Spock felt Jim’s distress pouring off of him. It lead to Spock feeling distressed in reaction. Thus, definitely the problem with having your T’hy’la bond with a Human.
He could shield and that would make Jim’s emotional state less of a burden to him, but Spock didn’t really wish to do that. Not at this point.
But as Spock watched Jim anxiously standing by his father’s bed as Leonard McCoy treated him, Spock knew what he would have to do. The sacrifice he would have to make.
It would tear him apart, but for Jim, yes.
Spock put his hand on Jim’s back to get his attention, then turned him to face him, stepping away from where McCoy worked for just a moment.
“Jim, we need to talk.”
Jim licked his lips and then glanced back at his father. “Okay.” He nodded.
“When your father has been cured, you need to return to your time with him.”
Jim did not respond but was looking at Spock.
Here was the hard part.
“And I must stay here.”
“What?” Jim whispered.
“Your family is very important to you, Jim. You love them and they love you. You have a rare, very close relationship. Your life is full and rich and everything you want it to be.”
“Except without you.”
“I cannot come with you,” Spock made himself say. “I want to be with you, I love you, and that will never change.” Spock shook his head. “It amazes me that in the little amount of time I have known you, you have come to mean so much. But I do not belong there, in your time.”
“Always having to hide myself, worrying about exposure as to who and what I am. Your world is not yet ready for me. And I cannot ask you to leave your family behind to stay here with me. This is not your life; your life is there.”
“I-I could do it,” Jim insisted.
“You shouldn’t have to.”
Jim’s eyes were filling with tears, which was making it even more difficult for Spock.
“But your T’hy’la bond, don’t you need it?”
“It’s mere existence is a comfort to me. Before you leave, I will shield both of our minds to lessen any trauma or distress brought on by separation. It will be easy for you and quite manageable for me.”
“You think this is going to be easy for me?” Jim asked, choking up. “Nothing about any of this is easy. Telling me we’ll never see each other again, but hey, it’s okay, Jim because I can shield myself from you? That may work for your brain, Spock, but it sure as hell won’t work for my heart!”
“Jim—” Spock let out a shaky breath. “You know yourself that you do not want to simply disappear from your family without knowing what happened to you. You’ve said as much and I know how you feel.”
Jim closed his eyes and a tear squeezed out of his eye onto his cheek. “I get it. I understand what you’re telling me. But I want you to know, this is anything but easy.”
“I am sorry.”
Jim shook his head. “Me too.”
“Jim, only a few more minutes,” McCoy said from by the bed.
Jim embraced Spock then, holding him close, and letting the tears fall. “I don’t want this.”
“I know, T’hy’la. I do not either.”
Spock put his hand on Jim’s face.
“Will shielding hurt? I mean…physically.”
“Negative.” And yes, it will be excruciating, Spock thought.
Jim leaned his head on Spock’s shoulder.
Spock probed Jim’s mind and placed a shield there so being apart would do not damage to Jim’s mind. He did the same for his own, though he knew it would not be enough to dull the pain and torment of not being with his T’hy’la.
And some day, if he entered Pon Farr…but no, he would not think of that. It did not matter. Only ensuring Jim would have what he needed was important.
It was the best he could do under the circumstances, but already he felt the loss of the comfort of Jim’s mind with his. He could no longer feel Jim’s deeper emotions, only surface ones where he touched.
“Jim,” McCoy called.
Jim pulled back and kissed Spock.
Amazingly, Spock let him go and walk away. He was uncertain how he managed it.
Jim went to his father’s bedside.
“He’s fine now. He’ll recover,” McCoy assured Jim. “Heart’s good as new. You may have to explain that miracle—”
“If you’re going with him,” Leonard said, with a glance at Spock, who nodded, “sit on the bed and hold onto him. That way you should both transport.”
Jim did as Leonard said, but he didn’t look at Spock. For that Spock was grateful, for he might beg Jim to stay after all.
“Okay, Sybok, they’re ready,” Leonard said into the comm.
George Kirk opened his eyes and looked around. “Jim? Who are—”
Then they were gone. Both of them.