Despite your Vulcan ancestry, you knew what it was to hate. Your childhood peers had seen to that. You felt it in your gut, an acidic, burning feeling that caused your heart rate to escalate and your breathing to become erratic and shallow.
The first time you laid eyes on Jim Kirk, you felt as if you should hate him. He was everything you had come to despise in an individual: arrogant, cocky, brash. The kind of person you had little time for, as they usually were close-minded and impossible to work with.
You are, at your core, a scientist; this required the ability to adapt, to consistently change your path when an initial hypothesis proves incorrect. You could not find any similar traits in Kirk, in fact you did not think anything could penetrate his stubborn resolve. Those who were supercilious, so certain of their own intelligence, were not usually liable to give up one theory in support of another; were not ever able to let go, holding onto their opinions as if by divine right.
This was your original assessment of Kirk. You admit it freely. Non-adaptable, highly emotional, entirely too self-centered… all of these things crossed your mind as you watched him arrogantly cheat on your test with a blasé attitude that left the part of you most influenced by the human side of your ancestry really, really wanting to express itself in a fit of anger.
Yet despite this initial impression, you could not bring yourself to hate him. Not really. There was something holding you back, even then. Maybe it was the hidden sadness in those beautiful blue eyes, lurking in the shadows behind the overzealous show of bravado. Or maybe it was in the way he held his shoulders at his hearing: stiff and squared, as if he was used to defending himself; as if he felt the world was against him and had for quite some time. These signs you recognized because they had always been present in yourself and no amount of Vulcan training in control had ever managed to alleviate them entirely.
There was a plaintive, infinitesimal part of you that somehow related to him.
It was this that had kept you from killing him on the bridge when he had evoked an emotional outburst as much as it was your father’s intervention.
Even while Kirk was blatantly provoking you, there was self-disgust in his eyes. You didn’t recognize it at first, so lost were you to rage, but later, during meditation, when reviewing the incident in your mind, you saw it. From that look you could garner that Kirk hadn’t liked what he was doing, but did it anyway, feeling that strongly about his instincts -- strongly about engaging the Narada. And truthfully, Kirk’s instincts had proven quite intuitive, almost like a sixth sense, a premonition. It was a hypothesis you had to ponder further.
Still, when all was said and done, and your older, alternate universe counterpart had sought you out and commented on remarkable friendships and the deeds such a union could potentially spawn, you can’t help but remain dubious. Yes, Kirk had proven to be quite intelligent, insightful, and even adaptable, but he was still cocky, and entirely too unpredictable. He was what humans would call a wild ace.
“What is it about James Kirk that would accede to such a friendship?” you call out, unable to let it go, even after your counterpart has already wished you good luck, complete with the traditional Vulcan salute, and had turned to leave you to ponder your future.
“He is your T’hy’la,” he responds, and you feel your heart rate beat faster than it ever has.
The concept of T’hy’la is by no means an insignificant, romantic notion. In fact, when studying it in Vulcan’s history, it had appealed superlatively to your lonely, ostracized heart. A friend, a brother, a lover: one so perfect for yourself that your bond was predetermined, unshakable, and unbreakable. A level of completion that few Vulcans ever found, their restless souls, hidden under layers and layers of cultivated logic, still secretly searching, still secretly calling, a distant throw-back despite centuries of evolution. A mate: one and one only, for life, not unlike the mating habits of a terran swan or wolf. A katra entirely complementary to your own, and in fact, created for that purpose.
Love, unconditional. Power. Protection. Balance.
The universe is beyond description in its size, the number of beings who lived in it immeasurable. The prospect of finding a T’hy’la surpasses odds that even you, forever processing numbers in your head, can’t calculate.
So naturally the idea of finding one appeals, and not just for the novelty of near perfect companionship and love, but also for the sheer rarity of it. No Vulcan had been able to study a T’hy’la pair in centuries, and now, with so few Vulcans left, the opportunity to do so was even more dismal a possibility.
Still, the thought of Jim Kirk as your T’hy’la is so unlikely it borders on preposterous. Yes, there was certainly more to Kirk than you had expected, initially, but to have him be your one true mate? It was beyond comprehension. Were you human you’d consider the very idea a practical joke.
Yet you remind yourself again that you are a scientist. You have to delve deeper, you can’t pass up the opportunity to examine this claim further -- even if you know it is going to break a dear friend’s heart in the process.
When you first met Nyota Uhura you were impressed that she, a human, could demonstrate such control, such grasp of logic and language. She was truly remarkable.
As an instructor it is always rewarding to find a willing student, one eager to learn, and absorb knowledge like a sponge. You found that easily in Nyota; she made your days at the Academy bearable.
Nyota reminded you a lot of your mother: open to new ideas, wise, yet soft in spirit with an easy smile. It seemed logical to cultivate a deeper relationship, both in your interest in studying human relations, and in discovering for yourself why your human mother would be satisfied for so many years with an unemotional, logically driven Vulcan for a husband.
You do care for Nyota, deeply. You are concerned for her welfare. You enjoy her company in a way you do with so few others. But your love of her falls under the heading of contentment rather than T’hy’la. Satisfying in its own right, but not complete, and now you are forced into a position where you are obliged to hurt her by terminating your romantic liaison.
Because you want more, you always have. You just can’t help it, no matter how tight your control.
Contrary to popular belief Vulcans do feel remorse, as you feel it now. It will hurt you to hurt her.
You had thought that pursuing Jim Kirk would be infinitely harder than it actually was. His reputation at the Academy had been that of one of a vagabond reluctant to tie himself in a long-term relationship or anything remotely monogamous in nature. Beyond the tell-tale loneliness you initially detected in Jim’s eyes, you have your own theories on why this might be and you have your own systematically-developed plan on how to circumvent this difficult quirk of human psychology. But as it turns out, Jim was surprisingly receptive to your overtures.
Initially you approached him with the idea of cultivating a friendship first, believing it to be the best way into his heart, and the act of doing so came as easily as the flow of a river running over rock and soil. He accepted your first offer of spending time together in a social setting with eagerness, his blue eyes sparkling, and a slow smile spreading across his face that did something quite powerful to your heart, as if an outside force were clenching it. You should have known then -- it should have been a rather obvious sign -- that you should give credence to the T’hy’la claim.
In that moment Jim looked stunningly beautiful, so aesthetically pleasing that you felt a lump lodge in your throat. You found yourself easily addicted to Jim’s smiles, finding any opportunity you could to elicit more. He was very striking, you could admit it. After all, humans weren’t the only species who could appreciate a pleasant appearance.
When you stopped to ponder it, you found yourself immensely attracted to him, physically. You’d never experienced an attraction that strongly before, it was a bit of a marvel.
But the ease of your friendship wasn’t the only thing that surprised you about Jim. You found that he was actually very astute, his mind taking in more, observing more, than you would have thought possible of him. He was actually an intense student of behavior, for all that he hid it well, but he shared the insights he had discovered with you easily when asked, as if letting you in on a secret. You couldn’t help but be warmed by this.
You also discovered that his intuition was incredibly accurate, his mind exploring multiple scenarios while calculating numerous outcomes simultaneously. A very rare quality for a human -- that ability to think on multiple levels all at once -- yet one that explains Jim’s gift at strategy, both on the chessboard and in the Captain’s chair.
It was also a surprise to learn that Jim felt things, deeply. He had a sense of compassion for his crew and his friends that was most tender in its depth. He was, in all actuality, an intensely multifaceted soul: smart, humorous, loving and loyal. Why he had cultivated a layer of overdone bravado to hide his sensitivity just added to the mystery surrounding him, for Jim was notoriously close-lipped, even with you, on the subjects of his deceased father, his childhood, and the members of his family still left alive. But rather than annoy you, it instead evoked the need to take him in your arms and promise protection. You often wondered how Jim would react if you did.
It took relatively little time, considering your initial assessment and, to put it bluntly, extreme dubiousness, for you to alter your mindset on your compatibility with Jim so completely that you might have called your initial thoughts on the matter blinded, illogical and ill-formed.
The universe, you’ve come to realize, is infinitely wise in its design.
The first time you meld with Jim you’re overcome.
Jim’s mind is so… bright. Like the sweltering sunlight captured by the desert skies of your now-dead home-world. It is also warm, again like the desert, caressing you in waves. You feel the urge to sit there and bask for eternity, like the cats your evolutionary charts claim you stem from.
Jim’s mind is positively teeming with life and vibrancy, so potent that you feel electrical currents flow from the mind over your physical flesh. It buzzes and hums, this energy, more powerful than a warp core.
It elicits what humans call goose bumps all over your skin; you find the whole experience fascinating and awe-inspiring. It’s like you’ve found Vulcan again, found home again, deep in the confines of a human male’s mind; your human male’s mind, because you know, without doubt, that you belong here, could live in this mind just as surely as you live in your own.
Jim welcomes your presence in his mind without hesitation or trepidation, eager to show you around, accepting you so completely that you feel a deep rooted swell of emotion threaten to overtake you. You’ve never felt anything like it, never so well-received, never so comfortable. You didn't think any non-Vulcan could appreciate a mental intrusion this way, and yet Jim embraced you, wants you here; has nothing to hold back or hide from you.
A gift of this magnitude is staggering. You don’t think you deserve it, but vow to do everything in your power to try.
'Come Spock, come inside, mi casa is su casa,' Jim's voice rings in your mind.
The depth of your feelings for him, in that moment, hits you with the force of a tsunami. And so you eagerly invite him into your own mind, wanting to share as well, to give as well as you receive.
And Jim’s appreciation of this squeezes your essence like an embrace.
‘T’hy’la,’ you call, ‘how I have wanted this without ever thinking it possible.’
Jim’s curiosity, both at the term you used, and at your statement, is strong, and before you know it, somehow, someway, without him being a telepath or having any practice in navigating a mind, Jim is searching through your thoughts, seeking a definition, and an explanation.
You’re too busy pondering Jim’s ease with the meld, wondering if he’s been involved with one before and how that would be possible, to stop him as he finds a memory, one of your encounter with your older counterpart, and one that clearly highlights your initial doubt that Jim could ever be T’hy’la to you.
The extreme hurt that rushes over you, from Jim’s mind to yours, is crippling in its intensity.
‘You really did dislike me at first,’ Jim murmured, so soft it was near indiscernible, ‘I thought our experiences on the Narada had maybe changed that. That we had come to some sort of appreciation for each other. But that wasn’t the case, was it? You were told, point blank, that we were compatible, and you disbelieved it. The only reason you pursued me at all was as some sort of experiment? Not exactly the most flattering thing to find out,' Jim attempted his usual bravado, with that last line, but you both knew that something had changed between you, the brightness of Jim’s mind was rapidly dimming, doubt creeping in like a storm, and like the planet Vulcan imploding helplessly in front of your eyes, so imploded the healing energy and vibrancy coursing between you and Jim.
Before you could blink you found yourself thrown out of Jim’s mind, the human physically thrusting away from the meld and your fingertips on his temple with defensive agility.
He took several steps back before whispering, slowly looking up to meet your eyes with his own, “What is it you want, Spock? What do you want from me? What happens when the experiment ends?”
Events have unfolded with such quick succession, from happiness and sunlight, to pain and uncertainty, that it takes you a moment to get your bearings. And as more time elapses while you’re trying to find a suitable answer, attempting to sort through the vapid mess of emotions you don’t entirely understand and could almost never hope to, at least it certainly feels that way, the light in Jim’s eyes dims.
“Let me know when you know,” Jim requests after a beat, turning and leaving the room while you’re still floundering.
As Jim walks away, you get the sense that a piece of your soul had just been forcibly cut out of you.
Meditation does not provide the answers because you find yourself unable to calm down enough to engage in it.
You’re too busy feeling bereft, feeling as if the most precious and sacred discovery has been lost to you.
In a few short months you had gone from promising officer, decorated instructor, and self-sufficient individual, with a home planet and an intricate history; to a planet-less, motherless, angry person, judging those around you on first impressions; to desperately feeling and a bit frightened at the magnitude of it, especially when opinions had to be shifted so entirely.
As a scientist you should have been more prepared, more adaptable to the consequences of finding T'hy'la.
What you do know, even without meditation, is that the fear is not necessarily a bad thing. Hadn’t you told Jim that when you first met? The whole point of the Kobayashi Maru had been to feel fear. Feel it, but not let it control you; not let it paralyze you into inaction.
There was a small amount of irony in Jim providing, to you, his own theoretical Kobayashi Maru, one which had paralyzed you, leaving him to walk away, suffering.
The thought of Jim suffering, even a little, causes pain and remorse to consume you.
You want him with you now so desperately you can almost smell him, almost taste him.
You love him. You’re certain of it, even if you’ve never really been in love before and have no basis for comparison.
You want to hold him in your arms indefinitely. You want to drive your body so deeply into his that you may never get out; in fact, your hands physically shake with that need. You want to feel that mind forever wash against your own, to bask in its brightness and energy. You want to know him better, deeper, than any other being ever has, or will. You want to read to him some ancient Vulcan poetry, and have him read to you, to hear his voice in your head regardless of whether he is actually speaking. To share with him all of your discoveries, every new bit of knowledge you encounter. You want to hear his ideas, and tell him your own. You want to memorize every plane and contour of his body, every freckle, every scar. You want to own him, to stake your claim for all and sundry to see, and you want to belong to him with equal fervor.
And what was all of that, if not love?
The depth of a Vulcan’s love was not inconsiderable, your father once implied, but ran deep within your blood, as ingrained in your DNA as the concept of T’hy’la itself.
What started as an experiment was now an absolute truth, no longer theory but fact, in a way that science seldom was, and now, upon discovery, it was impossible to return to a life of solitude. And what was more… you just didn’t want to.
You wanted Jim; he was all you wanted.
It was the only answer you had to give.
Jim couldn’t meet your eyes when you sought him out, his shoulders tense once more as if he were squaring off against the world, and your heart breaks in silent empathy. The two of you really had been so solitary throughout your lives, so alone, so used to fighting your own battles. If you had your way neither of you would fight another battle alone again.
“You were right,” you hear yourself say, afraid that you may scare Jim off, hesitant to make a wrong move, or to say the wrong thing, “initially I was doubtful, as much in my own ability to find a partner who was T’hy’la to me, as I was in you, but I quickly discovered the treasure I had been gifted in you. I love you, Jim. You’re beyond anything I could have hoped for. We are meant for each other, you and I. Allow me to show you?” you request, holding up your hands, your fingers already making a three point form.
There is a brief moment of silence. Jim eyes your fingers, then your expression, as if gauging your sincerity. Whatever he sees, it’s enough, and he nods his consent.
This meld is different than the one prior, there is less discovery, more sorrow, but in it, shining as brightly as everything Jim touches, there is hope. And so you take Jim inside of you, all the way inside, to the depth of your core, and you do something you’ve been taught your entire life not to do… you let your emotions run free. You let Jim see them, as you’ll let no other.
It’s a storm, harsh and rapid; a sweltering sea, turbulent in nature, waves high and wide. But just as forceful, a beam of light breaks through a grey, cloud-filled sky, shining golden like sunlight, renewing and invigorating, and you point to the light and tell Jim... “That is you.”
When it is done, the meld fading as the physical world creeps in, you feel Jim’s head on your shoulder, his arms tight around your torso, his body shaking against yours uncontrollably, you put your arms around him and hold him more tightly than you’ve ever held anything before.
“It is alright, Jim, I have got you.”
It feels wonderful to hold him.
Later, as the sweat on your bodies lay cooling from your lovemaking, he is again wrapped in your arms, asleep and trusting, precious and dear, and your love for him washes over you anew, as it does every time you look upon him; you can’t help but marvel that the concept of T’hy’la has survived so much recent destruction.
In you, and in Jim, and in the bond that you share, a part of Vulcan lives on. This, and Jim, gives you peace.