Chapter 9: Entwined
…to show her how he thought they were entwined…
Spock was surprised when he found Jim waiting outside of his house the next morning. He had been under the impression that the human wanted nothing to do with him and had thought that he would need to go back to “stalking” Jim (as his mother insisted on calling it) in order to wear him down. Spock had no illusions about his relationship with Jim. He knew that the human merely tolerated him at best.
So why was Jim coming back to him so easily? It didn’t make any sense.
“Don’t get any ideas, Spock,” Jim told him as he approached. “This doesn’t mean I like you. I’m just hungry. That’s it.”
Of course, Spock thought, disappointed in spite of himself. He reached into the bag lunch he had prepared just in case and offered Jim the apple he had packed. Jim grabbed it and started taking large bites.
“I haven’t forgiven you yet,” Jim added in between bites. “Don’t think that this…” He waved the apple in Spock’s face. “…gets you anywhere close to being forgiven.”
“I would not presume such a thing, Jim.” And it was true. Spock’s acquaintance with Jim had most assuredly reinforced the idea that one should never assume anything. “Are you willing to tell me what I can do to hasten your forgiveness?”
Jim eyed him speculatively for a moment, and then shrugged. “I’ll think about it.”
Jim did think about it. He thought about it during his morning classes, ignoring his teachers with more than his usual lack of interest. He thought about it during lunch, ignoring Spock in his preoccupation as the Vulcan tried and failed to make conversation with him. He thought about it during the detention he got pinned with for his failure to pay attention during his afternoon classes. And then, he thought about it as he walked home with Spock, who had patiently waited for him to serve his detention so that he could accompany Jim as he left the school grounds.
The first and most obvious thing he could ask Spock to do was leave Jim alone. Since his own attempts at avoiding the Vulcan had failed (due in most part to his own lack of willpower), he thought he could make Spock do it for him. Unfortunately, Jim had had to discard this idea almost immediately. Spock had been stalking him for pretty much as long as they had known each other. If Jim tried to make Spock leave him alone, the Vulcan was just going to go back to stalking him again and they would just end up back at square one.
It wasn’t until he was walking home that afternoon that Jim thought about what Spock’s father had said at his birthday party. Sarek had called Jim Spock’s “tie-la”, whatever that meant.
And suddenly, Jim really wanted to know what it meant. Spock had been embarrassed by his father’s use of the word. Vulcans did not get embarrassed, so whatever it meant, it had to be important.
He knew what he was going to ask.
“I’ve decided what I want,” Jim told him as they walked home. “I want you to tell me what ‘tie-la’ means.” Spock froze. Of all the things Jim could possibly wish to ask of him, why did he wish to know that? “If you tell me what it means,” Jim continued. “I’ll forgive you.”
The only thought in Spock’s mind was of how far he had come and of how far back his words from the day before seemed to have set him. Jim had barely spoken to him at all since that morning. Spock could not fathom going back to the way things had been just one month previous.
The only problem was that Spock was entirely unsure how to explain the concept of t’hy’la to a human. Spock could easily give Jim a Terran translation that would be somewhat logical, but would Jim really comprehend it? The concept was complex, and it couldn’t really be described with words. Vulcans understood because of shared memories passed down through generations, but humans had no such referential base. How could he explain it so that Jim would understand?
Spock had invited Jim up to his room. Jim didn’t know what to think about that. He had never been up to Spock’s room before; why would the Vulcan suddenly invite him up there now?
Spock had never answered his question. The Vulcan bastard had just said in a prim voice, “If you are willing to be patient, I would ask that you wait until we have reached the privacy of my sleeping quarters.” Jim hadn’t had any choice but to give in. If he wanted to know what the “tie-la” word meant, he knew he would have to just go along with whatever the fuck Spock wanted him to do.
When they got to Spock’s house, Amanda greeted him warmly, as though yesterday had never happened. It made him feel… good to still be wanted, even after he had pitched a shit fit and refused to eat there the day before.
A few minutes later, he followed Spock up the stairs. He looked at the pictures lining walls as they ascended, noting the progression of pictures and how Spock had grown over the years. He forced himself not to think about just how cute Spock had been as a small child. He wasn’t going to think about it. He really wasn’t.
Oh who was he kidding? Spock was kinda… well, cute would be the best descriptor he supposed. As a young Vulcan, his ears had been way too big for his head. He had obviously grown into them over the years, but in the first few photos from when he had been two, three, four, five, and so on, Spock had looked like large bat. If Jim were the type of guy to think of things as ‘adorable’, Spock as a child probably fit the bill.
Jim looked around the room as Spock led him into it. It was a rather large room, and aside from the bed by the window, it didn’t look like a bedroom at all. It reminded Jim of the chemistry lab at school. There was a table set up in the corner with several racks of test tubes and some high-tech equipment that Jim didn’t know the names of. Spock must be a fucking genius or something if he knew how to use all of this equipment for actual experiments that didn’t have step by step instructions to guide him through it.
Shit, he had known that Spock was a good person, and he had known that he was smart. But now, now he knew that Spock was a fucking genius. Even more, Jim was sure, than all of the other Vulcans his age.
How the hell was Jim—who was only human, after all—supposed to keep up?
Spock walked to the window and looked out for a moment, staring into Jim’s bedroom across from him. That bedroom, the one that had always seemed so full of pain and misery, was empty right now, and Jim was here, safe, with him.
He turned to look at his human. Jim was examining his room with a strange expression on his face.
“Jim,” Spock said, drawing his t’hy’la’s attention. “The concept I am about to explain to you is a very private matter. It is rarely discussed even among Vulcans, and it is never spoken of with non-Vulcans. My mother was not even aware of the phenomenon prior to the discovery that you are my t’hy’la.”
“But what does it mean, Spock?” Jim asked, his tone frustrated. “You haven’t told me what it means.”
“T’hy’la is a complex theory that is even regarded as a myth by some. There has not been a known case on Vulcan in over one hundred years, which is why I had originally been somewhat skeptical…”
“Spock,” Jim interrupted. “Just tell me what the fuck it means.”
Spock stopped and thought for a moment, still somewhat hesitant and stunned at what he was about to suggest. But he had already made the decision, all that was left was for him to follow through with it. “I cannot adequately explain what t’hy’la means to a Vulcan. It is so overwhelming, so all encompassing.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “Which is why I would like to propose a rather unorthodox technique that will allow me to show you just what it means to me.” Spock reached forward, his hand in the position necessary to accomplish his suggested methodology.
“Jim, I would like to seek your permission to show you my thoughts as well as my emotions through what is known on my planet as kash-nohv,” he informed Jim. “In English, it is called a mind meld.”
“No fucking way,” Jim said, his voice breaking just a tiny bit. “I don’t know what the hell a ‘mind meld’ is, but I can put two and two together as well as the next guy. There is no way I am letting you fuck around in my head.”
Like Jim wanted Spock to be tainted by all of the horrible things in his head. It just wouldn’t be right to expose him to the utter depravity that was his thoughts and memories.
Spock’s hand pulled back, and if Jim wasn’t mistaken, the Vulcan looked hurt by his rejection. “Oh,” he said softly. “I had hoped…” Spock shook his head. “It is unimportant. I will explain it to you as well as I am able.”
The Vulcan’s head bowed as he thought, and Jim suddenly felt ashamed of himself for reacting so violently. He couldn’t let Spock have access to his brain, but he didn’t have to be an ass about it. “Spock, just tell me the literal translation,” he said in what he hoped was a kinder tone of voice. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. Just spit it out.” Well, nobody would ever accuse him of being polite, but at least it wasn’t downright rude.
“‘Friend, brother, lover’,” Spock said suddenly.
“What?” Jim asked, confused.
“‘Friend, brother, lover’,” Spock repeated. “That is the literal Terran translation for the Vulcan word t’hy’la.”
“So he was calling me your friend, then?” Jim wondered, still not quite understanding. “Why were you so embarrassed if he was just saying that we were friends?”
“You don’t understand.” Though Jim could detect no such emotion in Spock’s voice, he somehow knew that the Vulcan was frustrated. “It does not mean ‘friend’ or ‘brother’ or ‘lover’. It an amalgamation of all three terms.” Spock looked into Jim’s eyes. “The human equivalent of the word would be ‘soulmate’.”
No. Fucking. Way.
“You have got to be shitting me!” Jim yelled. “I’m your god damned soulmate? And what? You didn’t think I deserved to know that you’ve been stalking me because you’re a creepy perv who thinks we’re destined to be together? What the fuck, Spock?”
Spock drew back, shocked by Jim’s reaction. “Jim…”
“No,” Jim said. “You don’t get to speak. The only reason you care about me at all is because of a fucking…” He cut himself off and turned away from Spock, taking a deep breath.
“Jim,” Spock cut in more forcefully this time. “It was not like that. I was not aware of it until after I saved you from the bullies. I accidentally touched your skin, and our minds were drawn to one another.” He shook his head. “I did not know what it meant until I started sharing your dreams, and even then, my father had to explain the significance to me. T’hy’la is such a rarity, such a gift, that it did not even occur to me that I could be lucky enough to find mine in a human. I have always been an outcast among my people; I had thought that I would always be alone. But now I have you, Jim, and I…”
“You’ve been sharing my dreams,” Jim said flatly. “What did you see?”
It took Spock a moment to redirect his thoughts, and when he did, it did not even occur to him to lie about it. “I saw your memories of Tarsus IV, and your dreams about your step-father.” And suddenly, Spock had to know, “Is he the one beating you, Jim?”
Jim stared at him, his face turning a brilliant shade of red. “God damn it, Spock! My dreams are private! You can’t use them like a… video channel or something. And…” Jim’s skin turned ashen. “You know about Tarsus? How long?”
“It hasn’t been…”
“How long, Spock?” Jim gritted out through clenched teeth.
“Almost a month? You’ve known about Tarsus for almost a month, and you…” He gasped. “And Amanda? She knows too? And your father?” Spock nodded reluctantly and watched as a hurt look overtook Jim’s angry expression. “So you guys don’t really want me around. You just pity me. That’s why you’ve been making me lunches and inviting me over for dinner and throwing me fucking birthday parties,” he spat. “You guys have been feeling sorry for me the whole god damned time. Well you know what? I don’t want your fucking pity. I don’t need it.”
“Jim, it really wasn’t…”
“That’s enough, Spock. From now on, leave me the fuck alone!”
Spock didn’t follow him, and Jim took that as proof.
He really was as worthless as Frank said he was. With Spock he had thought… Well, he had hoped… He sighed. For the first time in a very long time, he had felt as though someone actually wanted him around. It shouldn’t be surprising to him that it had all been a big lie. They hadn’t really wanted him around at all. They just pitied him.
Plus Spock had formed that freaky Vulcan soul-thing with him. Jim wasn’t exactly sure where that fit into the equation, but he figured at this point, it really didn’t matter anyway. Any relationship they had had was through, over, kaput.
He didn’t bother saying goodbye to Amanda before he left. Jim didn’t know if he could face her right now in any case. She really was a nice person, and Jim knew that if he saw her, he would yell at her too. Even if she had been pitying him, Amanda didn’t deserve that.
Jim ran back to his own house, thankful that Frank wasn’t home yet. That would just be the perfect end to a perfectly horrible day.
Once he was safely ensconced in his bedroom (after making sure to firmly close the curtains so that Spock wouldn’t know just how much damage he had caused), he allowed himself to curl up on his bed, his knees drawn into his chest and his shoulders hunched. It would take Jim a lot of time to get past this one. He had begun to hope for the first time in a long time, and even though that hope hadn’t begun to grow all that long ago, it had somehow flourished in the wasteland of his mind. And now that hope was dead, and Jim didn’t know where to go from there.
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. He didn’t move for a time—it could have been minutes, hours—his unseeing eyes staring at the opposite wall as his thoughts raced.
Then he blinked, and the tears began to fall.
Spock was shocked by what had occurred up in his room. Once again, things had not gone as he had intended, and this time it seemed as though he really had lost Jim for good.
Amanda tried to talk to him about it at dinner. His father even attempted to aid her in her quest to discover what had transpired with Jim up in his room. Spock refused to talk about it though. This matter was one that required a great deal of thought and meditation before he would allow himself to speak of it to anyone, even his parents.
He sat through dinner, saying little more than to inform his parents that Jim would not be joining them, and then he went up to bed. Spock knew his mother was staring after him worriedly, but he just did not know how to respond to her looks.
Once in his room, he immediately peered out the window to find that Jim had pulled the curtains closed for the first time since he had moved in 74.2497 days ago. The sight caused him to stiffen as another wave of shock and pain washed over him.
Jim had really meant it this time. There was no going back. His t’hy’la had rejected him.
Finding himself unable to regain his composure, Spock forced himself to move over to his meditation corner and fold himself into his usual position. For now, he needed to keep himself under control. He needed to think.
What he did not need was to let his emotions overwhelm him. What he most assuredly did not need was to go over to Jim’s house and beg him to listen. No matter how much he wished to do so, it would not be in either of their best interests to curtail Jim’s processing time. To do so would only set him back further.
And so, Spock let himself drift.
Jim was dreaming again. He knew he was dreaming because that Vulcan bastard was pressed against him again, and they were kissing—something Jim knew had never happened in real life. He let himself fall into the kiss, pouring everything he had into it as though his life depended on it. This wasn’t the real Spock, but still Jim wanted him. God, he wanted him so badly.
Spock moved against him in a way that should be illegal. It was heady and intoxicating and…
And then he remembered. He remembered what had happened while he was awake, and the discovery he had made. Spock shared his dreams, and the Vulcan he was rubbing himself against just so happened to be the real one.
But even so, the dream world dulled the impact of it, so all he did was pull away slightly, murmuring, “Spock, you shouldn’t be here.”
“I did not mean to intrude, Jim, as I have not intended to intrude on any of your other dreams. Just as you have no power over your subconscious when you sleep, I also do not have the ability to direct my mind while I am not conscious,” Spock replied softly. “Vulcans do not dream, so it is not something we are taught to control. My mind is drawn to yours, so when I do dream, I end up here.” He considered this for a moment, and Jim could almost see the wheels turning in his head. “It is actually quite logical. As the link between our minds grows, more of our thoughts will be able to cross it. When we are asleep, the barriers that normally keep our minds contained are more relaxed.” He looked around at the indistinct dreamscape. “And so we experience shared dreams.”
Jim shook his head and said again, “You shouldn’t be here, Spock.”
Spock peered at him through narrowed eyes. “You are my t’hy’la, Jim. I do not believe you truly understand what that means. My explanation this afternoon was inadequate.” He paused to gather his thoughts, carefully trying to choose words that would make Jim understand. “You are my everything. I want to be with you in every way possible. I want to protect you from anything that hurts you. It is not pity that motivates me as you believe. I am drawn to you because of you. It is your mind, your soul, everything that you are calls to me.”
“Jim,” Spock said, and his eyes seemed to look directly into Jim’s soul. “If you do not believe me, let me meld with you.” His hand reached out towards Jim’s face, just as it had that afternoon. “Please, Jim. Let me show you.”
“Will a meld even work in here?” Jim wondered. Fuck, this was surreal. Nothing felt wrong, but he knew that had they been talking in real life, he wouldn’t have even considered letting Spock get anywhere near his brain.
“It will,” Spock replied. “You are already in my mind, and I am already in yours. To meld in here will only deepen the connection.”
Jim gave Spock an assessing look before shrugging. What the hell? If what Spock was saying was true, they were already melded for all intents and purposes. Deepening the connection really couldn’t do any damage could it?
“Fine,” he said. “Do it.”
Spock felt a thrill of excitement run through him at Jim’s words. He was going to meld with Jim. Though he had never before performed a meld while in a dream state, he was sure the mechanics would be the same. He moved his hand closer to Jim’s face, his fingers nearly vibrating with emotion.
“Wait!” Jim said quickly.
Spock froze, his hand a mere inch from Jim’s face. He wanted more than anything to close that meager distance and become one with his t’hy’la, but he could not do so against Jim’s will. Spock forced himself to pull his hand back and answer Jim in a carefully measured tone. “Yes, Jim?”
“You won’t see my memories, right?” he asked in a worried voice. “Or my emotions?”
Spock frowned. “If you do not wish for me to see your memories, I will make sure that I do not access that part of your mind. I cannot completely prevent myself from reading your surface thoughts and emotions. If you think something while we are in the meld I do not think there is any way to shield myself from it, but your deeper thoughts and emotions will be protected. I cannot gain access to them unless you wish for me to see them.”
Jim let out a breath. “Okay, I think I’m ready.”
Spock moved his hand back into position and finally made contact with Jim’s psi points.
Their souls collided, and all of a sudden, Jim was swamped by a mass of confusion. Where was he? What was he doing? Who was he? Was he a Vulcan or a human? Was he Jim or Spock?
Then everything snapped back into place. He was Jim again, but he was in Spock’s mind, and that was just… weird.
He ‘walked’ forward a bit, surprised by the amount of control he had. Spock was just going to let him wander around his mind? No barriers, no defenses? Jim felt touched by this act of trust. Spock had faith that he would not fuck anything up or go out of his way to hurt him.
The world inside of Spock’s mind was less ordered than Jim would have thought it would be. Organized chaos, he supposed would be an apt name for it. There were masses of riotous color everywhere, collected into balls of swirling light, and Jim was sure that they represented Spock’s thoughts and emotions. The largest one was in the center of the space he was in, and it swirled with so many colors that Jim didn’t have names for all of them. It also seemed to be pulling him towards it, and Jim, who was never one to resist his impulses, went.
He reached out to touch it, but before his fingers could make contact, he hesitated. Would Spock really want this? Would he want Jim to mess with his thoughts and emotions? After all, Jim had made Spock promise not to do to him what he was about to do to Spock. Was that really all right?
Though the Vulcan didn’t speak, Jim felt as though he could hear Spock urging him on. Do it, Jim. I wish for you to see me for who I truly am. Do it, Jim.
And so, Jim did.
He was unprepared for the strength of the emotions that slammed into him. Together, home, family, friend, t’hy’la, Jim, love, love, love…
Jim could only stand there in awe. These were Spock’s feelings for him? They were so strong, and so definite. Spock was in love with him. It was very clear now. There wasn’t even a sliver of pity in Spock for Jim. There was a lot of worry and more than a little empathy, but there was no pity.
And there was love. So much love that it overwhelmed him. So much love that he could not help but love in return.
For the first time, Jim allowed himself to admit it. He was in love with Spock too.
All of a sudden, Jim was scared. He couldn’t be in love with Spock. He just couldn’t be.
Out, Jim’s mind insisted. Let me out.
And then, the meld was broken, and Jim was sitting up, shaking and panting in his own bed.
Spock lay in his own bed, disoriented by the sudden separation of his mind from Jim’s. He did not know what had happened. He had been under the impression that Jim was beginning to return his feelings, and then it was over, Jim was forcefully pushing his way out of Spock’s mind.
He winced and rubbed at his temples. That had not been the most pleasant experience, and it seemed to have left him with a headache. He was sure that Jim had unintentionally done some damage with his forceful exit.
Spock sat up slowly and leaned back against the headboard in an attempt to get his vision to stop swimming. When he was recovered enough to think, he cogitated on what had happened with Jim, trying to figure out just what had gone wrong and how Jim had been able to push himself out of Spock’s mind.
It really did not make any sense to Spock. Jim had been very good at mind melding. Spock had felt almost no disorientation from him at all aside from a few minutes of confusion after their souls had first merged. It was rather awe-inspiring. Even Spock, upon his first melding with his father had experienced a loss of identity that had lasted for quite a bit longer than Jim’s slight floundering. Jim had a very strong sense of self that had obviously been cemented by all of the things he had been through in his life, and Spock could not have been prouder to have chosen such a human as his mate.
Whatever Jim’s problems were, Spock would help him work through them. Spock had heard what Jim had been thinking in the few seconds before he broke the meld. Jim was in love with him too, and Spock would make sure that no one, not even Jim, would ever tear them apart again.
Jim huddled against the headboard of his bed, completely panic-stricken. What the fuck had just happened? Spock was in love with him. He was in love with Spock.
But he couldn’t be in love with Spock. Frank would kill him. Literally.
Frank was the stereotypical small town drunk. He was xenophobic, he was homophobic, and he was a mean son of a bitch. It also didn’t help that the asshole hated Jim with a passion. If Frank caught wind of this, he wouldn’t ask any questions. He wouldn’t wait for explanations. He would lay into Jim, and Jim knew that by the end of it, he would be dead.
Plus, Spock really did deserve better, and Jim believed that even more now that he had acknowledged his feelings. Spock deserved someone who could be happy with him. Jim had never been truly happy, and after a lifetime of not being happy, he didn’t think he even knew how to go about turning himself into a happy person.
Spock deserved someone who was whole. Jim hadn’t been whole since the minute his father decided to give up his life and his mother decided to blame him for it.
So no, he couldn’t be with Spock. He couldn’t tell Spock that he was in love with him. Although he didn’t think he had the willpower to stay away from Spock completely, he knew that he had to, at the very least, make sure their relationship stayed classified as ‘just friends’. He couldn’t let it become anything else.