SUMMARY: A short back
story to the episode "Operation: Annihilate!",
covering how Spock dealt with his period of blindness and how Kirk dealt
with his nephew, Peter, and the loss of his brother, Sam.
DISCLAIMER: For lo, the
Deity Paramount doth own these characters; I do but
frolic briefly with them in their playground.
Kirk seemed to have had a premonition that day on Deneva. Spock had
not recognized it as such at the time, partly because it had not come in
time to prevent the attack, and partly because, once he was attacked, it
immediately became alnmost impossible to recognize or concentrate on
*anything*--but Spock had since come to realize that that was not Kirk's
fault. He had clearly sensed the impending danger posed by the small,
closed-in building where they had found the brain-cell-shaped parasites and
therefore ordered a retreat--they should just all have moved faster.
Kirk's behavior, in fact, had been exemplary, as Spock remembered it--
and he remembered little else from the first half-hour after the attack.
Except, of course, the pain. He had just started back up the steps toward
the door, with Kirk just ahead of him, when the parasite they had been
examining (according to what Kirk later told him) flew up after them and
attached itself to Spock's back. Thrown into total shock by the unexpected
level of pain that immediately burst into him, he fell back and collapsed
face-down at the foot of the stairs, clawing uselessly at the thing on his
Distantly, he heard Kirk's voice call his name, then felt his Captain
pull the parasite off his back, but the pain did not stop. Spock couldn't
concentrate, so there was no hope of initiating Vulcan pain controls--not
yet; there was only the pain, freezing him in position as he heard Kirk ask
if he could stand. Spock couldn't answer him. He could barely breathe.
He felt something soft but solid against his back and realized Kirk
had picked him up, pulled Spock backwards against him and was holding the
Vulcan protectively against his chest. Through a haze of agony, Spock
finally managed to raise his eyes to Kirk's, unconsciously locking onto
Kirk's upper arms with desperate fingers, his mind crying out, screaming
instinctively, //Jim, Jim, stop this--please--make it stop!//
Whether Kirk's mind perceived the thought or just looking into the
naked torment on his First Officer's face spurred him into action, Spock
was in no condition to tell, but *something* made Kirk immediately realize
how thoroughly incapacitated the man in his arms had become. Spock felt
himself being lifted and carried up the steps, out of the building as Scott
contacted the ship to arange for emergency beam-up.
They arrived before the medical team could get to the Transporter
Room, and Kirk was too anxious to wait; Spock felt Kirk carrying him out of
the room and down to Sickbay, moving as fast as he could, yet being careful
not to jostle him unnecessarily. Spock wished he would pass out, but
whatever was causing this pain would not allow it--it was as if something
was consciously forbidding him to relax. He felt Kirk place him face-down
on an ecxamination table, then heard frantic movement and voices around
"I'm all set up for him--what happened?"
"He was attacked--some kind of fried-egg-looking alien thing flew at
him and latched onto his back. Hurry, Bones--he's in pain!"
"Wait a minute--" Spock heard the sound of the medscanner hovering
over his back. "--there's some kind of foreign material in him, almost
"Is that what's causing the pain?"
"Possibly--I'm not sure yet. Nurse Chapel, give me a hypo."
Spock barely felt the injection.
"What is that?"
"Themaxlin--a pain-killer, one of the few I've found that both works
on him and doesn't cause a drug interaction problem. But it should have
started working by now."
Jim...McCoy...Christine Chapel. Spock tried to focus on the one who
had spoken last. "Jim...?" His voice was barely a whisper.
"Try to tell me, Spock--do you feel any better?"
Spock looked deeply into the anxiety-filled hazel eyes, as if he would
draw strength from them. "No. Pain...hurts," he murmured, speaking with
"Where? All over?" Kirk guessed.
McCoy was still examining him. "Damn. Whatever it is, pain-killers
apparently don't affect it." He looked over at Kirk. "You want to stay
with him a few minutes while I run some tests? We may have to try to
Spock saw Kirk nod and McCoy head off with his scanner, motioning to
Christine to follow. The Vulcan in him was reluctant and ashamed to let
Kirk see him so obviously vulnerable and out of control, but for now, he
couldn't find the presence of mind to care. All he was conscious of was
the pain, and Kirk's obvious longing to ease it--he appeared to have
temporarily forgotten the loss of his brother and sister-in-law and the
condition of his nephew, so concerned was he now about Spock. "Jim..." he
said again, his voice still barely audible.
He saw Kirk reach out to him tentatively, clearly uncertain is
physical contact would hurt or help his Vulcan friend. "I'm right here,
Spock. Can I do something for you?"
Spock gasped again, still barely able to breathe through the pain, and
moved his hand out a little way to touch Kirk's. "I...do not know. I
"Do you want me to leave?"
Even in his condition, Spock perceived what it had cost Kirk to make
that offer, defying his own natural instincts, apparently aware of his
First Officer's embarrassment. He touched Kirk's hand appreciatively. "It
is not you. It is me. I am not...in control," he tried to explain.
"As soon as McCoy gets back, then, I'll go," Kirk promised him
reluctantly, cautiously enclosing Spock's hand in his. "But I want you to
know...I'll be here. Anything you want from me--if you change your mind
and want me to stay with you--just say the word."
And Spock knew he meant it, too--millions of colonists and his own
nephew notwithstanding. When it came down to it, everything and everyone
in Kirk's life seemed to take a back seat to Spock's well-being. He came
first--something Spock was still having difficulty learning to accept. "I
know, Jim...thank you," he repsonded faintly.
Kirk just nodded, retaining his hold on Spock's hand.
McCoy returned some time later, announced that he and Christine were
preparing for surgery, and Kirk kept his promise to leave, telling McCoy he
was going to the Bridge and wanted to be kept informed. It was obvious he
was acting against his own better judgement. Then McCoy gave Spock a
sedative and he knew no more.
* * * * * *
That part of it, at least, was over, and Spock tried to think only of
Kirk's gentleness during those first chaotic moments. It kept his mind off
the present--which was, in its own way, worse. For one thing, it
threatened to go on forever; for another, it carried with it a level of
teror and helplessness that the parasite's pain had not reached.
Illogically, he wished Kirk were with him now, comforting him with his
presence as only Kirk could...
Spock clung to the chair, his hands gripping the sides of his seat
with knuckle-whitening force; at the moment, it was his only tangible link
to reality in a sea of darkness. It had been four hours since McCoy's
blinding white light had freed him from the Denevan parasite's pain and two
hours since the satellites had been set up around Deneva to do the same for
its citizens--four hours since Spock had traded increasingly intolerable
pain for blindness. "An equitable trade", he had called it, in an attempt
to ease McCoy's guilt-ridden conscience...but somehow, Spock had not
expected it to be quite so dark for so long. And McCoy, after being
instructed to look after him by Kirk, had flitted in and out of his office
since then, periodically checking his condition but seeming afraid to stay
long enough to risk conversation with him.
It was unnerving to Spock, who was torn between instinctive Vulcan
humiliation by the sudden dependency of his blindness and plain Human fear
of what this would mean for his future on the Enterprise if it were
permanent. Simply put, it would be the end of his career; there were
certainly no posts on starships for blind Science Officers. And Sarek had
essentially banished him from his home on Vulcan when he left for
Starfleet. Where would Spock go? He felt a growing need to discuss it
with someone--and besides, as reluctant as Spock was to admit it (even to
himself), he was finding it increasingly difficult to control his feelings
of discomfort while being left alone all this time. Alone with his
thoughts as they grew more and more disquieting...alone in the darkness.
But Christine had confined herself to the lab ever since accidentally
walking in on them just after his blinding, and McCoy--clearly just as
unable to face the results of his one accidental slip-up in not waiting for
the autopsy on the parasite first killed by the light test before moving
forward and testing it on Spock--had not remained with him for any length
of time since the satellites had begun to work on Deneva's planetside
inhabitants. And Jim was apparently still too busy supervising the
satellite operation to come back down and check on him.
Spock heard a door whoosh open once again and hesitant footsteps cross
the carpeted deck of the office, heading toward the other door; he knew
from the mental emanations he felt that it was McCoy again, and when he
heard the footsteps pause in the middle of the room, feeling compassion and
shame fighting for dominance within the Doctor's mind, he spoke: "Are you
truly so fully occupied with duties elsewhere that you could not remain
here for a time?"
From McCoy's point of view, Spock had seemed frozen to the chair ever
since Jim had guided him over to it, clearly terrified, despite his mostly
expressionless features--listless, as if the blindness had drained all
spirit, energy and will from his body, and silent, except for these
occasional protests of McCoy's blamelessness and subtly-expressed requests
for his company. McCoy took a few steps closer. "I don't see how you can
stand to be in the same room with me," he managed to say, finally.
It was apparent to Spock from the unsteadiness in the Human's voice
and the emotions Spock was sensing from him that McCoy had been crying.
Was *that* why the Doctor had been avoiding him? Spock realized in dismay
that he had never given any indication that he would be either willing or
able to tolerate such an emotional display from McCoy without in some way
criticizing him for it. "What I find difficult to tolerate, Doctor,
is...solitude," he revealed slowly, reaching out awkwardly with one hand
and bumping his knuckles against the edge of the desk in front of him
before managing to reach across the top of it toward where he thought McCoy
was. "If you still wish to help me, please...stay with me."
The gesture went straight to McCoy's heart, and all hesitation was
gone as he closed the distance between them and reached out quickly to take
the Vulcan's offered hand. "You won't be alone much longer. Jim's
probably on his way down, now--I talked to him about an hour ago, and he
said he'd come as soon as his shift was over," he told Spock encouragingly.
Spock immediately closed his fingers around the warm hand that touched
his. "Thank you, Doctor, but...in the mean time, I would prefer..."
"All right, I'll stay," McCoy muttered, making his way around the desk
and Spock to his own chair, which still sat in the corner, in front of the
viewer. He'd brought in an extra chair for Spock shortly after the
blinding--getting Spock to move even *that* far had been almost impossible.
"Although I still don't know why the hell you'd want *my* company."
"Because I...we need to talk," Spock returned cautiously, giving McCoy
time to get settled before he continued.
"How do you always know when it's me in here?" McCoy demanded, then.
"I have...lowered the intensity of my usual mental shields since...I
became blind..and I can readily identify you or Nurse Chapel by your mental
emanations," Spock explained, releasing McCoy's hand and reaching a
calculated distance up to to touch McCoy's face, finding the jaw and
working his fingers upwards; as he had expected, the Human's cheeks were
still wet. McCoy instinctively pulled away in embarrassment, but Spock had
already learned what he needed to know. "Forgive my intrusion, Doctor," he
apologized softly. "But you really must cease this self-recrimination. No
one holds you responsible for this except you yourself."
"And Jim," McCoy added, remembering the look Kirk had given him when
they had learned--too late--from the first parasite's autopsy that only
ultraviolet light had been necessary to destroy it.
Spock shook his head in negation. "The Captain hs been under
considerable emotional strain since this assignment began. He had already
lost his brother and sister-in-law to these parasites, and his nephew was
in danger, before I was ever attacked. When I was blinded, presumably it
was too much for him to deal with logically--but he, too, has realized the
truth," he pointed out patiently. "Did he not say when he contacted you to
inform you of success on Deneva that it was 'not your fault'?"
"Yes," McCoy admitted faintly. "But I'm not sure he really believed
Spock had tried once again to reach for the Doctor's face, stil
instinctively wanting to wipe away McCoy's tears, as he would have been
allowed to do for Jim--but now he withdrew his hand, clenching it
frustratedly into a fist before grabbing the edge of his seat again. McCoy
was still keeping his face out of reach--keeping a certain distance between
them that was more than physical--and Spock wasn't sure if it were the
Doctor's refusal to be comforted or his own irrational fear of probing too
far in this accursed darkness that caused him the most aggravation. "He
would not have lied to you. And if you did not persist in wallowing in
self-pity, you would realize that yourself," he admonished tersely. "You
would also realize that you are useless to me in this condition."
McCoy wiped his own eyes, knowing Spock was right. The Vulcan
obviously wanted his help, though what he could do for Spock now was not
immediately clear. "You said you wanted to talk," he recalled finally.
"I do not know if you have been able to determine whether or not this
blindness is to be permanent, but since there has been no change in several
hours, I think...we must prepare ourselves for that possibility," Spock
began slowly, wondering how to voice his misgivings to McCoy. It was a
little easier to admit to fear and vulnerability when talking to Jim; his
Human friend and Captain always *made* it easier, somehow. But McCoy...
McCoy, and his penchant for pouncing at his every emotional weakness...
"You've been thinking about that a lot since this happened, haven't
As Spock was thanking McCoy silently for his perceptiveness, he
realized that his own body language must have been broadcasting his
emotions and vowed to re-double his efforts at control. But it was much
easier to judge the success of those efforts when he could *see* the
reactions on the faces of those around him. It always came back down to
the darkness. "Yes," he admitted, whispering. "I am not...certain...where
I would go."
"The usual procedure is a discharge from Starfleet, so I guess you'd
go back home," McCoy opined.
"Doctor, this *is* my home!" Spock blurted. The words were
his mouth before he could stop them. "I have no wish to *be* anywhere else
...yet I cannot stay if I am to remain blind," he finished painfully,
deciding it was pointless now to pretend the words had never been spoken.
McCoy studied him intently--the deep brown eyes, still somehow
expressive, despite their sightlessness, and the rigid body still clinging
to the chair, despite all efforts to relax--and suddenly, he realized the
reason for the Vulcan's barely-controlled terror. "It's Jim, isn't it?
The idea that you might be permanently separated from him is really tearing
you up inside," he deduced understandingly.
Spock wished he could withdraw from the Human, but in this darkness,
there was nowhere to hide; for now, he could withdraw no further than the
far edge of his chair. There was no way he could fully explain what Kirk
meant to him--especially not to McCoy. But since McCoy already seemed to
suspect the depth of his emotional attachment to his Captain anyway,
perhaps that was unnecessary. "I...require his presence," he managed to
admit finally, in a formal tone that indicated he was not about to
"I know. And if it's any consolation, I think *he* needs *you* just
as much--especially now." McCoy's voice held the same compassionate tone
as before, and Spock knew somehow that the Doctor was smiling reassuringly
at him. "Don't worry," McCoy continued kindly. "I'm sure Jim'll find some
way to keep you on the Enterprise--even if it's just as a long-term
Despite the illogic of this and despite wondering what function he
could fill as a "long-term passenger", Spock found himself willing--almost
eager--to accept McCoy's assurances as he felt the latter's hand cautiously
touch his again. "What of the Captain's nephew?" he asked, then, abruptly
changing the subject.
"He seems to be responding to the ultraviolet treatment as expected,"
McCoy informed him, inwardly happy to be talking about something he could
give Spock good news about. "A couple of more days for observation, then I
can release him from Sickbay--assuming Jim's decided what to do with him
and where to put him. You can give him that news yourself when he gets
"Then at least *one* of his brother's family will live," Spock
concluded, his voice full of relief.
"Yes, thank God. Jim's gone through enough pain and loss for one
"Agreed." Spock released one side of the chair in order to take hold
of McCoy's hand, his fingers closing around it almost as if he were afraid
of falling without something--or someone--to hold onto; he felt McCoy
immediately tighten his hold on the Vulcan's hand in response.
An awkward silence fell between them then, McCoy uncertain of what
more he could say to console Spock and Spock certain *he* had already said
too much. It was McCoy who finally ended it. "Spock...if you ever tell
Jim I said this, I'll deny it, but...he's not the only one who'd miss you
if you were discharged or transferred," he confessed softly.
There was another silence as Spock tried to decide how to respond.
"UNdoubtedly, you will find someone *else* to annoy with your constant
emotionalism," he replied archly, at last, opting for the familiarity of
their usual friendly antagonism.
"Maybe, but not everybody's mastered that 'righteous indignation'
reaction to the degree you have," McCoy returned, with noticeably less than
his usual level of enthusiasm for their customary verbal jousts. It was
always difficult to get into the spitir of it when Spock was in such a
Before Spock could answer, he heard the outer door open as someone
else entered; before he had even spoken, Spock identified him by thoughts
and emotions he knew as well as his own. Just now, those mental emanations
were dominated by determination, concern, and untapped grief. "Captain,"
Spock greeted the new arrival formally, automatically starting to get up,
reaching out awkwardly with one hand to check the location of the edge of
the desk and touching it lightly as he stood cautiously.
"Stay put, Spock," Kirk instructed kindly, as he approached. He
glanced over at McCoy as Spock gratefully reseated himself. "How is he?"
"About the same as he was the last time I talked to you," McCoy
replied, making it clear that he was speaking of more than Spock's physical
condition. He wanted to fill Kirk in fully on the now-obvious
psychological ramifications of the Vulcan's blindness, but he knew it would
have to wait until he and Kirk were alone. Besides, the expression in
Kirk's eyes as he returned his attention to Spock indicated that he already
had a good idea of what Spock was going through.
In fact, Kirk immediately sensed that McCoy was hiding something from
him, though for now he did not mention it. "Spock...how do you feel? Do
your eyes hurt?" he asked anxiously.
Spock shook his head. "I am not experiencing any physical pain, in
eyes or anywhere else," he responded evasively, in a neutral tone,
unwilling to discuss his emotional turmoil further with McCoy still in the
room. The Doctor had done his best to prove his trustworthiness...but some
things could not be changed so quickly. He had already discussed as much
with McCoy as he could bear to.
Fortunately, McCoy had anticipated his discomfort. "I think I'll
to the lab and check on Christine, now that you're here to look after
Spock," he announced suddenly.
Kirk watched him depart, then spoke again. "All right, now--the
truth," he prompted gently.
Spock waited until he heard Kirk walk around him to sit down next to
him in McCoy's chair before answering. "It has occurred to me that this
blindness may be permanent," he began slowly, his voice carefully
controlled. "If that happens, I...cannot stay on the Enterprise."
"Don't worry about that yet, Spock," Kirk advised reassuringly. "It's
too soon to start assuming the worst."
"I think it best to be prepared for any contingency," Spock countered
quietly. "And, with all due respect, you should be, as well. Perhaps this
might be a good time to review the current availability of command-grade
Science Officers within Starfleet."
"There's no need for that," Kirk reiterated firmly. "You're not going
"If only that would remain true," Spock remarked, almost wistfully.
"You see, Jim...I need to be here," he continued, with increasing
The Human looked at him in growing concern. "Don't worry--if you
stay blind, I'll find you another position in Starfleet, somewhere," he
"No!" Spock whispered, with unintentional harshness, hoping Kirk
would have to draw closer to hear him. "That is not enough. My life is
here, on the Enterprise. I have...nowhere else to go if I leave you--if I
But the correction had come too late, and Spock instantly felt a hand
take his as Kirk finally realized the true source of the Vulcan's current
anxieties. "Oh, my friend...is *that* what you've been so worried
about...being separated from me?" Kirk asked, as disbelief turned to
empathetic understanding within him.
Spock felt himself blush a faint green and nodded. "Forgive me,"
murmured, his voice full of shame. "I do not wish to embarrass you...but
"Shh. There's nothing to forgive." Kirk moved closer, squeezing
friend's hand. "It's all right, Spock. If it helps any, I feel exactly
the same way," he confessed soothingly. "I've already lost Sam; I'm not
about to lose *you*, too."
Spock was startled. Did Jim equate him and his friendship with the
relationship he must have had with his own brother? Logic and his training
and experience as a Vulcan told him it was impossible--but Jim's voice and
emotions were sincere. "I know it is illogical...but I wish to stay,
Jim...as long as you will have me...even if I remain blind," he entreated
tensely. "Dr. McCoy suggested...that I might remain aboard as a passenger.
Even that would be preferable to transferring or going back to Vulcan."
"If that's what it takes to keep you here, we'll work it out," Kirk
assured him patiently, again squeezing Spock's hand, and marvelling that he
had not yet pulled it away. Every instinct within him told him that his
friend needed to be held, but he doubted that Spock would allow it.
//Well,// he thought, //I can at least make the offer.// But trying to
figure out how to word such an offer so as not to embarrass the Vulcan was
not as easy as he had hoped it would be. "Spock...if you'd like to...come
a little closer, I won't pull away," he ventured finally.
Spock hesitated, knowing what Kirk intended, and knowing also that he
would not do it without his friend's permission--however much he wanted to
and thought Spock needed it. His shame deepened as he realized the same
idea had been in the back of his mind since losing his sight--that
frustrating, even debilitating Human need of his to touch and be touched
during times of inner turmoil--more specifically, by Jim, so that he could
feel the warmth of his Captain's emotions for him without a direct mind-
meld but with equal closeness. It always surfaced at the most inopportune
times, though usually Spock was able to suppress it; control had not come
as easily since he had become blind, however, and perhaps now it was not
necessary. There was only Jim to see him now, and Jim had been the one to
Slowly, tentatively, he reached out with his other hand, letting Kirk
take it, also, and pull him closer. Still, the Vulcan part of him remained
all too aware that someone could walk in on them at any time and fought the
full responding embrace that his Human half needed so desperately (and that
Kirk had obviously anticipated); instead, he intertwined his fingers with
Kirk's, holding his hands tightly. Kirk understood his discomfort with the
setting and accepted it without taking his limited response as rejection--
an acceptance which Spock sensed and was grateful for.
The Vulcan in Spock had already become both terrified and humiliated,
over the years that they had known each other, that his Human emotional
needs might eventually lead him into a real dependency on Jim'a touch...but
for now, Spock found that other things took precedence. He was in darkness
now, and the only certainty in his world was the touch and presence of the
very few he permitted to care about him--and first and foremost, that meant
Jim Kirk. Spock allowed Kirk's affection for him to filter through his
shields, involuntarily tightening his hold on the Human's hands. "Jim," he
said softly, after a moment.
"Yes, Spock?" Kirk answered, surreptitiously pulling the Vulcan a
"It is...very dark, Jim..." Spock was confounded by his own inane
words, but could not seem to stop them from coming out of his mouth.
"I know. Don't worry--I'm here, now, and I won't let go of you.
stay as long as I can," Kirk told him soothingly.
"It seems to have been dark for so long that...I am beginning to
believe it will last forever," Spock continued hesitantly, realizing that--
at least, to Kirk--he was making some degree of sense. He relaxed his grip
on Kirk's hands so that it was more comfortable, but still secure.
"No, it'll pass," Kirk assured him confidently, refusing to believe in
the possibility they'd just been discussing. He had never before realized
that staying on the Enterprise--and near him--was so important to the
Vulcan; now that he did, however, he silently repeated his vow to do
everything in his power to see that his friend never had to leave against
his will, regardless of the circumstances. "You'll be all right, now..."
Finally, deciding that he was getting far too comfortable with holding
Kirk's hands--and realizing that Kirk was still unconsciously trying to
pull him close enough to put his arms around him--Spock forced himself to
withdraw. "Thank you," he murmured, still obviously embarrassed.
"Do you feel better, now?" Kirk asked worriedly, knowing
instinctively that a part of Spock was not satisfied with briefly holding
his Captain's hands and still wanted closer physical contact.
Spock just nodded, not trusting himself to speak.
"You know, Spock, it's not a crime to be afraid at a time like this,"
Kirk pointed out gently.
"Not for a Human. But I am a Vulcan, and it is not permitted," Spock
Kirk knew that debating the matter further was pointless; besides,
pestering Spock to show his emotions was more McCoy's territory. He
changed the subject. "Bones mentioned that he thought you might be more
comfortable lying down, since he still wants to keep you under
Spock had dreaded this--the moment when he might be asked to leave
Sickbay and convelesce in his quarters. The prospect of groping his way
through the corridors to his cabin, an object of pity to any passers-by,
was one he wanted desperately to avoid, for as long as possible. "Where?"
he asked, his apprehension clearly evident in his voice, despite the usual
efforts at control.
Kirk had expected and by now understood his friend's reluctance to
leave. "I think the recovery room's unoccupied. Come on, I'll go along
with you," he offered, standing up.
Spock stood also, though more slowly. "It is not *fully* unoccupied.
Your nephew is there," he informed Kirk quietly.
"What?" Kirk was startled. "Last I heard, he was still in the
intensive care room."
Spock reached out to clumsily touch Kirk's hand again, unable to
suppress his need to hold onto something if he were going to move out into
this void; he found Kirk's arm, instead, and cautiously closed his fingers
around it, knowing Kirk would perceive his fear through any pretenses, but
knowing also that Kirk would not condemn him for it. "Dr. McCoy says he is
responding to the treatment, Jim. He wanted me to tell you," he revealed,
Kirk tried not to react too strongly to this and risk overtaxing his
friend's mental shields, but he could not help covering Spock's hand with
his own in response to the news and the kindness in the Vulcan's voice,
squeezing the latter's hand slightly. "Then I trust you won't object to
his presence while you're there."
Spock shook his head. "On the contrary, I am pleased that he is
recovered enough to be there. And I hope *my* presence will not disturb
"Not a chance. Especially after I tell him how you helped save his
Spock unknowingly blushed, bowing his head, as he still instinctively
did when he was embarrassed or ashamed.
"Come on, let's go."
"Does he know about his parents' death?" Spock asked curiously, as
Kirk--still letting the Vulcan hold onto his arm--led him to the
"No, he's been unconscious most of the time--and I wanted to wait 'til
he was stroonger, anyway. If he was going to die, that would've just made
his death more painful--for both of us." Kirk guided him through the
currently-empty operating room and intensive care room to the recovery
room, helping him onto the first bed they came to, which happened to be
near that of Peter Kirk (who was presently asleep). Spock sat limply on
the edge of the bed, not resisting as Kirk pulled his boots off and tucked
his legs under the covers, then Kirk stayed with him until McCoy returned.
They were both still there with Spock an hour later, when Peter
finally awoke and started asking questions about his mother and father.
After discussing the matter privately with McCoy and Spock, Kirk realized
he could no longer put off telling his nephew the truth. While McCoy
stayed with Spock, Kirk went to talk to Peter.
The boy looked up at him with both trust and entreaty in his eyes.
"Feeling better?" Kirk asked, taking the small hand that reached
"A little. But what about Mom and Dad?" Peter asked again.
Kirk squeezed his hand, willing him to understand. "Do you remember
the pain?" he began cautiously.
Peter nodded weakly. "I wish I didn't. It was like I hurt all
all the time. They had it, too, didn't they?"
"Yes, Peter. They were...very sick from the pain," Kirk explained,
with difficulty. "Your Dad was too sick by the time we got to Deneva for
us to help him...and your Mom was too sick after that for us to help her in
time. They're...safe, now, in a place where pain can never hurt them
Peter thought about this for a time, averting his eyes as they filled
with tears at the realization of what this meant, then he turned back to
Kirk. "Gone?" he whispered huskily. "Forever?"
"That's right," Kirk managed to respond. "Only...someday you'll see
them again, when it's your time to join them."
"They're really safe?" Peter questioned tearfully.
Peter closed his eyes for a moment, thinking about the situation and
trying to stop crying. Finally, he looked back up at the older Kirk again.
"I'm scared, Uncle Jim."
Kirk reached impulsively to pull the child into his arms. "I know.
But don't be," he urged softly, as Peter curled gratefully up against him.
"I'll look after you, now."
From his bed, Spock listened silently to the exchange, ignoring
McCoy's attempts at conversation in favor of Peter's muffled sobs as he
wondered how Kirk could possibly keep such a promise to the boy. Their
shared grief beat at the Vulcan's shields, even as he struggled to
"I wonder what Jim's going to do with him," McCoy remarked worriedly,
clearly thinking along the same lines.
"He seems very young," Spock observed, connecting the sound of Peter's
voice to his memory of the boy's appearance. "Has tha Captain mentioned
"Jim says he's nine years old--just tall for his age."
That was much as Spock had expected. "Well, presumably he has...other
relatives who could care for him," he continued neutrally, returning to
their original topic, just as uncertain about the matter as McCoy.
"Hopefully," McCoy agreed. There seemed little point in speculating
further about it until Kirk saw fit to discuss it with them. "At least
Jim's allowing himself to grieve," he noted finally.
"I know little of such emotions, but it does not seem...sufficient,"
Spock noted quietly.
"It's not. But it's a start--we just have to make sure he finishes
Spock fell silent, having no idea how he could help his Captain with
that--or if he would even be permitted to try. Certainly his efforts had
been brushed aside when Jim first found his brother dead--but *then* he had
been rather preoccupied with the present threat. Later, perhaps, after
Deneva had been freed of the parasites' influence, it might be permissible
for him to once again offer his assistance.
While he was still thinking about it, Kirk suddenly picked Peter up in
his arms and carried him over to where McCoy and Spock waited.
McCoy immediately protested. "Just a cotton-pickin' minute, Jim--I
never gave you permission to move him!"
"You never said I *couldn't*, either," Kirk countered dryly.
"He's *supposed* to be confined to bed," McCoy persisted.
"And he'll be back in it in a few minutes," Kirk tried to reassure
him, carrying Peter to Spock's bedside. "I just want him to meet Spock
before he has to go back to sleep." As Spock again blushed in discomfort,
Kirk went ahead with his introductions. "Peter, this is the man who helped
us test the light treatments that eventually cured you. This is Commander
Spock." He decided not to mention that Spock was blind; it was better for
him not to know--and if he happened to figure it out, Kirk wanted to see
how he would handle meeting the Vulcan under those circumstances. He was
"Hello, Commander Spock," Peter said respectfully.
Spock felt a small hand lightly touch his when Peter realized that the
former was having a little difficulty identifying where his voice was
coming from. "Hello, Peter," Spock responded cautiously, briefly squeezing
the boy's hand before releasing it--someting immediately necessitated by
the torrent of jumbled emotions that flooded into him through Peter's
touch, nearly overwhelming his mental shields. He could only hope the
child would not interpret this as rejection, since that was certainly the
last thing Spock would have wanted.
"Thank you for helping me," Peter continued softly, apparently too
preoccupied with his own grief to notice Spock pulling his hand away.
"Not at all. I am...pleased that you are better," Spock replied
awkwardly. He had never been comfortable around children, especially Human
children; they had too many emotional needs that he was inequipped to fill.
But this child was part of Jim's family, and Spock knew all too well the
extent of the pain he had suffered, so he tried to modify his behavior
Kirk could see how ill at ease Spock was, and made a mental note to
thank him later for enduring it long enough to let Peter talk to him. For
now, there seemed no need to prolong his discomfort; he had accomplished
what he had set out to do. Spock and Peter had met. "All right for you,
mister--back to bed you go," he teased Peter gently, taking him off and
tucking him back into bed. "You try to get some more rest, now," he
"All right, Uncle Jim. Are you staying?"
"I'll be close by for a while," Kirk assured him, turning them and
going back to join Spock and McCoy.
"Fatherhood suits you, Jim," McCoy observed casually.
"From what I have heard, I must for once concur with the Doctor,"
Spock added sincerely, if hesitantly. "You have great...patience...and a
talent for...giving comfort."
"Well, for God's sake, keep it to yourselves," Kirk directed,
imagining the possible reactions of certain women to learning that the
object of their affections had an aptitude for child-rearing.
McCoy anticipated his thoughts. "Yeah, God forbid Uhura or Janice
Rand should have their maternal instincts activated. You're having enough
trouble holding them off, as it is," he cracked dryly.
"Fortunately for you, I don't have time to get you for that right now.
But I will, eventually," Kirk retorted.
Spock could only listen to their exchange in controlled amusement and
longing, wishing he could see their faces.
All too soon, Kirk was forced to leave so that he could get some sleep
before he had to return to the Bridge, and it was scarcely an hour and a
half later that Spock's eyes seemed to catch fire. He fought to keep from
crying out, but he could not suppress a sharp gasp as his eyes began to
water. "Doctor," he called out weakly, hoping McCoy was still close enough
to hear the voice he refused to raise for fear of disturbing Peter.
He heard rushed footsteps, then McCoy's anxious voice. "What's wrong,
"My eyes," Spock whispered, pressing his fists against them.
"They...hurt. A sudden pain, like acid..."
"All right, let me see..."
Reluctantly, Spock removed his hands and allowed McCoy to run the
hand-held medscanner over his eyes.
"Damn--*something* is irritating them, but it doesn't look like
anything that originated externally," McCoy observed, watching in
frustration as tears continued to trickle down the Vulcan's cheeks from
eyes that had automatically closed as the pain worsened. "I can give you
some anesthetic eye drops, but I'm not sure how your optic anatomy would
interact with them. Do *you* have any idea what's happening?"
Spock shook his head once. "I have never been blind before," he
reminded McCoy tensely. "Doctor, *do* something!" he demanded, then.
"Lie still for a minute--and try to keep your eyes open," McCoy
advised finally, getting up. "I've got an idea--be right back."
Spock's eyes were still in pain when he heard McCoy come back and sit
down beside him on the bed.
"Now, then, Spock...I want you to keep your eyes open, and I'm just
going to flush them with plain water. This should cut the pain for you."
In the next moment, Spock felt warm water trickling onto the lower
section of his eyeball surfaces, seemingly accelerating the process begun
by his own tears. Except for the occasional, involuntary blink, Spock
forced himself to remain still for the duration of the treatment, gradually
relaxing as the pain began to fade.
"Is that helping?" McCoy asked, at last.
"Somewhat," Spock admitted, feeling relieved.
"Your eyes still hurt?"
Spock nodded. "A slight stinging...not as bad as before, but..."
"All right, I want you to close your eyes, but not tightly."
Spock complied, having to actually touch his eyelids with his fingers
as he did so to be sure, and immediately felt a substantially larger amount
of water streaming across the bottom edges of his eyelids, soothing his
eyes somehow without seeming to seep under the lids. Then they and the
rest of his face were patted dry with a soft cloth.
"Now, open your eyes again," McCoy instructed.
As Spock again complied, he was startled to find the darkness replaced
with a bright blur. "Light!" he exclaimed, forgetting his previous
determination to keep his voice down in his surprise, throwing one arm over
his face to shield his eyes.
"What?" McCoy demanded, startled by his atypical outcry.
"Light, McCoy," Spock repeated huskily, not yet daring to believe it.
"I see light!"
Energized by the idea that Spock might be able to see again, McCoy
quickly set aside the bowl of water and the cloth, moving away briefly to
adjust the room's light setting and hurried back to the Vulcan's side. He
leaned close with the medscanner as he spoke. "Uncover your eyes, now," he
Spock removed his arm cautiously. This time, the blur dimmed to a
tolerable level and separated into shapes: the medscanner, McCoy's hand and
arm, McCoy's face, the surrounding room...but it was the Human's face that
held Spock's gaze as the familiar features came into sharper focus. In one
unguarded moment, relief and joy overwhelmed him; he bounced into a sitting
position and threw his arms around McCoy, holding the stunned Doctor
tightly. "Doctor, I can see! I can see..."
Sensing the depth of the Vulcan's emotions and not knowing how else to
react, McCoy just held him awkwardly, patting him soothingly on the back.
"Thank God. I'm so glad, Spock...so glad it wasn't permanent."
As he felt the sincerity of McCoy's happiness for him, Spock sat back
slowly. "You would...really...have regretted my absence if I had been
forced to leave," he realized now.
McCoy couldn't help lowering his eyes and blushing faintly, even
though he knew he shouldn't be embarrassed by the admission he'd made.
"Yeah, I guess I would," he reiterated sheepishly.
Spock retained his grip on McCoy's arms, now squeezing thim
involuntarily. "Do you think we might awaken the Captain?" he asked
hopefully. "I think he would wish to know about this immediately."
"I'm sure he would. But as much as I want him to know, I think it's
mroe important right now that he sleep off some of the stress he's been
under."," McCoy told him sympathetically. Then he was struck with an idea.
"I'll keep you in here overnight for a few more hours of observation and
tests, then you can go back to the Bridge in the morning and surprise Jim."
"Very well," Spock acceded, releasing McCoy finally and lying down
again as the latter resumed examining his eyes. He concentrated on his own
gratitude to whatever force had allowed his eyesight to return for being
able to remain in the only real home he had ever known.
* * * * * *
When enough time had passed after the ultraviolet satellites had begun
to work on Deneva, Kirk sent down McCoy with a medical team to help with
the mopping-up operations--specifically, examining and treating any
inhabitants who somehow escaped the ultraviolet light and verifying that
the others were fully healed--plus some Security people to make sure all
the parasites were disposed of.
In the mean time, Kirk took a week's leave in order to make
arrangements for Peter's care--taking him to Denenva's main spaceport and
putting him on a passenger transport back to Earth, where Kirk's mother
would meet the boy and take him home to live with her. Peter had visited
her many times and was comfortable with her--which was fortunate, since she
was his only living relative besides Kirk.
The Medical and Security Department teams were still on Deneva and
there were still three days of leave left to him when Kirk returned to the
ship. When Spock learned he was back, he immediately sought Kirk out,
though it was well into the ship's night before Spock found him--on the
Observation Deck, curled up on a bench seat before a viewport. Kirk had
left it mostly dark, though whether this was to make it easier to see the
stars or harder to see him, Spock was uncertain.
He stood across the room, leaning against a bulkhead, all too aware
that the darkness probably meant Kirk wanted to be alone and questioning
his right to impose his presence upon the Human. //Another darkness,//
Spock reflected thoughtfully. //But this one does not instill fear or
other irrational emotions. This is Jim's darkness...Jim's grief...and I
cannot move through it without his permission.// He watched and waited
silently for a time, but no sound or movement came from Kirk. Finally,
Spock ventured a few hesitant steps forward.
"Well, don't just stand there, Spock. Come on over," Kirk invited,
abruptly ending the silence.
Spock stopped where he was, not convinced by Kirk's tone that the
latter really wanted him to stay. "I...did not mean to intrude," he began
"You're not," Kirk reiterated, lifting a hand to motion him over.
"Come on, I'm tired of my own company."
Hesitantly, Spock approached and sat down beside him. "I gather you
saw your nephew off," he observed, with forced casualness.
Kirk nodded, looking out at the stars again. The transport ship will
take him as far as Lunaport. Then Mom'll meet him there and take him back
to Iowa," he reported slowly, swallowing past a lump in his throat. "I
wanted to go with him, at least to Lunaport, but..." he trailed off,
shaking his head regretfully.
"But Starfleet duty must take precedence over personal
considerations," Spock concluded understandingly. "There is no time now
for you to take that much leave."
"No. I'm pushing it taking a week's worth, but it had to be done."
Again a silence fell between them; this time, it was Spock who ended
it. "Among Vulcans, the relationship between brothers is...something very
special and unique," he revealed cautiously. "I never...had a brother.
What is it like for a Human to have one?"
Kirk sighed. "I'm not sure *I'm* the best person to ask about that.
As brothers go, Sam and I were never that close," he recalled quietly. "I
don't know whose fault it was. It seems wrong to say it now, but...for as
long as I can remember, I was the annoying little brother who never did
what I was supposed to do. He was Dad's favorite; I was Mom's. He was
expected to join Starfleet, and I was supposed to stay home and help Mom
with the farm. Obviously, it didn't work out that way."
Spock regarded him in unmasked surprise. "Your father *expected*
to join Starfleet?" he questioned. Such an attitude was diametrically
opposed to what he was used to from his own father.
Kirk nodded. "Dad served in Starfleet. He was...killed in action
when I was about nine," he explained regretfully.
"I find it difficult to envision you as a farmer," Spock commented
"So did I." Kirk quickly returned to their original subject.
don't know--I've thought for years that maybe *I* could've done something
to make Sam like me better, but I'll be damned if I could ever figure out
what it was. I'd lost track of him after I was assigned to the Enterprise,
until Mom told me he'd been sent to Deneva."
Spock studied him carefully. "Yet you do mourn his death," he noted,
puzzled by his friend's contradictory emotions.
"I mourn the *way* he died--out of his mind with pain, and before I
could do anything to help him. And I mourn the fact that I'll never have
the chance now to make things right between us," Kirk returned, shifting
his position to look directly at Spock for the first time. "My only hope
is that I can make up for that with Peter. I owe it to Sam and Aurelan to
do my best to look after him--even if I have to do it long distance."
"I believe...that anyone would be most fortunate to have you as a
brother," Spock opined cautiously, remembering Kirk's comparison of him and
Kirk smiled weakly in response. "Thanks, Spock. I wish Sam
that way--and I wish I'd felt that way about him," he admitted sadly. "I
guess we were...just too different."
Spock lowered his eyes, fighting an upsurge of disappointment. "If
Humans require similarity to establish a rapport between brothers, then
why, when I was blind, did you suggest...that our relationship in some way
resembled the one you had with him?" he asked hesitantly.
Kirk looked back out at the stars, remembering with embarrassment the
impulsive but true words meant to reassure the Vulcan at a time when his
life on the Enterprise had been in jeopardy. "Maybe because...in spite of
everything, I always...cared about Sam, always looked up to him...but he
never gave me the chance to show him. And if he ever felt the same way
toward me, he never gave me any sign of it," he confessed slowly.
"I see," Spock replied coolly--seeing, in fact, all too well what Kirk
was suggesting: because Spock found it difficult, if not impossible, to
express what he felt for Kirk, Kirk felt unwanted by him, and he had with
Sam. Spock had thought his Captain understood him better than that.
Feeling somehow betrayed and rejected, SPock turned away and put his back
to Kirk, drawing his legs up onto the seat and tucking his knees beneath
his chin. "As a Vulcan, I have always found our differences to
be...complementary," he murmured, the facade of control crumbling beneath
the wave of pain that suddenly flooded him. "And I thought you did, too.
I would have been...honored...to be your brother, Jim."
Kirk's head jerked back toward him as he cursed himself for his
insensitivity. He scooted closer to Spock's back and gently placed his
hands on his First Officer's shoulders. "And I *am* very honored to be
your *friend*, Spock," Kirk assured him sincerely. "I can't even *imagine*
being lucky enough to be your brother."
Spock turned back around and met his eyes uncertainly. "But you
"I didn't mean that all of that applied to us. *Our* differences
*are* complementary, Spock; they...mesh perfectly, somehow," Kirk
elaborated carefully. "I just wasn't that lucky with Sam. Whoever came up
with the saying 'opposites attract' never watched Sam and me together."
Reassured that he had not misinterpreted his Captain and their
friendship, Spock returned his attention to Kirk's grief over Sam. "I am
sure Sam knew how you felt. Perhaps, like me, he had difficulty expressing
his emotions toward you?" he suggested softly. "I have heard it said that
Vulcans are not the only ones afflicted with that failing."
"I hope that was it. At least, then I could think that it wasn't
my fault. Right now, I just feel like we wasted so much time..."
Spock abandoned the last of his own feelings of rejection in the face
of the sadness in Kirk's eyes. "I believe your first instincts were the
truest: concentrate on Peter. Your brother Sam lives on--in him," he
Kirk nodded in acceptance and understanding. "I wanted him out of
here before his parents were buried--I didn't think he needed to see that,"
he told Spock, somewhat unsteadily, releasing the Vulcan's shoulder's.
"Mom's going to arrange some kind of memorial back home, so he'll still get
to...say goodbye to them. IN the mean time, the funeral on Deneva is set
for tomorrow--this is another reason why I took a full week of leave."
Spock read the question in his Captain's eyes. "You wish me to
attend," he deduced, rather taken aback.
Kirk averted his eyes shyly. "Please," he entreated. "Bones'll
there, too. I'd really like to have both of you there."
"Very well," Spock acceded reluctantly, still uncomfortable with the
idea, but wanting to do anything that might help Kirk get through this.
Another awkward silence descended, this time only to be ended by Kirk.
"Spock...before you were light-tested, back when you were in so much pain,
I...visited you a couple of more times after McCoy's initial diagnosis," he
admitted hesitantly. "I just--"
"Three times," Spock interrupted factually. "I could not acknowledge
your presence, but I felt it near me, even when I could not allow myself to
Kirk glanced back at him hopefully. "I didn't think you'd want me
there, even just watching you from across the room, but I couldn't stand
the thought of just...*leaving* you in that condition without at least
letting you know that I was...there if you needed me...and that you didn't
have to fight the pain alone."
"You were not always 'across the room', Jim," Spock reminded him
quietly. "And although you are correct that I did not wish you to see me
in that condition, I...appreciated your concern for me...and perhaps your
presence *did* help, because the pain seemed a little easier to control
during and for a certain period of time after your visits."
"I'm glad," Kirk replied honestly. "I hoped it would help, but I
afraid it would just be a distraction."
"It was both," Spock returned cryptically, a tiny smile touching the
corners of his mouth. "But it was not unpleasant."
His awkward attempt to lighten their mood had the desired effect, for
now Kirk, too, smiled--more openly and obviously, of course, than Spock
"And, Jim--I never felt that I 'fought the pain alone'. Whenever
were in Sickbay, talking to McCoy about me or trying not to be seen during
one of your 'visits', I...felt your concern for me. I knew that both of
you, in your own way, were struggling against that pain as much as I was.
I knew I was not alone. Without the strength that knowledge gave me, it is
unlikely that I could have mantained control long enough to allow you to
come up with the solution. So, you see, as always, you were helping me all
along." He reached out surreptitiously for Kirk's hands again as he spoke,
wanting to convey his gratitude through his touch.
Again, he remembered how, when the parasite had first attacked him,
catching him so unprepared that it had instantly paralyzed him with the
pain and his inability to control it, Kirk had pulled it off of him--
catching Spock in his arms and holding him, trying to soothe him later
after carrying Spock to Sickbay...
Apparently, this was just what Kirk needed, for as Spock's hands
lightly took his, Kirk was so overwhelmed with relief and gratitude of his
own that he pulled Spock forward unexpectedly into a fierce embrace. "I'm
sorry, Spock--I just had to," he apologized, as he held the startled
But Spock shook his head, permitting the embrace for a moment as he
tried awkwardly to respond before finally sitting back. "It is all right,
Jim. If it helps you, I...do not object," he assured Kirk softly, not
bothering to reinforce his shields against the suddenly joyous emotions
that flooded into him from Kirk. "If...you should wish to discuss this
further, at any time...remember that I *am* willing."
"Thanks, Spock...I'll remember," Kirk replied, still smiling, his eyes
shining with appreciation as they met those of his friend.
There was still the burial and the funeral for them to face tomorrow,
but for now, Spock was satisfied that his Human friend felt better able to
cope with Sam's death; he got up finally, deliberately retaining his hold
on one of Kirk's hands. "Come, Jim--you have not eaten since your return
from Deneva," he admonished gently. "We will find Dr. McCoy and go eat
Kirk yielded in resigned but grateful silence to his Vulcan friend's
efforts to console him, and they left the Observation Deck together--Spock
atypically unmindful of the fact that, as they made their way through the
largely-empty corridors, his hand still protectively clasped Kirk's.