Summary: Spock is troubled following the encounter with the 'planet killer'. Written for the opening issue of 'Ampersand'.
Thank you to Hypatia and titC for beta-reading.

Fruit of the Tree

by Farfalla
blueberrysnail @ yahoo.com

The hour was late and Spock lingered in Kirk's cabin, polishing the pieces of the 3-D chess set with a soft cloth. Kirk was vaguely aware that Spock was creating busywork for himself, not quite wanting too deep of an interaction with him, but unwilling to be apart from him all the same. With his customary patience, he tolerated Spock's whim for the better part of an hour while he took care of some captainly duties at his desk.

But eventually, concern and curiosity got the better of him. He sat down on his bed, a safe distance away. "Spock, you wanna talk about it?"

Spock looked up sharply, his face clearly playing the 'I'm a Vulcan, I don't know what you're talking about' game. "To what are you referring?"

"Well," Kirk invited gently, "you've been... a bit... more reserved than usual tonight, even for you. There may not be many humans who can tell when a Vulcan's upset, but I'm one of them."

Spock said nothing, but picked up another pawn to polish.

"Are you troubled... about the death of Commodore Decker?" Kirk queried.

Spock shook his head. "It was distressing, but it was as with any other death in the line of duty--it is regrettable, yet we all face the same risk while in service to Starfleet."

"So, it's something else." Kirk remained silent, waiting.

Spock put both the pawn and the cloth down on the table in front of him and spoke in a low voice. "I felt... today."

"Go on," Kirk urged. "What did you feel?"

"Love... fear... both familiar to me, although I should never choose to admit it to anyone else." Spock was hesitant to continue, but eventually he did. "And hate."

"Hate?"

"Hate, for Decker, when he first assumed command of this vessel. He refused to permit me to come after you. Luckily, I am Vulcan and was able to shield the bridge crew from my anger." Spock paused. "Decker acted irrationally but died valiantly. All my feelings of ill will for him have vanished. But their scar remains."

"I know having strong feelings upsets you," Kirk began in an inquisitive tone.

"I do not like fighting with them for control of myself," Spock interjected.

Kirk nodded and continued. "If the hate is gone, why is it still bothering you? It was an understandable, momentary experience."

"Jim, you do not understand." Spock looked deeply into his eyes across the room. "Today was the first day I have ever felt such strong hatred. However brief, it has left me feeling ashamed of my emotions as I have not felt since childhood."

"Hate may be an ugly emotion, but you didn't act on it, and as far as I'm concerned that's the important thing." Jim used his wrists to propel himself off the bed. He walked over to Spock and attempted to rub his back, but Spock flinched at the contact. "What?"

"I am ashamed of my emotions," Spock repeated. "Even of love."

Kirk sighed, moving around verbal chess pieces in his mind.

"My love for you has relaxed controls I have exercised from a very young age," Spock explained. "Freeing that love has also given me the danger of experiencing negative emotions... such as fear, hatred, jealousy..."

Please don't go back to being afraid to love, Kirk silently pleaded.

"I was taught throughout my younger years that *all* strong emotions were to be avoided," Spock went on. "I have disobeyed that advice, and this is where it has led me. I see the logic in expunging emotion--it was love for you that led to my temporary hatred of the Commodore, whose thirst for vengeance on the planetkiller threatened your life."

Kirk thought carefully. "Spock, you're half human, but you've never been taught to properly use your human half."

Spock looked at him and raised one eyebrow.

"Vulcans.... clamp down on their emotions all the time--all of them--and that's how they process any strong feelings," Kirk explained. "But we humans experience our emotions, and have to learn how to sort them out. We can experience love and hatred at the same time--and we learn to nurture the love and stifle or subvert the hatred. We spend a lifetime learning to do this. I'm only sorry you're having to learn it now."

Kirk turned on the viewscreen of his computer and ordered up an image. "Spock, how's your Bible?"

Spock looked puzzled. "My Bible? Do you refer to my knowledge of the Terran Judeo-Christian religious text? I have studied it."

"That's exactly what I meant. This painting," Kirk pointed to the screen, "depicts the expulsion of Adam and Eve, the mythical prototype humans, out of Paradise. Do you remember why they were cast out?"

"Eve offered Adam the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge," Spock recited. "Once they had eaten the fruit, they were granted the knowledge of right from wrong and therefore could be held accountable for their actions if they were to do wrong. They were therefore sent out of Paradise."

"Very good. My compliments to your Sunday School teacher," Jim joked.

Spock looked at him as if an opossum had crawled over his face. "My what?"

"Never mind. Anyway, congratulations. You've just had your first taste of the apple."

"Actually, many biblical scholars believe it is more likely the fruit that was intended may have been something more common to the Terran region surrounding Israel, such as an apricot, a date, or a pomegranate."

"Well, in that case, welcome to the underworld, Persephone." Kirk gave him a spooky grin. Then, before Spock could cough up another intellectual parry, he continued. "What I mean is, all your life you've had the protection of your Vulcan training against all emotions. Now that you can't count completely on using it as a crutch anymore, you'll have to tell right from wrong by yourself, or, in more appropriately, healthy emotions from disturbing ones. If you're going to continue loving--and I certainly hope you do--you're going to have to learn to filter your emotions like a human, instead of suppressing them like a Vulcan. I'll try to help you in any way you need me to."

Jim didn't want to pressure Spock to take his words to heart, desperate as he was for them to be understood. He made himself busy cleaning up his desk, waiting for any sound from Spock. And finally--

"Thank you, Jim." The words of advice seemed to have taken effect, for Spock's face seemed a welcome one percent calmer than before. "Might I add that this does not seem like an expulsion from Paradise at all?"

He reached slightly for Jim, who grinned unashamedly as he pulled Spock up into a hug. "I don't think so, either!"


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