TITLE: Time of Miracles
AUTHOR: Gamin Davis (email@example.com
SERIES: TOS (post-STIV)
CODES: K&S&Mc, Ch
SUMMARY: Kirk is injured during the Enterprise-A's shakedown cruise; Spock
and McCoy face Christmas with him in a coma at a starbase hospital and the
two of them having to spend the holiday together, worrying about Kirk and
learning to get along with each other.
DISCLAIMER: For lo, the Deity Paramount doth own these characters; I do but
frolic briefly with them in their playground.
McCoy sat at a table in the new Officers' Lounge, watching
the two men across the room as he nursed a non-alcoholic juice drink, not
wanting to risk getting drunk. A few weeks into the Enterprise-A's
two-month shakedown cruise, Spock was still not fully himself, and McCoy
was still having to help Kirk--who was extra-busy running around the ship
and supervising the various departments as they tried to bring the equipment
up to regular operating specs--keep an eye on Spock.
Part of the problem, McCoy knew, was the uncertainty of their
future after the shakedown cruise. Since only Kirk had been demoted--despite
repeated cross-discussion between Admiral Cartwright and the crewmembers
concerned--the Enterprise had three Captains, when only one was needed, and
McCoy knew it must have occurred to both Kirk and Spock both that Starfleet
Command might be planning to split them up.
While they hadn't been on this new Enterprise long enough
yet for it to have become as much a home to them as the original had been,
McCoy could see no good coming out of the possible separation of Spock and
Kirk. Kirk may have returned to his "first, best destiny" and would
probably stay with the Enterprise on its first five-year mission, no matter
what--but if Spock were transferred elsewhere, McCoy was convinced the Vulcan
would lose his only anchor in a sea of uncertainty. McCoy had thought
his carrying of Spock's katra would bring them closer, but so far, it hadn't
happened. Spock was still awkward around him. He still needed
The two of them continued to stand before the viewport, at
the old-fashioned ship's wheel (a clear indication that this ship had been
designed with Kirk in mind), Kirk still trying to draw Spock into conversation
and Spock still hesitant in his response. McCoy still recalled his
argument with Kirk, shortly after they had reported aboard this new ship,
as to whether or not Spock was fit to remain on duty--an argument Spock had
inadvertently walked in on. It was true that, as Kirk had maintained,
Spock had performed admirably during the whale probe mission--but only after
a slow and awkward start; McCoy had argued--and evidence still existed to
support his belief--that Spock was not yet back to where he had been before
He still needed to integrate his Human half with his Vulcan
half, and his social skills were almost non-existent--something that was
going to give him problems any time he had to interact with the crew, which
he would not be able to avoid while on duty. Kirk insisted that being
in public and continuing his normal duties could only help Spock, but McCoy
had his doubts. Perhaps Kirk was right and knew better than him--as
usual--what was best for Spock. Perhaps, in a strange role reversal, *McCoy*
was the one who was being overprotective of the Vulcan. McCoy had determined
to pay closer attention to him when they were together, from now on.
As McCoy continued to study Kirk and Spock, they turned suddenly
and headed toward his table, startling him. "I have to go down to Engineering
and see how Scotty's doing with the equipment checks," Kirk told him, as
they reached McCoy's table. "As long as you're both off-duty, do you
mind keeping him company for a while?"
McCoy kept his eyes on Spock, watching him uncertainly.
"Uh...sure. Sit down, Spock," he invited hesitantly. When Spock
was seated and Kirk appeared satisfied enough to leave them alone, McCoy
added, "Have you eaten?"
Spock had told himself that he accepted the necessity of being
"looked after", but acceptance did not make it any less embarrassing.
He did not answer directly. "Doctor, I know you do not...enjoy my company.
If you would...rather I leave..."
McCoy waited, but Spock let the sentence hang without finishing
it. "Do you *want* to?" he asked carefully.
Spock appeared even more confused and embarrassed. All
his Vulcan training told him to seek privacy, despite the apparent impracticality
of the moment, but part of him found the thoughts that permeated his meditations
too disturbing when he was alone and felt a need to share them with someone.
He just wasn't sure *McCoy* was that "someone". "I am...not certain,"
he admitted faintly, at last. He glanced up at McCoy apprehensively.
"You would...not object...if I stayed?"
"I just invited you to dinner, didn't I?" McCoy put
in patiently. "Come on, tell me what you want and I'll see if the food
synthesizers are programmed for it yet."
An hour later, Spock was still picking at his vegetables as
McCoy tried to get him to talk--so far, without much success. "Christmas
is coming up soon," he remarked finally, becoming desperate to get some kind
of reaction out of Spock.
Spock regarded him with a raised eyebrow. Although the
Enterprise was due to be at a starbase over Christmas, Kirk had instructed
his crew to downplay the holiday; this year, there would probably be no celebrations,
because all their decorations and present-wrapping supplies had been lost
with the original Enterprise. In fact, the only survivors of that ship's
crew to have anything left other than their uniforms were those lucky enough
to have some belongings somewhere else.
In Spock's case, Kirk had sent most of his things back to
Vulcan after his "death", so Spock had been able to arrange for them to be
shipped back to the new Enterprise, and they were all slowly--shipment by
shipment--catching up with the ship. Kirk and McCoy had likewise been
able to transfer most of their belongings from the San Francisco apartment
that the three of them had intermittently shared since the V'ger mission.
But Christmas, until now, seemed to have been an off-limits subject.
"Unfortunately, there will be no acknowledgement of it, this
year," Spock reminded him neutrally.
"'Unfortunately' for the *rest* of us, at least," McCoy returned,
studying Spock speculatively. "I'm not sure Christmas ever meant anything
to you, anyway. I always got the feeling you were just humoring Jim
and me by deigning to participate in our 'acknowledgements' at all," he observed,
hoping to jog some of Spock's emotional memories.
Spock lowered his eyes as he searched him memories of past
Christmases he had shared with Kirk and McCoy; as with so many of his other
memories, the facts and events were there, but the emotions surrounding them
were not entirely clear. "I am a Vulcan. That I participated
at all surely means...that I found it necessary."
"Maybe even beneficial?" McCoy suggested curiously.
Spock did not look up, and he said nothing.
"You don't remember *anything* about Christmas, do you?"
"I remember enough to know that I usually spend it with you
and the Captain, and I remember the details of our celebrations," Spock admitted
hesitantly. "But if you are asking how they made me 'feel', I cannot
answer; I seem to have no awareness of that aspect of them."
McCoy sighed, watching Spock slowly finish off his food.
"It doesn't seem like my carrying your katra did *either one* of us any good,"
he opined, in frustration.
"But I do appreciate it--I would not be here now if you had
not done so--and I apologize for the manner in which it was initiated," Spock
responded sincerely. "There was no time to ask your permission--and
I was quite uncertain you would agree if I *did* ask."
McCoy dismissed this with a wave of his hand. "I was
just in the right place at the right time--or maybe not. All things
considered, you're probably right; I think the idea would have terrified
me." He studied Spock's bowed head intently. "But I wasn't the
intended recipient, was I?"
Spock looked up at him again, trying to meet his eyes.
"I *had* hoped that Jim would arrive first," he acknowledged frankly.
"Our minds are more compatible, and I knew he would accept and forgive my
intrusion more readily than you would be able to. But the fact exists
that because *you* were there, my...'marbles', as you called them...were
Their eyes finally met. AS McCoy was about to respond,
they were interrupted by the beeping sound of the Lounge's wall communicator.
As McCoy got up and headed for the nearest set of controls--at a table some
distance across the room--Scott's voice came out of the speaker: "Scott to
Officers' Lounge. Dr. McCoy, come in!"
Alarmed by the urgency in Scott's voice, McCoy activated the
viewer near the table as he moved to answer; Scott's face appeared, looking
tense, sweaty and smudged. "This is McCoy. What's happened, Scotty?"
he demanded anxiously.
"Medical emergency, Doctor," Scott told him breathlessly.
"And hurry--it's the Captain!"
"I'm on my way. McCoy out," McCoy returned quickly,
whirling to find Spock --as he'd expected--right behind him. Their
eyes met again, each for once thinking the same thoughts. "Go on.
I'll be down as soon as I stop off at my cabin and get my medikit," the Doctor
Spock nodded gratefully and turned to go. Behind him,
he heard McCoy on the communicator again.
"McCoy to Sickbay."
"Sickbay. Chapel here." She had requested a transfer
as soon as she heard about the new Enterprise for Kirk's crew, though Spock
didn't know why she had done that.
"Christine, get me a medical team to Engineering, stat--the
Captain's been injured, I don't know how. Full diagnostic gear..."
That was all Spock heard before the doors closed behind him.
Spock arrived in Engineering well before McCoy
or the medical team and was met just inside the door by Scott. "Report,
Mr. Scott," he ordered immediately, for now all logic and control.
"He was inspectin' repairs on one of the control panels--bloody
thing's been givin' us trouble ever since we left the spacedock," Scott explained
hurriedly. "It just blew up in his face--it happened so suddenly, we
couldn't stop it in time to keep him from being injured."
"Where is he?" Spock demanded, then.
"I'll show you--he's still unconscious," Scott replied, leading
Spock across the room to a wrecked control console with technicians still
swarming around it, trying to clean up it and the surrounding area.
Kirk lay still on the deck in the midst of a cleared area, much of his upper
body crisscrossed with stripe-like burns that had ripped through his uniform.
His face appeared mostly untouched, except for some suspicious-looking dark
areas around his eyes.
Spock was instantly by his side, kneeling at
"Careful, Spock--there are exposed circuits all around here,"
Scott warned him, even though he doubted Spock was listening.
He was right; Spock's attention was focused
on Kirk, ignoring the technicians hurrying back and forth around him and
the still-sputtering control console above him, with its interior now exposed
and spilling out. He reached to touch Kirk's cheek, wanting to mind-meld
with him but knowing he didn't dare. He could already sense enough
superficially, through his current light touch, to know that Kirk was still
alive; silently, Spock willed him to remain so.
He looked up and around at the sound of doors
opening and saw McCoy entering with Christine and the medical team as Scott
shooed the technicians out of the way. Spock's eyes met McCoy's as
the latter approached, a pleading expression shining within their brown depths.
"He is unconscious," he told McCoy.
McCoy came and knelt beside Spock, letting Christine
see to Kirk, which she did immediately, running her medscanner over his body
over and noting its readings. "Second and third degree burns over 50%
of his body...metal, glass and plastic shards imbedded in burns around his
eyes..." she lingered with the medscanner around his head. "Some evidence
of head injury, too, though it seems to be mainly superficial...the major
problem seems to be burns and electrical shock," she concluded, turning to
the orderlies behind her. "Get that gurney over here."
"We can do a complete examination when we get
him back to Sickbay," McCoy told her. "Let's get him onto the gurney--keep
his body level."
Christine, McCoy, Spock and one of the orderlies lifted Kirk
simultaneously, and seconds later, the medical team was on their way back
to Sickbay with their patient. McCoy followed with Spock after getting
a more detailed account from Scott of how Kirk had been injured.
Half an hour later, Spock was still pacing back
and forth in McCoy's office while McCoy and Christine worked on Kirk in the
examination room, waiting for some update from them on Kirk's condition.
Finally, McCoy emerged. "How is he?" Spock asked immediately.
"I've removed all the shards from the area around his eyes
and repaired the damage as well as possible--his eyes are going to have to
stay covered while the burns heal. We're just lucky none of them got
any closer to the ocular orbit than they did," McCoy told him gravely.
"The head wound's superficial, and the other burns will heal in a week or
so. I'm more concerned with the electrical shock--it's all but shorted
out his nervous system."
"But he *is* alive," Spock pointed out anxiously,
certain even now that he would sense Kirk's death.
McCoy nodded slowly. "For what that's worth.
He's in a coma, Spock, and with Sickbay barely more functional than the rest
of the ship, I don't have all the monitoring and testing equipment I need
to deal with something this serious," he continued regretfully. "His
best bet would be to be transferred to the hospital at Starbase 42 when we
"Which will not be for another 1.29 weeks, at
our present speed. In the mean time, I shall instruct repair crews
that Sickbay systems have top priority," Spock replied, still keeping his
voice as controlled as possible, wondering if Kirk had known about the Sickbay
equipment not being fully operational. Certainly Spock himself had
never been told until now; considering his current mental condition, perhaps
that exclusion had been intentional. "May I see him?" he requested
"He's being moved to Intensive Care right now--Christine
will let us know when he's settled," McCoy informed him kindly. "You
can see him then. But as I said, he's in a coma--don't expect him to
Spock nodded silently in understanding, and they
said nothing more to each other for a time, each thinking his own thoughts
about this unfortunate turn of events.
At last, Christine entered. "He's all settled
in and stable, if you can call such low readings 'stable'," she announced,
automatically focusing her attention on Spock. She and McCoy had already
agreed that the Vulcan would be the one most deeply affected by Kirk's condition
(if it remained permanent, or if the unthinkable happened and he died), especially
in his still-unsettled mental state.
Spock's eyes were downcast, however, and he appeared
not to notice her. Silently, he headed for the door, and McCoy decided
to follow him to the Intensive Care room.
Kirk was the only patient there, so the room
was mostly dark, except for the area around Kirk's bed, which was illuminated
by lights from various machines, as well as an overhead light. Kirk
had been stripped to his underpants to accommodate the treatment of his burns,
which were now covered by special bandages, though a light blanket covered
him to the chest, and Spock could see the edges of the burned areas peeking
out from underneath the eye bandages. He hurried forward and sat down
on the edge of the bed beside Kirk, watching him helplessly, uncertain of
what to do next.
"Is his life in danger?" Spock asked finally,
sensing McCoy somewhere behind him.
"It depends on how long this coma lasts.
As long and his brain and heart are still functioning, there's still hope
for him to reach some level of consciousness--but the longer the coma lasts,
the less likely it is that he'll wake up," McCoy told him honestly.
"Then he *could* die," Spock concluded, glancing
around briefly at McCoy.
"Yes. But Christine and I will do our best
to keep that from happening," McCoy promised. "If we can keep him alive
'til we get to the starbase, I think he has a good chance to recover."
Spock returned his attention to Kirk, his thoughts--and
emotions--in chaos. This could not be happening...not now, just after
Kirk had finally returned to starship command and within a month of Christmas.
Not now, when Spock still so obviously...needed his friendship and support.
The thought had not previously occurred to him, perhaps because of his Vulcan
retraining and the difficulties he was still having adapting to life among
Humans. But he examined the idea now and realized it was true.
Kirk was the first thing he had remembered after
the fal-tor-pan, and since then, he had become Spock's lifeline in an uncertain
universe, his guide in re-integrating his Vulcan and Human halves.
McCoy had carried his katra, but as Spock regained his memories of his life
with his Human friends, he had come to realize that that was merely the result
of a twist of fate: McCoy had gotten to Engineering before Kirk. He
had some connection with Kirk that he could feel as clearly as if it were
a tangible thing, something beyond the "friendship" he felt for both of them--Spock's
mind kept producing the term "t'hy'la", but he did not yet understand why
or how the term applied to Kirk.
And as busy as Kirk had been since taking over
command of this new Enterprise, he had always managed to make time for Spock,
treating him with patience and affection as he helped the Vulcan re-adjust.
Spock still did not comprehend his emotions in this matter; he knew only
that Kirk was important to him, and that the thought of Kirk dying shook
him to the depth of his being.
He reached out hesitantly to touch Kirk's hand,
and, guided by some impulse he did not understand, wrapped his own hand around
it--only to find it disturbingly cold and limp. Spock turned finally
to speak to McCoy. "Doctor, do you consider me fit for command?"
"No," McCoy returned bluntly. "Not that
that would necessarily stop you--it hasn't always before. Do *you*
think you're competent to command?"
"I asked you because I am not certain...which
tends to suggest that I cannot be," Spock decided resignedly, getting up
as he reluctantly released Kirk's hand. "In view of this fact, I will
go notify Mr. Sulu that he is in command. Then I would like to return
here and stay with the Captain for a time ...if I would not be in your way."
"That's fine, Spock," McCoy assured him; he hadn't
expected the Vulcan to suggest it, but it *would* allow him to more easily
keep an eye on Spock.
Spock nodded gratefully in acknowledgement, heading
past him toward the door.
After going back to the Bridge to formally turn
command over to Sulu, updating him on repairs in Engineering, as well as
those that still needed to be done in Sickbay, Spock went back to his quarters
to shower and change into civilian clothes before returning to Sickbay.
He sat at Kirk's bedside for hours as McCoy and Christine tended to their
duties, monitoring Kirk's condition, testing his reactions, coming and going.
In the wee hours of the morning, before going
off-duty and getting some sleep himself, McCoy finally persuaded Spock to
go to bed, promising to contact him if Kirk's condition changed.
Unfortunately, Kirk's condition showed no signs of changing
Enterprise made its way toward Starbase 42. Maintenance work proceeded
on schedule around the ship, including Sickbay, although McCoy went ahead
and contacted the starbase about making arrangements with the Base Hospital
Kirk's transfer as soon as they were within communication range. The
work on Sickbay systems was still going too slow for his comfort, and they
were going to be at the starbase for some time, anyway, so it only made sense
to transfer him to a place that was better equipped.
Spock continued to spend most of each day at Kirk's side,
eating and sleeping only when Christine brought him food (usually when she
was off-duty) and McCoy made him go to bed. When McCoy suggested that
Spock try to do something while he was there to stimulate some kind of response
in Kirk, Spock--not certain what to do--began to bring his Vulcan harp with
him, playing it quietly for Kirk as he sat beside the Human.
Sometimes, when they weren't too busy, McCoy and Christine
would also stop to listen. They quickly found out that what Spock was
doing mostly was tuning the instrument and trying to make pleasant sounds
with it; so far, he barely remembered how to play it--he was only remembering
his previously extensive repertoire by bits and pieces, one song at a time...a
slow but not entirely unenjoyable process.
By the night before the Enterprise was due to arrive, Spock
had decided to accompany McCoy to the Base Hospital and help him get Kirk
settled in. After he had packed for himself and Kirk, Spock found himself
unable to sleep--as usual--and went back to Sickbay, spending the rest of
the night by Kirk's side. That was how McCoy found him the next morning--collapsed
across the bed, his head resting on Kirk's stomach.
McCoy shook his head in exasperation, moving cautiously closer,
wanting to observe the Vulcan without disturbing him. He was glad Spock
had decided to come with him on Christmas leave at the starbase; Spock needed
the time to continue to re-adjust, and McCoy knew he was suffering emotionally
as Kirk's coma continued, which wasn't helping any. The weight that
the Vulcan had begun to gain back during the whale probe mission had been
lost since Kirk's injury, and his eyes--when McCoy had been given the chance
to look into them--had become dark, bottomless pools of despair, reflecting
the emotions that Spock still found so difficult to express, otherwise.
He still needed looking after, so McCoy didn't want Spock out of his sight.
McCoy looked from Spock's half-prostrate form to the diagnostic
screen above Kirk's bed and moved quietly to check the Captain over with
his medscanner, only to verify what he had already known. Kirk was
as he had been for most of the last one-and-a-half weeks: stable but comatose,
his brain and other organs barely functioning, though his burns and the damage
to the area surrounding his eyes was long since healed.
If their attempts at stimulus therapy were working, there
was no sign of it on his instruments--even though, by now, all Sickbay equipment
was as fully functional as it could be without access to a starbase's test
equipment for verification. McCoy prayed silently that the doctors
at Starbase 42 could come up with something he hadn't thought of, something
that would at least bring Kirk back to some level of consciousness by Christmas.
That was McCoy's goal, now--for the crew, for himself, but especially for
McCoy looked over at the First Officer again and decided to
let him sleep for the couple of hours left until the Enterprise was due to
arrive and leaves for most of the crew began. After getting a blanket
and bringing it to lay around the Vulcan's shoulders, he decided to leave
Spock alone, not wanting the latter to wake up thinking McCoy had been spying
on him the whole time he had slept.
By the time McCoy had returned, along with Christine and a
gurney, Spock was just waking up. He sat up, pushed the blanket aside,
and turned to face the two Medical Officers behind him, raising an eyebrow
at the gurney. "Time to go, I take it?"
McCoy nodded. "It's all set. We'll take Jim in
a travel pod to the base proper after the ship is docked, and Dr. Jamison
will meet us in the reception lounge--he's the Hospital's Commanding Officer,
as well as Chief Surgeon, and he'll help us get Jim checked in and settled,"
he explained. "And I've arranged to get Christine assigned to his case;
she'll be assisting and advising Jamison, and you and I will be staying nearby,
so we'll be able to keep up with Jim's condition."
Spock looked from McCoy to Christine, his expression unreadable,
at first--then something like anxiety filled his eyes as he searched her
She took a few steps toward him, pulling the gurney behind
her. "We'll take good care of him, Spock. Don't worry," Christine
promised him kindly.
Spock realized she had read his emotions in his eyes and lowered
them quickly, saying nothing as he fought to re-assert his usual emotional
controls and stood up. After stretching briefly to ease the stiffness
in his muscles, he picked up his harp and moved out of the way, allowing
McCoy and Christine to get at Kirk, moving or detaching IVs and other tubing
before lifting him carefully onto the gurney.
"You get your bag and meet us at the air lock," McCoy directed
then, as he and Christine began to move the gurney toward the door.
"We'll wait for you."
Spock nodded acknowledgement, slowly following them out, carefully
staying out of their way as he went.
Half an hour later, the three of them were in
the travel pod with the gurney holding Kirk, being ferried across the interior
of Starbase 42's docking bay to an airlock leading to the base's reception
area. The rest of the crew would arrive by transporter, but McCoy had
considered Kirk's condition too delicate to want to risk it. While
he and Christine watched over Kirk, Spock hung back apprehensively, his mind
in turmoil as he contemplated the seriousness of his Captain's condition
and the prospect of spending Christmas leave with McCoy, wondering if Kirk
would ever see the holiday again.
Spock remained withdrawn when they arrived in
the reception lounge and were met by Dr. Adam Jamison and his Head Nurse,
Rachelle Thalann--a dark-haired Human male in an Admiral's uniform, who appeared
to be around the same age as McCoy, and a younger-looking, half-Andorian
woman with Commanders' bars and blonde-ish-white hair complementing her pale
lavender skin--allowing McCoy and Christine to handle the introductions and
He went with them to the Hospital and helped
them get Kirk settled into his bed in the private room Jamison had arranged
for him. Like the bed he'd had in Sickbay, this one was surrounded
by monitoring and testing equipment, but of more and different varieties
than had been available on the Enterprise.
Spock's eyes remained on Kirk as Jamison and
Thalann hooked up and turned on all the equipment and Jamison spoke: "Rachelle
and I will be handling Captain Kirk's case ourselves, since we both have
a background in rehab therapy, and Starfleet Command has advised us that
Dr. Chapel will be on temporary assignment here to supervise his treatment--we
wanted somebody familiar with his medical history to assist, so this suits
us just fine. Normal visiting hours are 1500 to 2100, although we can
get around that, if necessary...certainly one of us will be with him at all
"Thank you, Doctor--we really appreciate your
help," McCoy responded sincerely.
"All in the line of duty, Dr. McCoy," Jamison
assured him, turning back to him once he and Thalann had finished fussing
over Kirk. "Besides, we don't get a chance to treat celebrities like
Captain Kirk very often. It's an honor."
"I'll drop my bag off at my quarters and report
back," Christine told him crisply.
"Fine--by that time, he should be stable, and
I'll have Rachelle give you a tour of our medical facilities, first," Jamison
McCoy nodded his gratitude, reaching to touch
Spock on the arm when he saw that the Vulcan was still preoccupied.
"Come on, Spock--we may as well go get ourselves settled, too," he suggested
Seeing that they were about to leave, Jamison
addressed himself to Spock. "We'll do everything we can, Captain--we've
dealt with long-term comas before; we have a 90% survival rate, and our full
recovery rate is almost that high," he told Spock encouragingly.
Spock acknowledged this with his eyes, but did
not otherwise respond, turning instead to follow McCoy and Christine out.
Their quarters turned out to be adjacent to the
Base Hospital--a set of suites intended for personnel with friends or relatives
being treated there. Spock and McCoy would share one suite, while Christine
and Uhura would share the one next to it. Spock gave the rooms only
a cursory glance as he passed through them, his mind still clearly elsewhere--two
good-sized bedrooms (fully furnished with king-sized beds, desks, and small
sitting areas), a living/dining room, bathroom, and small kitchen.
He dropped his bag on the bed in one bedroom, looked around, and decided
to unpack, wondering as he did so what to do next. He wanted to be
with Kirk, but visiting hours would not begin until late that afternoon...
Spock became aware of a dull ache in the pit
of his stomach which, he now realized, must have been with him for days.
//Perhaps that is why I have had no appetite,// he thought uncertainly, realizing
also that the reason he had noticed it was that it was worsening into full-fledged
stomach cramps. For some reason, his customary pain controls were having
no effect on it. As Spock searched himself for an explanation for this,
he realized there was an emotional aspect that he had not taken into account--his
concern for Kirk; it had not occurred to him before that the two could be
connected, since his emotional controls were fully functional--or so he'd
Disturbed by the idea and wanting to discuss
it with someone, he left his room to look for McCoy and found him in the
living room, apparently waiting for him.
McCoy had, in fact, expected Spock to come looking
for him--but he had *not* expected the atypically open expression of anxiety
and confusion on the Vulcan's face. "Spock? What is it?" he prompted
Spock stopped before him, feeling awkward and
uncertain in McCoy's presence, as it seemed he always had. "Doctor,
I need...to speak to you...if you do not have any immediate plans," he began
McCoy nodded understandingly, moving to sit down
on the sofa. "Have a seat and tell me what's on your mind," he invited,
patting the cushion beside him.
Spock sat down slowly at the opposite end of
the sofa. "Tell me the truth--do you believe Jim will recover?" he
Their eyes met, and McCoy realized the Vulcan
would not accept any attempts to gloss over the facts. "I don't know,"
he admitted reluctantly.
"You heard Jamison; he seems to be in good hands, and he should have a better
chance for it here than on the Enterprise, in its current state. I
*have* heard of people making full recoveries after being comatose for weeks
and months--it depends partly on the patient's overall health before the
coma, partly on the quality of medical care he receives, and partly on the
attitude of those around him. As long as *we* don't give up on him,
Spock, I have to believe there's some part of *him* that won't give up."
Spock considered this silently for a time.
"Hardly a logical attitude," he observed finally.
"'Logic' would have had you write him off as
a lost cause before now,"
McCoy pointed out dryly. "You don't really want to do that, do you?"
"No..." Spock lowered his eyes momentarily, then
looked back up as he returned his attention to his original reason for wanting
to talk to McCoy.
"Doctor, I seem to have been...somewhat ill...since Jim was injured," he
continued slowly. "A kind of pain in my stomach that does not subside...in
fact, it seems to be intensifying. I do not think it has anything to
do with my food intake."
"I don't think so, either," McCoy returned knowingly.
"The first thing you need to understand is that it's normal for you to sometimes
react like a Human--and it's normal for Humans to have various kinds of physical
discomfort when they're worried about someone close to them," he explained.
For once, Spock saw no need to deny being capable
of Human emotional reactions. The existence of his Human half was becoming
painfully obvious, and his anxiety about Kirk seemed increasingly immune
to the emotional controls he had re-learned after the fal-tor-pan.
"'Someone close...'" Spock echoed thoughtfully, meeting McCoy's eyes again.
"Jim and I seem...more than 'close'," he reflected uncertainly. "I
do not understand how or why, but...I feel...a connection to him, something
almost...empathic? As if he is...part of me. He is still alive,
yet I already feel...a loss."
Brown eyes searched blue in confusion and naked
desperation, Spock clearly seeking a level of insight on his relationship
with Kirk that McCoy wasn't sure he had. He tried to remember everything
Kirk had ever told him about how he felt about Spock, and how he *thought*
Spock felt about him; there had sometimes been a lot Kirk wanted to say about
it to *someone*, and he was usually too afraid of embarrassing Spock to discuss
it directly with the Vulcan.
Thus McCoy had become the sounding board for
any concern or disagreement Kirk had with Spock that Kirk could share without
violating Spock's trust. "Jim always said that he thought of you as...a
brother," McCoy recalled finally. "And from what little he told me
about it, I gather you felt the same way about him, as much time as you spent
trying to keep anyone else from knowing it. You two always *did* seem
to have a 'connection'--a 'mental bond', Jim called it--that seemed to let
each of you know when the other was safe or in danger when you were separated."
*Now* Spock understood what he had been feeling
and why the word "t'hy'la" kept nagging at the back of his mind every time
he thought of Kirk. Kirk *was* his t'hy'la--his bond-brother--and that
was the source of the quick rapport with his Captain, the likes of which
he had not been able to attain with anyone else, even McCoy, the keeper of
his katra. He nodded slowly in response to McCoy's explanation.
"We *are* part of each other, then. Doctor, he must survive.
I am not...certain I could function if that bond were broken."
"We'll do all we can," McCoy reiterated compassionately.
"Would you like something to settle your stomach?"
"Please," Spock responded gratefully.
McCoy reached for his medikit and took out a
bottle of pills, handing them to Spock. "A couple of these with some
water should help. Then I want you to lie down and try to get some
sleep before we go see Jim," he admonished.
"I will try," Spock acceded doubtfully, getting
up with the pills and heading for the bathroom to get some water. Trying
to sleep usually meant disturbing dreams, which had evolved into nightmares
since Kirk's injury.
He knew he needed the rest, but it seemed pointless to try; his sleep-trances,
when he was able to achieve them, never lasted. Perhaps he had left
Mount Seleya prematurely--but there had been no way he was going to let Kirk
and McCoy leave without him. A part of him had been terrified--an emotion
he had not, at the time, understood--that his friends would never come back
for him and he would never be allowed to go after them later if he let them
Spock sighed in resignation as he left the bathroom.
The pills were not sedatives, but maybe they would help him sleep, anyway,
by preventing the nightmares.
While Spock ostensibly slept, McCoy made a quick trip to the
Commissary, picking up a few things for them to have around their quarters
to eat and drink--including some things he knew Spock particularly liked.
He *had* to get that stubborn Vulcan to start eating regularly again; if--*when*,
McCoy corrected himself determinedly--Kirk regained consciousness, he would
never forgive McCoy if Spock looked like he'd lost a lot of weight.
After he returned and got the groceries put away, McCoy decided
to go check on Spock. He found the latter awake and sitting up in his
bed, an expression of unguarded terror in his eyes. McCoy sat down
quickly beside him, despite being uncertain Spock would accept his help--assuming
he could even figure out what to do. "Spock?" he prompted anxiously.
Spock lowered his eyes, realizing how much they must be revealing,
not really wanting to confide in McCoy.
McCoy, meanwhile, remembered what Kirk had hinted to him over
the years about their First Officer's occasional nightmares. "Having
bad dreams?" he guessed.
Spock nodded, still not looking up. "Jim calls them
'nightmares'," he admitted softly. "I have had these...dreams...since
before we left Vulcan, but since his injury, they have become...different.
McCoy hesitated, knowing it wasn't likely that Spock would
open up to him--but Jim wasn't here, and something told McCoy that Spock
*needed* to talk to someone about it. "Want to talk about it?" he asked
"No," Spock replied shortly, lying down again and curling
up on his side. He did not want to go back to sleep yet, but he was
still too uncomfortable around McCoy to unburden himself to the Doctor as
he would have to Kirk under the same circumstances. He knew he would
have to say *something*, though, or McCoy would leave--and Spock knew he
did not want to be alone, either. "It was about Jim," he admitted evasively,
For McCoy, the implications of this were obvious. "You
dreamed he was dead, didn't you?"
This time, Spock did not answer. He was lost in memories
of the nightmare --the feeling of Kirk being torn from his side, his reassuring
mental presence torn from Spock's mind...Spock was sure McCoy would never
understand what that meant. The sudden emptiness and loneliness, the
loss of his guide and mentor ...the one constant friend of his life...the
severing of their bond...no Human could fully understand what this meant.
Except perhaps Jim.
Although McCoy had carried his katra, he would retain no memory
of Spock's thoughts or essence--T'Lar had seen to that--just as Spock retained
no memory of what he had seen in McCoy's mind during that time; this was
a necessary part of the process of returning Spock's katra to him, insuring
that it was fully separated from McCoy's mind. This explained why McCoy
had failed to gain any new insights into Spock's thoughts and emotions, but
Spock had been in no mood to explain and discuss that with him since Kirk's
McCoy, meanwhile, struggled to remain patient with the reticent
Vulcan. "Spock, it's all right to dream about things like that.
I have nightmares, too --and I'm just as worried about Jim as you are," he
told Spock, as gently as possible.
Spock remained silent for some time before responding, his
voice barely audible: "It is not the same with me, Doctor. I am a Vulcan.
My emotions for Jim...are confusing, at best; at worst...if he dies, a part
of me will die with him. Our bond..." he made himself stop, reaching
for firmer emotional controls.
Watching him, McCoy realized he was withdrawing into himself
again, as he always did--and had done far too often since his retraining
at Mount Seleya--when he was hurt, afraid or confused. McCoy wanted
to yell at him, *force* Spock to talk to him and accept his help, but he
realized that that would only drive the Vulcan further into himself.
McCoy got up with a frustrated sigh to leave.
Spock still had no wish to be alone, but he refused to ask
McCoy to stay against his will. He heard the bedroom door close and
knew McCoy was gone. He was alone again, and as he tried to resume
his sleep-trance, he felt his stomach cramping again. Then there was
a new sensation--a burning pain behind his eyes that Spock did not understand
but instinctively fought in his usual way as he slowly settled into the trance
state: //I am a Vulcan. I will control--not let this emotion control
me. He is alive...my fear is irrational. I am not alone.
There is no pain. I must control. Control...//
Spock slept normally, for the most part, but his half-closed
eyes were moist.
The next week was difficult for both of them. Kirk's
condition did not appear to change, even though Spock and McCoy both visited
him daily, and Spock steadfastly refused to share his anxieties over the
situation with McCoy. McCoy knew, however, that the more the Vulcan
withdrew, the more he needed to be drawn out. When he discussed this
problem with Christine, she offered to help--but McCoy was determined to
get Spock to first become comfortable with *him*. He was so fully occupied
with Spock that he had no time to acknowledge *his own* fears for Kirk.
Dr. Jamison decided early on to monitor their visits, especially
Spock's, from a viewer in his office that was part of its own computer monitoring
system (tied to the machines surrounding Kirk), so he could see for himself
whether or not Kirk was having any reaction to them. Spock's relationship
with Kirk had become a Starfleet legend long before the Vulcan's mysterious
death and rebirth on Genesis, and Jamison had heard all the rumors--some
of which, out of respect for Kirk and Spock, he had chosen to ignore; he
already had a good idea of how Kirk's condition might be affecting Spock,
and discussions with Christine had confirmed his original theories.
He watched unseen, with Nurse Thalann, as Spock sat beside
Kirk, played his Vulcan harp for him, and sometimes held his hand, appearing
completely oblivious to anything and anyone else--including McCoy, when the
Doctor came with him. McCoy watched Spock as much as Kirk during those
times, and Jamison could see the growing frustration in McCoy's body language,
even when he couldn't see the latter's face.
By the end of that week, McCoy had decided he'd had enough.
Two weeks were left until Christmas, which by now had no real meaning except
as a target date by which--they all still hoped--Kirk would have regained
consciousness; neither he nor Spock nor any of the rest of the crew had any
thought of celebrating it for the holiday it was meant to be. Not now,
if they ever had before. And McCoy could no longer bear the thought
of spending it with the silent, withdrawn Vulcan, despite knowing Kirk would
have wanted him to. He was tired of having no one to talk to, about
Kirk or anything else. It was time for a confrontation.
With that in mind, McCoy got up on the morning of the sixth
day since their arrival at Starbase 42 and sought out Spock, finding him
still in his robe and slippers in the dining room, standing at the counter
with a mug of hot chocolate and his communicator, which he was just closing.
"I was just getting an update from Mr. Scott on the progress
of the maintenance work on the Enterprise," Spock explained. "It appears
to be proceeding on schedule."
"Fine. Too bad we can't say the same for Jim's recovery,"
McCoy returned dryly.
Spock studied his hot chocolate and did not respond.
"Spock, I want to talk to you. Come out here and sit
Spock complied silently, coming around the counter and following
McCoy into the living room, where they both sat on the sofa. "Well,
Doctor?" he prompted finally, taking another sip of his hot chocolate.
"It's been a week, Spock. I think we need to start talking
about Jim," McCoy began carefully. "I know you're not comfortable with
me, and I've been trying to give you time to get used to me...but I'm tired
of being ignored."
Spock answered with a question, keeping his eyes averted,
despite knowing the answer already: "What specific aspect of his condition
do you wish to discuss?"
"How it's affecting your emotions. Tell me what you're
feeling," McCoy responded hesitantly. "Please, Spock. It may
not be so different from what *I'm* feeling."
"My emotions are not a topic for discussion," Spock returned
shortly, becoming defensive. He was sure he would not be able to keep
them suppressed if he had to discuss them...and he still did not fully trust
McCoy with them.
McCoy began to lose patience with him. "You'd discuss
them willingly enough if I were *Jim*, wouldn't you?"
"But you are not," Spock pointed out faintly.
"Thank you for that reminder," McCoy retorted icily, grabbing
Spock by the shoulders and whirling the Vulcan sideways so rapidly to face
him that the hot chocolate Spock was still holding sloshed violently and
spilled over the edge of the mug. "Why can't you get it through that
thick Vulcan skull that he's *not* the only one you can trust? Dammit,
Spock, *Jim's not here!* What if he never is again? Are you just
going to shut yourself off like you're in Kolinahr again, or are you going
to realize that *I* *am* still here--and *I* need to talk about this, even
if you think *you* don't?"
Spock met his eyes coldly. "He *will* recover, Doctor."
"He might not," McCoy pressed.
"You said full recovery was still possible," Spock argued,
an expression of desperation appearing in his eyes.
"I talked to Christine this morning. Jamison gives him
a 50-50 chance, now--*if* he comes out of the coma; he gives him a 30% chance
of *that*," McCoy told him bluntly. "He hasn't shown any reactions
at all--you know that. He still could die."
Spock turned away far enough to set his hot chocolate down
on the coffee table, but then McCoy pulled him back sideways again.
"Spock. *He could die,*" he reiterated intensely.
"Are you just going to let your whole Human half disintegrate and die with
Spock lowered his eyes, shaking his head in denial.
"No, no...he must not..."
McCoy realized he had to make Spock face it, even if it was
far too soon in the Vulcan's retraining process for him to be mentally or
emotionally equipped to deal with this kind of personal trauma. "Even
Vulcans have to die, eventually. Jim's Human--he can't live forever--even
without this injury," he reiterated firmly. "Don't you think he'd want
you to trust me?"
He let go of Spock finally, and Spock withdrew to the opposite
end of the sofa. "No, Doctor...I cannot...please do not force me to
"Why not?" McCoy demanded.
"Because...I do not wish to humiliate you or myself by possibly...losing
control," Spock replied softly. "My emotions regarding this...run too
deep. I am finding them...difficult to manage."
McCoy shook his head disappointedly. "All right, I guess
I've done all I can," he sighed. "I can't stay here any more, under
these conditions. I need to be with someone who'll let me talk about
this, so...I'll check around and see if there are any other quarters available."
He got up to leave. "Maybe Christine knows of somebody without a roommate."
Spock picked up his mug again, drained it slowly of its contents,
then got up and went after McCoy (dropping off his mug in the kitchen on
the way). He found McCoy packing his bag, which was lying out on his
bed. "Are you leaving *now*?" Spock asked doubtfully.
"No. But I want to be ready as soon as I've made other
McCoy returned coolly.
Spock watched him indecisively, knowing what he needed to
say and do to stop the Human, but knowing also that it directly contradicted
his Vulcan retraining.
"I'll leave your half of the food...maybe you'll enjoy it
more when I'm not around to spoil your appetite," McCoy added, his voice
"My lack of appetite has nothing to do with your presence,"
Spock protested, sounding unconvincing to his own ears.
McCoy gave no evidence of hearing him as he continued to bustle
about the room, going between the closet or dresser and his bed to retrieve
clothing items and place them in his travel bag. "Either help me or
get out of my way!" he snapped impatiently, going around Spock to get
to his dresser again.
At first, Spock moved aside and let McCoy continue, still
watching him silently-- then he realized finally that McCoy really *was*
leaving if he didn't do *something* about it. He placed himself between
the Doctor and his bag. "I will do neither," he decided, facing McCoy
and meeting his eyes as the latter turned back to face him. "I cannot
For a moment, McCoy just stared at him in disbelief, then
his eyes met Spock's, sky-blue fire clashing with coal-black ice. "*You*
'cannot permit'? After the way you've treated me, what makes you think
*you* have any say in that decision?" he demanded.
"Quarters near the Hospital are undoubtedly limited.
They may all be occupied," Spock pointed out evenly.
"I know--the rest of the crew got most of them. I'll
manage," McCoy returned tersely. "Now, unless you'd like to wind up
sharing Jim's hospital room, *get out of my way!*"
Anger was useless, Spock realized; so, now, was pride.
He could not *force* McCoy to stay...but a similar amount of force exerted
on *himself* to be more emotionally honest might persuade McCoy to change
his mind. The ice in his eyes began to melt and he retreated meekly
to the door, studying the toes of his Vulcan slippers as McCoy finished packing.
McCoy paused, not certain what the Vulcan had said--his voice
had barely been audible. He glared around at Spock. "*Now*, what?"
"Please," Spock repeated, a little louder. "I will talk
to you about whatever you wish...or listen when you wish to talk....but please
stay," he entreated softly. "I do not wish to...I do not think I should...be
McCoy stopped finally, staring at him again--this time in
relief and surprise. He slowly walked over to the Vulcan. "I
don't think *either* of us should," he agreed cautiously.
"Will you stay, then?" Spock asked hopefully, still
not looking up.
"Do you think you can trust me enough now to talk about Jim?"
"I believe I just said that," Spock replied quietly.
Spock glanced up at him warily and was reassured by the Doctor's
"Come on; help me put this stuff back up. Then I'll
fix us both an old-fashioned Southern breakfast--or as close to it as I can
get on a starbase--and we can have our talk."
An hour later, after Spock had been filled up
with biscuits and strawberry jam, cream gravy, grits and butter, he and McCoy
again settled down on the sofa. Spock sat with his eyes downcast, staring
at his folded hands as they rested in his lap. "I cannot think of Jim
dying," Spock admitted faintly. "From what you yourself have told me,
I am...not yet fully myself...and Jim seems best able to help me, perhaps
because of my bond with him." He glanced briefly sideways at McCoy
before lowering his eyes again. "I am apprehensive about that--about
what would happen to me; I would not...wish to be alone again. And
that is what I would be with Jim gone and that bond destroyed...bereft, desolate
and alone. Empty."
"Even with me still here?" McCoy questioned
Spock hesitated. "I appreciate your presence.
I certainly seem to need it, now...but you and I both know that we will never
have the sort of 'connection' that I have with Jim," he responded carefully.
Talking to him, being around him..."
"I know. So do I," McCoy confessed understandingly.
Spock sat back slightly. "You were right,"
he acknowledged finally. "Jim always told me I could trust you.
But his claim seemed so contrary to most of my experience with you that I
always found it difficult to believe."
McCoy nodded in acceptance of this. "I
can't be Jim for you...but maybe if you tell me what to do and let me try,
I can do some of the things he might do to help you," he offered kindly.
"Thank you," Spock responded softly. "I
wish I could make the same promise, but Jim is Human...and I seem to be having
trouble even managing to be *half*-Human."
McCoy reached out carefully to touch the Vulcan's
arm. "Spock--assuming Jim does regain consciousness, he's almost certain
now to have brain damage. He may have to *stay* here for some time,"
he pointed out gently. "We may have to decide which of us, if either,
is going to stay with him. Christine may be able to wangle a long-term
assignment here, but I doubt I will."
Spock considered this for a time, focusing his
attention on McCoy's hand as if that would help him reach a decision.
"If a choice must be made, the Enterprise needs a Chief Medical Officer more
than a First Officer who is unfit for command," he decided, at last.
"Hold it--you're not getting rid of me *that*
fast," McCoy objected, chuckling in spite of himself. "We don't have
to make any final decisions *now* --I just wanted you to know that the time
will eventually come. Let's concentrate on getting Jim back to consciousness,
With his eyes, Spock followed the movement of
McCoy's hand as he withdrew it from the Vulcan's arm. "I wish...I could
mind-meld with him," he revealed, his voice touched by longing. "I
did re-learn the required techniques at Mount Seleya."
"But you've never performed one since then, have
you?" McCoy questioned.
Spock shook his head. "Only with T'Lar--and
*she* controlled the meld, not I," he recalled. "But it might allow
me to see what condition his mind is in--how damaged it is--and perhaps give
me some idea of how much rehabilitation would be required."
McCoy knew this must have been on McCoy's mind
ever since Kirk had first been injured. "Do you think you'd be able
to do it without worsening Jim's condition--or yours?" he asked, then.
"There is always a chance that his mind might
become trapped within his, especially with my not having attempted a mind-meld
since leaving Mount Seleya," Spock admitted quietly. "And although
I would think little more could be done to damage Jim's mind, I am reluctant
to take the risk--which is why I have not previously suggested it.
But I seem...to *need* to do so...to feel his mental presence again.
Even though he is comatose, I should still be able to feel it somewhere within
him...as long as he is alive."
"I'll have Christine talk to Dr. Jamison.
If they think it's all right, maybe you can try."
Spock nodded silently in gratitude.
The silence stretched out uncomfortably between
them until McCoy ended it. "In the mean time...if there's something
I can do for you *now*, something Jim would do..."
"I will tell you," Spock assured him. He
hesitated, then added awkwardly, "Perhaps, after all, I *should* ask...what
he would do for you under these circumstances. I may not know how,
but...I could try to learn."
McCoy couldn't help smiling at the expression
of uncertainty in the dark eyes that now sought out his. "Well--one
thing I really miss is having a drink with Jim while we talk about whatever's
bothering us," he admitted. "I think you and I just did that last part,
and it's a little early in the day to drink anything--besides which, I know
you don't drink, anyway..."
"Anything else?" Spock questioned doubtfully.
McCoy shrugged. "Nothing specific right
now, Spock. Just don't shut me out any more, all right?"
"I will try not to," Spock assured him, lowering
his eyes again.
"How's your stomach been, lately?" McCoy
asked, changing the subject abruptly.
"Still upset. I still often find myself
too nauseated to eat," Spock revealed slowly. "And your pills do not
seem to affect it any more. I find it difficult to believe that emotional
stress could affect me this severely."
"You've always underestimated your capacity to
worry about Jim," McCoy reminded him knowingly. "*He'd* know how to
ease your stress, I suppose."
"Yes," Spock recalled evasively.
"What would he do?" McCoy wanted to know.
"*You* would never do it...not now. Not
with me," Spock responded stiffly, still refusing to elaborate.
"You would refuse."
"Come on--I already said I wanted to try to do
what he'd do for you.
Give me a chance."
Spock leaned back against the sofa, keeping his eyes averted
and his manner controlled as he answered hesitantly. "In the past,
when I have been similarly ...troubled...about something, he would come to
my cabin and try to talk about it with me. If I were unable to do so,
it is in my mind that he sometimes... held me or rubbed my back...allowing
me to feel his thoughts and emotions. Not a mind-meld, just...feeling
them through his touch...no permission asked or needed. His mind was
always opened willingly to me. His touch always...seemed to bring me
a measure of peace when Vulcan mental disciplines sometimes could not.
"I...I often...fell asleep at such times...and he would just...hold
me and let me sleep. I was always so ashamed when I awoke...but he
always seemed to understand without criticizing. My...emotions never
shamed *him*," he reflected, bowing his head finally in embarrassment.
"I think...that is what I miss most, now...feeling his thoughts through his
"You remember all that?" McCoy questioned incredulously.
Spock nodded slowly. "*Some* emotional memories have
already returned to me, Doctor...even if I do not understand them.
My...emotions for Jim...are among the first things I remembered after the
fal-tor-pan," he explained carefully.
McCoy studied the Vulcan in silent concern for a time before
responding. "I could do that," he decided finally. "What he did,
Spock still did not look at him. "You would not find
such physical contact with me...distasteful?"
"Not really," McCoy returned honestly. "I just always
thought *you* felt that way about *me*."
Spock looked up at him warily.
"Just because you never *let* me be that close to you doesn't
mean I couldn't or wouldn't."
"If you did not insist on gloating so much when I expressed
emotion, perhaps I would have been more comfortable with you," Spock pointed
"Maybe if you did it more *often*, I wouldn't feel obligated--"
McCoy barely managed to stop himself. "We're getting sidetracked.
Jim wouldn't want us to argue," he noted.
"True." Spock still hesitated uncertainly. "Could
you really do it, Doctor?"
"If you'd let me try."
Spock met McCoy's eyes finally, signalling his permission
with his body language and waiting apprehensively as McCoy moved closer.
When he felt McCoy's arm around his back, Spock slowly moved around to curl
up awkwardly against McCoy's side--just as he had sometimes done with Kirk.
Incredulously, McCoy maneuvered himself to hold the Vulcan
securely in his arms, trying to remember everything he could from the one
or two times he had actually *seen* Kirk comforting Spock in this manner
(Kirk was usually careful not to do it when anyone else was around), and
waited to see what would happen.
It was difficult for Spock to curl his tall, lanky body down
far enough to settle his head on McCoy's shoulder, since the Doctor was noticeably
shorter than him, but he managed it, anyway. As he tried awkwardly
to position his arms around McCoy, he realized that the latter's muscles
were still stiff with discomfort and withdrew his arms abruptly. "You
said you would permit this..."
McCoy forced himself to relax. "I will, Spock.
I'm just...not used to it," he explained.
"Neither am I. But, as you said, Jim is not here..."
"...and I am," McCoy finished understandingly. "I'm
sorry. I do want you to be comfortable with this--with me--but I can't
promise you'll necessarily enjoy feeling *my* thoughts and emotions as much
as you do Jim's."
Spock felt an unexpected urge to laugh as he finally folded
one arm against himself and used the other to hold onto one of the Doctor's
arms with his hand. "That is not necessary, Doctor--this is not a mind-meld.
I only need to sense enough...to feel that I am...not alone," he reiterated
For a long time, McCoy was too stunned and touched to respond.
At last, he pulled the Vulcan a little closer and moved a hand to clumsily
stroke Spock's hair, brushing it back from one pointed ear as Spock continued
to sit facing away from him. "You're not. I'm always here, Spock...and
if you'll let me, I'll take care of you," he assured Spock gently.
"Even if...something happens to Jim, I'll be here for you. I don't
want to be alone, either."
Spock closed his eyes and was silent for a time, finally allowing
himself some superficial awareness of McCoy's thoughts and emotions.
He felt affection, concern, deep fear for Kirk's future (as well as Spock's)--much
the same emotions Spock had become aware of within himself--but no distaste
for their current physical contact, or Spock's emotions. "Doctor,"
he responded, at length. "Would you object if...I called you something
else...just for now?"
"Like what?" McCoy asked uncertainly.
"Jim calls you 'Bones'. Has anyone ever called you anything
"Well...before I joined Starfleet, most people called me 'Leonard',"
McCoy recalled. "That's what Christine calls me, sometimes."
"May I call you that?" Spock asked uncertainly.
"If you want to," McCoy acceded, still not believing it.
"Because...Leonard...I would like to stay here for a while.
I am so much ...not myself, so uncontrolled. My emotions for Jim...hurt.
They are making me physically ill, and the disciplines I was taught on Vulcan
seem...insufficient for my present needs," Spock elaborated, with difficulty.
"I think...I 'felt' ...that I was important to Jim, important in an emotional
sense. I do not recall ever having experienced that feeling with anyone
"Maybe not. But he's *not* the only one you're important
to," McCoy assured him.
For now, it seemed best to take McCoy's word for it.
"Then, if...you could tolerate my touch for a little longer, I could perhaps
forget for a time that I am...without him," Spock requested faintly.
"As long as you like," McCoy answered kindly. They fell
silent for several minutes as McCoy felt the Vulcan slowly relaxing against
"Leonard," Spock said softly, then, still trying to get used
to the unusual sound of the name being spoken in his voice.
"Could you...rub my back? It...helps me relax...when
Jim does it."
"Sure..." McCoy complied hesitantly, wishing he were as comfortable
and accomplished at doing this as Kirk must have been.
That was the last he heard from Spock for well over five hours.
It was early afternoon when Spock was rather rudely awakened
from what had been a surprisingly pleasant sleep by snoring at his ear; he
realized McCoy's head was resting against the top of his--clearly he, too,
had fallen asleep while holding the sleeping Vulcan in his arms. Cautiously,
Spock extricated himself from the Doctor's embrace, supporting McCoy's head
as he gently laid the Human down on the sofa, then stood up and stretched.
He decided to let McCoy sleep while he got ready for his daily visit to the
By the time Spock had showered, changed clothes and returned
to the living room, McCoy was awake. "Are you going with me to see
Jim?" Spock asked.
McCoy nodded. "Soon as I get changed," he asserted.
Their eyes met. "Do you feel better, Spock? Did my...holding
"With the exception of two minor observations, yes."
McCoy looked at him questioningly, clearly inviting him to
"You are slightly shorter than Jim, which made it somewhat...difficult,
physically," Spock explained hesitantly. "Also...Jim does not snore."
"Oh. Hmm. Sorry about that," McCoy mumbled, turning
away in embarrassment. "Then I don't suppose you'd want me to do that
again," he concluded, somewhat disappointedly, heading out of the room.
Spock did not answer him directly. "I do appreciate
the attempt," he called after the Doctor.
"Yeah, yeah..." McCoy responded vaguely, almost inaudibly,
waving back at Spock in acknowledgement.
Within half an hour later, they were at the Base Hospital,
McCoy in Jamison's office with the latter and Christine, discussing the possibility
of a mind-meld as they watched Spock's visit with Kirk on the viewer.
"Has there been *any* change in his condition?" McCoy asked.
Jamison shrugged slightly. "Some minor fluctuations
in readings on some vital signs--just enough to indicate that some part of
what makes Kirk who he is still in there somewhere and trying to fight back.
If not for that, I'd be advising against these continued visits by Spock
in favor of at least *discussing*...other alternatives."
McCoy met his eyes gravely, looking slowly from Jamison to
Christine, knowing--as they all did, being Medical Officers--what "other
alternatives" really meant. "Spock has to be right, then; surely a
mind-meld couldn't do any more damage to him," he concluded.
"It depends on *Spock's* mental condition," Christine returned.
"You observed him closely enough during the whale probe incident, Doctor.
Do *you* think he's competent enough to complete a mind-meld without hurting
"We've never found any of the skills and factual knowledge
he re-learned on Vulcan to be in doubt," McCoy assured her. "The deficiencies
all seem to be in his *emotional* development--social skills, understanding
and expressing his own feelings and recognizing and understanding them in
others, pretty much anything he originally learned through his Human half,
or through his experiences with Humans, was ignored by T'Lar in her retraining
at Mount Seleya. Probably deliberately, although I wouldn't want to
speculate on why."
Christine and Jamison exchanged brief looks, communicating
silently as they divided their attention between each other and the viewer.
There, Spock was again playing his Vulcan harp for the mostly unresponsive
As he finished playing his current piece of music, Spock recalled
McCoy's periodic reminders to talk to their Captain regularly, based on his
theory that talking would be more likely than anything else to bring a response.
Spock had complied because he had quickly become inclined to try *anything*
that might improve Kirk's condition. He set his harp aside and reached
out once again for Kirk's hand, once again--as he had at least once a day
for the last two weeks--speaking softly to him: "Jim...this morning, Dr.
McCoy and I...talked...*really* talked, as you have always said we should.
"He said that he would...'take care of' me...if you did not..."
Spock paused, closing his eyes painfully as he fought to maintain control
of his emotions. "It was difficult...uncomfortable...for both of us.
I know he means well, but...he is not you," he finished awkwardly, squeezing
Kirk's hand involuntarily. "I need *you*, Jim...your friendship, your
presence. Please, you must not..." He stopped as he heard someone else
enter the room, abruptly releasing Kirk's hand.
He turned to find McCoy entering the room and coming to join
him. "I talked with Dr. Jamison. He and Christine have agreed
to let you mind-meld with Jim, on the condition that they can be here to
monitor him personally," McCoy informed him.
"Very well--as long as they do not distract me," Spock acceded
"I don't think that'll be a problem," McCoy asserted, retreating
a few feet to stand at the end of the bed, where Jamison and Christine now
stood. McCoy's and Spock's eyes met. "Jim told me you usually
need time to prepare," McCoy recalled.
"Not this time, Doctor...I have been preparing myself for
this ever since his injury occurred...even though I was not certain I would
ever be *able* to actually do it." With that, Spock turned back to
the prostrate form of his Captain. Kirk hardly looked like himself;
relying exclusively on IVs for nourishment for the last few weeks had left
him atypically thin--even his face had begun to hollow out beneath the cheekbones.
McCoy *had* been complaining about how much weight Kirk needed to lose, just
after the whale probe mission, Spock reflected. It would be some time
before they would have to worry about *that* again, since he and Kirk were
now both considerably underweight.
Spock reached out finally to position his fingers on Kirk's
face, reaching out also with his mind as he searched for some trace of Kirk's
essence. He probed the superficial levels of Kirk's mind first, but
found only a dark void. Spock gently probed deeper, penetrating level
after level with great care, frustrated by the darkness, haze and chaos that
were at first all that greeted him. He paused, unwilling to go deeper
for fear of hurting Kirk or becoming hopelessly trapped within that chaos,
himself. //Jim,// his mind called plaintively. //It is Spock.
I am here. Can you feel my presence?//
He sensed only confusion in response.
//Jim, please do not let yourself be defeated by this...mental
Spock's desperation this time communicated itself to Kirk's
mind, which responded with a wordless question as he tried to organize his
thoughts into lucidity. Faintly, vaguely, he recognized this gentle
alien presence. It had been here before, he sensed, healing, soothing...
Encouraged by the knowledge that some part of Kirk was beginning
to respond, Spock reiterated mentally what he had tried to tell Kirk verbally,
earlier--an instinctive reaction that he did not question now, despite its
illogic: //I need you to come back, Jim...I need you with me.//
As if from the depths of a bottomless, black pit, he felt
a thread of Kirk's consciousness trying tentatively to reach up toward him.
//Spock...?// it asked uncertainly, the sound-thought barely discernible,
even to Spock's sharply-focused senses.
//Jim!// Spock's mind called anxiously, automatically reaching
down further and deeper toward the struggling tendril of Kirk's thoughts,
ignoring the increased danger to himself. //I am here, Jim--touch my
thoughts,// his mind urged.
But there was still a space between the reach of Spock's mind
and that of Kirk's in this chasm of blackness--Spock sensed that he dared
go no deeper, yet Kirk's tiny tendril of consciousness remained just out
of reach. //I can't,// his mind answered, a mental sigh of despair.
//You must!// Spock's mind insisted.
//No...I'm afraid.// The thread of Kirk's mental presence
//Do not be. I will help you...but you must reach for
my thoughts, join with them. I cannot reach further for yours--it would
damage both of us,// Spock's mind explained.
//You'll help me?// Kirk's mind echoed uncertainly.
//Yes, Jim...always,// Spock reiterated. //But we *must*
go back *now*.//
The thought thread thickened again, seeming a little stronger.
//I'm still afraid, Spock. I may have...forgotten...so many things,//
Kirk admitted, the thought full of shame.
//I am afraid, too,// Spock mental voice revealed, as the
shame of the thought was drawn toward similar emotion in Kirk. //I
must still remember a number of things, myself...emotions you said I have
experienced and should be familiar with. I have no hope of completing
that process without you,// he reminded Kirk, opening himself fully, at last,
to embrace his friend's consciousness. //We can remember together,
Jim. I will help you, and you will help me.//
//I'm not even going to be able to help *myself*,// Kirk protested
//Maybe Bones could do it. He carried your katra.//
//McCoy is not you,// Spock's mind responded, again filling
with desperation as his whole being began to tremble with the effort it was
costing him to wait out Kirk's decision. //He is not my t'hy'la.
Please...I must go back. I do not wish to go back alone.//
//"T'hy'la"?// The tendril of thought began to glow
and vibrate with recognition as tiny cracks of light began to split the darkness
of Kirk's mind. Awareness of *Spock's* anxieties and agonies finally
began to penetrate that darkness, and up through the cracks shot more tendrils
of thought. Like a nest of fountains, they shot up suddenly through
the remaining dark distance separating him from Spock and joined him in the
mental embrace, his thoughts now intertwining hesitantly but hopefully with
the Vulcan's, eager to offer comfort. //You're never alone, my friend.
I'll try...I promise. I do want to be there for you,// he assured Spock.
For a moment, Spock allowed himself to revel in the warmth
and affection of their mental union, then he took Kirk and his threads of
thought as quickly as he dared back up through the layers of Kirk's subconscious
and conscious mind, ending the meld just as his control of it disintegrated
Around them, Jamison monitored Kirk and the diagnostic equipment
near him, noting the unusual rise in readings--blood pressure, heart rate,
pulse and temperature all fluctuated and climbed incrementally as the meld
continued. McCoy moved gradually closer, wanting to be nearby when
Spock broke the meld. "Amazing," Jamison remarked. "I've never
observed a mind-meld before. Does the patient normally react like this?"
"Not always this fast," Christine answered. "In Captain
Kirk's case, his rapport with Spock is probably always a factor."
Nearly an hour after initiating the mind-meld, Spock broke
it and collapsed across Kirk's chest in exhaustion.
Jamison watched Spock worriedly as McCoy moved up behind the
Vulcan, ready to offer comfort if he needed it. "Stimulant?"
Jamison suggested, in anticipation, offering McCoy a hypo containing the
appropriate amount of masiform-D.
McCoy waved it off. "He has to recover on his own.
And it might be better if we gave him some privacy--I'll stay and keep an
eye on them for a while, at least until Spock kicks me out," he advised Jamison.
Wordlessly, Jamison left for his office, deciding to trust
McCoy on this. He could continue monitoring Kirk from there, if necessary.
"I think I'll go back to my quarters and get some sleep,"
Christine announced then, her eyes still on Spock as she headed for the door.
"If you or Dr. Jamison need me, consider me on call," she told McCoy.
He nodded once in her direction in acknowledgement, then returned
his attention to Spock and Kirk, stepping closer and sitting down on the
bed behind the Vulcan. "Spock?" he prompted anxiously, after a time.
Spock's head moved slightly in acknowledgement. "I...touched
his consciousness, Doctor," he responded faintly. "Jim is there...buried
deeply, but there. I joined with...part of his consciousness.
He tried to follow me...out of the meld, but as I broke it, I...lost control...lost
him again." He reached out hesitantly to touch Kirk's pale face, closing
his eyes against the pain of the sight. "He was afraid...but he trusted
me and I failed him," Spock continued, whispering now. "I...want to
believe...that some part of his consciousness is there, just beneath the
surface. But I am uncertain."
Gently, McCoy reached out to lay a hand on Spock's shoulder.
"You didn't 'fail him'," he told the Vulcan kindly. "You tried to help.
I think Jim knows that."
Spock did not respond. Mind-melds always drained him,
and this one had left him exhausted and despairing, afraid of what he might
have done to Kirk's mind and the Human's trust in him. It had almost
seemed that he would bring Kirk back to full consciousness...until the end,
when his control of the meld had collapsed, and he had felt the fragile tendrils
of Kirk's thoughts receding in fear. Tears burned behind Spock's eyes
as he began to wonder for what purpose Kirk and McCoy had restored his life.
Had they reunited his katra with his reborn body only for
him to see Kirk injured and left in a coma that his mind might never awaken
from, even if his body did? Spock was too tired to suppress the tears
that now formed in his eyes at the thought--he would be useless as First
Officer (or Captain) until his Vulcan and Human halves were fully integrated
again, and that would be unlikely to happen until and unless Jim fully recovered.
He felt McCoy cautiously beginning to rub his back and drifted
off into a fitful sleep, still collapsed across Kirk's chest, slipping one
hand determinedly around Kirk's and holding it, willing his friend and Captain's
consciousness to remain near the surface--not sink back into the dark place
where Spock had found him when they melded.
Spock was already asleep, and McCoy happened to be focusing
his attention on the Vulcan, when Kirk's left hand--which had been resting
on his chest--moved a finger against Spock's cheek. McCoy caught the
movement out of the corner of his eye and looked up, wondering if he'd imagined
it. But the movement continued. It was real--the first voluntary
response he had seen in Kirk since the Captain was injured; he was trying
to wipe away Spock's tears.
There was no other sign of consciousness or movement, but
this was enough to induce McCoy to wake Spock up. Spock needed no explanation,
for he had felt the whisper-soft mental and physical touch before McCoy's
urgent shaking of his shoulder and immediately opened his eyes to focus on
the hand near his face. "Jim..." he murmured pleadingly, moving his
free hand to touch Kirk's, now holding both his Captain's hands. "...I
am sorry. Please..." His mind finished: //...please come back.
I promise I will be here to help you.//
He felt a slight return of pressure on his hands and studied
Kirk's face, but the Human's eyes were still closed. However, it *was*
his first real response to Spock's physical contact.
"Doctor?" Spock queried suddenly, glancing around searchingly
at McCoy as he pushed himself back up into a sitting position, wondering
if McCoy could have noticed outwardly what he had felt (not realizing that
that was why McCoy had awakened him).
"I see it," McCoy confirmed, squeezing the Vulcan's shoulder
briefly as he got up. "I'm going to get Dr. Jamison back out here."
He hadn't gone far when he encountered Nurse Thalann, whose
expression told him at once that she had again been monitoring Kirk from
the office. "Dr. Jamison just went off-duty," she reported. "But
I'll contact him and let him know what's happened."
McCoy nodded in response and turned back to Spock as Thalann
hurried back to the office, going back to the Vulcan's side. He again
rested his hand on Spock's shoulder as the latter remained focused on Kirk's
face. "Come on, Spock. You need to get some more rest," McCoy
Spock, however, was still holding Kirk's hands, alert for
any new signs of conscious response, and had no interest in leaving, despite
his awareness of his own remaining tiredness. "No, Doctor--I must stay,"
he insisted softly. "He needs me."
"He *doesn't* need you to worry yourself into exhaustion,"
McCoy countered firmly, beginning to pull Spock to his feet.
Although Spock himself did not resist, they were both surprised
to feel resistance from *Kirk*--who suddenly tightened his grip on Spock's
hands. Spock looked accusingly at McCoy. "You see? I cannot leave
him!" he reiterated, his voice full of entreaty and apprehension, which he
this time made no effort to control.
McCoy leaned down toward Kirk, reaching to take one of Kirk's
hands and exerting pressure on it as he silently willed the Captain to understand.
"Jim ...let him go. I'll take care of Spock, but he needs to get some
sleep," he told Kirk softly.
Even Spock could not have said if Kirk released his hands
just then as a result of tiredness, or if McCoy had actually gotten through
to him, but either way, his hands were freed. Reluctantly, he picked
up his Vulcan harp and let McCoy lead him away. //I will return, Jim,//
he promised silently, again illogically "hoping" that Kirk could hear his
Spock was only convinced to go to sleep when McCoy promised
him to go back and stay with Kirk until Christine went back on duty the next
morning. Kirk made no further leaps of progress in that time, but at
least his condition remained constant and did not worsen. When McCoy
returned to his quarters, he found Spock still sleeping uneasily; he stayed
with the Vulcan long enough to determine that his sleep was not being disturbed
by nightmares (at least, not enough to wake him up), then McCoy went to bed,
Over the ensuing days, word spread among the
Enterprise crew of Kirk's first signs of conscious response to stimuli--and
for the first time since their arrival, they allowed themselves awareness
of the signs of Christmas around the starbase: artificial trees in the Cafeteria
and other main rooms, decorations everywhere a place could be found to put
them, instrumental Christmas carols played fairly constantly over the intercom...
Hope had become their watchword, and only those
closest to the situation of the man in the hospital room--Spock, McCoy, Christine,
and the two Medical Officers most responsible for his care--still had difficulty
getting into the spirit of the season. Spock, his mind still fully
occupied with concern for Kirk, ignored his peripheral awareness of the impending
holiday. Jamison and Thalann were too busy with their testing and monitoring
of Kirk to appear to notice it, themselves, and McCoy and Christine spent
much time trying to figure out how to alter this situation for themselves
and Spock--and Kirk, too.
Two days before Christmas, McCoy woke up with
an idea he thought would help, if only he could get Spock to agree to take
part. He got up and dressed hurriedly, hoping Spock had not already
left for the Hospital again, knowing the Vulcan had been spending more and
more time with Kirk as the holiday loomed closer. He spoke no more
of his anxiety-induced stomach trouble, but McCoy knew from Spock's continued
disinterest in food that it was probably still affecting him.
He found Spock still in bed and sat down beside
him, knowing how late the latter had gotten to bed and wishing he could just
let Spock sleep--but they were running out of time until Christmas Day, and
McCoy expected to waste a good portion of the morning convincing the Vulcan
to go along with his plan.
Reluctantly, he shook Spock into consciousness.
"What is it, Doctor?" Spock asked, awake
instantly, his first thought that something catastrophic had happened to
"It's all right, Spock--Jim's the same," McCoy
assured him, anticipating his concern. "I just need to talk to you
about something, and I need to do it now."
Spock glanced at the chronometer sitting on the
night table near his bed, noted its display of 0825, and turned back to McCoy
with a raised eyebrow. "I have only been asleep for 3.125 hours.
Since it is *you* who keep insisting that I get more sleep, I would be interested
in knowing what you attach such urgency to," he ventured warily, sitting
"It's something to help Jim--and we might enjoy
it, too," McCoy began cautiously. "I was thinking we might go out and
buy some Christmas decorations to put up in Jim's room."
Spock stared at him blankly, not understanding
why McCoy would want to do that, or how it would "help" Kirk. "For
what purpose?" he asked.
"To cheer him up," McCoy replied patiently.
"Christine says he has his eyes open sometimes, now."
"Yes, but he does not appear to be aware of his
surroundings," Spock countered skeptically. "You wish to do this for
*yourself*, Doctor--because you refuse to accept the inappropriateness of
'celebrating Christmas' at this time, and you intend to try to involve *me*
"Spock, look--neither of us have been *anywhere*
since we got here, except to visit Jim at the Hospital and, once or twice,
out to eat. Going to buy Christmas decorations would give us a chance
to get out and see new things." McCoy's eyes met his with a pleading
Spock's eyes were impenetrable onyx, his expression
unreadable, but there was an edge of bitterness to his voice when he spoke.
"What would you have me see? Other Humans...openly, superfluously emotional...laughing,
enjoying the holiday...as Jim cannot?" He turned away as he started
to get up, moving hurriedly past McCoy to the edge of the bed, in an effort
to hide the emotions he knew would now be revealed by his eyes.
"That's *exactly* why I want to decorate his
room," McCoy reiterated emphatically.
Spock paused, turning to look at him again, this
time with both eyebrows raised.
"Think of it as another form of stimulus.
Jim's always loved Christmas--and it's not just for Humans, either."
McCoy shook his head at Spock impatiently. "You *know both* those things
perfectly well, if you'd just...let yourself remember them!"
Spock averted his eyes quickly in embarrassment.
"I am--I have been--*trying* to remember," he reminded McCoy, a note of frustration
creeping into his voice. "Of my emotions regarding Christmas, however,
the only thing clear to me so far is that...when Jim was not with me at that
time, I was totally alone. It was...so difficult, at such times...that
I often wished I had never left Vulcan."
His voice had softened involuntarily as he spoke,
and now McCoy reached out carefully to touch his shoulder. "You'll
*be* with Jim this Christmas," he promised gently. "We all will--you,
me and Christine, at least."
"But will *he* be with *me*?" Spock questioned,
appearing to ignore the rest of McCoy's statement. He turned back to
McCoy with a sudden expression of sadness in his eyes. "Consciously,
mentally, emotionally, will *he* be there? I am not certain."
"Neither am I. But if it looks like Christmas
in there, at least it might give him some incentive," McCoy persisted, squeezing
the Vulcan's shoulder encouragingly.
Spock did not feel particularly comforted, but
he was also too tired of arguing the subject to offer any further objections.
McCoy sensed this immediately. "Come on,
get up and get dressed. The sooner we get the decorations, the sooner
we can get them put up for Jim."
Spock met his eyes again. "For Jim," he
echoed quietly, at last. It surely couldn't hurt, and the Human part
of him could not help clinging to the hope that something, anything, could
bring Kirk completely out of the coma where his own efforts had failed.
To have him awake and talking again...it was worth the effort, Spock decided.
While Spock got dressed, McCoy contacted Christine
to see if she would be available to go with them. Although she was
none too pleased to be awakened from a dead sleep, she perked up noticeably
when McCoy told her of his plans. Since she did not have to report
on duty until 1030 hours, she quickly offered to take them out to breakfast
before they went shopping. McCoy passed this information on to Spock
when the Vulcan emerged from his room, fully dressed; they settled down on
the sofa and passed the time with small talk as they waited for Christine
to arrive--she had told McCoy she would come over as soon as she had showered
and dressed, so that they could all leave together.
As they headed for the restaurant that Christine
had chosen, Spock, while ignoring the Christmas music that floated through
the air around them, found himself focusing on Christine's attire.
He did not recall having seen her in civilian clothes since their reunion
after the trial. She wasn't wearing anything fancy--just an embroidered
sweater and velvet-like slacks in a matching color; it was just the fact
that she was not in uniform that Spock found remarkable.
He was struck by the completely illogical and
irrelevant thought that some people looked better in civilian clothes--or
at least, as natural and comfortable as they did in uniform. Christine
was one of these people, as was McCoy, though Spock himself felt somewhat
out of his element. He was unsure, however, if this were due to the
Vulcan attire (which seemed out-of-place on a starbase at Christmas) that
he had been wearing ever since his arrival, or to his own general mental
and emotional state.
Christine became aware of his eyes on her and
looked up at him briefly with a shy smile of encouragement. Spock averted
his eyes quickly to hide his own green blush of embarrassment at the emotions
he felt rising within him in response to that look. His memories of
her were still somewhat confused, but he knew that she had loved him with
a patient, gentle and forgiving love that had gone largely unreturned; he
did not know if it still existed, but a part of him could not help thinking
that it *must* for her to be so willing to give up her own leave for an assignment
here to help with Kirk's treatment--knowing that where Kirk went, Spock inevitably
McCoy noted their silent interplay without comment,
though his mind was racing. As far as he could recall, Spock's relationship
with Christine had never progressed beyond friendship--before the V'ger mission.
Afterwards, in keeping with a promise he'd made and spurred on by uncertainty
as to what effect the Kolinahr disciplines might have had on his mating cycle,
he had asked Christine to bond with him.
They had finally married some three years later
(six months or so after the bonding ceremony) in a private ceremony at Starfleet
Central Headquarters on Earth (although, to avoid the possibility of enemies
finding out and using their marital relationship against them, the marriage
remained secret, known to only a handful of Enterprise personnel and upper
echelons at Starfleet Command), and Christine had seen him through two pon
farrs before being offered a position in the Starfleet Surgeon General's
office at Headquarters. Though reluctant as always to be separated
from Spock, she had accepted it after Spock talked her into it; they had
remained in contact during their separation.
And yet, their matrimonial bond had never equaled
Spock's bond with Kirk in depth or strength--and McCoy credited Christine
with accepting, early on in their relationship, that that would probably
never change. It hadn't been so easy for her to accept the fact that
she and Spock could not simply pick up where they'd left off now that he
was alive again and had completed his Vulcan retraining, but by now it was
clear that he scarcely remembered her and would have to regain the memories
and wisdom of his Human half in his own way and at his own speed.
She had seen this and had not pressed, especially
after also seeing how deeply Kirk's injury had affected Spock. McCoy
had decided that perhaps it was time to let her start spending more time
around Spock. It would help Spock remember their relationship--and
she knew how to comfort him as McCoy did not when he was being eaten up with
anxiety about Kirk.
When they reached the restaurant, only McCoy
and Christine ate anything close to a full meal; Spock only nibbled, explaining
that his stomach was bothering him again. An hour later, they were
on their way to the starbase's shopping level--essentially, a mall spread
out to cover one whole level of the starbase. Now the light-hearted
Christmas music was set against a background of brightly-lit stores and hallways
festooned with decorations; red, green, silver, gold, and a host of other
colors greeted them, from artificial trees, wreaths, and seasonal displays
representing Terran/Human colonies around the Federation.
It did not take long for McCoy and Christine
to get caught up in the spirit of their surroundings, especially when they
began to spot other Enterprise personnel among the assorted holiday shoppers.
Spock, however, was intent on the business at hand--which happened to be
buying Christmas decorations; he had no interest in the festive atmosphere
or the happy shoppers. They only made him more aware of what he was
missing. McCoy was right. Jim loved Christmas, even when the
Enterprise crew had to spend it on a mission--that much Spock had pieced
together from his still-returning memories--and he also loved trying to get
his favorite Vulcan involved in its celebration.
Spock had come to expect it, over the years...but
this year would be different. Too much had happened--to both of them.
For himself, Spock did not care--but for Jim, who was Human and who loved
it so, it seemed colossally unfair. He deserved to have Christmas,
after all he had been through--all the risk and loss. //All for me,//
Spock reminded himself guiltily. //And I am not even fully myself yet.
I *must* do this for him.//
It was difficult to keep the two Humans focused
on their goal--McCoy found himself wanting to look at everything, and they
nearly lost Christine when Uhura invited the former to join her--but Spock
found that keeping a hand on an arm of each of them and exerting pressure
each time they became distracted quickly brought their attention back to
him and their reason for being here. It took a little time for them
to find a store that specialized in Christmas decorations, but once McCoy
had gotten inside one, they quickly got down to business.
Spock and McCoy selected some tinsel, while Christine
set about gathering up ribbons and wreaths. As she was calling McCoy's
attention to a selection of other hanging decorations, it occurred to Spock
that something was missing, though he wasn't sure what. Then the appropriate
memory surfaced. "Doctor, what about a tree?" he asked abruptly, suddenly
convinced that this was what Jim would need most to remind him of Christmases
McCoy and Christine turned to look at him in
surprise. "I doubt there'll be room," McCoy answered regretfully, not
really wanting to discourage Spock when he was obviously beginning to get
more of his memories back. "With all the medical equipment in there,
we'll be lucky to find room for *these* decorations."
"But...the tree is the most important one, is
it not?" Spock questioned, clearly trying to verify what he so far
remembered of the Christmas customs they had managed to acquaint him with
over the years.
"Yes, Spock, but how would we get it to his room?"
"We will get a medium-sized one, and you and
I will carry it. Christine will go on ahead with the other decorations
and explain what we are doing to Dr. Jamison--perhaps he can move some of
the equipment," Spock suggested, thinking quickly.
McCoy looked questioningly at Christine.
"What do you think?"
Christine shrugged. "I doubt there are
any regulations against Christmas decorations. I told him we might
be doing something like this, so he'll probably be expecting it--I'll talk
to him again, but it shouldn't be a problem," she asserted agreeably.
McCoy turned back to Spock. "All right,
I guess we can try," he decided, his voice filling with cautious hope.
"Come on, you two--help me pick out some ornaments. Then we can go
next door and look at the trees."
A couple of hours later, Christine had made the
arrangements with Jamison and McCoy and Spock accompanied her when she reported
on-duty, carrying the artificial tree while she carried the decorations.
She found that some of the tables and other furniture had already been moved
back and to the side at one end of the room, clearing a space for the tree.
Nurse Thalann came out of the office to meet them. "Dr. Jamison filled
me in and told me to help you make room for the decorations, so I had a couple
of the med techs help me move some things," she explained. "I'm still
on duty 'til 1400, so if you need more help, let me know."
"Thanks, Rachelle," Christine replied appreciatively.
"I think we can take it from here." She looked over at Kirk.
"How is he?"
"Still the same," Thalann returned. "The
only time he really reacts to anything is when Dr. McCoy and Captain Spock
are here. But his readings are steady."
Christine nodded in acknowledgement. "Take
a lunch break. I'll take care of things here until you get back," she
"Are you sure?"
Christine nodded again. "Go on."
When she was gone, Spock, McCoy and Christine
began to put up the decorations. Christine set the smaller boxes of
decorations on the end of Kirk's bed and started putting up a tinsel garland
while McCoy and Spock worked on the tree. By the time they had finished,
Christine had started putting up the holly garland, and they quickly moved
to help her. After they had helped her add ribbons and bows to the
garlands, all three returned their attention to decorating the tree.
All during this process, Christine kept a watchful eye on Kirk, pausing periodically
to check his condition.
Nurse Thalann was back a little over an hour
later, and it took most of the afternoon for them to finish putting the lights
and ornaments on the six-foot tree; Kirk barely stirred during that time--though
the fact that he moved at all was noteworthy, and Christine said as much
while Spock looked for something to wrap around the base of the tree.
Finally, all the decorations and ornaments were up and Spock moved to sit
down beside Kirk on the bed. McCoy moved up silently behind him and
handed him his harp.
Spock took it just as silently and set it against
his shoulder, beginning to check its tuning.
"Can you still play Christmas carols on that
thing?" McCoy asked, at length.
Spock looked up and around at him blankly for
a moment, then lowered his head, thinking, trying to remember. Yes--he
had played them before, sometimes, mainly for Kirk and Christine. It
still seemed unlikely that Jim would hear him now, but he knew of little
else to do. Slowly, awkwardly, he began to play "What Child is This?".
McCoy sat down across from him on the other side
of the bed, and eventually, Christine and Thalann, too, came to listen--but
Spock was focused on Kirk, waiting for any sign of movement or response.
As he moved through three more Christmas carols, however, all Spock noticed
in the way of response from Kirk was some movement of his head.
They went home later that afternoon, McCoy clearly
disappointed, since he had been certain that the sound of Spock playing Christmas
carols on his Vulcan harp would snap Kirk into full consciousness; Spock,
however, had expected nothing--or so he told himself, hiding his own persistent
frustration behind his customary facade of control, again exuding an air
of unapproachability (much to McCoy's dismay).
The next day, of course, was the day before Christmas.
McCoy and Spock spent it with Christine--who had been given two days off
for the holiday--mostly sitting around McCoy's and Spock's quarters, talking
about what plans, if any, they could make for Christmas Day. At least,
the two Humans talked; Spock mostly just listened with his head bowed.
"I talked to Rachelle earlier," Christine told them, as she set about making
lunch for them. She had offered to do so earlier, when it became apparent
that both Spock and McCoy were depressed enough not to eat unless she insisted.
"She says his readings are up a little this morning. She thinks us
being there yesterday with the decorations and Christmas music might have
"Hmm," McCoy responded noncommittally.
"Conjecture. Speculation," Spock concluded,
appearing to dismiss the idea, though in fact he was trying to suppress his
own desperate hope, which had so far done neither him nor Kirk any good.
From his lack of reaction, McCoy may or may not
have heard him; there was no indication of it when he spoke again.
"Tomorrow's Christmas, and Jim's still not fully conscious," he observed
despondently. "It's been a month. If he ever really *does* come
out of it, the brain damage will surely be permanent."
Spock remained silent, his head still bowed,
knowing that if either Human saw his eyes, they would read his refusal to
accept this within their brown depths.
"We don't know that, Leonard. Dr. Jamison
hasn't given up yet," Christine reminded him. "This is Christmas--time
of miracles. Let's keep a little optimism, here."
But McCoy was finding it increasingly difficult
to do so, even for Spock's sake. He glanced up at her doubtfully as
she set down a plate of food for him. "Think there's any point in us
going back to see him today?"
"Couldn't hurt," Christine replied, heading back
into the kitchen for Spock's plate.
Spock suddenly looked up at McCoy with an expression
that was half-entreaty and half-accusation. "You told me when we first
arrived that if we did not 'give up on' him, Jim would not 'give up on himself',"
he reminded McCoy. "Are you willing to do so now?"
"No," McCoy admitted guiltily. "I'm sorry,
Spock...it just seems like the longer he stays like this, the more we're
Spock bowed his head again. "No, Christine
is right--we must believe in him, Doctor. To do otherwise is to admit
defeat...and I will not lose him to this coma."
Spock fell silent again, struggling with more
awakening memories of Kirk, and McCoy could only marvel at his determination.
Spock was so deep in thought about Kirk that
he didn't notice the plate that Christine set down in front of him until
she pointed it out. "What did you say, Christine?"
"I said I made you some cinnamon rolls," she
Spock looked down at the two large, icing-covered
cinnamon rolls on his plate. "These are both for me?" he questioned.
Christine nodded. "I know how much you
like them, and I wanted to be sure you would eat something," she explained.
Spock looked up at her for a moment, then back
down at the cinnamon rolls, then uncertainly over at McCoy.
"They're one of your favorite foods," McCoy confirmed,
watching him anxiously. "At least, you always ate them when Jim was
//Jim...// Spock lowered his eyes again,
focusing on the cinnamon rolls. He leaned down closer and sniffed them
curiously. Yes--the warm-sweet-spice smell was familiar. And
it unleashed a sudden rush of memories within Spock: breakfasts with Kirk
aboard ship and elsewhere, cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate, accompanying
private talks that had always seemed to bring them closer together.
Again, Spock was reminded of how much he missed those talks... and the emotions
they had brought forth in him. He suppressed the urge to get up and
run from the table, increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of remembering
emotions he had only felt when alone with Kirk.
The perpetual queasiness in the pit of Spock's
stomach once again hardened into a knot. "I cannot eat all this.
It is too much," he told Christine finally, his voice farr too controlled.
"But I made it especially--"
"Take it back!" Spock interrupted impatiently.
Christine glanced worriedly and frustratedly
at McCoy, who gave her an I'll-take-care-of-this look and motioned for her
to leave the plate, which she did, then went back to the kitchen and busied
herself getting drinks.
McCoy, meanwhile, watched Spock slowly regaining control of
his emotions as the Doctor finished off his food. Then he spoke, waving
his fork at Spock for emphasis. "You are *not* going to get away with
skipping another meal, Spock, even if I have to make it a medical order.
Christine was considerate enough to cook up a special batch of cinnamon rolls
for you, so you may as well eat them."
Spock saw as he looked at McCoy that the latter would not
be dissuaded. "Very well," he sighed, picking up his own fork and beginning
to pick at a roll.
"I also think you owe Christine an apology," McCoy added.
"I did not ask her to fix this food," Spock returned coolly.
"On Vulcan, it is not considered proper--"
"In the first place, you're not *on* Vulcan any more," McCoy
interrupted, becoming impatient, himself. "And in the second place--you're
still missing some emotional memories, Spock. Christine was trying
to be kind to you; she didn't do anything 'improper'."
Spock took a bite of his cinnamon roll and regarded McCoy
in puzzlement. "Do I have...a relationship with her?" he asked.
McCoy nodded. "You still don't remember, do you?"
Spock shook his head. "What should I remember?"
McCoy decided to leave the full details of that to Christine.
"Think, Spock. What do you feel toward her right now?"
Spock averted his eyes in confusion. "I...do not know.
I believe I feel ...something...for her, but it does not seem the same as
what I feel for you and Jim," he admitted uneasily. "She *is* my friend,
is she not?"
"Yes, you could say that," McCoy replied vaguely, glancing
into the kitchen, where Christine was--apparently having decided to eat her
own lunch there alone.
"She insists on my addressing her informally, by her first
name, and I seem to recall...certain emotions for me on her part. I
think...she once said that she 'loved' me," Spock observed thoughtfully.
"Did I ever reciprocate?"
"You'll remember eventually," McCoy responded evasively, knowing
he couldn't force Spock to remember by blurting out all the details at once.
"She does seem to...care for me...in a way that I find somewhat...other
than professional, yet she behaves in a professional manner, her attempt
to ply me with cinnamon rolls notwithstanding," Spock continued hesitantly.
"Just eat them. Then go talk to her," McCoy advised.
Spock was still not hungry, and the taste of the cinnamon
rolls continued to awaken disturbing, bittersweet memories within him of
quiet times with Kirk--but he complied, anyway.
Belatedly, Christine remembered the drinks and brought them
out--coffee for McCoy and juice for Spock. As if on cue, McCoy finished
up the last of his food, picked up his mug of coffee, threw a significant
look of admonition to Spock, and got up to give him some time alone with
Christine; Spock's eyes conveyed understanding as the Doctor passed by him
on the way to the living room.
When Christine returned to the kitchen, Spock got up and followed
her as far as the door. "Christine?" he began cautiously.
"What?" she responded tersely, not looking at him.
"Dr. McCoy has finished his meal. He seems...to prefer
that I not be alone," he continued awkwardly. "It is unnecessary for
you to avoid me...unless perhaps you *prefer* to eat alone. I find
that I do not."
Somewhat startled, Christine picked up her plate and took
a few steps toward him. "Are you sure--?"
Spock nodded, moving aside for her before heading back to
his own seat. She sat down near him, across from where McCoy had sat.
"I am sorry," he told her finally. "I did not understand your actions.
Dr. McCoy says you meant no harm...neither did I. I suppose I am still
too preoccupied with...the Captain."
Christine could not remain angry with him in the face of his
obvious contrition. "So what else is new?" she sighed, turning
her attention to what was left of her food.
"The cinnamon rolls *are* very good," Spock admitted appreciatively.
"I... remembered them when I tasted them."
Christine glanced up at him doubtfully, but decided to take
his word for it.
"Actually, I am still experiencing considerable gastrointestinal
discomfort ...it is difficult for me to eat much of anything without becoming
ill," Spock elaborated hesitantly. "I have also acquired a tolerance
for Dr. McCoy's anti-nausea pills."
Christine regarded him worriedly. "You're really still
that anxious about Captain Kirk?"
"I have tried to meditate. I do not understand this
continued inability of the mental disciplines I was taught on Vulcan to affect
this particular 'anxiety'," Spock acknowledged faintly, finishing his last
roll. "And I do not know how to...release it...without losing control,
as I just did a few moments ago. I know only that it is Christmas,
and he should be here--*with* me. With *us*."
"*We'll* be with *him* tomorrow," she reminded him gently,
forgetting her previous, self-absorbed resentment as she got up to take their
plates back to the kitchen.
"And today?" Spock added hopefully. "I wish to
see him today, also."
Christine didn't answer until she had put the plates in the
dishwasher and come back to the dining area. "Well, you haven't missed
a day since we got here. I don't suppose Christmas Eve should be any
different," she opined understandingly. "I think I can arrange for
all of us to see him tonight--we can turn on the lights and have a little
"A party..." Spock hadn't thought of that. Yes--if Jim
were able to respond fully to *anything*, surely the sounds of a party going
on around him would bring him out of catatonia. "...*that* could be
effective. Jim seems to enjoy parties," he reflected softly.
Christine moved to his side and touched him lightly on the
arm. "For now, though, come with me," she requested.
"Why?" Spock asked warily.
"It's all right--I'm just going to help you relax a little,"
she assured him.
"You can do that?" Spock questioned dubiously, getting
up hesitantly to follow her.
She nodded. "Trust me."
And some instinct told Spock that he should.
McCoy noted that they were headed into the living room and
scrambled to get out of their way, moving to a chair across the room, near
the hallway entrance, as they sat down on the sofa, watching them silently.
"Lie down on your stomach," Christine instructed, then.
Spock looked at her in confusion, but complied anyway, knowing
she would not hurt him.
"That's it..." Cautiously, Christine shifted her position
slightly, reaching to lay her hands gently on Spock's shoulders. Then
she began to rub them, kneading the stiff muscles first, then pressing gentle
circles of varying sizes into them--around Spock's shoulder-blades, then
up and down his back.
Spock was not prepared for the effects of either her massage
or the memories awakened within him by the prolonged physical contact with
her. "You have done this before," he noted, somewhat unsteadily.
"Sometimes--when the Captain's not around, at least; when
he is, you only let him do it."
As Spock had by now recalled, Kirk had begun giving him an
occasional massage first, then he had taught *Spock* how to do it for *him*.
But he had not, until now, realized that he let *Christine* do it, too.
He lowered his shields a little and concentrated on the warmth and concern
he felt through her touch, the caring and determination to ease his turmoil,
and slowly, Spock began to relax.
"Our bond never was as strong as the one you had with him,"
Christine remarked. "Still, at times like this, I suppose it--"
"'*Our* bond'?" Spock repeated, a note of surprise touching
his voice. "Are we...bond-mates?"
McCoy had warned Christine against springing any major revelations
on Spock while his mind was still in this transitional state, so she eased
into it. "Would you be surprised if we were?" she asked cautiously.
"I...do not know. I had not previously considered the
idea," Spock admitted frankly, still too preoccupied with the feeling of
her hands massaging his back to devote much thought to anything else.
"Hmm...most pleasant," he commented distractedly.
"I thought you'd think so," Christine returned knowingly.
"I want you to get some more sleep before we see Captain Kirk."
"Would you...stay with me?" Spock requested faintly.
"Of course, Spock," Christine assured him kindly, ceasing
the massage finally and moving a hand to rest it on his head.
Spock fell asleep shortly thereafter as Christine absently
stroked his hair. McCoy located a blanket and spread it out over the
Vulcan, then he and Christine sat with him, talking quietly and keeping watch
over Spock, making sure he stayed asleep for a respectable length of time.
They knew he still had difficulty sleeping--more than the usual level of
concern for Kirk that tended to keep them all awake, Spock still had nightmares
about Kirk dying. For now, however, while Christine maintained physical
contact with him, he slept in relative peace.
Four hours later, the three of them got ready to go spend
Christmas Eve with Kirk. For the first time, Spock rummaged through
the clothes in his dresser drawers to find something *other* than his usual
Vulcan clothing to wear. For Christmas and for Jim--in case he finally
became able to see Spock--the Vulcan wanted to be wearing something else.
Something seasonal--something his Captain would recognize, yet something
Terran in style and construction. He eventually settled on something
Kirk had helped him purchase shortly before their first Christmas on the
Enterprise after the V'ger mission--a dark green velvet tunic-and-slacks
set trimmed in white and silver artificial fur. He was certain Jim
would remember it.
The sight of Spock in Christmas attire brought
an immediate response from McCoy. "How in the world did it occur to
you to bring *that*?" he demanded, in surprise. "I thought you had
no intention of taking part in any Christmas celebrations."
"I simply brought all the civilian clothing I
had with me," Spock returned quietly. "Not all of it has arrived yet."
He smoothed out the tunic over his torso and straightened the bottom edge
of it. "These, of course, were not among my belongings that were sent
back to Vulcan. Jim sent them and a few other things back to his apartment
on Earth, and retrieved them after the trial," he added, glancing at McCoy
and noting his attire with some disappointment.
McCoy realized that Spock must have expected
to see the blue and silver outfit that the Doctor had worn the same Christmas
that Spock had worn the green one. Instead, he was wearing a fairly
mundane outfit of gray sweater and black jeans. "I didn't bring it,"
he supplied apologetically. "I don't think Christine brought her green
gown, either," he added, referring to the gown she had gotten to match Spock's
green outfit. "There was a time when we'd hoped for *some* kind of
celebration...but not after Jim was injured. You're not the only one
who hasn't been in a party mood."
Spock nodded in silent acceptance and did not
react when Christine emerged wearing the same one-piece pants suit she'd
been wearing all day--mildly dressy but hardly suggestive of a Christmas
But *she* reacted to *him*, instantly understanding
what he had in mind when she saw his green clothing. "The Captain will
appreciate that," she opined.
Spock was too startled by her ability to read
him so well to hide the pleading expression in his eyes when he responded.
"You think he will remember it?" he questioned.
Christine stepped close to him. "I think
he remembers every detail of every Christmas you've ever shared with him,"
she told him gently. "He just needs to be reminded of it."
Spock bowed his head in gratitude, reaching out
hesitantly to touch her hands. "He has to wake up, Christine.
He promised. In the mind-meld, he promised to come back," he murmured.
"He has to wake up..."
Christine responded instinctively, slipping her
arms around him and taking the bowed head onto her shoulder. "He will...he
will," she soothed. "His vitals are getting better. He's more
responsive. It'll happen, eventually--no reason it couldn't happen
Spock let her hold him, feeling the depth of
her empathy and concern through her touch. It was clear now that not
only did she love him--she also knew his thoughts and emotions. Not
as well as Jim, perhaps, but well enough to convince him. "We *are*
bond-mates," he concluded softly, as they finally stepped apart.
Christine nodded. "I have the Federation
Marriage Certificate somewhere in my quarters on the ship. I can show
you when we get back."
"No...I believe you," Spock replied, holding
her hand briefly against his cheek without being certain how or why he had
thought of doing so.
"Come on, you two--we should get going," McCoy
pointed out finally, patting both of them on the shoulder.
Spock picked up his Vulcan harp as he and McCoy
followed Christine out the door.
When they reached Kirk's room, they found Jamison
and Thalann both there. Kirk's pillows had been re-positioned so that
he could sit up in bed, and the Christmas lights had been turned on.
"We don't get much business this time of year--in fact, he's the only patient
in this ward, right now," Dr. Jamison explained. "We try to spend more
time with them if they're here over the holidays--especially Christmas and
Christmas Eve. With so few here now, we've been able to spend most
of the day with him."
"You've got him sitting up," McCoy noted curiously.
"Has his condition changed any?"
"I'll let Rachelle tell you," Jamison replied
cryptically, leaving them to go across the room to check the diagnostic monitor.
"He had his eyes open when I came on duty," she
told them. "He's had them open intermittently since then. His
eyes respond to light changed, now--we think he could become aware enough
to see us any time. He may just need the right people to look at."
Then Thalann, too, stood aside as McCoy hurried
to Kirk's side, followed more slowly by Spock, who was reluctant to let himself
hope. Christine hung back with Thalann, content for the moment to observe
things from a distance--the readings on the screens of various machine consoles
around Kirk, as well as Spock and McCoy as they approached the Captain's
McCoy sat down on the edge of the bed next to
Kirk, studying his face closely; Kirk's eyes were open, but they remained
unfocused. "Jim?" McCoy began uncertainly. "It's Christmas
Eve, Jim. Spock and I are here with you--Christine, too. She
says Nyota will come by with some of the others tomorrow."
Kirk's head moved toward the sound of McCoy's
voice, but he gave no evidence of recognizing the Doctor.
McCoy glanced up at Spock, who was still standing
behind him. "Maybe
*you* should try. He might be more responsive," he suggested.
Spock hesitated, still hampered by a very Human
fear that Kirk still would *not* respond to him, despite his mental promise.
McCoy, understanding his apprehension, got up
quickly and moved aside. "Go on, sit down," he urged kindly.
Spock sat down reluctantly in McCoy's place,
positioning his harp in his lap and reaching to lay a hand softly on Kirk's
forearm. "Jim, it is I--Spock. I am with you, as I said I would
be. As Dr. McCoy says, it is Christmas Eve. I ...I know you would
not wish to miss the holiday. Your room has been decorated ...there
is even a tree. And I know you enjoy hearing me play Christmas carols
on my Vulcan harp--I remember how to play some of them, now. Listen,
Jim...I can play your favorite one."
Releasing Kirk's arm, Spock slowly began to play
"Angels We Have Heard on High", gradually focusing all his attention on Kirk
as he watched the Human for a response.
McCoy looked around at Christine and Thalann.
"Let's sing," he suggested softly, almost mouthing the words.
Christine nodded in response, and she and Thalann
began to sing along. McCoy joined in, and, still unnoticed by Spock, moved
up behind the Vulcan and rested his hands on Spock's shoulders.
Keeping his eyes on Kirk, Spock played two more
Christmas carols as the others quietly sang along. Then he played "Angels
We Have Heard on High" again, convinced that his Captain would be more likely
to recognize *that*. Kirk's eyes had settled on him several times during
his performance, but so far with no sign of recognition. Spock paused
between verses and reached out to gently touch Kirk's face. //Please,
Jim, you promised--come back to me,// his mind whispered, then he withdrew
his hand and continued with the song.
Abruptly, Spock's presence registered in Kirk's mind.
His eyes focused on the Vulcan, and he became aware of music--the harp first,
then the singing. A favorite carol he had learned at his mother's knee...he
heard the words clearly now, just as he had heard Spock's voice earlier.
And it was real, not some memory dredged up from the depths of his confused
mind to torture him with images of happier times: Spock was really there,
in his green Christmas outfit, playing carols for his Captain on his harp.
But he looked thin and tired, with an unusually open expression of sadness
and desperation in his dark eyes.
Kirk fought to keep up with the words being sung
and managed to find enough of a voice to try to join in: "...what the gladsome
tidings be...which inspire your Heavenly song..."
His voice was too soft for anyone but Spock to
hear. He stopped playing abruptly, studying Kirk and wondering if he'd
imagined the sound. "Jim...?" he almost-whispered.
During the following few minutes they spent staring
uncertainly at each other, Christine and Thalann moved closer as they realized
what was happening; Thalann went to alert Jamison, and Christine looked on
in silent anticipation as she and McCoy unconsciously held their breath,
waiting to see what Kirk would do next.
"Spock?" Kirk questioned faintly, at last.
"Am I...still dreaming?"
"No, Jim--I am here, and so is McCoy. And
it *is* Christmas," Spock assured him quickly.
"Don't stop, Spock. Keep playing.
I like it," Kirk told him then, his voice just a sigh.
Spock nodded in acknowledgement and resumed playing
while Kirk began to look around at the others, the decorations, and the tree.
McCoy reached down to squeeze Kirk's hand affectionately
and felt Kirk return the pressure on his hand as they communicated silently.
As the night wore on, people began to drift away
until only McCoy and
Spock were left in the room with Kirk, McCoy now watching them from the end
of the bed. Spock had set aside his harp now and they were just talking.
"Nice tree," Kirk commented, smiling involuntarily.
Spock nodded slowly. "But the decorations
themselves were McCoy's idea," he added, still marvelling at Kirk's apparent
"Thanks, Spock," Kirk responded, glancing over
then at McCoy. "Thanks, Bones," he added. He turned back to Spock,
regarding the Vulcan's bowed head in puzzlement. "Spock?" he prompted
"I...was afraid, Jim. I suppose...I still
am," Spock admitted guiltily. "If I lose you, I...lose myself."
Kirk reached out cautiously to touch Spock's
hands. "You won't," he assured Spock, trying to sound as confident
as possible. "Won't lose *you*, either."
"No, Jim," Spock agreed, returning the pressure
on his hands, still finding the situation hard to believe. "I made
a promise to you, too."
Kirk remembered. "In my mind...you said...you'd
Spock nodded again, looking back up at him.
"Whatever you need," he reiterated.
Kirk now focused on Spock again, on his haggard
appearance, despite his Christmas attire--the turmoil-filled eyes and air
of exhaustion about his manner and facial features. "You look terrible,"
he noted worriedly. "Like you've... been through Hell. You all
"As well as can be expected," Spock answered
evasively, lowering his eyes again, uncertain of how to explain.
"Bones was with you," Kirk pointed out, puzzled.
"And he has done his best for me...but I still...felt
your absence," Spock returned faintly, still being purposely vague.
Kirk studied him indecisively for a time, then
reached up to awkwardly touch the top of Spock's head, uncertain if the Vulcan
would allow his Human friend to comfort him as Kirk's instincts directed.
He gently stroked Spock's hair for a few minutes, during which Spock neither
responded nor pulled away. "Hey..." he suggested softly, "...I bet...even
with all these...tubes and wires attached...I could hug you. That is,
if you wanted..." He stopped, embarrassed; this was the first time
since Spock had left Vulcan that he had dared to make such an offer.
Spock was still trying to balance his Vulcan retraining with his slowly-returning
Human knowledge, and was still uncomfortable expressing emotion--especially
physically. Perhaps it was too soon.
Certainly Spock seemed to have no intention now
of accepting his offer; he had not moved since Kirk had spoken. But
finally, with one of Kirk's hands still holding his, the sincerity of his
Captain's wish to comfort him communicated itself to him through Kirk's touch.
And he looked up at Kirk slowly. "It would not hurt you?" Spock
Kirk shook his head, with some difficulty.
"Come on," he urged again.
Spock moved forward cautiously as Kirk pulled
his friend against his chest, both being careful not to interfere with the
various IVs and other kinds of tubing that were attached to Kirk's arms.
Not about to be left out, McCoy moved back up
beside them, hoping Spock would not respond to his sudden nearness by withdrawing
from Jim. They both needed this, he knew--Kirk in his delicate physical
(and uncertain mental) condition and Spock still in a transitional state
between the Vulcan he had been retrained as and the fully-integrated Vulcan/Human
being he'd been at the time of his death. Spock in particular needed
this time to be close to his dearest friend; he had, as Jim had said--and
as McCoy personally knew--"been through Hell", and there was no telling how
long this lucid, normal-seeming period would last for Kirk.
It could be permanent, an indication that he
was on the road to full recovery...or it could be a last spurt of normalcy,
a Christmas gift from a merciful God before Jim's mind disintegrated entirely.
If that were the case, as a small but annoyingly persistent part of McCoy
whispered that it might be, it would be best for them--for Spock--to have
this last memory. McCoy could not think of what that loss would mean
to him without automatically thinking of what it would do to Spock...
But as Christine had said, Christmas was a time
of miracles. McCoy dragged himself back from his dark vision of worst-case
scenarios and focused on Spock and Kirk as they were *now*. Spock was
sitting awkwardly against Kirk, his face turned away from McCoy, as Kirk
held him. "I still have nightmares," Spock confessed softly, clearly
for Kirk's ears only. "Not like I had on Vulcan--these are not confusing.
"About me?" Kirk guessed.
"Yes..." Spock's voice was barely audible, now.
Kirk responded by holding Spock a little more
tightly. "It's all right, now...it's Christmas...I'm still here, and
we're together," he pointed out soothingly. "We can stay together...all
Christmas." He rubbed Spock's back gently and they both fell silent
for a time as McCoy continued to watch them. "Spock," Kirk said, at
"Yes, Jim?" Spock returned faintly.
"I want you...to eat more. You're getting...too
thin," Kirk told him, his voice becoming weaker. "Get some sleep...let
Bones take...care of you..."
"I will try," Spock replied, mainly to humor
"I'm awfully tired, Spock..."
Spock automatically started to release him and
"No, please...please stay...where you are," Kirk
"Very well," Spock acceded hesitantly, although
he wasn't particularly comfortable with the idea of prolonged physical contact
with his Captain--especially when they weren't completely alone. Even
if McCoy hadn't been there, Jamison was probably still in his office; he
might, for all they knew, object on medical grounds. And yet, for the
Human part of Spock, it "felt" good to be able to be this close to his friend
again. Kirk's condition was so uncertain that there was no way to know
when--or if--he would have this chance again. He sent out a cautious
tendril of thought to Kirk's mind: //My emotions for you are...very strong,
Jim. I need you to survive this intact. I need...your strength,
your...emotions for me...to help me to complete my retraining.//
Kirk's mind responded with warm acceptance and
affection. //I love you, Spock...couldn't bear to lose you again.//
Spock took the time to wonder it what he felt
for Kirk could likewise be classified as "love", but the only answers he
could find resulted only in more confusion.
When Kirk and Spock both fell asleep soon after this and it
became apparent that they were going to remain that way, McCoy decided he
may as well leave them alone. He checked Jamison's office, found the
latter still monitoring Kirk's condition (with no mention made of the viewer's
image of Spock sleeping in Kirk's arms), and left instructions that they
should not be disturbed unless it was unavoidable. Thus Christmas Eve
passed peacefully for Kirk and his friends; McCoy spent its waning hours
in his quarters--along with Christine, who had decided he should not be left
alone that night and who temporarily took over Spock's empty room--sleeping
soundly for the first time since their arrival at the starbase.
When they returned to Kirk's hospital room the next day, Kirk
was still asleep; Spock was awake, however, and sitting up, again softly
playing his harp, occasionally pausing to reach out and touch Kirk's face
with his fingers in mind-meld position for momentary mind-touches that he
seemed to enjoy and Kirk seemed soothed by. McCoy and Christine watched
Spock in silence for a time, until he surprised them by turning toward them
and almost smiling. "He is fighting back. I feel his mind, now...his
consciousness. He *will* recover fully," Spock told them.
McCoy met the expression of renewed hope and energy sparkling
in the dark eyes and found himself wanting to believe it. He exchanged
looks with Christine, who gave him an I-told-you-so nod, and they both moved
closer. "You're sure about that, are you?"
Spock nodded, completely missing the Doctor's humor.
"I have touched his mind repeatedly, now," he reiterated earnestly.
"When he awakens, he will still know me and talk to me."
Before McCoy could respond, Thalann emerged from the office.
"Ever since Spock woke up--right after I came on duty--Captain Kirk's responsiveness
has been improving steadily. He's definitely conscious, and he seems
to know when Spock's with him, now--his readings pick up. No reason
he *shouldn't* recognize Spock when he wakes up," she concurred, moving closer
to check the monitors around the bed. "If he *maintains* this condition,
we should be able to start him on rehab in a few days."
"What about full recovery?" McCoy asked.
"Too early to know yet," Thalann replied, glancing back at
him. "One thing you can count on--that Dr. Jamison and I agree on--is
that he's going to be looking at several months of rehab, possibly longer,
depending on how extensive the damage caused by the coma turns out to be."
McCoy looked at Spock, but the Vulcan was determinedly focusing
all his attention on Kirk. Christine had silently moved up behind Spock
and sat down on the bed near him; she reached out to gently lay a hand on
Spock's shoulder as he resumed playing his harp, and Spock looked toward
her briefly with a searching, questioning expression. Christine's eyes
conveyed understanding, and Spock reached up to squeeze her arm gratefully
before returning to his playing. "Well, he talks. He's lucid,"
McCoy noted. "So there can't be too much *mental* damage. It's
Christmas and I'm willing to give his physical condition the benefit of the
doubt," he decided.
Thalann just nodded. This was no time for pessimism.
Kirk needed to believe he could recover as much as his friends did--and they
had to believe it first. She stood silently with McCoy and Christine
(who had gotten up just as quietly as she had sat down and retreated a few
steps away from Spock), watching Spock's somewhat one-sided interaction with
Eventually, Kirk woke up and looked at Spock. "Still
here?" he greeted the Vulcan.
"Obviously. It *is* Christmas Day," Spock responded,
cocking an eyebrow at him inquiringly. "I have no reason to be anywhere
else. You did wish me to stay, did you not?"
"You *better* stay," Kirk asserted, managing a slight smile.
"I just... wasn't sure you would."
Spock shook his head in negation of the idea of his leaving.
"As long as you wish, Jim," he promised.
They were joined then by McCoy, who came and stood beside
Spock. "Good morning, Jim. How're you feeling?" he asked curiously.
"Aside from feeling...like there's a brick wall lying on top
of me...not too bad," Kirk answered sardonically, referring to his difficulty
in moving, glancing up at McCoy briefly before looking back at Spock.
"Hey, what do you have to do...to get something to eat around here?"
"You're hungry?" McCoy questioned, startled.
"I'll go down to the cafeteria and see if there's any breakfast
left that you'd be able to keep down," Thalann offered, glancing at Christine
as she headed for the outer door. "Someone should contact Dr. Jamison
and let him know about this development," she told Christine.
Christine nodded, turning for the office door.
"Bones--what does Jamison say? Am I going...to be all
right?" Kirk asked, then.
McCoy and Spock exchanged uncertain looks, wondering what
they could truthfully tell him. "He's not sure yet, Jim. But
you know we'll do all we can for you," McCoy finally assured Kirk.
"The most important fact now is...that you are not going to
die," Spock added, reaching hesitantly to touch Kirk's hand again.
Kirk quickly closed his hand around Spock's, looking back
at him trustingly. "You did say...you'd help me," he recalled softly.
Spock nodded, squeezing his Captain's hand. "Yes, Jim.
I will...do whatever needs to be done to take care of you...just as you would
for me," he reiterated firmly.
Kirk appeared satisfied. "Come on, Spock...play some
more Christmas music," he requested, deciding to try to sit up again.
Spock moved to help him before picking up his Vulcan harp again.
From: Gamin Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Spock was still playing his harp--now being helped along by
Kirk and McCoy, since his memory of Christmas carols was still incomplete--when
Nurse Thalann returned with Kirk's breakfast: cream of wheat and sliced peaches.
When it became apparent that Kirk was having trouble with his eating utensils,
Spock offered to feed him.
It was not long after Kirk finished eating what he could that
other crewmembers began to arrive. Eventually, they were all there--Uhura,
Sulu, Chekov and Scott, in addition to McCoy, Spock and Christine--joined
by Thalann and Jamison, who had returned when he heard about Kirk's sudden
improvement. They managed to get the Captain involved in carol-singing
again as Spock continued to play his harp, and someone smuggled in some non-alcoholic
egg nog that was passed around as the afternoon wore on.
The mood was quietly upbeat as they talked animatedly among
themselves and to Kirk, but McCoy kept his attention on his two friends;
Kirk's stayed centered mostly on Spock and the sparkling tree behind him,
and it was doubtful that Spock was aware of anyone or anything but Kirk.
They spent much of the time in silent communication, unable to talk comfortably
with all the people and chatter surrounding them, Spock's hand eventually
seeking out Kirk's, once he had set his harp aside again.
It was well after 2100 when all the others had finally left
Spock and McCoy alone with Kirk; Thalann's shift was over and Christine had
promised to wait for Spock and McCoy at their quarters. Only Dr. Jamison
remained to monitor Kirk's condition, going from screen to screen on his
equipment and noting the current readings on his electronic notepad with
non-verbal sounds of amazement. "Just phenomenal," he concluded finally,
glancing over at McCoy. "If he can keep up this rate of improvement,
he should be ready to start rehab by New Years'."
McCoy met his eyes. "Do you think he'll recover completely?"
he asked again. "Nurse Thalann seemed unsure."
"He's got a good chance for it if he can keep up this kind
of progress--we'll know more after he starts the rehab," Jamison asserted.
"Right now, I'd estimate at least six months' rehab, then an evaluation.
Depending on the results of that, he could either continue the rehab, or,
if I could certify him fit, we could get him a temporary ground assignment
before returning him to the Enterprise."
If they had forgotten that the subject of their speculations
was listening, Kirk intended to remind them. "Six months--could be
a year, maybe longer. Crew can't...stay here that long," he pointed
"They won't, Jim," McCoy assured him. "But I'm not going
to let you stay here by yourself, either. And if you're about to go
into rehab, we need to decide *now* what to do about that. As it stands,
we only have until 1200 New Year's Day before our leaves expire and the Enterprise
has to be ready to ship out."
"If I may make a suggestion," Jamison put in cautiously.
"The Enterprise can't do without a Chief Medical Officer for an extended
period. I doubt Starfleet would approve of Dr. McCoy being here for
six months or more--but they might go for extending *Dr. Chapel's* temporary
"Would she do that, Bones?" Kirk asked uncertainly.
"I'll talk to her tonight, Jim. I'm sure she won't object,"
"Doctor," Spock interjected hesitantly, "what about me?"
McCoy and Jamison exchanged worried looks--but before either
could say anything, Kirk spoke again: "I want him with me."
"I told him I would stay," Spock added, looking pleadingly
at the two Medical Officers.
McCoy met his eyes. "You'd be away from the ship for
an awfully long time," he pointed out doubtfully. "Are you sure you'd
"You still maintain that I am unfit for command, and indeed
I have concluded that I *would* still have difficulty, even with regular
duty," Spock returned somberly. "It seems to me that I would be more
useful to him here."
"Christine'll have to keep an eye on *him* as well as Jim,"
McCoy commented, to no one in particular. Then he addressed Spock.
"We'll try to get a channel to Starfleet Central tomorrow."
Spock nodded in acknowledgement before returning his attention
Seeing that Spock and McCoy were both focusing on Kirk now,
Jamison realized they would have a lot to talk about and decided to leave
them alone. "See you all tomorrow," he told them, turning to go.
As soon as Jamison was out of the room, McCoy sat down beside
Kirk, on the edge of the bed opposite Spock. Kirk looked at him apprehensively,
voicing a concern that had been nagging at the back of his mind all day:
"Bones...you think I'll lose my command?"
McCoy hesitated only long enough to glance over at Spock and
note that the Vulcan's eyes were still on Kirk. "We won't let that
happen, Jim," McCoy promised kindly. "Spock and Christine will take
good care of you. You know that."
"Yes..." Kirk admitted softly, again regarding Spock with
an expression of absolute trust.
"And I'll keep in touch with both of them," McCoy added.
"You *will* recover, Jim," Spock stated emphatically.
Kirk nodded in acceptance of this, trying to expand his gaze
to take in both his friends. "Thanks...both of you...for the decorations,
especially the tree," he repeated then, once more focusing on the Vulcan,
this time in surprise and curiosity. "How'd you remember...about Christmas
"It is my most vivid recollection to date of Christmas," Spock
admitted, somewhat ruefully. "I remembered...how you enjoyed decorating
the tree...and it seemed something inclined to pique your interest."
Kirk studied Spock wistfully. "*You* used to like all
that Christmas stuff, too," he recalled regretfully. "Now, you're just...going
along with it ...for my sake. It means nothing to you."
Spock bowed his head in discomfort. "Not without you
to show me how to celebrate it," he confessed faintly. "Dr. McCoy thinks
it never did mean anything to me--that I was just 'humoring' both of you
with pretenses of participation," he recalled. "But I remember, Jim....I
remember how you always tried to involve me in Christmas, inviting me to
the Bridge crew's Christmas party, persuading me to exchange gifts, insisting
that I go on leave with you, that I help you decorate the tree...and I knew
it would not be that way this year. None of the crew were expecting
a celebration this year, but...some part of me knew how you would miss it,
evenbefore you were injured. If that had not happened...if you had
remained fully yourself...perhaps the holiday would have been more to me
than a...reminder of something I had lost."
Concerned, Kirk reached out to squeeze Spock's hand again.
"Spock...I'm glad you're here. It wouldn't feel like Christmas to *me*
without *you*, either," he told the Vulcan understandingly, looking briefly
around at McCoy. "Both of you...make it Christmas."
Spock just looked more embarrassed and returned the pressure
on his hand, holding tightly onto Kirk's. "I will remember more, Jim.
You said you would help me..."
Something about Spock's tone suggested that he was afraid
Kirk had changed his mind. "I will. And you'll be fine," Kirk
assured him gently.
Spock looked up finally. "Would it be appropriate now
for me to say 'Merry Christmas'?" he asked uncertainly.
"I've already had one...thanks to you and Bones," Kirk returned,
cracking a smile. "Merry Christmas, Spock."
"Merry Christmas, Jim..."
"Merry Christmas, Bones."
"Merry Christmas, you two," McCoy replied warmly.
The three of them fell silent for a time, reflecting on all
that had happened. "Merry" might have been too strong a word, but Kirk
was out of danger of death and they were all together; that in itself was
a small miracle. Moreover, it seemed that Spock was slowly improving,
filling more and more of the gaps in the knowledge restored to him by his
Vulcan retraining. They would recover together, with the help of Christine
(and Jamison and Thalann, of course)--which, McCoy decided, was much as it
should be. He would miss them on the Enterprise, but he knew they would
take care of each other.
McCoy, meanwhile, would keep reminding Sulu, Scott and the
others that they were just holding the Enterprise for Kirk and Spock--any
replacements would be temporary. He would not let any of them give
up on their Captain and First Officer.
At length, he noticed Kirk beginning to nod off and got up
quietly, going around to Spock's side and laying a hand lightly on the Vulcan's
shoulder. "Come on, Spock--Jim's not the only one around here who needs
sleep," he pointed out kindly.
For once, Spock found himself too tired to resist. He
picked up his harp as he got up, letting McCoy steer him toward the door.
"Good night, Jim," he murmured, as he went.
Kirk yawned a half-intelligible response that vaguely resembled
"Good night, Spock...see you tomorrow."
And McCoy headed back with Spock to their quarters, already
setting his mind to what he would say to Admiral Cartwright tomorrow.
They would have to get moving if they were going to get the arrangements
for Kirk's rehabilitation completed in time for it to start on Mew Year's
It was still on his mind after he had helped the exhausted
Vulcan get ready for bed and Spock had responded by atypically asking him
to stay for a while--something Spock had never done before. When McCoy
consented, and--somewhat against his better judgement--asked Spock why, the
First Officer surprised him with his response: "I wish first to thank you,
Doctor...for helping me and trying to understand the part of me that I presently
seem unable to. I know you are not accustomed to such...responsibility...and
I apologize for ignoring your efforts for so long." He paused awkwardly.
"You said...you wish to do what Jim does for me. Do you still?"
McCoy nodded readily, studying him warily.
Spock still hesitated, finding that he could not voice the
request without lowering his eyes. "I am...still having that nightmare...about
Jim dying. I seem unable to keep it suppressed...even though it is
no longer a possibility. When he is available, he...knows I can sleep
if he...holds me. The closeness of his thoughts in my mind...blocks
out the nightmare," he murmured, his voice full of embarrassment.
This time, McCoy didn't bother to worry about whether or not
his thoughts would be as soothing to Spock's as Kirk's would; he just opened
his arms to his Vulcan friend and let Spock curl up against him--this time
with less discomfort --and let his mind focus again on Spock and their shared
concern for Kirk. Spock responded with gratitude and acceptance as McCoy
pulled the covers up over him and made sure he would be warm enough, still
marvelling that the Vulcan would again try what the Doctor had concluded
to be a failed experiment. It must have something to do with Kirk's
improved condition, McCoy decided.
//Another small miracle,// a voice in his mind said, and McCoy
couldn't tell if the thought was his or Spock's.
He held Spock silently, for now, concentrating on soothing
him, and knew from the latter's slowed breathing when he had fallen asleep.
He needed McCoy, now; Starfleet Central and arrangements for Kirk's future
could wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow was, as his favorite work of Southern
literature stated, another day.
END OF STORY
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