Ragdoll (ragdoll987) wrote,
Ragdoll
ragdoll987

Breaking Points - Chapter Eight

Title: Breaking Points
Author: Ragdoll
Pairing: Kirk/Spock Pre-slash, mentions of Spock/Uhura
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine, more's the pity.

Summary: When the Enterprise is asked to transport Vulcan colonists to their new home, Spock Prime comes with them. His presence changes everything – and leads to life-altering revelations for Jim and Spock. A story about growth, self-discovery, and new beginnings.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven

Breaking Points
Chapter Eight

By: Ragdoll / Keshka

Summary: Where someone has a bit of an epiphany and the act of gift-giving has unexpected - or are they expected? - consequences.


The next day, Jim took to his duties like a man on a mission.  Which, he was, obviously, but this mission had nothing to do with Starfleet.  Determined to spend the last remaining evening of this voyage with his new (old?) friend, he finished up his bridge duties in record time, delegating anything that didn’t need immediate attention to the evening shift.  He prudently resisted being roped into more maintenance work (mostly by not budging from the bridge until the last possible moment), and made it a point to send Scotty a private message to fix his cabin closet, with a special request that the chief engineer see to it personally.  It took him a Herculean effort to keep his voice smooth and steady for that one. 

Though he was admittedly impatient to catch the Ambassador before the dinner hour, when dayshift came to an end, Jim made himself swing by Sickbay first for a quick chat with Bones.  He felt a little bad about the fact that he’d basically been ignoring his friend for the entire last week.

He made sure to sneak into the medical bay with his best efforts at stealth; the better to position himself behind the doctor and the nurse chatting with him, and roar in his ear obnoxiously.

“Bones!  There you are!”  His friend leapt about a foot in the air and ended up half on top of the desk, fumbling wildly for whatever instrument he’d nearly crushed in his sudden flail.  The nurse looked appropriately scandalized.

Jim contentedly let him go on for a moment, drinking in his indignant sputtering, before bellowing, “I haven’t been threatened with hypo-related-injury in at least a week, man!  Have you developed some new Jim Kirk related allergy I should know about?  They say overexposure helps with acclimatization you know!”

“Jim!  What the hell are you doing!  Lower your voice; are you trying to blow my eardrums?”

“Yes!” the captain insisted loudly.

“Well, it’s working!  Shut up!”  The doctor turned toward the young woman, softening his voice into its more professional mien.  Behind him, Jim made sure to pout attractively at the pretty blond, contorting his face into a caricature of woebegone misery at his undeservedly harsh reception.  He could see the corner of her mouth twitch, though she ignored his antics after that. 

“Nurse Chapel, the captain and I will be in my office, planning the date for his next set of viral inoculations – especially the ones he doesn’t actually need.  If you hear any screaming, don’t worry about it.  It’s probably just me being driven over the edge of sanity.”

“Yes, Doctor,” she demurred, carefully not looking in the direction of her commanding officer, who was busy making rude faces at McCoy’s back.  They vanished accordingly when the doctor swung around, hustling the other man out of the treatment room with a few well-placed shoves.

“Jim, when you got promoted – a decision that still haunts my nightmares, by the way – did it ever occur to you that you might need to develop, oh, I don’t know… some level of maturity?”

“No,” Jim admitted, eyeing him like this was the most ridiculous idea he’d ever heard.  “Was that actually a requirement?  Pretty sure I missed that memo.”

“I think it’s more of an unwritten expectation.”

“Well, then I guess I’m off the hook; can’t follow rules that aren’t recorded anywhere, can I?”

“Oh, for God’s sake.”

It went on that way for a good ten minutes, the banter both familiar and comfortable.  Their friendship was one of mutual benefit, really, since Jim never seemed to tire of winding his friend up, and McCoy never seemed to tire of being baited into fits of temper. 

Eventually the humor gave way to a general discussion about their Vulcan passengers, of whom McCoy had nothing but minor grumblings – they were, after all, Vulcans.  But while his commentary on their guests was grudgingly free of criticism, he did grouch quite convincingly at the captain’s suspiciously busy schedule.

“Got a hot date, Jim?”

Jim grinned, delighted to think of what his friend would say if he only knew the truth.  “Oh, nothing like that Bones.  This is all business.”  Half business, anyway.  Maybe closer to a quarter business.

“And I’m the king of England.  I know that look.  Who is she?”

Jim laughed outright, shaking an admonishing finger at his friend.  “You know something doctor, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were jealous!”

“Jealous!  Like I’d want anything to do with any woman who could be fooled by you batting your lashes at them like you’ve got Orion sand-mites in your eyes –“

He bid his friend good night, walking away with a jaunt in his step and a whistle in his mouth.  The irony of it was that in another time, another life, where the person on the other side of this dinner wasn’t about one hundred and thirty years his senior, it really just might have been a date.  From everything he’d observed so far, this older version of Spock certainly seemed to care about his Jim Kirk – and by association, this Jim Kirk – with a depth of feeling that the captain had rarely seen before, in anyone, or between any two people.  Maybe Bones was right, in a very vague and nonsensical way; maybe this wasn’t exactly a date, but maybe this was more like a date than it wasn’t like a date.  Aside from the butterflies in his stomach, which had somehow been present just yesterday but were gone today.  Oh, and the lack of sexual attraction.

But what’s sex anyway, he wondered, except a little release of tension and a damn lot of fun?  It definitely wasn’t everything.  He’d like to think that in the event of finding a partnership of that depth, he could be open-minded enough that the physical aspects of a union wouldn’t be the first things to come to mind.

He smiled ruefully, knowing himself well enough to call his own bullshit when it became obvious.  Of course the physical aspects would be one of the first things on his mind; they’d probably be the first things on his mind, actually.  Sex was, however base and, ahem, ‘illogical’, still an enormous and essential part of his life; he was Human, he was male, and he was still young, after all.  He firmly believed that it would take a better man than him to give it up just like that! 

It was just unfortunate that about the time he was finally getting a first-hand education in love – an emotion he’d never really put much stock in before a certain telepathic Ambassador had bowled him over with it – his lust was kicking up into overdrive and fixating on completely inappropriate targets.  Targets like his first officer, for example, who was most definitely off limits, and uninterested, no matter how much Jim’s subconscious might wish otherwise (with maybe a teeny tiny bit of the not-so-subconscious part, too).

But there would be time enough to worry about all that later.  He had a dinner (date) to enjoy, and set off without another thought, to do just that.

~*~

Jim might have been interested to know that the first officer he’d considered so far out of his reach was not as completely unaffected as he had believed.  And that in fact, indifference was the furthest thing from Spock’s mind at shift’s end, when he’d watched his captain hurry cheerfully away from the bridge to meet the man whom he knew to be his older, more experienced self. 

He’d been in the midst of clearing his station for the night when Jim had passed him on his way to the turbolift, exuding an unmistakable air of impatience and enthusiasm.  The sight of his excitement had left Spock unexpectedly cold, and with the confusing and utterly baseless need to intervene in some way.  For the few seconds it took the turbolift to arrive, he had to ruthlessly suppress the inconvenient urge to waylay Jim with the duty roster for the next day, as a temporary measure of disrupting his plans.  Such an action would have been most illogical, and perhaps even somewhat contemptible; even more disturbing was the rather large portion of his mind that insisted he disregard this reasoning and accede to his impulses without delay.

Though it was unproductive and entirely outside the realm of his concern, Spock found that he could not help but wonder what secrets might be shared between the captain and his dinner companion tonight.  What they might discuss in casual conversation, and what his older self might say to the Human that would draw another smile to that face.  If his captain would confide something to the Ambassador, something that should have been his, Spock’s, right to know, by virtue of being from the correct timeline for this Jim Kirk. 

And at the center of these numerous questions there lay one that he hesitated to admit considering, even to himself, as he did not like to believe that he was as prone to envy or avarice as his Human shipmates.  But this focal concern suggested otherwise, as nothing about Jim’s evening proclivities disturbed him more than the idea that his captain and his older self would share thoughts again, meld again, in that most intimate of Vulcan embraces.  The thought of the Ambassador touching Jim’s mind – an experience that Spock himself had thus far only caught glimpses of in the rare contact of their naked hands – was unpleasantly aggravating.  He spent many ineffectual moments wondering how he could prevent this potential circumstance from occurring, before possibility became reality.

These thoughts were without purpose, and completely unacceptable, but even so, it took him a tremendous effort to wrench away from them.  He sternly reminded himself that Jim was entirely free to make his own choices, and that he was not required to consider the wishes of his first officer in anything but official ship’s duties.  No matter how deeply those wishes ran, or that in failing to address them he left said first officer in a quandary of bewildering dissatisfaction.

It didn’t improve matters that while rationally Spock knew the Ambassador’s time aboard ship was limited, it nonetheless took him several attempts before he was also able to purge a completely illogical, but remarkably persistent, feeling of abandonment.  After the connection they had forged in the last few days, his captain still chose to seek out the company of the older Vulcan in place of the younger one.  Spock was troubled to realize the level of agitation that accompanied this idea.  He was troubled, in fact, by the level of the emotional turmoil surrounding all of his thoughts when it came to Jim Kirk.

Meditation would likely have been wise, but he felt oddly restless, and the idea of forcing himself to the careful stillness required seemed somehow – counterproductive.  Perhaps a visit to the exercise rooms or a walk through the Enterprise’s gardens would serve.  He set his feet in motion and let them carry him, and all the while his mind took him places much, much farther away.

Meanwhile, as Spock walked, the dinner he had spent such time considering was indeed progressing almost exactly as he had feared it would.  In fact, as the night wore on, Jim found that he was more than enjoying the time he and the Ambassador were sharing; he was practically reveling in it.  Having been deprived early in life of a male mentor, he found he was utterly incapable of not taking advantage of having one at this moment.  The fact that the mentor in question just happened to be the older version of his First was basically forgotten in his mad scramble to enjoy the unquestioning, nonjudgmental company he was being gifted with.

This time between them, they were both aware, was an unexpected boon, not to be easily forgotten or dismissed.  Soon it would be reduced to subspace communications, distracted between-mission messages, and perhaps the occasional visit.  The Ambassador knew this – had known this from the very beginning.  He was not unaffected by it, but he was a pragmatic man, made so by nature and necessity.  He knew that the universe was too big for Captain James T. Kirk to pass this way again for any great length of time, when he had his own, rather highly anticipated, life ahead of him still to live.  And he was more than aware that there was another Vulcan on board, one who would remain long after he himself was gone, who so desperately needed this man’s help in order to reach his truest understanding of himself, and his place in the universe.

But even knowing all this, he could not prevent himself from reaching for one final self-indulgent and completely unrepentant intimacy, before this all came to end.  When he asked Jim Kirk to once more accept the touch of his thoughts in a meld, he did not do so lightly; a large part of his psyche, in fact, urged him to cautiously reconsider.  It was a part that he chose to ignore.  Perhaps it was merely his turn, he mused, to put aside the respectable, but confining mistress of logic – and do what felt right.

“Are you sure?”  Jim asked him with a frown, the remains of their meal on the table between them.  They had the observation deck to themselves – there were, Jim was discovering, many advantages to being a starship commander, and a general call sign under his signature for ‘do not disturb’ was just one of them.   “The last time we tried this you left pieces of – you – me – whatever – behind up here,” he gestured vaguely to his head, “and I have to admit, I’m not keen on repeating that experience.”

“There is far more time at our disposal now,” the older man said, shrugging curiously.  “If you are uncomfortable, of course, I will not ask it of you.  But if safety is your only concern, do not be troubled.  It was my haste and my emotional distress during our first attempt, not lack of skill, which caused you such intense difficulty.”

Jim didn’t need to be told twice.  Hell, even just a few days ago one of these melds had almost knocked him off his feet with the pure, raw intensity of it, the incredible feeling of being inside the love this man bore for him.  The idea of having that again – even for just an instant – was, in his estimation, worth almost any risk, any danger.  And in any case, he wasn’t the sort of person who turned away at the first sign of peril; Jim Kirk had always been, and would likely always be, a gambling man.

“Okay,” he said.  “Let’s do it.”

So they did.  It was just as easy this time as it had been before.  The first moment of aloneness, quickly overtaken with the strange dual feeling of the other being there.  The fragile but unbelievably strong connection of their minds holding them together – and before there had been purpose, there had been reasons, but now there was only the blissful feeling of kinship, and faith, and unreserved completeness.

The last time Jim could remember feeling this content was when he was five years old and his mother had spent the entire night excising the boogieman from underneath his bed.  It had taken years before he’d understood that she couldn’t protect him from all the terrible creatures in the night, but that hadn’t stopped her trying.  He’d been amazed at her dedication to him even then, her willingness to give of herself, and he was grateful and astonished to find that same selfless love once more waiting for him, in a man he barely knew and yet somehow knew too well.

I would like to show you something now, provided you have no objection, the resonance of that voice drifted to him, somehow deeper and truer in this format then hearing it spoken out loud.  He got the idea this was how the older man heard himself, a reflection of how he was represented in his own mind.  It is not meant for you, specifically, but as a gift to my other self, when he is ready to receive it.  You will understand when you observe what it is.  Are you willing?

Confusion and excitement raced through Jim, an almost embarrassing eagerness, but he was utterly untrained, and had no real idea how to answer.  He’d never had to take an active role in either of the last two melds.  How did one think words at another?  The surreal sensation of attempting to imagine a mental mouth with which to communicate floated obscenely through his mind.

Amusement brushed against him faintly, and he couldn’t help but boggle at the ease with which this Vulcan allowed him to see his emotions, when not a month ago he’d have sworn that Vulcans as a race had no emotions to speak of.

Words are not completely necessary here, Jim.  Much of what you are feeling is translated to me directly, a phenomenon that my other self will teach you to control in time.  But for the purposes of my request, I believe I have your answer.

Jim agreed, and being quite used to instant gratification, he didn’t appreciate this prevarication.  He was impatient and made no effort to conceal that fact.  So the man could feel most of what he was feeling?  He envisioned the equivalent of mentally tapping his foot, in a ‘get on with it’ motion.

From the burst of humor that flowed back to him, he figured he got his message across.

Very well, then.  A gentle tug, as though someone had a hold of his hand and was pulling him along, drifted strangely into Jim’s mental landscape of thoughts.  The sensation was unexpected enough that he resisted momentarily, trying to send his impression across the bridge of their minds.

unknown/surprised/what/how?


Come, Spock told him firmly, tugging again, and Jim, realizing what this was now, gave in gracefully, following along with restrained exuberance. 

Walking through the other’s mind (walking wasn’t quite accurate – but it was the closest expression he could think of for comparison) was a shock, and not at all what he was expecting.  When Jim had observed the Ambassador removing memories from his own mind, that landscape had seemed one-dimensional, unstructured, and flat, but teeming with color and vibrancy, all jumbled together haphazardly, layered atop each other like a whirlpool of psychic energy.  Spock, on the other hand, was all shades – white, black, and gray, and the corridors of his thoughts were like labyrinths, with an endless number of doors leading into other labyrinths, each of them locked with complex sets of symbols.  The sense of order and tidiness was undeniable, in stark contrast to the Human’s mind – it reminded Jim, of all things, of an enormously complex three-dimensional chess set.

They approached a door – which he figured was really just his mind filling in the visual blanks here, as he doubted Spock actually had doors in his brain, or then again, maybe he did – and walked through it.  On the other side, the things that Jim had seen as missing – color, vibrancy, life, feeling – from Spock’s mind were made obvious, in startling abundance.  Thoughts or memories, or whatever they were, swirled in a sluggishly repeating rhythm, with no seeming beginning or end.  If his own thoughts had been a whirlpool, this was a carefully parsed out thundercloud, given purpose and energy and definition by the Ambassador’s powerful mind.

He tried to send his puzzlement, like sending a literal question mark in Spock’s direction.

These memories are ones I have deliberately placed outside the normal Vulcan practice of carefully ordered thinking.  I would like to give them to you now, to hold in trust, for my other self.  I have no doubt that one day, perhaps soon, he will come to you for your thoughts in the same manner that we are now sharing.  When that time comes, it will be up to you when or if you reveal the presence of this receptacle in your mind.

Jim looked again at the teeming mass of memories, trying to pick out the common thread that connected them, but they moved too fluidly for him to get a grasp on them.  He needed more information.  He sent greater waves of impatience and continuing puzzlement.

These are memories that your Spock will never have – experiences that are now denied him.  They are ones I would gladly share, but I believe he will find them more palatable coming from someone he trusts.  Coming from you.

There was a very small pause, almost hesitant, definitely wistful, and then:

These are the strongest memories I have of my mother.

His mother.  Amanda.  It had never occurred to Jim before, but this Spock had lived a lifetime with her, with a woman who was now dead in this world.  And having loved her and let her go long ago, he was willing to pass that lifetime on – to her son from another universe, who would never get to live those moments with her.

It was a priceless gift.  And Jim had no doubt that the Ambassador’s caution was more than justified – there was no way Spock was ready for this, yet.  He might be at peace with himself and with his grief, and in time he might speak of her more freely or be willing to hear her spoken of in turn.  Their conversation last night came to mind, the joyful but quiet cast to it, the moments his First had shared with him.  But to experience the life he’d never have with her, hear her laugh, and smile, and cry, to see her love, and live

He wasn’t ready.  Jim wasn’t sure he’d ever be ready.  But he would gladly, more than gladly, hold these memories locked away inside him, until the day he thought he was.

Think carefully before you give me your answer,
the other chastised gently at his immediate excitement.  What I am proposing is no simple thing.  I would be giving you a very small portion of my Katra – what a Human might call a soul.  It is not a decision to be made lightly for either of us. 

But the Ambassador would not have offered if he hadn’t already made up his mind – and Jim knew what his answer would be the moment he’d discovered the source of all that color, that intensity.

Yes, he thought firmly, distinctly and clearly.  It occurred to him that he was getting the hang of this.  Yes.  Please.  Yes.

Like Jim, Spock did not need to be told twice.  What followed was a very strange set of actions and corresponding feelings.  He watched the other sort of withdraw them both back through the doorway hovering behind them, and then – he seemed to move that door, somehow, away from himself, and further toward Jim.  It didn’t take a great deal of time, but neither was it quickly done.  Eventually there was a sense of displacement, and then somewhere in the back of the Human’s mind some mechanism or switch or hollow place was replaced with a sensation of – fullness, togetherness, alien matter that quickly became integrated, familiar.  It was like a tree had been planted, as though he could feel the roots of the memory cache being attached in places where there had been nothing before.  He realized this was not only a gift for the younger Spock, but for him also.  Somewhere, subliminally, he could feel a part of his friend hovering in him, dormant, hidden, miniscule, but most definitely there.

Tell him of this, when you believe the time is right.  As if from a great distance, Jim heard himself addressed quietly by the other.  He will know how to access it when you are in the meld, if you show him it is there.

He nodded, and hoped his agreement was made clear.

The process seemed to drain something out of Spock, momentarily, and in the floating silence that followed, they merely existed together, side-by-side – but not as one.  Jim got the feeling that sharing space as one was something different, not meant for casual contact; something much more intimate than a meld.  If there was something that could be called more intimate than a meld.

In the quiet, Spock’s tightly guarded labyrinth of thoughts loosened just a little, and suddenly Jim could feel more memories, further memories, lurking somewhere nearby.  Instantly intrigued, he focused on them.  Though some part of him screamed that this was what had gotten him in trouble in the first place not weeks ago, still he yearned toward them, his innate curiosity driving him onward.  Like liquid want, he felt himself flowing in their direction with the ease of someone used to making unfortunate impulsive decisions.  He converged on the nearest one, a freeze-frame in time, just a fleeting image, of a man with a quicksilver smile, and gentle eyes, and a depth of caring wrapped over a tritanium core of determination.  And Jim thrilled to see it, soaking up the entire aspect of him, every detail, thinking, that’s him, that other Kirk, that other person that Spock knew and loved, who lived the life I should have had, that’s me

He was yanked backward abruptly, separated from the flow of images as they cut off into darkness, and bereft, he mourned their loss, the loss of knowing that other man, that other half of him that this Spock had known.

Forgive me, came the thought, apologetic but firm.  Those memories will not benefit you.  Allow me to remind you of the difficulty we encountered after a similar issue on Delta Vega.  And I have no wish to ‘spoil your fun’ by allowing you to observe events that may still come to pass.  I have discovered in my travels that people who too often know the outcome of events find themselves tiring of them, and I would not wish you to lose the fascination with life that so defines you, James Kirk.

He pictured himself sniffing in haughty disdain, completely unconcerned and unaffected by this swift denial.  Certainly he tried to conceal that fact that he was inwardly sulking at having his fun cut short.

The Ambassador gave his frowning mental construct a gentle prod, like a condescending pat on the shoulder.  Trust me, old friend.  I would not deny you if it were not important.

And he did.  Trust this Spock.  Completely, which made no sense, really.  They barely knew each other, but there it was, all the same.  He couldn’t quite boast the same with the younger version, but they were getting there, in leaps both great and small.  Soon he doubted he’d even be able to tell that he’d ever been more comfortable with the older Vulcan than the younger one.  When that day came, Jim knew he’d be able to trust his First just as implicitly as he did the Ambassador.

One day, soon, I hope you shall, the voice said distractedly, hearing this thought, and Jim could feel him checking over everything in their minds, making certain that the storage compartment of memories was safely blocked away, and that everything else between them was disconnected and independent.  He was obviously preparing for them to separate, and the thought made Jim curl in unexpected sadness.  It was very strange, as a Human, to crave an experience that was so outside the realm of his species.

You need one another, Spock commented, speeding the process of their division. The feeling of co-existing lightened, until he could actually feel his physical body again. You always have.

And if he hadn’t been so caught up in that voice, if he’d perhaps been paying more attention to that great mind running through its careful checklist of safety measures (as he probably should, seeing as it was his brain at stake), he might not have heard the faint whisper that echoed underneath that, like the faintest of shadows, hardly even there, barely discernable from the night: I have always needed you, T’hy’la…

He’d heard that word before, hadn’t he?  The Ambassador had called him that or something similar, the last time they’d spoken in this way…

“T’hy’la?”  As though separated from himself, he heard the word issue from his own mouth, his physical mouth, and yet the shaping of it felt unreal to him.  He didn’t speak Vulcan.  His attempt at pronunciation should have been slurred beyond understanding, absurd or laughable, but it appeared with perfect intonation, in his own even, questioning timbre.

A gasp from the doorway knocked him back into his physical body like a solid blow.

He pulled away (slowly, because hell, that had been the problem in the first damn place) from the older man’s reaching hand, felt the other also distancing himself, properly closing down the parts of their minds that had moments ago been connected.  Jim waited until the process was finished before he turned, thinking that surely life could not be so terribly, unbelievably perverse as to have the one person who he absolutely did not want to see this – seeing this.  But of course, life had always been that perverse, and it seemed there was no avoiding that.  For the second time this week, completely unexpectedly, Spock (the Younger) stood staring at him from a doorway where he really should not have been standing.

Apparently his first officer didn’t believe in ‘do not disturb’ signs, as least not when it came to his captain.  He wondered how long he’d been standing there.  From the look on his face, definitely long enough – and probably much, much longer than that.

Jim forced his tongue out from behind his teeth in a futile attempt to salvage this bizarre situation.  “Um.  I mean.  Hey, Spock.  Fancy – seeing you here.  We were just, ah, discussing the merits of the Vulcan…“ telepathic tendencies, emotional landscapes, concept of ‘oneness’, Katras, “…language.  I take it from your reaction that I got the pronunciation right.  T’hy’la sounds like a – like a pretty interesting word. What does it mean?”

He thought he had a fairly good idea what it meant, actually, but maybe he was wrong.  Maybe none of this was quite as bad as it seemed, and he tried not to feel as though his First had just walked in on him mentally cheating on him (okay, on their future potential telepathic relationship – whatever) with… well, him.  Because it wasn’t like that.  At all.

Well, maybe it was a little bit like that.  But not like that, that.  Really.

“It is a word from our ancient culture,” the Ambassador answered him, as calmly as though there was not a really, seriously pissed-off Vulcan standing in the doorway looking like he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to kill his older self, his captain, or both of them to save himself the trouble of choosing.  “One I will be teaching to the younger generation to keep its rich and varied history alive.  It is a word without context in the Human language – rather, a word with too much context.  It has multiple meanings, but the essential three are this: friend, brother, and lover.  It need not mean all of them, but they are inextricably woven together in our cultural understanding of the concept.”

Jim stared at him.  “And you think that kind of label belongs –“ to me, he wanted to say, but.  Well.  His First was still standing there, and getting deadlier by the moment.  “Er.  Belongs – among the younger generation of the Vulcan refugees?”

“Of course.  It is one of our most sacred beliefs, the resonance of our Katras, our living spirits. Two individuals who find themselves with such a connection are considered deeply blessed among the Vulcan people.  It is a remarkably personal relationship that –“

“You overstep yourself,” the shadow in the doorway said, more frightening in his lack of movement than another person might be shaking in rage.  Jim tried not to move.  Maybe if he stayed absolutely still the other two Vulcans might forget he was there.  For once in his life, he thought he’d be more than completely content to be absolutely ignored.

“No, Spock.  I only teach Jim what should have fallen to you if not for the machinations of a deranged Romulan.  Nero took our people from us; he took our mother from you.  I will not let him take this.  Can you understand that?  I will show him these things so that, when the time comes, he will have the necessary grounding of knowledge to meet you halfway.”

“That is my decision,” the coil of malevolence whispered, savage heat igniting in the air between them.  Jim could never remember seeing such menace incased in such brutal stillness.  Even when Spock had given in to violence on the bridge, that had been sharp, uncontrolled, and momentary – this was something altogether different.  This made the hairs on the back of Jim’s neck stand up sharply. 

“I will not allow you to interfere in these possibilities,” his First rasped, contained only by the iron shackles of his will, unraveling even as the captain watched.  “To touch what is not yours to lay hands on, to have what you say should be mine –“

“Hold up.  Wait,” Jim said.  Okay, maybe not completely all right with being ignored.  “Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but I am still in the room here.  I’ll decide for myself what relationships, telepathic or otherwise, I want to pursue, thank you very much.”  Both of them looked at him, one in agreement and one in frustrated impotence, and Jim, ignoring the fact that a very real potential for danger was bubbling here, shook his fingers at them.

“Look, this isn’t some – some ridiculous contest to see who gets to play mental musical chairs with me.  I chose to be here of my own free will, not because someone wanted to teach me something, but because I wanted to know.  Now I know.  And I’m grateful for it.”  And he was.  More than either Spock might ever be made aware of, he was grateful, even if for this one precious week of his life, to have known such unconditional acceptance.

But he couldn’t say that.  He got the feeling that if he did, those iron shackles might buckle more than just a little.  So instead he put the most smarmy, overbearing expression of smugness he had in his arsenal on his face, one he knew sent Bones right through the roof on any given occasion, and, to top it off, spread his hands in a hopeless gesture of comical befuddlement. 

Obviously, in the absence of the truth, a little bluffing and a lot of willful distraction was called for.  And he’d always had a great poker face.

“This is all getting a bit dramatic, don’t you agree?  I mean, I realize I’m a prize catch and that both of you are just dying to get your hands on me, but there’s no reason for drastic action here.  There’s enough of me to go around, isn’t there?  Share and share alike, you know!”  He shot them both a winning, slightly manic smile, saw two sets of eyes close in identical expressions of painful exasperation, and had to stifle a hysterical bleat of laughter.  This was ridiculous.  Just ridiculous.  He’d wake up tomorrow morning and it would all have been a dream.

His First opened his eyes long before the Ambassador.  “I apologize, Captain.  I should not have entered the deck without first – without alerting one of you.  I attempted to do so through the communications system; however, when no one responded, I became uneasy.  But my concern was obviously unfounded.  I regret having disturbed you.  I was – out of line.”

“Ah Spock, don’t let anyone ever tell you that falling for the famous Kirk charm is in any way out of line.”  Far from being reassured, this only seemed to further agitate the Vulcan.  Jim watched, in elevated unease, as he took a step backwards as though his captain had just dealt him a debilitating blow.

Sorry Spock, it’s that foot to mouth thing; it gets me every time…

Spock seemed to pull some semblance of control back around his person.  “Please ignore my interruption, Captain.  I had no right to – I will leave you to – Goodnight.”

And before Jim could say anything at all – tell him he was joking, say he was sorry for putting that look of helpless anger on his face, remind him that a ‘do not disturb’ wasn’t written in ‘fleet regs. anywhere – the younger man was gone, out the door and into the corridor, faster than Jim could ever recall seeing another person move.

As the door slid shut behind Spock, Jim turned to regard the older Vulcan seated calmly across from him.  Though nothing would have suggested it in the still demeanor turned toward him, Jim had a very clear impression of a feeling of deep-seated satisfaction.  Something, some realization, clicked into place.

“You did that to him on purpose,” he accused, not as sure as his voice sounded, but willing to bet money on it with his intuition tingling at him so strongly.  He’d long ago discovered that one of the quickest ways to finding answers was to make up his own, thereby forcing other people to defend their positions to prove him wrong.

“If by that you mean I deliberately chose this venue to conduct our conversation in, you would be correct.  But our two timelines are divergent now, Jim.  Surely you cannot think I could possibly predict his coming here.”  The eyes, though solemn, positively laughed at him.

“You can predict his behavior based on familiarity with your own.”

The regal head tilted in an acknowledgement, and the silent laughter didn’t dim.  “Perhaps.”  Jim wondered at his being able to see through the man so clearly.  He wondered if touching the other’s mind twice in so short a period had somehow conveyed a familiarity he’d previously lacked.  He wished it had conveyed more than just familiarity, because he found there was still something here that he was completely in the dark about, and he didn’t like it at all.

“I don’t understand you,” he said, feeling his irritation at the Ambassador’s continued meddling rising up unexpectedly.  “You’ve been banking on this from the start, throwing us together in as many ways as you possibly can, trying to – what?  Stir up his emotions?  Undermine his ability to control?  That seems cruel, and I wouldn’t have expected it of you.  I don’t get what you’re hoping to gain from this.”

The twinkle had disappeared from that aged face as Jim went on, and some obscure part of the captain was sorry for that, but the rest of him was too frustrated to care.  He wanted answers.  He was willing to do what he had to, to get them.

They regarded one another in tense silence, the Human expectant and the Ambassador once more unreadable.  That strange sensation of transparent familiarity was gone, as though it had never been.  Maybe it hadn’t; maybe Jim had imagined it.

“When I was informed that the Enterprise would be given the task of transporting us to the new colony,” the older man said at last, “the absolute incongruity of seeing you again so soon after our last extraordinary encounter was – staggering, to say the least.  It seemed to me that, in many ways, fate had set our paths on a line of convergence; that I was being given an unprecedented opportunity to alter the trajectory of this universe, the new direction it was given by Nero’s actions.”

“I don’t believe in fate,” Jim reminded him sharply, exasperated.

“So you have told me.  And yet, would you not say that there are many things that have shifted for you in the course of this mission?  That several concepts you did not believe in have become – unexpectedly real, or resulted in unforeseen changes in you?”

Oh, that was dirty pool, Jim thought sourly.  It was bad form to confront a James Kirk verbal challenge with the simple, uncomplicated, unvarnished truth.  Like cheating or something.

“But if you cannot believe, then you must at least allow that in that moment, I believed – and made a decision to act on that belief.  What seems cruel to you is a necessary step on the difficult road that I have laid before you and my younger self.  But if you can only walk that road together, I know that what awaits you at the end will be something incredible, beyond anything you can yet understand.”

“Is this your version of dangling the carrot in front of the horse?  Because if so, I should point out that I really don’t like carrots that much.”

Ignoring him, Spock continued.  “In truth, when I undertook this task, I had hoped that it would not require such drastic action to effect the changes I wished.  I see now that my initial assumption of relative ease was perhaps somewhat – optimistic.  I can only hope that in time my counterpart, as with certain others involved, will find it in themselves to forgive me.”

The worst part for Jim, listening to him, was that he could understand, intimately, what the older man was going through, the complete sense of isolation when you know that what you’re doing it right – and everyone else stands pitted against you.  That was a reoccurring problem for Jim, and one he had the greatest sympathy for, which was unfortunate, because he didn’t actually want to have sympathy right at that moment.  He didn’t want to feel the anger give way to compassion and understanding.  Too bad what he wanted never seemed to make a damn bit of difference. 

He sighed, running a hand through his hair.  Sometimes he really wished his life, or at least the people in his life, were just a tiny bit less complicated.

“Well if you’re waiting on my forgiveness too – you have it,” he said tiredly.  “Not that I think you need it.  Or that it would stop you, if you didn’t have it.  But just so we’re clear – I happen to think I’m more than old enough to pick my own friends, thank you very much.”

The Ambassador didn’t – quite – sigh.  “If friendship was the only end result I was concerned with Jim, I need not have interfered at all.  That much, at least, I believe you had well in hand.”

Jim fought back the urge to roll his eyes, clenching them tightly shut instead, thinking.  He wondered if what he was about to say next would sound as crazy out loud as it did in his head.

“I think I should go after him,” Jim announced, and yes, it did indeed sound just as insane outwardly as it had inwardly.  Go after Spock?  What, and be torn to pieces for his efforts, having gotten in the way of the man’s anger for a second time?  But all he could see was the expression that had rested, so briefly, on those exotically handsome, alien features: a look of such confused, uncertain anguish that it made Jim ache to even think about the fact that he’d put it there.

“I believe you should allow him time to logically assess his feelings on this matter.”

“Logically assess his feelings?”  Jim asked incredulously.  “Isn’t that like – a contradiction in terms?”

“Not in this case.  Believe me, Jim, I have, as you would say, ‘been in his shoes’.  I not only know what he is going through; I know his probable reactions to this.  Allow him time to come to his own conclusions.  Spock’s hand cannot be forced – only taken when he offers it.”

“Christ, would you stop talking about him like he’s a Hallmark card?  If you’re trying to convince me that I should do my best to be here for him, well sure – here I am.  If he comes to me, I’ll know what to do.  I think.  But aside from that, let’s not kid ourselves.  You and he are different.  You can’t know for certain that he’ll choose that kind of relationship and you know it.  And that’s not even taking into account my own reactions here.”

“Your reactions are irrelevant.”

“What?”  Jim squawked, staring in amazement at this man he thought he knew.  “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“You have a great capacity for love, James Kirk, though it must be the greatest irony of this strange universe that a Vulcan should be the first to note it,” the Ambassador said, reaching out and touching a thumb to his cheek, which was slowly darkening with an embarrassed flush.  “It is what made you great before, and it will make you great again.  I believe that your depth of love for this ship, her crew, and your journey through these endless stars, will see you through a hundred adventures or more.  There are dreams out there that await you, beyond your wildest imaginings.  I tell you your reactions to him are irrelevant because I know that no matter what conclusions you come to, you would never turn him blindly away, without consideration.  That cruelty is not within you.  Whatever might become of your relationship with Spock, I do know this: it will never be one without that depth of caring that makes you the man that you are.”

Such unwavering, unshakable faith.  Jim felt a lump in his throat that seemed to choke the breath from his lungs, driving more blood into his cheeks.  And it was embarrassing, but it was the height of ego too, of personal triumph, to hear someone speak about him that way, to know from the inside out that this was the unalterable truth of this man’s regard.  This Spock had such belief in him that it made Jim very, very afraid that somehow, in some terrible way, he would fail to live up to it.

He took a deep breath, and hated himself a little for saying what he did next, but there was too much doubt in him not to; too much history.

“Three small instances of contact does not a lifelong acquaintance make.  You don’t, you can’t, know all the inner workings of my mind.  I’m pretty sure even I’m ignorant to some of them.  And the Jim Kirk you knew, who wore my face… You’ve already told me there are no guarantees.  You have no certainty.  So how can you tell me that something as – as ephemeral as a ‘capacity to love,’” he sneered with just the right amount of haughty disdain to convey what he thought of that, “still exists in me, in the here and now?”

Spock smiled, a small quirk at the corner of his lips only, but it was a smile nonetheless, and it was the kindest and sweetest expression Jim could ever remember seeing turned in his direction.  Not even his mother, who loved him even despite his faults, had ever looked at him with such pure and untarnished devotion.  He tried to wrap his mind around such a look appearing on a species whose face historically showed nothing but cold impassivity.

“In another life, you took a brittle, ostracized, rigid son of Vulcan and showed him what total acceptance could be like.  What a friendship of that nature, and that quality, could do to such a one as he.  And in time, he too learned to embody those things, to be those things, without reservation, without guilt or prejudice, and without shame.”  He leaned forward, and Jim found himself matching him for distance, until all he could see were the bright, intelligent eyes staring into his so raptly, until he felt nearly consumed by the great feeling seething so silently there.

“A man that could do those things,” Spock said, “who could so shake the foundations of a person with the force of his personality alone – that man could not be changed so greatly that he would lose something as intrinsic to him as a love of life.  You are that man, James Kirk.  Or, if you are not at this moment, you will be again.  I have great faith in you.”

“I know you do,” Jim muttered, sighing.  “That’s what worries me.”

It was the first time he ever heard a Vulcan chuckle – but he hoped it certainly wasn’t to be the last.

~*~

First officer Spock could not remember ever stalking along the corridors of this ship before, but if a Vulcan could be said to stalk, surely that was what he was doing.

A confusing whirlpool of thoughts and unacknowledged feelings dogged his steps, growing more pronounced, not less, as he distanced himself from the scene on the observation deck.

So.  So.  He had been right to wonder; his concern about the nature of his older self’s interference had been true.  T’hy’la.  It was a word that existed mostly in historical context, with only a handful of his people ever finding something approaching it.  That kind of atypical, unprecedented, unconditional rapport was anathema to most Vulcans.  To receive it was, of course, a blessed gift, but to give it took a particular character of personality, usually quite an illogical character, and so it often fell only to the Vulcans who sought relationships outside their race.  And Vulcan had been so insular; in the six billion inhabitants of his world only a fraction, perhaps as low as ten thousand or as high as one hundred thousand, could say they had ever experienced such a coveted bond –

But that number would be much smaller now, he realized, coming to an abrupt halt.  There were no longer six billion Vulcans with which to judge that number against.  It was conceivable that his older self’s prediction that he alone would have to uphold the concept of T’hy’la would prove more than accurate.  Ten thousand Vulcans, only half of whom were at an age where racial perpetuation would be possible; all that remained of his people.  What wouldn’t any of them give to have such a gift as T’hy’la?

What wouldn’t he give?

“Spock.”

Spock closed his eyes, beginning to understand anew how Humans could personify the universe as being ‘out to get them’ – a conclusion usually arrived at when one calamity after another was heaped atop a person in quick succession.  That was what this felt like.

“Are you all right?”

“Nyota,” he said, turning.  She was looking at him with an openly imploring look of concern.  He couldn’t bear the sight of it, had to close his eyes, because his own wants were not the only ones to consider here, his was not the only pain at hand.  There was this woman to think about, this beautiful woman who’d been his friend, who looked at him with such wary, heart-felt concern, and who loved him, he knew, with the carefree spirit of someone quite unused to guarding themself from heartbreak.

Jim would not look at him so.  His captain had experienced a depth of pain Spock was only beginning to understand, and their loneliness was like a bridge to understanding, a bridge built of their shared experiences, and of experiences they had yet to share, with such potential for greater, and deeper, and more.

This was an impossible decision; how could he be expected to make it?  How could his future self so easily do this to him?  It seemed needlessly callous to show him these possibilities, this unforeseen contingency, and then walk away, completely unrepentant, leaving Spock floundering to determine the new and uncertain directions of his life.

Or perhaps he meant to determine them for him.  Perhaps it was worse than it seemed, and his counterpart thought to have that, have Jim, for himself.  Obviously his age would preclude certain aspects of the relationship, but for a Vulcan, the ultimate connection lay in the realm of the mental, the physical being only a conduit to those depths.

For Spock this was not so; being quite a young hybrid, he had no recourse but to satisfy the physical needs in the same way as his Human colleagues.  In the same way as James Kirk.

He found, quite disconcertingly, that the thought of satisfying those needs with his captain, with Jim, who brought such confusing passion and tremendous understanding to his life, was a hopelessly compelling one.

Enough!  That does not matter now!  So he, Spock, would need, and doubtless want, far more from the relationship of T’hy’la than another might require, but for his older self, perhaps those needs were not the same.  Perhaps even a man such as James Kirk would be satisfied with a platonic relationship of that nature, provided his emotional needs were more than met.

The thought of his older self giving his captain such caring, but devoid of the essential physical aspects of Human joining, was repellent, even repugnant.  The thought of the Ambassador preventing Jim from reaching the heights of what a truly complete Vulcan rapport – physical, emotional, and spiritual – could be, filled Spock with an unexpected, unaccountable, and unavoidable rage.

It was not right.  It could not, logically, be allowed to happen.  That Spock did not belong in this timeline; he had no right to make the kind of claim he was attempting to, he could not do this so blithely to his younger self and get away with it. 

He would stop him.  And if the Ambassador thought for one moment that his younger counterpart would allow this other, this interloper, to step between him and his captain, his future T’hy’la, and prevent him from having what should be his; by rights, what would be his alone -

The James Kirk of this timeline is mine,
he thought, and the last time he could recall being this angry he’d almost choked the life out of the very man he was now fighting to keep.  And he grit his teeth as instinctive, primal fury raced through him, possessiveness like he’d never experienced, and thought, this Jim is mine, and you cannot have him, and if you try I shall put you in your place as the meddling imposter that you are –

“Spock!”

He snapped back to the present, seeing at last the look of shocked disbelief in Nyota’s eyes, the questions and even, yes, some fear as she looked at him, no doubt remembering the last time he’d been angry and what had resulted.

I frighten her, he realized, sickened.  Humans are so fragile and Vulcans so terribly different.  If I lost control, even for an instant, I might truly break her –

“Spock, what on Earth –“

We are not on Earth,
he thought despairingly.  We are not on Earth and I am not Human, and I cannot think of how to explain what is so intrinsically and inescapably Vulcan to you, cannot even begin to describe this wanting, this need, for something so foreign, and so overwhelming, and so precious –

“Nyota, I –“

She reached for him then, as she’d rarely done before, respecting always his boundaries, as he’d ever given her respect for her needs.  And as she reached, he found he could not bear the thought of having his confusion, his turmoil, exposed to anyone, not even she who’d been such a friend to him the last year, and more in this final month –

He pulled away.  Pulled away as he never had before, stepping back, stepping away from her, and he could hardly stand the shame of her slender, open fingers stretched toward him, offering a solace he didn’t dare take, a comfort he didn’t want.

They stared at each other, separated by a span of meters, but further apart than the Enterprise and Earth, far behind her: light years between them. 

Spock wished, with the perfect illogic of all Humans wishing for things that cannot be, that the process of change, of self-discovery and self-realization, of growth, were not so inherently, inexplicably painful, nor so manifestly difficult.

“Spock,” Nyota said at last, helplessly, lowering her hand.  “Tell me what I can do.  Tell me what you need.”

“I do not know,” Spock said, closing his eyes to contain his confusion and guilt.  “Time.  I need – time.”

I need time to stand still long enough that I might divine what is happening to me.  Long enough to discover the roots of these feelings, this need, and this desire that so fills me.  Long enough to decide, for myself, free of the influence of other cares and considerations, free of the grip of my own emotions  – what I intend to do about this.

“All right,” she said quietly.  “Time.”  Time she could give him.  Time, it seemed, was something she had no choice but to give him.

End Chapter Eight.

A/N: That was wayyyy longer than I intended.  This was the chapter from hell, by the way.  It hated me from the word ‘go’, and I had to beat it into submission with a whip (wow, that sounded really kind of kinky, didn’t it?).  So I hope you liked the result. :-)  Thanks again to everyone for your continued support!

Chapter Nine
Tags: breaking points, fanfic, star trek
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  • Moving Fanworks

    This is an old journal, and an old place for stories, but nonetheless! :-) Since Livejournal has basically gone the way of the dodo, just wanted to…

  • Time Immemorial - 3/3

    Part 2 "Enter," Spock called. Jim stepped into the Vulcan's quarters slowly, ponderously. It was times like this that really…

  • Time Immemorial - 2/3

    Part 1 They left the Ze'brak system two days later with orders to proceed to Starbase 16. In those two days, Jim set a task for himself to…

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  • Moving Fanworks

    This is an old journal, and an old place for stories, but nonetheless! :-) Since Livejournal has basically gone the way of the dodo, just wanted to…

  • Time Immemorial - 3/3

    Part 2 "Enter," Spock called. Jim stepped into the Vulcan's quarters slowly, ponderously. It was times like this that really…

  • Time Immemorial - 2/3

    Part 1 They left the Ze'brak system two days later with orders to proceed to Starbase 16. In those two days, Jim set a task for himself to…