A/N: MyriadProBold, Mostillogical, Bastet, and Tonati, thank you so much for reviewing! The chapter after this one will be the last.
Chapter 11: Leaving
"Jim, you're home," said Spock, appearing in the hallway, his eyes smiling. The smile disappeared, though, when he saw Jim's shiner, and his expression. "I am aware of what happened today, Jim. I understand that it is in your nature to defend those close to you at cost to your own health. You are a fighter. However, especially considering your current state, I must ask you to practice the better part of valor."
Jim looked confused. "The better part of valor?"
"Yes. Wisdom. Words are just that, only sounds with meanings we all agree on. They cannot hurt you, or those you care about, unless you let them. Also this means, if threatened with physical violence, I ask you to flee the situation."
Jim looked up at him, feeling the faint stirrings of hope. "You're not upset with me?"
"Jim, it is illogical to be upset at someone for their inherent nature," said Spock indulgently. "However, I am concerned for your health, and the social ramifications. You do realize that if the court catches wind of this, it will not reflect well on me? I am not ashamed of you or or actions by any means, however, they will not look kindly upon it, and as you are my responsibility, they will consider me responsible as well."
Jim glanced at him and nodded glumly.
"However, since it is a singular event, and your situation may be considered a mitigating circumstance, I believe there is no great cause to worry. Jim, just be sure not to get into any more fights, however inherent in your nature and tempting they may be."
"Okay," said Jim, unsure if he'd be able to hold back if Finnegan came for a round two, but determined to try.
As he entered his room, he noticed he'd gotten a new message - from the young Spock! He eagerly opened it, wondering if he'd accepted his proposal of being pen pals.
Spock: I have considered your request. Your proposal does have some scientific and educational merit. However, I have determined that it would be illogical to accept your request. I am attempting to become wholly Vulcan, and pursuing human contact and influence would be detrimental to this end. I will offer you one piece of Vulcan culture: Live Long and Prosper, James Kirk.
Jim frowned, somewhat disappointed. Texting back and forth with young Spock would have been fun. It seemed whatever charms he had that worked on Vulcans only worked with the older Spock. He decided to shrug it off. Young Spock sounded a bit stuck up anyway.
Spock, noting that Jim was occupied in his room, went to the backyard where the Jellyfish was. Moving it to the underground hangar would no doubt be noisy, but it could not be helped. He had installed as many sound dampening and soundproofing systems as he could to minimize the noise, but he could not make it totally silent. It would at least make noise the equivalent to the sound decibels of a speeder. He could only hope that anyone hearing it would assume it was one. It would certainly be less suspicious than the birds that were currently ramming into it on accident, unable to see the ship to avoid it.
After Spock lowered it into the ground, he undid the cloaking device that was draining the power and closed the doors. He would now have to finish the project, but he would do that while Jim was sleeping or at school, as he had been. He headed back to the house, noting that by the lack of passersby that he had successfully moved the Jellyfish without anyone knowing.
As soon as tomorrow, he would be able to show Jim the Jellyfish. However, he was still uncertain as to whether Jim was ready for the knowledge. He would not, of course, tell him it was from the future, but he would tell him it was of his own design. He did not want to tell him about Nero, which was why he needed the ship close to him, ready at a moment's notice. Also, the inevitable shipyard inspection were he to keep it at one would be very incriminating. All in all, he had to keep it here. But how would Jim take it? Would he be even more intimidated by Spock, knowing he had a battle ready ship in the backyard with enough red matter to take out a solar system? Spock, if he did tell Jim, would certainly have to give Jim a highly edited version of the Jellyfish's purpose and status.
At some point, he would have to tell Jim something about Nero, so he could be alert for his own safety. However, now did not seem to be the time. The boy was anxious enough about his situation as it was, and under Spock's protection. There was no pressing need for it. He would take care of him.
Spock decided to show Jim the ship, and say it was something he designed and tinkered with to enhance his scientific theories and advancement. It would not be a lie, but it would simply leave out the rest of the situation. He would be very sure, though, to have Jim sworn to utmost secrecy, even from his friends. No one could know about this ship.
Before Spock entered the house, he noticed Mrs. Alice Steck had arrived and was also walking to the front door. "Greetings, Mrs. Steck."
"Hello, Spock," she said. "I just wanted to visit you and Jimmy, to see how you are doing. And I brought a plate of cookies for him."
"Your thoughtfulness is most appreciated," said Spock. "Come inside. I expect that Jim is in his room. I will fetch him. I am sure he will be glad to see you."
Jim was glad to see her, thanked her many times for the cookies, and even gave her a hug. Spock observed that he seemed much less tense with her, and this only furthered his hypothesis that Jim was afraid of him. He was unsure what more he could do for him than he already was doing. Having another family take him would not solve the problem, as there would be another man in the father position, although perhaps he would not be as strong as Spock, and therefore, perhaps slightly less intimidating. However, he knew Jim was quite set on staying with him, regardless of his fear. This of course was preferable to himself as well, but he did not want Jim to feel cornered and frightened. The last thing he wanted was to be associated with Frank in Jim's mind, however faintly that might be.
So when Mrs. Steck left, Spock informed Jim he could eat in his room if he wished. Spock figured that Jim would probably feel better if he was somewhere he could lock him out, even if Spock would himself much prefer to eat with him and talk to him. Jim did not seem as happy about this as Spock was expecting, but he did eat in his room without argument.
Spock quickly finished eating. It was Vulcan tradition to eat in silence, but it was not a tradition he enjoyed, particularly now when he could be dining with Jim. He went in his room to meditate.
Jim, meanwhile, was having similar thoughts. He did not understand why Spock, once again, was not eating with him, and was a little hurt. He had been looking forward to patching things up with him over dinner, and just talking with him about everything, but now he would not get the chance. While Spock had merely made it a suggestion, it seemed to be what he wanted, so Jim went along with it. He wasn't going to be with Spock if he didn't want him to be with him.
Jim was now even more upset and unsure of himself and the situation now with Spock's mixed signals. He finished dinner, then wondered what to do next. He went out and set his dishes in the dishwasher, finding himself edgy to be in the same room with Spock. He wanted so bad to please him and not be annoying, but what was pleasing and what was annoying was now more confusing and unclear to him than ever, and seemed impossible to accomplish.
Spock noted Jim was more tense than ever, so he decided it was time to consult with Dr. McCoy. He went to his private room, shut the door, and opened the channel to him.
After waiting on hold a considerable length of time, the irritable doctor appeared. "Oh, you again. Jim all right?"
"Jim got into a fight at school today with Finnegan, apparently over some words he said about me. However, it did not last long and there was no significant damage."
"Let me guess, you let him get off scot free." McCoy's voice was mixed with disgust and fondness.
"He is a fighter by nature, he is under stress, and he has never done this before. I believed in this case, the mitigating circumstances warranted only a lecture. Besides, doctor, there is also something I have been observing with him that is concerning me. I believe, especially now that I am in the position of a father, that he is afraid of me. I have attempted to keep my distance and limit my time in his presence to ease his fears. However, it appears to be getting worse instead of better. I would like to know how I can remedy the situation. My Jim was never afraid of me, even when, perhaps he should have been, so I have no experience with this type of situation."
"Well, Spock," said McCoy, sounding very concerned. "I guess I really shouldn't be so surprised. It just never struck me before that he was afraid of you because he adores you. It's possible. What has made you think he's afraid of you?"
"He seems very tense in my presence, doctor, and has been withholding of physical gestures of affection, when he does not withhold them from anyone else, save for, of course, his parents. He seems convinced I will get angry with him, even though I am a Vulcan and do not get angry. In our latest interaction, he would barely look at me and hurried out of the room. I have caught a relieved expression a few times when I have left him."
"Well, it's not too surprising he'd expect you to act like Frank, although I never got that impression while I was around him. You are polar opposite from Frank, so he will need time to adjust. You are unlike anything he has ever experienced, so he may be a bit confused on how to behave. Look, I'll be coming over soon. I'll talk to him and see what I can find out."
"That would be much appreciated, doctor. Although I am more emotionally free than most Vulcans, it is still not my area of expertise."
"Well, Jim needs all the help he can get. And make sure he stays out of any more fights! Those ribs of his are still healing and he doesn't need them re-broken!"
"I will endeavor to do so, doctor. I believe the phrase is, "See you soon?"
"Yes, I'll come over in a few days. Got to go take care of patients now." McCoy cut the connection.
Jim, meanwhile, was fidgeting nervously in his room and thumbing through all the books on the shelves. He couldn't focus or read anything in particular, so he read short excerpts from each book, barely taking them in. Then he decided to read some of his dad's letters. Suddenly finding he could focus a bit better, he took in the comforting writing. It was mostly letters he'd written to his mom, finding the antique style more romantic. While Jim did not understand this, he was glad of it, because otherwise he would not have even this from his father.
He lost track of time and was startled by Spock's knock on the door. "Yes?" Jim called.
Spock opened the door but did not go in, seemingly reluctant to do so. "I believe this would be the optimal time to begin your sleep period," he said.
"All right," said Jim, hiding a smile at Spock's very formal speech. "I'll get to bed, then."
Spock smiled a him with his eyes. "Goodnight, Jim."
"Goodnight, Spock," Jim said, smiling back.
The next day at school, Jim and Ben helped Gary keep a close eye on his things so Finnegan wouldn't go filching them again. Gary and Ben also stuck close to Jim, trying to prevent Finnegan from bullying him again. Other than shooting him dirty looks, however, Finnegan left them alone.
Jim arrived home to find Spock meditating in the living room. "Jim," he greeted him, smiling with his eyes as he came out of the meditation. "Please put your school bag in your room. I believe it is time that I show you what is in the back yard."
Jim stared at him for a moment in shock. He had placed his curiosity about that crater in the backyard in the back burner of his mind, not really believing that Spock was going to keep his word about telling him about it. To find him doing so both surprised and warmed him. "Okay!" he said in excitement.
A few minutes later, Jim was eagerly following his Vulcan guardian out to the area where the crater used to be. Now, there were gigantic automatic sliding doors. He also noticed newly planted shrubs in trees in the area, helping to camouflage the area from casual onlookers.
"Jim, it is utmost importance that you never tell anyone what I have in here," said Spock. "Not even your friends. No one must know."
"Okay, I promise," said Jim, taken aback by Spock's very serious, sober expression.
"In that case, I will now open the doors." Spock turned and took his communicator out, which Jim noticed had several alterations he did not recognize. In a moment, the doors opened soundlessly. Jim was impressed by the technology and design that must have taken to accomplish.
Jim peered eagerly into the depths of the area underneath. What he saw had never entered his mind in his wildest dreams. It was a spaceship! Highly advanced and classy with weapons systems. He'd never seen anything like it in design. "What is its name?" he asked in awe.
"It is called the Jellyfish," said Spock.
"Jellyfish," Jim said, a little confused by the weird name, but thinking that it fit in a strange way. "Why is it called that?" It seemed a bit of an illogical name for a Vulcan owned ship.
"It is a codename in reference to its unique spinning tail," Spock explained.
"A codename?" said Jim curiously.
"Yes. For reasons I cannot reveal, the ship was manufactured on Vulcan, mostly by myself. I have it here for further adjustments and advancement. I cannot store it in a shipyard, for it contains highly sensitive information and weapons. So I keep it here in secret and watch over it carefully."
"Can I have a closer look? Can I go inside?" asked Jim eagerly. He'd never been in a real spaceship before!
"We may go down inside the hanger so you can get a closer look. However, I cannot allow you inside at this time."
Jim was pretty disappointed he wouldn't be able to go in. "Will you ever let me?" he asked.
"Yes. I will let you know when that will be," agreed Spock. He would have to make some modifications to the inside and the computer system before he could do that. The Jellyfish would recognize him as Captain James T. Kirk and put itself under his command. Jim was not ready for that.
They headed down a ladder that led into the deep hangar. Jim, once he reached the bottom, began running around and examining everything. Spock was glad to see him so happy and diverted. He hadn't been like this since he'd sat in the Captain's chair in the simulation.
Jim's mind was buzzing with questions. Spock had make it sound like the ship's purpose was mere scientific and technological advancement. But he could see, through the signs of wear and tear on it, that it had been through something really big recently. It couldn't have just traveled between Vulcan and Earth and done nothing else but sit around. What was Spock trying to hide about this ship? However, Jim was glad that Spock was beginning to share with him his secrets. It warmed him that Spock trusted him with such a big and important one such as this clearly was.
Spock allowed Jim to poke around the Jellyfish for about twenty more minutes. He took the opportunity to inspect it for himself, noting various adjustments and repairs he needed to do to keep it in prime condition in the unfortunate event he needed to use it.
A little while later, Spock herded Jim out of there, not wanting to risk keeping the doors open any longer. Jim reluctantly climbed out after him and followed him back in the house. A few minutes later, a speeder pulled up in the drive, with a bumper sticker that said, "Everything I know I learned from Radar the donkey." Spock raised an eyebrow at the highly illogical and scientifically impossible statement. However, Spock was very relieved at his luck. Any earlier, and there would have been questions he did not wish to answer.
A middle aged woman with red hair came out and knocked on the door. Spock opened it. "Is there something I can help you with?" he inquired politely.
"Hi, I'm Erin. I'm one of the social workers that's examining your case," she said with a strong southern accent.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Erin. I am Spock, and this is Jim Kirk," he said, gesturing to Jim who had come up by him curiously.
Erin came in. "Spock is a nickname?" she inquired.
"Yes, it is a nickname that I picked up in childhood, and I have been referred to as such in the ensuing years. Please come in and make yourself comfortable."
Spock looked at Jim for a moment. He was pleased with the timing of the events. The Jellyfish seemed to have relieved some of Jim's tension around him, as strange as that was, and it had turned out to be a wise decision to show him. It had gotten him in an excellent mood for an examination by a social worker. Had she come yesterday, it might not have been so optimal.
She settled on the chair, and Jim sat on the couch. Since Jim currently appeared to be comfortable with the situation, Spock sat on the couch next to him.
Erin smiled at them in a very friendly manner. Jim could tell he was really going to like her.
"So how ya'll's day going?" she asked. "What have ya'll've been up to?"
Spock resisted the strong urge to correct her grammar. "I have been meditating and attending to my duties as an Information Security Analyst with various companies I work for."
"Oh, so you'sa professional hacker, making sure ya'll's systems are up to speed? That sounds like fun! How many times have you been able to hack into them systems?"
"There has yet to be a time when I have failed. I have corrected many flaws in their systems. They find my work quite satisfactory. Their malicious hacking incidents have dropped down to almost nothing."
Erin looked impressed. "Wow, you're a real pro! You should come work for me. Are you going to teach Jim any of this?"
"If he wishes to learn," said Spock. "I will teach him."
"So, now ya'll get down to business," said Erin. "Jim, how would you say things are working out between y'all?"
"Great," said Jim, glossing over the tension and insecurity he'd been feeling. "I love it here!"
"That's what we all love to to hear," said Erin. "How about you, Spock?"
"I have found Jim to be a delightful and obedient child," said Spock honestly.
"Now, all relationships have their problems, even if they're ideal. What problems have ya'll been having?"
Jim looked hesitant. Spock decided to speak up for him. "I believe that it is an adjustment for both of us. I am unused to caring for a child, and Jim is unused to being in the company of someone of my age and temperament. Not to mention the cultural differences between us. However, I believe it has caused no undue stress on either of us, to my knowledge." He looked to Jim for confirmation.
"I agree with Spock," said Jim, a bit hesitant.
"It's all right, Jim," said Erin brightly. "I know ya want to stay with him, and I don't see a problem with it. The court is too political, in my opinion. They like to keep their image up to political ideals, and don't leave much room for personal beliefs and desires. He seems to be good for ya, and ya wanna be with him. Ya don't have to hide any problems to make a good impression. What matters with me is your own opinion, which does not clash against your own best interests."
Jim brightened a bit at her support. She seemed kind and a bit feisty. He was confident she'd put up a good fight for him. "I just want to be more certain I'll be staying with Mr. Spock," he said, feeling that would summon up what he was feeling without making him appear weak or needy.
"I understand," said Erin. "It's hard ta get involved with someone in your situation. Those damn courts always drag their feet!" She made some notations on her PADD. "So, have ya seen your mother lately?"
"Not since I saw her at her house," said Jim. "We went there to pick up my things. She ignored Mr. Spock the whole time." He looked put out at that.
"I believe she intends to visit him sometime this week," supplied Spock.
"Please excuse my next questions, Jim, but I'm afraid it's required. Do ya miss her?"
Jim fidgeted self consciously. "No, not really."
"Do ya want her to visit?"
"No," said Jim, not meeting their eyes.
"All right," she said, signaling she would stop pursuing that line of questioning. She made some casual conversation with them after that, staying for about an hour before leaving. Jim hoped everyone working on his case would be like her.
"Goodbye y'all!" she called out as she left. Spock stared once again at her bumper sticker, unable to make sense of it. It did not seem to fit someone so otherwise intelligent, even if she hid that behind her atrocious grammar.
Jim's good mood was still prevailing, so Spock decided to risk having dinner with him. Perhaps Dr. McCoy would not have to talk to him after all. They chatted pleasantly, and they both went to bed that night feeling better about the situation. Spock sent McCoy a short message, telling him about Erin's visit, the Jellyfish, and how things seemed to be going a bit better.
They next day, McCoy visited, fussing over Jim's new bruises but otherwise approving of his progress. Winona visited after that, and it was intensely awkward. Knowing Winona's preference to ignore his existence, and confirming that it was all right with Jim, Spock went to his bedroom to meditate while Jim spent time with his mom alone. She did not stay long, and Jim was glad to see her go.
After her visit, Jim started to relapse into his previous tense behavior. Spock responded by giving him space, as he did before. Perhaps he would just need to come up with another activity, like he had with the Jellyfish, to divert him. However, he needed to make another appearance in court, and he had visits from more social workers, Cogley, and Jim's court guardian to field, so he had to delay his effort to reach out to Jim.
The other social workers that came were not as sympathetic to Jim as Erin had been. This worsened Jim's tense attitude, since they kept persuading him to consider another family that had stepped up to take him. Their top choice seemed to be the Marcus's, a well to do family with a daughter named Carol. Jim refused to listen to anything about them at all, repeating his desire to stay with Spock over and over. His court guardian, Carlisle, wasn't much better, and Jim continued in his frustrated stubbornness.
Jim arrived home from school one day, expecting to see Spock waiting for him as usual, but he wasn't. Jim set his bag in his room, and went to look for him. Maybe he was in the Jellyfish? Now that he knew about the ship, Spock would sometimes go out to work on it while Jim was around and awake.
However, Jim found him rather easily. Spock was in his room and invited him in, his voice completely neutral, and Jim discovered he had a face and posture to match the complete neutrality. Jim had never seen Spock look so emotionless before. Jim paused just inside the door uncertainly. What was wrong with Spock? Was he upset with him?
"Jim, I have just conversed with Cogley," he stated. "The court has ordered me to release your temporary guardianship to the Marcuses. They wish to observe how well you interact with a fully intact and younger family of your own species. The Marcus family was one of those saved by your father, and they wish to repay him by taking you on. You are to leave tomorrow."
"What?" Jim said, barely being able to breathe.
"I believe Erin had a similar reaction and was kicked out of court temporarily for her use of colorful metaphors," stated Spock, still emotionless.
"No," breathed Jim, running from the room. He did not want Spock to see what a crybaby he was being about this, especially since Spock seemed to be feeling nothing at all. He locked his door and collapsed on his bed, muffling his sobs in his pillow. He felt like his body was being excruciatingly torn in half. He couldn't leave Spock! He just couldn't.