Commander S’chn T’gai Spock of Vulcan made several notes on one of the linguistics assessments that he was assigning a grade to as he walked to the Simulation Suite to oversee the latest attempt by the notorious Cadet Kirk to defeat the Kobayashi Maru Program.
It was incredibly rare for a cadet to be tenacious enough to attempt the Kobayashi a third time, once was generally enough to teach the lesson that the exercise was designed to teach. Some tried twice, and this was the first time any cadet had come back for thirds.
Spock had never met Cadet Kirk but he had heard the rumours of his promiscuous habits and disrespectful behaviour.
Spock was generally not one to give a great deal of credence to rumours, but in this case they had been confirmed by one of the students in his advanced linguistics class. Cadet Uhura was a very dedicated young woman who had much to say about the notorious cadet. She had informed him that she had witnessed his troublemaking first-hand before he was even recruited.
In the years that he had been teaching her, Spock had observed Nyota Uhura to be a level-headed young woman, with none of the usual Terran interest in fornicating with her peers to hinder her studies. This marked her as one of the few logical beings Spock had met, (or even seen) since his introduction to Starfleet. As a result, Spock placed a great deal of weight behind what he had no doubt were carefully considered and unbiased opinions, allowing his own opinions to adjust accordingly.
Therefore, he had previously not thought it worth his time to make a personal appearance for Cadet Kirk’s previous two attempts, as it was unlikely that a cadet of Kirk’s character would succeed in completing all of the preconditions required to graduate on the command track.
Of course, there was also a great deal of rumour surrounding the young man’s recruitment. Rumours that certain standards had been waived on the strength of the reputation of his father, a man who had died as a hero. Spock had no opinion on those one way or another as he had neither heard nor seen anything to either lend credence to those rumours, or to dismiss them.
Regardless, the Kobayashi Maru Program was undefeatable. and no one could know that better than the person who had written the code. Spock was unsure if Kirk’s determination to succeed where no other had was to be lauded or decried. Given what was known of his character, the inference was that the young cadet couldn’t bear to be beaten, an unhealthy side effect of an over-extended ego. Spock would see for himself.
Spock arrived at the simulation suite with five minutes to spare and, despite his natural inclination to go immediately to work, he took the time to acknowledge the other proctors present.
Cadet Uhura had informed Spock that she would be taking part in the simulation as Communications Officer, and he complacent that at least one of the cadets would conduct themselves in a professional manner. Taking a seat at one of the monitors, Spock decided to leave the coveted viewing spaces by the large window to those who preferred them. Privately, he liked the clarity of the picture provided as well as the option to switch between cameras and observe events from every angle.
The simulation began as it always did.
Spock noted to himself that all Cadet Uhura had told him of Cadet Kirk appeared to be true. The cadet was cocky, and clearly not taking the exercise seriously. The other cadets were behaving in a much more professional manner, except for Doctor McCoy, who was clearly exasperated with Kirk and showed it. Spock made a note that Doctor McCoy should receive a reprimand and instructions to behave more appropriately.
A few moments later, Spock was horrified to see Cadet Uhura also break simulation protocol as she began to question the Acting Captain (who may be exuding an obnoxious smugness, but was nevertheless her commanding officer for the duration). She lost all trace of professionalism as her tone and body language, as well as her words, all screamed her disgust and anger towards Acting Captain Kirk. This was not the serene and capable cadet he had been mentoring in her linguistic studies!
Spock watched with growing horror (that he needed to use his early training to keep from the others in the observation room) as she continued to broadcast her dissatisfaction with Cadet Kirk to everyone watching.
Kirk didn’t appear to be concerned, neither with her hostility (including the serious breaches in protocol) nor the seriousness of the situation the Kobayashi Simulation had reached.
Despite his logical upbringing, Spock found himself reluctantly amused by Kirk’s attitude. It reminded him of something his mother once mentioned to him, demon-is-empathic? Something like that. Kirk could not be stupid enough to be unaware of his position and yet he seemed determined to bluff his way through.
The lights and screens flickered for a moment, and when everything was back to normal it became clear that more had happened than a random power surge. All of a sudden the simulated Klingon Warbirds were no longer shielded, and could be taken out with a single photon shot each.
Kirk sat in the captain’s chair, eating an apple (and how did he smuggle that onto the ‘bridge’? There was a no food policy in place!) and smirking, using his finger as a pretend weapon as the explosions lit up the viewing screens.
Cadet Uhura clearly displayed her disappointment and disgust as Cadet Kirk rose from the captain’s chair and smugly announced the successful rescue of all crew members aboard the Kobayashi Maru and the annihilation of the Klingon Wardbirds all with no injuries to his own crew.
Spock rose to his feet to stare in at the cadet who had come to rest before the observation screen, clearly challenging all within to find fault with his performance.
In the space between one second and the next, everything came flooding back, and Arthur (or Spock as he was called in this lifetime) knew.
Eames! That totally infuriating, smarmy, cheating, lying, le-matya fucking, bastard! That complete and utter… slug, had made him into a half-human, half-vulcan, social outcast! His life growing up was hell! He was bullied mercilessly by his so-called peers, and his father’s ‘advice’ on how to deal with it was execrable!
Someone (not the isolated half-breed) had needed to point out to those small, burgeoning sadists that their actions, in taunting someone who was born different, were neither logical nor in keeping with the Vulcan’s intergalactically expressed belief of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations. And that they were acting like the worst sort of xenophobic lower life forms!
Oh, he was going to get Eames back for this one.
Better yet, it was likely that Eames had yet to lay eyes on him in person, or he would already have presented himself, laughing in that cocky, smarmy…
Arthur knew exactly what to do to really piss Eames off.
No doubt Cadet Kirk was planning to get this whole ‘hacking’ business past the Admiralty using Eames’ usual charm, but with Arthur/Spock presiding as the current senior faculty member, that was not going to happen.
Spock turned away from the viewing window and towards his PADD.
The junior technician present later swore that she saw him smiling evilly, but no one believed her.
Cadet James T. Kirk was internally fuming as he stood at the front of the auditorium, before the Panel and his peers.
What the hell was all this shit? Nowhere in the rules and regulations surrounding the command track simulations did it specify that modifying the code of the testing program was disallowed.
True, the code was well written and tricky, and between the program and the computer running it, there were several very well thought out subroutines protecting the program, and some rather beautiful coding ensuring that if the code of those subroutines had been tampered with, the scenario wouldn’t run.
That just meant he needed to be sneakier.
Which was why he’d needed Gaila’s help. Obviously he couldn’t upload the overriding program he’d written from the ‘bridge’. It had to be done in the control area of the computing centre after the simulation had already engaged.
But bringing him up before the ethics board on charges of academic misconduct? That was way beyond the line. What kind of complete and utter asshole was in charge of this, anyway? If the rules don’t forbid something then how can it be cheating to do it?
Not to mention, the test itself was a cheat! He’d been so pissed when he’d been examining the code and he’d realised that there was no possible way that the scenario could be won by the cadet taking it. According to the programming, God himself (if you believed in God) could have come down and declared He was going to save everyone, and the simulation would still blow.
This was bullshit. Complete, and utter, total, bullshit! And he intended to say so, regardless of whether that got him thrown out of the academy or not.
Eames stared at Arthur walking down the stairs as if he didn’t have a care in the world. As if he wasn’t fucking up what Eames had managed to salvage from the shitty start this life had given him. (And what the hell was up with that? Where the fuck had that ship come from? Eames hadn’t included anything like that in his world building!)
Fuck but Arthur was hot as a Vulcan. That choice had been a good one, clearly. Those ears were just asking to be nibbled on and he wanted nothing more than to kiss that smug smirk right off that luscious mouth.
Judging by the complete lack of surprise on Arthur’s, no sorry, that was Commander Spock’s face, he’d already made the connection. Given the look of smug superiority on his face, it was after that, that the complete tosser decided to bring him up on charges of academic fraud.
Then the asshole decided to bring his dead father into this! Which was a bold move and probably looked to the rest of the congregation to be the epitome of assholery. With all the information he’d received at that moment of connection, a lot of the issues James T. Kirk had surrounding his father’s death and his own subsequent upbringing, pretty much disappeared.
He’d still had a shitty early life this time around, but it no longer bothered him, and Arthur, no sorry, Commander Spock would know that. Oh, wasn’t that sweet, Arthur was giving him an excuse to be angry!
Unfortunately, before they could truly begin to enjoy themselves a distress call came through from Vulcan and everyone but him appeared to be heading out to answer it.
Luckily, Bones still loved him and managed to get him aboard, even if Eames could have done without the nausea, numb tongue, and swelling extremities.
Trying to get the seriousness of the situation they were likely headed into through to Pike and Arthur, sorry, Spock, was a pain in the ass, though. It was good thing that Uhura liked being in one piece more than she hated him or they might have all ended up scattered in space.
Which unfortunately seemed to be the fate of every single ship that had managed to get here before them. Eames didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He knew so many of the people on those ships, that was his class out there, dying in space.
And by the looks of things, that big ass ship was the motherfucker responsible.
Arthur was in shock. He vaguely knew he was in shock but he needed to be doing something. His mother, his beautiful mother, the one person in this entire life who had given him love and approval with no conditions, was gone.
Oh, he knew that Sarek loved him, but his father’s approval did come with conditions, the three years of silent treatment were proof enough of that, if Spock had ever needed proof.
Sarek had been incensed by his ’emotional’ decision to turn down a place at the highly prestigious Vulcan Science Academy. He had been unable (or unwilling) to see why Spock might find continued life amongst those who denigrated the most important person in his life on an almost daily basis undesirable.
Amanda had privately informed Spock that the scandal of his rejection had swept through Vulcan ‘like a dose of salts’ and many noses were ‘put out of joint’. (Spock had been unsure of the true meaning of these idioms, but Arthur/Spock had no such difficulties.)
Sarek had responded with silence. At least, he had until Spock had graduated from Starfleet Academy at the top of his class (and every class before him), setting new records and raising the recorded levels of human tolerance and acceptance of Vulcans (within Starfleet) to the highest they had been since First Contact.
Then Spock was all of a sudden acceptable to speak to once more.
But his mother… he couldn’t believe he’d lost her. She’d been just there! Right there, just beyond his reach. He’d looked into her eyes as she’d realised what had happened, that moment when she knew what was coming, and all he could see was her love for him, even as she fell away.
Arthur could remember many other men and women raising him throughout hundreds of lifetimes, but he couldn’t remember any of his other parents from any of his previous lives loving him as much as he’d been loved by Amanda Grayson. He should have had at least another fifty years of that love, and it had been stolen from him.
Stolen by a vengeful Romulan who chose to make war on a planet peopled with innocents rather than take his anger and strike at the one to whom it belonged. Stolen by the action of a corrupt soul, and that the perpetrator of such foulness yet lived was a travesty that was not to be borne.
Simmering beneath Arthur’s shock was a boiling rage, a fury that someone had dared take Amanda from him. The rest of the planet he didn’t care so much about, his sehlat was long dead and his father was aboard the Enterprise. He felt no sentimental attachment to anything or anyone else on the planet that was destroyed.
The psychic backlash of so many deaths might have crippled him if he hadn’t been expecting it and protected himself as well as he could manage. In a way, his devastation over his mother’s death was shielding his mind from the full impact of what had happened. And wasn’t that just like her? To go on protecting him even in death?
Spock wanted to make Nero pay for what he’d done, for what he’d so callously ripped from him and every other Vulcan left in the universe. Unfortunately, with Captain Pike’s capture and likely death Spock was in command, and he couldn’t afford to take the time to settle his roiling mind.
His recent training was warring with the memory of aeons of trust and almost-trust with Eames, (as he’d taken to calling himself over the last few millennia).
When Cadet Kirk, wait, no that’s First Officer Kirk – (thank you very much Captain Pike) disagreed with his decision to regroup and insisted they intercept and battle Nero and his men. Kirk had first argued his point respectfully and then with growing insistence until Arthur felt that the only way to get Eames out of his face and give himself the time that he desperately needed to settle himself down was to jettison the bastard, and look, there was a perfect location right there.
Even as he ran from the huge carnivorous life form chasing him, Eames vowed retribution. Why couldn’t Arthur see he was trying to help? For carbons sake, Arthur knew he wasn’t at his best in a crisis. Not that he was incompetent in any way, but Arthur’s skills lay in meticulous planning. In finding all pertinent information and then applying all of his accumulated knowledge to achieve the best possible outcome.
It was in Arthur’s very nature, after all.
Eames was the ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ guy, the one who excelled in making intuitive leaps and who came up with ideas on the spur of the moment and/or with next to no information.
Like the situation he was dealing with here! Obviously there was something in Spock’s Vulcan upbringing, (or possibly even his brain chemistry, Eames hadn’t given a great deal of thought to it prior to immersion, to be honest) hindering Arthur’s usual ability to self analyse.
And then Eames was in a cave, and holy fucking shit!! That guy was a Spock from a different dimension? The barest glance was enough to tell Eames that this was Spock, not Arthur. That gave him just enough time to get his mental shields in place before Dimension-Hopping-Spock initiated a mind meld to show him how he had come to this place.
And wasn’t that a mind fuck and a half? Even as he conversed with the apparently extremely old Vulcan (who had excitedly claimed Kirk as his ‘old friend’) Eames was having a quick mental gibber attack.
This wasn’t in the parameters he’d set up when deciding on their latest immersion! Fucking ‘red matter’? Who thought up that stupid name? And black holes in space?
Well, that served him right for doing a copy and paste of a universe that allowed dimensional travel. Asking for trouble, it appeared.
Nevertheless, there was something fishy going on here and when there was a moment to spare, (likely after this incarnation was over given how busy this life looked to become) Eames fully planned to look into it. Or at least, interest Arthur in it enough so that he would look into it. After all, why do all the work when you don’t have to? And Arthur liked research.
The look on Arthur’s face when Eames and Mr Scott were escorted to the bridge was priceless.
What wasn’t priceless was the moment Eames figured out exactly what was upsetting Arthur, and knew that he’d have to use that knowledge to push Arthur over the edge, into realising that he couldn’t continue in command while so compromised.
Even as he was being strangled Eames was watching Arthur carefully, and he saw the moment when awareness flooded the expression filled eyes in front of him. It was a split second before the old Vulcan guy (was that Arthur’s father? He may need to do some apologising) intervened, and then all of a sudden Eames was in the Captains Chair.
Which, okay, that had been the plan all along when he’d immersed them both in this seed but it wasn’t supposed to happen for years yet! Fucking temporal anomalies and super novas and self sacrificing fathers.
Still, now wasn’t the moment to muse on that, now was the moment for finding a way of kicking some ‘troubled Romulan’ ass.
Arthur stood on the transporter pad prior to the mission, being kissed by Nyota Uhura (with a vague memory of this being the second time she’d accosted him like this) and wondering how his Vulcan self could be so blind.
Now that he was in full possession of all of his faculties (and had rather more life experience behind him than a badly sheltered and poorly socialised half-Vulcan), whole new vistas of interpretation were opening up.
While a small part of him relished the look of discomfort on Eames’ face at this very public display, there was a large part of him that was wondering what in the hell Lieutenant Uhura thought she was doing.
Did she forget he was a touch telepath?
In that moment she was a roil of conflicting desires and beliefs, but several things were rising to the fore.
Did she really believe she was hiding her motivations from him? That he was so compromised by his mother’s death that he would be unable to tell that, underneath the attraction and genuine care she held for him, there was a part of her that was delighted that his logic was so over set, and that she could take advantage of his confusion to push for a relationship she had been hoping would happen for some time?
Not to mention that they were both on duty, on a star-ship that was currently at war, and their commanding officer was right there! This was not conduct becoming of an officer of Starfleet!
When he hesitated before her long enough to make his uncertainties clear, he discovered that ‘showing Kirk what he could never have‘ seemed to be a highly motivating factor for the public nature of this interaction. Lieutenant Uhura had not even the smallest amount of respect for Kirk, despite his superior rank, and was intent on ensuring he knew it.
Intrigued by this new information, Arthur informed her that he intended to return. After which she kissed him again, this time a great deal more for Kirk’s benefit than his.
In amongst all of this were flashes of both Kirk and Uhura in a bar. Memories heavily laden with her residual anger at the memory of just being dumped. Arthur delved more deeply and found that Kirk looked superficially like the cadet Uhura had (at the time) just discovered had been cheating on her for months, and that resemblance, and the connection her mind had forged between two men who had likely never even met seemed to have coloured not only that first meeting, but all subsequent interactions.
Arthur remembered how Spock had listened to Uhura’s descriptions of lewd and promiscuous behaviour from Cadet Kirk, and realised that rather than the unbiased views Spock had thought he was hearing, Uhura was in fact very biased. She seemed to delight in telling many people about the slut parading in a Cadet’s uniform. She could, in fact, very well be the source of a great deal of the rumours surrounding him.
She could certainly no longer be counted as a source of unbiased opinions on other cadets. Arthur made a mental note to personally review the work of the other cadet she had spoken of badly, to ensure that Spock had not allowed her prejudice to colour his interpretation of the other cadet’s work.
Having gathered as much information as he wished to at this time, Arthur closed his mouth and stiffened his body in rejection, causing Uhura to step away.
Fortunately, he and Eames almost immediately beamed onto the Romulan vessel. Arthur found himself greatly relieved to be leaving Lieutenant Uhura and the difficulties she represented behind for a mere life and death mission.
It wasn’t long before he and Eames split their focus, as it seemed expedient to get this ‘red matter’ (surely there must be a more appropriate and scientific name?) as far away from Nero and his genocidal crew as possible, ensuring that regardless of their success in locating and rescuing Pike, no more worlds would collapse in on themselves.
It wasn’t until after destroying the drilling device that Arthur had time to consider. He decided that the ‘red matter’ was entirely too volatile and dangerous to be entrusted to any of the species currently part of the Federation, and the only way to ensure that it was not used for nefarious purposes was to destroy it.
Luckily, he had a perfect target.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to do this some distance from Earth, though. No point in saving Earth from Nero only to let the entire solar system get sucked into the (no doubt rather large) black hole that would result from the entirety of the ‘red matter’ being detonated all at once.
Arthur set a course for an area of blank nothingness, and warped away, making no effort to hide his trail.
For a moment, Arthur was regretful, that he wouldn’t get to share this rather exciting world with Eames as they had so many others but as it was said in Vulcan, ‘spunau bolayalar t’Wehku bolayalar t’Zamu il t’Veh.’ Or, ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.’
Then, with the memory of Amanda Grayson firmly at the front of his mind, he made no effort to conceal the snarl on his face as he piloted the vessel he had stolen from the Romulans (a vessel that addressed him as ‘Ambassador Spock’) directly towards the hulking ship and the being that he hated more than any that he could recall.
Moments before impact, he felt the familiar tingle of a transporter beam run through him, and then he was back aboard the Enterprise, looking with surprise at his Captain, no, make that both of his Captains.
Fifteen minutes later, most of the urgency was over.
Nero and his time-travelling crew were gone, sucked into a black hole even greater than the one they had created in Vulcan’s heart.
The Enterprise remained, though no one could call it unscathed.
Captain Pike was undergoing emergency surgery under the hands of Doctor McCoy, and Eames (or Captain Kirk as Arthur would have to get used to calling him) looked ready to keel over. With a grin on his face, Kirk handed command over to one of the junior cadets and ordered the bridge staff that had been on duty since leaving Earth to stand down, get something to eat, and get some sleep, in that order.
“Commander Spock and I have some matters we need to go over and decisions we need to make. I’ll see the rest of you back on the bridge at… fifteen hundred hours ship-time.” Turning to the relief staff, Captain Kirk gave orders to maintain status and begin repairs, and only to contact him if it looked like there was an emergency.
Arthur was about to follow his captain as ordered, when he noticed that Lieutenant Uhura clearly intended to come along for their meeting. He exchanged a complicated glance with Eames, or rather Kirk, and turned to face the determined looking woman.
“Lieutenant Uhura, your presence is not required. Please see to your nourishment and repose as the Captain has ordered.”
She gaped at him for a brief second before leaning forward so that her words would not carry to Kirk, who was watching them with barely concealed amusement.
“Spock, I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be alone with him after the comments he made earlier. Let me support you.” Lieutenant Uhura accompanied her words by laying her hand in his, which allowed him access to the upper reaches of her mind.
Previously, Spock had been scrupulous in ensuring that he barricaded his mind from incidental touches such as this in order to uphold the privacy of individuals who had no mental barriers.At this point, Arthur was throwing all of that out the window.
The knowledge that she intentionally took advantage of his emotional turmoil rendered his previous ethical stance no longer required, at least where Uhura was concerned.
And it appeared to be a wise course of action, as the newly promoted Communications Officer seemed quite ready to use her intimacy with the First Officer to intrude upon a meeting that she had not been invited to attend, let alone take part in.
Spock disengaged their hands and spoke to her emotionlessly, just as he would to any crew member who had accosted him physically and interrupted the performance of his duties. “That was an order, Lieutenant.”
Lieutenant Uhura withdrew her hand like she’d been stung, and tossing her hair over her shoulder, strode angrily out towards the elevator, ignoring the crew members that were watching the drama play out.
Captain Kirk raised his eyebrows, glanced around to ensure that his people were focusing on their work, and then led Arthur down several decks to the Captain’s Quarters, letting them both in using Pikes door code. Arthur didn’t even bother to act surprised at Eames’ ability to ferret out Pike’s secret code.
What did surprise him was that the moment the door was closed and locked behind them, Arthur was grabbed in a fierce embrace that appeared to contain no indications that it was a prelude to a sexual encounter.
Instead, he was flooded with Eames chaotic emotions. Relief to be able to hug him, his weariness and pain, both physical and emotional, and his worry over Arthur, guilt that the life he had envisioned for Spock didn’t eventuate the way he had thought it would when Eames had chosen it for him.
Arthur was feeling much more magnanimous towards his friend, rival, and sometime lover, than he had been only earlier that week (was is so short a time ago?) when he had gleefully written him up for academic dishonesty. It helped that he was getting glimpses of James T. Kirk’s life and it was clear that Eames hadn’t had a cakewalk childhood either.
“You could not know that Nero’s emergence and to the fact that to most of the federation he looked like a Vulcan would cause a backlash towards my people. Or that my people, who claim to espouse the ideal of Kol-Ut-Shan, would react to Nero’s war crimes by increasing their own xenophobia. In truth, I had it better than you did, because I, at least, had the love and support of a remarkable woman to offset the prejudice I endured.”
That didn’t seem to help as much as Arthur had hoped it would.
Kirk removed himself from the embrace and ran a hand through his hair, looking somewhat sheepish.
“About that. You know I didn’t mean what I said, right?” Kirk was finding it hard to hold his gaze and Arthur thought it might be prudent to remind his new commanding officer of a quirk of his current physiology.
“Of course,” Arthur responded with a raised eyebrow, “I am a touch telepath, remember?” By the look on his face, Kirk had temporarily forgotten. Although… “And what was that I caught about a time-travelling Spock from a different dimension?”
Kirk shrugged helplessly. “I have no idea where he came from! I mean, no, actually I do, because he showed me with that mind meld thingy that you Vulcans do, but I swear to you Arthur, I mean Spock, that him and Nero appearing was not in the plan!”
Arthur couldn’t help his look of scepticism.
Eames was constantly introducing wild-cards to ‘heighten the experience’. Arthur didn’t mind so much when he did it on his own worlds, it was when he picked Arthur’s worlds to experiment on that it truly bothered him.
Like the last time, Arthur had clearly designed the PASIV and its uses, and then Eames comes along and starts talking about inception.
Arthur tried to tell everyone it wasn’t possible (he hadn’t allowed for it in the world building parameters when he set the whole thing up) but Eames figured out a way around the failsafe he put in and suddenly the entire multi-verse was at risk, because if Arthur and Eames were to both go insane- Arthur shuddered just thinking about it.
“No, seriously Arthur.” Eames, no, Kirk, threw himself into a chair and let out a groan of pain as some injury was jostled. “It was all supposed to be sunshine and roses until you and I met in several years’ time. Barring freak accidents, of course.
“But that wasn’t a freak accident, Arthur, that had to have been planned by someone. Do you know that the fact that I survived when the Kelvin attacked was astonishing? The radiation I was exposed to? The chances of the medipod failing? Or just heading in the wrong direction and not being picked up? The odds of all of it happening just right are staggering, I assure you.
“Someone is fucking with us, and I really don’t like it.”
Arthur decided to keep his doubts to himself. Eames seemed to believe what he was saying, but then Eames was a spectacular con artist and master manipulator. Arthur had been caught out by him enough times that he was now perpetually wary.
Before he could move the subject on towards the situation they were currently facing, Kirk sideswiped him.
“So what’s with you and Uhura? A little ‘teacher/student’ romance going on then?” Kirk’s tone was jocular, but there was something a little off about his expression. Arthur had no idea what that meant, so he put it down to the somewhat stressed circumstances.
“My upbringing as Spock was such that I was unable to recognise the cues she was giving me,” Arthur decided that it was probably a good idea to get Eames thoughts on this. He was much better at personal interactions than Arthur. Always had been, and probably always would be. “I thought she was merely a supremely logical example of the species, and allowed her time and trust accordingly.”
Kirk shook his head with a half grin on his face.
“Only you, Arthur. I mean Spock. So, what gave you the idea that she was ‘supremely logical’? I’ve yet to meet a human woman who fit that description, at least, not one that hadn’t been brainwashed and conditioned that is. Or a human man, for that matter. So, the question becomes, what are you going to do about it?”
Arthur took a seat across from Kirk, and gave a small sigh.
“Had I not been awakened, I might have taken the path of least resistance and acquiesced to her desire for a romantic relationship. The ethics instilled in me have long stopped me from reading those around me, and I would have refrained from doing so even as she attempted to manipulate the distress I felt on the death of my mother.”
“But.” Arthur looked across at Kirk’s grave face, at the unusually still expression on such naturally mobile features. “I find myself caring less about ethics than I did before I oversaw your third Kobayashi Maru and gained my memories. My Vulcan side is unwilling to overlook or excuse the behaviour she has exhibited since that time.
“She took advantage of my inability to handle emotional overload, Eames. She purposefully pursued and engaged a superior officer in actions that could see him court-martialed, with the intention of creating a dependency on her that otherwise might never have arisen. She calculated the likelihood of ‘getting away with it’ due to ‘extreme circumstances’, she even has the relevant Starfleet Regulations already worked out!” Arthur was becoming increasingly frustrated at his inability to properly articulate his horror at her deliberate intention to compromise him and keep him that way.
“I think you’re being a bit harsh.” Kirk said gently, having relaxed back into his seat. “You’ve never been a telepath before, have you? Well, I don’t think what you’ve described is particularly unusual for human men or women. You’ve always been a bit different, Arthur, and given your nature it’s not really surprising that you find the chaotic state of the human mind to be so distressing.
“She likes you a great deal, and she saw a way to comfort you that would bind you to her, perhaps not truly understanding the way such actions would appear to one raised as a Vulcan. Sure, her actions seem a little mercenary when you expose all her hidden motivations, but they’re a small piece of the totality of her intent.
“I’m not saying you should indulge her. Truthfully, I think that would be a very bad idea for both of you. Just realise that she’s a young, spoilt woman, who’s always been beautiful and smart, and she’s used to getting what she wants. Let her down gently and let her move on. Don’t hold a decision made in the heat of the moment -while she was also under stress- against her. Losing Vulcan was a shock to everyone, you know, not just you.”
As Arthur sat listening to Kirk’s speech, the familiar intonations of Eames soothed and calmed him. He didn’t like being upset, it disordered his thinking and unsettled his mind.
It had been an object of irony, all those millennia ago, to discover that the embodiment of chaos was the most adept factor involved in restoring serenity to the embodiment of order.
And with that serenity now firmly back in place, Arthur felt truly in control of himself for the first time since he had understood just what Nero intended for Vulcan.
“What exactly do you know about Vulcan upbringings?” Arthur asked, following a comment Kirk had made that interested him.
Kirk lifted his hands in an expressive gesture, managing to convey slightly confused good will. “I thought that being raised amongst all that logic and order would be soothing for you. I know you find humanity wearying, and the Vulcan mindset seemed to be much more of a match. I thought we’d have the best of both worlds, no pun intended. You get to have your ordered logic, I get to have my chaotic nature, and then some time later we meet and can have some great adventures. What’s not to like?”
Well, if Eames could be trusted (and he did sound sincere) then he hadn’t intended for Spock to suffer so much as a child. It didn’t mean that Arthur was going to forgive him immediately, of course. There was no need to let him off the hook so soon. If Arthur played this right, Eames would spend the rest of this life making it up to him.
Spock gave the barest hint of a smile as he let his gaze travel up and down the lean form of James Tiberius Kirk spread out casually in the chair before him, as if on display. He was likely going to enjoy those apologies a great deal. A great deal, indeed.
When Arthur finally joined Eames in the place between worlds, he had seen all that he desired to see of his companion’s latest creation.
“There you are, darling.” Eames said, coming out of his workshop. A glimpse through the door showed the usual mess. Detritus piled up everywhere and odd contraptions hanging from the ceiling. “How did it go then?”
Arthur was surprised at the quick embrace he received, but it was in no way unwelcome so he didn’t say anything about it or try to move away.
“Not bad.” He said finally, as Eames appeared to be waiting for an answer. “Nothing much happened, to be honest. It all got a bit boring after you died.”
Eames made a face. “Yes, I hadn’t factored the life span difference in properly, I won’t be doing that again. Spending time without you here is a dead bore darling, truly.”
Since Arthur was perfectly aware that time was a construct that Eames was only too happy to play fast and loose with this revelation didn’t cause him so much as a twinge of empathy. Well, okay, maybe one twinge, but that was more about how Arthur felt when Eames wasn’t around than anything else.
Arthur was aware that the feelings he had for Eames were not part of the ages old agreement they had made, back when they had grown tired of fighting the same battles over and over again.
“Come on darling,” Eames had said one day as he was on the brink of victory, the world they had been competing over on the edge of global warfare. One small push from Eames and everything Arthur had been working for on this planet would come crashing down. “Why don’t we pack this in and go and have some fun for once. Haven’t you ever wanted to go down on to one of these worlds that we spend so much time fighting over and just enjoy it?”
Eames had pointed out that order and chaos followed naturally in their wake, they didn’t actually need to make an effort. After a great deal of careful experimentation, Arthur had discovered that he was right.
That had been the start.
They were still embodiments of chaos and order but they fulfilled their need to enforce their nature on those around them in a more localised sense while moving through and exploring the multitude of worlds available.
And then Eames had suggested building worlds. Creating the seeds and letting them grow, then inserting themselves as people at some point in the development.
“It will be brilliant, darling! We can subdue our natures, even our memories, and actually experience life! Just think, we could grow up in a jungle! Or be born to Kings and Queens!”
Arthur had found the whole idea rather intriguing, they just needed some ground rules.
“If we do this, we need to give ourselves no more power than those we were born to. We can’t cheat when things get tough.” Arthur was a rule follower by nature. Eames not so much, again, by nature. “And should we have some way for us to regain our memories? So that we know who we are? Perhaps upon entering adulthood?”
“Darling, I fully believe that you will always know who you are on an intrinsic level.” Eames had said. “But I know what you mean. I don’t think we should remember unless and until we cross paths. I personally don’t want to spend whole lifetimes alone, unable to share my thoughts with anyone without being thought to be a lunatic.”
“You are a lunatic.” Arthur said automatically, his mind working on the idea. “Fair enough. How about the moment we see each other in person? That avoids the possibility of catching a glimpse of each other over some long distance technology and being unable to reach each other. And we have to be of an age to be able to understand. There’s no point in having it happen while we’re still babies.”
“Good plan, darling!” Eames said enthusiastically, as usual glossing over Arthur’s rules. “Shall we take turns then? I want to go first!”
And thousands of worlds later, they were still doing it. They spent a lot of effort creating worlds and galaxies and universes in their workshops and laboratories. Sometimes they did what Eames called a copy and paste, creating a duplicate of an existing world so that they could alter its past without hindering its purpose.
It was incredibly rude to break someone else’s toys after all. Arthur was aware that there had been something before them that had set everything in motion and their game was somewhat outside of the parameters set by their natures.
At this point, when they weren’t crafting they were experiencing. Arthur occasionally felt a twinge of guilt at that, but allowed Eames to convince him that everything was just fine.
Right, Arthur thought, coming back to the present. Everything was just fine, and this time around it was his turn to pick the world, and he had just the one in mind.