Title: Small Steps
Series: Star Trek (2009 Movie)
Spoilers: Post Film, with small mentions to events within Star Trek: The Original Series, understanding of which is not necessary for enjoyment.
Summary: To have what they had, Jim Kirk realizes it will take baby steps.
At first, he pushes the emotions of the meld out of his mind - there are other things at hand. He must walk across a frozen wasteland with a man he barely knows and yet has always known; and somehow find some way of getting back onto the Enterprise before its wayward captain goes and does something that he will regret until the end of his days. Jim Kirk is seized by the impossibility of the situation and does not think of much else as he struggles through the powdery snow that covers the surface of Delta Vega.
When the intruders in the Engineering Bay were first noticed, Spock can't help but wonder what took James Kirk so long. The man is a perpetual thorn in his side, and it is only logical that removal from the Enterprise would make James Kirk come back twice as strong like a particularly nasty fungus.
He takes a moment to collect himself, searching deep inside himself for that sense of inner calm that he has cultivated over many years of knowing that he is different from others of his home-world - a place he can no longer return to. That thought is pushed hastily aside. He will grieve like all Vulcans do, in private meditation; it has no place on the bridge of a Starfleet battleship.
He will not allow himself to become compromised by the constant undercurrent of emotion that is running hotly under his thin veneer of calm.
Spock could think of no possible way that Kirk could have found his way back onto the ship. But, illogical as it was, James Kirk was standing before him - as if daring Spock to question his superior abilities to frustrate and annoy.
And then Kirk strings together a series of words and defiant actions that push his control over the edge and he falls into the passion and the rage that Vulcans have survived millennia by suppressing.
It is only later, when his father calls him back to his senses that he realizes that he has just almost killed the most fascinating human he has ever met.
Jim later regrets what he said to Spock - but it got the job done and that job was vitally necessary to ensuring the survival of Earth. He knows that he should seek him out and apologize. Blows to someone's mother are just low, by any galactic standard, and Jim regrets that he ever had to go there. There was a lot riding on those harsh words, and Jim only wishes that he could find the words to explain everything to Spock.
He's left out bits of the story, and Jim knows that Spock knows it. The Vulcan is too sharp to miss details like that - and he wonders if the only reason that Spock has yet to mention it to him is because Jim has been so evasive about the matter to everyone, including Starfleet High Command.
Ambassador Spock vouched for him, and glossed over the situation, so Jim could keep the more intimate details of what he learned from the Ambassador's assault on his mind to himself. The older Vulcan did not mention the joining of their two minds, and Jim has resolved to keep to himself as best he can.
It's in the quiet moments like these that Jim finds himself thinking about the emotions and memories that were transferred from the elderly Vulcan on Delta Vega. He's had a lot of time to sit and think since they found their way back to Earth. It's too quiet on the Academy grounds now, with close to a quarter of the cadets killed in action. Starfleet Academy has hastily put together a graduation ceremony for the few senior cadets who survived this incident, and Jim can't bring himself to go.
There are people, faces, all around him - and yet the ones he knows best are drastically fewer in number.
Spock has been noticeably absent from the ceremonies and parties honoring of the crew of the Enterprise as well. He's been spending time with his father, and maybe, just maybe, avoiding Uhura.
Jim hopes that's why Spock has been so absent at least. Spock's abilities and skills as both a First Officer and an interim-Captain were vital to the successful defeat of Nero, and it did not due to leave him unrecognized for his achievements. They were both promoted by Captain Pike in the field, and Jim hopes that Starfleet Command chooses to uphold those promotions.
Plus, Jim is still not sure how to approach Spock, to apologize. McCoy has told him multiple times to just man up and find the pointy eared bastard before too much time has passed. Jim wants to, desperately, but a part of him is waiting for what he thinks will be a chance encounter between two people that are one-in-the-same.
They are both wandering around Starfleet Academy; after all, the place isn't that big.
Spock lowers his hand and watches as the older Ambassador climbs onto the shuttle heading to the new Vulcan Colony. He is unsettled, to say the least, by this encounter. He turns and walks back down the corridor, leaving the hanger bay as quickly as he can arrange it. There is something very disconcerting about standing within ten paces of oneself and then having a conversation about a mutual acquaintance.
The older version of himself knows James Kirk well. Far better than he does himself, and Spock finds himself filled with resentment over that fact. He hides it well, his face carefully neutral as he stalks through the markedly empty halls of Starfleet Academy. He cannot understand why Kirk brings out such an alarming emotional response from him. It is illogical, complicated and not something he ever thought would come to plague his thoughts. Perhaps it is better this way, that he is preoccupied with thoughts of the new captain of the Enterprise. This way he doesn't have as much time to ponder the loss of his home world or his mother.
He retreats to his academy room and pulls off his uniform jacket, forgoing it for a coarsely knit sweater that his mother had snuck into his luggage when he first came to study at Starfleet Academy. It is a coal gray and there are mistakes and little holes throughout the thing - as the hands that made it were by no means skilled with the pointed needles that looped it into shape. He hasn't worn it in years, but it is both warm and comforting - smelling of a home he can no longer return to.
There is a knock on his door and Spock's back immediately straightens, his hands smoothing the sweater carefully. "Enter." He wants to be alone right now, but the potential of this being an important caller is too high for him to simply ignore the knock.
The door opens with a quiet hiss and Spock finds himself face to face with James Kirk. He swallows as carefully as he can, and nods to Kirk, bringing his hands behind his back in a respectful gesture.
Kirk looks slightly confused, still in his cadet's uniform and carrying a box that Spock knows contains a metal for valor. "Nice sweater," he says, stepping inside and keying the pad so that the door closed behind him.
"If you have come here simply to comment on my choice of attire, you can turn around and leave once more." Spock says before he can stop himself. It's like a knee-jerk reaction that he cannot explain, the way he speaks around Kirk.
Kirk raises his hands and smiles easily, two fingers curling around the velvety box in his left hand in a human gesture that Spock has seen enough to discern the meaning of 'no offense meant.' "I have one of those from my grandma last Christmas," he says, "They're great for comfort."
Comfort is a human emotion that Spock has yet to truly grasp. He knows that it means a feeling of protection and warmth, yet he has no idea how one can get that from a piece of clothing. He supposes that it is simply one of the many cultural differences between Earth and Vulcan – for he finds comfort in his data PADDs and reading about strange new lands. Certainly not in sweaters. "I merely wished to no longer be in uniform." He supplies. "May I inquire as to the nature of your visit Mr. Kirk? I have had a long and trying day, and I wish to be alone."
Clearly, Kirk was not paying attention. He's watching Spock with narrowed eyes and realization is dawning easily on his face. "You met him, didn't you?"
"If you are referring to the Ambassador, then yes, I have." Spock doesn't see anything wrong with divulging the information, since both the ambassador and Kirk himself have mentioned their meeting on Delta Vega.
Kirk looks hesitant for a moment, fingers tracing around the corners of his box. Spock waits, knowing that it will come eventually. Humans, especially Kirk, rarely think before they speak and Spock is grateful that he is taking the time to not be ignorant or rude. Well, intentionally.
The minutes of silence were thick with the tension of two souls unable to truly speak their minds to each other. Spock knows from the Ambassador's clear and easy presence around Kirk that it was not supposed to be that way. He saw them speaking quietly before they went into debrief high command. The ease at which they spoke filled Spock with an irrational anger that he could not articulate. That was his job. No one else was supposed to have that sort of a relationship with James Kirk.
"I'm sorry." His voice breaks quietly, like a young boy and not the grown man of the hour Spock knows him to be. "I was out of line – back there."
Spock is silent, standing in his highly-amusing-had-this-not-been-so-serious sweater. He looks like a statue to Jim. A pointy eared and stoic picture of a being, the perfect Vulcan; yet Jim knows this image to be a lie. Spock is almost more human than he is; he's just good at hiding it behind a Vulcan face of calm.
He doesn't know that. Jim pushes the thought out of his mind angrily. He does not even know Spock that well, how can he be attempting to understand his complex nature with anecdotes from a time that no longer exists.
The meld is starting to get to him, Jim realizes, and he's having trouble separating the other reality from this one. He's going to have to tell someone, and with the older Spock on his way to god-knows-where to start a new Vulcan colony with the survivors of the species – it's probably going to have to be this Spock. McCoy would laugh at him and jab him with needles until the sun came up, but Spock, Jim thinks, could actually help him.
He just has to accept the apology first.
Jim fiddles with the metal they gave him, frowning at it slightly. He doesn't deserve it; no one deserves to be rewarded for such a gross loss of life.
"You did was what necessary, no matter how undesirable it was to me." Spock speaks as though he too is choosing his words carefully. Jim doesn't doubt that he is. "I too ask for forgiveness for my actions – I was, as you said, out of line."
Jim shakes his head, knowing that small steps were the way to win this battle. "Don't sweat it." He laughs, a smile blossoming across his face, "I was asking for it."
Spock's veneer of calm vanishes for the briefest of instances, and his lips twitch upwards. "Indeed."