Beta: secret_chord25 whom I totally don't deserve
Pairings/Characters: Kirk/Spock pre-slash (finally!), Pike, Uhura
Spoilers: explicit for ST XI
Summary: A distress call from Vulcan can't be a good thing, right?
Notes: Pairings for Part III as a whole will include: Pike/Spock post-slash, some Spock/Uhura, and Kirk/Spock pre-slash. Kinda obvious where this is headed, I hope. For more elaborate explanations of pairings/ratings/summaries and overall story navigation please visit the Master Post. Happy reading!
8 - 6 months ago
In less than 48 hours, everything about Spock has changed forever. It should not be conceivable, but it’s exactly what has happened. Although as a scientist he cannot deny objective facts, he simply cannot wrap his mind around these.
It starts in a blur as he rushes through the decks of the Enterprise, making sure every station is covered and everything is in working order. He isn’t supposed to do this in such a manner, but then, they are not supposed to be staffed with cadets, even if they are graduates. When Spock finally gets to the bridge, he is only halfway reassured and is asking himself whether it’s time to adopt the illogical human habit of praying.
He doesn’t reveal his doubts.
“Captain. Engineering reports ready for the launch.”
Pike knows what their situation is as well as Spock does. He doesn’t need a reminder, and even if he did, Lieutenant Sulu’s ‘parking brake’ has undoubtedly taken care of that.
Spock can’t help but admire Pike – the smooth way he runs the ship, the aura of professional confidence he is spreading over the young people around him who undoubtedly have the proverbial butterflies in their stomachs, because for them it’s their first – their first shift on the bridge, their first starship duty, their first mission. Definitely way too many ‘firsts,’ and the situation doesn’t allow for any of that. Pike presides over this with calmness and efficiency, and the crew adopts his attitude beyond their conscious will.
Then Kirk gets to the bridge, making a rather dramatic entrance, and the predictable, logical order of things has come to an abrupt end.
It’s been less than an hour since their confrontation at the Academy, and now they’re yelling at each other, all pretense of respect taken off the table completely. Or rather, Kirk is yelling, while Spock tells himself that he will not descend to the same level. He attempts to restore order and save his captain the necessity of dealing with the undisciplined youth (Spock certainly doesn’t approve of Kirk’s disregard for Pike’s personal space or his very deliberate change of tone when he addresses Pike) when Kirk suddenly starts making sense.
Pike looks at Spock, and Spock can’t give an immediate answer because he’s overwhelmed by the click-click-click in his mind with which the pieces are shifting into place. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that Kirk is Kirk – all that matters is that he seems to be right. His personal feelings aside, Spock is never above acknowledging when someone else has a point. Automatically, Kirk’s definitely illegal way of getting onboard falls to the very bottom of Spock’s priorities list.
He throws his support behind Kirk as soon as the cadet gets around his numb tongue and relates the facts he’s gathered. They both try to stop Pike from going to the Narada, and at another time this uncommon solidarity would have bothered Spock, but right now they only have time for the most essential: life and death.
The captain ignores them both, and while Spock is relieved that he seems to have a plan in mind, he’s also extremely concerned about what it might entail.
“Be careful with the ship, Spock. She’s brand new.”
And Spock can only lift an eyebrow and nod. He can’t even say ‘Be careful’ or ‘Please don’t go,’ no matter what his heart is screaming. They don’t even have the luxury of a goodbye. A short, sad glance is all he gets from Christopher before Pike disappears into the turbolift, leaving the ship. Spock refuses to calculate the odds of his return, telling himself that he’s got no time for this.
Vulcan. The dry, reddish rock under his feet. He has never felt himself a child of this ancient, severe planet, its flesh and blood, more than he does now, as the barren soil is crumpling, grabbing at his feet, crying out as if alive, calling to him from the depths of its tired heart-core, which still contains too many flames and too much life beneath the harsh surface. Intellectually, Spock understands that these hurried, panicked steps are the last ones he’ll ever take on his homeplanet, but the knowledge crawls cowardly to the back of his mind, leaving it to the burning urgency of the moment.
She spins around to face him at the last instant, her face a frozen mask of fear, and love, and grief, and she doesn’t look at Sarek, not even for a second, but only at him – her child, her son, the one she cradled in her arms, and sang to, and smiled; the one she read Alice in Wonderland to, and the one she told that he would always have a proud mother no matter what choices he made.
The one who never told her he loved her. Not once in his entire life, which she had given to him.
And now she’s gone.
His body continues to function but his mind is numb. He stalks into the corridor, and there it reaches him – the shockwaves. The planet beneath them has collapsed and the aether is filled with the death screams of six billion Vulcans.
Spock is doubled over, dropping to his knees, blinded by the sheer agony that courses through him and incapable of blocking it. He barely makes it to a deserted briefing room, because the crew should not see their captain like this, not even an acting captain. His legs give, and he collapses to the deck, writhing in pain and clutching at his temples. He can’t think, and all he sees are endless fields of blazing fire.
He comes around minutes later, alerted back to consciousness by the sound of the intercom. He is needed on the bridge.
He straightens up tentatively; even while his whole body is aching, he can function. It’s weird, because he sees everything around him through a thin grayish veil; it dulls the colors and the sounds, and most blessedly the bleeding wound within his mind. Most bizarrely, he can’t feel his heart, which for a Vulcan is inconceivable, and he can’t tell whether it’s still beating or not. Logic tells him it must be.
He comes back to the bridge to collect status reports. It’s odd, to say the least, to see the captain’s chair empty, and even more odd to sit in it himself. Nyota tells him that after the Enterprise transporters came back online, they targeted the first school they could locate and beamed up as many of its occupants, mostly children, as they could. Spock nods succinctly, but he can’t even thank Nyota for her ingenuity, merely adding another fifty people to his mental list of survivors.
He estimates less than ten thousand, including those who have been off world at the moment. Vulcans are now a dying race.
He can’t allow himself to think about it now. He is in command, approximately five hundred people and the survivors from Vulcan are depending on the next decision he makes, and Nero is still out there, as well as Captain Pike. Spock pulls his duty around himself like a cloak and concentrates – concentrates the way he hasn’t ever done in his life, because the tiniest crack in his armor, the slightest draft beneath the plates, and he is going to lose it.
He eyes Nyota warily as she enters the lift with him. She’s telling him she’s sorry, and he knows – he can see it in her eyes – that she understands how drastically inadequate her words are, but they are all she has to offer. Apart from herself, that is.
Please, don’t do this, Spock pleads with her silently as she kisses him. He is weak, so very weak right now – he cannot tell what it is that still allows him to function – but he knows that if he yields to the temptation and gives in to Nyota’s embrace, he will shatter to a thousand pieces and never be able to get himself together again.
It scares him. He has done without a lot of things in his life, things that most would consider common but that for him have always been a forbidden fruit, and he’s done well without them; not ideal, perhaps, but he has never, never lost the integrity of that tiny, tightly-wound core that is his sense of self. Conflicted – definitely, flawed – most certainly, but whole, imperfect as it is. Whole, and uniquely his, and home.
It’s under attack now, an attack so massive that he cannot hope to win, and it scares him, scares him like nothing in his life ever has, because he doesn’t know, he doesn’t have the vaguest idea of what will be left after he loses it. The dark hordes of chaos are approaching, and he has nothing to defend himself with, except for his duty and the immediate emergency. They are the only things that hold him on the precipice, and they won’t last long, but he can’t fault himself for wishing to cling to them for as long as he is able.
Once pushed down, there will be no return.
Nyota seems to understand some of this, even though he can’t communicate, because she releases him and doesn’t insist. Spock heads to Engineering, because now that they have lost Olsen, there is no senior officer to control the proceedings in this most important of the ship’s departments. The status of the ship’s systems is not encouraging and the lack of communications leaves Spock little choice in determining their course of actions.
His logic has never been clearer – or so it seems to him – than when he’s reasoning out the effect Nero’s interference has rendered their universe. But the reprieve is fleeting, because James Kirk, whom Spock absolutely refuses to accept as his first officer, doesn’t agree. Spock has already learned that lesson, back on Earth: when James Kirk doesn’t agree with something, he won’t rest until things are done his way, not even if he has to throw a tantrum like a spoiled child.
Spock can’t deal with him right now. Kirk’s frustration and urgency, all aimed at Spock, are threatening his shaky control the way Nyota’s sympathy hasn’t. Kirk is desperate, his emotions raging on the bridge as if Spock needs another bit of pressure, as if what he’s currently under isn’t enough. The man must be a born manipulator, because Kirk uses one thing Spock’s most vulnerable in order to bend him to his will – Captain Pike.
Spock holds his ground. He will do what Christopher ordered him to do, not what he wants to do. Christopher’s order is logical, and correct, and if Spock’s heart is bleeding raw in the cell Spock has locked it up in at the thought of leaving him in Nero’s hands, Kirk has no business whatsoever knowing this.
It’s gratifying to press his fingers to Kirk’s neck – it’s more pleasant than it should be, and Spock barely stops in time from exerting too much pressure. He should have known then, should have got the signal, should have realized that he has long lost the battle he thought he was only closing in on – but he doesn’t. He just doesn’t.
“Get him off this ship.”
He is so proud of himself. He calls McCoy to the bridge and thanks him for his assistance. He converses with his father, calm and dignified, as if he himself experiences no pain. Neither McCoy’s irritation nor Sarek’s quiet grief affects him in the slightest.
It’s only when Kirk is back in some mysterious fashion that Spock gets on the short track to losing it.
He is stunned to see Kirk back onboard, accompanied by some stranger. For the first time in his life, the events happen faster than Spock can cope with them. He’s rudely thrown out of his quiet niche of apathy. He’s on the defensive before he knows it, and he can’t even hope to keep up.
“You’re the genius – you figure it out.”
There’s insolence, challenge, and so much pure loathing emanating from Kirk that it’s all Spock can do to remain still. His own emotions pressing from the inside, Kirk’s unleashed ones calling to them from the outside, and Spock feels trapped in a devastating crossfire, a mere witness to his own instinctive reaction.
It doesn’t matter what Kirk is saying. It doesn’t matter, because Spock finds it harder and harder to concentrate on the words, to connect the sounds with any kind of coherent meaning. His bastions are falling, his walls are cracking, and he almost pleads with Kirk at first – to not do this to him, because it’ll be the same as signing Spock’s death sentence. The person he is now will cease to exist forever, and Spock will have no defense left against the grief and the loss.
But Kirk is standing way too close, moving closer, and there’s no reasoning with him, no convincing, and no begging had Spock even been inclined to beg. Kirk won’t relent, won’t give up, and Spock is angry, because Kirk doesn’t understand what he’s doing, and at the same time he understands it all too well.
“You never loved her!”
Spock is gone.
Later, he finds himself alone in a deserted transporter room. He isn’t sure how he got here, nor is he sure of how much time has passed. He has relinquished command. He isn’t needed anywhere by anyone anymore. He has nowhere else to be. He has nothing standing in between him and his emotions now. Nothing standing in between him and his loss.
Spock looks around the room. There is a piece of him lying at the transporter pad, a shapeless, bulky something. It’s humming softly, and Spock can’t decide if it’s ugly or not. He spots another piece, a slightly smaller one, sitting on top of the step. Another one, darker and sharper, has rolled into the corner. There is a whole heap of pieces lying lifelessly at his feet, and he knows that the corridors must be filled with them also.
It hurts. He doesn’t know how it can hurt so much when there is nothing left of him in him. What is it that is still hurting? What is it that is bleeding so shamelessly, profusely, everywhere around him? Where is this endless ache coming from – when he has lost everything, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, left?
“I married her because I loved her.”
Spock doesn’t need to hear that. He didn’t think it could be any worse, but now that he knows that even his father managed to tell his mother how he felt, Spock is left even more alone than after having lost everything. All his life he had been ashamed of his feelings, unable to fully converse them into logic, and now his father is telling him that it is all right, that Spock shouldn’t even try to, that he is grateful for his son being a child of two worlds – he is telling Spock this now, NOW – when it is already too late, too late for so many things.
He should be consoled by the thought that his parents had at least had this, but instead he feels betrayed and left out, and his guilt is mixing up with anger of the worst kind, and then anger at himself for allowing such thoughts, and he’s drowning in a maelstrom of the darkest emotions that he’s ever experienced to date.
He’s not thinking, but something is, and that something makes him walk over to the transporter control console and reach for the emergency medikit. He snaps it open impatiently, marveling absently at the steadiness in his hands, as he picks up the first sharp object, which happens to be a laser-scalpel, and regards it for a moment with satisfaction. He yanks his blue shirt off then, throwing it away carelessly, raises the scalpel calmly and cuts his left arm from shoulder to wrist in one swift, precise motion.
Vulcan blood, thick and viscous, emerges instantly. It’s hesitant to leave his body, but the cut is bone-deep, and heavy emerald drops start to trickle down to the deck reluctantly, one by one. Spock listens to them falling and imagines they are tears, tears that for some reason his eyes refuse to shed.
There are blood-tears for Amanda, light and transparent; there are some for Christopher, full and swift; there must be three thousand tears for each cadet of the graduating class, three thousand young men and women who will never return to their dorms and classrooms. There must be a sparkly one for Gaila; one for every living Vulcan who has lost their bondmate and for all those who will not survive it; for his father. Spock isn’t sure that there is enough blood in him to cry for all the six billion Vulcans, but he cries for the beautiful city of Shi’Kahr where he grew up, for his favorite meditation spot up on the old watchtower, for the communal fountain on the ancient square, for his mother’s rose garden.
The dark pool at his feet grows, and his head feels suddenly lighter and clearer. Spock nearly sways at the force of his excitement, because he’s living through a moment of perfect clarity, and he knows precisely what he has to do. He closes the cut with a dermal regenerator haphazardly, puts his shirt back on and goes to the bridge.
He ignores the way Kirk is looking at him, ignores the way they are all staring. He doesn’t even wonder what it is they are seeing – he doesn’t care. He says all the right things to convince them, because while Kirk is probably a lousy student, he’s a superb teacher, and Spock uses the newly acquired knowledge to make certain that emotional manipulation works both ways.
It’s a curious sensation to be kissing Nyota freely, in the middle of the room full of people, and not care – not care the tiniest bit for propriety or consequences or, in point of fact, anything at all, and just do what he wants to do. He kisses her softly, gently, in apology and goodbye, as if she’s an embodiment of every good emotion he’s ever felt, of every moment of bliss and happiness he has been fortunate enough to experience.
He promises her to be back, because that’s what she wants to hear. He knows he won’t be true to his word. Not this time.
He and Kirk fight alongside each other seamlessly as if they have been training in tandem for years. Spock spares a nanosecond to be surprised at that, but he acknowledges on the periphery of his mind that it’s a pleasant feeling. He’s grateful that his last interaction with Kirk will be an agreeable one. Spock regrets for a fleeting moment that he won’t have the chance to study James Kirk more closely. This human has been a catalyst of Spock’s downfall, and yet right now he’s protecting Spock’s back with diligence of a blood brother.
And then the circle is completed, and everything starts making sense.
“It appears you have been keeping important information from me.”
But it doesn’t really matter. So what if this whole catastrophe has started with some other version of himself? It only means that there are a number of realities or universes containing a Spock in them, and in each and every one of them he is as flawed as he is in this one.
“You’ll be able to fly this thing, right?”
“Something tells me I already have.”
Kirk’s eyes are bright and magnetic, and now that there is no cruel intent to hurt in them directed at him, Spock suddenly knows why people are so easily drawn to this human. He wonders for a split second if there is a universe within the conceivable spectrum where he and Kirk have met under some set of circumstances that allowed them to become something meaningful to each other, something other than rivals. Friends?
Kirk turns to go and Spock has to stop him, because this is it for him, and he won’t get another chance. Suddenly, oh so suddenly, he wants to live.
There is impatience in the way Kirk turns around, but Spock needs him to listen.
“The statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than four point three percent.”
You need to listen for once in your life. Please.
“In the event that I do not return, please tell Lieutenant Uhura—”
—that I am sorry I lied to her.
“Spock.” The way Kirk says his name, soft and urgent, stops the words in his throat. “It’ll work.”
Spock knows Kirk’s saying this to both of them, and he knows why. There is too much at stake to entertain the possibility of failure. It is a peculiar quirk in human logic, which, for the moment, Spock decides to adopt.
He has calculated it all so precisely. Going to warp, taking the Narada further from the planet, taking Christopher and Kirk closer to the Enterprise. There’s only one thing that goes wrong with his perfect plan.
He hasn’t expected to be saved.
Ever since he realized that the only way to make certain Nero would not be able to evade a ram attack was to stay on board till the end, he has been feeling perfect calmness, almost bliss. In one act, the last act of his life, he aimed to correct at least some of the wrong he had done and avenge what he couldn’t. That was the only thing that allowed him to function through the turmoil he’d been going through. It was a perfect plan, but someone – Nyota, Sulu, Scott, Chekov, or maybe even all of them – was faster than he was. They almost don’t snatch him out in time, but at the end, they manage it.
And now he doesn’t know what to do with the life he hadn’t planned on living.