It felt good to have Spock beside him, even though Jim hadn’t even known before he stepped foot inside the Memorial that he would feel that way. That he would need his first officer there. Or just how deep his feelings had become for Spock that he wanted the Vulcan with him at all times. Something he hadn’t altogether analyzed. Not yet.
For probably longer than he should, he stood in front of Pike’s memorial. The pain of Pike’s death was one he still felt sharp and fresh though a few years had passed now. It didn’t feel that way. Not at all.
His gaze scanned the few short paragraphs that were meant to describe the existence of a single man, but didn’t really come close. Not for Jim. For an all too brief time, Jim’d had a father, as his own didn’t get the chance to be, and his stepfather, Frank, had never wanted to be. And maybe Jim had put more significance on Pike then he should have. Maybe it was too much pressure, ultimately, on the man. But Jim couldn’t take it back. Couldn’t pretend Pike hadn’t meant so much.
Jim glanced at Spock, saw him looking at the memorial with a sadness he rarely showed and Jim was reminded, all too well, that Spock would be grieving for Pike also.
After a moment, it seemed as though Spock felt his gaze and he met Jim’s eyes. For a few breaths, their gazes locked, then with a shared nod, they both looked away.
They moved on then, stopping at a few others, though more briefly, until Jim reached the aisle that would lead them to the one he didn’t want to see, but would anyway. He stopped.
“Captain?” Spock turned toward him, an eyebrow raised in question.
“Your mom should be here, you know,” he said softly, then regretted it. He frowned. “I’m sorry.”
“She was not a member of Starfleet, so it wouldn’t be appropriate.”
Jim nodded, biting his lip, then looking away. “Yeah. Yeah.”
“There is no memorial for her. Or any of them individually. Just a…plaque in front of the Federation Headquarters.”
Spock’s voice was so quiet that Jim strained to hear it. He took a step closer, uninvited or maybe unwanted, he didn’t know.
“There should be.”
Spock tilted his head. “Remembrances, I suppose, are something most Vulcans find…pointless.”
“Spock.” But that was all Jim seemed to be able to say. Any other words got stuck in his throat and seemed entirely not enough.
Eventually, he touched Spock’s arm, drawing Spock’s gaze to his for several silent moments. He couldn’t think of a damn thing to say that would make any of it all right.
Then Spock broke the spell by flicking his head in the direction they needed to go. “Shall we?”
Jim nodded, lump lodged in his throat, and turned to go down the long aisle that contained the memorials for the Kelvin. Like Spock’s mom, and the billions of Vulcans murdered, there’d been no remains of many of the Kelvin who lost their lives that day, his father included.
When they stopped before his father’s plaque, Jim was surprised, though grateful, to feel Spock’s hand on the small of his back. He placed his own hand against the shiny plaque that listed George Kirk.
“Last time I came here, I was just a kid,” Jim said, softly. “I came with my mom. Sam, too.” He shook his head. “This was all before Frank. When I got older, I didn’t come.”
“I wish that I could say that. More…too self-involved.” Jim turned a little to look at Spock’s face, but not enough that he would dislodge the comfort of that hand on his back. Spock, of course, held no look of judgment. No censure. In fact, there was a gentle affection in those dark eyes that threatened to steal Jim’s breath. Jim swallowed. “Spock, I…”
His first officer nodded. “This is not the time or place, I am aware.”
Jim turned, startled at the sound of his mother’s voice, to see her running toward him. He made a little whooshing noise as he caught her against him as she threw herself into his arms.
Jim met Spock’s eyes over her head and then he squeezed her. “Hi, Mom.”
She pulled back, but only to put her hand on his cheek. “God, it’s incredible to see you. I didn’t even know you were going to be in San Francisco.”
“I know. We’re waiting on repairs and I wasn’t sure myself. I thought you’d be in Riverside.”
“I’m spending the summer here.” She pulled entirely away from Jim then, her gaze going to Spock. They’d met once, during the time of Jim’s recovery after Khan. “Mister Spock. It’s good to see you again.”
“And you as well. Though not the best of circumstances.”
“Whatever they are, I’m just so happy to see you, Jim, and here with Spock.” Her eyes glistened with tears. “Give me a moment, will you?”
Jim stepped back, with Spock, as she stood before his dad’s memorial. He looked away, respecting his mom’s privacy. After all, his dad meant everything to her, and though he’d been Jim’s dad, he’d never even known him.
And Spock, well, he meant everything to Jim, so he definitely got it.
He turned to face Spock.
“I love you. I do. And I don’t want to waste even one more minute not telling you. Because it’s just…I could end up here, or you could, or both of us, I guess, and I just—”
“It’s okay, if you don’t feel that way, I just had to tell you before I burst, I guess.”
“I feel the same way,” Spock whispered. “Your affections are returned.”
Jim swallowed the lump, nodding, holding the sight of Spock in his heart, for that moment, to remember.
“All right.” His mother came over and linked her arms with Jim’s and Spock’s. “Lunch?”
Jim smiled. “Yes. Sounds good.”
“And dinner?” She teased, but, Jim also saw, there was hope there in those familiar blue eyes of her.
“Yes, dinner, too.”
“How long are you here?” she asked, as she drew them away from his dad’s memorial, her gaze sweeping over it once more, before her eyes went to the front of them.
“A week,” Jim said.
“That’s wonderful. I’ve missed you so much.”
“I missed you, too, Mom.”