“You don't have to do that, Spock. Doris will get the laundry when she comes in tomorrow.”
The Vulcan continued folding towels as though his bondmate had not spoken. “I have the time to do this now. There is no logic in leaving the task for Doris.” He was protective of their housekeeper, and Jim knew she had spoiled Spock outrageously while they were waiting for reassignment after his trial.
Jim took the towel from his hand, pushed the dried linens back into the basket. “I don't think you need to be doing that. Why don't you go and rest?”
Spock looked at him, annoyance and puzzlement evident in his aristocratic face. “I do not need to rest, Jim. I am well. Why do you continue to act in this fashion?”
Stymied as to how to reply, Kirk waited for a long moment. What could he say to his mate that made any sense? How could he explain, without going to that dark place in their lives where Spock had ceased to exist, that his fears still mocked him? To that place that, even now, haunted his dreams. How could he tell this beloved being that he still feared that Spock might simply wink out of existence in the next second, this time never to return?
“I don't want you to overexert yourself. We're on unexplored ground here, Spock. You should be careful, the healers said so.”
Spock looked at him with an expression that reminded Kirk of a laser pointer. “No, that is not the reason.”
Knowing he had been caught in a half-truth, Kirk hesitated yet again. Somehow he had expected things to be easier than this. When he had retrieved Spock's reanimated body and had learned of the possibility of the fal-tor-pan, he could not have been happier. To have his beloved Spock back in his life and secure in his arms seemed to be the greatest boon possible.
But it was not as easy as it had been. Where before they had flowed together, finishing one another's sentences, anticipating the other's needs, now they bumped and clanked along together, grinding like stones tumbling down a slope. The ease with which they had come together was missing, perhaps irretrievably, and he feared what would come of them if that were the case.
“I'm still worried about you, OK? I don't want anything to hurt you or harm you in any way.”
Spock's expression was vaguely puzzled. “I do not understand. It is the nature of being that negatives such as harm or pain may come to a being. To exist in the absence of these things is...”
“...not logical. I know, Spock. I know. But I am an emotional human, and I lost my mate.” At the Vulcan's bland expression, he continued, “I know you don't remember, but I watched you die. Die, Spock! I stood outside that containment chamber knowing that you were dying, and I couldn't open the door, I couldn't touch you. There were others there. I had to think of them, too. If it had been only me, I would have opened that door anyway, would have come to your side and died then and there with you.”
“That is not logical.”
This felt like the beginning, the first months of their professional relationship. He should not have had to do this yet again, should not be dealing with the issues that lay between them over a decade earlier, but he was and he would. It wasn't Spock's fault. The healers had only restored those memories they saw as necessary – his knowledge base, his cultural touchstones, his logic, of course. Human experiences, they had intoned, were of no significance to them. When Spock was sufficiently recovered to meld with the humans in his life, he could receive those memories then and only then, they had directed.
Except that no one seemed to be sure when that might be. Spock's katra, they had ruled, must be firmly in sync with the regenerated body prior to any melds, any psychic contact of any kind. So they waited, the knowledge gaps lying between them, the relationship that had once been so seamless, so perfect, a smoking ruin of itself.
Spock, of course, was the one to make the first move. That much, it seemed, had not changed. “Jim, I do not have an appropriate frame of reference regarding my death. The few memories that I retain are, of necessity, sparse and confused. If my failures in this area cause you discomfort, I wish to apologize.”
Such a generous spirit. Just when Kirk was sure that they are lost, Spock said or did something like this, and then going back seemed, even if it was only for a moment, not only possible but likely. He said, “Spock, I love you and I want you. Don't take the responsibility for our problems on your shoulders. It is me, my selfishness, my need for you that makes it so hard for me to wait.” To demonstrate, he moved behind Spock, leaned into the Vulcan's back, and slid his arms around the narrow waist, attaching himself firmly to his bondmate's body.
“I regret your unhappiness, Jim.”
“Don't start again. It's not your fault.”
Spock turned in his arms, leaned into an embrace, his head leaning lightly on his bondmate's shoulder. “You are my mate, Jim. That makes it my responsibility.”
“I love you.”
“As I love you.” Spock reached up to push back the unruly brown hair. “Do not despair, Jim. We have beaten the odds before.”
“Yes, we have, haven't we?” He gave his bondmate such a bear hug that it threatened to take his breath with its strength.
Changing the subject, Spock said, “I do have one request of you, Jim. There is something I have been meaning to ask.”
“What is that?” His mood is lighter now but not playful.
“I have found some objects that are unfamiliar to me in the residence. I do not know their purpose. Perhaps you could enlighten me?”
“Certainly. What are they?”
Spock moved to a second basket, retrieved a leash and collar, a slightly used chew toy. “These appear to belong to an animal, possibly a canine. I do not know what they are doing here.”
Spot. He didn't remember Spot. It was another adjustment, another bump for Kirk to steer his bondmate through, one that he found himself unreasonably reluctant to do. That rainy afternoon, Spock's lateness, his appearance with the filthy, frightened dog. And later, that last night before the training cruise, Spock coughing, moving to the living area where he slept in the firelight with Spot. He had been so damned beautiful like that, the light highlighting his angular face, burnishing the pale skin with gold. It had been one of Kirk's most treasured memories as he prepared to face life without Spock.
And Spock didn't remember.
Suddenly, it was all too much. Again. He remembered the sterility of the vet's office, the wagging greeting Spot had bestowed on him, and the feel of the small, warm body as it had cooled in his hands. The feeling that he had not been able to endure with Spock because the Vulcan had been irradiated and had to be decontaminated first. Too much. Just too much to bear.
Tears prickled his eyes, smarting more and more as he looked at the objects. He could sense Spock's puzzlement, could tell that the Vulcan would ask another question momentarily. His tears escaped his eyelids, coursed down his cheeks, and were joined by an embarrassing amount of snot.
Spock's dark eyes troubled and confused.
“What is it, Jim?”
He should be stronger, he had to be stronger, but he had held his tears and his grief too long. His emotions would be expressed, whether it was a good time or not. Whether he wanted them to be expressed at this time or not.
Warm, comforting arms encircled him. Spock's deep voice sought to comfort him although for just this moment Jim was beyond words. For moment, he longed to put down his burden, not to be the captain, not to be the human interpreter for his Vulcan bondmate. Simply to be Jim Kirk who had paid a price for his hubris, who had learned what it is to pay for your errors with your dearest blood, who had finally been forced to face death.
After long moments, he regained his composure. His sobs began to subside, and as he came back to an embarrassed focus he realized something else. There was something within him that had not been there a few moments before. A tingling, warm, loving sense that he had longed to have back in his life for these long months. The bond. He had the bond back.
But Spock was not supposed to use his abilities. Kirk turned guiltily, horrified that through his weakness his mate may have been damaged. Spock regarded him with a warmth and affection that he had not seen for a long time.
“We did. Our physical proximity led to a spontaneous bond.” Spock smiled, a real, genuine smile. “I can feel you within me, Jim.”
“And you within me.” He frowned. “We're not supposed to do that yet.”
Spock drew himself to his impressive height, cast a fond eye on his bondmate. “I have found in the past that what my people sometimes expected of me was not necessarily what I delivered. I am well and have experienced no damage from the meld.”
Kirk sighed deeply. “I am so glad. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm home again, Spock. You are my home.”
“And you are mine, Jim.” He looked at the objects he had shown his bondmate so that affected him. “These objects trouble you, Jim. I would like to learn more of them.”
“It's not the objects. It's the memories attached to them.”
“I would know more.”
Jim smiled at him, anxious to share this and other memories with his bondmate. “Then let me show you about Spot and how she came into our lives one rainy afternoon.” He grinned wickedly. “Then maybe later I can show you the vid and punish you all over again for being such a bad boy.”
Spock was uncertain but showed his willingness once again to be led. “Very well, Jim. We will start with those memories, and we will make many others.”
Jim sighed with contentment as a long, pale hand reached for his face.
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the boys. I only take them out and play with them. No money for my puny retirement is being made by this activity.
“You don't have to do that, Spock. Doris will get the laundry when she comes in tomorrow.”
Thank you for reading the Spot series and giving me reviews. I hope that my readers who wanted a happy ending are satisfied with this happier, unplanned fourth story.