Of all the Christmases Kirk's had, this one is by far the worst.
And most likely his last.
The red and green, brilliant in their hues and almost ironic given the time of year, smear his skin like paint. Though there is much more red than there is green, he takes a moment to relate the contrast of colour to holly leaves and berries. Or mistletoe. Kirk always loved mistletoe on Christmas.
Hands clutch his shirt, more green spilling onto his gold uniform. They'd always thought he was going to be the golden boy. With his intelligence shining and valued far above most others, it was the general consensus that he was going to do great things.
This was far from great.
Kirk coughs, more red—it's not blood; why would it be blood? It's not like he's dying or something—spilling from his lips down his shirt, and words are being yelled near his temporarily deaf ears and a worried gaze is boring into his. Green streaks that face, runs freely from a gash on the forehead of it, and eyes that are too human to be Vulcan are like daggers in his heart.
He tries to open his mouth to speak, but ends up coughing instead. He wants to wish Spock a Merry Christmas, explain to him how pretty and how fitting the colours are. Deep brown irises lock with his, and he's drowning in them as he forgets everything he was going to say.
His upper body hurts. Kirk is fairly sure there's something wrong, something horribly wrong, but he can't be sure. Or maybe he just doesn't want to be.
The world suddenly spins around him and Spock clutches him close, holding his captain's head against his strong chest. All Kirk can see is red and green and blue, and he grimaces slightly when he realizes just how much the third colour does not fit.
And then he's being carried, and there is so much agony ripping from his thorax to the rest of his body that he's screaming, screaming so loud, so horribly, and he's sure that it's hurting Spock's ears but his hearing is still coming back to him so he can't be sure and he couldn't stop even if he tried.
His first officer collapses in a small rocky shelter, holding Kirk close to his chest once more and weeping, actually weeping. By the time that Kirk stops making noises, his vision slipping and sliding at the edges, Spock has covered his body with his arms and is holding him in his lap. The half-Vulcan's head covers his own and his hands clutch Kirk tight. He can feel each sob wrack his body, feel it in his own as if he's the one doing it. Reaching out a hand slowly, shakily, Kirk places it on Spock's cheek and looks up at him.
He's blurry before his eyes, nothing but a mixture of near white and black and red and green. He can't make out his face but he guesses it would be sorrowful, eyes red-rimmed and cheeks stained with tears.
He hates himself for the agony he's putting his first officer through. It's his own fault this all happened; his own fault that he nearly got Spock killed and brought himself even further to that mark. He was too young to be a captain, too young and not experienced enough to make these calls and now even though it was only going to cost him his own life it will cost Spock his happiness, too.
His first officer tilts his head into his touch, turning it so that he can kiss his palm. The sobs become softer briefly, and Kirk tries to smile but there's far too much blood in his mouth and he ends up choking instead. Spock is then laying him on the ground, burying his head in his neck and covering his body with his own.
It's odd, seeing the half-Vulcan breaking down like this, Kirk reflects briefly. Never before had Spock so much as smiled (apart from his lip-twitch which he guesses is his version of a grin).
It's becoming a struggle to move now, and all Kirk sees is the lovely red and green as he brings his hands to rest on Spock's upper back, over the splashes of colour there. Christmas colours for Christmas Day. Kirk tries to smile to himself as he realizes that.
His vision is rapidly darkening and his hearing is almost back, and it breaks his heart to hear how broken, how distraught Spock's voice is as he whispers soothing nothings into Kirk's ear and then pulls away to cry. Kirk struggles to keep his hands on Spock—he can't let go of him, can't let him leave his grasp. But his hands are slipping in their grip and he doesn't have the energy to hold on, and is only conscious of a desperate, heart-wrenching scream before he falls victim to the inky blackness.
He doesn't know how he got on this planet.
He doesn't even know what this planet is (though it looks suspiciously like Vulcan).
It's dark out and the shadows are ominous, and Kirk sees the fleeting glimpse of light on the horizon before he's scrambling over the dark rocks to follow it.
There are beautiful flowers, unusual for such a rocky landscape, though he does not take too much time admiring them. Instead he climbs and runs for what seems like hours, though not once does he grow tired.
He's almost there. He can feel it. Calm and safety pulses from the glow that emanates from the rip in the wall in front of him, and he closes his eyes and lifts his foot to take a step closer and reach for it.
A voice calls for him, familiar and wretched and despairing, and his eyes fly open and he stops in his tracks.
He wants so badly to touch the light, to dive in headfirst and allow himself the comfort it provides. But he hears the voice again, his name being called with such raw emotion that he actually turns away from the glowing opening.
And turning back the way he came and running, he continues to hear the defeated sobs that continue from somewhere off in the distance. He always was a sucker when it came to valuing other lives above his own.
He follows the noises instead.
When he wakes for real again, there is only the white of the sickbay.
He doesn't know the date. He doesn't know the time. Hell, it takes him a couple of tries to remember his own name.
That voice that cut through his vision; that led him away from the placid radiance. That led him back home.
Glancing around with now-clear vision, Kirk notices a familiar shape laying half-on his bed, a hand curled over his own and the familiar dark hair and pointed ears pressed against his torso. Spock is asleep—not meditating, actually asleep.
Kirk smiles and lifts his hand—the one that was not currently being held by his first officer—and runs it across Spock's face like he did before. He opens his eyes, looking up with a glazed, confused look before remembering where he is and seeing Kirk awake in front of him.
"Jim!" Spock cries, sitting bolt upright in his chair and instantly awake and aware once more. Even in this state Jim knows he doesn't imagine his hand being clasped even tighter, no matter howillogical that seems.
Managing a weak smile, he nods somewhat at him. "Hey."
"How are you feeling? Should I fetch Dr. McCoy?" Spock's regained his composure, but that tiny flicker of worry is still present in his eyes.
With a shrug that hurts ever so slightly, he shakes his head. "I think I'm okay."
Relief is imminent in Spock's eyes. Kirk doesn't think he notices he still has his own hand clenched in a death grip, but he doesn't point it out. "You are sure that you retain no permanent physical trauma from your ordeal?"
Kirk wiggles his toes and fingers, tries shifting his body (but stops when he feels stitches pulling tight against his skin), and rolls his head around. "One hundred percent," he tells him with a smirk. "Or somewhere around there."
The solace finally reaches Spock's face, and though his posture does not shift or alter in any way Kirk knows that if Spock were completely human that would be exactly what he would do. Kirk pushes himself up on one elbow—or at least attempts to—but Spock places a hand on his collarbone and guides him down. "You have been unconscious for six days, and your wounds are still susceptible to reopening. It would be unwise to attempt movement just yet."
Rolling his eyes, Kirk feigns a pout. "That's no fun."
Spock does not take the joke quite the way Kirk had hoped, his eyes darkening and his mouth tightening into a grimace. "The past six days for me have not been fun."
Kirk doesn't have a response to that. So instead he curls his fingers tighter around Spock's hand, and for the first time the half-Vulcan seems to notice the appendages clasped tightly together.
Yet, to Kirk's surprise, he does not attempt to pull away. Kirk knows the significance of hands to Vulcans, which only adds to his own confusion. But he's James T. Kirk, and he'll be damned before he's caught being confused.
The small cuts on his hands, still red and angry against his skin, contrast with the similar emerald scars on Spock's. The colours of the leaves and berries of holly, or mistletoe. Though Jim would much prefer the latter, given the season…
With a sigh he feels his face fall and his grip loosen. "What's the date?"
"By Terran standards, the thirtieth of December."
Kirk groans. Of course he would miss the first Christmas with his crew for something stupid like this. Paying a debt to karma for being impulsive, and not foreseeing the obvious despite his better judgment.
There is a faint gleam of amusement in Spock's eyes at his captain's distress, and Kirk fixes him with a scowl. "Oh, what are you getting off on?"
"There is no need to worry about missing your human tradition, Jim," Spock tells him, merriment lacing his words. "For by the request of your bridge crew, there has been an agreement to postpone Christmas until you are well enough to celebrate as well." He pauses, and then continues. "Though the same cannot be said for the celebration of the New Year. I do not believe such an event can be delayed and still be of the same effect."
Kirk smiles so big his face hurts and laughs, only managing for a couple seconds before his chest begins to ache. "That's awfully considerate of them."
"They're merely returning the favour."
Grinning slyly at his first officer, Kirk rests his head on the pillow once more. "I'm glad. That would have gone down as the worst Christmas ever for me."
Spock shivers slightly, so delicately Kirk nearly misses it. "As it would for me too, Captain."
If he would have it his way, Kirk would rip all the machines from himself and run down to the bridge at that very second, never mind the fact that the Gamma crew was most likely on duty if Spock was up here. But he knows if he did, then he'd have hell to pay from Bones and Spock as well as most of his crew for endangering his safety further.
So instead he takes Spock's hands in his own and presses them to the sides of his face as they have done many times before and sends his thoughts directly to Spock's own. He can feel the small tendril of Spock's presence in his head, the confirmation that they have melded.
He sends him thoughts of affection, thoughts of thanks, and as much as he can remember of the dream he had of the light. More than one image of Spock's face, covered in both of their blood and sparking panic deep in Kirk's chest that at the time had been masked by oblivion, makes its way into his thoughts against his will much to Kirk's annoyance, though not for more than a second at a time.
When he releases him Spock lets out a gasp, shaking, and just stares at Kirk with an expression somewhere between shock and endearment before leaning forwards to wrap his arms around the young captain. It's a painfully emotional move, yet over the span of their knowing each other Spock has dropped some of his carefully placed shields come times like these.
And Kirk revels in it. He takes a sort of pleasure, of pride, in knowing that he is the sole person whom Spock allows this with. That he is the one that has gently been tearing down those barriers that took so long to build, if only for a few moments at a time.
So he buries his hands on Spock's hair, presses his cheek against the top of his head, and closes his eyes. Spock is warm against his chest, careful not to apply too much pressure to not injure him further. He could fall asleep like this; in fact, he thinks he just might.
Behind his closed eyes, Kirk sees nothing but forest and crimson.
He supposes it'll be a while before he sees anything else.