Spock climbed out of his learning pod. It would be most unVulcan to say that he felt satisfied with the results he had garnered from his testing. It would be more Vulcan to say that the results from his educational performance for the day were satisfactory. His parents would be pleased. Well, his human Mother, Amanda would make something to celebrate, even though there was nothing to celebrate. His Vulcan Father, Sarek would accept the results as they were and eat the plomeek soup Amanda had lovingly made. Sarek might tell Spock he had done an adequate job as well, perhaps even satisfactory if he was feeling verbose. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and prepared to leave the Learning Academy to return to his home and spend time with I-chaya.
One step was all it took, to bring him face to face with another student. Actually, truth be told, it was a wall of students. Nine pairs of dark eyes under slanted eyebrows and blunt cut bangs stared at him, waiting for something he could only guess. They must want more reactions from him today. He would not be able to retreat to his home undisturbed, it would seem. If he were more human and less Vulcan, he would have sighed, however, he confronted the obvious straight on. “I presume you've prepared new insults for today.” It was a statement, not a question. He knew what they wanted.
Tevlek spoke. He was a year older than Spock. “Affirmative.”
Just as Spock expected, therefore he gave an efficient response. “This is your thirty-fifth attempt to elicit an emotional response from me.”
Suvok, in the same age group as Tevlek spoke up. “You're neither human nor Vulcan, and therefore have no place in this universe.”
The words were harsh, but nothing Spock had never heard before. He was indeed a being of two worlds and he paid for that consequence nearly every day that he lived amongst the full-blooded race of Sarek.
Tevlek studied him for a short while and Spock waited for whatever he would say. “Look. He has human eyes. They look sad, don't they?”
He should walk away. It is what his Father would say it is the logical thing to do. His Mother, well…. Humans were most illogical creatures. The wall of Vulcan students continued to silently study him. It was frightfully intimidating, but fear was an emotion he could never afford.
“Perhaps an emotional response requires physical stimuli,” Suvok said as he moved quickly.
Spock expected more pinching and he quickly stuck his hands in his sleeves. For a telepathic race, the pinchings were never a comfortable experience with multiple Vulcans participating. Instead, Suvok shoved Spock in the chest, hard. Spock staggered back, the chasm of his learning pod yawned behind him. He quickly regained his balance, shocked at the action. What did they mean to do to him today?
Tevlek folded his hands within his sleeves and with eyes brown and fathomless, calmly said, “He's a traitor, you know, your father, for marrying her, that human whore.”
Spock sucked in a breath and the world hung upon that single inhale but for an eternity. It was one thing to insult his heritage, his defects, his disabilities, it was another thing to attack the reputation of the woman who had given him life. She, who didn’t ask for any of this, but the love of his Father, as useless an emotion as any other. They had both made a commitment to each other and together they brought Spock into this world. Together. With no warning, a loud scream filled Spock’s mouth, ripping through his throat, as he tore into Tevlek. The older boy didn’t stand a chance, he was lesser than Spock in every way, although he didn’t know it or failed to believe it. It was over faster than Spock had wished it to be. Soon Tevlek lying underneath him, groaning in pain.
Spock rose gracefully with his head held high, and stepped away from the tangle of Tevlek’s limbs sprawled out along the bottom of his learning pod. His classmates stared at him, barely suppressing their own emotions, their eyes wide and their hands nervously clasping and reclasping in front of them. Spock swiped a hand across his mouth and spat on the ground. The other children stepped back from the green bit of moisture. Good, he bled their color, let them see what he was truly made of. He calmly surveyed his audience. They had wanted a show and he had given them one. Spock picked up his book bag from where he dropped it at the edge of his learning pod and dusted it off before he slung it around his narrow shoulders one more time, in an attempt to go home.
It was only logical to separate the weak from the strong. This was not merely playground bullying as his Mother called it. His Father said that he would be considered the weakest of the group and that it was a simple act of nature, to determine Spock’s weaknesses. This was the catalyst for their ‘experiments.’
Apparently, as a half-Human, half-Vulcan, Spock was truly an anomaly that his classmates required constant experimentation from. Emotionally, physically and biologically. Vulcans were scientists, Sarek had explained more than once. Vulcans are racist prudes and their children are little monsters, his Mother had explained hotly back to Sarek, using her displeased voice. Spock had heard it travel through the walls of the garden to where he normally found solace with I-chaya.
Part of the bullying and occasional pinching were the children’s way of discerning a soulmate. He had told none of this to his parents. Spock was ashamed that something so personal and so rare was being...abused, he hated to use the word, but for lack of a better one, that’s what they were doing. If he had one, this person would surely be undergoing the same painful ministrations that Spock was. Vulcan was a close-knit community that abhorred violence of any sort since the Reformation, soulmates were found quite quickly and efficiently. Injuries were rare and any pain required for a soulmate search was issued in supervised ceremonies. What the children were doing, was cruel. Thankfully, no one had stepped forward with any similar injuries to add to his humiliation.
Much to the glee of his classmates, it could be then hypothesized that since no one has come forward to report or show their wounds to the elders then, he could not expect a soulmate anytime soon, or a Vulcan one at that. His peers had performed their experiments well and had proved that he, in fact, was different. They logically followed the same theory that he probably didn’t have a Vulcan soulmate and had been teased mercilessly. Faceless voices still haunted him.
“The probability still exists that it is a Klingon.”
“My calculations indicate that the probability is satisfactory enough to be a Romulan. What better for the son of a traitor.”
“It could be a human.”
Little did they know, he had been experiencing someone else’s pain for a long, long time. Scrapes on the knee when he had not fallen, pain that throbbed sharply across his face so hard that he thought he must have broken his cheekbone. He would experience that feeling quite often after that, sometimes with varying degrees of pain. Spock shuddered at the memories. The last thing he wanted to do admit what he was experiencing, only to yet again prove he was less of a Vulcan.
The teachers were making their way forward to where the crowd of students remained following the altercation between Spock and Tevlek.
An adult Vulcan loomed over them all. “Spock.”
Jim Kirk looked up from where he was taking apart a small engine under the brilliant sun of Tarsus IV. His uncle was calling his name as he walked towards him, but his attention returned quickly to the greasy parts that he had dismantled and cleaned. He had hoped to get it put back together before night fell.
“What?” He glanced up. “I finished my chores as you asked.”
“I know you did,” His uncle ruffled his hair, gone blonder in the harsh Tarsus sun. He’d even put on a bit of a tan, helping out in the fields. Fields that were now dead and rotten, dying under that harsh sun, eaten by some unknown fungus. You couldn’t even salvage what was left and eat it. They had tried, but it just made people sick, some had died. “We need to go to town. Governor Kodos called a meeting of all members of the colony to give us an update on the status of the fungus that’s been-’
“Oof!” Jim doubled over as pain shot through his stomach.
“Jim!” His uncle gripped his arm tight, holding him up. “What’s wrong? Mary! Quick, get the med-kit! Something’s wrong with Jim! Hold on, son.” He chewed on his lip as he watched Jim struggle through his pain.
Jim could understand the worry. They’d been unable to communicate with Starfleet or anyone else in the Earth Alliance. A medical emergency would be a disaster. Supplies had dwindled since the fungus appeared and made people and the crops sick. The pain let up and he was able to straighten up. “Ow!” He rubbed his shoulder, as another pain struck him. His aunt came flying out of the small farmstead cabin.
“Jim? What’s wrong with Jim? We told your sister we’d keep him safe!” Mary rushed up to him, her brown hair frizzed out around her head, worry lines deep in her face. “None of this is safe,” she muttered as she fished around in the med kit for a tricorder.
“Ow!” Jim’s hand went to his hip. “Ow!” He brought a hand up to his face and his hand came away with drops of blood smeared across his fingertips.
“Oh, my word…” His Aunt’s voice trailed off.
“What?” Jim asked, looking back and forth between the adults that were in charge of him. He pressed a fist against his stomach, it hurt, but not like before and his shoulder and hip only felt bruised. “OW!” He held up his hands, his knuckles throbbed. “Do I have arthritis?”
“I think you just found your soulmate.”
Jim glanced around. “Where?”
“I don’t know.” Mary took out a handkerchief and dabbed at his face. “I don’t think this needs anything. You’ll just have to keep an eye out for someone sporting the same busted lip is all.”
His uncle made a face. “Well, could be anywhere actually.”
“Anywhere?” Jim asked. The galaxy was an awfully big place.
“Well, why don’t you start on Tarsus, hmm? Then go from there.” Mary suggested.
Jim scowled. “Why do I even need a soulmate, I’m fine on my own.” His uncle brought a heavy hand down and rubbed it back and forth against his head.
“Well, apparently the universe thinks you need one.”
“Yeah, tell me about it.” Jim swatted his uncle’s hand away.
“Have you had injuries like this happen before?” Mary asked. She tucked the used handkerchief into Jim’s shirt pocket. He made a non-committal noise.
“What? No one has a soulmate, they don’t exist. You two aren’t soulmates,” he accused. “Don’t you have someplace to be?” He didn’t tell them that he’d felt...something...quite often. This wasn’t his first split lip. Sometimes it felt as if he was being constantly pinched. Other times as if he’d been run ragged and couldn’t catch his breath. It was exhausting. He was only twelve and shouldn’t be this tired.
“We have someplace to be,” Bill said. “Mary, get the kids, let’s go.”
“I don’t want to, I need to finish this engine rebuild before it gets dark. Besides, you’ll just make yourself hungrier when you come back and we barely have enough to make it through another day!” Jim’s fear caused his voice to rise in pitch.
“That’s why we’re going. Kodos says that there are rations available.”
Jim’s mouth dropped open. “I don’t believe that. He would have issued them sooner! We’ve already rationed what we had!”
“Maybe he didn’t think it would come to this. A starship should have brought supplies ages ago.”
“But it didn’t.” Jim’s stomach squeezed.
“No. Now come on.”
“I said no. I’m old enough to be left here, you guys go on ahead. Get rations, bring them back, but I have to finish this rebuild.”
“Jim, please?” His aunt asked, the children had finally reached her and clung to her hands. They didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation. All they knew was that they had to go with less snacking than usual. Jim smiled at his small cousins.
“Fine,” his uncle said. “Fine. We’ll be back. Kids, say bye!”
“Bye Jim-jim!” The children chorused as their parents led them away to the center of the colony.
Jim waved goodbye. It would be the last he saw of them.
Spock squeezed his clasped hands against his stomach. He was buried as far as he could get into I-chaya’s fur, seeking warmth and comfort, because he felt none. A burning, gnawing hunger filled his belly no matter how much he ate. At times, he had even regurgitated the meals he had ingested, the muscle was so tight. There must be something wrong with his hybrid biology, but he couldn’t bring himself to voice it to his parents. It wasn’t logic, but fear that held his mouth closed. What if there WAS something wrong with him. What if his physiology was finally rejecting itself, not a son of Vulcan, nor of Earth and now...now his body was tearing itself apart to tell him the truth. A few days later, as suddenly as it began, the stomach pangs ended. He was no longer hungry. His mother stopped looking at him strangely.
“Are you okay?” She reached out to touch his forehead. A human gesture. One not meant for Vulcans. He ducked away.
“I am satisfactory, Mother.”
“Were you not meditating enough? I know you’re-”
“I have added some time to my daily meditations. It is possible that this was the problem.” He cut her off before she too could make a note of his differences.
Jim cradled his face. That was the umpteenth blow that he’d suffered at the hand of one of his mom’s boyfriends. It probably wouldn’t be the last. He glared up at the man as he continued to yell at him.
“Useless! Piece of shit! Make me some god damned dinner!” The man stumbled off, a beer in his hand. He chugged the rest of it down and threw the bottle into the sink, where it bounced off the counter from his drunken aim. It shattered on the floor. “And clean that shit up. Useless brat. This house is a pigsty! I’ll get my belt out next, you watch me and no dinner for you!”
Jim’s lip curled and his eyes burned with hate and a little bit of fear. He loathed the belt. It made him wonder if his soulmate felt it. Had he felt anything? The pinching had stopped years ago, Jim had felt nothing since leaving Tarsus IV. He wondered if he ever would again. Maybe his soulmate had died. Maybe he was alone. Everyone left him in the end.
Spock meditated and controlled his mind and body so that whatever he felt from his soulmate was merely the ghost of a memory. One he did nothing about.
Jim ran away. Maybe it would have been best if he’d have died on Tarsus. His Mom had sent him there to forget about him, too bad all he seemed to do was remind him of his dad. He wrecked his dad’s classic car, the only thing he had left to remind him that there had been a real man somewhere in his life. Getting locked up in juvie was the only way to stop the beatings at the hands of random men. Thankfully he had escaped the last situation before it got to...well...if his soulmate were still alive, they wouldn’t have appreciated what would have happened. New plan. Run away as soon as he was out. Forge new documents. Live the life no one seemed to want him to live, or die trying.
Spock suspected that there was something wrong with James T. Kirk from the moment they met. Where Spock should be logical and rational, something within Kirk brought out something deep inside him that was quite...pre-reform if he had to put a word to it. Everything about Jim Kirk screamed keep away but something inside of Spock screamed back at him to get closer. The strange dichotomous feeling pulled and tore at Spock and he was left bereft without a guide.
Jim couldn’t understand how someone could be so cold and unyielding. Lives were at stake here, didn’t Spock understand that? He had to get through to him somehow, except every time Jim thought he could explain something to Spock, he was met with a wall, Vulcan logic. Jim just wanted to tear it down. Rip it into shreds until he reached the heart of Spock. Bones clamped a hand on his shoulder and jammed another hypo into his neck and Jim forgot everything.
It was during the emotionally compromised beating Spock dealt to Kirk after Vulcan had been destroyed and his Mother dead that Spock lost his tight control because EVERYTHING was suddenly out of control when he felt something. Pain! Pain from his own hands against Kirk. Something was matching him blow for blow, pounding against his heart, his...soul.
“Spock!” His Father only had to say one word and Spock was a child once more. His knuckles and soul bruised.
He pulled back, just barely from killing the cadet against the console. Spock swung away, his eyes to the floor. Yes, he was emotionally compromised. By the destruction of Vulcan, the loss of his Mother, but at the ghost of a memory cracking along his cheek and tightening his stomach with hunger pangs. His soulmate. No! Not this, not Jim. The shame of a child taunted endlessly by Vulcan children about not being worthy enough for a Vulcan soulmate rose and Spock’s world tilted. He gave up command of the Enterprise and walked off the bridge and away from Jim Kirk. The eyes of the doctor followed him.
Jim would have liked to have ended his trip to Niburu uneventfully, but all the best-laid plans can go awry. All he wanted to do, was save them. Save them like he couldn’t save Vulcan that was. The ocean water swirled around him and Bones as the access doors to the Enterprise opened. Scotty, the Enterprise’s Chief Engineer immediately began laying into him. “Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is to hide a starship on the bottom of the ocean? We’ve been down here since last night! The salt water is going to ruin the-”
Jim cut Scotty off, impatient to know where his crewmen were, especially one of the precious few Vulcans left. “Scotty! Where’s Spock?”
“Still down in the volcano, sir.” Scotty swallowed and flicked his eyes to the side, his eyes crinkled at the corner deepening the lines there. He met Jim’s eyes with frustration. If Scotty was frustrated, it meant that he hadn’t been able to figure out how to retrieve Spock without betraying the Prime Directive.
Jim was full of questions for his Chief Engineer, possible ways to adapt the transporter to the volcanoes interference when he felt heat scorching him. He was soaked to the skin from his swim to the Enterprise from the surface of Niburu. Where was this coming from? Was he sick, did he get hit with one of the native weapons? Oh shit, Bones would be pissed. He glanced swiftly at Bones, afraid of a suddenly appearing hypo. Whatever it was Jim was feeling, it was hot, painful and stifling. He pulled at the collar of his wetsuit, shouting for a solution to save Spock from the...the volcano! Jim’s eyes widened. No! Jim took off at a run, with both Bones, the ship’s doctor and Scotty at his heels. He couldn’t let Spock die.
Spock had felt every beating that Kirk had taken since he realized what he was to him. The Captain was prone to leaping before thinking. Now he had to watch the painful abuse Jim experienced at the hands of the Klingons and John Harrison, who they would later discover was Khan. He had never once let it be known that he felt anything from him. This, however, was different. Beatings, scrapes and hunger pangs were nothing like this. He had felt it, from where he had sat in the Captain’s chair. His soulmate was dying…
“How’s our ship?”
“Out of danger.” Spock wanted to say you saved me, but it didn’t come out. “You saved the crew.”
“You used what he wanted against him. That’s a nice move.”
“It is what you would have done.”
“And this, this is what you would have done. It was only logical. I’m scared, Spock. Help me not be. How do you choose not to feel?”
“I do not know. Right now I am failing.”
“I want you to know why I couldn’t let you die, why I went back for you.”
“Because you are my soulmate.”
Jim lifted a hand and placed it on the glass separating them. Spock returned the gesture slowly, with the ta’al, tears fell from his cheeks, a rare occurrence in a desert bred species, even half of one. With his dying breaths, his Captain, his friend, and his soulmate exerted the energy to move his fingers and copy Spock.
“T’hy’la,” Spock whispered. He was rewarded by the last smile Jim Kirk would ever make.
The monitors beeped in a steady rhythm and Spock watched them like a hawk. Waiting for any subtle change. There is no such thing as luck, however, Dr. McCoy had managed to figure out a possible way to save the Captain. Jim. T’hy’la. The doctor stood eyeing him as he stood silently by Jim’s bed. He had been encouraged to leave multiple times but had refused. He had even refused when Dr. McCoy had pressed him about the need for Vulcans to meditate. Rather than leave or argue, Spock settled on the floor and began his meditation process. He soon tuned out McCoy’s mutterings about stubborn hobgoblins and waited.
Voices, panic, and noise filtered through his subconscious, screams, alarms and finally Spock’s voice. Because you are my soulmate. T’hy’la. This pulled at Jim from the darkness. A rush of beeping followed his rush of breath as he woke to Bones leaning over him. He jerked in anticipation of rough handling and a hypo of death.
“Oh don’t be so melodramatic. You were barely dead. The transfusion really took a toll. You were in a coma for two weeks.”
Jim’s memories were all jumbled up and squashed. Transfusion? What transfusion. “Transfusion?” He asked Bones.
Bones looked irritated as if it were Jim’s fault he almost died. “Your cells were heavily irradiated. We had no choice.”
Why would Bones have no choice? What had he and then the puzzle clicked into Jim’s head. “Khan?”
Now Bones really looked irritated. “Once we caught him, we synthesized a serum from his... super blood. Tell me, are you feeling homicidal, power-mad, despotic?” He finished with a wiggle of his thick eyebrows.
Jim had to laugh at that. “No more than usual.” Words popped into his head again. Because you are my soulmate. “How’d you catch him?”
“I didn’t.” Bones stepped to the side, revealing Spock standing there quietly, steadily, always where he belonged.
“You,” Jim said and that’s all he needed to say. Spock stepped forward. “You saved my life.”
“Uhura and I had something to do with it too!” Bones grumbled from where he was preparing his hypo of death. Jim shuddered.
“And you saved my life and the lives of-”
“Spock,” Jim said, interrupting. “T’hy’la.”
Spock froze at the word.
“What’s that?” Bones asked, turning around. “Are you slurring your words?”
“No,” Jim said. “T’hy’la. Soulmate. You hurt when I hurt.”
Spock repeated the words, solemnly. “And you hurt, when I hurt.” He held up two fingers and slowly presented them to Jim.
“Our pain is one.” Jim held his hand up, mimicking what Spock was showing him.
“Soul to soul.” Spock touched his two fingers lightly to Jim’s.
“Heart to heart.”
“When two become one. Kaiidth.”
“Oh, for...I’m a doctor, not a matchmaker. Get a room! And not this one.” Bones flung his arms into the air. “Well, my life just got infinitely more complicated.”