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November 2009

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New Fic: Four Vulcan Words Spock Taught to Captain James T. Kirk (and the One He Didn't)

Story Title: Four Vulcan Words Spock Taught to Captain James T. Kirk (and the One He Didn't)
Author’s name: cestmoi01
Rating: G/PG
Pairing: Jim Kirk/Spock
Universe:  TOS and xi
Spoilers: "The Menagerie" of ST:TOS
Warnings: character death in the last part, but it was necessary for the word I chose
Notes: So this turned out waaay longer than I thought it would! It's kind of a blend of TOS and xi influences, 'cause I love them both. And I went with the cliche t'hy'la for part iv, and my formatting is probably really bad 'cause lj doesn't like me... Um, I hope you like it anyway?  All Vulcan words are taken from this site.
Word Count: 2,818
, startrekfic, spock_kirk, trekfics, st_xi_kink, ksarchive.com, fanfiction.net; any others welcome, just please ask
Summary: The story of Jim Kirk's life aboard the Enterprise and his relationship with Spock in five words - vitaya, t'hy'vaj, t'zaled, t'hy'la, and p'pil'la'ai.


Four Vulcan Words Spock Taught to Captain James T. Kirk (and the One He Didn’t)


i. vitaya

The first time Spock played chess with Captain Kirk was not the first evening that Captain Kirk came aboard the Enterprise. It wasn’t even in the first week and in fact just barely made it into the first month. The time was, of course, very busy for Starfleet’s youngest captain as he settled into the rhythm of the starship, became accustomed to his duties, and found a balance with the crew between the way things had been done before him and the way he preferred to run things.

Spock watched as the young Human charmed those around him, concerned that the man’s informal attitude would eventually become detrimental. His new captain had made it a point to spend some time individually with each of his senior officers, getting to know them on a personal level. He shared a drink with Scott and McCoy, whom – for some unknown, probably illogical, emotional reason – he had taken to calling “Bones.” He fenced with Sulu in the gym on occasion, despite having little technical skill with a blade. He even spent one evening dancing with Uhura in Recreation Room 3, while many other crew members were present to watch.  Spock could see that the two were smiling and talking as they danced, although he could not hear what they said.

It didn’t make any sense to Spock; surely a captain needed respect from his crew. But how could they, when he refused to remain separate from them? When he was seen to be a little tipsy, or a melancholy drunk? When he lost in combat to an inferior officer? When they saw him smiling and laughing and dancing and not all distant and aloof and detached?

On the other hand, the Captain merely seemed to watch him from a distance. They had a fine working relationship, but that was it, and aside from feeling the Captain’s gaze lingering on him often, that was exactly how Spock preferred keep it. It was disconcerting, though, being unable to discern what it was that the Captain was trying to learn by watching him.  Did he dislike Vulcans or other aliens? That was illogical, though – he could not have made the rank of captain or gained his own starship if that were the case. Did he expect him to react in the same way as the rest of the crew to his informal attitude? That also was illogical.

It became apparent towards the end of his first month on board that the Captain was merely pondering in what manner to approach the Vulcan, when one day as their bridge shift was ending, the Human invited him to his quarters for dinner and a game of three-dimensional chess. Spock hesitated at first, unsure of his response, but the Captain simply said, “Don’t force me to make it an order, Mister,” and then left before Spock could warn him that he was extremely proficient at the game of chess.

It was a much more pleasant evening than Spock had expected it to be, for although the Captain managed to draw him into conversation, he also seemed to be accepting of the natural lulls and silences and did not attempt to fill them with useless small talk as so many other Humans would have. He was also pleasantly surprised to discover that they were well-matched in chess skill, despite the Captain’s illogical manner of playing. Thus, after studying the game long and hard, he was forced to admit to vitaya, or stalemate.

The Captain agreed with him, suggesting, “Perhaps a re-match later in the week?”

“As you wish, Captain,” was his response.

Spock conceded to himself that he began to understand the Captain’s desire to be closer to his crew when the man grinned brightly at him and asked, “Call me Jim.”


ii. t’hy’vaj

Jim was not with the Enterprise long before Spock – and indeed, practically everyone – began to notice the man’s propensity for getting into trouble. It should not be possible that a person could actually attract trouble, and yet it seemed to be true in Jim’s case. And more often than not, this trouble came with at least the threat of physical damage.

After yet another such encounter, Spock was – as usual – left standing by the bedside of his injured Captain who was also, although he doubted he would ever admit it out loud, his friend. The man was sleeping currently, due to one of Doctor McCoy’s shots, and Spock watched with some measure of relief as his chest steadily rose and fell as he drew in and expelled breath. The Captain had sustained multiple cracked ribs, broken two of the fingers on his right hand, and his left eye was swollen shut, surrounded by ugly purple-red bruising, but he would live.

Nevertheless, Spock was not pleased with the situation. He had been startled by the range of emotions he had felt when he realized what had happened to his Captain – the depth of his concern, the strength of his rage and his desire for revenge. He needed to meditate to clear his mind, but instead he was here, gazing down at the battered body of his best friend.

Sooner than it should, the body began to stir – a slight catch in the throat, the twitch of fingers, the flutter of eyelashes – as Jim woke up. He blinked and squinted against the light a few times before the figure standing beside his bed came into focus, though he already knew who it was.

“Spock?” Jim asked groggily. “Y’alright?”

He was obviously still in need of rest if his words were slurring together, Spock thought, but he nonetheless answered with a placid, “I am well, Captain.”

“Jim...” the man in the bed corrected absently, before squinting again. “Y’sure? ‘Cause y’look like somethin’s bothering you.”

Spock studied the Human silently for a moment before accepting the fact that he wasn’t going to rest until he knew that his First Officer was alright. “Captain—” The man’s brows furrowed slightly, and he corrected himself, “Jim. I was merely wondering if you would like me to teach you t’hy’vaj. It is a sub-form of the Vulcan martial art a’sum’i which—”

“What, you don’t think I can take care of myself?”

The Vulcan stiffened almost imperceptibly. “I did not mean to imply that at all, Captain. I only meant—”

“Relax, Spock, I know what you meant,” the Human interrupted him again, with a yawning grin to show that he had only been teasing and waving a hand to dismiss his concerns. “So why t’hy’vaj?” he asked, sleepily stumbling a little over the foreign pronunciation.

“As I was saying, t’hy’vaj is the practice of a common Vulcan martial art in a special partner form. I have not had a qualified partner in a long while, and I thought you might like to learn.”

“Yeah, that sounds good, Spock,” he answered softly. “I think I’d like that.” He yawned again. “Sorry, I think I’m gonna go back to sleep now…”

“That is quite understandable. Sleep well, Jim.”

But the man was already too out of it to answer, and Spock watched as his breathing once again deepened and evened out. He told himself that he was only pleased that Jim had accepted his offer because the Captain could never know too well how to defend himself and he was in need of a partner anyway. It certainly wasn’t because he was glad to have another excuse to spend more time in close quarters with Jim.


iii. t’zaled

When Spock learned of what had befallen Captain Christopher Pike, he knew that he was the only one who could help him. He knew also that he would have to break many of the strictest of Starfleet’s rules and regulations to do so. Most importantly, though, he knew that he would probably end up hurting Jim by his actions. But Captain Pike had been good to Spock, even if they had never been friends; more than that, he was a good man who did not deserve his fate. If Spock could help him – and he could – then it was his duty to do so.

The only thing truly holding him back, therefore, was Jim. Spock was sure that if he told Jim what he had planned and why, he would have a willing partner. Jim was a compassionate man and a loyal friend, after all. But if he didn’t tell Jim, then the responsibility for his actions would be his alone, and Jim could not be dragged down with him. Though Pike was a good man, Jim was a better one, and he didn’t deserve to be court-martialed for helping out a friend.

It seemed, then, that Spock had to choose between destroying Jim’s career or the trust between them, and it was a painful decision that he meditated on for as long as he could before finalizing his plans. Eventually, though, he had decided.

Spock pressed the chime outside of the Captain’s quarters and waited a few short moments before the door slid open. “May I come in, Captain?”

“Of course, Spock. You don’t need to ask. What can I do for you?” He set aside the reports he had been reviewing and stood up to welcome his friend.

Spock stepped inside, let the door slide closed behind him, and placed the knife he had brought with him on the Captain’s desk. He watched as Jim eyed it but said nothing.

“I would like to swear t’zaled to you, Captain.”

T’zaled? I don’t understand, what is that?”

“It is the ultimate oath of loyalty, Captain, a blood oath that cannot be broken. With it, I would swear to be loyal to the end, to protect your life until death.”

Jim looked confused. “I already know you’re loyal, Spock. You don’t have to swear an oath for me to believe that.”

“Nevertheless, I wish to swear this oath to you, Jim.”

Jim looked into his eyes, startled at the unprompted use of his name. The blue eyes stared hard at him for a long moment before they glanced away again. Spock waited patiently, standing impossibly still while Jim paced back and forth, making his decision. Finally, the man came to an abrupt halt and looked back at Spock.

“Very well, Spock. I can’t say I understand, but if you must—”

“I must.”

“—then I will accept your oath of...t’zaled, right?”


“What must I do?”

“You have already done what you must do by accepting. All that is left is the binding. Hold out your hand.”

Without hesitation, Jim did so, although he suspected what was coming next. He was not surprised when Spock took up the knife he had brought with him and made a shallow slice on each of their right hands before pressing them together and chanting some words in what he assumed must have been Vulcan.

A week later, when Spock committed the unpardonable sin of commandeering Jim’s Enterprise, he hoped that Jim remembered, understood, and trusted in the oath he had made, because he had chosen to risk Jim’s feelings rather than his career.


iv. t’hy’la

There had surprisingly been no particularly life-threatening events for some time, so Spock was quite at a loss to explain Jim’s distraction during their ritual game of chess. He watched as Jim absent-mindedly twirled a captured bishop between his fingers and stared through the chess board instead of at it when he was supposedly contemplating his next move. Spock let a few more minutes pass in which Jim still stared unseeingly before bringing his friend’s distraction to his attention.

“Is there something on your mind, Jim? We can always postpone this game if you wish to talk instead.”

Jim noticeably came back to the present time and place. “What? Oh! No, Spock, we can continue playing. I’ll try to keep my concentration on the game.”

Spock said nothing, but watched as Jim re-focused on the board only to begin mentally drifting away again. This time, though, Jim realized what he was doing and brought himself out of it.

“I’m sorry, Spock, I do have something on my mind,” he said, sighing as he set down the chess piece. “I haven’t been sure if I should bring it up or not, but it’s become obvious that I have to.”

“You know you may speak to me about anything you wish, Jim.”

“I know, I just… I haven’t known how to talk about it, and it’s something pretty big and important, and I don’t want to screw it up by miscommunicating it.” There was silence for a time as Jim gathered his thoughts.

“Spock, have you ever... have you ever felt like... like maybe you were missing a part of yourself? And you had no idea what it was, so you didn’t think you could ever find it? But then you met someone, and they always felt like home and safety to you no matter what and you couldn’t picture your life without them, and you began to realize that you’d been missing a part of your soul all along and they had it?”

Jim tensed minutely after he gave this short speech, as if afraid that Spock would suddenly renounce their friendship for having such illogical human emotions, but he needed to get that off his chest, and he really hoped that Spock would say something soon because he was beginning to worry—”

“Indeed, Jim. I hardly know why you feared to miscommunicate that, I understood you perfectly.”

Jim let out a big sigh of relief before he realized that Spock hadn’t answered his question. “So – have you?”

Spock appeared to be contemplating something for a moment, before he extended his hand towards Jim’s face, and Jim knew what he was asking when he said, “May I?”

So he nodded and they melded and Jim was awash with the feeling that he had just described to Spock and for a moment he though that it was his feeling but Spock’s voice echoed in his mind, //It is how I feel about you, t’hy’la.//

Jim didn’t get a clear definition of t’hy’la but instead impressions and ideas all jumbled together inseparably. There was home and safety as he had said, but there was also friendloverlifelongcompanionbloodbrothersoulmate.

And Jim’s response was an exultant, reveling, adoring agreement. //Yes! T’hy’la, yes.//


i. p’pil’la’ai

Captain James T. Kirk was the best officer Starfleet had ever seen, but death comes for everyone after all, and finally he couldn’t put it off. He was grateful, though, for the death he had been granted – not the slow, heartbreaking death of old age for James T. Kirk, he had no wish to go that way. Instead, he would die in battle, in the service of the Federation, his ship, and his crew. He had always known that.

And it was time, he could feel it. He knew.

But it was not time for the rest of them, and he thumbed the ship-wide intercom on and ordered them all to escape pods and the nearest starbase, including his loyal bridge crew.

P’pil’la’ai. It ran through Spock’s head when he realized what was happening. The severing of a mind-link between bonded couples either due to divorce or sudden death of a spouse. It was the one Vulcan word he had promised himself that he would never teach Jim, that they would never need to know because he refused to allow either one of them its experience.

No. There might be death, but he was resolute; there would be no p’pil’la’ai, no breaking.

And so when everyone else had gone, there were just he and Jim, staring at each other across the bridge of the Enterprise.

“I thought I ordered you off this ship, Mr. Spock.” Jim’s voice was stern, but his eyes glittered in that happy, determined way of his, and Spock knew that he wasn’t truly mad.

“So you did, Captain,” he agreed.

“Thought you were going to mutiny at last, hunh?”


Then Jim abandoned the pretense, grinned, extended a hand, and they met in front of the Captains’ chair and wrapped their arms around each other.

“I know I should tell you to go on without me and find happiness again, but I cannot. I would do the same in your place,” Jim murmured.

“We are one. There can be no life without the other.”

“It seems there can be no death without the other, either.”

“So it would seem.”

“That’s alright. I can’t think of a better way to die.”

“Nor can I, Jim.”

“Let’s take these bastards out with us, then.” The grim determination of the starship captain was back.

And so they did. Each with one hand on the helm and an arm around the other, they kissed, and entered death victoriously together.


Yay, thank you! I was a little worried about writing character deaths, so I'm glad you think it worked out.
Yay, thank you very much!!
Oh, thank you so much! This was my first time writing anything Star Trek, so I'm *so* glad to hear that you think my characterizations are good.
The t’zaled section inspired an idea for me. I'll link to it from here when it's posted.
Oh, that's so awesome! I don't think I've ever inspired anyone before. I'd be very glad to see whatever you come up with!
aahhhhhh DDDD8 end. muh.

but you're right. there is no way i'd rather see them die. ;3;
Yeah, that's probably about as happy as you can get about a character death...
ah! that is one beautiful ending.
Thank you very much, I'm glad you thought so!
oh my boys. *clings to them* They are perfect. And I can only see Jim Kirk going out in a blaze of glory. Beautiful! I love how the artistry of Spock is so evident in this.
Oh, thank you so much! This is the kind of review I live for. I'm so glad to know that you enjoyed this.
Oh, I hate the idea of them dying, but I think that this worked; the way they decided to die together. This was so beautiful.
Thanks, I'm glad to know you think it was appropriate!
Wonderful story!!
Thank you!
This is lovely, I'm a sucker for let's-die-together-in-heroic-style fic and this delivers beautifully. I also loved how naturally and simply they come together. Clearly they are MFEO.
Thank you very much! I am always glad to know that my writing has achieved purpose and that people have enjoyed it.
I am take aback with how wonderful this is. The whole thing was beautiful.
Wow! Thank you so much for such a lovely review. I am very glad to hear that.
Thank you very much! I'm so glad you thought it fit. I tried to pick words that would tell a cohesive story when put together, and then I looked at the last one I picked and realized, "Darn. I have to kill Kirk and Spock."
I think that's the only time I've ever reacted happily to character death. It was like, "YEAH! YOU TAKE THOSE BASTARDS WITH YOU, GUYS! Oh and smooches too, awesome." lol

Love this fic. *le sigh*
*takes a minute from crying like a bitch to hug you* That was really beautiful. I'm physically choking up over it. All the pieces fit together so well and the dialog and description was exquisite. You're talent is enviable to an extreme degree.
Oh my gosh, thank you so much! That's a lovely compliment that I feel almost... honored to receive.
ah, you're making me all teary-eyed...
This was really, really good! Thank you for writing it.
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.