Set (somewhat) at the window scene of STID. Basically, I got all feelsy and experienced an outpouring of what goes through both Jim and Spock's heads. Jim's half: an intro/remembrance of his self-appointed mission to rattle a bit of emotion out of Spock. Spock's half: a reflection on exactly how that worked out.
These characters are not and will not, sadly, ever be any possession of mine. They are the original creative property of Mr. Gene Roddenberry.
James T. Kirk was prepared to celebrate "breaking" Spock until the moment he actually managed it. After so many months of being an unmitigated pain in the ass, it wound up only taking him two words: "I'm scared."
It wasn't as though Jim's little crusade had ever been anything less than well-meaning (and, sure, childish). It simply appealed to the nine-year-old asshole that he still had yet to bury, that simple idea of squeezing some gasp of humanity out of his first officer. Spock, after all, bore things to a fault. Aggravators, like sustained contact with Bones (during which Jim undoubtedly saw the Vulcan at his most frustrated), only proved to shut up his steel trap even tighter. Spock was like an old Earth Chinese finger-trap that way; left alone, he acted agreeably enough and could almost get caught being pleasant. The second one applied pressure, however, his works jammed up "faster than shitty plumbing in the sorry dead of winter", as Bones would say.
(And by no means had Kirk ever locked Bones and Spock in the medical bay together just to double-check this theory; that was proven to be a door malfunction that, rather unfortunately, took place a full five hours away from the nearest available repair base.)
These were the exact wrong conditions in which to release Jim Kirk. It quickly devolved into an ever-present dance between the captain and his first officer, one continually poking and prodding, the other bearing it with both obtuseness and long-suffering indifference. The only emotion Jim had managed to drive into the light so far was pride; whenever Spock witnessed Jim and Bones' frustration at their inability to faze him, his demeanor nearly bordered on smugness. Jim had a hard time counting that as a point towards either side.
Sure, it may have gotten nasty and a little beneath them at some points, but never, ever had Jim's intentions been…this. He never wanted to hurt Spock. In many ways, he understood his friend (somehow, miraculously), better than those who'd known him for years. He figured at least part of it was owed to the mind-meld he'd shared with Spock's older self. In those brief moments, through Spock's eyes, he'd glimpsed snatches of who they'd been in a different life. He possessed at least an inkling of how Spock's mind worked now, even though he knew that this Spock, his Spock, was a different person. Just like he was a different Jim.
And so he knew that Spock's necessities, all his barriers and controls and functions, were not there purely for the sake of putting a stick up his ass (although that was often one side-effect). Spock was perfectly aware of the fact that he was half-human, despite the popular misconception. And he was, above all things, capable of emotion (if nothing else, the mind-meld had definitely shown Jim that). At the end of the day, Spock was the way Spock was because that was the way he chose to be. Logic, regulation, control: these things gave him order. He was simply most comfortable living that way.
Jim respected that. He may have given Spock the occasional unsolicited shove towards emotionality, even more frequently teased at moments where his actions teetered on the verge of the non-rational, but when Spock's walls went up he knew better than to push. His hunger for challenge and belief that moments of humanity were a good thing made such moments a goal, but never at Spock's expense.
He had never wanted to (much less believed that he could) make a Vulcan cry.
It was such an infuriatingly little thing, this glass. Spock was strong enough to break it. He knew the codes and procedures to open it. But there might as well have been a reinforced titanium wall between them. The differences between the two scenarios totaled to one: this way, he had to watch.
This was the second time he'd been made to watch while a life that was precious to him, an object that gave his life meaning and order, died. His world became off-balance and hollow the moment his mother slipped beyond the reach of his hand, the moment Vulcan was sucked down to one point in space and became nothing. That day, everything that told him of safety, everything that told him of home, had ceased to exist. He still remembered how total his change of structure was after that, the way he had to rebuild, the control it took to keep himself within the internal bounds and regulations that had, in a single instant, become all the familiarity and order he had left.
That day had taken so much out of him, left his structure shuddering and prone to leakage (as Kirk's little stunt on the bridge had proven). That had been a day. Billions of lives. His history lost. A world gone.
Then there was this. This was but one moment. One life. One pane of glass. And the structure that had shuddered on a day that marked the passage of billions gave one last tremble inside of him before blowing to pieces.
All it wound up taking were those two words: "I'm scared."
The Captain was never scared. Jim was never scared. He did not believe in no-win scenarios. Did not condone their existence. But Spock watched as his hand slipped from the glass, watched as his eyes closed. And James Kirk lost.
At the same time, in many ways, he won. The Enterprise was saved. Hundreds of lives preserved by the sacrifice of one. And Spock finally understood the reason why just one life could so efficiently devastate him. It was the difference in context, in himself. Something he'd failed to see.
Kirk was just one man. But during his brief stint in Spock's life, he'd fallen back on one of his oldest tricks: he'd changed the rules. Spock was a Vulcan. And Jim had made Spock feel.
Spock remembered all the times his captain had well-meaningly scratched at his apparent breaches in emotional control. He remembered watching Kirk dive into high-risk scenarios only to gamble and sense his way out against the steepest odds. Gut feelings. Compassion. Weaknesses turned to strengths. Impossibilities made possible right before Spock's eyes. Through it all (despite the fact that, from Spock's point of view, the Captain had worked veritable miracles), he maintained that no effect had been made on him.
Perhaps he was long overdue in acknowledging the sense of competition that existed within himself as well as his friend. (Friend?) At some point, unnoticed by Spock, Kirk had indeed filled that space. A space he'd never known to be vacant.
"Because you are my friend."
Spock was aware of the fact that a tear had escaped him. An explosion, internal and non-literal in nature, followed. Rage. Disbelief that could not be tempered by logic. Screaming that was entirely ineffective in letting out what had gotten in.
In those final moments, he'd told Kirk of his failure. Spock's failure. What he truly meant was something that the Captain could no longer appreciate. The one thing he'd been working for so tirelessly. The words Spock did not say, because they were so contradictory in their truth.
You won, Jim. You won.
A/N: Good reviews are fun. Honest reviews are useful.