Title: Making Amends
Pairing(s): Kirk/Spock, mentions of Spock/Uhura
Fandom: Star Trek XI
Disclaimer: I own nothing, and all character rights belong to various people who are not me.
Summary: Spock apologizes in any way he can.
Word Count: ~4200
James Tiberius Kirk was not his father; despite the obvious nature of this statement, it was nevertheless something Spock had to remind himself of time and again, both during Nero’s attack and in the months following the obliteration of Vulcan. Rationally, Spock knew that he was comparing two very different men who were connected only by a string of DNA, the faintest of physical resemblances, and a number of familial acquaintances. Rationally, Spock knew that the deeds of the father did not pass to the son, that it was impossible through natural selection to produce an exact copy of a previous animal, and that it was an invalid comparison besides as George Kirk was no longer available for study. Rationally, Spock knew all of this.
Irrationally, however, Spock could not help but resent James Tiberius Kirk for his origins.
Spock had never known Lieutenant George Kirk; of him, yes, but Spock had been only three standard years when the Kelvin had been destroyed—a young age even considering the rapid maturation of Vulcan children—and Lieutenant Kirk had never been to Vulcan. This would not have seemed such a remarkable reality by itself, but the truth was that Spock could remember the destruction of the Kelvin and the consequences with perfect clarity. The fact that he had any memory of that date, that it was formed with such an underdeveloped, incomplete brain system, was a testament to how much the day had affected the universe, Vulcan, Starfleet, and—most importantly—Spock himself. The last was also irrational, but—as his mother could no doubt have attested to—it was human.
Lieutenant George Kirk had saved hundreds of lives with his sacrifice, and—in doing so—he had ruined the childhood of a single half-Vulcan boy. Every survivor of the Kelvin attack save two had gone on to become vocal in their distrust and hatred of other species; naturally, Romulans were the first to experience this backlash in the form of hate crimes and ransacked colonies, but Vulcans—only a single genetic step to the side—also suffered. The men and women of the tiny ship were not numerous enough to form an army or do anything but aggravate small sections of his planet, but their hatred and violence towards those who were different taught his people one thing: humans were dangerous, volatile, and undesirable.
By the time Spock was five, he had been called a disgusting half-breed one hundred and seventy three times.
Although Spock would never have wished death to those who had survived the Kelvin massacre, the fact remained that Lieutenant George Kirk had been elevated to the status of a hero and martyr on his planet and throughout much of the galaxy while Spock experienced all that it meant to be favored by neither side. Although he could not come up with an alternative, the fact remained that without the actions of George Kirk, Spock would not have experienced his first loss of control, his second, his third. He would not have been unacceptable, he would not have been taunted by his classmates, he would not have experienced such conflict that he had known his entire life. Spock resented this and all of its consequences, and he felt shame, deep inside, at what he knew was another loss of control.
But James Tiberius Kirk was not his father; for approximately three months, Spock believed he was worse.
James Kirk was not a selfless leader. James Kirk was not polite. James Kirk was not respectful of unbreakable rules, and he was not obedient to orders from superior officers or—as his record could attest to—orders from anyone, for that matter. He was difficult and stubborn, impulsive and emotional, and he raised his voice with an alarming frequency in times of stress or argument, much like an ill-mannered child. All of the positive qualities that George Kirk must have had in his life were not present in so much as one fiber of this new Captain’s being, and Spock—despite the words of his other self—was uncertain that such a man could ever be anything but a detriment to Starfleet and to Spock himself.
Then, three months after the destruction of Nero and just three weeks after the re-launch of the repaired Enterprise, Captain Kirk received a call from his mother—a call that, purely by accident, Spock happened to overhear.
The details were not important although Spock could recall each word clearly; what was important that there were tears and choked-off sobs, and the plea of an aging woman for her son to come home, to be safe. When that failed, she wished him luck as humans were wont to do, and they proceeded to tell each other words of love and affection that meant goodbye.
Before Kirk could turn around, Spock had slipped quietly into the hallway with a mental note to return to brief the Captain on the warp engine status and crew schedules later. And, as he walked quickly back to the main science lab, Spock experienced the peculiar feeling of an experiment about to go wrong. He experienced the feeling that, despite all odds, he had miscalculated.
Never in his many years of contemplation over the events of 2233.04 had Spock considered the fact that James Tiberius Kirk had never known his father either.
Nyota placed a thin sliver of fish on her tongue and chewed it slowly while she stared at him across the table in his quarters. Spock waited patiently, as he was well aware that she must have needed time to absorb what sounded like a very un-Vulcan statement coming from his lips. However, as all linguists had to be, she was extraordinarily quick-witted, and her response came just twenty seconds after his remark.
“You’re being too hard on yourself, Spock.”
Spock ladled his soup almost aimlessly, knowing it had gone cold. She had asked what was wrong; Spock had been unable to keep the truth from her.
“I do not believe so.”
She sighed and speared a delicate piece of asparagus with her fork.
“Spock, he insulted your relationship with your mother to the point that you nearly strangled him on the bridge during a crisis. I think a few comments about his father when he was being a normal, arrogant dick are perfectly forgivable.”
Spock deliberately ignored her unfavorable remarks about the Captain, aware that they had a past history Spock could not empathize with.
“No. His words had motive, and some semblance of logic behind them. Mine…did not.”
He sipped his soup while she continued to stare at him, expression alarmed. Of course she would not have expected such an admission; Nyota had known him on a personal level—as friend and confidant if not lover—for two years, and she had undoubtedly never heard him admit to such a failing.
Spock stirred his soup until the garnish on top became completely submerged, and he spoke quietly.
“I must make amends, Nyota.”
She shook her head, and if Spock was not mistaken, he believed she was almost angry.
“You don’t have to.”
“Is it not human to apologize for misdeeds?”
She held her hands out in entreaty. Spock normally would have responded to the gesture with the briefest touch of his fingers on hers, but this time, he did not.
Her confusion was painful, but not so unexpected. Spock himself could not explain it.
“It is, but Spock, no one expects you to reject your culture to meet ours, especially since…”
Especially since there are so few Vulcans left. The words were unspoken, but Spock felt them as much as he felt the vibrations of the ship and the cool texture of soup on his tongue; it was a simple kindness, but it still caused an ache that he could not deny.
Perhaps it was because of this that Spock found his next words coming more easily. Kirk had had a chance—many chances—to be as powerful a tormentor after the end of Nero as Spock had been, but he had taunted Spock only once, and only when it was necessary to save Earth.
“It is because I am Vulcan that I must do so. I inflicted unnecessary pain on another living creature.”
Nyota, who had read many of the tenets of Vulcan philosophy, understood the significance of that, and so she sighed in resignation before looking at him expectantly.
“Well, how are you going to apologize, exactly? It’s been five months since his trial; I doubt he even remembers what you said.”
Spock expected as much; humans never remembered irrelevant details, and Spock knew his place in the Captain’s life undoubtedly fell under the term “irrelevant.”
“Then I will rectify my error through other means.”
She looked at him endearingly for a moment, and then she continued to eat.
“Knock yourself out, but I’m telling you, Spock, you don’t have to.”
Spock told her that he had no intention of “knocking himself out,” and her laughter echoed through his quarters. The conversation was forgotten, just as he had intended.
For the next three days, Spock made an attempt to find means of repaying the Captain for his mistakes; unfortunately, Nyota had been right about the time lapse, at least in the sense that abrupt changes in character would be noticed and remarked upon. Spock wanted to avoid revealing the issue if at all possible, and so he calculated ways for his personal mission to be carried out without motives being questioned.
The changes were subtle, at first. Spock had always been a very efficient and promising First Officer, but whereas he normally commented only when necessary, now he volunteered information freely and without being asked. When he did his paperwork, it was in such a way that the Captain would not have to search for places requiring his comment or signature, and when he formally summarized Enterprise operations, he kept all irrelevant data from his report.
Although the changes were subtle, Kirk noticed enough to give him a strange look every time he made these efforts, a look that Spock only met calmly.
I’m sorry for causing you pain was what he said silently, and—as weeks went on and missions passed—the apology became different.
Kirk was not selfless, but he was self-sacrificing, refusing to leave any of his men behind even at a danger to himself. He was not respectable or polite, but he was honest, lying only to prevent pain. He was many things, both good and bad, but he was human, and a leader worth following.
I’m sorry for doubting your character.
In time, it almost seemed like his alternate had been correct. Aware that Kirk maintained a strictly professional air with all of his officers save the cranky head doctor, Spock made the move towards friendship first, initially by joining him for meals regardless of the doctor’s presence.
Kirk looked stunned by his company each time, but each time Spock remained where he was despite the silence, and eventually, they began to talk in hesitant phrases designed not to offend.
I’m sorry for the isolation you force on yourself.
Meals became activities; it took a bit of imagination on Spock’s part to find one that was common between them both, but eventually he compromised and learned a simple Earth game known as chess. He was surprised to find it suited his skill set, but he was even more surprised to find that it suited the Captain’s as well.
I’m sorry for doubting your intelligence.
As Spock had expected if not desired, the more time he spent with the Captain, the less time he and Nyota were together, their meals and conversations tapering off to three times a week, then two, then one. She kissed him goodnight once with tears in her eyes, and Spock watched her go, aware that at least in some respects, he had lost her.
Chess games became the occasional vid night in the common rec room, and Spock became aware, ever so slowly, of the fact that Kirk was always alone.
I’m sorry for your loneliness.
It took many months—thirteen—but eventually, Spock realized he was no longer apologizing; somewhere along the way, his motive had changed, but he could not decipher its form.
Kirk tipped his king over with a wry smile and sipped from the carefully measured glass of alcohol resting on the corner of his side of the table. Spock watched him, estimated that the liquid in question was whiskey, and raised an eyebrow.
“Do you wish another game, Jim?”
Kirk shook his head and scratched at some meaningless point on his chest. He smiled at Spock again, but the expression was strained at best.
Spock had wondered why the night’s game had been unusually short; Kirk was obviously troubled.
“No, not really. But…don’t wanna go to sleep, you know?”
Spock nodded lightly and reset all the pieces back into their individual boxes.
“I understand. You wish to converse.”
Kirk shrugged, and he swirled the thin layer of whiskey in his glass before swallowing it slowly. He looked almost…nervous, which was foolish. Captain Kirk did not experience nerves.
“Just a question.”
Spock inclined his head.
“I will answer it if I am capable of doing so.”
Kirk huffed out a breath.
“Okay. How long did you and Uhura date before you started doing more romantic things?”
Kirk question surprised him, and Spock blinked, wondering why it was relevant.
“I beg your pardon?”
Kirk made a vague gesture with one hand, his smile forced.
“You know. Kissing. How long did you date before you kissed each other?”
“Nineteen months, seventeen days.”
Kirk looked like someone had struck him.
“Christ. Do all Vulcans move so slowly, or is it just you?”
“I believe it is a personal preference, but if Nyota had desired such contact before, the time period could have been adjusted.”
Kirk nodded slowly, and then he set the glass on the floor. Spock puzzled about the chosen location for one instant, and then Kirk was speaking.
“So…if she had wanted to kiss you after twelve months? After eleven?”
Spock was too puzzled by the numbers selected to wonder if there was a basis for them.
“I would have accepted it.”
Kirk closed his eyes.
“Oh, thank God.”
He opened them, the blue impossibly bright, and then he smiled as widely as Spock had ever seen. Spock would have said the expression was dazzling under other circumstances, but as it was, he was too stunned by the sight of the chess table and its pieces hitting the floor while Kirk reached for him, hot breath wafting over his lips before their mouths met.
Spock pulled back, startled, and he saw Kirk looking at him with affection too strong to be accurate. Spock was not deserving of such affection, not when he had been so cruel, and when Kirk leaned forward a second time, eyes nearly closed, Spock pressed a hand over Kirk’s lips.
Kirk kissed his fingertips, and Spock shuddered and jerked his hand back rapidly.
“Yes, Mister Spock?”
The words came unbidden and unplanned.
“I am sorry for the way I goaded you during your academic trial, and the words I said about your father. I did not realize the consequences.”
The soft expression on Kirk’s face faded somewhat to be replaced with a frown.
“What the hell, Spock? Is now really the time for this?”
Spock nodded solemnly.
“Now is the only time, Jim. I wished to apologize, but I did not know how.”
Kirk nodded slowly.
“You wished to apologize. Wait.”
His eyes narrowed; Spock saw realization hit, and suddenly, he felt very small.
“You wished to apologize? Is that what you’ve been doing? You were only trying to fucking apologize?”
Spock shook his head quickly, and he would have reached for Kirk if he’d thought the gesture would have been welcome.
Dating—Kirk had believed they were dating, and Spock couldn’t say he opposed the belief in any way except that it was inaccurate.
“Not only, Jim. Not only.”
Kirk closed his eyes, and when he opened them, they were coldly furious; Spock was unable to prevent his flinch, a loss of muscle control that was highly irregular.
Perhaps the belief was not so inaccurate as he had assumed.
“Oh god dammit, but you can really be a cold son of a bitch sometimes.”
Spock stiffened in his chair, both at the implied insult towards his parents and at the way pain sung up his chest.
Kirk held up a hand, and Spock fell silent.
“Just get out already. I need to think.”
Spock swallowed and spoke quietly.
He stood, and then he slipped soundlessly out the door.
Kirk didn’t speak to him outside of the most professional of circumstances for nearly two weeks; for Spock, the feeling of rejection and despair was almost indescribable, and he only had to listen to the hurried whispers of the crew to understand that he had miscalculated again.
Hey guys, I think the Captain and the Commander broke up!
Nyota, being the kind and gentle soul she was, accepted him back into her life without complaint, but he did not try to resume their physical relationship and neither did she. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the end of their relationship, Spock imagined they were both aware that it had run its course. While he wished he could say the same about his interactions with the Captain, unfortunately, Vulcans didn’t like to lie, even to themselves.
The Captain was angry at him again, and this time, Spock knew it was not the result of earlier preconceptions or a lack of information; it was only through his own foolishness.
Kirk’s eyes didn’t sparkle when they looked at him, and they had, before. The thought stayed with him while he ate his soup quietly in his quarters, too aware of the voices whispering through the mess hall and rec rooms to be able to do so in public. Then, when faced with the option of sleep and his own thoughts spinning restlessly, unable to be calmed by meditation, Spock calmly set up the chess board in his quarters.
He played chess with the computer late into the night, aware that it was a poor substitute.
It took fifteen days for the Enterprise to land in a situation where Kirk was forced to speak with him, and the situation couldn’t have been less ideal.
“Oh, god dammit.”
A series of arrows whizzed by their heads for the fourth time in as many minutes; Spock forcibly dragged Kirk down, just in time for the projectile to strike the rock behind where his head had been just moments before. Kirk scowled at him, and then he pried his grip off impatiently.
“Thanks, Commander, but I can take care of myself.”
Kirk made to stand, and Spock, annoyed, yanked him back down again.
“Apparently not, Captain. I understand that you are angry with me, but that does not change the fact that you are behaving like a child.”
Kirk’s eyes flashed, and Spock reflected in some small part of his mind that the rift between them was only growing wider; he was simply too angry to care.
“Careful, Commander; you’re going to have to apologize for that one later.”
Kirk tried to get up, but Spock held him down determinedly while sharp steel flew harmlessly over their heads. Kirk twisted with a snarl, but Spock’s fists only curled tighter until Kirk finally met his eyes.
“Captain, you will not get yourself killed over this. This is neither the time nor place for such a discussion, but if you wish to yell at me, you are welcome to do so once we reach Enterprise.”
Kirk snarled, and he clearly intended to respond with what he thought of that suggestion when their communicator chimed to life. Apparently, the shield blocking their communications had been removed; Kirk snatched it and flipped it open.
“Kirk to Enterprise. Get us out of here, Scotty!”
The response was only static, but not soon after the command was given, Spock saw Kirk and his own surroundings disappear in a swirl of white.
As soon as they materialized on the transporter pad, the situation escalated beyond what the mission report had specified. For a relatively primitive society, they should not have had weapons capable of reaching a starship in orbit; unfortunately, the Klingon Empire was known for giving gifts of that strength to other planets when it suited them, and so Enterprise felt the buck of a foreign and powerful weapon before they cleared the planet and its system; another planet was declared lost to the Federation.
Spock had expected Kirk to take the time to fill out the proper mission reports before they resumed their discussion; however, it appeared that Kirk had taken him to be literal about when they were allowed to yell at each other, and so he dragged him off not ten minutes after they had warped past that system’s sun.
Kirk rounded on him as soon as the doors closed, but he didn’t seem to have much to say. At least, not that Spock could understand.
“God dammit, Spock. God dammit.”
Spock narrowed his eyes.
“Your use of profanity when stressed is illogical and tedious.”
Kirk snorted, and he rolled his shoulders like a professional fighter.
“Yeah, well, you don’t want to hear the words I have for you.”
“Explain why you angry with me.”
Kirk looked at him like he was being an idiot; it was not an expression Spock was used to.
“You know why!”
Spock’s reply was terse.
Kirk looked at him again, and Spock thought he was going to get angry, shout, throw something. He expected it, and he would have welcomed it over the cold silence of the past few weeks.
Then, quite suddenly, Kirk held up his hands in a gesture for “truce.”
“Fine, fine.” Kirk sighed, and he rubbed his fingers against his eyes in a gesture almost universal for exhaustion. Strain.
“You think you’re the first person I’ve read wrong? I don’t do relationships, but for some damn reason, I thought having one with you would be easier. Like since we were meant to be no matter what universe, then we wouldn’t have these sorts of fights.”
Kirk abruptly deflated, taking heavy steps until he reached the chair behind his desk, and then he sat.
“I thought you liked me, Spock. I thought I met some Vulcan standard apart from being my dad’s son. I guess I was wrong.”
Spock frowned, and he sat down in front of the desk.
“You are not your father.”
Kirk just looked at him wryly.
“Yeah, I know. I’m nothing like the hero of Starfleet.”
Spock did not correct him on his perception of himself; Spock too had heard the whispers saying that Kirk had only gotten lucky, that he was only a shadow of his father. It was untrue, of course; if anything, George Kirk was the shadow.
James Kirk was the sun.
“George Kirk was not a hero to me.”
Kirk snorted and stared at him.
“Bullshit. Even if you’re going to pull the Vulcans don’t have feelings crap on me, I know everybody worships my dad.”
Spock’s reply was quick, unusually so.
“I do not.”
Kirk only waited.
“I do not wish you to be like him any more than you are.”
Kirk laughed, a bitter sound.
“And how’s that? How am I like him?”
Spock stood abruptly, and although it may not have been welcome, he came around to Kirk’s side of the desk and gently touched his face.
“You’re brave, Jim. Confident, intelligent, stubborn, reckless at times, but a born leader all the same. Those are all the qualities you need.”
Kirk swallowed, and he smiled, the expression wobbly but real. Spock had missed it.
“It almost sounds like you like me.”
“I do. I find your presence pleasing when we are not fighting, and the sight of you pleasing at all times.”
Kirk laughed, and Spock felt lighter.
“Hot damn.” He paused, and the scowl returned. “What was with the damn apologizing thing, then?”
“It was a miscalculation.” Spock seemed to make many of them when it came to James Kirk, but Kirk just looked at him with forgiveness. Reluctant forgiveness, but forgiveness all the same.
“No more apologies?”
Spock shook his head.
“One more, Captain; I apologize for hurting you.”
Spock raised an eyebrow.
“I meant when I held you tightly enough to bruise your arms.”
Another smile, another shrug.
“That happens too.”
They fell silent, and the moment was broken only when Kirk petted his fingers over Spock’s hand. Spock shuddered again, but he did not move.
“Hey Spock? Wanna date me?”
Kirk looked at him in confusion, but Spock continued.
“I want to kiss you.”
Kirk grinned, the expression wide as he tugged Spock forward.
“Fine by me.”