Spock begins to wonder if he is going crazy.
There is an emptiness in his mind that has been there for weeks now. He tries not to focus on it, tries to ignore it, but he cannot. It as though the emptiness is laughing at him, dark and hungry, consuming him from the inside out.
It was as Nietzsche said. ‘If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.’ He wishes to exorcise himself of such a demon, but does not know what it is, how he could possibly remove a part of himself without losing himself completely.
Spock tries to forget about it, but it is always there on the edge of his consciousness, never allowing him to completely disregard it. He thinks of course, it is illogical if not impossible not to do so. But he chooses what to think about.
And there is much he chooses not to.
There is no grave for him to visit, no urn for him to hold. There is nothing left of his mother. Spock cannot even visit her in his memories. When he tries to picture her face, all he sees is her horror as the ground crumbles away beneath his feet.
And Spock had done nothing.
He calculated innumerable possibilities, if he’d acted, if he’d moved, could he have saved her? The odds were against him, but the answer is yes.
Yes, he could have saved her.
Yet, he did not.
It is a harsh blow to the heart many have said he does not have. It is a wound that gapes wider every day.
Spock’s days are filled with endless calculations, new experiments, countless self-implemented distractions to keep him from facing what he had not done.
He does not know what he is doing here on the Enterprise, on this ship, rather than at Vulcan’s new colony. It was not the words of his future counterpart that had swayed him. That man was not him. Too much had changed. Their paths had strayed too far apart to predict anything with any amount of certainty.
Yet, he could not say why he is here.
It is a thought he does not examine too closely.
Spock does not sleep. He attempts to meditate, but is unable to find his calm center. There is no calmness in him. He prowls the ship at night with no destination in mind.
One night he stumbles across the Captain sleeping on the couch in the rec room, appearing to have been watching an old projection movie. Spock knows he should wake him, but he does not. Instead he watches, for minutes, hours, it does not matter. Time is inconsequential. At some point the captain begins to twitch then let’s out a low whimper before gasping and sitting up with a sob.
Spock stands in his darkened corner with no fear that Jim will notice him. Not only are humans eyes not capable of such a feat, but also Jim is in no state to be examining his surroundings. If Spock had been an assassin, Jim would be dead.
That is when Spock decides it is his job to protect Jim. As Jim rises to leave, Spock quietly follows him back to his quarters.
He will not admit that a part of him craves the same release that Jim’s tears seem to bring him.
If Jim has noticed that Spock has taken to following him, he doesn’t let on, or maybe he does not care. Spock does not know which option bothers him more, and like so many other things, chooses not to dwell on it.
There is a hunger in him that he has never experienced before, a hunger for that which he knows he cannot have. Every night he follows Jim back to his rooms, keeping carefully out of sight. Later he will return to his own room and that hunger will claw at his insides while the emptiness in his mind threatens to swallow him whole.
He feels strangely human.
Spock thinks of Jim. He will admit that is no hardship.
Jim is golden in a way that Spock has never encountered before. There is a swagger and sureness to him, graceful ease that belies a man fully comfortable in his own skin.
Jim is a fascinating creature. Spock has never met another like him, is sure that he never will. Jim has an exotic beauty to him, yet one that is unmistakably masculine.
It reminds him of the great cats, the Kings of the Jungles, the lions that used to roam across the African continent before they were hunted to extinction. The few that remained in captivity were clones, genetically engineered to be docile and easy tempered. They were a mockery of their feral ancestors, never allowed to roam wild and free. It was a monstrosity.
The more Spock observes the Captain, the more he comes to realize that Jim, like the lions, was not meant to be tamed. He will not allow that to happen.
Spock wonders if Jim will purr if he pets him.
Spock does not know what he wants from Jim, nor does he know if Jim would want anything from him. Spock is not so naïve as to not understand the road he is heading down, knows that it is too late for him.
But what of Jim? Spock knows that he will do whatever Jim sees fit.
Once again tailing Jim back to his quarters, Spock is startled when Jim’s door does not slide shut after him.
Spock does not hesitate to enter, closing the door behind him.