what i am to you
to KK, who has never had a fic dedicated to her before, K'Sal, the best beta in the known universe, and Adrienne, who was very sweet to edit it for me
--There was a time when, if I'd seen you, I would not have known your face?
Strange, Spock, as the thought that you might look at me without comprehension, the way you look at everything, from a haggard, thin-drawn face. Do not look at me with the distant eyes you turn on McCoy, Scotty, Uhura.
But I need not have feared. You pause in front of me, still frowning, but there is a spark for me in your eyes--not what I am used to from you, but compelling. I name it a spark of recognition.
"Jim. Your name...is Jim." You know my name when you do not know your own.
I do not know until I start breathing again that I have stopped, that I have not done it properly for all the time you were gone. My best friend, my right hand, my--can there be words for what you are to me? I would not have known it before; now I understand that you define me, just as, apparently, something about me defines you. There is--so much simple joy, spreading through me edged with relief, that I can close my eyes for the moment to my other cares.
You are here; you live. You are safe.
You know me, and I sense that you do not want to walk away, though I don't think you truly--know, or remember.
You go, and I watch. We will speak again.
It's cursed hot everywhere on Vulcan except in the cool, tasteful buildings of the government complexes, Star Fleet installation, VSA--all of which I've seen more times than I care to count, whiling away long, long days waiting to see you again.
There's a trick to staying cool in the warmth of your parents' house. Other than not moving, I can move very slowly. Of course, you know me. I'm often too impatient for that.
I try not to frown too much, because it seems ungrateful to worry and fret to see you when you're alive, and surely that's all that matters? I know I do not always succeed from the looks Uhura and McCoy think I don't see.
I can't count the number of times I have been warned that you don't remember. They know I think of the way you said "Jim," though of course they wouldn't mention it. That you remember my name does not mean you remember me.
Perhaps it just wasn't possible for me to be prepared in that way.
When you say "Jim" this time, it is just as slowly as the first time.
"Spock," I grin, but you do not smile back. You do not seem to be capable of keeping one elegant eyebrow from rising, but it is not the look of implicit laughter I'm accustomed to, and the parody makes my gut ache.
You nod deliberately, "That is my name."
"But," I ask, "you don't remember?" I still hope.
"I would not say that I do not remember," you say slowly. "Parts of memory are returning. I know who you are."
I watch you expectantly, but you do not continue. I ask: "Who am I?"
And you say simply, as that first night when relief rushed through me with all the force of a last thread of hope given new blazing life--"You are Jim." Your tone indicates my question was at best incomprehensible, and at worst insultingly easy.
"And you," I ask, "who are you?" I'd thought you would mention our relative positions on Enterprise, our friendship, anything.
You say, "I have been told that I am Spock, and that I am a Starfleet officer. That we are--friends?" Another raised eyebrow, and I can just imagine what the Vulcans who told you that said on the subject of friendship.
I have to smile. "It's a concept that's not common on Vulcan, but you're half-human, Spock. It wasn't easy to make friends with you, though."
You seem interested, and frown. "Am I then an inadequate--friend?"
"Not at all," I say easily, but my throat gets tight and when I say, "you're the best friend that I've ever had, ...the best I ever could," it is choked. I do not know why I should be prevented from saying You're very important to me or something along those lines, which is what I'm thinking, but I can't force it past my lips.
Finally you say, "I do not--precisely--remember the things of which you speak, but I have memories of you. What you say seems plausible."
You continue to watch me until I ask, "You're curious, aren't you? Are you going to recover the memories?"
"I am told that it is only a matter of time," you say formally, "but that I may not fully recover all of them. --You have correctly discerned my curiosity; I apologize. I did not intend to make my scrutiny evident."
"There's no need to apologize! Humans don't hide emotion, Spock. Besides, we're friends. Of course you'd be curious." I am almost indignant. "You can ask me anything."
You demur, but I persist, unwilling to lose our conversation. I hope to elicit some spark of memory, as if that will be a proof of the strength of our friendship, its permanence. I should not fear losing you to Vulcan when I have recovered you from death, but your mask seems very firmly in place. I detect almost no sign of emotion, and I am beginning to find that very troubling--much more so than I would have thought that I would.
I say, "Ask me anything, Spock," for perhaps the fifth time.
This time, you respond, your gaze bright and penetrating, "Perhaps you could satisfy my curiosity in--one particular."
Spock, I have never known you to give in so quickly. Of course, I can sympathize--how frustrating it must be to be lost without your memories! Is everything new and strange? Do you feel helpless? "Of course," I say enthusiastically.
You seem perfectly calm as you say, "How long have we been lovers?" And I am certain I have heard you correctly, even as I struggle not to allow my astonishment to show on my face.
Suddenly I feel as lost as I have just thought you must be.
I don't know what to say, which means that for far too long, I can't say anything. I'm thinking too fast to know what I'm thinking, at first. I can't deny it outright--I'm afraid you'll leave then. And that I cannot allow. "Lovers?" I say cleverly. Never let it be said that James T. Kirk is not resourceful.
Your face is as calm and shuttered as ever; you raise an eyebrow. "Have I erred? I apologize if my question has offended you. You are aware that my memory is still very limited; I am afraid the duration of our relationship--" You think that my dismay is because you have forgotten how long. It has not occurred to you that your assumption was wrong.
"No, Spock," I say, and you stop. "No." You do not raise your eyebrow, though I might expect you to. You simply wait. "What," I ask carefully, "prompted you to ask this question?"
"It is not," you say thoughtfully, "entirely true that my memories are gone. What I remember is in very small--fragmented pieces, which are, for most purposes, of little use. However, I am not without memory of you. My feeling is--most difficult to describe. However, I believe it is a combination of what have been called 'emotions.' Furthermore, I am aware of possessing intimate knowledge of you--"
My mind is wild, and for a moment, I think something has gone horribly wrong and you are remembering things which have not happened. Then I realize that you use the word "intimate" in a personal, not a physical sense. Certainly you possess intimate knowledge of me, just as I do of you. There is no one I know or trust better in the galaxy. I trust you even beyond my own instincts.
"You do not have--detailed memories?" I press.
"None," you confirm, and I realize that I'm going to have to correct you before the conversation continues.
I'm understandably reluctant. I do not want to discuss it. My instincts, in fact, nearly make me take a step back from you, desperate with desire for distance. "Spock," I say hesitantly.
But luck is on my side today, because there are footsteps ringing loud in the hall and laughter, and your mother's voice calling, "Admiral Kirk?" --And more hesitantly, "Spock?"
Then the doorway is filled with her and the Enterprise crew, and you and I do not exchange even another glance, as we would have in the past. You turn your full attention to them. A reprieve, and time to think--I hope it will be as much as I need.
How am I to explain it to you, when I do not know what I need to explain?
You were a puzzle when we met--a slightly intimidating one, I freely admit, with your Vulcan poise and your perfect command of everything. I set about getting to know you better because it's what a commander does, and because my human-skewed perception couldn't believe isolation healthy for you. Spock, it only took one lift of your eyebrow in silent humor for my motivation to shift to a burning desire for all your friendship and loyalty. What I want, I've always been able to achieve. You died for duty--but you would do anything, go anywhere--live--for me.
And what does that mean, for both of us?
My friend, when we pressed our hands together across the pane of plexi and I thought I would never see you again, there was nothing at all in my universe but you and that barrier, preventing the warm breath of your thoughts from touching my mind in farewell. I would never lose myself in grief at a time like that; it's a good thing you died in a crisis, or I might have retreated so far into myself as never to return.
How can I tell you that we were not lovers, so baldly, when it is nothing like as simple as that? There is so much more that we were.
You--my faithful shadow. My conscience. My right hand. My friend. My salvation. I--Spock, what am I to you? Your question told me everything I should have already known. How is it that I have never asked the question before?
Red sunlight pours across the red sands of Vulcan, passes through my window, and pools on the floor, scarlet and salmon. It is hot, here, but the heat passes through me and hovers around me. I sit in a straight-backed Vulcan chair with a book open in my lap and a cup of cool tea in my hand. I do not read; I do not drink. The sunlight creeps further across the floor.
I sweat, and the sweat is cool on my arms and back under the light cotton tunic. I breathe more slowly, here, of the thin air. My lungs have never quite accustomed to it, but they're still heavy with the dry heat of it. I push my reading spectacles back up my nose--a gift from you.
The whole room is rosy with the diffusion of pale-tinted light, and when I look up, it glimmers on your white meditation robe. You stand in the doorway, regally composed, but with, perhaps, a hint of hesitancy in your step.
"Spock! Come in," I say warmly, rising to my feet to meet you. I gesture vaguely. Nothing in my movement showed you where to stand: you stop in the very prism of blood-colored light from the window, and it threads through your hair and whispers against the planes of your face.
By God, you are beautiful.
When you walk, you glide. The power and grace of your movements has always fascinated me, the smooth liquid gait, the delicate light touch of your long-fingered hands--long before I knew that it did. Years before I looked at you with these eyes.
Your own black eyes fix on me unwaveringly, and you say "Jim." I smile more broadly, and my chest eases. I breathe long and evenly.
I understand--I know, from a welling somewhere deep within me which I dare to suspect is connected to you--that you believe us to have been lovers, as you say, because for you, all of that relationship has long existed but the lovemaking. When you wake in a universe dark but for me, and when you must feel for me as I feel for you--what else could you assume?
Spock, since I have known you, I feel that I am an entirely new person. I smile, and what I say is: "I have something to tell you."
"It may be hard for you to believe that I have never suspected it before," I say. "But now I need to know: does a--bond--of some sort exist between us?"
Clearly, you do find it hard to believe. "Yes. I had assumed--that is, I did not realize it was possible for such a connection to exist without the conscious knowledge of both parties."
My breath catches in my throat. "I wish I had known."
You look at me quizzically, as calm as ever. "Jim?"
"Can you--communicate with it?"
"Of course, such a link provides for telepathic communication, but the relationship between the strength of the link and such use of it is complicated, as telepathic contact deepens it, which in turn facilitates future communications."
"Will you show me?" I ask.
You nod, bow your head, and close your eyes. While I am studying the long spiky shadows of your eyelashes over your cheekbones, it happens: the caress of a butterfly's wing that makes me shiver all over, trembling like laughter through me and making my mouth fall open on a gasp. Then I hear it: //Jim.//
It is all the "Jim"s you have ever said to me, grown together into their own meaning. A slow seeping, with the words, like water into parched ground, of your affection, your devotion, your long desire.
My face is wet. You seem surprised when I close the gap between us and sway, melt into you, pressing my lips tentatively against the side of your neck, but your arms come up around me as naturally as if we had been lovers for all the time we should have been.
Your hands on my face, and my memories spill out of their confinement into your mind as well, like a barrier dropping between us.
Then you are lifting my chin and soothing my trembling lips with your own, whispering a silent //T'hy'la// into my mind.
When we make love, you do not know if your eyes are open or closed: I can see what fills your mind, nothing but me-you-us, like a fine liquor that pours over you. There are ways this psychic union satisfies you that I can feel through your thoughts, without understanding. There is pleasure, and light, and pain, and all the awkwardness of a first time. I gentle you with my lips.
You have never felt anything like my touch. Your mouth hovers faintly open, gasping, your cheeks flushed olive--an irresistable invitation. I kiss you, again and again, while you knead my shoulders, caress me blindly, while you sink slowly into my body with all the Vulcan restraint you possess.
It hurts, but the pain unknots and unravels things I had not known were wrong in me as your pleasure washes over me, breathless with the exquisite fire of it.
When we lie spent, your body curls around mine so that we barely notice the unaccustomed accomadation of knees and elbows. You bury your face in the back of my neck, and still, your eyes are closed. I can hardly see myself through the haze of the mental-link still wide open. You know, in theory, that it will fade to manageable levels with time, that it is shieldable. You have never experienced this spontaneous bonding before, or any real bond, but it only makes sense--the force of my personality drew you like a satellite to a star from the beginning. You hope that the bond will stay deeper, wider, than before, because the contact with my mind is a low constant hum of beauty.
In my mind, too, it lets sun and light into dark recesses that I never thought to see, with a sense so keen and new it is like pain, blood, life.
When I hover on the edge of sleep I reach out for you instinctively, and I realize, then, with a little sleepy start, that I have done the same thing for years. Now I am answered with a warm soothing caress, and my consciousness flutters through your mind, filling your memories with fragments of mine. I see more and more of you, below where you can reach it, struggling for the surface of your mind, and I know you will remember. Not now, perhaps, and not all at once--but soon.
You have returned to me, for me--I know it is selfish, but it's no less true for that. My Spock, I have you, now, more than ever. My body, with its stiff slow aches, my mind raw with the beautiful wounds of our joining, both cry your name. What I am to you is no more than what you are to me: your breath stirs across my neck and I can touch sleep untroubled by dreams, thick and sweet with the heady flow of you. For now I feel nothing else.