James T. Kirk was a puzzling dichotomy.
He was brilliant, the most remarkable strategist that Spock had ever seen, yet volatile. He was perceptive to the point where he could read the mindset of others as well as any telepath and garner from that skill exactly what buttons to push and when to push them, yet he was also insensible. He possessed great confidence, but oft times seemed equal parts defensive and insecure.
He was the strangest human Spock had ever encountered; a complicated puzzle which couldn't be solved because once he thought he had the pieces figured out, and in sequential order, the edges morphed irreconcilably and he was back again at square one.
It was frustrating to attempt to quantify the man, if one were to give in to the illogical emotions that made up frustration, which Spock most certainly would not.
He would figure Jim Kirk out eventually - it simply required more observation and the accumulation of data.
His older counterpart had insisted that they would one day be friends. And not merely just friends, but that their potential relationship had the ability to define them both.
Spock found that exponentially hard to believe, partially because he didn't have enough data to support that anything could actually define James Kirk and also because he had never met anyone more unsuited to his own personality than Starfleet's newest Captain.
They shared no commonalities, tended to let different trains of thought rule their actions, and related to their peers in different ways. In short, they might as well have been born in different quadrants of the universe for all that they shared in relation to one another.
Yet Spock couldn't help but admit that he found Kirk interesting. Despite all of the odds stacked against him, Jim Kirk, young and bold, and possessing attitude to spare, had faced Nero, and he had won.
It was inconceivable, but Spock would learn to conceive it, eventually. There wasn't a puzzle that existed which couldn't be solved with the proper amount of time and patience.
Kirk was putting forth tremendous effort to improve their relations as Captain and First Officer, and Spock found the reasoning behind such action to be sound. They had a ship to run effectively, they also had to develop the necessary trust which usually garnered more productive results when working closely as a team… but mostly he agreed with the concept because it provided opportunity to continue his personal study of James Kirk.
Admittedly the first attempt, dinner with the Captain and their Chief Medical Officer, had been disastrous. He really shouldn't have riled the doctor the way he had, but it wasn't through fault of his own that the doctor was so easy to rile and the Vulcan had so little time for amusement otherwise. He was rather fond of sparing with Leonard McCoy; it was an enjoyable endeavor.
The Captain's response to their argument had, however, given him pause.
"Christ, what's with the pissing contest? Isn't the whole point of the Federation, tolerance? We seek out new worlds. We gain new knowledge and understanding and for what? So the two of you can bicker like little old ladies over what culture is healthiest because of their handling of emotional responses? That's bullshit! Respect each other and like it! I vaguely remember reading that somewhere in the rules, regulation number whatever."
Tolerance - such a multifaceted word. He had never stopped to ponder that aspect of the Federation, but recognized immediately that the Captain had a rather profound point. There was strength in numbers, and the goal of any sentient being was the accumulation of knowledge, both assets were accomplished by more and more worlds joining their cultures and sciences together.
As a half human raised on Vulcan, Spock had encountered little in the way of tolerance while he had been growing up. Yet for him to have been judged so, to have been viewed so critically by his peers, went against the ideals of the Federation and even the ideals of his own people. Intolerance was illogical; it had no basis in fact, or in the gathering of knowledge. It also did little to endear them to those with whom they might partner in academic or personal pursuits.
Those who had viewed his eclectic ancestry with prejudice were wrong. That was a revelation for Spock.
For Kirk to have recognized that, no matter the tone of voice or vernacular he had used to impart said wisdom, was fascinating - and an even greater revelation.
There were times when it was hard for Spock to believe that Jim Kirk was only twenty-five years of age.
There were also times when it was hard to believe that he had made it to his twenties in one piece.
Their second endeavor at improving relations was infinitely more productive, at least in Spock's mindset.
Jim Kirk had challenged him to a game of chess.
Watching Kirk manipulate a chess board was like watching him face down an enemy with a hundred years of advanced technology, and a vendetta the size of the Alpha Quadrant. Kirk examined the pieces with idle glee before moving them and he challenged with his eyes for Spock to come up with a move that Kirk couldn't predict.
And yet, despite all of that, he lost. Spock expected the Captain to be angry and indignant about losing to his Vulcan first officer, particular since he seemed rather unable to admit defeat in any other venue, but Kirk actually took loss with rather amazing aplomb.
It seemed as though the man could never cease to be startling.
"It's not the outcome of the game that's the fun part, Spock," the Captain teased when Spock had attempted to call him on his cheerful demeanor. "It's how the game is played – the chase, if you will. And you can bet that the next time we play, I'm going to give you a run for your money. I've got you all figured out now. You won't know what hit ya'."
Jim did win the next round.
To a Vulcan, the worth of a game like chess also came from the mental exercise involved: predicting favorable outcome, and exercising effective strategy. It was amazing to find that despite his rough edges, and his ability to thrive on emotional responses, there were some parts of Jim Kirk that were almost Vulcan in nature.
Prior to becoming the first officer of the Enterprise, Spock had used his security access and done his research on Captain James T. Kirk. He knew that he had grown up in Iowa , and that there were numerous references to a stepfather and Jim 'disturbing the peace' with very public and very vocal arguments. He also knew that Jim Kirk's mother was seldom around to intervene, remaining on active duty as a Starfleet officer throughout the duration of Jim's childhood. Despite all of that, Kirk's test scores were astounding, his intelligence, a facet of himself he didn't display with the flashy bravado he most certainly could, was abnormally high.
There had also been many character notations referencing multiple romantic entanglements and a proverbial string of broken hearts left in his wake at the academy. In fact, it had been noted by those who had performed a psychological evaluation on Kirk's potential on as a future officer that the only relationship he had managed to maintain during his three years at Starfleet Academy was his friendship with Leonard McCoy.
In short, the psychiatric department of Starfleet medical felt that Jim Kirk had commitment issues stemming from a childhood of partial neglect and the lack of a decent male role-model.
If Spock were entirely human, he'd tell them that they needed to go back to school and re-earn their degrees with a slight edge of condescension in his voice. Their basic hypothesis was wrong - one had to get to know Jim better before making those kinds of assumptions. Clearly someone as adaptable as Captain Kirk wouldn't let a less than stellar childhood stand in his way of, well, anything. Not if he truly wanted it – not if it mattered to him.
As Dr. McCoy would say, like hell Kirk had issues forming attachments. He certainly had no problem committing to his crew.
In fact, he was so committed to his crew and the Enterprise that Spock felt the illogical urge to choke him … again.
There was no logic in sacrificing a Captain for lower ranking officers, yet that is exactly what Jim had done when he had volunteered himself in exchange for the captured away team.
And though he would only admit to it silently and quietly during his meditation that evening, the thought of leaving the Captain in the hands of those primitive beings and never seeing him again was disturbing.
There was a fire in Jim Kirk that the Vulcan couldn't help but be drawn to, like an Earthen moth to the flame. There were so many things about the Captain that were illogical, things that would otherwise repel Spock, and yet there was a sense of urgency there, a sense that where ever Jim Kirk was where Spock wanted to be. Jim had so much energy. He burned so brightly, standing out amongst the irrational in a way that firmly stated that, for Kirk, irrationality was actually completely rational – there was pattern in unpredictability in the sense that Jim Kirk would always be unpredictable. He was compassionate, he was marginally insane, and he moved through the universe with the brilliance of a solar flare.
He was the most determined and capable person that Spock had ever met. There was logic in capable. Capable was what any being strove for. And though he wouldn't have admitted it just months prior, Jim was a capable Captain - the best that Starfleet had to offer. He was also a determined friend.
Never had anyone worked so hard to be Spock's friend before.
Spock was so oddly touched by that. Jim made him feel. And for whatever reason, as long as Jim was the one to elicit those responses, those feelings, Spock did not automatically long to discard them, as any Vulcan would. Jim was, as he existed in everything, the exception to the rule … a space anomaly that Spock felt better-rounded for knowing.
So recognizing all of that, Spock took the logical course of action … he went down with the entire security department, weapons set on stun, and retrieved his Captain.
To quote Jim, if Starfleet had a problem with the methods he had used, garnishing advanced weaponry on a still technologically developing planet, they were cordially invited to bite him.
Since its conception Spock had know that his relationship with Nyota would not last for a long duration. Realistically the probability of them working out was less than five percent. For a human, Nyota was extremely intelligent and logically-minded … she was also young, passionate, and idealistic. Spock had known that it was only a matter of time before she moved on to someone who fulfilled her emotional as well as mental needs in a way that he, quite simply, could not.
Never would he have imagined that he would be the one to outgrow her first. The probability of that was less than 0.119 percent. And yet, that is exactly what had transpired.
Prior to meeting Jim Kirk, Spock had found Nyota Uhura quite attractive, and had developed a healthy respect in her abilities as a pupil, a star pupil at that, yet she didn't illicit the same psychological and physiological responses in his body that his Captain accomplished with very little effort.
Which meant that it was time to terminate their relationship.
Spock was hesitant to cause Nyota pain, he did not wish to harm her, but he knew with 100 percent certainty that he was not being honest with either her or himself should he allow their liaison to continue, and that being untruthful would cause even more heartbreak in the end.
It seemed as though his older, other dimensional counterpart had not been entirely forthcoming when he had indicated that Spock and Jim Kirk would be friends. In his albeit limited knowledge of human interaction, friends did not occupy ones thoughts at all moments of the day, even during meditation. And based on his understanding of human nature, friends also didn't naturally gravitate towards one another to the almost exclusion of others. Mere friends also didn't work in tandem so perfectly, almost synchronized in the way their minds should feed from one another to generate ideas.
Spock's unrelenting yearning to understand everything and anything that made up Jim Kirk had never wavered, never lessened, and with everything he learned, he wanted to know more. What had started as an experiment, a study of the volatile nature of his Captain and what key traits drove and motivated the man, had drastically morphed into something incomprehensible, yet strangely exciting.
Spock was really only beginning to reconcile with himself that he could spend several lifetimes studying Jim Kirk, and never tire of his fascination with him, and so, unfortunately, his relationship with Nyota had to come to its natural conclusion.
She took it better than he had anticipated, her demeanor indicating that she too had predicted the same outcome. And she smiled at him, sadly, and offered to remain his friend.
Spock thought that he could do friendship with Nyota in a way that he could never do friendship with Jim Kirk. Nyota he could feasibly not interact with beyond their professional capacity, and he wouldn't be too bereaved - upset at the loss of her companionship, yes, but not bereft.
The loss of Jim would be utterly significant. There would be something inexplicable missing. Spock couldn't fathom it, so he wouldn't.
Jim Kirk once preached tolerance, and Spock thought that the Enterprise would be pretty intolerable without him.
Spock didn't know how to approach Jim on his findings on their potential romantic, mental and chemical compatibility.
Spock often caught the Captain staring at him when he undoubtedly thought that Spock wasn't looking, but he would always turn away and shake his head slightly, as if he were denying his reciprocal interest in Spock to himself.
It was a behavior pattern that couldn't be allowed to continue... until it became apparent why the Captain would be hesitant to engage in a relationship where his penchant towards risk-taking would be overshadowed by the fear of the being irreparably damaged… again.
Spock had been with Jim when Jim's mother had called, but that in itself wasn't surprising. He spent the majority of his evenings with the Captain in some capacity, either for work, or for recreation. No, what had been surprising was that it took Jim breezing through the academy in three years and saving the Earth rather dramatically in his first stint as Captain for his mother to stand up and take notice that her son was rather remarkable.
Their conversation was the most awkward mother/son interaction that Spock had ever been privy to hearing.
"How are you, Jim, are you well?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks. You?"
"I'm doing good. Do you know when you might be returning to earth next? I'd like to see you."
"Why now? Why do you want to see me now?"
"Because you're my son and it's high time I got to know you. I've been a bad mother, Jim, I know this. And I wouldn't blame me if you never wanted to see me again. But I'd like to try to get to know you. I want to meet this heroic young man I keep hearing about that I wish I had more of a hand in raising."
"We'll see. I'll let you know."
Throughout his conflicted childhood, the tremendous burden of being born of mixed species, there had been one constant in Spock's life; he had had the love of his mother. She had loved him unconditionally, embraced him for who he was and encouraged him in his decisions.
He wondered who Jim Kirk would be if he had that sort of maternal devotion during his childhood. It made Spock feel extremely uncomfortable to think of Jim growing up without it. More than uncomfortable… it made him angry. Meditation that evening would undoubtedly be necessary to squelch the rage that threatened to engulf him, pulsating like a living entity under his skin.
With all his bravado and all his impenetrable stubbornness, Jim Kirk had never really known love. It was unfathomable really that Jim had overcome that and turned out as exceptional as he had.
It was also unfathomable that someone could know Jim and not be drawn to him.
"I find that there are few things about you that are unlikable," Spock told his Captain, wanting to remove that pain from those brilliant blue eyes.
It was a rather profound sense of irony that a Vulcan of all the universe's creatures, should want to give Jim his first experience with love.
The universe was often times as unpredictable as Jim himself.
Touching Jim was like running his fingers over the encasement of a gently vibrating ship engine. A human's skin was cool like metal, and Jim's mind a driving force, a constant pulse that never faltered, and drove steadily ahead, manning a body almost too small to encase the intensity behind his thoughts.
Every time Spock touched Jim he was slightly overcome by the vigor of the Captain's emotions. Jim Kirk threw himself entirely into everything he did, even thinking, and when Jim moved out of his touch, Spock felt a loss, like an adrenaline rush receding following a prolonged period of calisthenics.
When they touched, no matter how innocently, the energy that buzzed around Jim would partially transfer into Spock. It was a remarkable experience; each and every time.
Jim's mind sang to him, called to him, tantalized him; like a beacon.
With each fleeting touch, a caress of fingers against a muscled shoulder, or a flattened palm against a tense back, Spock attempted to communicate to Jim that he wanted all the way inside of his mind; he wanted to experience it, learn it and know it as well as he knew his own.
Until the day that Spock realized that his patience was not behooving either himself, or the Captain, and that Jim was infinitely stubborn in his denials, and thus Spock moved to capture Jim in a more direct embrace, and seal his intentions with a kiss.
The passion that was Jim Kirk rushed over him like a tsunami, engulfing him. He was no longer touching the encasement, he was touching the engine itself, and it burned, throbbed and pulled him in with the gravitational force of a sun.
No more denials, Jim. No more repression. No more solitude. We belong together, like this.
Spock both physically and mentally felt it as Jim gave in, felt his awareness engulfed by Jim's affections with same intensity that Jim gave to everything he did - wholly. He would no longer deny himself; he wanted Spock as Spock wanted him. He wanted love; he wanted connection.
There was only one word to describe what it felt like for Spock to be accepted so completely.
On the surface the term T'hy'la meant 'friend, brother, lover', but it had a deeper meaning, one almost inexplicable. It meant two forces coming together perfectly, as if by design.
To a Vulcan that meant 'like mind, like soul'.
To Spock that meant Jim Kirk.