Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek. Sadly enough. All characters are depicted as legal age.
Warnings: Vague spoilers for the recent movie
AN: Based on a prompt from the st_xi_kink meme.
His mom told him that something once said can never be unsaid. That words have a power all their own. Jim Kirk knows this, understands it with every part of his soul. Comprehends now just as he knew then about the taunts the other kids threw at him about his father. The muttered whispers that follow him through his teenage years. The heated cat-calls that echo in his ears at the academy.
Jim's been called a lot of things by a lot of people.
Stupid. Worthless. Unwanted. Bastard. Jackass. Whore.
Half-breed's whore. Only bedded because no Vulcan will have him. Only wanted for his services and nothing else. Only there for one reason and one reason alone.
The last stings the most. But it isn't the accuser who makes it so. It isn't the Vulcans of the colony and their detached but cruel words who make the jabs cut so very deeply.
Instead, it's his fellow recipient. The other intended target. It's the way Spock merely watches them with his usual bland expression. Not even a flicker of anger or wariness or even sadness in his eyes. No tremble of the finger or a second of hesitation in his walk. Not when one says it. Not when a few more say it. Not when they all say it.
It isn't like he knows their language, after all. So what does it matter?
Only, he does know the language, and it does matter. The very reason he's bothered to learn so much, that he has put so much time and effort into learning, walks beside him now. But Spock didn't even try to defend him. To refute them at all. To even look like the comments trouble him.
No one has ever bothered to defend him before, so Jim can't quite understand why it hurts so much now. Why each word stabs into him like a knife and why Spock's silence is the killing blow. But they do, and perhaps it's because there is a ring of truth to them. To the fact that Spock went into Pon Farr and he was the only one available. To the fact that Spock felt obligated to stay with him afterwards. The only person he's ever had sex with.
It's the Vulcan ideal. Only sex with his mate and only one mate in a lifetime. It doesn't matter that they aren't bonded all that deeply yet. It doesn't matter that Jim loves him enough not to chase after any and every skirt that flaps his way. That besides his friendship with Bones, this is the most stable relationship he's ever had in any sense of the word.
That Spock knows all of this. All of him. From the things his stepdad used to scream at him. To the awful gossip the neighbors delighted in telling his mom. To the rumors the cadets loved to spread. To what the captains and admirals say about him even now.
Spock knows. And he looks at them – at the other Vulcans – and says nothing in return.
Weeks pass, and Jim can see the slight flicker of worry in Spock's eyes. They've always been his most expressive feature. The gateway to his thoughts if one knows how to look. And now, they show his concern whenever Jim pulls away. When he takes his lunch with Scotty and Bones instead. When he doesn't ask Spock to spend the night and not return to his own quarters. When he distances himself from their bond and rebuffs even the most tentative of mental touches.
And he knows that Spock isn't the only person to catch on when he leaves the captain's chair one morning, and Uhura abruptly rises to follow. Jim can feel every pair of eyes on the bridge locked on them both as they enter the turbolift, but the set from the science station feels like they are burning a hole in his spine and then his face as he turns around. The doors shut to the sight of Spock all but staring at them both, though his attention is decidedly fixed on one over the other. Nonetheless, Uhura pauses the lift just after the doors close.
"Alright. Out with it," she orders with one hand on her hip and the other on the controls.
Jim blinks. "With what?" he asks already suspecting the answer.
"Ever since we got back from the Vulcan colony, you've been like this," Uhura replies, managing to sound both exasperated and concerned. Meaning that she's been spending far too much time with Bones.
"Like what?" He tries for innocent, but it falls flat.
She just lifts an eyebrow. "Like someone spaced your pet tribble."
"I don't even have a pet tribble," Jim attempts to deflect, but she just won't let it go.
"So what did the Vulcans do to piss you off then? Insult your mother or someth…" she trails off as a horrible suspicion takes form. "You knew," Uhura accuses suddenly. "You knew exactly what they were saying about you. You've known the entire time." Her eyes are alight with fury, the same fury she'd back then, but it still isn't directed at him.
"Yeah," he admits very reluctantly, fighting the urge to look away. "Yeah, I knew. I've been trying to learn. You know, for him."
She just gapes at him with complete incomprehension. "Then, why didn't you say anything back? Why didn't you call them on it?" She gestures for emphasis.
"And what would I say?" Jim counters. "'Hey, you bastards. I can understand everything you're saying.'"
"Yes!" she snarks back. "Exactly."
"No," he responds with a helpless shrug, wishing that he was anywhere but there. "I can't say that. Not to them."
"Yes, you can," Uhura insists but falls silent for a moment before shaking her head. "Don't hold back because they're his kind. That isn't like you at all. You don't normally let people get away with this kind of bullshit. If they'd called Spock or Doctor McCoy or anyone of us that, you'd have had it out."
"That's different." His voice has a spark of anger, but he isn't sure if it's at the Vulcans or Spock or himself. Just simmering in his belly like it has since they got of that damned rock and back to the ship.
Uhura isn't buying it though. "No, it's not. Not at all. I know that you can stick up for yourself, so why let them run roughshod over you? And don't give me the excuse that it would've hurt Spock."
"It wouldn't have hurt him at all," Jim snaps before he can help himself. "He knew and didn't care what they said. Didn't say a damn thing in return either."
She is quiet for several heartbeats after that. Stunned perhaps. Surprised by the vehemence in his voice. The way his hands have curled into fists. Or maybe the gleam to his eyes. The expression of a child who realizes that his parents can't protect him from everything. That they won't even bother to try.
"I'm guessing that you felt you shouldn't have to do it yourself. That maybe Spock should have done it for you," Uhura comments softly. Gently. Tone easy but not light.
Just like that, his anger fizzles away. Leaving only a sense of shame behind. Humiliation that something so juvenile as name-calling would bother him this much. That madmen and dying planets and killer bugs didn't wound him as deeply as a few insults from a bunch of emotionless poindexters.
"I think that you should talk to Spock about this," she suggests then, mouth firm but body language giving her away.
"I'll be fine." And he tries so hard to believe it himself.
"You need to talk to Spock," Uhura repeats. "Really, you do." Both hands reach forward like she wants to comfort him but knows he won't accept it.
Jim doesn't want to argue, but thankfully, her fingers have finally moved from the controls. He just sidesteps around her and gets them going again.
"I'll be fine," he maintains as the door opens several seconds later. "I'll get over it. I promise." He leaves without a backwards glance, not wanting to see her skeptical look.
He shouldn't be – and isn't – surprised when Spock enters his quarters days later with chess and their typical banter the farthest thing from his mind. No explanation is needed. Not with the day they've just had. Romulans and Klingons and a shoot out. Followed by a Vulcan transport on the way to that twice damned colony.
And dear god! Does everyone and their brother know about his relationship with Spock? It seems like they all want to add in their two cents about it. About telling him what a dirty whore he is. In Vulcan, of course. With Jim finally reaching the end of his tether and yelling exactly where they can stick it. Also in Vulcan.
His only saving grace is that Spock does not actually witness any of this. Down in engineering and helping Scotty with repairs. But the ship scuttlebutt works double-time whenever Jim is involved. Especially when he starts a near shouting match with the captain of another vessel as Uhura jumps in to help him.
And the coup de grace of his day is now standing before him. Face solemn and eyes darker than he has seen since their impromptu bonding four months ago. Jim can feel it through their now tentative link, feel the worry and concern and longing creeping in no matter how hard he tries to reinforce the shields the elder Spock taught him. But they just aren't strong enough to block out Spock. Just like his gaze can't help but take in Spock's stiff posture and the way his fingers tremble as he holds himself back.
Jim doesn't even try to beat around the bush. He's just too tired for it today.
"Uhura sent you, didn't she?" he questions, rising from his desk chair and the mind-numbing reports from Starfleet.
Spock inclines his head fractionally. "She was most insistent."
Which is Spock for "She threatened me if I didn't."
Jim runs a hand over his face, wondering if that woman will be the death of him. Sometimes, it feels like she's the real power on the Enterprise. The shadow queen who directs them all at her whim.
"What did she tell you?" Jim asks with weariness very obvious in his tone.
"That the others had upset you." His gaze is fixed on Jim, not even blinking as the younger man sighs heavily. "I apologize that I did not realize sooner."
But that statement only earns him another sigh.
"It doesn't matter. I'm over it." He waves it all away.
Spock tilts his head in a clear challenge. "Is the occurrence on the bridge today evidence of that?"
Jim manages to fight his flinch. "Not my best moment I admit."
"Telling a Vulcan elder, his new wife, and two members of the Science Academy that they are all incompetent, tactless idiots is rather outside your normal purview." He raises a brow and takes a step forward, closing the distance between them. "I believe that Lieutenant Uhura said the exact quote was-"
"I know what I said," Jim retorts, but there is no heat to it.
Spock is gracious enough to let that go. However, there is one thing he won't.
"When?" he asks softly. "When did you learn Vulcan?"
Jim exhales and studies the wall over his first officer's shoulder. "I started just after we… after we bonded. I wanted to surprise you. To show you that I was serious about this." He motions between them.
"I am indeed surprised. You cannot have had much time to learn, but she said you were very fluent." It both is and isn't a question. A tentative overture that Spock clearly thinks will be rebuffed.
But Jim knows this has gone on long enough. And after getting most of it off his chest today in such a spectacular fashion, he's really ready to focus on something else for awhile. Finally to let the ache inside dull and scab over.
"What can I say?" He settles for a shrug and half-smile. "I'm a fast learner. Especially when it matters."
Spock doesn't say anything for a long moment, but when he does speak, it is beyond sincere. Almost heartfelt. Full of apology and twinge of sorrow at suffering that wasn't shared.
"I did not say anything on the colony or to the others because I did not wish you to know their true opinions of you," he confesses in a near whisper. "If I had commented in return, then you would have undoubtedly realized their words were less than polite. It took most of my control not to let as much slip through our bond. I did not wish for them to injure you as they have me in the past."
That brings Jim up short. "Wait," he says with one finger pointed in the air. "So you didn't say anything because you thought it would upset me?"
He can practically feel his mouth dropping open. Feel his head whirling as he revisits his memories and everything suddenly becomes clear in this new light. His stomach jolts at that, at the understanding that Spock was silent and stoic for his sake. That this had been his way of protecting Jim.
"Yes," Spock acknowledges like he knows exactly what Jim is thinking. "I can see clearly that it has."
Sometime during their exchange, he has moved close enough that they are within touching distance, and he reaches down then to brush Jim's fingers. Ozh'esta. The Vulcan kiss. The traditional gesture of bondmates. Of those who love one another beyond all others.
Jim feels a flare of affection spread from that point of contact until it fills him completely. And Spock's eyes are impossibly dark and brimming with nameless things.
"I know that you have concerns over our arrangement. Our relationship," Spock corrects at the subtle twitch of the fingers against his. "No matter what they insinuate… I mean to say… It is not…" He pauses as he leans forward, face now centimeters from Jim's own. "You are not my mate out of convenience. I chose you. I wanted you. The timing and circumstances merely facilitated that choice."
Jim is absolutely speechless. Truly can't find words to express the reeling shock that burns through his brain.
"I… But it was just bad timing," Jim splutters. "That's what you said. Poor timing. That the Athosians' magic fungus set your cycle off early."
One of Spock's hands is now on his neck, fingers resting near the meld points. "Yes, but I would not have gone after you if I did not already see you as a potential mate. Further, the bond would not have completed had there not been some preexisting connection between us. Even if that connection was not necessarily telepathic."
He whispers into Jim's ear then. A breathless word that Jim has never read in any dictionary but intimately knows the meaning behind. He has been called many things, but this is certainly the best. The one he will now believe before any others.
AN: I imagine a mating bond as something that doesn't develop fully over the course of a few days, even if created during Pon Farr. I think that it would take at least a few months for that, perhaps even years. Especially if the pair hadn't even melded before.