Spock didn't think he'd ever understand how his parents ended up together. His mother was illogically emotional, and she had the scars across her body to prove it. Not many of them, but more than any Vulcan. There was one scar of hers that Spock had only seen once, when he was a child, but it was the one that stood out most in his mind.
It was a long one that stretched across her lower stomach. As a child, Spock had already embraced the ways of the Vulcans, but he couldn't help almost feeling sad at the thought of someone injuring his mother. Because he was certain that a wound like that could not have been caused in any accidental manner. He'd asked her about it, wondering who would ever attack someone like Amanda.
She'd given him a sad look, which was just another way to separate her from everyone else Spock knew, but she'd given him an answer all the same. She'd explained that it had been a difficult birth, and she'd been so full of happiness and fear and hope all at the same time that when the doctors had to cut Spock out of her, she hadn't been able to heal right away. But then she told him that even though it had hurt so much, it had been the happiest day of her life, because it was the day she'd first gotten to meet Spock.
At the time, and even now, years later, Spock found the idea of happiness to be quite strange. And stranger still was the idea of being happy despite being in pain. Spock had never felt pain before in his life, and he knew that he never wanted to.
Now that he was older, Spock had been around more people than just his mother. He'd learned that in fact he was the odd one for being Vulcan, where he'd always assumed his mother was odd for not being such. When he'd once asked his father why he married a non-Vulcan, he'd never gotten a straight answer. He remembered asking why they didn't teach Amanda to be Vulcan so that she would be free of pain, but his father had gotten a sour look on his face at that. He'd cryptically said that Vulcans could not be created, they had to be born. But Spock knew that that wasn't true, because he'd seen many join the ranks of the Vulcans without being born among them. But since it had clearly been an uncomfortable topic, Spock had let it go.
Spock looked around the room he was standing at the front of, and wondered, not for the first time, whether this had truly been a wise decision. Amanda had always encouraged Spock to enjoy learning and opening himself to the possibilities of the universe, and she'd been a good teacher. She was the one who'd pushed Spock to be a teacher himself, after he'd made a few remarks about possibly being interested in doing such.
But now he was standing at the front of a classroom as students filed in, and according to the attendance sheet he'd been given, only one of his students was even Vulcan. If he were not Vulcan, Spock might have started to panic then, wondering how he was actually going to manage to educate a classroom full of illogical and emotional beings.
When the minute hand on the clock landed on the twelve, Spock knew that it was time to start his first class, and he couldn't stand there and worry about what was to come. He had passed all of his own schooling with flying colors, and his instructors, both Vulcan and otherwise, had assured him that he would make for an efficient teacher himself.
He picked up his attendance sheet, then looked around at the room full of young and impressionable faces. Was he really going to be doing this for the rest of his life now? It seemed so impossible, and yet he knew that it wasn't, because many other Vulcans successfully managed to teach classrooms of non-Vulcan students.
Spock cleared his throat once, then began reading off the names on the list. He waited for a few seconds for each student to announce his presence before moving on to the next one. About halfway down the list was when he reached his first bit of annoyance. "Kirk, James T?" No one responded to the query, though there was immediately a rush of uneasy looks exchanged between the restless teenagers. "Is there a Kirk in attendance right now?" He only asked the second time as a courtesy, even though he knew that the student would've spoken up if they were there.
One of the others, a girl he hadn't read the name of yet, raised her hand. "Jim isn't coming. Not for a while, probably. He had to go to the hospital this morning."
The last minute hospital entry seemed like a reasonable enough excuse for not attending class, and the last minute part of it would explain why Spock had no notices on the matter. "I see," Spock said evenly. He marked Kirk, James T as absent, and was ready to move on to the next name on his list.
Apparently the class wasn't yet ready to move on, though. One of the students he'd already called, named Gary, spoke out without raising his hand. "Don't you want to know why he's in the hospital?" The way that several students immediately shot glares towards Gary indicated that James was of a higher rank in the social system here than Gary.
"Shut up," one boy hissed. "It's no one's business."
Gary shook his head. "Don't you think the teacher deserves to know why the precious golden boy isn't here?"
Before either of the boys could continue, Spock held up one hand. "That is enough. I will receive whatever information is relevant to the situation from the appropriate channels, at a more appropriate time. For now I would like to continue with attendance so that there is enough time to introduce this class before the bell rings."
Gary sank down in his seat and crossed his arms over his chest. He had a petulant look on his face, even though he'd hardly been chastised at all. The other boy had a scowl on his face, but Spock got the feeling that that was an entirely usual look on him. He continued attendance, eventually learning that the other boy's name was Leonard McCoy, and the girl who'd spoken before was Nyota Uhura.
When he was finished checking off the names on his list, satisfied to find that James Kirk was the only one absent on the first day of classes, he put the list down, and turned his complete focus to his students. He handed out a syllabus, and went through it briefly so that his students would know what to expect of him for the rest of the school year.
By the time the bell finally rang, Spock found himself feeling relieved. It had been odder than expected to stand in front of the class all by himself, as the sole instructor rather than just a teacher's assistant. And he had a free period, which meant that he could use the next hour to prepare for his next class.
Though there was one thing he wanted to clear up first. He couldn't mark James Kirk as having an excused absence without any official confirmation that that was the case, so he decided to take a walk to the main office of the school. The secretary, Janice, offered him a friendly smile. "Morning. How was your first class?"
Spock thought about it for a moment before offering a brief, "It was adequate. I did have a question about one of my students, however. I was informed by another student that James Kirk was admitted to the hospital this morning. I wanted to make sure that that was accurate before putting the attendance into the computer."
Janice blinked a few times. Then she nodded slowly. "Yeah, that's the truth. My cousin works in the emergency room, so even though I haven't gotten an official doctor's note, I know it's true."
Spock arched one eyebrow. "Is it not a breach of doctor patient confidentiality for your cousin to inform you of medical issues of a minor without permission."
For a moment Janice looked uncomfortable, but then she straightened up in her seat. "Look, I get that you're Vulcan, and you don't really understand normal people, but it's alright. Jim is a special case. Everyone around here knows him. He went through some really tough shit when he was younger, and he doesn't exactly have the easiest home life now. This isn't the first time he's wound up in the hospital. But we do care about him. Me and the others around here. God knows that the people who are supposed to don't do nearly enough." She let out a tired sigh. "Sorry, I know you're new here, and you don't really understand the way that things work. But Jim's a really bright kid, probably an actual genius-" Spock found himself dubious of that, since he himself was a genius, and knew that they were hard to come by because many people referred to slightly intelligent children as geniuses. "-and he's at the top of his class. He's never let his absences interfere with that, I promise. He should be back in a couple of days, and you'll see for yourself that he's something special. But yeah, for your question, he is in the hospital, so you can mark his absence as excused."
Spock found the whole situation to be quite curious, but he simply nodded and turned to head back to his classroom instead of sticking around and barraging the secretary with questions. He couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in a hospital for any reason, so to have been there multiple times just seemed ridiculous. Many people had decided to become Vulcans after one severe injury, so he couldn't understand why this James Kirk had allowed himself to be hurt so many times.
But Spock supposed that it wasn't really any of his business, though if a child was in an unsafe home environment, and there truly were people who cared about him, then why hadn't he been removed from it? Maybe he would look into the situation more when he got the chance, if only so that he'd know he was practicing the proper ethics in this case. And if the boy was really a genius, then it could be interesting to talk with him. Spock had often found himself wishing for someone who he could speak to without changing himself in any way. It was easier amongst Vulcans, perhaps because beings with higher intelligence could see that it was logical to not want to be harmed, but around non-Vulcans, it felt nearly impossible.
Before he even knew it, the end of the day arrived. Spock had gotten through three classes of rowdy teenagers, giving them all the same introduction to his class. As he packed up his things, into the bag that his mother had given him as a gift for good luck on his new job, he heard someone knock against the doorframe of the room.
He looked up, and was met with the sight of an unfamiliar person. They were clearly a student based on their age, but they hadn't been in any of Spock's classes today. The boy had blonde hair that was just long enough to be tucked behind his ears, and the brightest blue eyes that Spock had ever seen. But what really caught Spock's attention were the faded white scars that ran across the boy's face, in three even lines diagonal from the right side of his forehead to the left side of his chin.
When Spock said nothing, somehow having illogically temporarily forgotten how to speak- if he weren't Vulcan he'd be worried that he'd managed to pick up some illness from one of his new students- the boy slowly shuffled forward into the room. He was clearly favoring his left leg, but instead of a pained grimace on his face, he had a cheerful grin. "Sorry to bother you after school's already out- and on the first day and everything- but I thought it would be polite to introduce myself to my new teachers. It was unavoidable circumstances that led to me being unable to attend classes today, but I do apologize all the same."
Even without having seen a picture of the boy before, he decided to take a guess as to his identity. "James Kirk?"
Somehow the grin on the boy's face managed to grow even brighter. "Yeah! It would seem that my reputation precedes me."
Spock carefully took in the boy's appearance again after having gotten confirmation on who it was. James was wearing a pair of sweatpants and a tee-shirt that seemed too large for him. They were clothes designed to cause the least amount of discomfort to whatever injury James was sporting. "I was informed that you would be out for another couple of days." Though he said it as a statement, it was clear that he was asking for further information on why James was in the school right then.
James waved one hand through the air as though whatever he was about to say would be of little consequence. "Can't really afford to miss multiple days right at the beginning of the year. And I'm fine anyways."
"Fine has variable definitions."
James blinked a few times, then shrugged. "Maybe. I am currently able to sufficiently manage my pain to the point I can continue with my normal routine with minimal disruption. Is that better, Mr. Vulcan?"
"My name is not-"
James waved his hand again, and there was definitely a look of amusement glittering in his eyes. "I know, I know. I wasn't trying to make fun of you or anything. But when everyone started spreading the rumor that we were going to have a Vulcan teacher this year, I got totally excited about it. The only Vulcan most of us even know is T'Shen, and she's always going on about how she's the same as any other Vulcan, but she's also a total bitch, so we were all hoping that she was just lying-" He cut himself before Spock could say anything. "I know, lying is illogical because her classmates seeing her as a representative of all Vulcans doesn't change her status, whatever. But it is nice to see that she was mistaken. Not all Vulcans are bitches."
It would be easy enough to point out that no Vulcans were female dogs, but he was aware that James was using a slang connotation of the word. It was incorrect to do so, but he was only a teenager, so it was understandable if he didn't know everything. Thinking of knowledge reminded Spock of what Janice had told him. "Have you ever had an IQ test performed to confirm or deny your claim of being a genius?"
James laughed. "I never claimed to be a genius. Everyone else just goes around talking about me like that. Don't even worry about it."
Spock wasn't sure what he'd done to imply that James' status as a genius or not concerned him, but there wasn't much he could do about it. This conversation was starting to confuse Spock, so he decided that it was time to leave. "I do apologize, but I have plans for this evening which do not involve conversing with you. You do not need to worry about today's class I was only discussing the syllabus, which you can find online."
James blinked a few times, then laughed again. "Oh man, you guys do not pull punches. I guess it would be illogical to try and protect someone's feelings since you guys don't believe in having feelings, right? I am looking forward to taking this class. I'll see you on Wednesday!" Then he turned and shuffled out of the room. Though he wasn't moving very quickly, Spock found that he couldn't think of any appropriate parting words as James left the room.
Deciding to ignore the strangeness of James Kirk, Spock finished packing up his things, then headed out, locking his classroom door behind him. He got home, and pulled out his phone to call his mother. She answered almost immediately, just like she always did. "Spock, how was your first day?"
He sat down at his desk while holding his phone. "It was not a large enough amount of time for me to be sure how accurately it represents the normal school year."
That caused his mother to laugh, and Spock was strangely reminded of his conversation with James. Despite the differing voices, their laughs sounded very similar. Perhaps Spock would have to look into laughter, and find out whether or not all non-Vulcans sounded the same while doing it. It seemed unlikely, and yet his mother and James who'd never met and were very different people had similar laughter.
"I'm sure that it'll grow on you, darling." When Spock didn't say anything else, Amanda seemed to figure out that there was something on his mind. "Did anything happen today, Spock? You know that you can talk to me."
Spock refrained from frowning. "Mother?" She made a soft noise to let him know that she was listening. "Why would anyone choose to continue to feel even after being injured multiple times? It is entirely illogical."
Amanda hummed softly for a moment, which meant that she was putting a lot of thought into the question. "Every single human being is given the ability to analyze the costs and benefits of various things in their lives. Like how you weighed the cost of leaving your family with the benefit of being an independent adult with your own job. Vulcans in general weigh the cost of giving up their emotions versus the benefit of remaining healthy and unharmed. But when other people weigh up those costs and benefits, they find a different answer. You will never have to suffer from any physical or emotional pain, but sometimes I fear that you will never know happiness either. Some people believe that there is no point in living if one cannot be happy."
"Is that what you believe, Mother?"
Amanda hummed again for a moment. "I have scars on my body darling, and others have scars in their minds, or far worse than I have written across me. It's not a weakness to have been hurt. It simply shows that you were strong enough to keep moving forward. I have grown as a person thanks to everything that I have been through and felt. And I wouldn't give any of it up for the world." After a short pause, she asked, "Why is this on your mind?"
Spock didn't want to get too specific, but he also trusted his mother to hold on tightly to any details he did share. "There's a student in one of my classes," he started softly. "He was absent due to being in the hospital, and I have been informed that today wasn't his first time there. But when I got the chance to speak with him, he smiled and laughed."
"Oh Spock," the fondness tinged with just a hint of sadness in Amanda's voice nearly felt like it would be Spock's undoing. "It sounds almost as though you're worried about this boy."
"It would be perfectly logical to feel some concern in this situation. Considering that it was not his first hospital visit, and I have been told that he has a poor home life."
Amanda let out a small gasp. "You think he's being abused? Well, you are new in town, and don't really know anyone yet. Why don't you try talking to this boy and getting to know him before you start throwing around any accusations? I hope everything's alright with him, but you interfering without knowing what's going on might only makes things worse."
Spock nodded to himself. "Thank you for the advice, Mother." He leaned back in his seat. "How are you?" And he prepared himself to hear his mother ramble on about her day. It was something he quite enjoyed listening to, and it would help take his mind off of the strangeness of his own day.