Nefertiri's Handmaiden

Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek. If I did, there would be more pon far.

Author's note: Spock doesn't know how to be weak. But people need to be weak sometimes. S/U.

Spock doesn't know how to be weak.

Spock needs to be strong. It is the only thing he knows. The only way he was able to claw his way through a childhood on a planet that scorned his existence as an abomination, the only way he was able to walk away from his parents when his mother was reduced to nothing more than a disadvantage. He takes comfort in his own strength, and this has perhaps led to a bit of arrogance; a bit of condescension.

But people need to be weak sometimes. Not just humans who cry for the men that they love, or Orions weeping over rejection of blue-eyed, sandy-haired boys, or wide-eyed doctors who have witnessed destruction and death and the creation of life in quick succession. People need to be weak; All people. Strength needs weakness to balance the other side of the scale.

So when the damn he's so carefully constructed around his emotions is compromised by a thousand cracks from pressure building up on the inside, its structural integrity tenuous, and then breaks like a levy under a flood, Spock cannot control the outpouring of anger - of weakness. It's a vicious feedback loop: the anger is a weakness and the weakness makes him angry. Jim Kirk is lucky he does not die (but, he'll say later over a glass of whiskey, a trademark cocky grin, and a game of chess, what's a strangling between friends?). Nyota is standing there next to his father, and he grips for control, for strength, and he is so ashamed to be who he is. Possibly he has always been ashamed, though he loves his mother and his father, and perhaps it is the love that causes the shame.

He's a man of contradictions, Spock is. A walking impossibility.

But there are many people who are grateful for this.


Nyota knows how to be weak, though she revels in her strength - and Spock's, too.

It is part of what drew her to him - though his striking, alien good looks and deep, deep brown eyes didn't hurt and his brilliance lit her up on the inside like the sparklers that her father would give to her to play with as a small child on New Year's Eve. The strength of him, the power of his body and his mind, was a rock that she wanted to flow against, lapping at the sides, caressing the stone. His composure was unreal, unhuman, irresistible. And when he dropped that composure to kiss her, she opened the heavy wardrobe doors to her soul and let him in. He was strong enough to handle her - her strength, her weaknesses, her humanity, her power. She loved him for it.

Sometimes she wishes she could say that she knew all along about the crushing ocean of emotion living inside of Spock: that she's been able to see through the glass aquarium that he kept his feelings in and read the colors inside with the same expertise that she reads Romulan (all three dialects, sir). But the truth is that she didn't. She had no idea about the bubbling magma that lived under the hard crust. (The fact is that there were only three other people in the galaxy who knew of Spock's fury in it's entirety, and they were the boys who had mocked Spock as a child and seen him snap, and all three died with Vulcan, though not even Spock would have wished them such a fate.) So when it explodes out of him on the bridge, she's so shocked that she can't think of anything to do to stop it. To stop him.

Sarek has more presence of mind. Possibly because he had some suspicions all along.

She's afraid, it's true. That kind of fury should always be frightening and should never be ignored. But more, in a sudden rush of understanding, she knows the man standing before her, struggling to catch his breath and gather his control as he admits to Doctor McCoy that he is emotionally compromised when there is nothing that could be more shameful for him to admit, and he does it in front of the entire bridge crew. She knows him and she loves him still. Her heart aches for him, for the burden she now knows that he carries, for the weakness that she knows he hates. She wants to tell him there, then, on the bridge, that it is okay, that she loves him, that she will never leave him, but she would not embarrass him further and she does not make promises she cannot keep, and she doesn't know if any of them will survive their next encounter with the Narada (for they all know there will be one) and she does not know if he will accept her in the morning.


Later, when the Narada is nothing but crushed alloy in a collapsed black hole and they are limping back to Earth on thrusters, he comes to her. The chime on her door sounds, and somehow she knows it's him before she gets to the living area to answer it. The door swishes open much too cheerily for the heavy cloud that's hovering over him. He's standing straight as ever, his hands clasped behind his back, his head held high and proud as always. But there's a lie in this body language, somewhere, that betrays him to her. His mere presence at her quarters is a telling admission. "Come in," she says before he asks or says anything, and steps back to allow him to pass her and enter. For several seconds he simply stands and stares out her window, where the stars float as though nothing in the universe has changed.

"Spock," she says. But there are no more words for her to say. In all the languages she knows, there are no more words for her to tell him everything she wants him to know; to offer him everything she's willing to give.

But apparently what she's said is enough. Because suddenly, as though he's a marionette whose strings have been cut, his posture crumples in on itself. His head drops to his chest and his shoulders slump and his hands become unclasped from their customary position and he sways a bit as his knees unlock, but he remains standing. The next second she's beside him, in front of him, guiding him to lean against her, share the strength that she can give to him right now. He slumps against her as though he's drunk, as if such a thing weren't preposterous. They sit on her sofa, his head in his hands, her hands on his back and her head against his shoulder. He does not cry.

He has forgotten how.

His mother would have wept for the loss of his humanity, but loved him anyway.

After a long, long, long while, he raises his head and meets her eyes. The profoundness of loss she sees there cuts through her, sharp as a knife, starting where her soul begins and digging in with vicious serrated edges. "What am I supposed to do now?" he asks her as if she'll know the answer, his voice wavering ever so slightly, his syntax uncharacteristically human. Again, she has no answers, though she wishes she could tell him what he needs to hear. There are no words to quell the deep, pure kind of confusion that death carries with it in a briefcase.

She strokes his face and kisses his cheek. Ever so slightly, he leans into her touch. She offers the only thing she can. "I'll give you whatever you need."

He thinks carefully, but then he has always been a thoughtful man. He grips her wrists in his hands and holds them to his face. "Before," he says slowly, "I asked you to be strong." She nods. "Now," he says, "I must ask you to be weak."

She understands, though to most the request would make no sense. She rests her forehead against his and she cries for him.


I wish I could tell you that Nyota unleashed Spock's humanity and let it flow through him comfortably. I wish I could tell you of smiles that he gifted to her privately, of tears that he eventually relearned, of laughter and anger and heartbreak. I wish I could tell you of wild, exuberant, purely human lovemaking with giggles and tickles and words of love whispered to her late at night in the comfort of their bed. But to say that Spock changed would not be the truth. If anything, he is more the same than ever.

He does not smile, though his eyes glow when he looks at her, as they have always done. He does not laugh when she tells him she carries his child, he does not cry when she miscarries for the first time, he does not shout when they argue. He makes love to her the way he always has: silent, focused, and thoughtful. He does not say that he loves her. She must know, though, because she never leaves him.

Spock is Vulcan because he needs to be, because it's all he knows, because it is what he wants to be. He needs the strength of identity, the serenity of logic. He needs the control. He needs to not be weak. Mostly, though, he is Vulcan because it is what and who he is.

But don't worry for Spock. Nyota sits on the other side of his scale, balancing him. Day by day, he learns. He learns how to go on without his mother, how to accept the fact that his planet is gone and his people scattered across the known galaxy, a diaspora of logic. He learns to rely on Nyota; to lean against her when things are difficult; which, he thinks, is as great an admission of weakness as he will ever be able to make. He is not ashamed. He learns to simply be who he is. It takes him a long time - though not as long as some - but eventually, he becomes a man.