It occurs to him that when Pike had challenged him to do better, this probably wasn't what he'd meant. (He's in too much pain to feel the grief that threatens to choke him any time he thinks of Pike, which isn't as much of a relief as he'd like it to be.)
When he absently replies that there are no such things as miracles, a small, crystalline shard of something lodges in him. Then Scott tells him to come down to engineering, his voice strained, and Spock recognizes that shard for what it is: dread.
Jim Kirk is a man of energy and motion, and seeing him lie dead and still in the white, radiation-absorbent casing has a flavor of wrongness that leaves a bitter, metallic taste in Nyota's mouth.
It shouldn't, of course. His track record of doing insane, stupid things and surviving them should have prepared her for the moment when he wouldn't get away with it. Hadn't he been daring the universe to kill him like it had his father?
She thinks that maybe that's the source of the wrongness. It wasn't some half-baked idea or act of suicidal insanity that killed him like she'd been steeled for; instead, he'd taken Spock's insistence on the needs of the many to heart, and died sacrificing himself for others. Just like his father had.
As they all stand there trying to reconcile the dead man before them with the too-alive man who'd been their captain, Nyota wonders if Spock is thinking the same things.
Jim isn't sure how to apologize for saying he'd done what he thought Spock would do. It's not Spock-like to take offense at the underlying suggestions in the often thoughtless things Jim says, but crying is also not Spock-like, and Jim is positive Spock was crying at the end.
Jim wakes up twice in the course of the treatment; the first time is much worse than the second. Minutes after his heart starts, he gasps awake, rigid and and to all appearances in excruciating pain. His eyes are clear and wide at first, then lose focus, and he starts to thrash. McCoy and his students dogpile Jim, sedatives and restraints at the ready, but Spock calmly steps forward, pushes McCoy's injector aside, and places one hand along the side of his friend's face just so.
The maelstrom raging inside Kirk's newly awakened mind isn't what Spock's expecting. Rage and grief and fear and loss and despair battle one another for supremacy. Pike's voice ripples through everything like heat lightning, saying, I'd like to see you do better. The grief redoubles at that, and Spoke feels his own chest tighten in response.
He waits for a gap in the billowing currents to reach out. Confusion seeps in between the other emotions at his presence, and he takes advantage of Jim's attention while he has it. You're alive. Try not to undo Dr. McCoy's hard work.
Doubt and suspicion join the confusion. They're murky and dart around like mad--why must he think so fast--but they're not the deafening, unthinking storm of before. You need to rest.
Spock's distraction lets exhaustion from the outburst overwhelm Jim, and the emotions begin to settle into more manageable patterns. He lets go and sees that Jim has collapsed back onto the bed, eyes shut and breaths deep and even. The only indication he's been awake is in the sheets, tubing, and equipment in disarray.
McCoy and the medical cadets stare at him, the later with wide eyes. Spock explains, "It made more sense to avoid using sedatives. With Khan's blood still working to repair all the damage, we can't even be sure they'd have an effect, much less the desired one."
McCoy huffs a breath, saying, "Right," then pockets his injector and waves the cadets off to do something else (another doctor who'd been hovering outside the room rounds them up and herds them away). He picks up his medical tri-corder and begins a thorough scan. After a moment, he says, "So the next time I've got an OD in here going berserk, breaking equipment and people, I'll just ring you up."
"On the contrary, Doctor--that only worked because the captain and I are well acquainted." McCoy makes a low sound of amusement, and Spock wonders if the doctor realizes that he's as much an enigma to Spock as Spock is to him.
His scan finished, McCoy sends the readings to a wall monitor and goes to examine them. Spock joins him, and they consider the data in silence. Presently, Spock asks, "Was a coma what you expected?"
"I didn't really have expectations. I've never resurrected a guy who's died from massive radiation exposure." McCoy doesn't sound as sardonic as usual. He pages through the data and charts. "But I'm not surprised. There's a lot to repair, and medically induced comas have plenty of precedence in treating illness and significant injury that endangers conscious patients." He turns back to look at Jim, then shakes his head. "We're in uncharted territory. All we can do is wait and manage symptoms."
Spock nods. He hadn't expected this to resolve quickly, and tells himself he's not disappointed. "You'll tell me when the coma ends?"
"Thank you, Doctor."