I first started really reading Star Trek fanfiction sometime in 2009, after the reboot movie came out. I learned a lot of terminology that I had to look up in order to fully understand what I was reading. I was inspired to write something along these lines after I first learned the word T'hy'la and its meanings, as well as a theory from a sociology class. Maybe no one else will agree with what I've written here, but I'd like to think some people will see the similarities that I saw between these two things. Warning! This story contains pre-slash, a smart Kirk, and a crushing Spock. I don't own Star Trek or the titular triangle. I've continued to rate as a precaution, since I'm not quite sure where the line is drawn with adult themes.

Triangle

It was late afternoon on New Vulcan. Seated out on a patio-like balcony area were Captain James T. Kirk, Commander Spock, Doctor Leonard McCoy, Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, and Spock's counterpart, who now went by Selek. They were visiting the home shared by Selek and Spock's father, Sarek. It was a truly impressive home, having taken several months to finally be built. In addition to the two main bedrooms, they had three guest rooms. Jim took a moment to glance around at the circle of his friends. Spock and Uhura had broken up just a few weeks after the start of the mission, deciding that their relationship was not meant to be a romantic one, though they were still friends.

That had been about six months ago. Now it seemed she had her sights set on Bones, who was still hesitant about getting back into the dating game. While Jim wanted his friend to put himself out there again, he couldn't help but wonder what that would mean for him if they did start going out. Uhura still didn't really like him that much. He tried to let those thoughts go and went back to soaking in the end of the day rays of sunlight that weren't quite as harsh as during most light hours. They were all out of uniform and were mostly just reclining out in the dying heat, not talking about much. Selek suddenly broke the silence.

"Spock," he said, addressing his counterpart, "I received word today that T'Pring and Stonn have formalized their plans to bond. You may wish to consider searching for a mate yourself. I do not believe our father trusts his judgment enough risk a second attempt." Jim, always curious to learn more about his first officer, looked over at them.

"What are you talking about?" He asked Selek. It was Spock who answered him, tearing his glaring gaze away from his elder self.

"He is referring to the impending marriage of my former intended, and his opinion that I should this time seek out a mate for myself." Jim cocked his head.

"You mean you were supposed to marry this T'Pring chick? And you didn't decide that for yourself?" Spock nodded his head reluctantly.

"The closest human description I can use to describe it is a betrothal, although that is not entirely accurate. It was arranged by both of our parents when we were seven years old. We did not object, because this is how it has always been done, but we did not agree to it either."

"You mean you didn't really want to be 'betrothed' to her." Said Jim, understanding what he meant. Spock nodded his head minutely.

"I admit that neither one of us was particularly fond of the other. She, like many of our peers, believed that I was inferior due to my mixed genetic heritage. In light of the difficulties experienced by many, and the chaos that has ensued from so many Vulcans who have lost a bondmate and are seeking another, I decided it would be illogical to add to the Elder's problems by attempting to preserve something I was not amenable to in the first place. I did not particularly enjoy the thought of being permanently joined to someone who had such thoughts about me. My father has apparently chosen not to attempt securing a mate for me a second time, due to the fact that he now sees his first choice was not as adequate as he first thought." Jim just nodded.

"I don't think I would want to be with someone like that either." He let it go at that. Spock was grateful. He didn't know many humans who tried much to respect his boundaries, but Jim was making a serious effort. Selek, however, did not seem to think that it was necessary.

"Perhaps you will find you have better compatibility with someone who is not Vulcan. Perhaps you will even find someone who is T'hy'la." Spock and Uhura both looked at him, shocked by his openness in front of off-worlders. Jim and Bones looked on curiously.

"What's that?" Asked Jim. Spock tore his gaze away from Selek and back to Jim. His reply was slow, almost reluctant.

"T'hy'la is an ancient Vulcan word. Unlike most of our language, which is much more direct, it has multiple meanings that are significantly different from each other. It can mean friend, brother, or lover."

"So, you're looking for a lover?" Asked Jim. Spock hesitated again.

"What Elder Selek meant by finding T'hy'la is finding someone who can fulfill all three roles for their partner, and for whom their partner can do the same. Each definition can apply exclusively to someone, like a close friend, a biological relative, or a sexual partner, and many Vulcan's may likely find someone to whom they can apply one or two definitions, but it is very rare that one manages to find someone who meets all of them. Someone who provides the companionship of a friend, the trust of a brother, and the physical comfort of a lover. Such compatibility is almost unheard of today." He paused from his lecture for a breath. "I believe a close human equivalent would be a soul mate." Jim nodded thoughtfully.

"So, kind of like a Vulcan's love triangle." Uhura snorted from where she was sitting.

"Weren't you listening, Captain?" She asked, just a little bit of disdain in her voice. It was still a little hard to show respect to the man she'd had such negative thoughts about for those first three years they'd known each other. "He's talking about two people filling three roles for each other, not three people in a relationship." Jim was already shaking his head.

"That's not what I meant."

"What did you mean?" Asked Spock. There was no accusation in his voice, only honest curiosity. It was that curiosity that prompted Jim to explain.

"Back in the twentieth century, there was a psychologist, Robert Sternberg, who used the points and sides of an equilateral triangle to map out all the different kinds of love there are." Now it was Jim's turn to go into lecture mode. "The three points had the three components of all the different kinds of love; intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is emotional closeness, passion is the sexual aspect, and commitment is the intention to maintain the relationship. There are three kinds of love that only have one component to them, and they're also placed on the points. Those are: Liking, which is something you'd probably find with most friendships, infatuation, which is pure passion, and empty love, which is only based on commitment.

On the lines between the points, it showed combinations of two components. There's romantic love, which is passion and intimacy, but lacks any specified commitment. Then there's companionate love, which is intimacy and commitment. It's what you see between best friends, or maybe also family members who intend to remain a part of each other's lives despite taking different paths that lead to distance between them. And then there's fatuous love, which is passion and commitment, but lacks the emotional aspect of intimacy. A lot of these really aren't built to last, though sometimes they do." Jim paused for a moment to catch his breath, not accustomed to such a lengthy explanation.

"The big one though, is consummate love. It's shown on the inside of the triangle and has all three components. It's what a lot of people search for when they really get serious finding someone they can spend the rest of their life with, what they envision in an ideal relationship, or even in a soul mate. Sternberg said it's probably not only the hardest to find, but also the hardest to maintain because sometimes one or more of those components may fade away over time, causing it to become one of the 'lesser' forms of love." He paused again, and then added. "That's what I was thinking about when you started talking about the individual meanings of T'hy'la, and the possibility of having all three in one."

Spock, Bones, and Uhura were all looking at him surprised. They all knew that their captain was an intelligent man, but none of them expected him to know so much on that particular subject. It was still a little startling when Jim pulled out an answer or comparison they weren't expecting, and somehow it always made sense in the end. Most of the people who knew Jim no longer bothered trying to understand his line of reason. Somehow though, they never got used to hearing him sound so knowledgeable about a subject that had nothing to do with his line of work. McCoy was the one who voiced (in his own crude way) what they were thinking.

"Damn, Jim! Do ya just have a section in your brain set aside for random stuff?" The look on Uhura's face showed her to be in complete agreement with him. Jim chuckled.

"Something like that." Selek was the only one who didn't seem surprised. Rather, he seemed amused, watching them all with the tiniest of smiles on his face. Mostly the smile was for the fact that his young counterpart was looking at his captain with a mix surprise and respect. He knew all too well how rare it was for a human to come up with a valid comparison to a piece of Vulcan culture. It was one of the reasons they were so rarely inclined to share themselves with any of the other species' they associated with; they simply didn't think that those other species had the capacity to understand the Vulcan heart. He returned his attention to the setting sun, which was almost gone. The lights programmed to turn on if someone was out at that hour had just come on. He cleared his throat.

"I believe now would be a good time to return indoors and perhaps prepare for bed?" There was a general murmur of agreement from his guests. They all rose from their seats and headed indoors, bidding each other goodnight as they did so.


About half an hour later, Spock lay propped up against the pillows on his bed in the guest room. Just down the hall from him were Jim and McCoy, and further down was Nyota. Jim had told him that he and McCoy would room together to allow Spock and Nyota their privacy. It was only logical, Jim had told him, since he and McCoy had roomed together at the academy. He felt a flash of illogical envy for the doctor, getting to sleep in such close quarters with the attractive captain. He almost shook his head. He'd accepted his orientation long ago. While he found the female form pleasing, he had always felt a stronger physical attraction to males. Ultimately though, it all came down to mental compatibility.

As a telepathic race, Vulcans valued harmony between the minds above any other factor in their more personal relationships. It didn't matter if his next mate was male, female, Vulcan, or otherwise. If he could feel with his mind and heart that they were right for him, he would not care about their sex, gender, or species and they wouldn't care about his. Perhaps it was his human blood that was responsible for his feelings of physical attraction. He didn't bother to deny to himself that he found the captain to be very physically attractive. He'd been aware of Jim's pleasing appearance from the start, but the situation at hand, as well as the cadet's (at the time) questionable morals had led him to ignore it as he would with anyone else he had no romantic interest in. However, things had changed recently.

After working so closely with his now superior officer, he'd learned a few things about the man. He'd witnessed firsthand Jim's strong sense of right and wrong, and how he sometimes struggled to control his impulses to base his actions on that sense in the grey world of politics and negotiations he'd become involved in by joining Starfleet. There were moments when Jim's intellect staggered him, such as when he had to make elaborate plans while in the line of fire. He'd also witnessed Jim's strength, courage, and conviction in the few months since their five year mission began. But lately, he'd been seeing another side to the younger man. He'd seen how compassionate and understanding he was with his crew, many of whom were, like Spock, older than him. All of them admired and looked up to him.

There had been moments like today, where Jim had demonstrated knowledge no one expected him to have, like when Spock would talk about a project he was working on in the science labs only to realize that Jim actually understood and followed what he was talking about, or when he demonstrated impressive linguistic skills on a new planet without Uhura's help. Spock had also begun to see in Jim what humans termed 'his soft side.' Jim never hesitated to offer help to someone in need, and he never asked for anything in return. He often empathized with people in need. All in all, Jim was proving himself to be, in Spock's opinion, an exceptional human being.

He pulled himself out of his thoughts and returned his attention to his personal padd, which had finished uploading Robert Sternberg's Triangular Theory of Love. He studied the triangle, the chart that followed it, and the list of definitions for the different kinds of love. He found himself even more impressed by Jim's perceptions of the connections between the theory and the concept of T'hy'la now that he was seeing them for himself. He also started applying the different kinds of love to the people in his life. Commitment, empty love, was likely the only thing he would have ever felt for T'Pring, had they gone ahead with the marriage. Companionate love seemed an apt description for what he felt for his father, mother, and also Nyota. Despite the fact that their relationship had never involved the passion aspect, she was still a dear friend to him, someone he could count on to help guide him through life among humans.

Jim, he considered, was a little more difficult to place. He had no trouble admitting that he found Jim attractive, in body and mind. But he still didn't know Jim on a very personal level yet. He did know something about Jim's past romantic relationships, which seemed to fall under the category of romantic love, temporary arrangements with no certainty of commitment. He knew that Jim, despite his reputation as a 'ladies' man' had taken partners of the same sex and outside of his species. He recalled a day when he'd passed by sickbay and heard Jim telling McCoy that he thought Uhura a fool for breaking up with someone as handsome as him. He'd been grateful then that no one had been around to see him blush. But Jim's behavior had changed lately. As far as Spock could tell, Jim wasn't willing to risk his captaincy by having a cheap fling with a crewman, guest, or even a stranger on shore leave. Perhaps receiving captaincy had helped him grow out of his need for empty sex by letting him see his full potential. He'd also noticed, on occasion, that Jim would watch him on the bridge or in the mess, an oddly wistful look on his face.

Now that he thought about it, he had seen that same look in the eyes of his counterpart. He had that look anytime he looked at people who had, in his timeline, been long dead. That look seemed to intensify when his eyes were on Jim. It made him wonder about his counterpart's relationship with the other Jim Kirk. He knew they were friends, perhaps even best friends, but he didn't know much beyond that point. He also knew that his counterpart never married T'Pring either, but he didn't know who had eventually become his bondmate, or even how he'd escaped the original arrangement. He shook his head minutely and shut off his padd. He set it aside and settled down to sleep. Perhaps someday he would have some answers. For now, the possibility of Jim as a mate seemed like something worth tentative exploration, though he would be discreet for the time being. At the very least, the friendship his counterpart had promised was something he was looking forward to. They had over four years left on their mission, and he was going to see what would come of it. Maybe they would achieve that great friendship, or maybe they'd have even more than that. Either way, he had a feeling (yes, a feeling) that it was going to be an interesting next few years.

I know this is still pretty short, but it turned out a lot longer than I thought it would be. I don't know much about the Vulcan language, so I hope I wasn't too off on that comment about it being more direct without too many different meanings per word. The bit about the Vulcan heart was taken from the episode Amok Time. I think I learned about Sternberg's theory and the term T'hy'la around the same time, not too long after the new movie came out in 2009 and I started reading Star Trek fanfiction. I don't actually recall which one I learned about first, but after learning of both, parts of the two kind of matched up. Friend kind of goes with intimacy and lover can go with passion. Unfortunately, brother and commitment don't quite match up, although if you're committed to anyone it's your family. Mostly, it was just the fact that they both involve three things to make an ideal relationship that caught my attention and gave birth to this. I decided to use my higher education in a creative way and wrote what I hope is a relatively intelligent sounding fic. I put a lot of thought into this and I'd really appreciate feedback on it, so please review! It's kind of necessary to my self esteem with all the work I put into this one.