy the opportunity to partake of some fruit.”
The small face lit up, and Spock felt a sudden odd warmth pervade his system. He hoped he was not becoming ill. “Come on,” the human said, and he led the way to a corner where there was a padded mat. He sank down into it, Spock settling himself next to him, and held out his plate.
“Here,” he said. “I’ve got apple slices and grapes.”
“I am familiar with the varieties, but thank you,” Spock said. He took an apple slice and a small bunch of grapes.
“The human boy giggled. “You talk with big words like I do,” he said, plainly delighted.” He glanced that the other children. “They make fun of me when I use big words,” he said. “They think I’m ar-ro-gant—that means stuck-up,” he explained helpfully.
Spock nibbled on his fruit, enjoying the sweet taste. “You do seem to have an advanced vocabulary for a human of five Standard years of age,” he noted.
“That’s ‘cus I can read,” the other boy said cheerfully. “When you read, you learn lots of new words.”
“I have found that to be true,” Spock agreed. He glanced at the plate and noticed with a feeling of regret that the fruit was gone. The human saw his look.
‘Do you want some more fruit?” he asked. “Ms. Olson will give you some if you just go ask her.”
Spock felt himself grow hot and he knew that he was blushing, much to his chagrin.
“I do not wish to approach her,’ he said in a low voice. “She will…pat me.”
“Instead of laughing, the human looked sympathetic.
“Yeah, she does that all the time,” he said. “You wait here.” He got to his feet and carried his empty plate across the room. He talked to the woman, and she laughed and patted him on the head. Spock cringed inwardly to see it. But she also gave him many more pieces of fruit. The small human skipped across the room and rejoined Spock.
“Here,” he said, laying the plate down between them. “I told Ms. Olson that she was being cult-u-rally insensitive, and she laughed; I’m sure she thought I was kidding, but that’s okay; she gave me more fruit.”
“Thank you,” Spock said, taking another apple slice. He looked at this most astonishing small human. “Why did you tell her she was being culturally insensitive?” he asked.
The boy shrugged as he ate some grapes. “’Cus you’re a Vulcan, of course. My mom told me Vulcans don’t like to be touched.”
That wasn’t completely accurate; Spock did like to be touched, but only by people he knew and liked, not by strangers hired to watch him. However, there was no need to explain that right now.
“Is your mother an ambassador?” he asked.
The human shook his head. “No; she’s in Starfleet,” he said, the pride evident in his voice. “Someday I’m going to be in Starfleet too.” He smiled at his new friend. “I’m Jim Kirk,” he said. “What’s your name?”
Spock flushed again; he had forgotten his manners. “I am Spock cha’Sarek,” he replied. “My father is the Vulcan Ambassador to the Federation.” He hesitated for a moment. “You do not…mind that I am a Vulcan?” Most of the human children he met made irrelevant comments about elves or laughed at Spock because he turned green when he blushed.
Jim looked at the skinny, dark-haired boy with the big soft eyes and the cool pointed ears. “I don’t mind,” he said. “I think aliens are cool. When I grow up and get in Starfleet, I’m gonna be friends with Vulcans and Orions and Andorians and maybe even Klingons if they want to play nice.”
That was the second time Jim had mentioned his goal. “Is your father in Starfleet too?” Spock asked politely, remembering his mother’s lessons on human social interactions.
The small face looked sad suddenly. “He was,” Jim said softly. “He died. I never even got to meet him.”
That was sad; Spock could not imagine not ever knowing his father. “I grieve with thee, Jim,” he replied quietly.
Jim gave him a quick, shy smile. “That means you feel bad ’cus my dad is dead, right?’
“You’re nice.” Jim finished the rest of the fruit. Spock felt that odd warmth again. His peers on Vulcan did not think he was ‘nice’—they made fun of him because he was half-human. Most of the Earth children he had met did not think he was ‘nice’—they either ignored him or treated him like he was a pet. Spock realized suddenly that he liked this Jim Kirk—perhaps more than he had ever liked anyone except his parents.
“Boys?” Ms. Olson was standing over them. “Do you want to come and watch cartoons?” Jim and Spock both looked over and realized that the other children were all gathered around the vid-screen.
“No thank you, Ms. Olson,” Jim said politely. “We are conversing.”
She laughed and ruffled his hair. “All right, professor. Join us later if you want.” She walked away, and Jim turned to Spock.
“Is that okay?” he asked anxiously. “I didn’t even ask if you wanted to watch cartoons.”
“No, that is all right,” Spock assured him. “I would rather stay here and converse, as you said.”
Jim giggled. “That’s another one of my big words,” he said.
“You used it in an appropriate context,” Spock noted.
“A-pprop-riate context,” Jim repeated the phrase thoughtfully. “I like that.” He smiled at Spock, and Spock smiled back with his eyes. Most people didn’t notice that, but Jim did.
“Hey, you can smile too,” he said, delighted.
“When I have a reason to,” Spock replied. They sat and smiled in their individual ways for another moment, and then Spock looked around.
“What would you like to do?” he asked. There were toys in another corner, but Spock suspected that Jim would not care to play with them; they looked very simplistic.
“I know,” Jim said. “You can teach me Vulcan!” He all but bounced up and down on the mat in his eagerness. “Then when I join Starfleet, I can talk to my Vulcan shipmates in their language!”
Spock thought that was both thoughtful and practical. He wondered if all humans in Starfleet learned Vulcan. However, it was a dautning task for one evening.
“I cannot teach you my language tonight,” he said.
Jim shrugged. “Well, not all of it, but we can start, can’t we?” The blue, blue eyes were so eager that Spock could not find a logical objection.
“You are correct,” he said. “We can start.”
Jim giggled with excitement and pointed at his foot. “Shoe,” he said.
“Ash-el,” Spock replied quickly. Jim said the word three times—wrong the first two times, but by the third, he had the pronunciation right. Then he pointed to himself.
“Sa-kan.” Jim repeated the word an got it right the first time.
“Woman.” He pointed to Ms. Olson.
“Chair,” Jim said.
Sik’gle,” Spock replied.
By the time they stopped, Jim had learned twenty-three Vulcan nouns, four verbs, and two adjectives. Spock had repeated them back to him, and Jim had gotten every single one correct. At last, though, Jim yawned and rubbed his eyes.
“I wish the grown-ups would get done talking,” he said plaintively. “I’m sleepy.”
“Here.” Spock patted the mat. “You should lie down. You may place your head on my lap if you wish.” Spock didn’t know why he made that offer, except that he wanted Jim to be comfortable. He wanted Jim to always be comfortable, he realized.
“Really?” Jim’s face lit up again. “But…aren’t you sleepy, too?”
Spock shook his head. “Vulcans need much less sleep than humans,” he said.
“Okay.” Jim wiggled around until he was lying curled up on the mat, his head on Spock’s knee. “This is nice,” he said drowsily. “Your knee is really warm.” He blinked for a minute or so, and then he was asleep. Spock sat for the next 47 minutes with Jim’s head resting against him, his hand on the human’s head, not stroking, simply enjoying the feel of the silky hair and warm skin.
Finally, the meeting was over. Various parents arrived to retrieve their offspring. Ambassador Sarek and his wife, the Lady Amanda, arrived and spoke to Ms. Olson. She nodded towards the corner where Jim and Spock had spent the evening. They looked at each other as they took in the astonishing sight of their aloof son sitting in a corner with a small human boy curled up next to him like a sleeping puppy. They walked towards him, and Spock looked up as his parents approached. He put his hand on Jim’s shoulder.
“Jim,” he said softly. “I have to leave now.”
Jim woke and sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Oh,” he said, looking up at Sarek and Amanda, who had made their way to the corner. “Hello, sir.” He scrambled to his feet. “Hello, ma’am.”
“Father, Mother, this is Jim Kirk,” Spock said. “He was keeping company with me while I waited for you.”
Sarek and Amanda exchanged another swift glance. They both knew whose child this was. Sarek inclined his head.
“Thank you for watching over my son, James,” he said with grave politeness.
“It was fun. I learned Vulcan,” Jim said. He turned to Spock and held out his hand.
“Good-bye,” he said. “I…I wish you didn’t have to go.”
“As do I,” Spock replied. He took Jim’s hand in his. “Perhaps we will meet again.” He gently released Jim’s hand and turned to leave with his parents. Then he heard Jim’s voice.
Spock turned. “Rom-halan, Jim,” he replied. “Good-bye.” He and his parents made their way across the room, just as another wave of humans arrived to collect their children. Spock hoped that one of them was Jim’s mother. He didn’t want the human to have to be alone.
“So, my son,” Sarek said kindly. “You have met a new friend.”
Spock looked back into the room where Jim still stood, waving his small hand at Spock. “No, Father,” he corrected his sire politely. “I met my…t’hy’la.”