After two weeks, Spock was doing his evening meditation when a message came. He checked and opened it when he saw it was from Jim. He wasn’t sure why Jim would send him a message, unless there was some kind of change in plans. Perhaps he wanted to meet somewhere other than the doctor’s office, or was calling to cancel their next outing. Before he could even begin to worry about that though, the message popped up and he began reading
I was wondering if you would mind going somewhere else after I’m done with my appointment. It’s kind of a surprise, so just meet me at Starfleet Medical as usual and we’ll go. Just let me know if you’re okay with that.
That was it. Spock was definitely surprised. Jim wanted to surprise him. No one had wanted to surprise him with anything, other than his mother on his birthdays. Was Jim giving him a gift? The thought both warmed and intrigued him. He decided to reply in the affirmative.
That would be agreeable. He typed in response. I will be there as usual. He sent the message and went back to his meditation, wondering just what Jim’s surprise could be.
Spock was still wondering just what the surprise was when he arrived at Starfleet Medical and sat down in the waiting room. It was probably illogical to think that Jim might be giving him a gift; he could easily do so at the park or here at the Academy. Most likely he wanted to show Spock some different location. He still wasn’t sure why Jim would want to surprise him with it. It was probably just a common human desire to surprise someone with something that they thought they would like.
Jim came through the doors and, as always, Spock felt a certain lightening of his spirit at the sight of him. However, he was puzzled to see that Jim was holding a decent sized umbrella.
“Hey.” He said in greeting. “Ready to go?”
“Of course.” Replied Spock. “Are you anticipating rain today?” Jim shook his head.
“Nope.” That was all he said. They made their way to the shuttle station and boarded. Spock had to remind himself that they were not going to the park, and decided to ask Jim about it.
“Where is it you wished to go today?” He asked. Jim smiled.
“I told you, it’s a surprise. I’ll tell you this much though; I got the idea from something you said when we were at the park a couple weeks ago.” Spock began recalling what they’d talked about. They’d both apologized for their unintended behavior toward each other, and then they’d gone on to talk about the parenting class Jim was taking with his brother and sister-in-law. He didn’t know what kind of place Jim might think of to take him based on those conversations. Jim seemed to realize what he was thinking. “If you haven’t figured it out already, just try to be patient. It won’t take long to get there.”
They continued the ride in silence. Spock was unable to stop himself from speculating on where they were going. After a few more minutes, Jim nudged his shoulder lightly.
“We’re here.” They got off with several other passengers. Spock looked over Jim’s head as he was stepping down and saw a large sign that appeared to be decorated with animals. It read: San Francisco Zoo. Spock looked back at Jim in time to see him smile widely and hold out a ticket for him, which he took silently. “You said you wanted to see Earth animals. There’s a whole bunch of them in there.” Spock was stunned.
“I did not realize you were even paying attention to what I had said about wishing to see Earth’s animals.” Jim grinned at him.
“You’re not the only one who remembers stuff a few weeks later.” He looked at the sign, then back at Spock again. “So, how about it? You wanna check it out?” Spock nodded, having to work hard to contain the smile threatening to appear.
“Yes, I do.”
They entered the zoo.
As a Vulcan, Spock was not overly comfortable with large crowds of people, especially ones in which the people were unable to control what they were projecting to him. However, many of the vague feelings he felt from all around were of awe and excitement, which only added to his own. There were a few moments when he started to feel overwhelmed, but when that happened, he just focused on Jim walking next to him, and the contentment he experienced simply having him nearby.
They agreed that it would be most productive to take a tram to one end of the park and make their way back toward the entrance. Spock found himself fascinated by the animals various shapes, sizes and colors. There was such variety on Earth. They couldn’t stay at the various exhibits long; between the crowds and the time factor, they were somewhat rushed.
“Sorry we can’t stick around long.” Jim had said at one point, when they’d stopped to eat. “We won’t be able to see nearly everything if we take all the time we want to.”
“I am not disappointed by this.” Spock had assured him. “As a Vulcan, I have an eidetic memory. I can easily recall any of what we see here. I would be more concerned about how you feel about being rushed through all the exhibits.” Jim had smiled.
“Who knows, maybe I’ll come back here sometime. The tickets are pretty cheap. We could both come back.”
Spock had been cheered by the thought. Jim was including in his future plans, or at least possible ones. He was planning to involve Spock in his life, at least for the time being. It was another good sign that a relationship would be promising for them.
They’d gone through various exhibits. Jim chatted sometimes, telling him little facts about little things he’d learned about the zoo. He mentioned the fact that there had been a point in time when there were no elephants in the zoo, that they were relocated to other facilities. He said that there had been attacks, one tiger that got loose and actually killed someone before being gunned down by police. It was a shame. Both the elephants and the tigers seemed so amazing in their own ways. The elephants were large, and they commanded total attention when they moved around. The tigers did too, with their effortless grace and wild coloring.
It had to be the coloring of so many of the animals that really drew Spock’s attention. Most of Vulcan’s animals were colored in ways that allowed them to blend in with their surroundings. They were drab, sandy colors. That was the case with many Earth animals as well, but Earth had so many more colors that were not hard to find. Because of that, Spock was fascinated by vividly colored creatures like the tigers, as well as others. It seemed that many Earth birds, especially the males, were vividly colored. That included flamingoes, ostriches, and lorikeets. The ones that stunned him the most though, were the peacocks. A male with his feathers fully elongated was truly a sight to behold.
Plenty of other animals fascinated him as well. He had been particularly curious about the kinds of animals that lived in Earth’s deserts. He wondered if they’d look at all like the animals on Vulcan. It was shocking how different they were. The elephants and rhinos were more what he would have expected, but to see some of the strangely patterned ones like zebra’s and giraffes was unusual.
One kind of animal that particularly drew him though, was the bear. They came in different colors, but many of them were similar enough. His mother had, on occasion, likened I-Chaya’s appearance to that of a large teddy bear with fangs. Looking at the bears here, especially the ones with brown fur, he saw the resemblance. I-Chaya had been somewhat larger, of course. He’d also had long fangs and a long tail. And these creatures were obviously not meant to be kept as pets. Still, it was fascinating to see something so close to something he remembered fondly.
On the other hand, he saw animals called wolves that reminded him somewhat of Le-Matya’s. They were smaller, with less harsh features and no venom, but it was still a noticeable resemblance. He couldn’t deny that it gave him a rather negative feeling to see them, and remember his own personal experiences as a result. Once again, he reached mentally out to Jim, who was always by his side, to almost feed off of his positive mood.
They had been there for nearly three hours when Jim gave Spock a little nudge.
“Come on.” He said. “There’s something we should see while we’re here.” The thing he wanted to see turned out to be a bird show. As they seated themselves on the bleachers, Spock looked around and saw that a few other people had umbrellas as well. Jim opened his up immediately, scooting quite close to Spock so that they were both under it. Having him suddenly move so close was both delightful and unnerving for Spock. Before he could really think about it though, his attention was drawn back to the stage by a person with a microphone, and the show began.
Spock was surprised to learn that some Earth birds could imitate human language, and even be taught to answer questions, or at least say certain words after certain cues. Several birds flew around the enclosed space, and Spock found himself eagerly following the flashes of their colorful feathers. The show only went on for about fifteen minutes, and then it was over. Spock replayed all the bird’s commanded aerial acrobatics and vocal performances. As he stood, he saw the top of the umbrella, which had a few splatters of bird droppings on it.
“I believe I understand your reasoning for bringing the umbrella.” He remarked. Jim lowered it and pulled it shut with a grin.
“I’ve seen a few bird shows at traveling circuses. I learned early on that it’s a good idea to take something to use as a shield.” He set the umbrella down and stood up. As he did, he adjusted his shirt, pulling the back of it down. As he did that, the front pulled taut against his stomach, and Spock got a good look at his expanding midsection for the first time.
He was forced to think for a moment about how he’d allowed himself to forget that his friend was pregnant with a child not his own, as he did surprisingly often. Between the use of his nasal numbing agent, their great compatibility, and the fact that the child was not the offspring of a rival male, it was easy to forget without some kind of constant reminder. And there it was.
Spock knew that it was only going to become more noticeable as time went on, and that he would soon be unable to ignore it. And right as he realized this, he realized something else; it didn’t bother him in the slightest. Today’s outing only served to prove what he’d been realizing the whole time he’d known Jim, that he was a wonderful person.
He watched Jim stand up slowly, stretching his legs. He realized that the bulge was more noticeable than he’d first realized, he just hadn’t been paying attention to it. He was drawn out of his thoughts as Jim grinned at him.
“We’d better get going. It’s getting kind of late, and I still have to get back and try to make up some kind of dinner for Sam and Aurelan. They’re both working late, so I have some time, but I don’t want to push it.”
“Of course.” Replied Spock. Once more, they boarded a park tram that took them back to the entrance. From there, they went back to their usual stop. Jim had to get off first, to switch shuttles, and he said goodbye quickly.
“You want to go back to the park the next time?” He asked with a smile, before they arrived at his stop.
“That is agreeable.” Replied Spock. He hesitated. “Jim, thank you for this. It was quite… considerate of you.” He’d almost said ‘thoughtful’, but that might have implied more of an emotional attachment than Jim felt at this time. Jim just smiled at him.
“Hey, no problem. It was fun.” He grinned. “I’ll see you again in two weeks.” With a wave, he got off the shuttle and quickly boarded another. Spock continued on his way back to the academy.
Late the next day, Spock’s meditation was interrupted by a chime from his console. He opened his eyes and looked toward it, surprised. He wasn’t expecting any messages. He got up and answered it. Immediately, his mother’s face appeared on the screen.
“Mother.” He said, surprised. She smiled at him warmly.
“Hello Spock. I hope I’m not interrupting anything important?”
“Negative. I was simply meditating.” He replied.
“I just wanted to check up on you.” She said in explanation. “I miss having you here, but I am happy to see you doing so well. Tell me, what have you been up to?” Spock proceeded to tell her all about what he had accomplished since she had last called. He told her of his experiments and other school projects, and about how he was in the top percentage of his class.
“What about this friend you mentioned last time?” She asked at one point. Spock decided he could tell her some of what they did together.
“We spend a great deal of time, when we are both available, at Golden Gate Park. That is actually where we met, and we both have an interest in its many features. We also sometimes read in the library or take meals together. Just yesterday, he surprised me with a ticket to the San Francisco Zoo because I mentioned that I wished to see some of Earth’s native animals.” He stopped, feeling his face beginning to heat up as he realized he was focusing too much on the time he spent with Jim. Amanda looked a little puzzled.
“Spock, it almost sounds like you’re dating this man.” She paused, and her eyes widened. “Are you?”
“No.” Replied Spock hastily. “There is no romance in our relationship.”
“Oh.” She replied. “You just seemed so animated when you were talking about him. I’ve never seen you get like that about anyone.” She paused. “You know, I wouldn’t have any problem with it. As long as he treats you well and you’re happy with him, I would support your relationship.” Spock hesitated.
“I do not fear a negative reaction, from you or anyone else. I simply know that a romantic relationship between Jim and myself is not possible at this point.” Amanda frowned on his screen.
“Why do you say that? And what is this Jim even like? I know nothing about him except that he’s your friend.” Spock decided if anyone should know about his situation, it should be his mother. He’d already confirmed his feelings for Jim to Doctor M’Benga and Cadets Uhura and Gaila.
“Jim’s full name is James Tiberius Kirk. He is the younger son of George and Winona Kirk. He is a Caucasian human male with dark blond hair and blue eyes. He is twenty-three years old and approximately seventy-three inches tall. He is naturally capable of bearing children due to the human experimentations of the twenty-first century. His home is in Riverside, Iowa, but he is currently residing in San Francisco while he acts as a gestational surrogate for his brother and sister-in-law, who have been unable to conceive naturally. Based on what he has told me, I calculate that he is now nineteen weeks into his pregnancy. He works in a vehicle repair shop and enjoys reading. He has also stated that he is sexually attracted to males.” Amanda just stared at her son, at a loss for words. She clearly hadn’t expected all that at once, and Spock knew why. It usually took hours, or even days to convince him to give her the details when something was weighing heavily on his mind.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting you to come forward with all of that at once.” She remarked wryly. She seemed to realize something. “Wait, George Kirk? The George Kirk? You’re friend Jim is the famous Kelvin baby?” Spock nodded.
“He is, and he does not care to be defined by it.” She nodded thoughtfully.
“I can understand why; he must get a lot of unwanted attention because of it. But why can’t you have relationship with him? Does he even know that you want one?”
“He does not.” Replied Spock. “I did not have a chance to broach the subject before he mentioned that he does not wish to engage in any kind of relationship while he is pregnant with his nephew. He believes it would be irresponsible to engage in sexual relations while his is pregnant, and that it would be unfair to make anyone who he did wish to have a relationship with wait for him while he is still pregnant. He has also stated that he wishes to use the time to make some changes in his lifestyle, which was somewhat reckless in the past.”
“Well, that’s admirable.” She remarked. She appeared to think of something.
“How does his being pregnant affect you? I know Vulcan women are practically quarantined when they’re pregnant, but does a human male have that same affect on your senses?”
“Yes.” Admitted Spock. “I was able to control it at first by meditating on the fact that he was not pregnant by a rival male. Afterward, I had a discussion with Doctor M’Benga, and he prescribed a nasal numbing agent. I do not notice it now.” Amanda nodded.
“Good, that’s good. So he doesn’t know that you like him at all?”
“No.” Replied Spock. “I believe he is aware that I consider him a friend, but that is all. I did not wish for him to feel awkward or pressured by the truth.”
“Well, I can understand why you would want to avoid that.” She said. “He does sound like a nice young man. If you feel that things would work out for you, I’d be glad to support your relationship. Though,” she added with a smile, “I wouldn’t mind meeting him before you marry him.” Spock felt his face heating up.
“I do not even know for certain if a relationship would work between us.” He said. “I certainly cannot say if I am going to bond with Jim.”
“I know, I’m just teasing you.” She said with a smile. “Do you at least know if you care about him?” Spock considered his answer.
“I believe so. I experience concern for him when he is ill, and I feel…better somehow when I am with him.” Amanda nodded.
“That’s usually a sign that you care about someone. I hope you know more soon.” She glanced at something off-screen, most likely a timepiece. “Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?” He hesitated.
“How did you know you were in love with Father?” She looked surprised.
“I guess that’s a good thing to ask if you think you might get serious about this young man someday. Your father’s position as ambassador to Earth meant that I saw him fairly often. He lived on Earth most of the time, but sometimes he had to go back to Vulcan, and I missed him more and more each time he did. One day it occurred to me that he might return to Vulcan for good, and I might never see him again. That made me realize how much I really loved him, and I told him so. After I admitted it, so did he, and then he asked me to bond with him.” Spock was shocked.
“He actually told you that he loved you?”
“Yes.” She replied, smiling at his surprise. “I know you’ve been taught all your life to try to bury your emotions, Spock, to not let them affect your life or your judgment. But if Jim is the right person to show them to, there’s nothing shameful about it. Are you able to open with Jim?
“We exchange opinions and facts about our lives when we speak to each other. I do not have quite the same urge to restrain myself when I spend time with him.”
“That’s good.” Amanda said. “Just keep getting to know him and you’ll find your way. Live long and proper, Spock.”
“Peace and long life, Mother.” They both signed off.
Spock thought about his mother’s words long into the night. It was true. He could honestly admit to himself that he was fond of Jim. No one had ever been as open with him as Jim had so far, and no one other than his mother had ever gone out of their way to surprise him, certainly not for no reason.
Since he’d admitted his loneliness, Jim had seemed to want to help him feel more at home here. The trips to the park and library seemed like typical gestures of friendship, but introducing him to his other friends, surprising him with the trip to the zoo, those seemed like very thoughtful gestures. Hopefully that meant that Jim returned his seemingly platonic regard. It hadn’t occurred to him until now that Jim might have been so kind to him out of pity, and he truly hoped that wasn’t the case. He didn’t mind Jim feeling sympathy for him, but he would prefer that his motivations be based more on friendship.
This line of thinking wouldn’t do him any good. Spock resolved to try to put it out of his head and just focus on the fact that he would be seeing Jim in another two weeks.