Author: Hypatia Kosh
Contact: athena_sappho at yahoo
Rating: G (if the MPAA weren't homophobic, that is)
Summary: Just a little heartwarming emotional pornography.
Thanks to: My amazing last-minute beta, Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
and Sugary Spirk Cheerleader, who also provided the title. Thanks!
Admiral--no, make that Captain--Kirk looked up suddenly, startled from his reverie. Warmth suffused his face when he caught Spock's limpid gaze. He had been thinking of Spock . . .
"I hesitate to broach this subject, since I am certain that you considered my assignment carefully, and I would not presume to question your judgment in a matter such as this--"
Kirk coughed to interrupt this stream of hedging. "What subject are we discussing, Spock?"
"My assignment, Captain."
Kirk felt momentarily mystified. "Take a seat, Spock," he said, moving a chair so that Spock could sit next to him, rather than across the desk. The captain ran a hand through his hair. "Your . . . assignment? Is there a problem?"
Spock seemed to shrink back, almost imperceptibly, from the scrutiny of his superior officer.
"Yes. It simply occurred to me, sir," he stated drily, as if he were discussing The Electro-chemical Properties of Lyso-PAF and Lyso-PC Substrates, "that considering my condition, in particular that I was only very recently released from care on Vulcan and my actual lack of experience, that it were unwise to name me executive officer."
"Were?" Kirk chuckled. He considered Spock a moment, leaning back and tilting his head a bit, and folding his arms across his chest. He wondered if Spock knew that he had already lost this argument before he walked in the door. Kirk let his hands settle on his knees. "You know, Spock," Kirk said irrelevantly, "English isn't supposed to have a subjunctive."
Spock pursed his lips, but otherwise did not answer. "It seems to me," he said quietly, "that you are motivated more by emotion than reason in this matter. I may, however, be in error," he offered, "in which case I respectfully ask your rationale."
"Hmm," Kirk answered, cheerily. "That's a rather serious accusation in your book, as I recall."
"I mean you no disrespect, Captain."
Kirk sat up straight. "Can't you call me 'Jim?'" he asked. "Don't look at me like that. I don't care what they told you on Vulcan--we've been friends for almost twenty years. You don't have to act like you don't know me."
Spock averted his eyes. "That is precisely my point. I am not the Spock you once knew. I may have his memories--"
"His living spirit," Kirk corrected. "Or so I was told."
Spock's eyebrows went up a fraction. "Be that as it may, you must weigh your memory of me as your comrade of so many years with the inescapable fact," and he emphasized this last work with careful diction, "that I have only been alive for a matter of months. Though I theoretically bear the experience of a career Starfleet officer, in actuality the last mission amounts to the sum total of my experience."
"I know," Kirk said, speaking somewhat more soberly than before, "and you didn't exactly act like a greenhorn."
"I performed adequately, and I feel compelled to point out that I was in no way required to serve in a leadership position at any point during the mission."
Kirk nodded, still quite untroubled.
"Captain--Jim--you must realize that I rose to the position of executive officer only after eighteen years in the service, and that even then I was essentially unprepared for command. My first command, in fact, was an unmitigated disaster."
"Oh, come on," Kirk grinned, "you survived it."
"You should really work on that tendency of yours to exaggerate, Science Officer," Kirk teased with unholy glee. Spock pursed his lips *and* looked away, still as a statue. Kirk surmised that he was holding his tongue with effort.
"Say it, Spock. If I've gone too far the least you can do is tell me off."
"If you would allow me to finish?" Spock said calmly, as if Kirk's words had never found voice. "As I recall, it took years for me--for the former Spock, the one you knew--to learn how to lead human beings effectively. My original strategy was to garner compliance through force of intimidation. Had you not chosen to instruct me, by your words and example, I should surely have failed."
Kirk smiled easily. "It should be obvious, even to a logical being like yourself, what my answer to that would be."
"It is not," Spock answered bluntly.
"Consider this, Spock: when the five-year mission began, you were very poorly prepared to take on the duties of a first officer. You still did remarkably well, and we worked on your rough edges. This time, you may be coming in with the same lack of preparation, but you--and I-- have the advantage of having gone through this process once already. In fact I've mentored quite a few officers, so I ought to know what I'm doing, and you can at least theoretically draw on your memories from your . . . previous life." The captain nodded his head at Spock. "How's that for rationale?"
Spock sat up a little straighter. "You do make a reasonable case." He fidgeted slightly, rubbing the right thumb over the left of his clasped hands. "Jim," he said roughly, "at one time I had accumulated a very extensive knowledge of human emotionalism: body language, facial expressions, vocal modulation, behavior patterns, motivational factors. So far, only a little of this has come back to me." He shook his head slightly. "I cannot 'read' humans as I once could."
Kirk stirred, putting his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Most people can't read you either."
"I do not expect them to."
"And only about eighty percent of the crew will be human. Unless you doubt my ability to pull together an integrated crew, what you're describing is hardly a fatal flaw."
"Nevertheless, I know that I was once capable of more than this. The others will expect me to be as I was before."
"If they have any sense, they'll realize that you have the *potential* to be that person again," Kirk reassured. "Seems like a good enough goal to strive for, doesn't it?"
Spock raised a querulous eyebrow.
"I'm serious, Spock. Your doubts are understandable. I've had the same questions. But I've been watching you, Spock, and I don't think you've been doing so badly at all. You're on good terms with your father, which we both know is an accomplishment. You stood with us at the sentencing, and I don't think you know how much that meant to me--to all of us. And," he blushed, "you must remember how it was between us, because you came in here without announcing yourself."
"I--It did not occur to me to signal until I was already here, at which point it seemed illogical to leave the room so that I could do so."
Kirk slid his hand that was resting on Spock's shoulder down his warm arm and onto his joined hands. "You don't need to knock," he said quietly, "you can come right in."
"I am certain," Spock said as Kirk watched him speak in profile, "that you would find what has been on my mind not at all welcome."
Kirk insinuated his hand between Spock's, separated the closest one and squeezed. "Really?"
"I am not the same being you once knew," Spock answered, as Kirk leaned in closer. "You have simply transferred your feelings of affection for Spock you once knew to me."
"So you're saying since there's a discontinuity, it's illogical for me to still have those emotions for you?"
Kirk took Spock's hand into his own lap, and intertwined their fingers. "I'm not the same man you met twenty years ago either. My claim to continuity is only slightly better than yours. These aren't the same cells, or the same thoughts--"
"But the same bones," he said, considering Kirk's hand. "And certain classes of cells will have persisted. My physical body is a facsimile, and I will never be quite the same." Spock paused for a moment. "The healers tell me that despite the rapid aging I endured on Genesis, my brain in many ways resembles that of a juvenile."
"They tried to cram the learning process of a lifetime into a few months. I know, it won't be quite the same. But, do you know what I do know?" he said, making a point of meeting Spock's eyes. "There are many things that make you unique and those things have not changed. And you know what else?" Spock shook his head. "A long, long time ago, you became a piece of me, and I couldn't imagine life without you. You're family to me. I couldn't stop loving you any more than your parents could not call you their son." Kirk pressed on despite the heat in his cheeks. "You're still my," he struggled before settling on the awkward and inadequate word, "brother, and you always will be."
Spock was very still. Kirk saw his chest rise and fall with each breath, but that was all. Finally he squeezed Kirk's hand, the one that had captured his. Kirk felt a knot of worries untangle like liquid. Spock took Kirk's captive hand and laid it over his Vulcan heart. His eyes glowed with affection.