Title: The Friend
Disclaimer: Parmount owns all, etc. etc.
Summary: Kirk, Spock and McCoy visit Vulcan. Spock meets up with an old friend and Kirk doesn't like him at all.
A/N: A HUGE thank you to toasterdog for drawing the most adorable illustration for this story. To avoid a spoiler, the link is at the end of Part Three.
Part One | Part Two | Part Three
Captain James T. Kirk looked up with a sinking heart, abandoning all hope of enjoying his meal in peace, as the ship’s chief medical officer came into the rec room.
Sure enough the doctor turned towards the captain’s table with an unmistakable glint in his eye and plonked himself in the seat next to Kirk, placing the tray carrying his well-balanced meal pointedly on the table.
“Jim,” he said, the tone undoubtedly heralding the lecture Kirk had feared, “why do I bother? I spend time working out these diets, you know. I put all my medical skill to work in trying to keep the captain in shape, and every time I come in here you’re eating...” the doctor trailed off as he got a closer look at the contents of the bowl in front of his friend.“...God in Heaven - what are you eating?”
Kirk sighed. “I was just trying to get into the spirit, Bones. Seeing as we get to Vulcan in a couple days I had some more local dishes programmed into the replicator, but,” he prodded the food in front of him disconsolately with his fork, “I have to say I don’t think this is really my thing.”
There was a movement beside him and Kirk looked up to see his first officer standing next to him, his curious regard also directed at the bowl on the table.
“Spock,” Kirk cleared his throat, “I wouldn’t want to be rude but I don’t think Vulcan cuisine is going to agree with me. I thought I’d have more luck with sweet rather than savoury but this is so sweet it’s making my teeth hurt just looking at it.”
McCoy peered even more closely into his companion’s bowl at what looked to all intents and purposes like a heap of seaweed smothered in whipped cream. “I thought Vulcans only ate nutritionally balanced meals,” he said. “That,” he pointed into the bowl, “looks suspiciously like a dessert to me, Spock.”
The Vulcan inclined his head in a slight nod. “Indeed, Doctor. Vulcans require a small amount of sugar in our diet, children more than adults. K’lar,” he looked towards the captain’s bowl, “is designed to meet that need. It is, however,” he continued, with subtle amusement colouring his voice, “too sweet to be palatable to adult Vulcans or, it seems,” he looked at Kirk, “Humans. It is generally served to children at special events - perhaps you would call it a ‘treat’?”
“Jello and ice cream?” Kirk asked, a resigned tone in his voice.
“A not entirely apt comparison,” Spock said as he sat at the captain’s other side, “since jello and ice cream fulfil no dietary requirement that I am aware of, but one that will suffice.”
McCoy rolled his eyes at Spock’s words even as he started laughing.
“Brilliant, Jim,” he chuckled, “so much for preparing yourself for Vulcan food. I can just see Sarek serving jello and ice cream at the council banquet!”
Kirk couldn’t help but join the laughter, aided by the image that suddenly popped into his head of Spock’s sombre father handing out party bags and balloons to bemused diplomats.
“Oh, well,” he said, abandoning his fork, “while we’re on Vulcan, Mr. Spock, I’ll just have to make sure I ask for your always impeccable advice before I start tucking in.” He got up and yawned widely. “Right, I’ve got some paperwork to take care of, then I need to get some rest. I’ll see you both in the morning.”
Kirk smiled as his two friends said goodnight. As he walked towards the door he could hear the doctor good-naturedly ribbing Spock about the logic of providing children with treats. He chuckled as the door swooshed shut behind him, cutting off the clever retort he was sure his first officer was about to make.
In his cabin he carefully reviewed the instructions from Starfleet on the upcoming Federation Council meeting. He sighed. Ferrying diplomats around wasn’t exactly his favourite occupation, but this conference was high profile. The powers that be had decided to experiment, in the interests of ‘transparency’ and ‘bringing government to the people‘, with holding occasional meetings on other worlds rather than at UFP HQ in San Francisco. The
They were due to arrive at Spock’s home planet in a few days and then, other than the senior officers’ required attendance at the end of conference banquet, he and his crew would be free to take some shore leave. Meanwhile, the
Other members of the crew, he had gathered from the baleful looks and muttered comments when it had been announced, were not convinced of the delights shore leave on Vulcan would have to offer. “If ve survive ze heat ve’ll end up getting logicked to death,” he’d heard a distinctly unimpressed Chekov whisper to Sulu.
And Scotty, whom he’d seen manfully listening to an excited Uhura trying to convince him of the marvels of the Vulcan music scene, hadn’t seemed persuaded the concert she wanted him to escort her to was worth leaving his engines for.
'Oh well,' he thought, as he kicked off his boots and headed to the bathroom, 'can’t please all of the crew all of the time'.
A wall of heat hit them the moment they materialised and Kirk felt himself break out in a sweat as the doctor started muttering under his breath. Spock, looking perfectly comfortable, shouldered his bag and led them off towards his childhood home.
The door opened before they reached it, revealing a smiling Amanda waiting to welcome them.
“Mother,” Spock said in greeting, and the doctor nearly dropped his bag in shock as the science officer permitted his mother to kiss his cheek. She briefly squeezed her son’s arm. “Oh, it’s so good to see you.”
“I am gratified to be here, Mother,” Spock replied.
Kirk smiled. His so proper science officer had become much more relaxed in the time they’d known each other. Spock was supremely confident and sure of himself in the professional aspects of his life, but when it came to personal relationships he could be far less confident. He preferred to keep his Human side hidden deep within, buried under the logic of his Vulcan half. Spock’s time on the
“Captain, Doctor.” Amanda’s warm smile turned to her son’s friends. McCoy slipped into his best southern gentleman persona as he returned the smile, “Leonard, please, ma’am, and thank you very much for inviting us to your home.”
Spock raised his eyebrow at the sight of the doctor’s charm being turned on his mother, as Kirk echoed McCoy’s words of greeting.
The trio followed Amanda into a large kitchen and dining area, Kirk and McCoy both relieved at the coolness of the air compared to the ferocious heat outside.
“Sarek sends his apologies he couldn’t be here to greet you,” Amanda said. “He got called in to sort out some last minute glitch in the conference arrangements, but he should be back in time for dinner.”
Spock looked around sharply. “Are you intending to cook?” he asked.
Amanda laughed. “No, I’m not,” she replied, waggling her finger at her son in a way Kirk knew few others would dare, “and you can take that look off your face. Anyone would think I’d spent your entire childhood trying to poison you!”
“It was a thought that occurred to me on occasion,” Spock intoned, the slight crinkle at the sides of his eyes the only thing to betray his amusement.
Kirk was amazed. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but this teasing warmth wasn’t it. He felt a moment of shame as he realised he shouldn’t have taken the atmosphere between Spock and his mother during the
“I’m sure your cooking skills are being unfairly maligned,” Bones was saying.
“No, no, Leonard,” Amanda admitted, still smiling widely, “Spock does have a point, however rude it may be to mention it.” She threw a mock glare at her son. “Sarek’s the cook in the family, although I often think he honed his culinary skills to avoid having to eat my woeful attempts at Vulcan dishes! Now, how does some cold lemonade sound? I can just about manage that!” It sounded very good indeed to the Starfleet officers who gratefully took the proffered glasses.
Amanda turned to her son. “Oh, Spock, have you heard from Setan lately? He’s back home and can’t wait to see you, so I thought I might invite him for dinner. What do you think?”
“Yes,” Spock replied. “He said he would be back on Vulcan. His presence at dinner would be agreeable if the captain and doctor do not object.” He raised a questioning eyebrow at his friends, neither of whom had any objections.
Kirk looked curiously at his first officer. “Setan is an archaeologist with whom I am acquainted,” Spock said by way of explanation. “I have not seen him for several years.”
The words did little to assuage Kirk’s curiosity but, he supposed, he would meet this Setan soon enough.
Suitably refreshed by the delicious homemade lemonade, the captain and doctor followed Spock as he took them to their rooms to stow their bags before showing them the rest of the house.
They ended up in the garden where they found Amanda carefully pruning what looked like the Vulcan equivalent of a rosebush.
Kirk looked around at the beautiful, lush garden in surprise. “I wouldn’t have thought you could get so much to grow in this environment,” he said, taking in the casual, dirt-stained garb Amanda had donned and thinking how far away she looked from the formal ambassador’s wife he’d met aboard the Enterprise. “I take it you’re the gardener rather than Sarek?”
Amanda looked at her son’s friend and laughed, thoroughly amused at the idea of Sarek getting dirt under his fingernails. “Yes, Jim,” she said, “and you’d be surprised how hardy some plants can be. I’ve worked out over the years what can survive and what I should just give up on.”
She looked at her son with a twinkle in her eye and Kirk glanced at McCoy long enough to see a look of anticipation on his face as she turned to address them.
Amanda smiled. “When Spock was little he used to follow me all around the garden. He would insist he had to wear his special little ‘gardening’ coveralls and boots, wouldn’t come out of the house without them. He even had a little watering can,” she laughed.
McCoy broke into a delighted laugh and Kirk had to smile as he looked at his first officer’s patiently stoic face as the cool, impassive gaze fixed on the doctor, daring him to make a comment.
For once, however, McCoy seemed lost for words, too busy laughing at the image Amanda’s words had conjured up in his mind to come up with one of the acerbic remarks that so often came Spock’s way.
The three Starfleet officers went to unpack and get washed up before heading back to the kitchen, where Amanda was making a fresh batch of lemonade. The hum of an aircar outside heralded the arrival of Sarek, and Kirk took a surreptitious glance at Spock. His friend looked at his most Vulcan; his face expressionless, his posture ramrod straight and his hands clasped firmly behind his back.
When Sarek came through the door Amanda walked towards her husband and held her hand up to meet his. Their index and middle fingers touched briefly before Sarek turned and nodded politely at their guests, raising his hand in the traditional Vulcan greeting. “Captain, Doctor, your presence in our home honours us.”
“It’s an honour to be here, Ambassador,” Kirk replied, returning the salute with a practised ease, while McCoy managed a claw-like gesture and an abashed smile.
Spock raised his hand. “Greetings, Father,” he said formally, “I trust the preparations for the council meeting are proceeding as planned?”
“They proceed adequately.” Sarek answered, then paused before continuing. “Your presence is also welcome, my son.”
Kirk smiled to himself as he noticed the almost imperceptible relaxation in Spock’s stance at his father’s words.
Amanda gave Spock a warm smile before turning to Sarek. “Shall we get dinner started?”
Kirk, Spock and McCoy sat at the kitchen table as Sarek, with Amanda on chopping duties only, quickly and efficiently prepared the evening meal. Kirk couldn’t help smiling at the unexpected sight of Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan skilfully handling the cooking. His smile broadened as Amanda caught her son’s eye and Spock, obviously slipping back into a childhood role, immediately got to his feet and started laying the table. McCoy leant towards him and grinned as he raised his eyebrows. “Whaddya bet washing up is one of his chores too?” he whispered.
Just then the door chime sounded. “That’ll be Setan,” Amanda said brightly. She went to the door and, a few moments later, ushered in the new arrival.
Kirk and McCoy regarded Setan with interest. His hair was wavy and blond, the colour uncommon among his race, and he wore it longer than the Humans regarded as the norm for Vulcan males, reaching almost to the collar of his casual shirt.
He was tall, about the same height as Spock, and his brown eyes seemed to smile as he returned the greetings offered by the humans before turning towards Spock. “It’s been too long, Spock,” he said. “It’s good to see you.”
Kirk felt a jolt of surprise, and something else he couldn’t immediately identify, both at the unusual statement from a Vulcan and the warmth it engendered in his friend’s eyes as he simply nodded in reply.
The food was delicious and, to the captain’s immense relief, did not feature K’lar, nor anything remotely resembling it. The conversation flowed and Kirk and McCoy were pleasantly surprised by the relaxed atmosphere.
Sarek didn’t seem half as forbidding at home as he had appeared during his time on the
“I do not foresee any need of Starfleet’s services, Captain,” he finished. “There is nothing on the agenda likely to cause a level of controversy that would require military intervention, despite the presence of the Tellarite delegation.”
Kirk smiled at the subtle humour and nodded. “I agree, and I’m sure Vulcan’s security services can handle anything that might come up.”
Amanda smiled. “So, Jim, you may as well all relax and enjoy yourselves. Our home is your home; please feel free to come and go as you wish.” She looked at Setan. “And that applies to you too,” she added, smiling fondly at him.
Setan seemed relaxed and at ease. There was still something about his manner that didn’t seem, well, ‘Vulcan’, Kirk supposed, and he resolved to ask Spock about it when he got the chance.
Amanda continued, “How is Tomas? He couldn’t join us tonight?”
“He is well, Amanda,” Setan replied. “He is still engaged in the project examining the ruins on Delotas IV.” He paused a moment before continuing. “However, he and I have ended our relationship.”
McCoy’s startled intake of breath caused him to choke on his mouthful of food and Kirk, despite his own surprise at Setan’s unexpected admission of a homosexual relationship, struggled not to laugh as he watched the doctor hurriedly gulping down some water, valiantly attempting to cover up his uncouth outburst as a coughing fit.
He looked over at Spock and Sarek, who were regarding McCoy with identically raised eyebrows.
“I’m sorry,” Amanda was saying, politely ignoring the doctor. “I didn’t mean to pry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Setan replied, the casual terminology adding to the captain’s curiosity about this man. “It’d run its course and we’re both fine with it. I was due to take some leave from the project anyway so I thought I’d give us both some space, which is why I’m here.” He gave a quick smile, nearly setting McCoy off on another coughing fit.
Spock changed the subject, questioning Setan about his work. The archaeologist talked easily and animatedly about the ruins on the newly discovered world and the clues left behind by a long-gone, ancient civilisation.
He had a presence that easily held his audience in rapt attention and his obvious enthusiasm was so different to the reserve the two Human Starfleet officers had come to expect from his race.
As Setan spoke, McCoy studied the reactions of his friends. Spock was listening intently to the archaeologist’s discourse. ’Not surprising’, the doctor thought. The science officer was always eager to expand his knowledge, and the discoveries made by the archaeology team were interesting, pointing to the existence of a civilisation that seemed to be very like that of ancient
What was really interesting was their body language. McCoy made it his business to learn to read the emotional reactions of those under his care, Vulcan or otherwise, and he watched them carefully. Setan was engaging everyone around the table but it was Spock he kept looking towards, a regard the first officer appeared to be returning.
McCoy stole a glance at Kirk. The captain was also observing the pair. His face showed nothing but polite attention, but McCoy noticed the tension in his broad shoulders, a sure sign the captain was wary, and filed a mental note to consider that reaction later.
After the meal the group retired into a room populated by comfy chairs, decorated tastefully but warmly, with a definite Human touch moderating the Vulcan tendency towards austerity. “So, Setan,” McCoy said, turning to their new Vulcan acquaintance, “you and Spock look to be about the same age. Did you know each other as children?”
Kirk sighed inaudibly. The doctor was determined to ‘dig up some dirt’ as he liked to put it, to use as ammunition in his constant verbal sparring with Spock. Obviously the image of their dignified first officer as a child toddling around a garden with a watering can wasn’t enough to satisfy him.
A knowing smile quirked the corners of Setan’s mouth as he regarded McCoy. The expression on the Vulcan’s face seemed to show he’d discerned exactly what the doctor was up to.
“Yes, Doctor,” Setan replied, throwing a quick glance Spock’s way. “I spent my early years on Earth, but returned to Vulcan when I was thirteen Earth standard years old. Spock and I went to school together.”
He turned towards Spock’s father. “Sarek, do you think the council will approve the Belken petition to join the Federation?”
The Belkens were an interesting race, peaceful and friendly to the point of greeting any visitors from other planets with an enthusiastic bear hug before showering them with gifts.
Sarek proceeded to provide an analysis of the pros and cons of Belken’s admission and added that his own personal reservations of the natives’ somewhat effusive method of greeting notwithstanding, his belief was that the planet should be granted its request.
The rest of the evening passed in a discussion of the rich culture of that race, which prized the arts above all else, and naturally moved on to conversation about the varied worlds visited by the Enterprise crew and, to a lesser extent, the others present.
Setan spoke knowledgably and amusingly about his experiences. Kirk was unusually quiet, McCoy noticed, and Spock seemed far more talkative than usual, even unwinding enough to relate some tales of his own. McCoy had to admit, if only to himself, some stories were funnier for being told in that deadpan voice. When Spock spoke of their experiences with tigers and giant white rabbits while on shore leave, Setan threw back his head and laughed delightedly.
Finally, the evening drawing to a close, Setan stood and turned towards Sarek and Amanda. He held his hand up in the Vulcan salute. “I’d better be off. Live long and prosper, Sarek.” The older Vulcan returned the gesture and Setan turned towards his hostess with a smile. “Amanda, thank you for a lovely evening.”
Amanda smiled back warmly and elicited a promise the younger man would visit again soon. Setan nodded at Kirk and McCoy and wished them goodnight before turning to his friend. “Spock, are you free for dinner tomorrow night? It would be good to spend some time together while you’re here; communiqués aren’t quite the same as getting the chance to talk in person.”
McCoy peered at Spock with open curiosity as he accepted the invitation and Kirk could read the doctor’s mind with ease. Setan was certainly a revelation and, the captain was sure, his sexual orientation, his smiles and his seemingly ongoing friendship with Spock were all prompting questions that McCoy was simply dying to get out.
Kirk was also curious, the last one especially giving him a pause. Spock showed an ease with Setan that he had never seen the Vulcan display with anyone but himself, and Setan’s words suggested they regularly corresponded; yet Spock had never mentioned him. Kirk frowned to himself.
Shortly after Setan’s departure Sarek turned to Amanda. “I am fatigued, my wife, and I am required at the conference centre at 7am.” He looked over at Kirk and McCoy. “If you will excuse me Captain, Doctor. Spock will tend to any needs you may have.” He inclined his head slightly to take his leave of Spock as Amanda rose to join him, touching two fingers to those he held out. “Good night,” she said, smiling at her son and his friends. “I hope you sleep well.”
Sure enough, as soon as the couple left the room McCoy’s perceptive blue eyes fixed on Spock, as he folded his arms across his chest. “All right, Mr Spock,” he said, keeping his tone light and conversational, “let’s start with the obvious - since when are Vulcans gay?”
Kirk watched Spock closely. Truth be told he’d been rather taken aback at that himself. He was as open minded as they came but he’d never even considered that Vulcans might have same sex relationships; it just didn’t seem logical. He’d assumed sex for a Vulcan was a necessary, and not entirely welcome, means to ensure procreation - but it looked like that was another assumption that had been blown out of the water today.
Spock raised his eyebrow and fixed the doctor with his cool regard. “‘Vulcans are not gay doctor,” he said, choosing not to be pedantic at McCoy’s colloquial term. “Approximately 13.24 per cent of Vulcans are homosexual, a percentage slightly higher than that among humankind.”
“But,” McCoy spluttered, apparently unable to maintain his former calm in the face of the unexpected answer, “how can that be logical? and what happened to Vulcans only getting it on every seven years to make little Vulcans?!”
Spock appeared completely unruffled. “Doctor, those are assumptions that you have made based on very little evidence. To a Vulcan, compatibility of the mind is the most important aspect of a bonding. The sex of a bonded pair is irrelevant by comparison. And I have never stated Vulcans mate only once every seven years, only that we must do so at that time.
“Indeed,” he continued, an amused glint in his eyes, “very few of my race would choose to abstain from sexual relations for such an extended period of time.”
McCoy just stared at him, his mouth open in what Spock, not for the first time, was tempted to inform him was a most unbecoming manner.
The medic shook his head, his face a picture of disbelief. “But what about linking children; how on earth would you know you had gotten them with the right sex?”
Spock sighed. “You surely mean ‘how on Vulcan?’ Doctor.” Kirk let out a bark of laughter at that one as McCoy glared at the first officer.
“It is quite simple,” Spock continued. “Vulcan children show characteristics that indicate a preference for a particular sex at an early age and their future mate is then chosen accordingly.” He paused. “It is only in approximately 1.2 per cent of cases that an error occurs.”
“And what happens then?” Kirk asked, genuinely interested in the answer.
“The error will come to light when the male enters his first Pon Farr,” Spock answered. “In most cases the ceremony will go ahead in order to preserve the male’s life and the parties involved will then choose either to accept a bond of, for the most part, platonic companionship, or to seek a healer to dissolve it.” He paused for just a moment. “It is also one of the few circumstances in which the challenge may lawfully be invoked.”
Both the captain and the doctor stared at their Vulcan friend, any plans to ferret out more information about Setan completely railroaded by his words. Still looking utterly impassive, the Vulcan rose to his feet.
“I find I am also fatigued,” he said as he moved towards the door. “Goodnight Captain, Doctor.”
There was silence as the door closed behind him.
“Jim, you don’t think he meant...” McCoy began.
Kirk tore his eyes away from the door through which Spock had just exited and glared at the doctor. “Bones,” he said, a little more sharply than he intended, “I know what you’re thinking and he said nothing of the sort. I don’t want you using this to needle him about something that is none of your business - and that’s an order.
“Look,” he added, holding up his hand to stave off McCoy’s retort, realising he had spoken harshly and deliberately softening his voice, “it’s been a long day. I’m going to turn in and I suggest you do the same.”
It was McCoy’s turn to stare at the door after his friend left the room. He pondered the conversation and, after a moment, shook his head. ’Nah,’ he said to himself. ‘You’re just letting your imagination run away with you; must be the heat’. He yawned as he stood and followed his friends out of the room.
Spock and McCoy were already there when Kirk wandered into the kitchen in search of breakfast the following morning. The captain smiled at the unusual sight of his two best friends, both in civilian clothing, preparing a meal together. Spock was stirring something that looked like a type of oatmeal while McCoy filled a serving plate with freshly prepared toast and some of the Vulcan muffins he regularly dismissed on board the ship as ‘about as digestible as cardboard and nowhere near as tasty’.
They were going about their tasks in silence. Presumably McCoy had either already satisfied his curiosity about Setan or he’d decided to wait until an opportune moment to pounce on Spock with more questions. Or, perhaps, he was letting the matter of smiling Vulcans drop. Kirk sincerely doubted it was the latter.
The captain chuckled fondly. “Look at the two of you. You look like an old married couple getting ready for the day ahead!”
“Really, Captain, I see no reason for insults,” Spock retorted, prompting McCoy to turn towards him.
“What are you trying to say, Spock?” the doctor asked, waving a slice of toast in the air as he spoke. “A Human not good enough for you? Well, let me tell you, you could do a lot worse...” His voice tailed off as he realised what he was saying and blushed right to the roots of his hair.
Both Spock’s eyebrows had all but disappeared beneath his neat bangs and Kirk found himself lost in a helpless paroxysm of laughter as McCoy defiantly muttered, “Well, you could,” as he picked up the plate of food and stalked over to the kitchen table, still bright red.
Kirk sat down next to the doctor, still caught up in helpless laughter. “I think you’d make a lovely couple, Bones,” he managed to get out as the doctor glared at him. “Do I get to be best man?” he continued as Spock placed three bowls of the oatmeal on the table.
“Jim,” the Vulcan said, straight faced, “in the unlikely event the doctor and I decided to marry, and did so in a Terran-style ceremony, you would be the obvious choice for best man.” He picked up his spoon as McCoy’s glare focused on him. “However,” he continued, “he is not, as I believe you would say, ‘my type’.”
Kirk’s laughter turned into the sort that’s almost impossible to stop.
“Well, I’m mighty relieved to hear that,” McCoy emphatically declared, as he helped himself to the butter, “because you most certainly are not mine.” He turned to the still snorting Kirk. “Now, if you’ve quite finished, Jim,” he said, mustering all his dignity, “your breakfast’s going cold.”
Sarek and Amanda, Spock informed Kirk once he’d got over his laughing fit, had left the house early and would be working all day. With no pressing duties to attend to, the trio of Starfleet officers were free to do as they wished. McCoy turned his nose up at Spock’s suggestion of the
“I’m not going to spend the first day of my leave cooped up in some fusty Vulcan museum,” he loudly proclaimed. “We can save that for a rainy day and try to find something fun to do.
“If there is such a thing as fun on this godforsaken planet,” he added under his breath.
As Spock opened his mouth, undoubtedly to deliver a lecture on the unlikelihood of a ‘rainy day’ in the middle of Vulcan’s dry season, Kirk held up his hands to stall him. “All right, all right. How about we go visit the ruins at R’Tahr? Act like proper tourists for the day? What do you think, Bones?”
The plan for the day was decided upon and, accompanied by the obligatory grumbling from McCoy about the heat and the likelihood of excessive walking exacerbating the effects of said heat, the three set off for the ruins left behind by Spock’s warlike ancestors.
Kirk found the visit fascinating, his interest in history piqued by the majestic fortress the ruins must once have been. Spock, despite science being his field of expertise, knew an impressive amount about the ruins and the events that had occurred there and he even forgot about the oppressive heat as he listened intently to his friend’s running history lesson. ‘I could listen to his voice all day.’ The surprising thought came from nowhere and Kirk frowned in puzzlement.
Spock quirked a questioning eyebrow at his expression, and he laughed it off, saying, “It’s nothing. I’m enjoying myself, please carry on.”
“Well I’m hot and thirsty,” McCoy interrupted, “and much as I always enjoy your lectures, Spock, I’m going to go sit down before I fall down.” McCoy trudged off towards a nearby café, thoughtfully provided by their Vulcan hosts to cater for tourists, leaving Kirk and Spock alone.
Kirk listened to the rest of Spock’s detailed discourse, smiling to himself at the wholehearted dedication his friend gave to using his brilliant mind to learn as much as he could about any given subject.
“Spock, can I ask you something?” Kirk said as the Vulcan drew to a close. He sat down on a rock and looked up at his friend.
Spock carefully set himself down next to the captain as he replied, “Of course, Jim”.
Kirk took a deep breath, “I’m curious, you and Setan...you’re friends?” Spock nodded.
Kirk found himself hit by a peculiar mix of emotions. On the one hand he felt a soaring joy that Spock could admit to feeling friendship, something he had revealed caused him deep shame just a few years ago when the Psi 2000 virus had released his inhibitions. On the other he felt a pang of something, he wasn’t sure what, that the friendship Spock was speaking of now wasn’t the same one he spoke of then. A shadow passed briefly across his eyes before he firmly pushed whatever it was away and concentrated on Spock.
“You’ve never mentioned him,” he continued. “He seems...different.”
Spock nodded again. “Setan’s parents were somewhat,” he paused, apparently searching for the right word, “unorthodox. They chose to settle on Earth and to allow their son to make his own decision on whether to follow the ways of Vulcan.
“Setan was instructed in the traditions of our people but was also encouraged to experience the diverse cultures of Earth and to express his emotions should he desire to do so. His parents also chose not to link him to another in order that he might choose his own partner when the time came.
“However,” Kirk saw a slight cloud pass over the strong planes of Spock’s face as he paused, “his parents were killed in an accident when he was 13 and he was brought back to Vulcan to live with his maternal grandparents.”
Kirk nodded, listening closely. He could well imagine the young Vulcan’s grandparents would have had something to say about any ‘Human’ characteristics Setan might have picked up.
“Setan’s grandparents tried to compel him to behave as any other Vulcan child would but,” Kirk thought he heard a hint of pride creep into Spock’s voice, “he is very strong-willed, and resisted any attempt to change who he is.”
Spock allowed himself a hint of a smile. “His grandparents eventually abandoned the attempt.”
Kirk chuckled. “And how did the two of you become friends?” he asked. “I admit I’m surprised you would be friends with the ‘class rebel’.”
“Indeed,” Spock began, “when Setan joined my class I found him extremely puzzling. I could not understand why he did not wish to belong.”
Kirk felt a pang of sympathy at the words. He knew Spock had never felt he quite fitted in; knew, although his friend seldom spoke of it, that growing up as a half Human child on Vulcan had been hard on him.
“However,” Spock continued, “Setan sought me out.” He paused and Kirk kept quiet, knowing how difficult Spock often found it to speak of his personal life.
Spock appeared to study his boots intently as he continued, “I resisted at first. I was unsure of my ability to form a friendship with such a person; however, Setan is not one to give up easily. In time I found the force of his personality impossible to ignore.” He paused again. “He has proven to be a very loyal friend.”
The captain nodded. He could see in his mind’s eye the lonely and awkward boy Spock must have been; knew that underneath the impassive façade was a sensitive being who, far from being emotionless, felt deeply and strongly and could so easily be hurt.
A thought occurred to him. “How did Sarek react to your friendship?”
Spock’s mouth quirked slightly, his amusement obvious to one who knew the Vulcan as well as he did. “He was concerned Setan might prove to be a ‘bad influence’, but my mother resisted his wish to intervene. I believe her words were, ‘If you think Humans are such a bad influence, then where was the logic in marrying me?’”
Kirk laughed. He had begun to get to know Spock’s mother on the ship and his liking and admiration for her was growing all the time. She was the perfect, attentive ambassador’s consort in public but he was beginning to realise she was far from a pushover. He was willing to bet she got her own way more often than not in her marriage.
His thoughts returned to Setan. “But why have you never mentioned him?”
Spock looked thoughtful. “I do not know, Jim.”
Kirk felt a brief stab of hurt that he quickly pushed away. ‘You don’t own him,’ he sternly told himself. ‘He has a right to his privacy and he has a right to friends other than you’.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said quickly, jumping to his feet, “I’m glad you had someone you could turn to.” He extended his hand to his still seated friend then, remembering the Vulcan aversion to casual touch went to pull it away again, only to be surprised when Spock reached out and clasped it, allowing Kirk to pull him upright.
They stood for just a moment with their hands clasped between them and Kirk felt an enormous rush of warmth and affection. Spock quickly let go and Kirk cleared his throat, embarrassed his telepathic friend would have picked up on those feelings. “Right, lets go find McCoy before he can get himself into any trouble,” he said, marching decisively towards the café.