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Inspired by Kate Miller-Heidke’s song, Last Day on Earth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhQ5seprs6s
I. I ache, I ache, I ache inside

***
James T Kirk, bold Captain of the Enterprise, was aching inside. It wasn’t just from the knife wound he’d sustained in the confrontation with the Orion disguised as an Andorian. In fact, that had very little to do with the knife-wound at all. The knife wound was healing well – Bones had had another look at it that morning and declared in his grumpy and grudging way that Jim was right to go back on duty from tomorrow. Sure, it occasionally twinged if he moved in just the wrong way. But it was healing. No, the ache he was feeling was bone-deep, soul-deep, one that couldn’t be fixed with bandages and painkiller hypos.

He ached, he ached inside. He ached, because somehow over the course of the last year he’d managed to fall, and fall hard. It’d happened at least twice before in his life in a serious way (Ruth, Carol… Gary, though he wouldn’t count that). He berated himself; he ought to know better. He should’ve reminded himself that giving your heart away always, always, ends in heartache and heartbreak. Problem was, this time that aching wasn’t just a broken heart – he’d learnt you can recover from a broken heart. This time, it felt like his whole being, his soul was broken.

It wasn’t even as though there’d been an argument or some definitive termination. The fact that there wasn’t an end, wasn’t likely to be an end, was a major part of the reason why the ache was so all-pervasive. For that circumstance, he had only himself to thank. And Spock to some extent: it wasn’t every day a person fell in love with and then formed a mating bond with their Vulcan First Officer. It might be Kirk’s fault that he fell in love, but the mating bond couldn’t have been formed by anyone other than Spock. And of course, Vulcans mate for life, and the bond – or at least, the sort of bond they shared – couldn’t be dissolved even by death.

It had started as an attempt at friendship. Actually, it was Bones’ fault. He’d been the one to point out both Kirk’s insufferable upstart arrogance and Spock’s snotty, uptight faux-indifference, and had insisted on knocking their heads together – for the good of the Enterprise. Huh. The fact that they were now the best command duo in the Fleet was all thanks to Bones.

“For goodness’ sake, Jim! Can’t you see what you’re doing? Yelling at people, insisting on your own way, riding roughshod over the feelings and opinions of others?”

“I’m the Captain; it’s my prerogative to do that. And you, Doctor McCoy, have no authority to say otherwise.”

They were in McCoy’s office, and had just finished a mellow drop of southern comfort. The mood was anything but mellow.

“Well, I’m saying this as your Chief Medical Officer, sir, and as your friend: that’s not the way to get people to do what you want them to do; and in particular, insulting Spock, cutting across him at every opportunity, is no way to get him to do what you want him to do, either.”

“Oh, come on! You razz him just as much.”

“And I’m not his Commanding Officer.”

“So? What’s that got –”

“It’s got everything to do with it. I think how you’re treating him says heaps about where you’re at, Jim.”

“But the man is insufferable! Always citing regulations, pretending he doesn’t feel, standing on some Vulcan moral high ground which is so infinitely superior to that of pathetic humans. Frankly, I don’t know why he hasn’t asked for a transfer.”

“Ah! You admit it!”

“Admit what? I admit nothing.”

“On the contrary. You’re annoyed, which tells me that Spock’s attitude is pushing certain buttons… And if I had to have a stab at what those buttons were, I’d be saying, Captain-sir, that they were things like insecurity, perfectionism, fear that your command wasn’t secure, and a longing for approval – all things that have nothing whatsoever to do with Spock. Face it, Jim. You’re the youngest Captain in Starfleet with a whole hell of a lot to prove to Command. You feel Spock shows you up, shows up your inadequacies. And that puts you on the back foot.”

Jim Kirk crossed his arms over his chest. “Rubbish.”

McCoy allowed the silence to stretch between them. He knew that Kirk knew McCoy was right.

“Look at what happened with that Pike affair last month. You believed utterly in Spock’s loyalty to you. Why? Because he’s Vulcan (as he says, anyway), and you knew coming into this role that you could count on him to be Vulcan, to be utterly loyal. But that doesn’t give you any right to walk all over him, to treat him like scum and disregard his ideas. If you ask me, the whole Pike fiasco was Spock’s way of protesting the way you’ve been treating him – at a subconscious level. At another level, it was Spock acting up; his old loyalty for Pike flared because in this new and unfamiliar situation with you, he missed whatever it was that he had with Pike. And that, Captain, is a QED: treat Spock (and the crew) well, and they’ll give you their loyalty, eat out of your hand, go above and beyond the call of duty. Insult them, act like an autocrat – and yes, they’ll do what you say, but they’ll do no more than that.”

“But –”

“And don’t bother pulling the ‘superior officer’ card, Jim. There is a fine line, but a huge difference, between autocracy and command.”

A length silence in which Kirk’s belly churned with irritation before settling a little. McCoy was right. Thinking about the way he’d been behaving, Kirk wasn’t proud of himself. They’d warned them of this at the Academy, that with each step up in rank there would be a period of settling in which they’d take a step back in their personal development before finding themselves again. He should have realized.

“So, what are you proposing I do?”

McCoy leaned forward, his glass between his hands. “I think it would go a long way if you could get to know Spock. You know, spend time with him, tease him out, get him to talk.”

“You, of all people should know that’s a tall order,” he scoffed in reply.

“Perhaps. But I also suspect that not only do you need Spock to be your dependable First Officer, for all his protests, that man needs a friend. If you can win his loyalty and friendship, Jim, that will be something more valuable to you in the long term, and more enduring than much fine gold.”

“I’ve tried, Bones. I tried playing chess with him, several times in the last few months.”

“It’s got to be something more regular than that. And probably something more private too. The rec room is hardly the place a Vulcan is going to open up and tell you his deepest, darkest secrets. They’re an intensely private people.”

“If this Vulcan is capable of opening up and telling me his deepest, darkest secrets. That’s a big if.”

“Nevertheless, you can be sure he’s got them, and got them in spades. Vulcans aren’t all that different from us, you know, in that respect at least.”


Kirk hadn’t been sure about that at the time, and now he knew that both he and Bones had been right: Spock had his deep, dark secrets, and he had deep-running emotions; Spock was also not-human, and his Vulcan-ness was alien and in no way could be humanized.

After that conversation, Kirk had gone away thoughtful. The next day he invited Spock to come to his quarters to begin a new chess tournament, ostensibly with the excuse of discussing ship’s business which couldn’t be done in the rec room. Kirk taught him poker, and persuaded Spock to attend the weekly senior crew poker games in Engineering. He discovered Spock to be erudite, well-read, and an incredibly good, entertaining conversationalist. He also discovered him to be an exceptional teacher – a result of a conversation in which they’d discussed martial arts and Kirk had expressed a desire to learn the Vulcan art of suus mahna.

The near-loss of the Galileo was something of a turning point for both of them. Kirk had had to face the possibility of losing not just his good friend and CMO, his Chief Engineer, and other crew, but his new friend as well. And Spock had had to face the fact that logic was not all that was necessary for command when faced with difficult situations.

He’d spent a lot of time with Spock debriefing that mission. Spock struggled to understand why his crewmates reacted the way they did. Kirk realized at that point that he was in part to blame; after all, as Captain he’d set an example of acommand style which involved giving curt orders and expecting immediate and unresisting obedience. To the Vulcan, that was logical (or perhaps, that’s what he’d used to escape his own hurt the times Kirk had overridden his objections). The one in command gave commands, and those who were under that commanding officer obeyed. It wasn’t logical to question this.

On the other hand, Spock came to realize he needed to understand human reactions if he were to effectively command the predominantly human crew. He needed to understand rather than simply write them off. Having been wised up by McCoy’s observations about his own attitudes in assuming command, Kirk observed Spock and drew a number of conclusions (which he kept to himself).

In some ways, the Galileo incident showed Spock up just as clearly as the Pike affair revealed the origins of Kirk’s behavior. All the way along, Kirk had seen beneath the surface: Spock had admitted to the war between his Vulcan and human halves. He had the power of human emotions within him, and he felt like any other man felt. Spock also prided himself on being regarded as Vulcan, prided himself on adhering to Vulcan norms of behavior. Kirk wondered to himself why there was such a war in Spock’s soul, what sort of conditions could have led to that state – was it biological? Was it environmental? Was it the product of bitter experience? Spock had once, under the influence of the water-borne pathogen on Psi 2000, admitted to loving his mother, and feeling shame when he felt friendship for Kirk. Why, why did he so loathe his humanity? Why did he so loathe the capacity to feel? Kirk could only conclude that a hatred of being able to feel derived from Spock repeatedly being hurt. The all-Vulcan act was an attempt to end Spock’s emotional pain. What else could it be?

Once he’d realized that, his heart had gone out to Spock. He regretted every harsh word, every jibe from those early days in command. Soon after, the friendship between them deepened as Kirk set out to help Spock at least understand human reactions in a less than pejorative way. Spock did open up – not much, but a little, enough for Kirk to glimpse the complexity of his being. And so Spock’s endless fascination began to tug at Kirk’s heart-strings.

Omicron Ceti III set them back. Belting Spock up verbally and physically was one of the hardest things he’d ever had to do. Seeing Spock happy and at peace, and then having to break it. And in such a way! He’d also seen the security feed from the transporter room, touched by Spock’s loyalty to “that man on the Bridge”, and at the same time being vindicated that Leila had lost out in winning Spock’s love (that had been an effect of the spores). But he’d been disturbed – not by Spock rejecting Leila, but by the fact that he was rejecting the ability to love, turning away from either allowing himself to experience it or to express it. That alarmed Kirk. If Spock wouldn’t love Leila, would he love Kirk? The notion that Spock would rather consign himself to a “self-made purgatory” made Kirk simultaneously want to howl with frustration, and run to Spock, running loving hands all over him in an attempt to persuade him to abandon his resolve.

For that is what it had come down to for him. If nothing else, Omicron Ceti III had shown Kirk that there were two things more important to him than life itself: the ship, and its First Officer. And he loved them both.

The sojourn in 1930s New York signed it, and the horror of Deneva sealed and delivered it. He loved Spock for the countless hours he’d spent putting together circuits with bearskins and stone knives in an attempt to ascertain how McCoy had changed history. He loved Spock for preventing him from saving Edith, painful though that had been. He loved Spock, the brother who was more a brother to him than Sam had ever been, who stood with him in his grief as they buried Sam and Aurelan. He loved the Spock who, in spite of his great physical pain, had continued unstintingly to research a way of killing the parasites. He loved Spock, who’d thought it nothing to sacrifice his sight (and his career) to try to find a solution before Kirk’s last remaining relative, his nephew Peter, was also taken.

Now, all Spock’s actions could be argued as supremely logical. It was logical to set history back on its course. It was logical to support the Captain and continue to work as the ever-efficient and strong Vulcan First Officer. It was logical to test the cure on himself, and it was logical to preserve the life of a child.

But somewhere in there, Kirk thought he detected the play of emotions, the motivation stemming from love. He was so certain Spock, deep down in a place he wouldn’t or couldn’t acknowledge, loved him.

Surely the wide grin that filled and transformed Spock’s face on discovering Jim was alive after his disastrous kalifee and that he hadn’t in fact killed his Captain and his friend, bore testimony to the deep emotions Spock harboured for Kirk. And when they had discovered that, owing to the quirks of Spock’s biology, the kalifee had not in fact dispensed with the blood fever, surely the way Spock had responded when Kirk came to his cabin to offer to assist – surely that proved that Spock loved him?

He remembered now his nervousness as he stood at Spock’s door seeking entry.

It had been a long time since he’d been with another male, and that experience hadn’t been… pleasant. And while he was in love with Spock and had greatly desired him for some time, this was hardly a spontaneous encounter after dinner and a movie. It was awkward, to say the least. But he nevertheless intended to offer himself.

“Come,” the mahogany voice said as the door slid open.

Kirk stepped into the room which was clouded by incense, the lighting low and red-tinged, Spock’s asenoi flickering softly in the corner. Spock had stood as he entered. He was wearing his black meditation robe – and little else, it seemed. While Kirk couldn’t see into the depths of the robe’s folds, it was open at the chest, revealing Spock’s plenteous dark chest-hair. He swallowed.

“I’m sorry, Spock. I didn’t mean to disturb you; I can see you’ve been meditating.”

“Captain?”

Kirk waved a hand dismissively and went to sit down on the visitor’s side of Spock’s desk, the ruined computer console evidence of the reason he was here.

“Spock, McCoy told me. He said…”

Spock turned away and began to clench and unclench his fists. “… that the blood fever still burns within my veins. That the human elements in my blood render me less than a full Vulcan, and therefore mean that…” he trailed off, the anger lacing his voice enough to express what he couldn’t say.

“We could go back to Vulcan, you know.”

“No!” perhaps said more vehemently than Spock intended, for he then softened. “We – you – cannot afford to miss the function on Altair VI. And should we return, there is nothing for me on Vulcan.”

“What, there is no one who would be able to help you? No one who would –”

“You yourself said it some months ago: who’d want to bed a filthy half-breed?”

“I’m sorry I said those things, Spock,” Jim replied quietly. Spock ignored the apology, trundling on.

“My parents had enough trouble locating T’Pring when I was seven. No,” he said bitterly, “there is no one and nothing for me on Vulcan.” Then he stood up straight as though resolved, resigned. “I shall meditate until the fires take me – or I survive. Who knows what might happen?”

“I can’t accept that, Spock. I need you – as my First Officer. There is no one better. And I need you as my friend.”

“Believe me, Captain. I have no desire to die. However –”

Kirk stood and drew close to Spock, raising a hand to the tense shoulder. “Is there no other solution? Nothing you can think of?” he said softly.

“Jim,” Spock remonstrated, turning now to face him.

Daringly, he reached up a hand to smooth the black silken bangs above Spock’s ear.

“Jim, no.”

“Yes, Spock.” He raised both hands up to frame Spock’s face, who made a small show of trying to shake him loose before giving in. “You are dearer to me than a brother, my closest and dearest friend. If I lost you, I’d lose a part of my own soul. I ache because you’re suffering, and I want to help alleviate that. And I will do anything, anything – do you understand? – to see that you live to remain by my side.”

Spock’s breathing was becoming more ragged, his eyes turning black and feral, his control weakening as he breathed in the scent of one whose compatibility had long before been determined. Kirk knew this, was counting on it.

He wavered, and Kirk kept crooning to him, until Spock suddenly snapped. Spock grasped the human, drawing him close, pressing him against his own lithe body. Kirk could feel the growing arousal at Spock’s groin, felt his own cock twitching in response.

The fevered mouth closed over Kirk’s own at the same time as a hand found the points on his face – and he was utterly lost in the magnitude of the being who claimed him, caught up in sweet fire and burning.

Four days later he awoke in Spock’s bed, groggy and disoriented, aching through and through. His body ached – he could feel the bruises developing nicely on his torso, his wrists, his flanks and hips and thighs. His heart ached for the Vulcan now quiescent and deeply asleep beside him, as he thought about what he’d seen in Spock’s mind over the past few days. And his mind and head ached terribly from the dear alien presence… That was something he was sure he could get used to, for while he ached mentally, the ache was far outweighed by the glory of the presence of Spock within him. Dimly through what he assumed was the bond, he could sense Spock’s utter exhaustion. But in that exhaustion was mixed satisfaction, affection, gratitude, and a quiet… joy? Happiness? Hard to say. Perhaps it was contentment, the contentment of a being who’d spent his seed over and over in the mating fever. Or perhaps it was something more. His own heart swelled and, gathering together all the warm feelings he had for this one who was now his mate, sent them to his unconscious mind.

Kirk wrapped his arms around Spock, who turned in his sleep and almost reflexively drew the human to himself, muttering softly, “Jim.


He thought he’d won the war at that point. He thought he had the prize within his grasp. He thought, now that he had a conduit into Spock’s heart, things would be different, that even if Spock wasn’t comfortable emoting in front of others, he’d let his guard down with the one who had burned with him in the fires of recreation.

He’d been wrong. So incredibly wrong.

Since the pon farr had concluded, they hadn’t shared a bed. The next morning Spock had been back to his usual self, the link between their minds shielded so that Kirk had only the barest sense of Spock’s thoughts, limited mostly to the sensation that he was alive. They were also back to the old rules: Vulcans do not like being touched.

Kirk grieved.

He also kept trying to persuade Spock to open the link, to sit down and have a proper, adult discussion about their situation and ongoing relationship. They still played chess, still sparred in the gym, still drank tea and talked ship business. But Spock shut down any discussion of their relationship. When Kirk challenged this, Spock said: firstly, that it was illogical to dwell on what had happened beyond his gratitude to Kirk; and secondly, that Vulcans did not engage in romantic relationships. Bonding and marriage was purely for the purposes of assuaging the pon farr, and in the case of male/female relations, engendering offspring. He further expressed a desire to retain the level of their association as it had been before the events on Spock’s home world. After all, Vulcans do not… Vulcans do not… Vulcans do not…

Several times in the last few months Kirk had continued to needle Spock. He was a red-blooded human male and he found himself with the dilemma of being drawn to Spock physically, and with the memories of an extremely erotic pon farr – but with no prospects of that being realized.He felt frustrated and profoundly disappointed, and he was angry that Spock refused to discuss the situation. But he couldn’t find it within himself to be angry at Spock; he was sure Spock’s emotional pain and stupid, stubborn pride were to blame for his refusal to meet Kirk, his bond mate, half way.

It was the encounter with the Companion and Zephram Cochrane that crystalised his need to clarify his standing with Spock. The idea that the Companion surrounded Cochrane with love, that she would take a mortal, human form in order to be with him and able to express love… Well, it got Kirk thinking. That action had been from a deep sense of desire and selfless love which was concerned primarily for the other – what other motivation could there be for an immortal to give up immortality? She chose to incarnate herself, taking the risk that Cochrane would reject her.

Now, why did Spock find that so difficult? He’d said down on the planet that he did not totally understand what it is to love or be loved. Yet he’d recognized it, recognized the behaviours that go with it. Just before they returned to the ship, he’d declared Cochrane’s decision to remain with the Companion out of love “illogical” and “human”. Kirk couldn’t help but wonder whether there was a subtle jab in there somewhere meant for him: Spock must know by now that Jim loved him. Kirk concluded from this that Spock’s eagerness to write love off as “illogical” and “human” was yet another painful manifestation of his own self-hatred. He’d seen inside Spock’s mind and heart as no one else had ever done. He knew Spock felt. He knew Spock loved. He and Spock had to talk.

He thought there would’ve been plenty of time on their next mission as they picked up the ambassadors destined for Babel. Not so: the tension on the ship was thick enough to cut with a knife. And then there had been the murder and attempted murder, the operation to save Sarek’s heart, and the battle with the alien ship. To say nothing of the fact that Ambassador Sarek and Lady Amanda were Spock’s parents… Nothing was ever simple.

The door slid open and he stepped into his quarters, relieved to be home after his sojourn in sickbay. He felt so tired; even though he’d been sleeping in sickbay and recovering from his injuries, no hospital is ever a restful place. It was good to be back in his own space.

He yawned.

He didn’t think he’d be able to sleep just yet; his mind was still spinning. He’d felt affronted on Amanda’s behalf that her son and husband had quipped – and that quip had a sharp edge to it, he was sure – about her being an emotional human. Kirk wondered again at Sarek’s declaration to Spock that he’d married his mother because “it was the logical thing to do”. Somehow it didn’t seem fair that Amanda, who clearly loved both men, should be so publically maligned, even if only in jest (he could just hear it now: “Vulcans do not jest, Captain,” which of course was a load of bull). He felt troubled, wondering how Amanda had managed all these years with two men who claimed to be unable to love or emote (regardless of whether that was true or not). The trouble was disconcerting: he wondered if he were seeing in Amanda a glimpse of his own future, only without the constant demeaning of “My wife: attend.” He didn’t think Spock would go that far; he was a Starfleet officer, after all.

Rubbing his eyes, he went to the sideboard and pulled out a bottle of scotch and a glass.

The door chimed.

“Come,” he said, pouring the golden liquid.

He went to the replicator and ordered ice which plonked in the liquor, and turned his head to see who his guest was.

“Captain?”

“Lady Amanda. What brings you here? I would’ve thought you’d be settling Sarek.”

“Oh, he’s settled. Doctor McCoy gave him a sedative to help him sleep; Sarek was insisting on getting up to go and continue his ambassadorial duties.”

“Like father: like son,” Kirk commented, grinning wryly. He went back to the bottle and lifted it in a gesture offering some to the Ambassador’s wife.

“Yes, please. It’s not often I get to drink alcohol; it’s all but outlawed on Vulcan.”

Kirk pulled out a second glass and repeated the process.

“Let me guess: Vulcans do not consume alcohol. And therefore it isn’t logical to keep vast amounts of the stuff on the planet.”

Amanda laughed softly. “Hole in one, Captain Kirk.”

“Jim, please ma’am.”

“Amanda.” She sipped her drink and sighed. “You know, for all the diplomatic functions I attend, I still find myself missing ordinary human company. Ordinary human expressions go right over Sarek’s head.”

“I find the same with Spock.”

“He should have no excuse for that; he was educated in ‘human expressions’.”

“Well, half the time I think he does it deliberately to wind up Bones.”

She laughed again, a soft, sibilant sound. “And he claims, of course, to have no sense of humour. I know better. I’m his mother.”

She sobered, and they both sipped in silence for a minute before she put her glass down on the desk.

“I came here to talk to you, Jim.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“I wanted to thank you again for what you did for my son and my husband.”

Kirk interlaced both hands around his own glass, leaning forward slightly over the table. He didn’t meet her eyes as he replied. “It was no trouble.”

“I disagree. You risked your health. That may not mean much to you, but I can assure you, it means a great deal to my son.”

His head snapped up. She had his full attention. What did the woman know?

“Oh yes, Jim. I see it: the way you look at him,” he looked away, “the way Spock looks at you.” She paused. “I had wondered how he managed after that sniveling – I mean, T’Pring – after T’Pring employed the kalifee. He bonded with you, didn’t he.”

Jim stared at her. How could she possibly know?

“Jim?”

“Yes, ma’am. We… bonded. He is far more to me than my best officer and my friend.”

“Then I thank you, as the one who bore him, for saving his life.”

Another silence.

“How did you know?”

“Captain, honestly. I’ve been bonded to a Vulcan for over forty years. I know what a mating bond looks like, what it feels like.”

She reached a hand across the table and took Kirk’s hands in her own. “I also know some of the challenges involved for humans who get themselves bonded to Vulcan males.”

Did she know? Did she suspect the troubles that lay between Kirk and his mate? Kirk wavered. Should he trust this woman… his mother in law?

“You’re not finding it easy, are you?”

“No. That’s one way of saying it.”

“Sarek and I did not find it easy at first, either.”

“Was it really true what he said a couple of days back, that he married you because it was ‘the logical thing to do’?”

She laughed a little. “I am quite sure, Jim, that in your time with Spock you’ve discovered that all manner of things can be justified using logic, even some very emotional decisions. Sarek and I married because I loved him.”

“Yes. I can imagine it would take very great love for someone to leave their home world behind, to forsake ordinary human companionship for a life of non-emotion. To live amongst aliens who frown on humans as barbaric and emotionally undisciplined. I don’t know how you’ve done it all these years.”

“True. It has been a difficult journey. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world, Jim. Not a single moment.”

“Well, I’m sorry he can only see it from a logical point of view. I still don’t know how you managed to live with him… logically… all these years.”

“You misunderstand, Captain. Sarek loves me. Sarek’s love for me is… indescribable.” Amanda looked like she was lost in internal reflection. “Vulcans do feel, Jim. If anything, Vulcan emotions are wilder, more passionate, more intense than those of humans. To have Vulcan passion and love directed at oneself… It was worth giving up everything to have that.” She smiled dreamily for a moment, and then her expression sharpened as it returned to Kirk. “I’m sure you understand. You do share a bond with my son.”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

The smile fell from Amanda’s features. “What do you mean? Did you not bond when you… assisted him in his Time of Need?”

“Yes,” Jim said slowly.

“Then you should understand Vulcan emotions.”

“At the time I thought I did. But since the morning after it all finished, he’s closed the bond to me and I’m getting nothing from him. He refuses to talk about it, falling back on the usual ‘Vulcans do not’ rubric. He said Vulcans only copulate when in that Time, or when they’re intending to produce children. He further suggested that pursuing romance was a human construction entirely at odds with the principles of logic, and unnecessary in any case.”

He threw back the last of his drink, savouring the burn which matched his anger and frustration. Amanda frowned.

“Amanda, what I don’t understand is why he hates his humanity so much, and further, why he chooses to take that out on me. I’ve wondered whether it has to do with how much he’s suffered over the years for being half human and half Vulcan; whether excoriating his humanity is a way of distancing himself from pain. If pain doesn’t exist to him, then he can’t feel it. I’m ashamed to admit that in the early days I and other members of the senior crew paid him out frequently. Because, Amanda,” he looked at her intensely, “I know that Spock feels, and that he feels deeply. He’s simply not allowing me to see it or feel it.”

Kirk paused, hoping he wasn’t about to speak out of turn. But as he doubted Spock would ever had the balls to say it he persisted.

“Just over a year ago we visited a planet on which a water-borne pathogen had wiped out a team of scientists. The ship became infected. Spock wasn’t immune. I found him in one of the briefing rooms sobbing.”

“Sobbing?!” Disbelief filled Amanda’s fine features.

“Yes. He was sobbing his heart out.”

“Oh! My poor kan-bu.” Amanda’s heart contracted painfully, thinking of what her son must have endured, and how frightening and terrifying it would have been for him to suddenly lose all inhibitions, all control of his deepest emotions.

“He was distraught because he’d never told you, his mother,that he loves you. And he said that when he felt friendship for me he was ashamed.” Kirk deliberately omitted the fact that that revelation had led to fisticuffs in which he had declared his love/hate relationship with the ship, and advised Spock against pernicious love. The entire subtext of that conversation had been the love they had for each other, directed as it was at other objects/people. Why couldn’t he have seen it then? What a blind fool he’d been!

“That doesn’t surprise me, Jim. The day you were stabbed he informed me that, even though he knew he had a duty to his father, the logical and most beneficial thing for him to do was to care for the ship. To my shame I tried to guilt-trip him, and… I slapped him and told him I’d hate him forever if he chose the good of the ship over Sarek.”

She let the silence stretch.

“I think you’re right, Jim. Ever since he was a small child Spock has been bullied and harassed for being who he is. Sarek wasn’t a terribly sympathetic father – that’s why there’s such a rift between them, although I’m hoping that this incident will go some way towards mending their relationship.

“When Spock was eleven he was sent home from school, his lip split, his knuckles bloodied. He’d clearly been crying. He’d also beaten up three of his classmates, who had insulted him consistently for 35 days, trying to elicit an emotional response because of his part-humanity. Sarek’s response was to sit him down and give him a choice between allowing emotions to control him, or following the Vulcan, logical way of life.”

Jim rolled his eyes, feeling angry on Spock’s behalf.

“Poor Spock. You know, he was afraid of his father for many years. Deep down I think he still is. At the same time I know he always desperately wanted his approval, and his choice to live logically was made from a very emotional place – a desire to please his father, to earn Sarek’s love and attention and something other than disapprobation. The irony is that Sarek is actually proud of Spock, proud of the man he’s become, proud of his achievements, even though their disagreement ostensibly is about Spock’s career choice. Sarek does love Spock, more deeply than I think he’d ever be able to express. And part of that love is because Spock is the result of the love that Sarek and I have for each other. Sarek sees and knows that, and he treasures it.”

“But Spock doesn’t know it, doesn’t feel it. And so punishes himself for being half-human and therefore lacking, not the full-Vulcan son he supposes Sarek would prefer. That’s it, isn’t it? He cannot allow himself the luxury of loving or being loved, because that would mean that whatever version of Sarek he’s internalized would be vindicated.”

“Something like that. But understanding what’s going on in Spock’s head doesn’t help you, does it, Captain?”

He didn’t answer.

“I’m drawn to him, Amanda, in ways I can barely comprehend. It’s almost like a… a homing beacon, instinctual.”

She nodded sympathetically.

“And there are times when I find my thoughts reaching, reaching. Reaching for Spock? I don’t know. But they always seem to smack up against a dead end, and when that happens, it’s physically painful.”

Amanda was horrified. “Sarek shields his thoughts from me, and I from him. But I can’t say I’ve ever experienced that. It sounds like Spock has attempted to completely shut down your bond. Do you have any sense of him at all?”

“I can tell he’s alive. That’s about it.”

“That must be rectified. He ought to know better,” Amanda’s eyes took on a look of flint. “He should know that a bond cannot be fully blocked for very long before the bondmates are affected. Tell me, have you had trouble sleeping?”

Kirk nodded.

“Feeling lethargic? Feeling depressed?”

He nodded again.

“Your appetite’s gone? But your… ahem other appetites are heightened?”

Kirk blushed. Talking about sex with his mother-in-law was just… icky. “Yes – on both counts. How did you know?”

“Sarek gave me extensive lessons on bonds and their nature when we first married. He taught me how to shield. Don’t tell me Spock hasn’t done the same for you?”

Kirk shook his head slowly.

“Why, that miserable… That’s totally unacceptable. Something must be done about this.”

She rose, determination in her stance.

“Amanda, please,” Kirk said. “Don’t… don’t berate Spock on my behalf.”

“Jim,” her eyes softened, “there are rules on Vulcan about the treatment of bond mates. Yes, you’ve observed some of the more… stringent traditions. There is a certain rigidity about male/female relations. But by the same token, there are all sorts of protections in place, laws and requirements which relate to the rights of bonded mates. Rest assured you are not just some sort of vessel to service Spock every seven years. Under Vulcan law you may expect marital rights, just as any Earth couple does. Besides which, if Vulcans are rigidly traditional, they are also obliged to tenderly wait on and care for their bond mate. There are reasons why Vulcan is actually a matriarchal society at heart: without their women (or mates), the majority of males would perish. Bond mates are the life givers. And finally, while logic and emotional control are rubrics to be followed and something all Vulcans strive for, within the marriage bond it is expected that there be emotional attachment. That’s why children are linked early – that their minds and hearts might grow together. Spock is quite wrong.”

What could he say to that? He hadn’t gone into this with the intention of claiming rights. It would never have occurred to him. Then again, all that he knew about Vulcans came from his association with Spock, and they’d already learned the hard way (several times over, in fact) that Spock could be selective in what information he chose to share with his colleagues and friends.

“Something else must be said: if Spock has failed in this, then the original failure is with Sarek for saying that bonding with me was logical. It may well have been logical. But at heart it was because the silly Vulcan fell in love with me, and hard.” She smiled radiantly. “It’s Sarek’s responsibility as the one who instilled Vulcan values into our son, adequately to educate him in those values. I’ll speak to Sarek.”

She turned towards the door.

“Won’t that put unnecessary further strain on the relationship between your son and Sarek?”

“What is logical may be uncomfortable but never unnecessary, Captain. And trust me, this is about his precious logic.”

Kirk grinned at her now, bemused.

“Goodnight, Lady Amanda. I trust that you will sleep better tonight, now that Sarek is on the path to health once more.”

“Thanks, Jim. Oh, and before I go,” she turned and kissed him on both cheeks, “welcome to the family, son. You will make a fine addition to the House of Surak.”

She laughed as his face heated, blushing, speechless, and he watched her disappear around the corner of the corridor, her laughter carrying behind her.

That is one plucky lady, he thought as he went through to his sleeping area and began to prepare for bed. He laughed to himself as he imagined the dignified Vulcan Ambassador receiving a dressing down from his wife over the inadequate Vulcan education of their son…
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