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Missing Time 7A/?
Bones - Pretty Colours
umbersong
I'm really sorry that this update is so late, but this chapter was hell on a stick to write until I decided "Stuff it, I'm skipping to [insert event at the end of this chapter] because it's not like anything else happens between now and then."

Uh. Some of you may hate my guts for what happens there.

Again, sorry this is so late - I'm at least 2K words into the next chapter so hopefully that'll be up at the usual time, if not within the week. :) Thanks for being patient.

Also, LJ's pissed that this entry is too big, so I cut it into two parts. Bugger.

Title: Missing Time, by [info]umbersong

Word Count: 6289 total

Rating: This is where it gets PG-13. Uh, after some thought, I'll probably have to up the rating of the next chapter at least.

Chapters: Here.

Genre: Romance/Family

Warning: Bones after being woken up in the middle of the night, confrontations, Jim-heart attack, and... intense swearing towards the end. (Personally, I think Jim was being mild.)

Summary: After a stunt gone wrong puts one of Jim's daughters in danger, he comes face-to-face with the Vulcan he split up with twelve years ago in one of the most awkward possible circumstances. When he discovers the hard way that telepathic bonds don't die easily, it all goes to hell from there.

Prompt: From here:

Kirk/Spock - The Parent Trap (Yes, The motherfucking Parent Trap!)

Kirk and Spock have twins, but end up splitting up while they are still newborns, so they decide each keeps one of the twins so they'll never have to see each other again. Cut to 12 years later, they send the twins to the same intergalactic camp where they meet and decide to switch places to get their dads back together.

 

After the police had gone, the men clustered about the kitchen. Mal scowled, but wrung his hands, and Hikaru stood stiller than a statue.

“I told them you couldn’t have done it, but…” Hikaru glared out of the window. His face softened, if only by a little. “… They’re just doing their jobs, I suppose.”

Mal snorted.

Genie appeared in the doorway, a heavy book in her arms. Seeing Jim’s strange smile, she said, sheepishly, “I apologise - “

“Nah, go ahead,” said Jim. “Got more where that came from. Help yourself, just put them back when you’re done.” When Genie looked alarmed, he added, “Or put them on my desk if you can’t remember where they go.”

“Microbiology?” Mal perked up as he took in the title. “Viruses? You’re trying to research for your father’s illness?”

Genie nodded. Jim and Hikaru watched in amusement as Mal plodded over and the two of them flicked through the book.

“Two peas in a pod,” said Hikaru in amusement, as Mal began to chat about his paper.

“Tell me about it,” said Jim, then the phone rang.

“I’ll leave you lot to it,” said Hikaru. “I have things to do before we leave. See you, Jim, Mal, Genie. Good to see you all again.”

Only Jim said his goodbye, with the other two too buried in Genie’s research to notice.

It was Bones, looking angrier than usual, on the phone. “So, I heard you got smuggled into Spock’s room.”

Less than twenty minutes later after Bones had chewed out Jim for visiting a man with a weak immune system, Mal had left with an encouraging smile. As the day wore into late afternoon, Genie, with Jim’s permission, spent her time with her nose buried in several of Jim’s books, and Jim pottered about the house with a couple of novels. Genie seemed content to spend her afternoon at the kitchen table, eyes poring over the text. Jim didn’t know how she did it - he was a professor, but nonfiction usually bored him to tears.

Bones reappeared at his usual time, glowering at Jim and muttering about negligent nurses. Naturally, Jim pretended to be buried in a PADD, and when Bones disappeared into the kitchen Jim’s lip twitched into a smirk.

Sure enough: “Holy shit, is this a kitchen or a library?”

“Your profanity is unnecessary.”

“Shit, you’re right,” said Bones. Genuinely. Then, “What? Stop looking at me like that!”

“Sir, I was hoping you could explain something for me. See, this?”

“It’s Bones, not ‘sir’. Jesus, you make me sound old. What is it…? Oh, that?”

Jim went back to his PADD with a smile.

 

 

It wasn’t until dusk that Joanna and Amanda reappeared, laden with shopping bags. Amanda looked perky - at least, until Jim asked, “Have you talked to Genie yet?”

Joanna looked at Amanda, who ducked her head to stare at the ground. Joanna said, “She doesn’t have to,” and glared at Jim.

Jim just scowled back.

“How about you put that in the kitchen?” Joanna looked to Amanda, who nodded. Amanda, Jim knew, could recognise a diversion tactic when she saw it but the girl looked upset enough not to care. Jim hid a sigh.

“Listen,” said Joanna, sitting down in the sofa opposite Jim. “I’m here for Amanda. Right now Genie needs support too, I know, but - well, she has more open support from you than Amanda does.”

Jim was quiet for a moment. “If you’re suggesting - “

“I’m not,” said Joanna. “Just that that’s how she would feel, with a new child in the family. Happened to me when Amanda was born, remember?”

Jim smiled weakly. When he had moved in with Bones, in spite of Bones’ lack of familial relationship to Amanda, little Joanna had been scared that the part-Vulcan baby would replace her. “Yeah, I see.”

“So Amanda’s wellbeing’s my priority right now, it’s a bit of a stressful time,” Joanna shrugged, rubbing her palms together in her lap.

“Joanna, might I remind you she started this whole thing?”

“You’ve never bitten off more than you can chew?” Joanna raised her eyebrows.

“That’s pretty much what childhood is for,” Jim conceded with.

Joanna glanced up. “Is Genie in the kitchen?”

Oh, shit. Is that a bad thing? “Yeah, she’s been reading my books in there - oh, shit, Amanda doesn’t know she’s staying for a while.”

Joanna’s grimace, thought Jim, could not signify anything good. “Where’s she sleeping?”

“Guest room,” said Jim without missing a beat. Joanna looked a bit more relieved, and Jim felt his heart grow heavy. “It’s this bad?”

“I don’t know,” said Joanna.

“I can’t hear them fighting.”

“They’re at an age where they’re smart enough not to let you hear,” said Joanna.

Jim heard footsteps, and then Amanda appeared at the doorway. She wore no smile or frown, but blinked at her father, her head tilted. “Hey, Dad?”

Damn. Jim might have been good at reading people who hid their true feelings, but more open people he was terrible at. Amanda’s expression betrayed nothing. “Yes?” he said tentatively, resisting the urge to glance at Joanna.

“Are my old clothes still in the garage?” said Amanda. “The winter ones?” When Jim blinked, she went on. “I was thinking we could wash them - we only put them away a few months ago to make room for my summer clothes, so they should be okay, it’s just that Genie’s used to the Vulcan heat and she says it’s cold here and her clothes are in the hotel.”

Jim tried not to break into a big, stupid grin. He really did. “Yeah, of course, want to sort that out now?”

“That would be beneficial,” Genie appeared at Amanda’s shoulder, looking bright-eyed.

“Just give me a minute,” Jim bent over his PADD and let his hair fall in front of his eyes, unable to hide the grin for much longer.

“Okay!” said Amanda, before Jim heard a pair of footsteps vanish back into the kitchen. He glanced up at Joanna’s face, alight with her own smile. He looked to the doorway, but Genie had gone too.

He smiled.

 

 

Two weeks passed, and the school term grew closer. If Amanda told Genie the truth of her motives, Jim saw no sign of it - but the girls seemed to get along well enough that Jim let it rest, and Amanda never asked about going to the beach. Spock had been released from the medical center a couple of days before, but Jim never went by the Academy and made a point not to be in the room when Genie called her other Father every day.

Jim noticed that Amanda never was there, either.

“He’s doing better,” said Genie. “He still gets headaches, and they’re making him have time off work, and he’s really weak - still has to take a lot of medicine - but he’s doing a lot better.”

She smiled. But there was something about that smile that told Jim she was worried - what for, he didn’t know. He supposed Genie had also noticed Amanda’s lack of communication with her other father. If they’d discussed that, Jim never noticed any sign of it either. Bones, when asked, said he hadn’t noticed a “damn thing.” Joanna was mum on the issue.

“If they want to talk to you, they’ll talk to you,” said Joanna. “Sucks, I know, but they trust me, and you know how it goes. Can’t say anything.”

Spock gave no indication of when he wanted Genie back with him - which suited Jim just fine, though there were two things that bothered him. The first: “When does school start for you?”

Genie just blinked at him, looking up from where she had been having breakfast alone. “I’m homeschooled,” she said simply.

“Oh. Well, that makes everything easier. Amanda goes back in two weeks.”

And then, there was the other thing, which he approached her about a few hours later.

“Genie?” he said, peering into his study. “How’d it go?”

She pushed the comm. unit away, eyes fixed on the desk. She shook her head.

Jim felt a lump grow in his throat. “He doesn’t want to?” he said, stepping inside and closing the door with a click behind him. Amanda mustn’t hear this.

“It’s not like that,” said Genie, and Jim felt the barest hint of relief. “It’s just… he said that if she wished to establish a relationship, she would have maintained contact with him. However, she did not, and…” Genie sucked in her breath, shrugged, and looked back down.

She’d been more emotional lately, Jim had noticed. She’d begun to let herself go, even if she was blank and stiff when it came to her other father. Now, however, she looked crushed.

“What does Amanda think?” he asked.

Genie opened her mouth, then closed it. She stared at the desk for another long moment before she said, “We haven’t talked about it. I don’t think she wants to, either.”

Jim leaned against the door. “These things take time,” he said, trying to stay optimistic. “They always do. It’ll be okay,” he said.

Genie didn’t look as if she believed him. And to tell the truth, Jim wasn’t sure if he believed himself too.

After all, he hadn’t talked to Spock, either.

 

 

When he woke up in the middle of the night with the clock announcing the third hour of the morning to him, his first thoughts were, please let it be a nightmare.

Jim usually remembered his nightmares, but even when he didn’t, he knew the feeling of waking up with them. Somehow, their tendrils crept past his dreams, leaving him fearful in the waking darkness. And that feeling was there again - it had to be a dream. He woke feeling as if something had been destroyed, something already fragile and precarious, gone.

Something was horribly, horribly wrong. Again.

He got up, moving to the kitchen. He washed his face in the sink, wiped it dry with a paper towel and got out a can of soft drink from the fridge. Moving to the living room, he noticed that there was a light under his study door, and he quietly slipped it open.

“It’s two in the morning,” he said.

The twins looked up sheepishly from the computer, their faces bathed in the luminescence.

“Sorry,” said Amanda.

“Are you alright?” said Genie.

“We were just… doing stuff - “ then Amanda frowned. “Hey, yeah, are you okay, dad?”

The feeling hadn’t gone. Those tendrils had not yet retreated back into the nightmares they belonged. “Yeah, I…” he licked his lips, looking down.

It was just a dream. A dream he couldn’t remember, yeah, but a dream. Nothing bad could have happened, because Spock hadn’t done that creepy body possession thing he did last time, but still… “You know what, I need to go out.”

“At this time of morning?” said Amanda.

“Is Father okay?” said Genie, catching on immediately.

“Yeah, I’m sure he is,” said Jim absent mindedly, leaving the room, already trying to think up an excuse if he turned up to the hotel at two in the morning to find out everything was okay.

He gave up halfway there.

It didn’t take long to arrive, the car door sounding loud in the deserted, quiet darkness. He felt a vague sense of peace, of detachment - most of the horror had gone now, but the sense of something wrong lingered. He breathed in deeply through his nose, and found himself unsure what to do next. He stared at the empty road from underneath a tree in the pavement, in its little square of dirt. The darkness pressed in as the leaves rustled above him. Jim swallowed.

Then a sense of peace washed over him. He let out a sigh, leaning against the spindly tree which bent slightly from his weight. Whatever it was, everything would be alright now, though it was far from over. Everything would be okay.

He looked back to the car, parked beside the sidewalk. The fire hydrant that sat next to it squatted and seemed to glare accusingly at Jim in the darkness.

And then he knew he was no longer alone.

Silence, for several long minutes, before Jim spoke first. “I just wanted to see if you were okay,” said Jim. “It woke me up.”

“I am in satisfactory health,” said his companion from behind him. Nobody moved.

“You should be sitting down,” said Jim. He knew he wasn’t, without looking.

“I am adequately - “

“You feel weak.”

Silence, then, “That is of no consequence.”

“Spock, you idiot, sit down.”

“And where do you propose I do as such?” Huh, that was strange - Spock’s tones had become irritated far more quickly than Jim had thought they would. He blinked, turning to regard the Vulcan. Spock’s face stood pale and sharp in the moonlight, slanted eyebrows glaring at him.

“I dunno, the ground?” Better than nothing, Jim supposed. One couldn’t be fussy when one was ill.

“In case you have not noticed, it rained during the night,” said Spock flatly.

Jim glanced at the ground, which glinted in the moonlight. “Oh, hey, it has,” he said, then looked up. Spock still looked pissed - “Alright, Spock, what happened?”

“That is unimportant.” Spock closed his eyes. “And not of your concern.”

“Spock,” said Jim, “in case you haven’t noticed, you should be resting and you’re outside in the middle of the night without so much as a jacket on and not really hiding how pissed you are at me. What’s going on?”

“I said it was not of importance,” Spock’s eyes opened to narrow slits and Jim swallowed. He’d rarely seen Spock openly angry - and, to be honest, he’d rather not ever again.

“Spock, it woke me up. I was half expecting you to be lying here dying or something!”

“I believe that would be pleasing.” Spock snapped.

Jim stared for a full minute before he could find his voice. “What?”

“James,” said Spock, “you have no need to be here. Return to your home. It was not my intention to wake you up.”

“Oh come on, it’s not like either of us can help it. And what did you mean, Spock?” Jim scowled. “You want to die, is that it? Or do you think I want you dead? Jesus, Spock - “

“Jim, you are being highly irrational - “

“What the fuck happened?”

“It is none of your business,” Spock said coldly.

“At least go back in to sit down or something!” What was Spock, stupid? “I’m not the only one being irrational, here.”

Spock didn’t answer, looking away. Jim watched him for a moment, then sighed. “Spock, please, what is wrong? Tell me. Maybe I can help.”

Again, Spock didn’t answer, but his features softened. His eyes slid shut. “I am at an impasse,” he said. “That is all. The decision - the situation in question is not of your concern.”

“Did you just stutter?” said Jim, prompting a glare. Oops. Gee, Jim, you have tact. “Listen, do you need to get away?”

To his surprise, instead of snapping, Spock tilted his head to regard him through glittering eyes. “I need peace, and time to myself, yes.”

“Come stay with us,” said Jim. “Just for a night. I can move Genie to Amanda’s room - they get along really well now - and you can have the guest bed. Or the sofa, if you want.”

He was even more surprised when, very slightly, Spock nodded. “Thank you,” he murmured, eyes flicking to the ground.

Holy shit. This is bad. “Come on, let’s go before the cops catch me parking where I shouldn’t. Should we let T’Pring know?”

“T’Pring is aware of my absence,” was all Spock said, and suddenly the air felt a lot colder.

 

 

To his relief, the twins were still up when Jim and Spock returned home. Amanda stumbled into the main room, blearied by exhaustion. “Dad, where’d you - “ then she blinked, taking in Spock’s appearance. “Man, is he okay?” was all she said.

Wait, you mean it’s not obvious just to me? Jim glanced over at Spock.

And again, Spock’s features visibly softened as he regarded Amanda. “I am in good physical condition, considering the circumstances.”

He’s lying, he’s being difficult, Jim wanted to say, put out, but instead he said, “Where’s Genie? Do you mind if I move her to your room for tonight so Spock can have the guest room?”

“Go ahead,” Amanda seemed more alert, blinking at Spock and Jim. “I’ll just - “

“Father?” said Genie, appearing beside her sister. “Why are you here? You are supposed to be resting.”

“I have been resting adequately,” he said. Glancing to Jim, he said, “I am not averse to sleeping on the sofa if - “

“You’ll give Bones a heart attack when he gets up,” said Jim. “I’ll just - “

“What the hell are you all doing down there?”

“Speak of the devil,” muttered Jim, glancing up as Bones staggered down the stairs. “Spock’s staying with us the night.”

“That pointy eared bastard?” Bones glared at Spock, mussed hair falling over his eyes. “Jesus, Jim, thanks for asking - what ruddy hour is it?”

“It was a spontaneous decision,” said Jim. “I didn’t mean to wake you up - “

Amanda murmured something to her sister. Genie blanched, glancing to her twin as Amanda slipped away. “You don’t think - “

“You knew?” suddenly Spock’s face went as expressionless as it always was.

“He heard that?” said Amanda.

“Heard what?” said Bones with a grunt.

Sensing the danger, Jim said, “Uh, Bones, go back to sleep.”

Bones grunted again. “Fine, but if he steals too much food there’s gonna be hell to pay, I haven’t been shopping yet.” He lurched back up the stairs.

Jim looked at Genie, who looked close to tears, then to Spock. “Uh, knew what?”

“I didn’t know how to tell you!” said Genie, her voice breaking. “I just - how do you tell somebody that?” Spock continued to stare at her, and Genie said, “Daddy, I just didn’t know how - “

“Daaaaaad!” came Amanda’s voice. “The computer’s broken!”

“Amanda, this is not the time!”

“Dad, it’s fucking sparking and I think it’s going to - “

“Language! - Wait, what?”

“Daaaaad - “

“Just a moment,” Jim muttered to the two, then strode to the office. As soon as he arrived, Amanda jumped up from behind the desk and as Jim rounded it to check the computer, she closed and locked the door. “Hey, it’s fine - “

He stopped.

He looked up at Amanda, hovering nervously at the door. “Okay, what - “

“T’Pring was having an affair,” Amanda blurted, tangling her fingers together, “with Stonn. Genie knew - I think he just found out, and he heard me saying to Genie that he might’ve caught them, and - “

“What?”

“She - “

“Hold on,” said Jim. “And we’re leaving Genie out there alone to tell him about it?”

“She can handle it.” Jim had to wonder if Amanda was being malicious again, but no - the girl was puffed up in pride. “She’s strong, she - “

“ - Is breaking her father’s heart. Would you be able to handle it if you had to tell me the same thing was happening to me?”

Amanda deflated slightly. Jim said, “Look, just move Genie’s things from the guest room and I’ll take it from here. You look after Genie, I’ll take care of Spock. At least, as much as he’ll let me.”

He bounded from the room, chattering away at the top of his lungs - “Man, we almost had a fire there, that shit was nasty, I’ll have to have a technician come tomorrow. Okay, Spock, so where’s those blankets - yep, they’re here, I’ll just change the covers for you and then we’ll be good to go. Have you seen my - “

Spock just stood quietly. Jim wasn’t even sure if he was listening - which he probably wasn’t - and Genie stood still, hunched over slightly, hugging herself so tightly Jim almost didn’t see her there, eyes red and glinting in the hall light. Amanda spirited her sister away upstairs. Jim had the bed remade. He managed to herd Spock inside, and only then did he finally stop his jabbering in exchange for a thoughtful silence. Spock stood alone in the room as Jim hovered by the doorway, staring into empty space.

As selfish as it was, Jim thanked god that the bond was quiet and that he didn’t feel a thing.

Or maybe it was working. Maybe Spock was so numb to the entire thing he’d forgotten to feel. As much as Jim hated to admit it, Spock had been with T’Pring far longer than they had been together - what was it, six or seven years? Jim licked his lips, and said softly, “Do you need anything else?”

Spock didn’t answer.

“Bones has a lot of sleeping pills if you need to knock yourself out for twelve hours,” said Jim. “Or I can get you a hot chocolate…” Spock probably needed to get a bit tipsy on it.

“I do not need your pity.” In spite of the words, Spock’s tone was just as soft as his own. “I will sleep satisfactorily, and do not need as much as humans, if you recall.”

“Not physically, no.”

“I do not understand what you are implying.”

“I think you could use a long rest,” said Jim. “Besides, you’re still sick.”

“I will be fine.”

Jim waited by the doorway for several long moments. “If you say so,” he said. He turned to leave - then changed his mind at the last moment, facing Spock again. “You can stay as long as you want, by the way. I’ll deal with Bones.” Man, I owe him for this.

Spock nodded. “Thank you.”

As Jim turned to leave, Spock said, “Jim?”

Jim blinked back at him. Spock didn’t look at him directly - staring at the space on the wall to his left. “Thank you for taking adequate care of Georgina and Amanda. I see they are both happy here. If anything should happen to me, I know you would raise them well.”

Jim swallowed back the surprise and gratitude that welled up. Did Spock just compliment him? “Hey,” he said softly. “Nothing’s going to happen to you. You’re fine - “ then, “ - wait, you’re not going to hurt yourself, are you?” Vulcans, after all, felt things deeply.

Spock gave him a sideways, withering look. “That is illogical.”

“You haven’t denied it.”

“I deny it,” Spock sounded irritated, and Jim made himself back off a bit.

“You’ll be okay,” said Jim. “Nothing’s going to happen to you.”

“Certain… complications may arise,” Spock closed his eyes. It was disconcerting, the way the Vulcan acted while they talked. As if he didn’t want to look at Jim. Which, really, given the circumstances, Jim couldn’t blame him. Adultery twice in so many years, after all…

“The doctors will take care of you if the virus comes back,” said Jim. “I seriously don’t think it won’t - it just comes in one nasty wave, as far as we can tell, then dies down.”

Spock didn’t answer.

“Have a good night,” Jim murmured, then clicked the door closed behind him as he left.

 

 

He woke to the sound of breakfast being made downstairs, Bones griping and the twins clattering around the kitchen. Hearing both Amanda and Genie down there made him smile - it was a sound he could get used to.

He pulled himself out of bed and marched to the bathroom with a skip in his step. When he was done he came down the stairs to see Bones, once again looking pissed off, in the kitchen. The twins sat at the breakfast table eating cereal silently.

Bones stared at Jim. “Why is he staying here?”

“Shit hit the fan,” said Jim simply. Then he said, “I think the worst of it’s over.” No, he thought, the worst of it definitely isn’t over. The worst part will be having to deal with it and keep going after. “Well, the initial stuff. He’ll be okay - he just needs somebody to take care of him a little while.”

Bones crossed his arms. “So,” he said, leaning against the counter. “How long is this going to take?”

“Jesus, Bones, overnight! Spock’s really damn special that way! I mean, anyone would just bounce back after - ”

“Cut the crap,” said Bones. “How long is he staying here? That’s all I need to know.”

“I don’t know,” said Jim. “As long as he needs to.”

Bones just planted his face in his palm.

“I’ll take care of it,” said Jim. He looked around - at Amanda mindlessly chewing her cornflakes, pretending not to listen; at Genie, inspecting her cereal as if it were a particularly interesting insect. “Bones,” he said, dropping his voice, “I know you put up a lot from me. I’ll take care of them all, okay? You don’t have to pay anything - “

“That’s fine,” said Bones, “But if he stays longer than a month, he’s paying rent, got it?”

“I don’t think he’ll stick around that long,” said Jim. He lowered his voice even more, “He doesn’t like me, remember?”

“Gee,” said Bones dryly. “I wonder why.”

Jim sucked in his breath and glared, but Bones was already ignoring him in favour of ferreting around the cupboards for his food. “That,” he said, “was low.”

“But true,” said Bones. “Are you doing this out of kindness, Jim? Or are you actually doing it out of guilt for your own crime?” He slammed the cupboard door, making Genie jump. “Just make sure,” he said in a low voice to Jim, “that you’re doing it for the right reasons.”

Jim opened his mouth, but no summoned words came. Genie watched him, her face impassive and blank. With her spoon, Amanda stirred the milk in her bowl and watched the cornflakes spin round and round.

 

 

Spock didn’t wake up, much to Jim’s relief, until midday. Well, at least, he didn’t venture from his room until that time. Jim sat alone on the sofa, with a novel on his PADD when Spock appeared in the doorway, looking as wary as the Vulcan would allow himself. Which was still unusual, but given the emotional shit he had to deal with Jim was glad he wasn’t acting any worse.

“I will return to the hotel now,” the Vulcan announced. “I have… things to put in order.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” said Jim. “What’s your room number? I’ll get your stuff and you can stay for a couple more nights at least. You look like you need a break.”

Spock’s brow furrowed. “I am - “ he hesitated for a second too long. “ - needed for an off-planet meeting on a research assignment - “

“And this cropped up between when you got here last night and now?” Jim arched an eyebrow. Spock went quiet - closing his eyes, shutting down as he always did. “Listen, I understand if you want to be off-planet, but - “

“No,” Spock grit out. “You do not understand. I need to be off planet.”

Jim blinked. “Spock, if you’re angry at me, it’s okay, you can show it - “

Spock let out a hiss. “I am attempting to get my emotions under control with little success. The distance that an off-planet location would provide me with more tranquility since currently I am emotionally compromised at too high a level to maintain adequate control.”

Jim licked his lips. “I can’t argue with that, Spock, but - please? Stay? I want - heck, I wasn’t prepared to let go of Genie all of a sudden, and - “

“I will not be taking Genie with me.”

That was like a punch in the stomach. “What?”

“You misunderstand,” said Spock, lifting his chin by a millimetre. “I will spend a period of time away from the planet, and then I will - I am not abandoning - “ he closed his eyes.

“Oh, you just need time to yourself,” Jim sighed. “I don’t see anything wrong with that, I - “

But however much his mind was at ease with it, deeper, his feelings churned with trepidation. Something deeper was wrong, he knew. He just couldn’t put his finger on what. An odd feeling had risen, deep inside him, but while it felt oddly familiar he couldn’t grasp what it was. “Listen, how about I get your things for you so you won’t have to face - “ Oh, shit, he wasn’t supposed to know about that, was he?

But if Spock hadn’t known that he did, he didn’t seem surprised. He finally let out a sigh in an emotional display subtle for anybody else, but dramatic for Spock. “Thank you.” He dipped a hand into his pockets, slitting his eyes open enough to look at Jim. He looked exhausted. He pulled out a metal rod. “Here is the key,” he said, holding it out to Jim. Jim got up from the sofa. Jim expected the bond to tingle as Spock dropped it into his hand, but to his alarm, it prickled. He blinked, but before he could concentrate on it Spock had already stepped away.

“Room sixty two. Thank you for your hospitality,” the Vulcan murmured, and returned to the guest room, presumably to slink into the hiding place that meditation offered.

 

 

If Jim was surprised to see Spock barely able to control his emotions, he was gobsmacked to see T’Pring with eyes rimmed with green as he arrived at the hotel.

He blinked at her dumbly for a moment, then said, “I’m here to collect Spock’s things.”

“I understand,” T’Pring’s manners were as Vulcanlike as always, but made redundant by the swell of her eyes. She pulled the door open, and Jim stared at what was inside.

What the hell? He barely kept his mouth shut as he entered the hot room. As he expected, Spock’s things were all neatly arranged inside his pack - the one part of the room that hadn’t been damaged by something. He tried to ignore the dent in the wall and a broken lamp, acting as if he was surrounded with ruins everywhere he went. Somebody had been violent? But Spock had shown no signs of being hurt - oh, hell, it wasn’t him who did this. Couldn’t have been him.

“I will be leaving today,” said T’Pring. “The neighbours complained and the owner of the establishment requested our leave, however I have been waiting for…”

“He’s not coming back,” Jim turned to T’Pring. “I can’t - listen. I know what happened between you two, and, uh - I can’t speak for him as to whether everything will be okay, but he just wants time to himself for a while before he deals with this, okay?”

T’Pring nodded curtly. “I understand. It is logical.”

Jim bit his lip, then glanced around the room. He took a step back - a piece of vase crunched under his foot. “What the hell happened in here?”

“Spock showed uncharacteristic anger,” was all T’Pring said.

Fuck. No. Spock was not violent. His jaw dropped. T’Pring said quickly, “It was highly unusual behaviour in him. He has never done something of this nature before.”

“He threw things?”

“Not at Stonn or myself,” said T’Pring. “He had no intention to harm. But he did exhibit erratic, violent behaviour.”

God. Spock hadn’t been angry when Jim had - done what he had. He’d shut down completely, back then, hid behind the stoic mask of Vulcan heritage, been cold, but not angry. “Shit,” he said.

But then, T’Pring had hidden her unfaitfulness. And T’Pring had been with him longer than Jim had. And he’d probably loved her more, anyway - the children had reported some distance between the two, but then, that was probably normal for Vulcan couples. Spock had told him more than once that even spouses did not invade each other’s personal space often. But then, for a Vulcan, Spock had been rather affectionate, a long time ago.

But for him to be violent? Jim felt his blood run cold. He couldn’t - “He’s never hurt you, has he?”

“No,” T’Pring lifted her chin, and Jim felt his eyes run over her. She stood stoicly as he did, and he felt relieved to see no bruises on her bare arms or anything - he couldn’t have beared it if Spock had hurt T’Pring. He let out a sigh of relief.

When Jim had finished with Spock’s things - and gathered Genie’s as well - he searched for parting words. “If you want,” he said, looking around the room, “I can help pay for - “

“That is unnecessary,” said T’Pring, but not shortly. She seemed to stare through Jim, as if he wasn’t there.

Was she upset and guilty for what she’d done to Spock, or that she’d gotten caught? He couldn’t bring himself to judge. After all, he hadn’t been much better. Still, his emotions churned in his stomach and his heart stuttered in his chest, as if Spock’s violence had broken it.

Spock had used to be so peaceful. How much had he changed in all of these years?

“Take care,” was all he said, before he left. And quietly, T’Pring closed the door behind him.

 

 

Chapter 7B.

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Oh god, NO JIM!!! WHY?!! This entire time I thought it was some Vulcan reason that got in between their relationship... man, that has got me mad depressed!

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