Pairing: Kirk/Spock Pre-slash, mentions of Spock/Uhura
Disclaimer: Not mine, more's the pity.
Summary: When the Enterprise is asked to transport Vulcan colonists to their new home, Spock Prime comes with them. His presence changes everything – and leads to life-altering revelations for Jim and Spock. A story about growth, self-discovery, and new beginnings.
Summary: Where Spock needs help, and Jim is given a first-hand look into Vulcan mysticism.
The next morning was both the most interesting and the most puzzling of Jim's so-far short sojourn into command.
His dreams that night had been moderately disturbing, more for their content than their violence. Seeing the red sands of Vulcan once again in his nocturnal wanderings had been disconcerting – but waking had given him an intimate understanding about the difference between a meld-induced memory and a regular old-fashioned consequence of human sleep. It had lacked the intensity and depth of his last roaring nightmare about the desert planet – and while the pervasive sadness had been unexpected, he thought T'Sai's grief was explanation enough. All in all, he'd had worse nights. If he chose to include the nights he'd spent before entering Starfleet Academy, he'd had by far worse nights.
What really made it an interesting morning, though, wasn't what had happened to precede it, but what lay ahead of it. When he opened his door to greet the new day, his First was standing in the corridor, waiting for him.
He froze in the act of exiting his quarters, blinking in surprise, and noted the black eyes lifting from a datapad to regard him with uncommon openness. After ushering him out of the Vulcan guest quarters yesterday afternoon and accompanying him back to the bridge, he and Spock had parted ways naturally, each returning to their own station and seeing to their individual duties. Preoccupied with the events following lunch, Jim honestly hadn’t spared the man much thought. To see him here, now, when the captain knew for certain that Spock’s regular morning routine involved arriving at the bridge at least an hour early, was – well, odd, to say the least.
It must have something to do with last night, since Jim couldn't ever remember his First paying him such focused attention before. If anything, they'd both gone out of their way to avoid personal encounters – but that had been prior to Ambassador Spock's arrival and unexpected impact on their burgeoning antagonistic-camaraderie-slash-friendshi
Oops. Getting a bit defensive there, Jim boy; that wouldn’t be your own insecurity talking, would it? Better stop that before you develop a complex and end up talking to yourself.
"Spock," he greeted, deliberately completing his move into the hallway. "Good morning. Is there something I can do for you?"
Black eyes – no, they were actually a very dark brown – blinked at him solemnly. Jim tried not to feel like a bug under a magnifying glass as they scrutinized him with disturbing intensity. “Yes, Captain.”
The moment of silence stretched ridiculously, and it was a second before Jim realized he was waiting for a continuation of that sentence that just wasn’t going to happen without some encouragement from him. He mentally rolled his eyes at inter-species etiquette differences.
“Well, take your best shot then. I’m all ears.”
One eyebrow tipped upward inquiringly. “All ears, sir?”
Jim bit his lip to keep from grinning. “It means I’m listening. Ask your question.”
“Ah.” The Vulcan continued to look at him contemplatively, lowering the datapad and tucking both hands at parade rest behind his back. Jim did a quick double take when he noticed that Spock was almost shifting his weight from one foot to the other, in some form of indecision. He couldn’t help but stare, taken aback. Whatever this was, it was no meaningless request, no casual inquiry. He took a moment to wonder what could put a Vulcan so out of sorts.
“Captain, I would like to speak to you about a – personal matter. I have a request to make, if I could have a moment of your time.”
Sudden compassion flooded Jim, buoyed along by a healthy dose of sympathetic embarrassment for Spock. From the looks of things, what he needed stemmed from somewhere in his emotional needs, and addressing them in the public corridor outside the captain’s quarters was probably not the most conducive atmosphere to promote comfort.
Hastily taking a step backwards, Jim reentered his rooms, gesturing haphazardly for Spock to join him. When they were both firmly ensconced behind closed doors, he had to suppress the unexpectedly intense urge to reach out and touch to other man, confirm through the tips of his fingers whether he was actually as tensely wound as he appeared. The connection that had flowed so easily between them yesterday seemed absent – in the harsh light of morning, he felt particularly gauche and uncoordinated next to Spock’s composure.
“What is it, Spock?” he queried carefully, trying to project an air of nonjudgmental curiosity. Somehow he got the idea that overt emotionalism in this instance would not be welcomed.
His First took a breath of air, but not, Jim thought, to fortify himself. Rather, it seemed an effort at organizing his thoughts.
“Captain. Jim. I would like to request that you... that is, I would like to request your participation in a small Vulcan ceremony. It is a ritual designed by my people to reassert control in the face of emotional instability. I have not had a chance to perform it since our – since the Enterprise returned to Earth at the conclusion of our last mission.”
Only his long experience at nonchalantly rolling with the punches kept Jim’s mouth from dropping open in astonishment. As it was, he had to perform a series of quick aptitude questions in his head to keep from blurting out the first few choice phrases that leapt to his mind. Namely that he was the last person a Vulcan should want to perform a ritual on emotional control with.
“Spock,” he began, schooling his face to neutrality, “not that I’m not… I mean, not that I’m not flattered that you approached me with this, and I’m not unwilling, but shouldn’t you be asking someone else to help you? Your father, or Uhura –“
“My father is not among the passengers currently on board the Enterprise,” Spock said, withdrawing stiffly; Jim thought painfully that his hesitation might have been seen as an impending rejection. “Nor would he be an appropriate choice, as he is likely experiencing a similar sense of disorientation. And Lieutenant Uhura is… We have been close for some time now, and I have always appreciated her support, but this ritual is designed to purge the edges of emotion, in order that I might find a semblance of balance within myself. Her temperament is not entirely suitable to this experience.”
“She cares; she’s too close to the issue,” Jim translated.
Spock nodded. “Indeed.”
“Not to play devil’s advocate or anything here, but I’m not exactly indifferent to the suffering you or your people have experienced, Spock.” He tried not to let the tiny kernel of resentment shine through in his voice. What was he, an emotional black hole that Spock thought somehow reacted not at all to his grief? “What makes you think I’m any more suitable to this ceremony of yours than Uhura?”
“Command training requires a certain amount of emotional absence. Cultivation of the ability to suppress instinctive reactions, in order to strategically approach a situation. It is a particular type of discipline within oneself that Vulcans are – familiar with. While you have not always shown this ability in the strictest sense…” Spock speared him with his eyes in a way that made Jim grin sheepishly, recalling his emotional blowout just before Spock had marooned him on Delta Vega. “…since observing you with the Vulcan child last night, and in reviewing several of your actions prior to your elevation to captain, I have come to believe that your control is sufficient, for a Human, to provide me with the – grounding that I require.”
After a long moment of silence in which Jim tried to identify whether or not this was a compliment, Spock raised his gaze so that he was staring over the captain’s shoulder; his hesitation made Jim blink at him suspiciously.
“And I do not believe,” the Vulcan said quietly, “that you are, in any way, ‘indifferent’ to the suffering of my species. Sir.”
Jim fought back the urge to smile. It was unbelievably endearing that in the midst of emotional turmoil, Spock was somehow worried about – him. He made his voice as gentle as he could, aware now of what this sort of request must have cost his reticent and extremely private first officer. “Spock, this isn’t a discussion between captain and first officer; it’s a discussion between friends. And if you’re going to ask me to be some sort of emotional anchor, you could at least consistently call me Jim.”
“What did you mean,” he asked suddenly, unable to prevent his natural curiosity from forming the question, “about my actions before I became captain? Which actions?”
“Initially, your suppression of emotion when you first approached Captain Pike concerning your theory about the Vulcan distress signal. You entered the bridge quite overcome (Jim wrinkled his nose in displeasure at this phrasing, though Spock didn’t notice), but in the face of your possible expulsion by force, you immediately shut down all emotional appeals and relayed relevant facts, free of excitement. You will recall that I was forced to admit to your sound grasp of logic, however unanticipated that admission was. Later, your offer to the Romulan, Nero, of a peaceful resolution even in the face of your own tragic connection to him was also quite logical – though extremely unappealing. And, of course, the strategy you employed to provoke me, in order to attain command of this ship, was done with uncommon insight and without fear or excessive – enjoyment.”
“Spock, I would never have enjoyed anything about that. If this is about my apology from before, I meant it –“
“I am aware of that,” Spock interrupted. “And I am also aware of the Human propensity to strike out at perceived wrongdoing, which, in light of the facts, you would have been within your rights to claim.”
“Yeah, well,” Jim commented with wry irony, “not like I wasn’t asking for it. Even if it wasn’t one of your, how did your counterpart put it… ‘more logical decisions’.”
“Indeed. I cite these instances only to explain why I have chosen to approach you in regards to this, not to supply either of us with unproductive accusations. If you do not feel you are capable of assisting me, I place no obligation on you. Many of my people have found this ritual to be – impossible, considering the current status of our race. Its lack would no more affect my performance than it would any other’s.”
Then why did you ask me to help you? Jim almost said, but pulled back at the last second. That question was a little more accusatory than he actually intended. And something occurred to him suddenly, the echo of Ambassador Spock’s voice coming back to him from two days ago.
…even now, I know that my young self struggles to assimilate the terrible events that have obliterated the life he knew, and that soon he must approach someone to help him find closure…
Truthfully, did he really need explanations in excruciating detail about why Spock had come to him? The fact was that he had, and if Jim could provide him with something he needed, could he really, in good conscience, deny him? Also, there was also a little (okay, more than a little) thrill of anticipation at the idea that Spock had actually extended the equivalent of an olive branch in his direction; it was more than he could have hoped for, given their unfortunate tendency to grate on one another.
“All right, Spock. If you need something from me that you think I can provide, I’d be more than happy to do so. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though; I’m not exactly the most reliable Human you could have approached to help you find emotional balance. Most days I’m on an emotional seesaw of my own.”
The eyebrow twitched upward, but it was the look in his eyes that gave him away, that made Jim realize, with a sudden shock, that the Vulcan was – there could be no other explanation – there was no other way to describe it – teasing him.
Jim stared at him, aghast. “I don’t believe this,” he gaped, blown away. “You already know what a seesaw is, don’t you? In fact, I bet half the times you’ve asked me to clarify an idiom for you, you’ve known exactly what it was you were asking me about! You were doing it deliberately – to piss me off!”
No expression was evident on that face, but his eyes – his eyes smiled in a way that reminded Jim suddenly, and painfully, of his older counterpart, whom Jim had already begun to count as a very dear and unique friend.
It was one of the first indications Jim had so far received that the two Spocks shared more in common than just a similar set of genes. It made an unexpected lightness zing through him, the sort of exhilaration that normally only followed one of Jim’s many (often disastrous) ‘Eureka!’ moments. He had to remind himself that this sort of schoolboy excitement over something so simple was really too embarrassing for words. He felt like the student in the back of the class, jumping up and down and yelling, ‘oh, me! Me! Pick me!’
“A Vulcan would not deliberately attempt to anger another, Captain. I am unaware of any instances of that nature.”
“Oh, I just bet you aren’t, Mr. Spock,” Jim said, laughing, and they walked into the corridor simultaneously, moving, for the first time that Jim could recall, as though completely in sync, with complete understanding of one another. It was a very heady feeling.
Needless to say, the morning shift was singularly unproductive. For him, anyway; Spock seemed completely unaffected by their little tete-a-tete this morning. Jim signed datapads whenever they were shoved in front of him, but for the most part the day flew by in a colorful collage of images that he couldn’t quite recall later. It might have been different if something exciting had happened, but they were safely within Federation space, far outside the reaches of their enemies. The only thing that might have cropped up to interrupt their journey was some sort of internal disaster, and Jim was glad to note that as the day wore on, none were forthcoming.
Throughout most of the afternoon Jim found himself restless, unaccountably nervous at taking what appeared to be the first step in a possible relationship with his First. It was unusual for him to feel this exhilarated at the prospect of – well, basically spending a friendly evening lending someone else a hand. Granted, this was a ‘someone else’ that, if he were to believe the good Ambassador, would shortly become the single most defining person in his life, but still… He had to squelch his own excitement, reminding himself that Spock had asked him for this favor because of his ability to withdraw from his own emotions when needed. He wondered what this supposed ritual of Spock’s entailed. He probably should have asked that before agreeing to participate…
He had one very awkward moment of internal indecision near shift’s end: he’d turned around to hand his paperwork to a yeoman and was unexpectedly hit broadside by the sight of Uhura’s graceful figure, bent efficiently over her post. A faint feeling of guilt immediately tried to prick at his conscience, but he firmly trod on it until it disappeared. There was obviously no reason for him to feel guilty here. There was nothing untoward in one friend asking another friend to provide emotional support and grounding.
Even if that friend was a Vulcan. And even if that Vulcan was Spock. Right.
He was surprised to be almost accosted as he handed over command to the evening crew; the first officer had never waited overtly for his commander to finish his duties before quitting for the night. Granted, most of the bridge crew had a tendency to follow their captain’s lead, but this was the first time he could remember Spock standing so still, so obviously waiting on something other than a last-minute report to come through before he left. Jim approached him, irritated with his sudden spate of nerves, and forced himself to put them aside, letting his natural exuberance take over.
“Well, Spock,” he said, clapping a hand to the Vulcan’s shoulder.
Oops, he thought, I keep forgetting that Vulcans don’t like to be – oh, whatever, Spock could say so himself if it bothered him. Jim had always found it easiest to identify with people through casual touch, and he was tired of trying to stifle his natural inclinations. “Shall we?”
But Spock didn’t pull away. In fact, if anything, the rigid tension that had suffused his frame dissolved slightly at his captain’s lighthearted attitude. “Yes, sir.” Jim realized he was moving his thumb against that shoulder in what could only be called a caress and hurriedly withdrew his hands back into his own personal space.
“Jim,” he reminded the Vulcan, to distract him, as they moved into the turbolift together.
Vulcan stability ceremonies, Jim shortly discovered, looked about as exciting as every other likely Vulcan ritual, regardless of the emotional disclaimer: dull. Spock’s explanation was vague – Jim wondered if it was deliberately vague – as he was once again introduced to his First’s quarters, and one of the artifacts he’d previously noticed brought forward.
“The usual method of suppressing grief requires mostly private meditation,” Spock commented as he arranged what looked like a small fire pot on top of a thick floor mat, lit it, then knelt in front of it. Jim followed suit, facing him, hoping that this was the correct response.
“If it requires private meditation, why am I here?”
“As I said, that is the usual practice of suppressing grief. In this instance I, as with many of my people, am dealing with an experience that transcends grief. You are aware that Vulcans are telepaths?”
“Yes,” Jim agreed, even though Spock had surely already known that. It was sort of hard to miss, given the disaster of Jim’s first ever introduction to Vulcan mental practices.
“The destruction of our planet, our species, has left – something of a psychic void within our midst. An absence, which is difficult to describe to someone who has not lived through it.”
“Try,” Jim suggested.
Spock eyed him for a moment, picking his words with care. “Each of us that yet lives has experienced the telepathic backlash of our species dying. Imagine – billions of Vulcans, releasing their final impressions at the moment of their deaths, impressions that were received in the minds of the survivors. For those who have long studied the mental arts – healers, disciples of the Kohlinar – the effects are minimal. For the majority, however, this psychic echo has proven – unusually disorienting.” What a pleasantly neutral word, Jim noted, to describe such a terrible massacre: disorienting.
“As I stated previously, if left unimpeded, the effects of my exposure would fade in time: weeks, or perhaps months. But given the option to… reinforce… my telepathic centers, I would not turn such an opportunity away. Reinforcement is an imprecise metaphor, but the Human language is somewhat limited in this case – it is, as I said, quite difficult to explain.”
Jim tried to imagine what hearing the death cries of six billion Vulcans would be like, and was ridiculously thankful that he lacked the telepathic ability to understand exactly what it was Spock was talking about.
“All right,” he said quietly, not wanting the man to have to go into further efforts of explanation. “So you’ll be on your own for that part. What do you need me to do?”
“You are here only as – an observer. If something goes awry, I may require medical attention when the ritual is over; I will rely on your judgment in this matter. A loss of this magnitude would generally be seen to by a healer, but there are precious few healers left among the Vulcans, and even were they themselves not already affected – I am certain their efforts are already being sought by an enormous number.”
Jim wanted to ask what his own emotional control had had to do with the decision to single him out if he was only here to observe, but he kept his silence, for once, and just nodded.
“I cannot describe what this experience will be like for you,” Spock said quietly, settling back on his heels in a standard meditation position. “I have not heard of a Human performing this service before. The purpose of an observer is twofold – you will monitor my health, but also act as anchor in the case of my own inability to control. I have never...” and Jim was surprised to see a faint green flush form on those pale Vulcan cheeks. That was twice he’d seen Spock blush in this last week. He couldn’t help gawking for one very awkward moment.
“I have never before asked another to witness as I stabilize my shields,” Spock finished quietly, gaze fixed firmly on the floor.
Unable to stop himself, Jim reached out, touching the backs of the other’s hands. Spock flinched, but Jim didn’t let that stop him from trying to project an air of compassionate acceptance in his direction.
“I’ve heard that Vulcans experience the same emotions Humans do,” Jim found himself saying, remembering Spock’s counterpart in his mind, the overwhelming and unstoppable flood of what lay beneath his impassive surface. “If that’s true, then you must know that there’s no shame in feeling – only in making irrational decisions based on those feelings.” He ruefully acknowledged that he was sometimes quite guilty of doing that very thing.
He curled his hands gently around those lax fingers. “And there’s no shame in healing, either,” he pointed out.
A long moment passed in which there was nothing but the circulation of the air vents for noise, and then Spock turned his hands over, squeezing silently. They drew apart, each settling on either side of the mat with the fire pot between them. Spock closed his eyes and Jim knew that this – whatever it was – had begun.
It seemed mostly uneventful, really. He watched in silence as, gradually, Spock’s Vulcan rigidity slowly lessened until it simply appeared to vanish, leaving only a gentle sense of quiet and relaxation radiating from him. Jim forcibly suppressed his own feelings of gratitude and astonishment that he was being given this opportunity to see this Vulcan – any Vulcan, but especially this one – consciously lower the barriers he showed to the rest of the world. The sense of pride and exhilaration was harder to subdue, but he did it, setting them aside to look at another time, one when he wasn’t being counted on to watch out for the psychological welfare of his officer. His friend.
Time passed, slowly, and he’d never been more content to do nothing but sit and be silent in his life. It was almost eerie.
The first indication he had that this would not be quite as simple and uncomplicated as he thought was when Spock’s posture of relaxation gave way to hunched-over effort and tension. Jim had to remind himself that his First knew what he was doing, and that this couldn’t be an easy task – surely a certain amount of pain and difficulty was to be expected. He didn’t lean forward in concern, even though his intuition was whispering danger signals to him.
A short time after that, he felt his skin begin to itch in a way that he’d never experienced before. It was an all-over sensation, not localized, very subtle, very slight, and very, very irritating. He fought back the urge to move, his legs having long gone numb, but the phenomenon persisted, growing slightly worse the longer he ignored it. He filled his lungs with air and released, one after the other, again, then again, and put the feeling aside.
Next an ache began in his chest, like the worst case of heartburn he’d ever been unfortunate enough to have, blazing just beneath his chest cavity and spreading. This wasn’t quite as distracting – more notable because it was there, but it made him take his eyes from Spock for a moment, thoroughly confused as to what was happening. He still didn’t move, though heat spread through him like languid, licking flames.
What really brought the answer home for him, however, was the pervasive and unexpected feeling of grief that began, somewhere in the midst of the other physical sensations, to batter at his control.
This, he realized, remaining as still and blank as he possibly could, was why Spock had wanted someone stable here with him. He now understood why it would normally be a healer sitting where he was sitting – and why, lacking one, only someone accorded a very great trust could serve as proxy.
He wondered whether Spock had approached him because he trusted him – or because his older self did. He thought it was probably a combination of both; that, and he doubted that the man had quite realized how much of this Jim would be able to sense.
He forced himself to think; it distracted him from the gamut of reactions running through his First as the man did what he had to. The itch and the heat – he wondered if that was his mind interpreting what was, essentially, an alien experience. Like being physically dizzy or seeing double-images when Ambassador Spock’s meld had short-circuited his brain – the Human mind was more limited, psychically, than a Vulcans, unused to input on the levels he’d been receiving it. The brain had to deal with it all somehow, he reasoned.
Or maybe he was just having an allergic reaction to Spock’s fire pot. That almost seemed more plausible, actually.
He tried to keep a running tally of his symptoms, but it grew harder with every second that passed. The emotions he could feel projecting from his First began to multiply, taking on other aspects, other flavors. Failure. Overwhelming responsibility. Despair. Death. Thousands, millions, of deaths, experienced vicariously through senses no Human actually possessed. Pain followed next – a deep, unending kind of pain that, left untreated, might devour the whole of a man before it could be fully experienced. Anger, a rage like he’d never known, pushed at him, dragging him down, demanding that he react, fight back, give in.
Jim held on to his stillness by the barest of margins; he realized that trying to fight the flow of feelings was making it harder and relaxed, letting them wash over and through him. Sweat broke out on his forehead. He had a fleeting thought that Spock could have at least told him what his possible reactions to this ritual were – not that it would have stopped him from being here, but it would have prepared him for it. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to deal with a foreign telepathic projection, after all.
Over the next eternity of minutes, he fought down his natural Human reactions to the sensations flooding him. He wasn’t dealing with a Human ritual here, he was dealing with a Vulcan ritual, and if Spock needed him to endure, just as he himself had to endure, then he could, and would, do so.
Even so, it took all of his command training, and more besides, not to respond in some way when the anger and grief and pain ate away at him with sanity-destroying intensity. And then all that, and everything else, gave way suddenly and precipitously to a horrific, soul-killing bitterness. Melancholy. Loneliness.
He’s thinking of his mother, Jim thought dimly, hands clenched tightly on his aching thighs. Everything else was for his people, the lives lost, the echo of their dying screams, but this – this is meant solely for his mother.
It was the loneliness, not the rest of it, that finally broke through Jim’s emotional lock-down. He reached through the heat of the fire pot, gripping the other’s hands in his and squeezing them until he thought he might break his own bones.
“Spock,” he rasped. “Spock! Come out of it. You’ve dealt with what you had to deal with. Dwelling on her death isn’t going to bring her back.” He tugged forward until the Vulcan, loose and shuddering just faintly at the bombardment, tipped toward him and he had to catch his shoulders, shaking him.
“Spock! Come out of it, now! That’s an order!”
The Vulcan’s eyes snapped open.
For endless moments in time they regarded one another, Human and Vulcan, and Jim could not recall ever seeing such despair on anyone’s face before, not even his own, and he’d had his share of dark times. Then, like a light switch coming on Jim watched as, with an almost physical reflection of it, peace drifted over those pale features, gentling his expression from one of agony into one of quiet, restful acceptance.
“Sorry,” Jim said quietly, not letting go of those inhumanly hot shoulders. “I tried to stay out of it, but I don’t think relieving that kind of personal loss is going to be much help to you.”
“No,” Spock breathed, staring at him with such a genuinely grateful expression that it nearly made Jim squirm in discomfort. “You are – quite correct, Jim. Your timing was – fortuitous.”
The Vulcan closed his eyes, head bowed momentarily. Utterly unable to stop himself, Jim obsessively smoothed down the ruffles in the soft black hair. It was like his hands, finally given permission to do something other than clench in impotent frustration, were expressing their relief through repetitive action.
The intimacy of the moment was shocking. That Spock allowed it was even more shocking.
Brown eyes opened, some of that essential control restored.
“Thank you,” he said simply.
“No problem,” Jim muttered, hesitantly withdrawing a little of his support. Spock pulled away from him, slowly, seeming to take the extra seconds to regain his balance and resettle his equilibrium.
“Your actions were – well in keeping with your role in this, Jim. You are quite empathetically perceptive, considering that you have no telepathic gifts of your own.”
“Yeah, well… I’ve had a bit of that since I was pretty young. Mom always said I knew just what buttons to push, and how far I could push them. Comes from being a trouble-maker from the start.”
“Indeed.” Some part of Jim was sad to see Spock beginning to close himself off again, rearming the façade of non-expression he usually countenanced. Having been given glimpses, in both the Ambassador and now in his First, of the emotions that hovered just beneath the surface of that mask, it seemed to Jim a shame to hide those remarkably intense parts of Spock away. But he pushed that notion firmly aside. Spock was a half-Human hybrid who had chosen the Vulcan way of life. He could only respect that. If he never had another chance to see this side of his First, he’d be grateful for having been given this singular honor.
Speaking of which…
“Did it work?”
“Yes,” Spock murmured, straightening his shoulders and rocking his head back slightly in contemplation. Jim tried not to stare at that long, pale expanse of neck. “I have successfully integrated the psychic recoil from the events on Vulcan. Thank you for your assistance, Jim. It would – not have been possible with another.”
“Do you need to go to sickbay? That medical requirement you mentioned?”
“No. I am somewhat fatigued, but in sufficient physical health. And you?” the Vulcan asked, gaze suddenly pointed and analytical. “Obviously you experienced somewhat more than I had anticipated. I had not thought my efforts would be so noticeable to a Human… Forgive me. Do you require medical assistance at this time?”
Another echo from days past came back to haunt Jim, and he did his best not to let his sudden alarm show in his face.
…your counterpart and I were very attuned to one another…in general, Vulcans are touch telepaths only, but between individuals of close association that is not always true…
Something must have shown through, because Spock sat up very straight, both eyebrows raised in sharp concern. “Jim?”
“No, I’m fine.” He said, somewhat unconvincingly. “I just hadn’t realized how intense the whole thing would be. You could have warned me, you know?”
Spock looked just a touch annoyed, maybe embarrassed, and Jim felt badly for it. He hadn’t meant to shame him, just poke fun at him.
“I was myself ignorant of your probable reactions, or I would have done so. As I previously stated, I have never requested shared meditation before. Can you describe what you mean by ‘intense’, in greater detail?”
“Let’s just say that that’s probably the closest you and I will get to sharing headspace without actually melding.”
Spock looked both surprised and intrigued by this and Jim had a sudden vision of the entire thing being broken down into some strange science experiment requiring multiple repeated tests of the phenomenon, as well as vigorously documented data. His conscientious first officer might even force him to write a report about it. He quickly stood up before it could degenerate into that.
And promptly fell down, with a faint oomph, when his numb legs gave out immediately, unable to support him.
“Captain!” Spock hurried to his side, helping him scramble to his embarrassed knees again. “Are you all right?”
“Oh yeah, Spock,” he grouched, thoroughly irritated. “I’m fine. Unlike you, though, I’m not used to sitting for hours at a time in meditation. My legs don’t work quite the same after kneeling for a good thirty, forty minutes.”
“I had not thought of this complication,” Spock admitted, frowning. “Perhaps Dr. McCoy should be summoned after all –“
“Oh no, don’t even think about it! Bones will have my hide if I call him just to relieve a couple pins and needles! Probably hypo me with something vile just because he can. Just give me a minute and I’ll limp my way back to my own quarters where I can cry about my pain in private, like a good little captain.”
Both eyebrows had disappeared into Spock’s hairline. “’Pins and needles’, sir?”
“Don’t even try it,” Jim warned, cautiously beginning to rub out his right leg, which was even now tingling ominously with returning circulation. “I’m not falling for that again.”
“Captain, I am truly unaware of –“
“Aht! Aht! You go ahead and do what you need to, I’m just gonna sit here for a minute. Go on Spock, stop hovering like a mother hen; you’re reminding me of Bones.”
Clearly affronted at this comparison, the Vulcan stood stiffly and Jim had to stifle a smile as he turned without a word, picked up the fire pot, and disappeared into the lavatory. He could understand why Spock took such pains to irritate his captain with repeated requests for explanations of things he already knew – he took a similar enjoyment from endlessly needling his First. He wasn’t surprised to note that the slight vindictive edge he’d taken from it in the beginning was gone. That’s what happened to people who shared painful experiences, after all. Unexpected closeness and fellowship resulted.
Jim wondered if Spock had ever let someone else bear the burden of his emotional breakdown before. Not that this had been a breakdown, precisely, but it had been some sort of release. Somehow he doubted it. He hoped, with a somewhat guilty personal pride, that in the future he could continue to offer Spock solace of this nature. It was the sort of thing close friends, or family members (or lovers, a tiny voice whispered, that he quickly squashed) did for one another.
Jim let himself out, trying not to stumble too noticeably as he limped his way to his quarters and the relative peace of his own thoughts.
End Chapter Six.