Title: Don't Stop Believing 3.3/?
Pairings/Characters: Kirk/Spock pre-slash, McCoy, Pike
Summary: Back on Earth, Pike's in the hospital, and Starfleet is spreading the candy. And something else.
Notes: For more elaborate explanations of pairings/ratings/summaries and overall story navigation please visit the Master Post.
Three days after the Enterprise returned to Earth, Spock climbs up the tall steps of Starfleet Medical, striding into the wide salad-green halls. The turbolift takes him to the twenty-sixth floor, designated for intensive care. The coloring here is lighter, though still somewhat assaulting to the eye.
“Can I help you?” the receptionist asks him politely.
“Yes. I am here to inquire upon the status of Captain Christopher Pike.”
The woman gives him a careful exploratory look, eyes lingering on Spock’s insignia.
“Are you family?” she asks dubiously.
“I—” he begins, then stops. “No. I am a colleague.”
She purses her lips, giving away her answer before she speaks.
“I’m sorry, sir, but we’re not allowed to disclose any information to anyone other than family members or high ranking Starfleet officials.”
“Please,” Spock says, a heightened edge worrying his tone. “I am not seeking into interfering with his treatment. I merely wish to ascertain his status.”
“I’m sorry, sir. You’ll have to direct your inquiry to Starfleet Command.”
Spock grits his teeth. He has spent the last three days talking to various officers at Starfleet Command in the longest debriefing he has survived to date. The exchange of information was very much one-sided.
“Could you at least tell me if he is still in danger?” he asks quietly. “Please.”
She opens her mouth, and Spock can tell it’s to repeat that she’s sorry, but then somebody calls out to him.
Spock turns around to see McCoy standing in the corridor to his left. The doctor’s wearing a medical robe and a rather wary expression.
“Come with me,” McCoy says. “I can fill you in.”
The receptionist instantly protests. “Doctor! You can’t disclose medical information to unauthorized personnel.”
McCoy silences her with a glare. “As one of Captain Pike’s attending physicians, I make the decisions on whom I can disclose this information to, thank you, Nurse.” He turns his frown on Spock and repeats, “Come with me.”
Spock doesn’t wait for another invitation and follows McCoy, feeling the disapproving stare of the receptionist burning between his shoulder blades. McCoy leads him into his office – shared with other doctors, from the looks of it – and closes the door.
“He’s out of the woods,” he says without preamble, watching Spock closely.
Spock folds his arms behind his back, stifling a sigh of relief. “Would you care to be more specific?”
McCoy sighs. “We’ve stopped the spread of the paralysis; his life is no longer in danger. What’s tricky is restoring the damage. The nerve endings can be regrown, but it’ll take a long time – probably eight months to a year. As for his coordination center, we have to put him into a medically induced coma to allow his brain to heal naturally as much as possible before we take over.”
“Is it safe?” Spock asks.
“Yes.” McCoy nods. “But we’ll have to do this as soon as possible not to lose our window.”
“How long is the process going to take?”
The doctor shrugs. “Twelve days at least; maybe more.”
“Is he conscious now?”
McCoy looks at him, eyes piercing. “He is.”
“Can I—” Spock starts, then cuts himself short. McCoy has done too much for him already. “Thank you, Doctor.” He turns to leave.
“Oh, for the love of me,” McCoy mutters, grabbing a hold of Spock’s sleeve to stop him. “You wanna see him?”
Spock turns back, but he can do little aside from look into the man’s eyes. He doesn’t know what shows in his own, but McCoy’s expression softens, almost imperceptibly.
“Follow me,” he says. “You’ll have about five minutes, and I can’t let you in there alone.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Spock repeats, quiet and grateful.
McCoy shows him to the ward, entering behind Spock and proceeding to mark the new readings of the biomonitors on his PADD. Spock’s eyes are glued to the man half-lying on the bed. He feels suddenly light-headed.
“Spock!” Pike’s face splits into a grin. “You’re a sight for sore eyes.”
He stretches a hand in Spock’s direction, and Spock finds himself walking toward the bed and taking it in both his own before he can even think about it. He spares a glance at McCoy, who’s very carefully not watching them.
“Hey,” Pike says softly. “I’ve been worried about you. How are you doing?”
Spock pauses, slightly drunk on the feel of Christopher – alive, smiling, going to be all right – pulsing between his hands.
“I broke your ship,” Spock says unexpectedly.
Pike chuckles. “So I heard. I also heard you weren’t the one who gave the order.”
“Yes.” Spock looks down for a moment. “Captain Kirk has been... in a haste to get back to Earth.”
Pike grins. “I heard about that, too.”
“I found his actions completely appropriate,” Spock says. “As far as I am aware, so does Starfleet Command. He is to be commended. He is going to—”
“Spock.” Pike interrupts him, his voice still gentle, but firm. “I didn’t ask you about Jim or the ship, I’ve got plenty of people telling me about that. I asked about you. How are you doing?”
Spock allows the mild caress Pike’s fingers tread on the soft underside of his wrist.
“I am... coping. Captain.” He doesn’t know what else to say.
Pike sighs, watching him. When he speaks, his voice is very quiet; Spock has to strain to hear.
“You don’t know what it does to me – knowing that you’re all alone.”
Spock closes his eyes briefly as a wave of overwhelming concern rises from their connected hands and washes over him. At this moment, nothing else exists for him; even McCoy’s presence is tuned out.
“You should not be worrying about me, Christopher,” Spock says softly; he leans in closer to Pike, just a little. “You should focus on getting better.”
“I am getting better, courtesy of the good doctor here and his colleagues,” Pike says, with a slight nod at McCoy. “And I can tell by the way he grunts that he’s impatient to get you out of here so that I could go into some beauty sleep or something.”
Spock looks at McCoy, who looks back at him pointedly.
“Before you go” – Pike draws Spock’s attention back to himself – “let me say this. You’ve got to be very, very careful now, Spock. I talked to a number of people from Starfleet Command in the last two days, and I didn’t like the questions they asked, not one bit.”
“I do not understand.” Spock tilts his head, confused.
“Spock.” Pike’s gaze turns dead serious. “Starfleet has just lost the homeworld of one of the founding members of the Federation. Nero or no Nero, they’ll be looking for someone to blame for this.”
Spock frowns. “That does not seem logical.”
Pike purses his lips. “It never does. Just watch your step, okay? I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Then it is fortunate that I am not prone to human superstition,” Spock says smoothly.
“Gentlemen.” McCoy is no longer pretending to ignore them. “I hate to break this up, but—”
“That’s all right,” Pike says, his eyes never leaving Spock’s face. “I’m happy you dropped by, Spock. You know I—”
“I know,” Spock interrupts quickly. “Get well, Captain.”
He manages to catch a glimpse of Pike’s fond, tired smile before McCoy herds him into the corridor. They remain silent for a moment, until Spock looks up to find himself an object of scrutiny.
“You seem to have a question for me, Doctor.”
McCoy purses his lips, glancing away for a moment. “Yeah, I do, but it’s the kind that’ll likely get me punched in the face, so I’d rather not ask.” He looks at Spock sourly. “I’m not that interested in whether you sleep around as much as Jim does, anyway.”
“That is fortunate,” Spock says, voice rather curt, “as I would not have been inclined to indulge you in this particular line of questioning.”
“I had a feeling. At least you seem to have better luck. And listen.” McCoy lowers his voice. “About what happened on the ship – I just wanted to say I’m sorry.”
Spock clasps his hands behind his back. “Do not concern yourself, Doctor. I believe it is safe to assume that the whole crew has been under severe stress.”
“Still,” McCoy insists. “I feel like an asshole.”
“That is entirely your choice.”
McCoy grits his teeth. “Dammit. This reminds me why I didn’t like you in the first place.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “Doctor, I appreciate what you have just done for me. Even more so since you had to overcome your antipathy toward me to do it.”
“Well, you can’t maroon my best friend on some goddamn ice planet and then expect me to like you,” McCoy grunts. “Though to be honest, Jim can drive just about anybody up the wall, so I can’t really blame you for that one, either.”
Spock regards him with a slightest twitch of curiosity. “That is probably the most peculiar example of human logic that I have heard to date.”
McCoy scowls at him. “Back on the Enterprise, with those children, you showed the most peculiar example of Vulcan compassion,” he retorts. “So I guess we’re even.”
“That was not compassion,” Spock corrects, “merely common necessity. Logic, Doctor.”
“Really?” McCoy folds his arms across his chest, tilting his head slightly in challenge. “And just now, with Captain Pike – was that logic, too?”
Spock looks away and doesn’t answer.
“Yeah,” McCoy drawls. “That’s what I thought. You’re really a piece of work, Commander.”
In the pause that follows, a thought suddenly occurs to Spock. “How is Mr. Kirk?”
McCoy blinks and then his eyes narrow. “Not going to be called ‘Mister’ for much longer, if what I hear is true. Why?”
Spock looks at him, mildly perplexed. “I confess I do not know the reason for my query. I was merely... interested to learn how he was faring.”
“Well, we’ve all been pretty much raked over the coals on the debriefing.” McCoy shrugs. “And it hasn’t been easy – returning to the Academy, what with all the empty dorms. Jim had a lot of friends there.”
McCoy’s smile is both ironic and sad. “I’m used to the feeling of losing everything, so I don’t let myself become attached to people.”
“Save for Jim,” Spock notes.
McCoy looks him in the eye, dead on. “Save for Jim. He has a way of getting under your skin when you’re least expecting it.”
“Is that a threat, Doctor?”
McCoy regards him coolly. “A warning.”
Spock lifts an eyebrow. “What made you feel one is warranted?”
McCoy narrows his eyes and smirks. “Jim’s been asking people about you, too.”
It’s a peculiar feeling that Spock suddenly becomes vaguely aware of. Leonard McCoy is a virtual stranger to him – even more so, a stranger who actively dislikes him. And yet there is a sense of strange connection between them, a connection shared with everyone who has been aboard the Enterprise during the crisis. Most of them didn’t know each other before, but Spock feels illogically closer to these people than to some of his lifetime acquaintances. They still don’t know each other, but there is a peculiar sense of camaraderie between them, as if they share some kind of special knowledge that allows them to pick each other in any crowd.
It definitely derives from having been not only through a life-and-death, but also through an end-of-the-world experience. This is probably why McCoy has helped him in the first place. This is probably also why they are having a decidedly personal conversation now, as if the spell of the trust they gained in the face of certain death is still hovering upon them.
“Listen, I should be going,” McCoy says. “I don’t know how long it’ll take them to replace me as one of Pike’s physicians, but as long as I’m in the know, I’ll keep in touch in case of any changes.”
“Thank you, Doctor,” Spock says, feeling a most uncharacteristic urge to shake the man’s hand. “Good day.”
McCoy simply nods in acknowledgment.
As Earth is understandably impatient to learn the name of the man who saved the planet, Starfleet’s specially convened board of inquiry announces its decision to promote James Tiberius Kirk to captain with full privileges and responsibilities of this rank within a week. It is also announced that as soon as the repairs on the Enterprise will be completed, Captain Kirk will assume command of the ship, thus solidifying his field promotion.
The announcement of Pike’s promotion to admiral is made during the next news cycle. Curiously, it is released exactly one hour after the former captain of the Enterprise is put into the medically induced coma.
Confirmations follow for the Enterprise crisis bridge crew to retain their positions; all field promotions are confirmed and become permanent. Leonard McCoy is officially appointed Chief Medical Officer, and Montgomery Scott becomes the Chief Engineering Officer, despite Admiral Archer’s pointed abstention during the vote.
Lieutenant Nyota Uhura receives a special commendation from the Vulcan High Council for rescuing fifty-two children and seven professors from a Vulcan school at the planet’s last moments. Along with the rest of the bridge crew, she also receives a commendation from Starfleet Command.
The promotions are already in effect, but the official ceremony is upheld until the Enterprise is fully repaired and ready for its first five-year voyage. After the fanfares have quieted somewhat, the air around Starfleet Headquarters fills with the nervous odor of expectation.
The ongoing inspection of the Enterprise logs, as well as the rescued logs of the other seven ships sent to Vulcan, raises a lot of questions. For instance, how it was possible for such a huge and well-armed vessel to breach into the very heart of the Federation defense perimeter and not be spotted or stopped. How it was possible that so many qualified officers made incorrect decisions that had led to a catastrophe. And finally, who was responsible for Starfleet’s blatant failure to fulfill its first sacred duty: protect the Federation.
“All rise in respect to the board,” Admiral Fitzpatrick intones gravely before glancing to his PADD. “Commander Spock, the charges against you are as follows: That you have willingly and knowingly abandoned your post at a critical moment to run a personal errand; that you have willingly and knowingly committed a breach of security protocol 49-14-09 regarding the treatment of prisoners, thus endangering the life of a Starfleet officer; that you have willingly and knowingly disobeyed a direct order from your commanding officer then-Captain Pike and left him in the hands of a war criminal Nero, thus facilitating him obtaining access to Starfleet defense codes protecting Earth; that you have willingly and knowingly breached Starfleet regulation 619 regarding being in command while emotionally compromised; that you have physically attacked another Starfleet officer, causing him trauma severe enough to qualify as attempted murder.”
Fitzpatrick stops reading from his PADD and looks up to fix Spock with a stern gaze. Spock remains motionless and quiet; the admiral’s words seemingly have no effect on him.
“In view of the serious nature and amount of charges,” the admiral continues smoothly, “there will be no preliminary hearing to resolve this case. Commander Spock, you are hereby taken under arrest. The first round of your court-martial will begin in two days. You are free to seek the assistance of the legal counsel and to be represented by the said counsel during the court-martial.” The admiral reaches to tap at the naval bell, producing a soft ring. “This session is adjourned.”
Starfleet Headquarters share a lot of facilities with the Academy, and huge hearing halls are some of them. It’s a peculiar experience, Spock thinks, to be escorted under guard along the corridors he used to walk freely as a professor, and before that as a cadet, not so very different from those young men and women who now stare at him as he passes with wide eyes. Some of them were probably part of his classes at one time or the other, Spock thinks, but he’s looking straight ahead, chin tilted up, not making eye contact with anyone. Only when he’s left alone in the holding cell with the shimmering veil of forcefield humming softly behind his back does he allow his body to lose some of the rigidity it has adopted and some color to seep onto his cheeks.
Spock closes his eyes, sitting on the narrow bunk and slumping against the wall. His eyes feel hot and moist but he wills the tears away, detesting his own weakness.
He doesn’t know what he has been expecting. He was blatantly honest during the debriefing, sparing himself nothing, and he should have known better than anyone what the logical outcome of his testimony would be. He should have been prepared for the harshness of the charges. They are, in fact, significantly milder than he deserves.
The lights outside his cell go out, indicating the end of the day. In the dirty grey mix that passes as darkness here, penetrated only by the periodical glimmer running across the forcefield, Spock pulls his feet onto the bunk and hugs his ankles, pressing his forehead to his folded knees.
Nyota’s face looks drawn and her big, beautiful eyes are red and puffed, as if she’s been crying.
“They told me you waived counsel,” she says by way of greeting.
“Correct.” Spock inclines his head.
“Why?” She exhales loudly. “Spock, this is all so unfair! You have to find someone to help you fight.”
“I do not require assistance,” Spock tells her calmly, “as I do not intend to fight. The charges are just.”
“What?” She stares at him incredulously. “How can you say that? Spock, without you, we never would have found the Red Matter or Captain Pike. None of us, not even Kirk, would have been able to pilot that ship – and then the drill wouldn’t have been destroyed – Earth would have been gone!” Her voice rises up steadily. “Spock – for God’s sake – it was you who got rid of Nero! What the hell Starfleet Command is thinking I have no idea!”
“You seem to have a perverse perception of the events,” Spock says, frowning. “Had it not been for me, then-Cadet Kirk’s efforts to go after Nero would not have been hindered. The Narada would not have even reached Earth.”
“You don’t know that!” she explodes. “And as far as I remember, Kirk wanted to go after Nero guns blazing – which would only have led to the Narada destroying us on sight – provided we’d even had caught up with them!”
“Nyota.” Spock raises a hand with a light wince. “This discussion is hypothetical, and therefore pointless. What is, is. We cannot change what has already transpired. My actions had nearly caused the death of James Kirk twice. As captain of the Enterprise, I failed to make a correct command decision. I do not intend to dispute this.”
She closes her eyes and actually groans in exasperation. “Spock, this isn’t fair and you damn well know it. Why do you insist on taking the blame for something that couldn’t possibly have been your fault? Nero’s the only guilty party here.”
“That is not entirely true,” Spock says flatly. “Starfleet definitely bears responsibility for allowing Nero to get this far as to destroy a planet and threaten another one.”
“Sure,” she snaps bitterly. “Starfleet had twenty-five years to hunt Nero down – and suddenly it’s your fault they haven’t?”
“Your argument is illogical,” Spock says, and catching a glimpse of a security guard, who comes to collect Nyota, adds, “And I believe the time for your visit is over.”
“Please reconsider taking counsel,” she begs. “It’s your right and it’s only reasonable.”
“Lieutenant,” the guard addresses her firmly.
“I’m coming,” she snaps. “Spock...”
But he shrinks into the shelter of his cell, refusing to give her an answer he knows she doesn’t want to hear.