Title: Don't Stop Believing 2.2/?
Beta: the fantabulousmusical_magic
Warnings: violence, mentioned child abuse
Summary: Spock's double life explodes in his face
Notes: Please visit the Master Post for more elaborate explanations of pairings/ratings/summary etc.
Prologue | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.6 | 1.7 | 1.8
The transporter beam releases him in a familiar environment of the Federation Security Headquarters in New York. Spock suppresses his irritation at being manhandled in such a careless fashion and follows the officer on duty into Captain Ramirez’s office. People look determinedly past him as they walk.
It has nothing to do with Spock’s state of dress or the fact that he’s a Vulcan. In this building, on this floor, anyone not in uniform and with an escort is either a criminal or something much more unspeakable.
Spock is so used to it by now that he doesn’t spare it a second thought. Vaguely, he reflects on how accustomed he has become to making this transition from the perfectly legal, logical side of his life to this dark and decidedly slippery terrain on a moment’s notice. He’s only just gotten here, yet already the warm, sunny reality of the Academy is fading, washed out of his perception, replaced by the cruel metallic taste of adrenaline, which he is human enough to enjoy.
He used to require some time to switch from Lieutenant Commander Spock of Starfleet to Operative D-37-V of Federation Security, who didn’t have a name or a rank – only a designation. Spock realizes suddenly that he cannot remember the last time when he had any difficulty shifting from mode to mode. He has become entirely too used to his double life.
Does this make him more despicable than he already is?
Captain Ramirez looks up as Spock walks in. He is a slightly balding human in his late forties, with a constitution of a bulldog and swift, smart eyes, black and unyielding.
“Sit down,” he throws at Spock, the moment the door slides shut behind him.
Spock takes a seat, folding himself carefully into a narrow and deliberately uncomfortable visitor’s chair, and waits. He knows better than to ask questions.
“Shrink was spotted on Ornoria Prime two days ago. According to a tip we’ve got, he intends to stay.”
The information from the data file Spock saw not three months ago springs to his mind immediately.
Delem Torsa, age 34, Betazoid, male. A sociopath; uses his telepathy to convince people they are guilty of various gruesome crimes and must pay for them by committing suicide. Current body count 28. Federation Security Criminal Base file number 1837. Code name Shrink. Danger index: Black.
Spock looks up at Ramirez. “I shall require the data on his current whereabouts. I will also need to contact the Academy.”
“It’s already taken care of. You’ve got a two-day leave for research purposes. Your classes are covered.”
Spock raises an eyebrow. “And if the assignment takes longer than two days?”
Ramirez shakes his head. “It’s Shrink we’re talking about here. If you’re after him, in two days you’ll either get him or you’ll be dead.”
“Your transport has been arranged. Here’s the data you might need.” Ramirez hands him a PADD. “Look, 37.”
Spock glances up at him, somewhat surprised. The captain doesn’t usually grace him – or any of his colleagues – with any kind of conversation, save for giving the assignment. But now, it appears, Spock has the captain’s full attention.
“I know you haven’t failed an assignment yet,” Ramirez says. “But I don’t want you to get overconfident. I’m sending you because he’s already killed two of my men and I’m not losing any more of my people to that bastard. You’re the closest thing we have to a chance against him.” He sighs. “But telepath or no, you’re not immune. There were three Vulcans among his victims; apparently, he finds tough cases the sweetest. And remember, we don’t give a black rate to just anyone.”
Spock inclines his head slowly. “I understand.”
“One more thing,” Ramirez says. “I know you don’t give a shit about money, but if you bring him to us, it’ll make you a very rich man.”
Spock merely looks at him. Ramirez is correct. Unlike most of Spock’s colleagues, the so-called ‘hired guns’ in the service of FS, Spock isn’t in this for money. The captain is a good judge of character; Spock is surprised he even mentions it at all. Perhaps Ramirez is exercising his ‘guilty conscience.’ Spock finds it highly illogical. Nobody forces him into this job. He’s here by choice.
Ramirez dismisses him with a nod, and Spock hurries off to catch his transport.
When he is first approached, Spock says yes almost before they finish their proposal. He isn’t interested in money. He isn’t interested to learn the risk factor. He isn’t interested to know that there is a reason why Federation Security prefers not to use its own officers for this. He doesn’t care to find out the rate of survival for contractors.
It makes perfect sense for him to risk his life so that other people, better people, wouldn’t have to.
He is in a precarious position where Starfleet is concerned. If they find out about his ‘part-time job’ there is going to be, in human terms, hell to pay. But somehow the danger of being discovered only adds to the allure of his position, and if the logic behind this reasoning is weak, Spock prefers not to examine it too closely. After all, they haven’t found out yet.
He has been living like this for a year now, sliding along the sharp edge of the blade laid over an abyss, his ‘day’ life and his ‘night’ life never meeting face to face.
Sometimes Spock asks himself if he had lost perspective. It used to make sense. Maybe there’s simply been too much of this lately. He’s good. They keep calling on him again and again. Maybe therein lays the problem.
He dives into this, both seeking a distraction and fighting to give some meaning to his existence. He chases emotional pain with physical pain, and it works for hours, sometimes for days – if he is fortunate, if he is hurt bad enough. Also, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that while he is here, dealing with the ugliest, most hideous spawn the Federation has ever regurgitated, it means that someone else doesn’t have to.
Someone who deserves better.
It makes sense to Spock, perfect sense in fact. He only wishes he didn’t abuse this medication. What was supposed to turn into an addiction has somehow become routine, and now the shelter he has been using for so long to be able to live with himself is threatening to collapse on his head.
Spock isn’t sure there will be survivors.
The first time he gets an assignment he very nearly fails it. The FS is building a case against the dealers offering sexual services of the children they kidnap and factually enslave. There is a whole net of agents spread across the Federation that hasn’t known such an appalling crime for at least a century. Spock’s task is relatively simple. He is to capture a high ranking network operative and bring him in for questioning.
The shock he experiences upon discovering that the operative responsible for a great number of despicable acts is, in fact, a fourteen-year-old girl nearly costs him his life. It’s blatantly clear why the human officers sent to get her had failed their task. Those innocent wide eyes and trembling lips would keep them believing she is a victim, not a villain, long enough for her to fire. Spock is saved in equal parts by the intrusion of his logic and his fast reaction. He hesitates for two days before allowing himself to meditate on the encounter.
He gains the reputation of being emotionless and cold-blooded. Even among his colleagues, he draws the shortest straws due to this.
They send him after a serial killer who picks his victims for their thoughts which he can sense from a distance. Total thought control is taxing for a Vulcan, but impossible for a human. Spock sees the logic of being chosen for this assignment.
His greater physical endurance comes in handy when they are gathering evidence against a necrophile who likes to torture his victims to death before the act. Spock has to play his victim for almost 24 hours before enough evidence is finally gathered.
He gets caught in the crossfire between the drug dealers he lures into the trap and the security squad that arrives ahead of schedule. He isn’t certain from which side the plasma shot that hits him originates.
For twelve months, he watches the underside of the Federation's cozy, utopian façade that most people don’t ever get to see. His projections that dealing with these experiences would become easier with time don’t come remotely close to coming true.
Sometimes, while delivering a lecture in the high, filled with light Academy halls, Spock experiences a sense of strange duality and asks himself which of the two realities unfolding before his eyes is genuine. It seems impossible that the two could coexist occupying the same physical space.
Late in the nights, as his exhaustion wars with his discipline, he allows himself to crave the sunny side and very rarely, to imagine what it would feel like to have earned it.
In retrospect, Spock thinks the captain’s warning about getting overconfident was only fair.
He opens his eyes in a sterile-looking, well-lit room and regrets it immediately. His eyes burn. His head feels numb, as if it was replaced with a solid rock when he wasn’t looking. There’s a nauseating drumbeat of pain coming from his left side, giving every indication of a stab wound.
Spock concentrates on his body’s reactions, but his pain-control mechanisms appear to not be functioning properly. An attempt to reach within his mind results in near-unconsciousness and an overwhelming surge of pain that makes his eyes water. He resigns to lie still and observe his surroundings.
He knows this room. He has been here numerous times before during the last year. Broken ribs, broken bones, concussions, flesh wounds, disruptor burns – yes, he’s been here often. He’s fairly certain they would have designated a bed for him, were he not supposed to be nameless here. This is an FS infirmary specifically organized to treat the likes of him: nameless doctors treat nameless patients.
Which in turn means that he made it back from his ‘date’ with Shrink. The question remains – was he successful?
Spock knows nobody here will answer his questions, and his own memory appears to be uncharacteristically murky. He remembers cornering the insane Betazoid in a small hotel room on Ornoria Prime. Remembers the crude, blunt attack on his mind that he tried to deflect, and was losing. He distinctly recalls he was yielding to the sheer power of the malicious will ripping his mind to pieces. And then...
His eyes catch sight of a metallic surface, smooth enough to produce a somewhat distorted reflection. A lightning bolt of epiphany surges through his mind.
His mind was dying and desperately searching for a solution and that’s what it came up with. He created a telepathic mirror, leaving his assailant to fight off his own destructive attack. The solution had saved his life, apparently, but he was too weak for a hand-to-hand struggle that followed. And he is missing something... Something else happened, something he must remember...
“How are you feeling?”
Spock winces, caught off guard. His eyes fly up to meet Captain Ramirez’s cool stare. Spock is astounded. The captain has no reason to be here.
“Yeah, I know.” Ramirez speaks quietly above him. “I’m supposed to treat you like shit. Our beloved government and its infinite wisdom. We’re allowed to hire you to do our dirty work, but we’re not allowed to encourage you to continue to do it.”
Spock says nothing. He actually sees the logic of treating mercenaries like the 23rd century variation of the untouchable caste. He is, in any case, used to it.
“I don’t have a problem with the rest of your merry men,” Ramirez says, with a grimace of disdain. “They’re all scum, one way or another. Losers not good enough for proper military training; old schoolyard bullies too stupid to make a career. But you – what are you doing here, Spock of Vulcan?”
Spock knows he must have given out some kind of reaction, because Ramirez nods at him.
“Oh, yes, I’ve been reading up on you. Apparently you’re some kind of Vulcan royalty.” Spock is silent. Ramirez nods again and continues. “You don’t need the money. And as for ambitions, your career in Starfleet – the one we’re not supposed to know about, just as they aren’t supposed to know you’re working for us – is blooming. So what the hell are you doing here, son?”
Spock licks his dry lips, trying to get the words out.
Ramirez shakes his head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.” He bends closer.
Spock clears his throat. “Shrink?” he asks hoarsely. “Did I... Is he...?”
Ramirez purses his lips irritably, straightening up. “Only care about work, do you?” He bristles quietly. “You’ve got Shrink. From what I can tell, he nearly burnt your brains out and when it didn’t work, he attacked you with a knife. Why the hell you didn’t stop him I have no idea, but when you called for a beam up, he was unconscious and you were bleeding to death.”
Spock’s eyes drift momentarily closed in elation. He snaps them open again abruptly, because he suddenly remembers how he got his wound. An unforgivable moment of distraction – all because the Betazoid, uncharacteristically according to his race’s genetic profile, had mercurial grey-green eyes.
The same interchangeable, mesmerizing color as Christopher’s.
“Listen.” Ramirez sighs in exasperation. “You don’t want to talk to me, that’s fine, that’s fair enough. But I’m calling it quits. Thank you for your services, but we won’t be needing them anymore.”
Spocks blinks hard, thrown. “Why?” he asks. “I have never failed an assignment.”
“True, but there’s a reason for that. We shouldn’t have even hired you in the first place. For fuck’s sake, boy, you’re Starfleet. Do you know what they’d do to me if anyone finds out we’re stealing qualified personnel from other agencies?”
“You have not been concerned with that for twelve months, eleven days, and fourteen hours. I did not lie to you when I accepted your proposal.”
“Well, I’m concerned – now. We could afford to keep you while things were quiet, but if you started to make stupid mistakes like that, then something obviously isn’t working with you. I’m not taking chances with you getting yourself killed on one of our missions, leaving us to deal with a shitstorm of paperwork. You’re out. And on a personal note, whatever’s wrong with your life – fix it. Or find someone else to help you self-destruct.”
Spock gives in to the overwhelming impulse to close his eyes and drift into the bliss of sleep, only having one thought following him into it.
And he was doing so well.