Judee Sill – “The Kiss”
Love rising from the mists,
Promise me this and only this,
Holy breath touching me, like a wind song
Sweet communion of a kiss
Sun sifting through the grey
Enter in, reach me with a ray
Silently swooping down, just to show me
How to give my heart away
Once a crystal choir
Appeared while I was sleeping
And called my name
And when they came down nearer
Saying, "Dying is done,"
Then a new song was sung
Until somewhere we breathed as one
And still I hear their whisper
She marveled in the silence between them (and she knew Spock’s reticence was born at least partly from incomprehension) at his solid reality. He would always be the precious babe in her arms, cradled to her breast after such adversity in bringing about his existence. He would always be the curious three year old with a definite spark of mischief, as well as deep compassion for and curiosity about all living things. He would always be to her the little boy with tears in the big brown – human – eyes, so like her own, and the split lip after yet another run-in with the bullies. It had been so, so hard to witness, albeit at a distance, the solemn procession from the Klingon Bird of Prey up to the high places of Gol, and the grotesque bier bearing the empty form of the child she had borne.
Amanda shook herself mentally, and stopped to smell one of the fragrant flowers which gave its scent so freely to the hostile world in which it found itself. Spock watched her solemnly.
“I do not understand the human penchant for such illogical actions as stopping to inhale the scent of a flower.”
Since the fal-tor-pan, Spock’s intonation patterns had continued to be stilted, robotic. Amanda had hoped that the time he’d spent on the Bird of Prey with the Admiral and his faithful crew chasing whales and enduring court martial might have influenced his speech, if not his thought patterns. Perhaps, she reflected, she had underestimated just how difficult this must be for her son.
“Well, Spock. It’s quite simple, and logical. The rose smells inviting, pleasing to the senses. Its form is beautiful, and its perfume matches its appearance. It is logical to admire beauty, especially if that beauty is matched by purpose and form, is it not? Or at least to acknowledge it.”
“If smelling the rose is an admiration of its beauty, then it is logical to do so, wouldn’t you say?”
The gaunt figure considered this.
“It is logical,” he murmured, betraying only a hint of surprise. He moved closer to the bush, and inclined his head stiffly to smell the flower. “You are correct; it is pleasing.”
“Roses have been the symbol of love for Terrans for many centuries, I assume because of the perfection of the flower.”
“That is not logical.”
“Oh, I disagree,” Amanda said, smiling. “Love, when it is in full bloom, achieves the appearance of perfection, the feeling being beyond description but every bit like the sweet and gentle fragrance. To give one of these flowers – or many of them – to a person signified the depth of one’s love for that person.” She broke the stem of the flower they had sampled. “I think I shall rescue this one, and give it to your father.”
Spock raised an eyebrow, tucking both hands back into the sleeves of his robe.
“I do not believe he shall see the symbol for what it represents.”
She looked at him sharply. “That’s not true, Spock. Sarek is well aware of what a rose from me means. Heaven knows he’s had plenty of them over the years.”
Spock was silent a moment, and Amanda could almost see the thought processes involved in locating the words.
“I recall, on that occasion during which the Enterprise hosted the delegates for the Babel conference, Sarek suggested to me that he had married you ‘because it seemed the logical thing to do at the time’. If your marriage is, from his perspective, logical, I fail to see how the giving of a rose would have meaning to him.”
Amanda laughed. “Oh Spock, you have no idea. It was only logical in the sense that the silly Vulcan was smitten with me. Do you know that during our courtship he sent a bunch of two dozen roses to me, delivered to my place of work or wherever I happened to be at the time, every day for a year?” She smiled to herself, thinking of the warm generosity of her husband’s mind. “Sarek knows all about the logic of roses.”
“If that is so, then he did you an injustice in saying what he did.”
Amanda shrugged. “As I said to your Captain: He’s Vulcan. I knew the deal when I bonded with him. And in any case, I believe he was joking.”
“I do not find it humorous in the least. To suggest that marrying you was logical was not merely an insult to you, but also an obfuscation of the truth unworthy of a Vulcan.”
Amanda stopped and grasped his upper arm gently. “Spock, do not judge Sarek harshly. You see through the eyes of a child, through the lenses of your childhood experiences which I suspect you are still striving to assimilate. I have never once doubted Sarek’s regard for me, not in the slightest. In fact, its potency has increased with time and age – mine, mostly. Spock, I am getting old and frail, and you may not have seen it, but Sarek worries so about me. As I do about him.”
Spock turned to look at her with the first embers of concern in his eyes. Good.
They linked arms again and continued their stroll around the lawn in contemplative silence.
“I have recently remembered a mission during which the Captain, Doctor McCoy, myself, and an ambassador were stranded on a planet where we encountered Zephram Cochrane and his Companion, who at the time we arrived took the form of an energy being. We determined that this Companion was female, and was ‘in love’ with Cochrane. I recall saying, ‘Her attitude when she approaches you is profoundly different than when she contacts us. Her appearance is soft, gentle. Her voice is melodic, pleasing. I do not totally understand the emotion, but it obviously exists. The Companion loves you.’ My deduction that the emotion of love existed between the Companion and Cochrane was correct, but based only on observation. I confess, Mother, that I still cannot comprehend what is meant by ‘love’ beyond the instinct to satisfy biological drives.”
Amanda sat down on a bench feeling quite out of her depth. After some minutes of sitting together in silence, she responded.
“Just now I saw concern in your eyes when I indicated Sarek’s worry for me and mine for him as we age and our bodies deteriorate.”
Spock bowed his head. “I ask forgiveness.”
“No! Don’t do that. There is no need to seek forgiveness for feeling concern for another person, Spock. That’s compassion, and even Surak promoted compassion as the ultimate state for any being to attain. Indeed, my understanding is that the true embrace of logic in silence through meditation is not just about logic and control, but ultimately about the entry into the luminous darkness of union with All. And from the union of the individual with the All that is known through contemplation or meditation, compassion is a natural outflowing. Now, that’s quite aside from the fact that deep down inside you, you still have the traces of the baby who was fed at my breast, and the threat to the mother’s life, psychologically speaking, is a threat to your own. I know, I understand it; I felt similar when I watched my own mother dying.”
“Then my concern for you is because I… am connected to you.”
“Oh, Spock,” Amanda said, raising a hand to the sere cheek. “You are concerned for me because you love me.”
Perplexity twisted Spock’s features.
“Alright then,” she said, pulling together her resources, “then consider this: Was not the sacrifice of his son, and the deliberate sacrifice of his ship a demonstration of the profound love James Kirk has for you? What further demonstration of selflessness and compassion could be used to demonstrate that love?”
She was silent a moment, cringing at the thought of what the presence of this son at her side had cost that man whose eyes betrayed his pain in each and every moment. “Every time I think about it, it leaves me breathless, and I wonder whether I, were I to be in his position, would have been willing to give up as much as he did for the ones I love, for you or Sarek.”
“We were bondmates.” The observation came from a long way away, as though Spock were acknowledging a distant fact.
“In his mind, you still are,” Amanda said as gently as she could.
“Any mental link would have been severed when I expired.”
“Spock, I can’t speak for Jim’s experience. All I know is that he still thinks of and feels for you as his bondmate and spouse. He loves you, with all that he is and has. Do you know what he told Sarek when Sarek asked him about losing his ship and his son? He said, ‘The cost would have been my soul.’ Those are not light words, Spock.”
He was seated next to her, looking straight ahead. “I do not understand the emotional content of the Captain’s decisions.”
She shifted to face him. “Oh, I think you do. What was your motivation for going into that horrid death chamber, knowing that the radiation would kill you?”
“It was the logical thing to do: the ship was failing, at the mercy of Khan. Someone was required to enter the warp chamber to realign the reactor. I was the logical choice because my Vulcan physiology was capable of enduring for long enough to carry out the necessary work. It was a simple equation: the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the few or the one.”
Amanda shook her head. “Dig deeper, Spock. Why was it so necessary to save the ship? Were there no other alternatives?”
Spock thought deeply about this. “I do not know what you are implying.”
“Where is the beautifully scented rose in your past, Spock?” She paused. “When you have the answer to that, you will have the answer to the question of why you entered the warp core as you did.” Amanda rose. “Come. We should go in; they will be wondering where we got to. I’m glad, you know, that we had this conversation.” She took Spock’s face in both hands. “Never, ever forget, Spock: it doesn’t matter what happens in your life; you will always have a proud mother. I love you.”
He submitted to the kiss she placed on his forehead, and they went inside the house.
Spock was aware of a lack, an absence, which seemed centred in his deepest self. He could determine no reason for this: logically, each individual person was a whole, with a shared awareness of others. He knew himself to be whole and undivided.
How curious. He noted this particular avenue of thought, remembering the great difficulty of his younger years throughout which his human and Vulcan heritage had warred within him. Since his restoration, that old war had paled, a distant memory of which he remembered the facts clearly, yet not the attendant angst. Now, he thought he was perhaps closer to both his ancestral species. Emotions were not the fearsome things they had been, now wafting through his consciousness as breezes to be acknowledged and sometimes felt, but equally released. At the same time, there was no pride to be had in logic; it simply was, as though his awareness, having passed through the All, had been cleansed, purified, and shown what it most truly was – no more need for striving to attain the perfect Vulcan demeanor. The sensation of absence in his deepest self, in the wake of the conversation with his mother, was therefore anomalous.
Was he somehow missing a vital clue in a puzzle? Spock cast his mind back over the past four weeks, running through the time the old Enterprise crew were en route to Earth, the awkwardness of the experience with the whales, the trial in which he’d stood in solidarity with his friends who had laid down their lives and livelihoods for his own (Sometimes the needs of the one are greater than the needs of the many, he heard his Captain say), and then the journey back to Vulcan in a special chartered Starfleet shuttle, this time for shore leave before returning to active duty. He paused the moments of memory when Kirk would look at him with haunted eyes, on the point it seemed of saying something, as though he expected Spock to engage in a particular behavior or make an expected comment, perhaps. Never pushing, he never asked for more than Spock was able to be and to give. At what cost? Spock pondered this.
They were sitting on the deck area off the main living space of his parents’ home. The sun had set, and it was the time of day when the sky shimmered with luminescence before darkness finally descended It was still hot, and he and the Captain sat in comfortable silence, sipping cold water laced with plasavas juice (the Vulcan equivalent of lemon, only more bitter and more citrusy, if such were possible). Kirk was reading a novel. Or had been attempting to do so: the man was asleep, his breathing deep and regular, his book resting on his chest, his glasses falling off the end of his nose and slightly askew.
Spock contemplated the sleeping man. He remembered being bonded to this man, remembered the feeling of their minds and bodies slipping together. In spite of his protests to his mother, he remembered he had attached strong feeling to him, as his commander, as his friend, and as his bondmate. Spock’s memory of those feelings was as the catching of a delicate perfume which momentarily was carried on the wind before it was gone, elusive, and ever just out of reach. With some surprise he realized he still was attached to the man, although it was the attachment of habit and duty and obligation. They had been friends, and friends they remained just as he had promised: I am and always shall be…
Not mere friends, no. T’hy’lara. Spock remembered whispering it to his mate over and over in the throes of the blood fever, caressing the sweating human skin, the labored chest heaving with effort. He remembered thinking, t’hy’la! , in so many situations of conflict where they had fought side by side and bled together like the S’Kanderei of old. More than twenty years, it had been. Twenty years of living closely, breathing the same air. That had left a mark on the spirit, a defined pattern in the katra, Spock reflected. And he also realized he had no wish to alter his circumstances to end their association: they belonged together.
He steepled his fingers, elbows pressing into the armrests of the chair, and in the evening light entered the shadows of his deepest mind. There hovered the links, visual symbols, sacramental signs of the connections he shared with friends and family. At his age, ordinarily, he knew that place would be satisfyingly full. But his mind was virtually newborn, and the place was quiet. T’Lar had only seen fit to restore to him the links shared with his parents during his convalescence; those were relatively vivid. The connection with Leonard McCoy was especially clear, and Spock suspected that some of the ease he had had assimilating his human/Vulcan hybridity was due in part to the time his katra had spent housed in McCoy’s mind. Less substantial, ghostly echoes of what he knew they had been, were the links with the old bridge crew of the Enterprise: Uhura, Chekov, Sulu, Scott.
Beyond all these – it was difficult to describe – was another connection. It was like the others, in that it was not substantial. But nor was it tethered as the others were. It was like wisps of cloud, forming and reforming, shimmering in and out of existence, present here, then there, then in yet another place, yet present in all places at once and not at all. Throughout these tendrils ran the sense of inevitability; that if he continued to spend time with the being they signified, the link would solidify and become All, and Spock would find himself altered. So easy, it would be so easy to make real that which promised something more, far beyond the possibility of imagination. It would be so easy to deepen and strengthen and make (or remake) a bond with James Kirk.
And Spock knew in that moment with an unshakeable certainty that the bond must be made.
For he remembered that his words on Cochrane’s planet had become mere foolishness. He remembered what it had been to be loved by Jim, the quality of his love, its shades and hues. And in remembering, knew also that it could not be defined. Love of the nature of what had flowed through their bond was as little able to be described as… as… the meaning of a rose. He knew all this, even if the emotions associated with the memory were not present to him. He knew, and he remembered. And he recognized that which he had identified as lack or absence: the rose.
He quickly resurfaced to full consciousness.
“Jim,” he said, lowering his hands. “Jim,” he said a little louder when there was no response from the human to his name.
Jim’s breathing stuttered, and the honey eyes opened blearily, attempting to snap to alertness. “What, Spock?” He sat up yawning, covering his mouth with the back of one hand.
“Meld with me Jim. I would bond us.”
Now he sat up fully, looking at Spock with disbelief and dismay. “What?”
“I said, I would like to meld with you, in order to forge the bond between us,” Spock repeated.
Jim rubbed his face with his palm, pain and something like anger flashing in his features when he looked up. “You want to meld with me, and you’d like us to be bonded again. Hell of a marriage proposal, Spock.”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “I do not understand why this would upset you.”
“Upset me?” Jim got up and paced over to the balustrade. He breathed deeply before continuing. “You don’t understand why I would be upset. No, of course not. Of course not, having had the presence of your mind torn from mine when you died; of course not, having had to watch you but not being able to touch, or even permitted to speak with you after the fal-tor-pan; of course not, having had to watch as you clawed your way awkwardly through our last mission without recognition of what we had been; of course not. Of course you don’t understand!”
“You are angry.”
“Damn straight I’m angry! You can’t just assume and expect that after all that I want to leap straight into bed with you, be bonded to you, just so it can happen all over again! You were dead, Spock!”
“But I am now alive,” he countered to the unexpected outburst. Given what Spock remembered of their relationship, of their bond, he knew how happy and fulfilled the human had been, how happy they both had been. It seemed illogical to the half-Vulcan that Jim would not wish to reinstate that which had brought them both happiness.
“You do not wish to bond with me. Yet we were bonded before.” Something stabbed through Spock’s being. He recognized the sting of rejection.
“Yes. No. No, it’s not that I don’t want to be bonded to you again, Spock. It’s that…” The human exhaled, flummoxed. “Look,” he said, leaving the safety of the balustrade’s distance and drawing nearer to Spock, who rose to meet him. “I understand how difficult the process of reintegration has been, and continues to be, for you. I can see how you remember things, events, experiences. And I also see that while you might remember that you felt and what you felt, you don’t remember what those things actually feel like.
“You remember that you were angry or sad or in love. But you can’t remember the feelings themselves. And Spock,” Jim said, his voice infinitely sad, as though all his heartache and sorrow were poured into the syllables, “you may be finding it difficult, but I still haven’t gotten over the pain of losing my bondmate. Do you have any comprehension of what it was like to watch you die and be unable even to hold you? Can you even comprehend the agony of your mind tearing from mine? The healers have done all they can, but because my mind is human, they’ve only been able to dull the pain a little. It throbs in my awareness, always here,” he touched his left temple, “and always here,” he thumped his chest above his heart with a fist. “No, Spock. You are not healed, and neither am I. Neither of us are the people we used to be,” he finished, weariness lacing his words.
Spock was silent, considering Jim’s perspective. Something within him hurt empathetically for the human. “Jim, if we wait until we are healed to make this decision, we may be waiting indefinitely. You know that that’s not possible for either of us, for several reasons.”
He had vague memories of Saavik assisting him through pon farr on the Genesis planet, and was all too aware that this body would continue to experience that biological process for at least another fifty years. Eventually, if Jim rejected his suit, Spock would have to find someone compatible, or die. His body and mind rejected the prospect viscerally: the one before him was his mate and more than mate; this he knew.
“Neither of us is who we were; that would be true had Khan not reappeared and Genesis not happened. My mind still seeks yours. I am and always shall be your friend. That has not changed. Would you reject the opportunity to discover the dimensions of that friendship as the people we are now?”
Jim looked at him, his eyes brimming with tears of misery. For a long time he gazed at Spock, and then he turned his head, dashing away the droplets. “Sorry. Old man syndrome: I get all teared up over stupid – ”
Spock grasped Jim’s arm, reaching out, risking, laying the palm of his free hand against the human’s cheek and gently turning his head to look back at him. Through the surface contact he felt the man’s distress, the remnants of nightmares and visions of darkness and pain. His mother had spoken of the logic of compassion, and he understood it now. “Jim,” he said gently.
Abruptly, the man burst into tears, throwing his arms around Spock in a fierce embrace. Spock, shocked by the sudden movement, instinctively raised his own arms and settled them around the human’s back. Jim sobbed into his shoulder, alternately grasping fistfuls of his robe as if to chase away the agony of soul by force and pounding Spock’s back. Spock found himself rubbing soothing circles on the man’s back, pressing the warm body to himself. Interesting. This felt… right, that they should be in close physical contact. In spite of the unresolved issues, the contact was welcome, pleasant; the human’s scent, delicious and familiar. Spock breathed deeply.
Gradually, Jim’s outpouring of grief whimpered to silent breathing. They simply held one another for the longest time.
“You died, Spock,” Jim said, heaving another sigh, “You died.”
“And I am alive now, and I am here, because of your sacrifice,” Spock responded.
The human stilled and pulled back from him, looking at him with a puffy face. “There was no other choice,” he shrugged. “You would have done the same for me,” he said diffidently.
“What makes you say that?”
“Don’t you remember? Don’t you remember, Spock?”
“I did what was logical. I – ”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jim waved a hand impatiently. “The needs of the many outweigh the few or the one; you were the logical choice because you’re Vulcan; yeah, yeah.”
Spock was silent a moment. “I did it, because it was logical that you should live to command the ship and terminate Khan. I did it, because it is always logical to put the need of one’s bondmate before one’s own requirements. I did it, because there should be no reality in which James Kirk does not exist. Jim, I did it for the same reason you deem the loss of your ship and the death of your son a price not too high to pay for my continued existence.”
Fresh tears coursed down the man’s cheeks. Spock sensed he was not ‘getting through’ to him.
“But you still don’t understand the emotion, do you, Spock? You remember it, but you no longer feel it. You are not the Vulcan I knew, and not the man I married. How can we bond, when you do not feel as you did? That would be a travesty of what we shared. It would be for me like being married to the ghost of a memory.”
“I disagree. As I stated, I suspect that in joining our minds we would discover a remedy – you for your pain, I for my lack of understanding.”
Another pause. Something occurred to Spock, taking in the man’s body language.
“You are afraid.” Jim twitched, an encouragement to Spock that he was on the right line of deductive reasoning. “You fear losing what you had, and you fear the difference in us and between us. You fear losing me again. You fear being connected body and soul to one who you believe to be incapable of being the match he was. These are legitimate, if illogical concerns.”
“Look, Spock. I’m glad you’re alive. I haven’t stopped loving you – or at least, who you were. The fact is I don’t know who you are now. And right now the pain is still raw, you know? I’m not saying I won’t meld or bond with you. I’m saying, just not right now. I need time to know you once more. And I think you need to know me, too, and to know yourself.”
Jim bent over to pick up his book and his spectacles. “I’m going to go take a shower and cool off before dinner.” He left Spock standing on the deck.
Spock watched as the last light faded from the sky, pondering the conversation, turning over in his mind what Jim’s response meant until Amanda’s dinner gong chimed to announce the advent of the evening meal.
Jim had not appeared for dinner, pleading fatigue in spite of his shower and afternoon nap. But Amanda suspected it was more than mere weariness. Once the table had been cleared and the dishes washed and dried, she made her way to the guest suite in which Jim was housed – regretfully, for it didn’t feel right to her that her erstwhile son-in-law should sleep separately from the one who had been (and should be again) his bondmate.
She knocked on the door. There was no response, but the light was obviously on.
“Jim?” she called. “Jim, we missed you at dinner. I brought you something to eat.”
Footsteps, and then the door opened. “I’m sorry, Amanda,” the man sighed. “I’m really not…” He rubbed a hand over his face and through his hair.
“I can see you’re unwell. Perhaps I’ll just put this in the refrigeration – ”
“No, no. It’s alright. Come in.”
Jim opened the door, waving Amanda in, his hand flapping to his side in defeat.
“I’m afraid the heat got to me today.”
“Then you must drink this.” Amanda set the tray on the desk, and offered him a glass of water, which he skulled thirstily.
“I understand about the heat. More than fifty years living on Vulcan on and off, and it still gets to me from time to time. Now, do be a dear, and sit down and eat something.”
On the plate were some sandwiches and a green salad. Jim raised an eyebrow at the salad.
“You must’ve been talking to Bones. He’s always on at me about salads, the miserable scunge,” Jim commented, taking the seat opposite Amanda at the desk, and unfolding the napkin she’d brought into his lap.
“Oh, I don’t know. Long observation of my favourite son-in-law means I don’t miss much,” she said playfully. “And I know for a fact he doesn’t look after himself nearly as well as he thinks he does,” she finished indulgently.
He looked up from a bite of sandwich. “It’s good,” he mumbled through a mouthful.
Amanda smiled to herself in satisfaction; her suspicion had proven accurate. She allowed him to finish the sandwiches and his water in silence.
“I noticed you and Spock were on the deck this afternoon, talking.”
“It didn’t start out that way. I was reading and he was meditating,” the man responded.
“I see,” she said, and stopped, not knowing quite how to broach the subject.
“He asked me to meld and bond with him again,” the Captain blurted. “I told him no.”
Amanda waited to see whether Jim would go on. He didn’t, and the space between them was brittle.
“Why did you do that, Jim? He’s never stopped loving you, you know.”
“Really? He might remember that he loved me once. But does he actually love? Or is it only a memory of what was? I’ve been thinking about it for the last hour, and I can’t make head nor tail of it.”
“Does it matter?”
“To me, yes. It wouldn’t be real. Things need to be completely real. He thinks we should try it and see. But Amanda, you know what bonds are like. You can’t just try a bond on for size and discard it. You either bond, or you do not.”
“That’s interesting,” she pondered after a silence. “He’s not seeing things in black and white categories anymore, at least, not where you’re concerned. Doesn’t that suggest something to you?”
“What? So Spock’s thinking more flexibly.”
“Jim, that’s not something to be underestimated. You of all people should realize that.”
“Well, exactly,” the man said, making a sweeping gesture with his free hand (the other was stabbing his salad). “Proof that he’s changed, is different. He’s not the Spock I knew. I’m not the man he knew, either.”
“No,” she said slowly, folding both hands in her lap. “It would be a boring reality in which none of us changed in response to life events.” She flicked a thread from her knee absently. “Do you want to know what I think?”
Jim nodded reluctantly.
“I think you’re overthinking things.”
“But he died, Amanda.” Jim got up and began to pace. “Can you imagine if your bond with Sarek was torn asunder, and there was nothing you could do, you were utterly helpless, separated from him? I’m still grieving, still angry with him for dying. If I’m honest, I’m angry that he’s the way he is now, and that this… new reality has replaced my bondmate.”
“Jim, Jim. What if you gave the new reality a chance? What if you were to let the both of you discover, or rediscover who you are together? After what you gave up…”
He stopped, cutting her off emphatically. “Don’t say it.”
“I know you think Spock’s life in and of itself was sufficient recompense for what you lost. But at some stage you’ll be faced with a decision: whether to accept the gain as well as the loss, or to walk away and always wonder what might have been. Think about it: Spock’s the only person in living memory to have experienced fal-tor-pan. T’Lar had to spend days re-reading crumbling scrolls thousands of years old, and had to consult with the katras of the ancient forebears to grasp the essence of the rite. Who are we to disdain such a precious gift – the chance to know him again? If you can step beyond your grief and your own expectations, you’ll see for yourself: he’s still Spock. In some ways, he’s more himself than he ever was.”
It was a flash of insight in Amanda’s mind, and she saw with sudden clarity. “I wonder if that’s what you’re really struggling with: it’s not that Spock is different; it’s that he’s more Spockish than before, more himself, oddly comfortable in his own skin. And you don’t know who you are or what you can offer one who is so self-possessed. And you fear that his mind will be unrecognizable without him needing to depend on you as he used to. Tell me: am I right?”
Jim folded his arms across his chest. “He doesn’t need me. Let him bond with Saavik. She helped him through the pon farr on Genesis. She’s half Vulcan, and will live as long as he. What possible need could he have for a stocky human male on the high side of middle age?” he asked bitterly. Thinking of the fact that he'd not experienced his regular morning erection or any form of arousal (no matter how erotic the material he viewed/read in order to try to obtain release) he snorted derisively. “Old, and no longer virile,” Jim bit aloud.
Amanda chose to ignore Jim's self-disparagement. Privately, she wondered if Jim’s issues were more to do with his grief and the loss of his mate than perhaps he himself realized. “Spock doesn’t see you that way. Outward appearance has never mattered to him: you should know that. You’re putting barriers in place, Jim, and frankly I’m not seeing any good reason to do so. You know Saavik’s not interested in bonding with Spock, even if Spock wasn’t so fixated on you. And he is, believe me.”
“Yes, but… Are we still what we were? Or did that die on Genesis?” Amanda noticed his reluctance to speak that which was sacred, but knew immediately what he meant.
“From what I understand, the connection you had, which you surely still have, cannot be severed by death. Your bond may have broken, but that other connection remains.” She shrugged. “I don’t know myself; what Sarek and I share is a garden variety marriage bond. I haven’t experienced any other reality, so I’m hardly qualified to say. I’d suggest you take time to look deep within yourself; it’s there that you’ll find the answer to that question. And my hunch is that right at the moment you’re not listening to what your own mind and heart are trying to tell you, and have been trying to tell you for months.”
There was a lengthy, tense silence.
“Sit down and finish your sandwich, Jim. None of this is going to be solved in an instant. It wouldn’t do at all for you to fade away to a shadow in the meantime.”
Jim barked a short laugh. “That’s hardly likely,” he said, complying with her suggestion and resuming his seat opposite Amanda. “But,” he sighed dramatically, “I’ve learned it’s never wise to contradict one’s mother-in-law in matters of provenance.”
As Jim ate, Amanda regaled him with the latest gossip from Vulcan, as well as her Ambassadorial contacts.
“Do you ever get tired of attending endless functions and having to play the Ambassador’s Wife?” he asked, taking another bite of sandwich.
“I learned very early in my marriage, Jim, that just as in other avenues of life, often the real negotiation is done by the spouses behind the scenes; it’s the ambassadors’ significant others who really effect diplomatic relations, and who manage to achieve compromise.”
Now the Captain laughed. “Yes, I’ve seen it at work: the real power behind the throne. Pity the poor ambassador who lacks a spouse or aides!”
“Indeed. We laugh about it, but every conference which has excluded the spouses of Ambassadors has lasted longer, been more convoluted, and ultimately less successful than the conferences the spouses attend.”
“That’s alarming,” James said grimly.
Amanda shrugged. “I think it testament to the fact that most sentient beings in the universe are relational, and it makes sense that true negotiations take place in relationship with others at the most basic level. Unless I have established friendship or at least companionship with you, I am hardly likely to be able to see our commonality as a base from which to negotiate, am I?”
James swallowed the last forkful of salad, dabbing his mouth with a napkin, and laying it on the table. “I get the feeling you’re trying to tell me something.”
To be honest, Amanda’s mind was far away, thinking about some of the wonderful friends she’d made as an ambassador’s wife. When she hooked into Jim’s line of thought, a warmth of satisfaction filled her. Conversations could be significant in unplanned ways, she thought to herself.
“What leads you to that conclusion?” she probed.
“I think you’re trying to tell me I need to do two things: to let go of who and what Spock was and of my grief over losing him; but also to develop friendship with him again, as he is now.” He fell silent and pushed himself to sit back in the chair. “It’s funny. I think I thought that once we’d rescued Spock from Genesis it would be a simple return to the way things were. Thinking about it now, I wonder if the desperation to get to the planet was about not losing what was, when in reality what was had already died with him in the warp compartment. And anything that was left died with my son. Died with the ship as it burned in the atmosphere. I have to let go of that, because while my hands are full of and holding onto what was,” he held his hands up as if weighted down and clinging to something invisible, “I don’t have room to receive what may yet be.” He opened his clenched fists before letting his hands fall back to his lap. “That’s what you’re trying to tell me.”
Amanda smiled and got up, going around to Jim’s side of the table. She took his face between her hands. “Not at all, Jim. You just worked it out for yourself.” Amanda leaned in to kiss his forehead gently. She bent to gather up the tray. Jim’s hand on her arm stayed her from leaving the room.
“Thank you, Amanda.” He smiled at her softly.
“You are welcome, James.”
“For the company, the food, and the challenge.”
She nodded and left. As Amanda returned to the kitchen, she reflected that Jim's conclusions were a salutary lesson. She hoped that perhaps this might spark a new beginning for her son Spock and the man he had loved so deeply and completely for so many years.
James Kirk strolled through Amanda’s rose garden. He wrapped his arms around himself against the chill of Vulcan’s night air; a searing desert in the day, it was cold by night in the typical extremes of desert climate. He looked up at the peerless stars, their siren call as always lifting his spirit with a sense of exaltation and exhilaration. It would not be long now: he was due to return to Earth in two weeks’ time in order to begin the usual rigmarole associated with the launching of a refitted and re-commissioned starship, and to prepare to receive command of the Enterprise A. Launch was set for six weeks from now; it would be wonderful to be among the stars again, doing what he was born to do.
Over the past month since his conversation with Amanda Jim had tried to do exactly what he’d concluded. About a week later, he’d come out here, into the velvet darkness of night, found the area in which Genesis had been located in the night sky, and had performed a self-made ritual of letting go. Onto a piece of paper he had poured those things to which he had been clinging for fear of losing them, in spite of having already suffered their loss. He printed a holograph of himself and Spock as the young Captain and his First Officer, with himself laughing and brushing Spock’s bicep as he raised a characteristic eyebrow. Along with it were a holo of David, and a miniature model of his Silver Lady.
He dug a hole, deep enough that no animal would scratch it up looking for sustenance. And with infinite tenderness, he held each object briefly before laying it in the bottom of the hole, taking the time to farewell, to grieve, to let go. He visualized all that had been now there in concrete form in the grave he had dug – a grave such as none of his lost loves had known, not Spock (shot into space in an empty torpedo casing, only to land in the midst of the throes of an infant world), not David (lost in that same world’s dying pangs), not his ship (disintegrated in a puff as though her long years had never been).
There into the depth of the red sands of Vulcan he gently poured the grief and pain and anguish, the weariness and sorrow, all that which had filled his being – and consciously let go of it. He knelt back on his heels, and after a time began to fill in the hole, allowing the finality of burial to quench something within him. The irony that in some measure he was “casting out his emotions” didn’t escape him.
It was done: he stood, dusting his hands off on his pants as he stared into the expanse which was now turning silver and purple in the tones of dawn. After a time he raised both hands high above his head, open to the heavens, closed his eyes, and said, “Yes!” firmly to what would be. A wild joy (the joy that dances between the stars) began to spring up within him, the freedom from that which he’d moments before let go of now beginning to bring relief, a lifting of heaviness as the sun peered over the horizon, rising through the mists of night. “Yes!” he’d shouted, and then laughed both at his own craziness, and for the joy of morning.
He’d walked back along the ridge to Sarek and Amanda’s house, delighting in the fierce heat of Vulcan’s morning sun on his nape. Climbing the steps from the rose garden to the deck, he found Spock and Sarek eating breakfast. Both raised identical eyebrows at him, which caused him to laugh uproariously again, and the two Vulcans to exchange glances as if enquiring as to his sanity.
Now, as his bare feet wriggled in the green moisture of the lawn, and the scent of roses perfumed the air around him, he realized he was at a point of decision. Three weeks of living with, watching, and allowing Spock to be himself while trying to put away his own past perceptions of the half-Vulcan, had been enough for him to fall in love all over again. Yes, this Spock was not the old Spock; he was stiffer in his mannerisms, in some ways more reserved, but also paradoxically more… human, and without any self-criticism or the paroxysms of self-doubt which had plagued Spock his whole life. Amanda was right: Spock was more himself than he had ever been. And yes, Jim found himself inextricably drawn to the man, finding he wanted more. The question he wrangled with now was whether it was the right time to approach Spock and revisit the conversation of last month. Spock’s proposal had come out of nowhere, spontaneous. Had he lost the moment through his refusal?
“Captain,” a familiar velvety voice floated across the terrace, “it is unwise for you to be awake at this hour, given the few hours during which the temperature is cool enough for humans to sleep. You would be well advised to retire.”
“Why sleep on a glorious shining night like this?” Kirk swept his arm in a grand, facetious gesture.
Spock didn’t respond, falling into step alongside him. They walked several paces companionably.
“Spock,” Kirk began, hesitating to name the questions between them.
“Captain?” Spock prompted.
Kirk continued quickly: “Spock, the Enterprise is heading out again in six weeks. We haven’t talked about your intentions.”
Spock stopped. “Captain. Jim,” he corrected softly, “what is it?”
Kirk walked past his friend, his heart thumping. “I’ve been assuming you’ll be my First Officer again.” He turned to face the Vulcan. “I couldn’t do it without you, you know. I never could do it without you; if you’re not on the bridge, there would be something missing.” He stared off into the distance, seeing again the awful beginning of the race to save Earth from V’Ger, the reality that he was reunited with his beloved ship, but less than half of himself, lacking his best friend, the one who should be at his side, as if he’d always been there and always would be. “Up until now I’ve just taken it for granted that you’d be coming with me, but I have to – ”
“Jim, where else should I go, if not with you?”
“Yes, Spock. But would you be doing it for yourself, or for my sake?”
Spock raised an eyebrow. “Do not the two equate?”
“But – ”
“It is a matter of logic. The refitted Enterprise A will have better scientific research facilities than would be available to me elsewhere, combined with the endlessly fascinating challenge of space exploration. It is a unique opportunity, and it is logical that, as a scientist, I take advantage of it.”
“As a scientist. I see.” Kirk nodded slowly, feeling as though the wind had been stolen from his sails.
“In that respect, I choose to return to active duty.”
“In other words, it’s a good career move.”
“Precisely, Captain.” Spock nodded his head once. “However, there is another purpose: I wish to serve with a man who has proven over the years to be a superlative commander. This also is logical, as an able Captain inspires the crew to give their best. There is, quite simply, no other commander under whom I would choose to serve.”
“Right,” Kirk said, his spirit heavy. He’d honestly thought there was more to the connection they had forged (or re-forged) in the last few weeks than duty and service and career advancement and logic.
“Furthermore,” Spock went on, but he must have seen the discouragement weighing Kirk’s soul, for his tone changed. “Jim,” he said, reaching out a hand to grasp his shoulder, “whatever best serves you, serves my interest. Commanding a starship has always been your first, best destiny. It is most logical that I ensure my own interests are served by first seeing to what serves your interests, and as your best interest is to return to the command of a space vessel…”
“Then you’ll be at my side,” Kirk finished. “As my First Officer and Science Officer.”
“Correct. That is, if those positions are still available. I can provide references on request.”
Jim smiled, catching the dry tone in Spock’s voice. He was sure that subtlety of humour was a new thing since Spock’s reintegration. “That won’t be necessary, Mister Spock. Thank you.”
They began to walk again, side by side, and the night seemed warmer. But not warm enough. There were still many unresolved questions.
“Spock,” Jim began again, stopping and sitting down on a bench. He’d taken off his shoes in order to feel the cool grass wriggle between his toes, and now slipped his sandals on again. “About our conversation a month ago. The thing is I don’t think I could bear to go back with you as only my XO.”
Spock was silent a long moment.
“As I recall, I suggested that we renew the bond we had before the event of my decease. You declined, citing reasons that we are not now who we were before Genesis. Am I given to understand that you have changed your mind?”
Jim couldn’t look at his friend, keeping his eyes straight ahead, and tucking his hands beneath his thighs.
“Your mother came and spoke to me, you know. It was her suggestion really. I mean, not that she suggested I do it. But… Well, three weeks ago I finally said goodbye to you, to us. To David. To the Enterprise. And. In the time since,” he felt so awkward saying it; he was sure it wasn’t like this before. In fact, he vaguely remembered that Spock and his coming together all those years ago didn’t involve many words at all, but a lot of heavy breathing, passionate kissing, and frantic rutting.
“Between then and now I guess I’ve gotten to know you, Spock, as you are now. And I want to say I’m sorry for rejecting you before. Because… Uh… I never stopped loving you, but I find I’ve fallen in love with you all over again. And it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, because I know you cannot feel the same right now, in the same way. But that doesn’t matter to me anymore. The thing is, I was wondering if your request was still one you’d make over again. Whether you still want to meld with me, and make the bond. Because I don’t know whether we can work side by side again without it. Whether I can work side by side with you, without that deep connection.”
Spock didn’t respond after several moments, and that didn’t faze Jim, knowing he was listening attentively and deeply.
“I’ve realized that death may have disrupted what we were, but it hasn’t ultimately severed what we are. Thinking about it, it may even have drawn us closer, because we’re here, in this moment, with the opportunity to choose each other again. Spock,” he turned to look at the Vulcan, whose obsidian eyes hadn’t left Jim’s face, “I don’t think I could live with the tension, could live close to you without belonging with you. We were a unity for so long. These last months have been agony because I’d lost the other half of my soul. And with that other half, sitting right here…”
In response, Spock raised his hand towards Jim’s psi-points –
– and they were instantly in a shared mindscape. It was dark, and there was something like mist swirling in the space.
Spock? Jim’s voice drifted through the fog.
Jim, Spock called, waiting, for Jim would inevitably find him. Sure enough, hands reached for him, and he turned to behold the shining depths of his friend’s essence. He had forgotten… no mere memory could capture the sparkling truth of James Tiberius Kirk.
Perception roved over and saw through his own reality. It’s true, Jim thought with awe. You are… different, but… wow, Spock. You are so… vast, like a Colossus. Who am I, next to you? When did you become this? And you would be bonded to me? he finished with wonder.
Spock considered this, and found his answer in his own depths, mirrored in Jim’s.
It was passing through death, wasn’t it? That’s what’s done this… You’re more truly yourself than I’ll ever be. Until maybe I go there too. Although for me, there’s no coming back, Jim observed.
I would bond with thee, t’hy’la, Spock declared, and knew it to be ultimate truth, and that even the word itself, so rich, so full of promise, was inadequate to hold what it attempted to embody. His being surged towards Jim, but he held himself in check.
Yes, Jim breathed, a sigh puffing the tendrils of mist with relief, as though he were a weary pilgrim finding his rest.
Jim, Spock spoke, and his t’hy’la’s voice joined in, parted and never parted, never and always touching and touched.
Spock released that which he’d been holding back and his whole being pulsed. Light appeared, like an act of creation, and the mist shimmered and glowed and began to part. Spock’s essence reached towards Jim, and no longer substantial, merged where they touched without resistance. In the moment of touching, light pierced the mist, its rays shafting through and between their two minds, and it was as though all the stars danced and sang in high, crystal voices, swooping down, weaving a dance between them.
There, in the light of union, their thoughts and emotions were laid bare to one another. Spock saw the grief and pain, the agony of the crucible Jim had passed through, and the scars that had left in him. Those scars shone gloriously now, dazzling bright, trophies of victory. He knew again the touch of the human’s passion for him, which flooded and flowed through Jim’s soul; Jim was vibrant with it, now that it was renewed as they were bound together.
Spock knew his own being was open to Jim: the well-ordered memories, the new centredness he experienced in processing emotions, his own terror and the darkness of death which had been. He knew Jim saw his paradoxical knowing and unknowing of emotion, and he perceived that Jim accepted it for what it was, along with a growing sense of wonder.
Together, in the remaking, the recreation of a bond, they found healing.
I understand now, Jim said through the riot of colour and poignantly beautiful sound as of a choir of ka’athyra playing together. Dying is done. Dying is done, in every sense. And it’s not that you don’t feel what you felt before, Spock. It’s that you are what you felt for me; it’s who you are. My God, he wondered. And you are mine. I should worship you.
Only insofar as you are also worthy of my veneration, James Kirk.
And then there was no more place for words. For their two beings were knit together in a burst of powerful light, and they sang a new song, the new creation crying out its ecstasy, breathing as one.
They came back to themselves, panting. Jim laughed, a sound of joyous relief and heady excitement.
“Well, looks like some of my problems have been fixed.”
Spock’s eyes followed Jim’s to the wet patch at the human’s crotch, now visible in the morning’s early light. The meld, as was typical, had lasted a length of time disproportionate to that which passed in the temporal, bodily realm.
He raised an eyebrow, drawing another laugh from his newly renewed bondmate. “It appears I too am not immune.” The difference was that Spock was still hard, his body not responding in the same way as Jim’s to the mental influence.
“Spock,” Jim said, reaching a hand up to brush his cheek softly. Spock knew through the touch, and through the light in Jim’s eyes, that the human didn’t know what to do first, or how to express the depth of his desire for self-giving to Spock.
Spock, too, was unsure of how to communicate the fullness of what was between them. “Come,” he said, taking Jim’s hand and rising. He led the human in silence back through the garden, through the house, and to his own room which faced the rising sun.
Closing the door behind them, Spock turned to face Jim, who was in the process of drawing his shirt over his head, havingalready kicked off his sandals and removed his pants. Spock watched the process of Jim undressing, experiencing waves of familiarity at a sight witnessed so many times before. He appreciated the golden flesh made rosy in the sun’s first rays, the swell of bicep, the plane of chest (not smooth as once it had been, and not as firm, perhaps), the sturdy hips and thighs.
Jim moved to him, and reached up to the collar of Spock’s robes. “Will you allow me, bondmate?”
Spock nodded once, and Jim went to work undoing the fastenings which ran from Spock’s shoulder, down and across his chest to his waist. The human fingered the golden script and velvet onto which it was embossed, savouring the pelt. The bond between them hummed, whispering joy and thrill and hopefulness. With a small push the fabric fell back from Spock’s shoulders and pooled at his feet.
Next to go were the tunic and pants Spock was wearing beneath his robes.
“I’ll never get used to the fact that in this climate you still wear multiple layers, Spock, when I’m almost expiring from the heat!” Jim commented as Spock stepped out of his pants.
Jim reached around Spock’s waist to undo the sash of his undershift, allowing it to hang loosely before drawing it over his friend’s head. He looked at Spock, two of his fingers tucked into the waistband of Spock’s knickers. Slowly, so slowly, Jim drew the garment down, not taking his eyes from Spock’s. It was poignant and endearing, and Spock’s hands briefly caressed Jim’s hair in benediction as he sank towards the floor, and then rose again.
The Vulcan stood before him, conscious of his own nakedness. It was odd, having both countless memories of physical encounters with his mate, and yet knowing this to be the first time he’d been revealed in all his vulnerability – in this body – to another. He knew Saavik had assisted him through the pon farr on the Genesis planet; his mind had no recollection of mating with her. He was in the unique position of being ostensibly virginal again.
Jim drew close to him, his hands moving up to trace over his brow to the pinnae of his ears, down his neck to his shoulders, and slowly, as if striving to feel the tug and pull of every one of the hairs on Spock’s chest, over his pectoral muscles. The gentle fingertips flittered, as if seeking out features long ago mapped, familiar and dear – and no longer there. This was a new template, a new parchment on which Jim could scribe his desire, his lust, but above all, his love for Spock. And Spock felt this all transmuted through the bond.
The steady human hands rubbed deeper in the area between Spock’s clavicles and his nipples, massaging muscle, feeling its slide over cartilage and sinew and bone. Spock felt himself responding to the intimate touch, and wishing those probing fingers which dug into his muscle would move just a little further south – Ah, yes! He lost the ability to stifle a sharp gasp of physical sensation when Jim’s palms brushed and then pushed into his nipples. A fascinating reaction.
Yes, he remembered this, and remembered the jolt of energy which travelled to his groin as a result of such stimulation. And then – like a limpet Jim lowered his mouth to a puckered nub, Spock’s hands going to hold the man’s head, Jim’s hands sliding behind the Vulcan and kneading his buttocks. This was good, the raw physicality of the act delightful.
Having tortured one pap sufficiently, Jim moved to the other, one of his hands slipping down the cleft between Spock’s buttocks, the other finding the hollows of his currently dormant chenesi.
“Jim,” Spock breathed, welcoming it all.
The human began to suck and bite his way up Spock’s breast, and that too was incredible, until he came to the join between neck and shoulder and then began to give it serious attention. Spock cried out, the claiming almost too much for him. With both hands he grasped Jim’s head, and drew their mouths together. Enough of this sweet torture: he wanted to drink of the chalice of his bondmate’s body until they were both sated and yet longing for more in the sweet communion of a kiss.
To that end, he maneuvered them both back towards the bed, pressing Jim into the mattress. His mate arched back his neck as Spock nibbled and sucked his way up to the human’s ear. Through their bond, amplified by the skin to skin contact, he could feel the human’s satisfaction and desire for more of Spock, of the sense of being covered with his heavy weight. Spock climbed over him, joining their lips again as Jim’s hands roamed his back. Spock reached for Jim’s penis, enclosing it in the circle of his hand and stroking: gentle and slow, fast and hard, until his mate was moaning and drops of pre-come leaked from the tender slit at its crown.
One hand on a nipple, Spock rubbed his own self-lubricated organ, and slipped two fingers of his other hand into Jim’s pucker. He found the bundle of nerves, and began to stroke at the same time that he took the man’s organ into his mouth and sucked hard. Jim erupted with a loud cry, the muscles in his abdomen clenching and unclenching with his release.
Spock’s desire was building to a crescendo. His mate was attractive, laid out like this, wasted with his ecstasy. There were tears leaking from Jim’s tightly shut eyes, whether tears of joy or sadness, Spock didn’t know, his own need driving him now to claim. Another half minute of stretching, and he pushed his member deep into Jim, savouring the tightness and light resistance and oversensitised moan his mate gave at the invasion.
He stilled once fully sheathed and reached up to dash the tears of his bondmate away. Jim’s eyes opened and looked at him, full of emotion.
“Do it, Spock,” he whispered.
Spock reached for Jim’s face, joining their minds as he began to thrust. It was delicious, the slap of flesh on flesh as he pushed in and out, in and out, sometimes slow and soft, sometimes rapid and deep, a mix designed to drive Jim mad. In the world of their bond, in their joined minds, lights erupted in a rainbow of fluorescence as Spock poured himself into his mate’s depths.
They lay there a long time, not separating. Jim’s legs wrapped themselves around Spock protectively as he was still buried within him, and the Vulcan lay in the circle of his Captain’s arms. This was the entire world, the universe of stars and wonders reduced to this: the two become one.
They skipped breakfast, rising to shower together before making their way down to lunch somewhat sheepishly. They found Amanda in the kitchen with a steaming cup of tea, sitting and reading a PADD. She looked up as the two entered, and smiled radiantly.
“I take it the two of you… found a resolution to certain problems,” she said.
Jim looked at Spock, loving him, with a grin of embarrassment. Spock cocked a brow, making Jim smile more broadly.
“You could say that,” he responded.
“Mother, we are again bonded,” Spock announced.
“That’s lovely dear. I’m glad for you!” She rose and came to them, kissing them both. “Now, I imagine you’re quite hungry. Let me fix you a wedding lunch.”
She pulled out a range of delicacies. Jim admitted he was quite hungry after their morning’s exertions.
Later, after Spock had excused himself to meditate, Amanda and Jim sat with their tea.
“I’m so happy you’ve both gotten over yourselves enough to be able to find a way back to each other,” she commented.
“He is different, Amanda. He’s not Spock as we knew him. But… he’s more than that,” Jim breathed, feeling as though he were trying to give words to a holiness beyond all expression. “He may not remember emotions, or feel them as we do. Yet it’s almost as though he’s become something more than emotions. That’s doesn’t make sense.”
“It doesn’t. But it doesn’t need to,” Amanda reassured.
“I needn’t have worried.”
“I could’ve told you that, Jim.”
“Yeah. I had to find out for myself that what he used to feel for me, how he used to see me, his love… It’s like he doesn’t need to feel it because it’s what he is. Whatever he is, is towards me. Spock was compassionate before. It’s what he most truly is now.” Jim wondered again at how this was possible, and marveled that this incredible being was bound to his own.
“Treasure it, Jim. Treasure it, and accept with gratitude the gift that he is. I can’t think of anyone more deserving, you know. He of you, you of him. And I know that being with you will bring him great contentment and fulfillment. That’s all we can really ask for in life, isn’t it?”
Jim nodded and sipped his tea, his eyes on the half-Vulcan meditating on the deck.
Amanda watched the Captain, observing the devotion in his gaze. She smiled a small smile of satisfaction to herself and traced the soft petals of the rose in the vase on the table. Its scent wafted on the air.