Once again, Spock found himself sitting in the waiting room outside of McCoy’s office. In the week since he’d last seen Jim, he’d continued to meditate on the fact that McCoy’s interest in Jim was strictly friendly and professional, and that even if the doctor did turn out to be romantically interested in Jim, his code of ethics would not allow him to engage in such a relationship with a patient. If for some reason he was interested, he would have the fight of his life to get through before he got Jim.
Also in the past week, Spock’s behavior had made an apparently noticeable change. Pike had invited him to lunch in his office two days ago. It was something the man did every few weeks. Spock knew it was the man’s attempt at making sure the cadet he’d taken under his wing was doing alright. During the meal, Pike had commented on his attitude of late. Apparently he was no longer as cold and unapproachable as he’d been for the first six months of his time at the Academy.
He had to admit, he found he was having an easier time interacting with his peers. Going to his classes and interacting with his non-Vulcan classmates was no longer the necessary discomfort it had been. He went about his routine with new energy. It seemed that knowing Jim was already proving to be beneficial to him. He’d even heard positive comments from his mother when she called him yesterday after his classes were complete. He recalled their conversation via computer the day before.
Spock would not have admitted it out loud, but he felt an almost lighthearted sensation at seeing his mother’s face on the screen. They had not even been able to write to each other since his leaving home, and that was mostly Sarek refused to accept any message from him due to his anger at his leaving.
“Hello Son.” Said Amanda, with her always pleasant smile. She’d learned quite a lot about emotional control, so if anyone had to judge by the look on her face, they would think she was simply having an pleasant conversation with someone she saw regularly rather than speaking to her only child for the first time in roughly seven months. Only the joyful light in her dark brown eyes gave her away. Her eyes, those were the only physical trait he’d inherited, as his genetics had been manipulated to be predominantly Vulcan.
Spock sometimes wondered if they had chosen that deliberately or simply left it up to chance. The fact that he possessed a set of inner eyelids like full-blooded Vulcans was proof of the fact that his eyes had been manipulated to some degree. However, he knew that Sarek would never admit to the kind of sentimentality that it would imply to admit deliberately giving Spock his mother’s eyes. And Spock had never known how to ask Amanda, or if she even had the answer.
“Mother.” He said quietly in acknowledgment. “It is agreeable to speak with you.”
“It’s been quite some time.” She remarked.
“Indeed.” Was his simple reply. “I trust you are well?”
“Of course.” She said with a smile. “I’ve been waiting for months to be able to contact you. I hope you’ve settled in well? What classes have you taken?”
Spock busied himself with describing the various courses and assignments he’d been given since his arrival. He gave her the details of his of his current residence and assured her that yes, he had found a competent doctor, was eating enough, and was overall in good health. She in turn told him of the goings on since he’d left Vulcan. As they talked, Amanda seemed to be watching him carefully, as if trying to determine something that she couldn’t be certain of. She finally asked.
“Spock, is there anything you haven’t told me?” Spock was confused.
“I am not keeping any secrets from you, Mother.” She smiled.
“I know you wouldn’t keep anything important from me, but something about you seems different. You don’t seem like you’re just going through the motions like you did when you were in school here. You seem…content.” Spock nodded slowly.
“I am kept busy with my schedule. I have found many interesting things to study here. And…” he hesitated before adding, “I have made a friend.” Amanda’s smile transformed to match the joy in her eyes.
“That’s wonderful Spock! Is he a cadet as well?”
“He is not. He is in San Francisco visiting family in Starfleet for the next several months.” Replied Spock. No reason to go into too much detail yet. But a little wouldn’t hurt. “His name is Jim.”
“I’m happy for you Spock, really.” She said warmly. “I really had hoped that this would turn out to be a good thing for you. I can’t tell you how proud of you for choosing your own way in life. I hope you’ll tell me more the next time we can speak.”
“I will.” He assured her. He hesitated. “I trust Father is also well?” Amanda smiled at him proudly. He knew she was happy that he was getting past his Vulcan pride enough to ask after his father’s well-being, in spite of their estrangement.
“Your father’s fine. It took him a while, but I managed to convince him to accept my contacting you like this. Not that he had any choice in the matter; I would have done it anyway.” She gave him a conspiratorial smile. “I know he wouldn’t admit it, but he does miss you, and worry about you.”
“I shall take your word for it.” Spock replied dryly. Amanda gave a surprised laugh.
“You’re developing a sense of humor! It looks like your friend is teaching you quite a bit about human ways.” She smiled at him once more. “I have to go now, but I’ll try to arrange another communication soon. Live long and prosper, Son.”
“Peace and long life, Mother.” He replied. Then he signed off.
As he finished replaying the memory in his head, the door leading to the doctor’s office opened, and Jim stepped through. He spotted Spock right away.
“Hey.” He said with a grin. The foul mood he’d had the last time the spoke seemed to be gone. So did the air of sickliness that had surrounded him last week. Spock stood and turned toward the door. Jim seemed to fall into step automatically beside him, as if they’d known each other much longer than just a month or so. As they left the building, Spock spoke to Jim.
“You seem to be in better health than last week.”
“I am.” Replied Jim. “Bones tells me that even though I’ll be getting bigger by then, I’ll start to feel even better after the first trimester’s over. Just four more weeks.” He finished with a smile. “Right now though, I think I might be up for a visit to the Park, maybe one of the lakes.” They left to board a shuttle leaving the Academy. As they sat there, watching the scenery they passed, Jim turned to Spock, looking a little nervous.
“Uh, Spock? There’s something I should tell you.” That got Spock’s attention.
“Is something the matter Jim?” Jim shrugged.
“Not exactly. My great aunt Jenna died two days ago.” He must have seen the impending look of sympathy on Spock’s face because he hastened to continue. “She was a hundred and five; she lived a good long life. But she was the actual owner of the farm where I live. I just rent and take care of it. She and her husband owned it until he died six years ago, and then it was just her. We always knew that eventually, it would go to me or Sam. But as far as we know, she and Mike, my great uncle, never left any will that actually says so. We’ve been the closest living relatives for as long as I can remember, aside from my mom, but she never had any interest in it beyond the fact that it was my dad’s family’s property.”
He paused for a moment make sure Spock was following. “As far as anyone can tell, Sam and I are the only people eligible, or even available, to get the farm. But there’s no documentation stating that, or what’s to be done with Jenna’s other property. So, Sam and I have to go back to Riverside to sort through every single thing in the house. We’ll have to meet with Jenna’s lawyers to sort through all of it, and the mess that they’re dragging in from her home in Des Moines.
He paused once more. “I don’t know how long we’ll be gone. Bones already set me up with a big supply of vitamin hypos for a lengthy stay though. It’ll be at least a few weeks.” Spock finally spoke.
“What exactly needs to be done?” Jim shrugged again.
“Like I said, we need to get all my aunt’s affairs in order. She and Mike weren’t really that great at keeping good records, and they apparently didn’t hire anyone to keep track of it for them. We also have to arrange her funeral. Again, hopefully we’ll find something that tells us what she wanted. We also need to establish who gets ownership of the farm. Since Sam and Aury are in Starfleet, they’ll be staying here in San Francisco for the foreseeable future. If they do ever leave, it’ll probably be for a space station or colony posting. I know they’ve talked about it.”
“Then you will be taking full ownership of the farm.” Concluded Spock.
“Pretty much.” Agreed Jim. “I’ve never owned something this big before. I’ll need to take some time with Sam to put together some records of my own. I need to make it official that Sam and his family will get either the farm or whatever it sells for if anything should happen to me. I don’t want to end up putting someone else through this mess if I get killed or something.” Spock fought against the stiffening of his spine. He didn’t care for the thought of anything bad happening to Jim.
“When do you have to leave?” He asked, trying to cover up his disappointment.
“Tomorrow.” Replied Jim. “I have to admit, it’s going to be weird not doing this for a while. I’ve gotten used to hanging out with someone whose idea of a good time is a park outing and the occasional trip to the library.” Spock wasn’t sure how to interpret that.
“I suppose it is to be expected that you have missed your old recreational activities.” He offered. Jim seemed to realize his uncertainty.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that I’m going to miss talking about this kind of stuff. I never had anyone back home that I could talk to about science or history, or anything like that.” Jim almost seemed to regret his words. Spock realized that Jim, like many human males was uncomfortable with the idea of admitting to an emotional vulnerability. He decided to attempt to take away his discomfort by admitting some of his own feelings.
“I believe I understand your meaning. I too have found you to be exceptionally intelligent and agreeable company. Your absence is regrettable.” He hoped Jim would understand what he was trying to get across, but as a Vulcan could not say out loud. You are my friend and I will miss you while you are gone. From the way Jim smiled, it was a safe guess that he did.
“Well then, let’s make the most of this visit.” He said. He looked out at the scenery. “I love exploring the park. I wish we had something like this near Riverside. Or a library like the Academy has. I’m getting a little too attached to all the history and knowledge available here.” Spock nodded.
“It will still be here when you come back.” Once again, he willed Jim to hear what he meant by it; that he could always come back to San Francisco, even after the baby was born. Jim looked thoughtful, but he didn’t say anything. They finished their ride in silence.
Once they’d arrived at the park, they switched to another shuttle that took them to Stow Lake. Spock had been very interested in visiting the bodies of water in the park. That had actually been his original focus. Then he’d met Jim, and his only real focuses had been learning about him and letting him choose where to go in the park so that he could follow and do everything he could to make a good impression.
As he gazed at the serene lake and the wildlife around it, Jim by his side, he became acutely aware of what his mother had been talking about. He was content. For the first time in his life, he had no significant complaints. There were no bullies making him wish he didn’t have his human blood. There were no instructors who assumed he would have difficulty keeping up because he wasn’t fully Vulcan.
Instead there were teachers and classmates who respected and envied his intellect. There were people who genuinely valued his opinions. There was Jim, who saw him not as half-human or half-Vulcan, but as a person he enjoyed spending time with. He was a friend, an equal, someone who might come to be more later on.
If there was one thing he could change, it would be that his parents could not be here. He wished he could share this contentment he felt with her now. He wished his father could understand that this had been the best thing for him, that he was thriving here instead of working nonstop to ignore the prejudice and disdain he would have continued to labor under if he’d accepted his admission into the Vulcan Science Academy. He brought himself back to the present as Jim spoke up.
“There’s a lake a bit like this on the farm. It’s nowhere near as big, but I used to visit it almost every day in the summer. A lot of my friends did too. It had trees all around just like here, and we’d hang ropes from some of them. Then we’d swing out over the water and let go.”
“That sounds somewhat hazardous.” Commented Spock. Jim laughed.
“It was fine. We didn’t let go until we were good and far out. During the really hot days, if I was alone, I’d go skinny dipping.” That was something Spock had heard of, and it took a great deal of his mental control not to dwell on thoughts of an overheated Jim Kirk taking a refreshing dip in the nude.
Their conversation continued as they strolled about the park. Jim told him about life on a farm, of hard work all year round, of the various crops and animals, and the various machines required to help run a farm. He mentioned, almost off-handedly, that he had won several competitions in which many of the local farmer’s children would race tractors. Spock asked him at one point if he’d ever participated in the activity known as cow tipping, knocking a cow on its side while it stood asleep. Jim told him that cow tipping was just a made up farmland stereotype, and that cows slept on their sides or bellies. Horses apparently did sleep standing, however. But they were not tipped either.
“Tell me about Vulcan.” Said Jim at one point. “What’s it like there?” Spock busied himself with describing the desert planet. He told Jim of the endless sand and mountains and dunes, and how he often climbed the rocks near his home when he was in need of solitude. He told him of the rare oasis’s found deep in the deserts, and the dangerous wildlife. He spoke more of I-Chaya, his beloved pet, and his education. He even told Jim about his mother, who’d always been the only person to not judge or think less of him. Jim seemed not to know how to respond to Spock’s obvious care for his mother.
“Are you alright?” He asked.
“Yeah, fine. My mom and I were just never that close.” He shrugged. “She was really busy when I was little, always working, even when it wasn’t necessary. She wasn’t a bad mom or anything, she just never wanted to stick around for long. I used to think it was me, and my stepdad, who she just dragged home from San Francisco one day, seemed to agree with me. I think he was pretty pissed about getting married and then being left on some farm with his new wife’s kids. He wasn’t into farm work at all. He never contributed at all, and eventually Mom realized that he was letting everything fall apart. She divorced him when I was ten, after Sam ran away. I was furious with him for driving my brother away, and for the fact that he was going to sell my father’s antique car that I was made to care for, so I took the keys and drove it off a cliff. The police got involved and Mom had to come home to kick Frank out and take care of us.”
Jim paused. “I didn’t really make things easier with my newfound bad attitude. I started acting out and before I knew it…” Jim trailed off.
“Yes?” Prompted Spock. Jim shrugged.
“Well, let’s just say it was too late for us to have a normal relationship. She ended up taking an early retirement and lives off-planet now.” Spock just nodded. He had a feeling there was more to it than Jim was saying, but he didn’t want to put pressure on him. He realized that neither one of them had been focusing on the lake that they’d come to see, but had instead been focused on talking to each other. Suddenly, Jim’s comm rang.
“Just a second.” He said. With an apologetic look, he moved off a ways and began speaking into it. Spock could just barely make out the sound of his voice, having chosen to respectfully divert his focus. After a moment, Jim returned.
“I trust everything is alright?” Jim nodded.
“Yeah, that was just Sam. I need to get home and finish packing for the trip. I really just have clothes since I left almost everything else back home, plus I’m not even taking all of it, but we have to leave tomorrow morning and I don’t want to miss the shuttle. So I’m gonna go back and make sure he’s got everything he needs. He’s never been all that good at packing for a trip.”
“It would be logical to have someone else double check.” Admitted Spock. He found himself horribly reluctant to have Jim leave his company knowing that he was going far away.
They returned to the shuttle area where they rode in silence until it was time to switch. Jim got on another shuttle, the one that took him close to his brother’s home. Before he did he turned back to Spock.
“I guess I’ll see you…whenever I get back.” He grinned and, to Spock’s surprise, smacked him lightly on the shoulder, a common friendly gesture he’d seen among male friends at the Academy. To have Jim use such a gesture with him was most heartening. As always, he watched the shuttle until it had left his line of sight.