Looking For Shooting Stars

Chapter 3: Calling Out

…But every time she turned the lights down low

He thought he heard a voice calling out so slow

Come and take me away from all this pain…

Spock attempted to surreptitiously follow Jim as the human departed the school grounds. While he would have never previously attempted to classify himself as “sneaky”, he was beginning to realize that certain perceptions of oneself had the ability to change when given sufficient motivation. It appeared that Jim Kirk was, as the humans would say, “on to him”. Though the other teenager had not approached him directly, Spock had noticed that Jim had started glaring at him whenever he was in the vicinity. He had begun to utilize evasive maneuvers in an attempt to thwart Spock whenever possible, and in turn, the Vulcan was finding it necessary to use increasingly clandestine methods of observation to avoid Jim’s detection. It had not taken him a great amount of time to realize that the human would cease his futile attempts to flee if he were unaware of Spock’s presence.

Jim had returned to his standard post-school routine immediately following the single abnormality 1.7143 weeks previously. The unknown female with whom Jim had copulated had not attempted to reestablish contact with Jim after their one afternoon together, and though Spock would not say that this made him happy, he would admit to being… gratified and perhaps somewhat relieved. The emotion for which he had no name returned every time he remembered seeing and hearing Jim with the girl, but it had abated somewhat as the days passed without interaction between them.

Spock halted his efforts to move in a covert manner when he noticed that Jim had been stopped by four rather well-muscled teenage boys who were most likely Spock’s age, if not older. Even with the enhanced sound perception permitted by his Vulcan ears, Spock was not close enough to hear what they were saying to Jim. He was attempting to locate a suitable place of concealment at a proximal distance when whatever argument the humans were having rapidly deteriorated into violence.

For once, Jim was not the first to strike, and this combined with the differential in the number of combatants to quickly put him at a disadvantage. He was still exerting a great amount of effort to defend himself, but it did not appear as though his defense was going to be sufficient in this instance. Still, aware of the fact that Jim was already wary of him for some unfathomable human reason, Spock did not move to interfere. As he had on the previous occasions, he instead endeavored to remain where he was and let Jim fight his own battles.

Approximately 6.1082 minutes after the fight’s conception, Spock abandoned this plan.

In the struggle, one of human assailants had managed to pin Jim’s arms behind his back while another methodically turned Jim’s face into a bloody mess. When Spock saw that Jim’s eyes were closed and he had stopped even attempting to resist their hold on his arms, Spock knew that he needed to intervene.

He stepped up behind the human male who was punching Jim. The boy did not realize that he was there at first, but one of his companions soon rectified this oversight. The human turned to face Spock, his face twisted in an expression of anger, if Spock was not mistaken.

“What do you want, Vulcan? This is none of your business,” he snarled.

Spock folded his hands at his back and straightened his already impeccable posture. He looked down his nose at them in a way that was usually reserved for those occasions in which he was teasing his mother; for once, he was perfectly serious in his part as the imperious and arrogant Vulcan.

“You are mistaken,” Spock informed them. “The human you have incapacitated is my neighbor, and it is my duty to help my neighbors when they have need. You will either release Jim, or I will be required to force your compliance.”

Spock heard one of the other teenagers mutter, “Let’s get outta here. It’s a fucking Vulcan.” However, the boy in front of him did not heed this warning. He took a step toward Spock and hissed, “This little prick doesn’t know when to keep his fucking mouth shut. He deserves what he gets. Stay the fuck out of it.” He attempted to emphasize his point by putting a hand on Spock’s shoulder and shoving. Spock allowed himself to be moved slightly by the human’s insignificant strength.

Then, he straightened once more and replied, “Very well. If your decision is one of non-compliance, then I am obliged to retrieve Jim, regardless of the consequences to you or your companions.” Considering the humans fairly warned, Spock reached out his own hand and performed the Vulcan nerve pinch. The human did not even have a chance to cry out before he was slumped unconscious at Spock’s feet.

Spock looked over at the others and raised an eyebrow. Before Spock could blink, they had fled, abandoning both Jim and their friend on the sidewalk. The Vulcan suppressed the urge to snort. If this was friendship, then he was gratified that he had never taken part in such a thing.

After the other humans had disappeared from his sight, Spock moved to kneel beside Jim. The boy had fallen in a most uncomfortable looking position. He was on his back, his head turned away from Spock, with both of his legs curled up underneath him as though he had been kneeling and fallen backward and one of his arms was pinned between his body and the ground. Spock quickly moved to rearrange Jim’s limbs into a more comfortable position before realizing that if Jim was allowing him to touch him, the human must be unconscious.

Though he would never have admitted it to anyone else, Spock started panicking. What did one do with an unconscious human, especially an unconscious Jim Kirk, who would most likely be extremely upset upon waking?

Spock shook himself out of his panicked thoughts. Jim needed him right now. Spock could worry about the rest later as there was no logic in thinking about something that may not come to pass. He reached out and put one hand on the human’s face to turn it toward him so that he could inspect the damage that had been inflicted upon it.

He did not expect for Jim’s mind to pull him in as it did.

The pull was much stronger than it had been when their hands had merely brushed and not lingered, and in this case, Spock’s hand was nearly covering Jim’s meld points, making the connection just that much stronger. Spock most likely could have stopped it if he wanted to, but he found that his subconscious self did not really want to, and so, though his conscience told him that to continue was illogical and immoral, it was impossible for Spock to do otherwise. Jim’s mind was reaching out to him, and Spock could not prevent his own from reaching back.

A moment later, Spock was surrounded by the same emotions he had felt on the one previous time he had encountered Jim’s mind. There was pain and sadness and anger and a never-abating hunger for… almost anything that a human could possibly conceive of to hunger for. Jim was hungry in the usual sense of the word, of course, but it had seemingly been pushed so far back in the human’s mind that he barely felt the pain associated with it anymore.

Jim’s other cravings were much closer to the surface and the strength of them nearly took Spock’s breath away. This human was starved for love, touch, safety, and a whole host of other things that Spock was unable to completely comprehend. He delved deeper into Jim, further into the human’s emotions, careful not to touch his thoughts or his memories, knowing that he was already committing a breach of every moral code that had been instilled in him since birth. To trespass further would be… illogical.

But he could not stop; he did not wish to withdraw from Jim’s mind just yet. He wanted to go just a small bit further. He felt as though there were something there at the end that he was reaching toward, but Spock was as yet unaware as to what that “something” was. All he knew was that it was there, and he could feel it, and he wanted it.

And then, Spock was there, at the center of Jim’s mind, and he was reaching out.

Before his mental “fingertips” could do more than brush against the core of Jim’s mind—Spock shuddered at the feeling this mental touch evoked—he was jerked out of their pseudo-meld by the sound of a hovercar horn blaring one street over. Spock felt short of breath, a sensation that he had not experienced since coming to Earth, and he simply knelt in position for a moment, panting as he stared at Jim.

Though he was a telepathic being, Spock had no understanding of what had just happened to him. Human minds were not supposed to possess the ability to do the things that Jim’s had just accomplished. It was just one more way in which Jim was proving to be fascinating.

Spock stood and glanced furtively from side to side to make sure that no one was watching before he scooped Jim up into his arms. Though Spock had little care and even less patience for gossip, it would not do for someone to see them and spread rumors as to why the half-Vulcan would be carrying the Kirk boy. Riverside was a small town and its inhabitants seemingly lacked alternative forms of entertainment that did not involve the spread of half-truths amongst themselves.

He was still unsure as to what he should do with the unconscious human. Jim’s presence lingered in his mind, in spite of the fact that Spock was no longer touching the boy’s skin, and the Vulcan could feel him stirring. This remaining sense of Jim was not unfamiliar to Spock. It was common for him to carry some sort of impression of the other involved party immediately following a meld, and though Spock had never melded with anyone outside of his immediate family, he was sure that this effect was universal to all mental contact, whether said contact was an actual mind meld or not.

A groan came from the human in his arms. Spock knew that Jim would be waking up soon, and if he was going to take him somewhere for treatment, he had best do it while the human was still asleep. Not knowing where else he could possibly take Jim, Spock tried to make the boy more comfortable in his arms before hurrying toward his house where hopefully his mother would have a better idea of how to care for an injured human.

Amanda was unsurprisingly shocked and horrified by the state Jim was in when Spock brought him into the kitchen. He considered himself extremely lucky that his mother had the day off and was actually home. He did not know what he would have done had she still been working on her current project at the Riverside Shipyard. Spock would have been able to walk to the Shipyard carrying Jim if necessary, but it was a far longer journey than the one to the house and Jim would most likely have woken up before they were a quarter of the way there.

His mother grabbed the first aid kit, and then questioned him incessantly as he carried Jim into the living room to lay him on the couch. Spock tried to answer her questions honestly without admitting that he had inadvertently entered Jim’s mind. That was a transgression that he was not going to willingly confess to anyone.

Amanda immediately started tending to Jim’s injuries in silence as soon as Spock put him down. She spoke infrequently as she worked, occasionally telling Spock to retrieve more water or a clean washcloth when Jim’s blood had so thoroughly ruined the first one that it was no longer doing its duty, but otherwise it was quiet. Spock was grateful for this. He had much to think about—for once, possibly more than he could handle—and considering how the last substantial talk he had had with his mother had given him more questions than answers, he was gratified by the fact that she understood him sufficiently well to know when he had had enough.

He felt it necessary to break the silence when he felt Jim’s mind stirring again. “Mother, I believe Jim will awaken in 1.0320 minutes, and he will most likely be agitated. If he is in need of further care, it would be logical for you to administer said care swiftly, as I anticipate Jim will not allow you to do so when he is once again fully conscious.”

Amanda’s fingers quickened, smoothing a bandage to the cut bisecting Jim’s left eyebrow before applying another to the side of his jaw. Jim awoke as Amanda was cleaning the remainder of the human’s blood from around the dressings. As Spock had predicted, he did not react well.

“What the fuck?” Jim rasped angrily, struggling to sit up. His eyes were wild, but he focused on Amanda, as she tried to comfort him. Then, his gaze settled on Spock, and he began shouting. “Where the fuck have you taken me, you creepy Vulcan stalker? God damn it! It’s not enough that you’ve been fucking following me? You gotta kidnap me, too?” Spock was alarmed to note that Jim’s eyes had widened even further in panic, and both his breathing and heart rate had accelerated. “What the fuck do you want from me, you bastard?”

Spock tilted his head, contemplating Jim’s words and attempting to formulate a response that would not incite the human to violence. Before he could speak, his mother interrupted, “Now, Jim, Spock didn’t kidnap you. If you stop and think for a minute, you’ll remember what happened.”

Spock was momentarily taken aback by his mother’s lack of reprimand for Jim’s use of profanity. Amanda was a linguist and, as such, took language very seriously. Spock had never attempted to utilize coarse language, and indeed, one of the main reasons he did not do so was as a result of his mother’s extreme dislike for it. She had always told him that if one could not find more appropriate words in the half million or so that comprised Federation Standard, one was not fit to be speaking until after taking the opportunity to avail oneself of a dictionary.

Then, he realized that it would have been completely illogical for his mother to give Jim a lecture on profanity when the human was already afraid of them. To do so would have only frightened Jim more, and Spock was certain that Amanda knew this. He nodded his approval as he looked at Jim once more and saw that the fear had disappeared from his face. It had been replaced by confusion, but in Spock’s opinion, this was far more agreeable than the pure panic that had been there previously.

“I was in a fight,” Jim said slowly. He reached up and put one hand to his head, obviously surprised when his fingers came away free of blood. He pressed at the bandages with his fingertips for a moment before Amanda carefully pulled his hand away. Jim froze in alarm, but relaxed again when she immediately released him, and he realized the touch had not been intended to be threatening. He huffed out a breath and shook his head. “Fuck. I thought those assholes were going to kill me.”

Spock spoke when it appeared as though Jim were going to start hyperventilating at the thought. “I do not believe that they were attempting to terminate your existence,” he disagreed. “However, the physical damage you would have endured would most likely have been much more severe had I not intervened. You must exercise caution, Jim. I may not be in the vicinity on the next such occasion.”

Both Jim and his mother gave him disbelieving looks when they heard his last statement, but Spock did not notice as he was currently experiencing a very real sense of terror at the thought of Jim being without protection. The human’s sense of self-preservation appeared to be almost non-existent, and Spock was sure that harm would befall Jim if he were not around to “keep an eye on him”, to quote the Terran phrase.

“Whatever,” Jim said, rolling his eyes. “It’s been nice, but I gotta…” Jim’s head snapped up, and Spock saw that the panic was back in his eyes. “Fuck, what time is it? How long was I out?” He scrambled to his feet quickly, gasping as his eyes finally found the clock on the mantel. All of the blood drained from Jim’s face. “Oh shit, it’s almost six. Fuck! I have to get home.”

Spock did not have any desire to let Jim leave, but he was sure that, in this instance, he did not have any other option. He turned, indicating with one hand that Jim was to follow, and directed the human toward the front door. They had not taken more than two steps, however, when Amanda’s voice called out, “Spock, Jim, wait.”

Both teenagers halted and moved to look at her as she hurried into the kitchen before returning with a plate of sugar cookies. Amanda handed them to Jim with a smile on her face. To anyone else, it would appear to be a genuine smile, but Spock knew better. His mother was worried. “Take them. They were supposed to be for Spock, but he’s never been a big fan of sugar cookies.”

Spock stared at her. Amanda knew that her sugar cookies were his favorite. He had never heard his mother lie before, and was surprised to find that he agreed with her reasons for doing so. Jim needed to eat, and if this was the only method by which they could help him, then Spock would do whatever was necessary.

Jim looked as though he were going to refuse, so she continued, her voice firm, “Take them, Jim. I will make more cookies for Spock if he wants them.”

Jim glared at them suspiciously for a moment before he finally grunted his thanks and clutched the plate closer to his body before storming toward the front of the house. Spock made no attempt to guide or follow him this time, but heard the door shut with an audible crash as Jim slammed it behind him.

He and his mother simply stood there staring after Jim for a moment before turning to look at each other. Amanda’s expression was a mixture of worry and sadness, and Spock could not help but emulate these emotions. He murmured a polite apology to his mother as he turned away from her to retreat to his room. A great deal of meditation and thought would be necessary for him to process and reconcile the events of the day, most especially those pertaining to his prolonged contact with Jim’s mind.

But when Spock had finally entered his room and settled himself in the area he had designated for meditation, instead of calming his thoughts as he had intended, he found himself dwelling on Jim’s face and the terrified expression that had made an appearance several times that afternoon.

It would be several hours before he was able to rid himself of the image and successfully meditate.

Jim hurried into his bedroom and closed the door before slumping back against it, clutching the plate of cookies to his chest. Thank god, he’d made it home before Frank. Fuck, he could just imagine what that bastard would have done to him if Jim had managed to run into him on his way up to his room.

Jim had rules when it came to Frank due to an unspoken and fairly one-sided understanding between them. Frank didn’t ever enter his room, and in return, Jim would take a beating whenever the bastard yelled for him. Jim was accepting of this arrangement for one reason and one reason only. His room was the only place in which he was able to let his guard down. Being constantly on edge was a fucking pain in the ass and it took a lot out of him, and while he knew that his room was not completely insulated from the dangers of the outside world, it was the closest thing he had. So, as long as Frank didn’t violate that sanctuary, Jim was fine with taking whatever his step-father could dish out. Shit, he’d been through worse than this on some of his best days on Tarsus.

The problem with their current system was that it didn’t account for anything outside of the usual beatings. For instance, should he get home late because he’d been abducted by a fucking Vulcan and his mother, Jim knew that Frank wouldn’t give a shit. That bastard hit him without warning and usually without cause whenever he and Jim happened to cross paths while they were in the house, and there wasn’t a damn thing Jim could do about it.

As long as Jim stayed out of his way, Frank wouldn’t have extra reasons to hit him, so that is what he tried to do. Getting out of school at three-thirty usually meant that Jim had plenty of time to get home before Frank did and hole himself up in his room until his step-father called him down. When he had been at Spock’s house earlier, he had remembered what usually happened when Frank happened to get home early or Jim ended up getting home late and, as much as he hated himself for admitting it, just the thought of running into Frank right after the beating he had just taken scared the shit out of him.

Jim forced himself to stop thinking about the terror. Allowing it to consume him was not an option, so he turned his thoughts to other, (barely) more pleasant thoughts. Like the crazy Vulcan who obviously thought he was a complete idiot.

What the fuck had happened today? He’d been attacked by a group of total dickwads, but that wasn’t really all that unusual. What freaked him out was the fact that “Super Stalker” Spock had apparently saved his ass and then dragged him back home so mommy could patch him up. Jim didn’t have a fucking clue how he was supposed to feel about this. On the one hand, the guy had been stalking him. That in and of itself was a major red flag telling Jim that there was something seriously wrong with the Vulcan. Then again, it had also been way too fucking long since he had had someone to watch his back and protect him, and Jim couldn’t deny that it felt… good.

Jim looked down at the plate of cookies in his hand, finally remembering that he was holding them. His stomach rumbled hungrily, and he sighed. He might as well eat one. After all, the last batch of food he’d gotten from the Vulcan’s mother hadn’t been poisoned, and these had been made for her son, which made nefarious intentions even more unlikely.

He unwrapped the plate as he sat down on his bed. Huh, sugar cookies. Not his favorite type—he preferred the traditional chocolate chip—but at least they weren’t peanut butter or one of the many other things to which he was allergic. He tentatively bit into one of the cookies and chewed, waiting for something to happen.

When nothing happened, he finished off the cookie, allowing himself to actually taste and savor it. Well, one thing was certain. That woman knew what she was doing; the cookies were delicious.

A sudden wave of jealousy washed over him. Vulcans didn’t do emotions, right? Why did Spock get to have such a great mom when he probably didn’t give a shit about her or her cookies, while Jim got stuck with Frank and (sometimes) Winona? It wasn’t fucking fair.

As soon as his “poor me” routine started, Jim knew that he was being stupid and childish, neither of which were of any value when it came to survival. There was no use thinking about the ‘what if’s and ‘what could be’s because his life was never going to get better, and if it did, he knew that disaster would be right around the corner.

After all, there wasn’t a clearer example than what had happened on Tarsus IV. Jim had been happy—fucking happy—for the first time in his life, and there’d been a fucking plague. It was just the way life was for him; he wasn’t meant to be happy.

Wrapping the plate back up as tight as he could, he slid it under his bed. Jim wanted to make those cookies last as long as possible. Not only were they fucking delicious, but when he ate them he almost felt… loved. It was as if that woman, Amanda, had made them just for him. He knew that it was a fantasy and would never happen, but it was a nice thought.

He yawned as he stretched out on his bed. Shit, was he tired. He didn’t want to fall asleep—he knew that his turbulent thoughts would breed nightmares—but he couldn’t seem to keep his eyes from closing. Oh well, he thought. It isn’t like I’m unused to nightmares.

And with that highly encouraging thought, he drifted off to sleep.

Some time later, in the house next door, Spock sat upright in his bed, the sound of Jim’s screams echoing in his head.

Spock was tired. For the past eight days, he had been waking up to the sound of Jim screaming. Every night, he would check to make sure that Jim was not actually in trouble, and every night, he would see Jim curled up in his bed asleep. It did not make any sense to Spock. Jim was obviously dreaming and obviously in pain—the thought of which caused a great deal of unpleasant feelings in Spock—but Spock should not be able to hear the human in his head when they were not touching or, more realistically, at all considering the amount of effort he had been expending to maintain his shields.

Spock believed it to be quite fortuitous that his father was going to be returning that day. Sarek was much more experienced when it came to such things, and Spock was in rather desperate need of guidance.

It had taken extensive deliberation and lack of sleep before he had come to the conclusion that his father was the only one who could help him, and the only way he could do so was if Spock revealed everything that had occurred between he and Jim. He had previously told himself that he would never tell anyone of the many cultural taboos he had broken by going into Jim’s mind uninvited, but now, he found himself with no other option. For the sake of his sanity and Jim’s well-being, Spock needed to know what was going on.

Which is how he found himself standing in his father’s home office, preparing himself to explain what had happened and what had occurred as a result.

Sarek looked up from his work expectantly when his son entered the office, but Spock was hesitant to speak. What if his father was disappointed or ashamed of him? He knew that Sarek would never tell him if he felt such a thing, of course, but Spock did not wish for his father to think poorly of him.

“Speak your mind, Spock,” Sarek commanded as he did every time something was bothering his son.

Spock inhaled deeply and forced himself to explain the circumstances to his father. When he had finished describing everything that had happened in great detail, the teenager suppressed the urge to fidget as his father considered the current situation. Sarek did not give any visible reaction, as Spock had expected, and it was making him… uneasy.

“Spock, I believe there to be only two means by which you would be able to access this human’s mind with such ease. The boy may have an abnormally high esper rating, but as you pointed out, not only was he unaware that you had entered his mind, he was also unable to gain access to your mind. Based on this inability, I consider this possibility to be unlikely.” Spock nodded. He had already come to this conclusion himself. “The second option is much more problematic. The only other possibility I have been able to conceive is the formation of a spontaneous telepathic or empathic link. These can form under duress—when two parties share a life or death situation—but they are most characteristic of the t’hy’la bond.”

Spock stared at his father. T’hy’la. It was a bond so rare it was practically unheard of and so cherished that many Vulcans would forsake logic to possess it. Was it possible that he and Jim…?

“Thank you, Father,” Spock said formally. Then, he paused. He did not know what he should say to his father on the subject or even what he himself should think about it. T’hy’la, t’hy’la. His mind kept repeating it. How was it even possible? “I require meditation to gain further insight on the subject.”

Mechanically, he lifted one hand in the ta’al and murmured, “Dif-tor heh smusma,” before departing, not staying long enough to hear the replied, “Sochya eh dif.”

What is one supposed to do in such a situation? Spock thought as he hurried back to his room. He had been under the impression that his observation of the human had been scientific, impartial, and most especially, not at all related to any desire he may have for a more personal association with Jim. He was only now realizing that his need to know where Jim was at any given moment was resultant of something more, something deeper. T’hy’la.

Spock’s thoughts were racing in spite of his attempts to slow them down. He thought of what his father had said. The mental link was characteristic of a t’hy’la bond, but it was not necessarily indicative of one. Jim could just have a high esper rating, or perhaps the link had formed as a result of Spock’s mind deceiving itself into believing that the situation had been life or death. It would be illogical to become excited as a result of something that may not even exist.

The problem was that he had been excited by the prospect of being t’hy’la with Jim. The human seemed to be utterly and endlessly fascinating to him, and Spock was sure that Jim’s mind would hold the same amount of wonder. Perhaps, even if they were not t’hy’la, he could…

Spock sighed as he settled into position for meditation. He had much to think about.

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