Oh my god it lives! Again, as always, sorry for the wait. I was feeling uninspired for this fic for the longest time before I sat down and muscled through it. I hope you enjoy, and wish me luck in finishing the next chapter sooner XD
That night Spock and Jim shared the room upstairs as Sarek made his plans to talk to the council. It was a more than a little strange, sleeping in a bed and knowing Spock was just a few feet away on the floor sleeping on a mat. They didn't stay up late sharing secrets (neither really wanted to go there) or swapping war stories (most of them they already knew being on the Enterprise together) or talking about girls (Jim had a vast knowledge but whatever Spock knew apparently fell into that first secret category). They just fell asleep listening to the silence together.
When they woke Amanda made them breakfast before Sarek left with young Spock for school as usual. He seemed hesitant to leave, looking at Jim and his "cousin" with trepidation for some reason before he finally followed his father out the door.
Then Jim had one of the most awkward days of Jim's memory. Amanda was still around after all and even if she weren't he had no idea how to make small talk with Spock when they were twenty years in the past at his old home. If Amanda noticed how uncomfortable they were she made no comment. Spock made it a bit easier on him when he began helping her around the house. If Jim had prodded him to do it with a few nudges and disapproving looks when he tried to refuse he wouldn't tell. He'd thank him for it later he was sure, just like saving Vulcan. It wasn't like his pensive gazes at his mother were very well hidden.
"I hope you weren't disturbed by my son's behavior last night, Selek," Amanda said gently as they worked. "I support him fully no matter what, but I know it can be…off putting to those following the Vulcan way closely."
Spock paused only a moment before continuing his work. "No, Lady Amanda. Any child has much to learn. My young cousin has a more difficult road to travel than most."
Amanda smiled at him warmly. "You seem to understand him even better than my husband…"
"It is difficult for a father to bear less than perfection in his son," he said wisely.
"Can't say I can relate," Jim said. "But I think 'perfection' is a lot of pressure for a kid."
"Indeed…but I believe Sarek simply wishes to do his best by Spock. To see him struggle is difficult and if one were to ask he may confess having difficulty knowing what to do. For a Vulcan that is also a hard thing to face. But Spock shall find his way," the Vulcan answered.
Jim grinned a bit, wondering what sort of heart to hearts he had with his father. "That I don't doubt."
Amanda smiled as well. "I hope so. I respect Vulcan and all its traditions, to a point, but it is a hard life."
"Spock shall go through his kahs-wan soon, shall he not?"
"In another month, yes," she sighed, looking worried.
"Kahs-wan?" Jim asked. "Is this something else with the marriage thing?" he asked, trying not to show his distaste for the arrangement too much.
"Not exactly. It's a Vulcan right of passage."
"Vulcan pre-teens go to the Vulcan forge, where they must survive for ten days without food, water, or weapons."
"What?!" Jim asked. "That's…How is that logical?"
'Selek' sighed through his nose. "It is a tradition left from our history as a warrior race. It is reasoned that the kahs-wan is kept in order to ensure that while we are logical, we are not weak and able to survive. Even if Spock should fail once it is not a disgrace."
"I wouldn't say that…" Amanda murmured.
"Why?" Jim asked.
She sighed and rested her hands on the top of the mop, and her chin on top of her hands. "As Selek said, Spock has it more difficult than most. Sarek discussed it with me when the date was set. If Spock should fail once, the stigma will follow him. He'd be called a coward and more…Sarek doesn't expect him to fail. I worry it's a lot of pressure for him. Sarek expects a lot from him to be Vulcan."
"You do not expect him to follow through?" 'Selek' said.
"I want him to be happy, even if that means never showing it. I want him to be himself. I worry at times Sarek pressuring him to be a Vulcan will only drive a wedge between them, or worse, hurt Spock beyond what we can make up to him."
Spock nodded slowly, understanding better than she might think.
"Yeah…" Jim muttered. He wanted to ask Spock how it went for him when he did it, and if this did put a wedge between them, but he couldn't do it now in front of Amanda. Instead they turned the topic to easier things and continued their cleaning.
In the afternoon he stood and went to get his sun hood and shoes on. Spock noticed as he worked to polish the floors and paused. "What are you doing, Jay?"
"Oh, Jay tends to pick Spock up at school," Amanda said. "I know Vulcan is safe of course but I just feel better about it."
Spock didn't seem to know what to think of that as Jim stood and put his hood up with a smirk.
"If you'd like to go with him that would be fine, I can finish up here," she added.
Jim wanted to say no, if just to avoid his second-in-command's disapproving gaze, but he was already setting the polish mop aside. "I would find a walk agreeable, thank you."
He went over and pulled his own boots on, not needing a sun hood with his Vulcan adaptations and looked at Jim expectantly. Jim sighed and opened the door, walking out with him. "I don't need a babysitter," he said in a low voice to him.
"Past actions have called that statement into question," he said back.
"Oh, snarky Vulcan."
"I am not 'snarky'. I am truthful," he said with leveled, narrow gaze.
"Look, I can take care of myself-"
Spock suddenly grabbed his upper arm in a bruising grip, leaning down to actually glare (well, narrow his eyes menacingly) into Jim's eyes. "You are a Starfleet Captain. You do not simply 'take care of yourself' anymore. You are in charge of a multitude of lives that are not your own. A fact you seem to take for granted too often. I do not know what value you place on your life, but the crew of the Enterprise values their captain's lives highly. Even at times when he doesn't deserve it. And that is because they expect the captain to value their lives as well."
Jim glared back and tried to wrench his arm out, though it was like trying to pull it from a vice. "I do!" he nearly shouted. He paused when a few Vulcans turned to them and Spock did let go for some sense of propriety. "I do," he said softer as he started marching forward. "I fuck up a lot, I get that, but I do it because I want to do what's right. Not just for me, but for everyone…"
Spock was quiet and they continued walking to the school. Jim rubbed his arm with a petulant glare at him. The silence was growing strained as they walked though, and Jim began to grasp for something to talk about. "So…this kahs-wan thing…"
"You have questions about it?"
"Yeah, kind of. I'm just curious how it was for you. We won't be here for it so…you came out of it okay, right?"
"I succeeded if that's what you mean," he said.
"Okay, good, but more I was wondering if you got hurt."
Spock looked at him from the corner of his eye before looking ahead again and opening his mouth. He paused however and seemed to take on a slightly troubled expression, his brow knitted.
"What's the matter?"
He shook his head slowly, looking down at the sidewalk as they continued on at a slower pace. "I know that I have undergone the right. I know that I passed, but…my memory seems to be fuzzy. Mother…Lady Amanda said that my kahs-wan is next month, but I feel it is meant to be earlier."
"Okay, so you have a bad sense of time."
"My sense of time is accurate to 1/9th of a second," he said primly. "It is not just that. I have a strange feeling that though I was alone, there was another there. One that helped me…and a sense of danger."
"Danger?" Jim asked. "What do you mean danger?"
"I do not know. My memories feel as though they are undergoing some sort of shift I cannot explain and do not understand. I cannot be certain which are real and which are not."
"That doesn't sound good," Jim said. Regardless of how he and Older Spock get along, he didn't want anything to happen to younger Spock. He'd already gotten shot for him once, but somehow that didn't deter the protective instinct he felt.
"I cannot tell you what it might mean as I have never experienced this before. Perhaps something else will be changing soon and until then the pieces of my memory are jumbled until it has a concrete memory."
"Okay, that kind of makes sense…doesn't help us with this danger premonition you have."
"A premonition would be a prediction of something to come. This is a memory of something past."
Jim rolled his eyes at how the Vulcan always had to try and correct him. "That hasn't technically happened yet. Thus, it is a prediction of something to come." Spock frowned but couldn't deny he had a point with that semantic argument. He also looked worried though. Jim nudged him lightly with his elbow, hoping it wasn't proposing marriage or something. "Is your premonition pretty bad?"
He sighed and nodded slowly. "Though I cannot remember anything specific, my overall experience of this time is one of…great fear and grief."
"Fear and grief? Aren't those Vulcan no no's?" he tried to joke.
"We control our emotions. It does not mean we do not have them," Spock said, still worried. Whatever this was, it seemed to be eating at Spock very deeply.
Jim nodded slowly. "I've kind of noticed. Sorry, didn't mean to belittle it or anything."
Spock nodded to him, accepting the apology, but still seemed distracted. "I would like time to think and attempt to discern what this means."
Jim smirked a bit at the tone he had. "In other words you want me to shut up so you can think?"
"If you would be so kind," he said, perhaps a bit of amusement leaking into his voice.
"Fine, fine," he said. "I'm used to walking in quiet on the way to school." Spock hummed but said nothing more as they kept walking towards the school.
As they got closer Jim could hear the monotone voices of Vulcan children once again cornering Spock.
Little Spock had his head down, obviously trying to keep calm as the children continued to hurl insults at him. Jim growled and moved to go through the gate towards them when a more gentle hold on his arm halted him. "Do not."
"I'm not letting him take this," he hissed. "I didn't the first time I saw it, I'm not now!"
Spock seemed surprised by his ready defense but shook his head. "I…he must learn to fight his own battles."
"You are not a true Vulcan," one child said, and Jim could see Older Spock's jaw tick minutely.
"It bothers you still," he whispered in realization. "But you won't go stop it?"
"I must learn to fight my own battles," he said again.
"Then you go stop them! You're him, it's your battle!" he snarled.
Spock hesitated still and Jim wanted to push him towards the group.
"You're father betrayed his people when he married an earth woman."
That did it for younger Spock apparently, who lunged at the boy and knocked him down. Another quickly pushed him off before he could strike though and the young Vulcan landed in the dirt.
"Shit!" Jim cursed, ignoring the older Spock and rushing towards him. "Hey you brats! What did I say last time!"
The children turned and quickly ran while he glared after him but stood protectively next to the young boy. He looked down and frowned as he got up and dusted himself off. "You okay?"
"I am fine," he said tersely, not looking at him. His face was pinched in restrained anger and annoyance though. Jim recognized that look well, having felt similarly many a time.
"…Ready to head home?"
Spock was quiet before nodding softly. He walked beside him as they headed back towards the gate. The younger boy looked surprised to see his older self and flushed, looking away. "…I am sorry you had to witness my unfortunate lapse in control and display of emotion, cousin," he said as if it were expected of him.
Older Spock looked considering before nodding. "In the family, all is silenced. No more shall be said of it."
Younger Spock looked up before nodding again with a more relieved look. Jim smiled a bit at his first mate as they began walking back for home. The younger man rather walk between the two of them for whatever reason, walking closer to Jim than his 'cousin'. They arrived home and I-Chaya bounded over, rubbing his head against Spock's chest as if sensing his young owner's rough time. His head was large enough it should bowl the young boy over, but he stood his ground. Either that showed how steady Young Spock was or how gentle the sehlat could be. Spock stroked over the long-toothed cat's fur and seemed further calmed as it gave a rumbling purr that reminded Jim of a semi-truck's engine.
"Welcome home, Spock," Amanda said with a smile.
"Thank you, mother."
"Your father will be home soon. Go wash up and complete your studies."
He nodded, going up the stairs towards his room. I-Chaya remained, going over to older Spock and also rubbing against him. He hesitated a moment, but when the big cat turned his brown eyes up to him all that Vulcan resolve seemed to melt and he rubbed over his head. Jim smiled a bit more at that. Then the sehlat suddenly stood on his hind legs and pushed Jim against the wall, licking over his face.
"Bah! Jeeze, I've had girlfriends less handsy than you…" he muttered, rubbing over the cat's ears affectionately. Spock's brow arched as he looked at them, the sardonic look well known to the blonde. He noticed it out of habit and stuck his tongue out. "Don't give me that look, Lieutenant. You're just jealous he likes me best."
"There is so much incorrect at that statement I shall ignore it rather than correct you," he said, walking towards the kitchen to likely help his mother.
Jim rolled his eyes and looked at I-Chaya. "He's jealous."
The cat just huffed and licked him again before landing back on his feet.
Jim smiled and patted his side as they went to sit down together and read the news reports on a padd. Young Spock came down a few moments later and sat with him, I-Chaya laying his head in the boy's lap. Maybe I'm not his favorite favorite…but he likes me better than Older Spock.
The young Vulcan looked over at him and he smiled fondly. He flushed green and looked down, rubbing over his pet's head slowly. "…Jay?"
"You saw what happened again. Are you disappointed in me?" he asked, staring at the floor.
Jim was surprised by the question and blinked. "Disappointed?"
He breathed deep, gathering his words slowly. "I was once again ridiculed by my peers. I let my emotions get the better of me again. And even so, I was ineffectual. I was usurped and further humiliated." Though his face remained calmer, I-Chaya gave a small whine when his strokes got too rough. He smoothed over the fur apologetically. "I am disappointed in myself, as my father would be too, but…are you disappointed in me?"
An image of Jim's mother came to mind, back when he too was worried about disappointing her. Eventually he'd given up on that and simply focused on living his life. He wondered why Spock was focusing on him that way though rather than his own mother or father. On autopilot though he was shaking his head and patting the back of his head. "I'm not disappointed, Spock. Yeah, you weren't exactly Vulcan, but neither am I. I can't fault you for something I couldn't do either or that I don't really believe in. If it bothers you, do better next time. Be Vulcan, be not Vulcan, I don't really care as long as you're happy. Just don't listen to those kids, okay? I have a feeling you're going to be pretty spectacular when you grow up and you being half human is part of that." Spectacular and an ass, but I'm gonna ignore that in favor of you being cute now.
Spock blushed again but a slight smile came to his face. "Thank you. That means very much to me."
Jim smiled and ruffled his hair, chuckling as he quickly tried to get it back into order. Neither of them noticed the curious gaze of another from the kitchen.
"I...if I were older..." he began, a slightly green flush coming to his face.
"If you were older...what?" he asked when he wouldn't continue.
"If I could choose my own bondmate," he amended. "Would you support me?"
Jim blinked before smiling again and patting his back. "Of course. Whatever makes you happy I would be in full support of."
Spock smiled at that, seeming both relieved and very happy. "I am glad."
"You got someone in mind?" he teased.
Young Spock blushed but nodded slightly and Jim grinned more. You pointy eared Vulcan dog...
Before Jim could ask anymore on the subject the door opened as Sarek finally arrived home. I-Chaya went to greet him as well, though much more sedately. Sarek patted his head. Amanda came out from the kitchen with a smile and Spock rose to walk over to him. "Welcome home, Sarek."
"Welcome home, Father."
"I am pleased to be home," he said, giving his wife a finger kiss and then stroking over Spock's head.
"Dinner is almost ready," Amanda said.
"I shall go get ready then. Jay, Selek, I trust your day was relaxing?"
"Very much so, sir," 'Selek' said.
"Yeah, nothing stressful."
"Good," he nodded, turning to go put his things away in his office.
"We had best wash up as well, Jay," 'Selek' said.
"Ah, right," he stood and headed to the bathroom.
When he returned they sat down for dinner and Jim wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary. Of course, he had to remember that his situation, as well as Vulcan cultural dynamics, was not what he considered ordinary.
"I have heard from T'Pring's family. The initial bonding ceremony shall take place two weeks from now."
For a moment it was like a pin dropped. Apparently Sarek was still determined to go along this route even after last night's fiasco.
"Father, I still refuse to go through with it," young Spock said seriously.
Sarek breathed quietly before looking at him. "I do not put you through this because I seek to be unfair, Spock. Being Vulcan means following disciplines and philosophies that are difficult and demanding of both mind and body. You constantly display your emotions of late. I have heard that you have even been fighting in the streets." Spock's color flushed and beside Jim he could see the older counterpart's fingers dance almost nervously over his fork.
"I do not seek to force anything upon you that I do not feel is necessary. This bond is important for any Vulcan and must be carried out. I understand if T'Pring is perhaps not your ideal now but I feel that if the two of you got to know one another as I grew to know your mother then you would come to value the match."
"I would wish to choose my own partner," the boy said. Jim smiled, rooting for him in his head.
Sarek just closed his eyes as if gathering his patience. "As much as any would wish to do so, and I see the fortune in such things when I chose your mother. But you are young. Such decisions are not to be taken lightly and your mother and I have chosen T'Pring after much deliberation with her parents."
Amanda had a slight mulish expression at that and Jim had a feeling her being part of the choice had been quite reluctant. Spock also looked upset by this. "Then why not do away with this match and allow me to make my choice later?" the boy debated.
"Because the foundation of the bond now will mean a stronger bond later, and the strength can lend to a more harmonious life later. You are young, but you will understand later—"
"I am tired of being too young," he snapped. "I am too young to make a decision that shall effect the rest of my life so others may make it for me, even if i disagree? I find such an idea distasteful."
"Be that as it may, it is not something you can change. Use these formative years to better yourself and your Vulcan disciplines. Until you are a proven adult you are still abide by the traditions of Vulcan and the dominion of your parents."
Spock glowered at his dinner again and opened his mouth, but paused as he thought that over. "A proven adult?"
"Yes. You must be a proven adult before your opinion will be truly accepted outside this house. And inside I am still the head of this house hold and shall decide what is best for you since you do not know."
Spock huffed slightly, but didn't get up to leave like the other night. He ate without any other words to anyone and a thoughtful expression on his face as if planning something, though he still looked annoyed as well. Jim frowned and looked at his older counterpart. That Spock also ate quietly, not looking troubled by the discussion. Amanda was looking between Sarek and Spock with varying degrees of worry and annoyance.
Once finished young Spock stood. "I wish to be excused that I can finish my schoolwork."
Sarek nodded. "You are excused."
The young boy turned and headed upstairs while the adults finished and cleared things up. Jim caught Spock by the arm when they were alone. "Hey…does this bother you?"
"You shall have to be more specific. Does what bother me?"
Jim sighed and glanced over at Sarek. "How your father…reacts."
"…I know that he might seem harsh in some ways," he said quietly. "And I cannot deny I begrudged him for many years for some of the things said and done in my youth and even in my maturity. But in our time, my father and I have made our peace. He has helped me to understand he did what he did in hopes to help me adapt to my heritage and my home here on Vulcan. His methods and delivery are unintentionally punitive, it is merely that he does not know what else to say or do. I understand that now. My younger counterpart does not have this retrospective. And as we should not tamper with the time stream any further than necessary, it is best he discover this for himself."
Jim frowned but sighed. "I guess…makes me wonder what my dad would've been like."
"It is hard to say. I have no doubt you could've used some discipline in your youth if what you say is true however."
"Haven't heard that one before," he sneered.
"What are you two talking about?" Amanda asked curiously from behind them.
Jim smiled charmingly. "Nothing, just asking for some clarification on a few things."
Amanda looked a bit questioning but smiled. "I see. Well, Sarek and I are going to turn in early. Feel free to watching something on the view screen if you want."
"Thanks. Goodnight, Amanda."
"Goodnight, Jay. Goodnight, Selek."
"Goodnight, Lady Amanda," he nodded politely.
Amanda went over, walking off with Sarek towards their room.
Jim sighed and headed to the living room, sitting down with a flop on the couch. Spock joined him more calmly, sitting back with him. "…I guess we'll be going back to our time soon."
Spock looked at him and nodded. "Of course."
"I'm gonna miss it here."
One slim eyebrow rose. "You will miss it here?"
"Yeah. It's been…nice being with your family. I told you, mine wasn't exactly great growing up. And no matter how difficult some things are it still feels like a family. My old home was like a bunch of strangers living together most days."
Spock was silent before nodding slowly. "I admit, I took much of this for granted when I grew up here. Seeing it again has awoken a longing I did not anticpate for the simpler times I could see my mother and even my father whenever I wished."
Jim looked at him and then turned more fully, wanting to engage him. "Why'd you come to earth anyway? Couldn't you have gone to that big fancy academy?"
Spock stared before nodding slowly. "Yes. I was offered a place at the Science Academy. However at my acceptance ceremony I found my elders views of my parentage…distasteful."
Jim blinked then frowned. "They looked down on you for being half human?"
"Fuck them," he said.
Spock breathed but Jim could swear he saw his lips twitch. "I did not use such words, but I told them I would rather go to Starfleet than the academy."
"Ha, good for you," he grinned.
"Perhaps. But my father was not so understanding of my decision. We did not speak for nearly ten years till I sought to save the Vulcan elders that day."
Jim's jaw fell slightly. "Shit…I'm sorry."
"As am I. It put a great strain on my mother as well. I wish that perhaps I had made more of an effort to reconcile, that she would've…passed knowing we would be on decent terms once more. I know that is what she would've wanted."
Jim sighed and patted the Vulcan's shoulder, drawing his attention back to him. "I'm sure she would've. But she probably knows you're good now."
"…She is dead, Captain. That is not possible. And it is not logical to believe in ghosts."
"Her spirit, Spock, her spirit knows. Even if you don't believe in that sort of thing, I believe someone like her would have enough spirit to still watch over you both still."
Spock stared for a long moment before nodding slowly. "It is at least a comforting fantasy."
Jim rolled his eyes but smiled.
"I have also thought further upon my kahs-wan," Spock went on suddenly.
Jim perked up at that. "Yeah? You figure out why you feel like something bad happens?"
"A bit. I remember being in danger from something. I believe I very likely would've died."
Jim paled, dread going through him. "Died?! Spock, that's-why are you so calm?!"
"Because I remembered that I was rescued as well," he said simply. "I remember someone…perhaps two someones or more came to my rescue. It is because of them I am alive."
"Well…that's good," Jim said, relaxing again. "Scared me for a second there."
"Indeed. I still feel as though it was much earlier than intended though," Spock went on. "It feels almost as though it should be within these few days…"
Jim snorted softly. "If younger you even thought about it I swear I'd drag you back myself."
Spock blinked and arched his brow. "You have become strangely protective of my younger self…"
Jim blushed a bit but shrugged. "I was a younger kid but…I don't know. It's like you've been a little brother to me. I wouldn't let anything bad happen to you I could prevent."
Spock seemed to be at a loss for words at that and looked away. Jim sighed, thinking he'd just made things rather awkward. He picked up the remote and turned the viewscreen on, flipping till he found a basic documentary on neurosciences that would at least fill up the silence.
It was a couple of hours in that Jim was lightly dozing with his head hanging on the back of the couch that he was started awake by an odd sound. Spock was watching the documentary but also seemed to pause and look about with a frown. Jim paused the remote and listened more intently. He could hear a slight growling whine from outside, one sounding fearful and worried. He turned towards the back door and squinted to see I-Chaya pacing around the fence, buffering against it now and then with his great girth as if trying to get it to open.
"What's wrong with him?"
"I am uncertain…I do not recall I-Chaya acting this way before," Spock said, frowning.
"Huh…" Jim stood and climbed over the edge of the pit, walking to the back door. He pulled it open, noting the chilly desert night air, and pulled his shirt closer around him. "I-Chaya! What's up, buddy?"
The cat whined again, padding around in circles between the house and the fence. Now and then he would brush against decorative urns set up filled with a tree made of metal and shiny dangling gold leaves, making them shake and tinkle with a lovely sound despite the desperate gait. Jim frowned and went over, patting over the animals head. He looked around, wondering if there was something out here that made the sehlat so upset. He paused when he looked up to see young Spock's window was wide open, a rope hanging down from it. Jim felt suddenly very cold before he turned and bolted back through the open door.
"Capta-" Older Spock began, caught off guard by his sudden burst of speed.
He ignored him and bounded up the steps and to the end of the hall. He breathed deep, not wanting to yell and wake Amanda and Sarek in case he was wrong. He pushed the button on the door and spoke in a harsh whisper. "Spock, open the door please, I wanna talk with you."
There was no answer.
He pushed again, nearly growling out. "Spock, open the door!"
Still no answer. He quickly typed in an override code that he was sure would surprise the young boy to learn he knew and the door slid open. Inside was a very sparse room with a bed, desk and other normal things as well as a work table filled with scrap parts of electronics and other projects. But nowhere was there a seven year old Vulcan boy.
"The twentieth of Tasmine."
Jim turned to see a rather pale Spock behind him. "What?"
"That is today. This is the day I remember going on my kahs-wan. It seems however I did not inform my parents…"