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a sequence that you never learned

Chapter Text

Things aren’t exactly going Jim’s way.

No matter what Bones might say, it really isn’t Jim’s fault that shit hit the fan the moment they beamed down to the planet. Spock had tried to warn him that something was bound to go wrong when considering how fucked up all of Jim's previous missions had been, and he'd even given him some ridiculous statistic to the third decimal place to prove his point too.

But even Spock couldn’t have predicted just how awful this mission would turn out.

Jim’s pulled away from his sullen thoughts by the sound of someone approaching to his right. He tenses instinctively.

“Captain,” says Spock from somewhere close by. Jim can’t be certain without reaching a hand out to feel him.

The worst part of this mission? Being fucking blinded within the first two minutes.

“Lieutenant Chan and I have been able to identify the gaseous substance that interacted harmfully with your ocular physiology,” Spock continues.

Jim glares in his general direction. “Can you not just say you found the shit that blinded me?”

“I believe I just have, sir,” Spock replies without missing a beat.

Jim thinks he rolls his eyes; he’s not even sure that his eye muscles are still working.

“So, what’s the prognosis, Commander?”

Spock’s report is matter-of-fact and to the point: “Without access to the laboratories aboard the Enterprise or the expertise of Doctor McCoy, I am afraid we have no way of preparing any sort of antidote or treatment for your condition at this time.”

Jim sighs. “So, until we get communications back online I’m literally sitting blind.”

“Indeed, Captain.”

“Remind me later to tell Bones you called him an expert,” Jim adds.

“I shall do no such thing,” Spock replies shortly. Jim can pretty well imagine the look of mock-offense on Spock’s face, but he wishes he could see it for himself.

Spock’s still and silent beside him, and Jim worries for a moment that he’s about to abandon him in the cave where they’ve been making camp for the last few hours.

It all started three days ago when Starfleet received a distress signal from an officer they’d declared a deserter a week earlier. Lieutenant Commander Jalloh was the helmsman on board the Defiant, and had never reported back to duty after the ship’s shore leave on Risa. The Defiant remained in orbit for three days while conducting standard search and rescue operations, but had to leave after that to report for their next mission. By the time Jalloh’s distress signal was picked up on one of Risa’s moons, the Enterprise was the closest federation ship and thus inherited the mission. The moon, named Risa Gamma, was colonized by an exiled sect of Risians who practiced celibacy and self-denial—something that was anathema to the sexually-open natives of the planet. Starfleet Command suspected that Jalloh might have been captured by the Risian exiles as a sort of protest of the Federation’s use of their homeworld as a pleasure planet.

It should have been straightforward: triangulate the location of Jalloh’s signal, beam to the surface, locate and extract Jalloh, return him to the nearby Starbase 12. Simple.

Of course that all went to hell the moment the away team—consisting of Jim, Spock, and three security officers—beamed down. They were immediately greeted with a dense, fog-like substance that knocked Jim out at once and left the others nauseous and weak. According to Ensign Mendez, who stayed with Jim while the others scouted the vicinity, Spock managed to lead the officers away from the area and into a nearby forest where they’d happened upon a large cave. Jim woke up blind a couple of hours later, trying not to panic and listening with acute embarrassment as Mendez explained how Spock had carried him away from the ambush.

“What I do not understand,” Spock continues, still next to Jim, “is why this substance blinded you and no one else.”

Jim just shrugs; he hadn’t really thought about it past feeling sorry for himself. “Bones always loves to tell me how ‘special’ my physiology is. I guess I could be allergic to the gas?”

“Perhaps,” Spock says, his voice not giving anything away.

Jim wishes, again, that he could see the expression on Spock’s face. He’s spent the better part of the first year of their mission trying to work out the subtle nuances of Spock’s limited range of expressions and has gotten pretty good at gauging Spock’s moods based on them.

Jim can feel Spock shifting slightly beside him, and he reaches out with his hand automatically. He’s not sure if it’s to keep Spock in place or orient himself to his location, but he finds Spock’s arm anyways and grips the lean muscles tightly.

“Got any recommendations as to how we get out of this mess?” he asks quickly, trying to use the question to distract Spock from noticing that Jim’s clutching his arm like an anchor. He knows Spock doesn’t like how casual he is with physical contact, but Jim just really needs something to hold on to right now.

Spock stiffens under Jim’s hand, but he doesn’t comment on it, nor does he make Jim let go.

“I—” Spock hesitates, and Jim can’t be sure, but he thinks Spock might move a little closer. “I am uncertain, Captain. While the Enterprise will have noticed by now that communications are down, they have no reason to suspect that the parameters of our mission have been altered. Furthermore, we still have yet to find evidence of Lieutenant Commander Jollah’s distress signal, and we cannot know for certain who is responsible for the trap that awaited us when we beamed to the surface.”

With his free hand, Jim taps his lips thoughtfully. “Which do you think more likely, Mr. Spock: being set up by a decorated Starfleet officer or by the celibate locals who find our promiscuity disgusting?”

“Due to the suspect nature surrounding Jollah’s original disappearance and the advanced, chemically-engineered properties of the gas meant to subdue us, I believe the former option to be the more probable.”

“What, I don’t get a statistic this time?”

Jim can feel Spock’s shoulder shift under his hand as he exhales slowly, but audibly. Jim grins when he realizes it’s probably a vulcan facsimile of a frustrated sigh.

“The former is six point seven four times more likely than the latter, sir,” Spock reports, voice devoid of the annoyance Jim knows is there.

Jim squeezes his arm to let him know he’s being teased and then nods. “That’s what I was thinking as well. Besides, if someone were to kidnap any member of the Defiant’s crew, why the helmsman instead of the captain?”

“It would be most illogical.”

Jim finally lets go of Spock’s arm, pulling his knees up at the same time. He lets his head fall back and hit the rough wall of the cave behind him. “Spock, I don’t think we should wait here.”

“What do you suggest instead, Captain?”

“I think it might be better to stake out our beam down site. See if anyone shows up.”

“Captain… there is a problem with this plan that I fear you are not considering.”

Jim sighs, picking his head up and dropping it back against the wall with an audible thump. “Is it that I’m blind and useless? I’m quite aware, Spock.”

“You were not, then, including yourself in this so-called ‘stake out?’”

“Of course not. I’m self-aware enough to know I’d just get in the way.” Jim might have a reputation for cockiness and bravado, but he’s more cognizant of his limitations—of which there are many—than most might think.

“Then what, exactly, will you do instead?” Spock’s got that tone of voice now, the one he uses when they’re on the bridge and he’s trying really hard not to call Jim an idiot in front of the rest of the crew.

“Stay here, I guess. Keep trying to comm the Enterprise.”

“It would not be wise to remain here alone when you do not possess sight,” Spock says, just as Jim knew he would.

“I’m not going to let one of you babysit me,” he says firmly, voice low and final. He doesn’t like to use his Captain voice with Spock, but he will to avoid an argument when he doesn’t have the time to properly enjoy it.

“I must protest, Captain—”

“Noted, Commander,” Jim cuts him off. “I want you and the security team out of here in ten minutes. That’s an order,” he adds when Spock makes no move to leave.

He can feel Spock straighten at his tone.

“Of course, Captain,” Spock says stiffly. He stands at once, and Jim listens to his footsteps echo away.

Jim pulls out his communicator and opens it like he’s done every five minutes since he woke up in this cave.

“Kirk to Enterprise.”

There’s only silence in reply.

Resisting the urge to throw the thing in frustration, Jim settles for tearing it open with his fingernails to inspect its internal wiring. Jim might not be able to see it, but he knows enough about the mechanics involved that he can feel if a wire’s out of place.

He’s just gotten started when he hears someone—Spock—approach him again.

“We are ready to depart, Captain,” Spock says when his footsteps stop in front of Jim.

Jim pushes up off the floor, steadying himself with a hand on the wall at the sudden vertigo and shoving the dissected communicator into his pocket with the other. Jim swallows, fights down a blush, and holds out his arm. “Mr. Spock, would you mind leading me to the mouth of the cave?”

Warm, long fingers circle around his forearm at once. “Not at all, Captain.”

Spock’s a good guide, pulling him the short distance carefully, pointing out precisely how far in front of him is a rock to be avoided. It feels like one of those team-building exercises Starfleet Command is always pushing the senior officers to do.

Before long, and with minimal stumbling, Spock stops, taking Jim’s arm and extending it until his hand comes in contact with the wall of the cave.

“Thanks, Spock,” Jim says, taking another step toward the wall. “Is the security team here?”

“Aye, Captain. All are present.”

Jim hates that they have to see him like this—dependent and unsure—but he hopes he’s earned their respect enough that they won’t look down on him for it. “I assume Spock has explained what you’re to do?” At the chorus of ayes, Jim continues, “We all viewed Lieutenant Commander Jollah’s file prior to this mission, you know what he looks like. If you see him, even if it appears that he’s not a threat, I want you to stun first and ask questions later. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir,” is the consensus.

“Good,” Jim nods, thankful for his efficient, capable crew. “Mr. Spock, you may continue when ready.”

“Begin fanning out around the cave,” Spock orders the security team. “I will accompany you presently.”

Jim can hear their footsteps moving off of the solid rock and into the softer floor of the forest ahead. Spock remains at his side.

“I shall send Ensign Mendez back in approximately two hours if we have yet to obtain any new information at that time,” Spock says. Jim can hear the challenge in his words, asking for Jim to order them all to stay away until the job’s done. But Jim’s good at recognizing when compromise might be necessary, and this is one of those times.

When Jim makes no protest, Spock continues, “Please do not attempt to leave the cave on your own. I fear Doctor McCoy will be even more disagreeable than normal if you manage to injure yourself further.”

Jim snorts at that, “Disagreeable is putting it pretty lightly, Spock.” He extends his hand and reaches until he makes contact with Spock’s chest. He moves his fingers lightly along the muscles there until he can grip Spock’s shoulder. He squeezes once, twice, and then lets his arm fall back to his side. “Be careful out there, Spock.”

“I shall endeavor to do so,” Spock says quietly. Just when he thinks Spock's about to leave, warm fingers brush against the skin of Jim’s wrist, just under his sleeve. The touch is so light and fleeting, Jim’s not completely sure it really happens.

Before he can make a fool of himself and ask, or worse, Spock moves away, and, with his increasingly more distant footsteps, he leaves Jim alone once more.

Bored already, Jim leans back again the wall of the cave and lets himself slide back down to the ground. He pulls out his communicator again, and feels his way around its components slowly. Once he’s certain that all the wires are connected tightly and the transmitter is still running, Jim puts the case back together and opens it.

“Kirk to Enterprise, can you read me?”

000

Jim has no way of knowing how long he sits there before he hears footsteps approaching again, and it makes him wish Spock were there to give him the time to the millisecond. Jim straightens from his slouched position and cranes his ear towards the cave opening. He’s not positive, but he’s pretty sure he can hear four distinct pairs of feet getting closer, which means the entire away team made it back okay.

Mood brightened considerably, Jim rises to his feet with a grin on his face and a hand raised in greeting.

“Spock, how did it go?”

When there’s no immediate response, Jim realizes something’s not quite right. Somewhere in front of him, there’s a high-pitched whine, like a phaser being charged.

Jim dives to the side by instinct, rolling into a crouch and listening for more movement. Another whine and Jim moves again, but he’s too late this time and a burst of energy knocks into his shoulder.

Jim barely has time to feel a sharp burn spreading into his chest before darkness drags him under.


When Jim comes to again, it’s cold and dark, and he can’t make out any of his surroundings.

Adrenaline floods his limbs and he sits up at once, ignoring the phantom ache in shoulder and panicking at the fact that he can’t see anything. Then it comes back to him—his blindness, waiting in the cave, being hit by that phaser.

“You are awake,” says an even-toned voice from beside him.

It makes Jim flinch, and he grimaces when the motion sends pain flooding through his shoulder. “Who are you?” he asks the voice, scurrying backwards until he knows if his companion is friend or foe.

“I am Sorek,” says the voice, and Jim can hear it much more clearly this time. It’s high-pitched and male—a child’s voice. Jim relaxes at once.

“I’m Jim,” he says. “Do you know where we are?”

“I am uncertain as to our current location, although I have surmised that we are being held underground.”

Jim shifts, moving closer to the child. “How did you get here?”

“I was kidnapped from a transport vessel approximately twelve point seven days ago,” Sorek says matter-of-factly. “My captors administered a drug upon subduing me and I have been unconscious until I woke in your presence thirty-five point two minutes previously.”

Jim grins at Sorek’s explanation, which probably appears highly illogical to the child, and reaches his hands out to feel his surroundings. The ground consists of cool tile, not ideal for comfort or prolonged stay. His hand hits a smooth wall behind him, and he moves back until he can rest against it.

“Am I correct in assuming that you currently lack the sense of sight?” asks Sorek, his voice sounding slightly closer.

Jim throws a smile in his general direction, “Yep. Afraid I’m blind as a bad.”

“That simile is illogical,” Sorek says, and Jim can practically feel his frown. It only makes his grin larger. “While the mammals from the order Chiroptera have poor visual acuity, they are not completely without eyesight. Am I to understand that this is an example of Terran humor?”

“You’re a vulcan,” Jim says cheerfully, ignoring Sorek’s question. He feels lighter knowing his companion is a tiny vulcan, even if they’re currently being held in an unknown location by unknown captors.

“Indeed,” Sorek replies. “May I inquire as to how you came to this conclusion so rapidly?”

“That’s easy,” Jim says, “Illogical is my first officer’s favorite word too.” He holds out his hand in a ta’al. “I’m Captain Kirk of the U.S.S. Enterprise.”

“You speak, then, of S’chn T’gai Spock, son of Sarek,” is Sorek’s quick response. Jim would bet his captaincy that he can detect admiration in his voice.

“Do you know Spock?”

“No,” Sorek admits, “But Commander Spock has a reputation among my peers on New Vulcan. Ever since the destruction of our planet, interest in enrolling in Starfleet has increased significantly.”

“You’d do well to follow Spock’s example,” Jim says. “He’s the best first officer a captain could ask for. How old are you anyway? No offense, but you sound a little young to be thinking so far ahead into your future.”

“No offense is taken. I am eight point seven two six Terran years of age. How old are you, Captain Kirk?”

Jim laughs. “I’m 27.”

“Is it true, then, that you are the youngest captain in the history of the Federation? I have heard rumors to this extent, but I have not searched for the relevant data myself to confirm this statement.”

“Yep, I’m the youngest ever.”

“And how old is Commander Spock?”

“He just turned 30.” They’d thrown him a party—against his wishes—and Jim doesn't remember anything about it except betting Chekov he could out-drink him and then waking up on Spock's couch the next morning. Jim grins.

“Fascinating,” Sorek says.

“And what’s so fascinating about that?” Jim asks, amused.

“For two as young as you and Commander Spock, you have both managed to achieve many impressive feats in your respective and joint careers.”

“That’s because we're geniuses,” Jim says, “But I’m sure you’re pretty smart too.”

“I am consistently within the ninety-ninth percentile among my peers.”

Jim snorts, “You’ve got that vulcan modesty too, I see.”

“Pardon me?”

“I’m just teasing you, Sorek.”

“Teasing…I see,” he says, although it’s quite clear that he does not.

Rather than call him out on it or, god forbid, try to explain humor to a vulcan, Jim decides to change the subject. “Hey, would you mind describing the room to me? Is there a forcefield, bars? That sort of thing.”

“Of course,” Sorek says quickly, sounding kind of flustered. “I apologize for not thinking of this earlier.”

“Apologies are unnecessary,” Jim says, quoting one of Spock’s favorite phrases.

“All the same,” Sorek returns. “We are not contained by a forcefield nor any sort of bars; instead, we are currently in a square room with a single, locked door. The walls and ceiling are made from a metalloid material I cannot identify by sight, while the floor is made from stone tiles. With the exception of a single mattress approximately 1.45 meters to your left, there is nothing else inside the room. Was that description sufficient, Captain Kirk?”

“Very detailed and helpful, thank you, Sorek. And you should really call me Jim. I have a feeling we’re going to be stuck here for awhile.”

“Very well…Jim.” Sorek pauses for a beat. “Do you have a plan as to how we might escape?”

“A plan?” Jim taps his chin thoughtfully. “Nah.”

“No?” Sorek asks, sounding scandalized. Or, as scandalized as a vulcan can get.

“Well, are the walls paneled?”

“No they are not.”

“Then, nah.”

Jim can practically hear the gears turning in Sorek’s brain, trying to work out how such an illogical human could have ever been made the captain of the Federation’s flagship.

“I am afraid I do not understand,” Sorek says eventually.

Jim takes pity on him. “Well, it sounds to me like there’s no way to get out of this room, which leaves us with two options: wait until our captors visit and neutralize them or wait for a rescue. Since we’ve both been awake for awhile and no one has checked in on us, it’s looking like the latter.”

“This option of waiting for rescue does not seem like the type of plan a Starfleet captain such as yourself would employ.”

“There’s more to command than coming up with brilliant escape plans, Sorek. Sometimes being a captain means trusting your crew to come up with a brilliant escape plan instead.”

Sorek is quiet for a moment. “I had not considered this notion,” he says eventually. “I shall have to meditate more on this.”

Jim leans forward and stretches his arms out, wincing at the soreness in his shoulder. “If you wanna mediate now, I could probably use some sleep anyways.”

“I believe I shall do so. If you move to your left, you will find the mattress on which you can lie down.”

Jim reaches out in that direction and grabs ahold when he makes contact with the mattress. He moves to kneel in front of it and runs his hands over its surface—it’s covered in plastic and doesn’t feel as comfortable as the bed in his quarters back on the Enterprise, but it will do. He crawls on top of it and stretches out on his back.

“Wake me up if anything happens, okay?”

“I shall do so,” Sorek replies.

000

When Jim wakes up again, he’s groggy in that way that means he’s been asleep for too long. He’s just about to stretch his stiff limbs when he hears a stifled whimpering. He stops in middle of the motion and listens more closely to make sure he’s heard correctly.

When he hears it again, he sits up, reaching towards the sound until he makes contact with Sorek’s thin frame—his elbow, to be more specific, which is curled into his body. Jim suspects he might have fallen asleep as well.

“Sorek,” he whispers, shaking the boy gently. “It’s alright.”

Sorek doesn’t move, but the sounds stop and he stiffens a bit under Jim’s hand.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Jim asks eventually. He’s not really sure what the protocol here is. How do you comfort someone who will most likely claim that comfort is unnecessary?

“I apologize for allowing my lack of emotional control to disturb your rest,” Sorek says, the rough tone of his voice belying the calm words. “You may return to sleep now if you wish.”

“I don’t think so,” Jim says, reaching out with his other arm and tugging Sorek onto the mattress with him. He keeps a hand on his arm. “It’s okay to grieve, you know. You don’t need to be ashamed of it.”

“Vulcan was destroyed approximately two point three two years ago. To dwell on past events that cannot be altered is illogical,” Sorek says. It sounds like something he’s repeated to himself more than once.

“What’s necessary is never illogical,” Jim argues, once again stealing Spock’s words. He gives Sorek’s arm a squeeze. “There isn’t a timeframe on grief. And your entire planet was destroyed; I think that merits a pretty long grieving period.”

Sorek doesn’t reply for a moment, still stiff under Jim’s hand. But then his muscles relax, just in the slightest. “Do you still grieve over the death of your father?” he asks. It confirms to Jim that every damn person in the universe knows the story of George Kirk.

“Well, that’s complicated, Sorek. I never met my father, never knew him enough to grieve him, but I do think about him sometimes. I wonder if he’d be proud of me, of what I’m doing.”

“Idle imaginings are illogical,” Sorek says promptly, and Jim’s pretty sure he’s had to repeat this mantra to himself as well. “However,” he continues, his voice a whisper now, “I, too, occasionally wonder what my life would be were my parents still alive.”

Jim’s never been great at tact, but he figures a vulcan might appreciate the direct approach anyways. “Were they on Vulcan?”

“Yes,” Sorek says quietly. “I was transported off the planet along with many of my peers. Very few were as fortunate.”

“I grieve with thee,” Jim whispers back in passable Vulcan. If Spock or Uhura were here, they’d probably nitpick his horrible accent, but Sorek doesn’t seem to mind. He relaxes under Jim’s hand at the words instead.

“Okay,” Jim starts, a little hesitant. “I’m going to do something now that’s completely illogical, and it might offend you actually. But, I’m a human, and we require physical affection to survive. Also, I’m still blind and I hate that I can’t see you.”

Without waiting for Sorek’s permission, Jim reaches forward and tugs the small vulcan into his arms. Sorek’s thin—making Jim wonder just how long it’s been since he last ate—and his skin is warm against Jim’s. He holds Sorek close against his chest, laying his cheek against smooth hair that’s probably lying perfectly straight.

“This whole imprisonment thing is kind of shitty,” Jim says into Sorek’s hair, “But I’m glad I met you.”

Sorek doesn’t reply, but he does reach up with his small, warm hands and bunch his fingers into the back of Jim’s shirt. “I believe this is the proper method of reciprocating the Terran action referred to as a hug. I apologize if my performance is substandard; I have only observed a limited number of live models.”

Jim just laughs and squeezes Sorek tighter for a moment before pulling away. “Your performance was just fine.”

The rest of the day drags on in companionable silence, occasionally broken by Sorek asking Jim about humanity or Earth or Starfleet. While Jim’s eyesight has been steadily improving with time (he’s gone from blindness to being able to see a fuzzy field in shades of grey), hunger and thirst are starting to make their presence known. Jim still doesn’t understand why they haven’t seen their captors or why they haven’t been fed. It’s almost like they’ve just been abandoned to starve—but if their captors wanted them dead, why go to the trouble of kidnapping them instead of just killing them outright?”

“What is the Enterprise like?” asks Sorek, interrupting Jim’s ruminations.

Jim grins at the question. “Well, she’s the best ship in the ‘fleet, of course.”

“Is it common on Earth to assign a gender to inanimate objects?”

“Very common and very illogical,” Jim confirms. They’re both seated on the mattress now, and Jim moves a little closer to Sorek. In their short time together, he’s already gotten pretty fond of the kid. Vulcans seem to have that effect on him.

“You’d love the science labs, Sorek,” Jim continues. “Spock sometimes spends entire shifts in there, monitoring all the different experiments going on and breathing down officers’ necks. You’d find the engineering department pretty fascinating too. And Scotty especially, our chief engineer. He makes all these potentially illegal modifications that I probably shouldn’t tell you about. I’m constantly worried that one day the ship'll just explode. But Scotty loves the Enterprise so much I know he’d never put her in danger.” Jim can’t help but smile thinking about it. “I can’t wait for you to see it, Sorek.”

“I would like to see it very much,” Sorek says quietly.

“You will,” Jim promises. “You know, I don’t think you ever said where you were going. You know, when your ship was attacked. Why were you by yourself?”

“I was traveling to Regulus III.”

“Do you have family there?”

Sorek would probably hate that it’s noticeable, but he stiffens next to him, and Jim knows he’s touched on a sensitive subject.

“Yes,” is Sorek’s short response.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

Sorek hesitates for a long time before answering. “I was sent to live with my mother’s brother and his family.”

“Sent?”

“There are, for obvious reasons, a large amount of orphans on New Vulcan. Any of us with living relatives are to be assimilated into their families. My uncle was stationed off-planet and thus survived our planet’s destruction.”

“Were you close with his family?”

“I have never met them,” Sorek says. “My uncle was estranged from our family for quite some time prior to Vulcan’s destruction. I am unaware of the reasons for this.”

Jim can feel anger bubbling up inside him now. “So they were just going to ship you out to live with complete strangers?”

Jim doesn’t really expect Sorek to be outwardly upset about it, but he doesn’t expect his voice to be perfectly even either. “It is logical to consolidate family bonds at such a time as this.”

Jim shakes his head. “I know what’s it’s like to be dumped on an uncle who doesn’t give a damn. My mother sent my brother, Sam, and I to live with our uncle when I was five, and he was awful.” The years Jim spent living with Frank feel like a lifetime ago now, but the passage of time doesn’t stop Jim’s jaw from clenching at the memories. “Sam ran away when I was eleven, it got to be so bad. I guess what I’m trying to say is that family sometimes doesn’t mean much.”

A small hand brushes against Jim’s arm. “I grieve with thee,” Sorek says in standard.

Jim covers Sorek’s hand with his, and ignores when the vulcan flinches and stills.

After a moment, Sorek pulls away. “I am afraid that I have little other choice.”

“I guess I know how that is.” Jim sighs. “I’m sorry, Sorek.”

“Apologies are unnecessary, Captain. You are not the cause for my troubles.”

“I know that.” Jim waves a hand, “It’s just another human failing—we have this compulsive need to apologize for things we can’t change.” Jim turns and tries to shoot a glare in Sorek’s general direction. “And what did I say about calling me Captain?”

“I…apologize, Jim.”

Jim thinks he can hear a smile in Sorek’s voice, so he smiles back, just in case.

000

As the hours continue to tick by, Jim starts to get more worried. His stomach is aching pretty constantly now with hunger, and his head is starting to get fuzzy with the lack of water. The only good thing that’s come with the passage of time is that Jim’s vision is continuing to improve in steady increments. He’s pretty sure that he can distinguish colors now, but it’s hard to tell when the walls around him are all the same shade of grey as Sorek’s robes.

There’s not much he can do now, except lie prostrate on the ground and continue his descriptions of the Enterprise and her crew for Sorek. But, eventually, conversation starts to get difficult. Jim’s thoughts are slow and muddled, and he has a hard time focusing on anything other than how heavy his tongue feels in his mouth.

With his spare cognitive functions, Jim thanks some higher power that Sorek’s vulcan physiology means he can last much longer than Jim without food and water. If Jim doesn’t make it out of this, hopefully the Enterprise will be able to save one life.

Sorek doesn’t see their situation in quite the same way.

“Jim, you must stay conscious,” he says, small hands grabbing onto Jim’s shirt. Sorek’s said the same thing every few minutes for the past hour or so. Jim has a hard time responding.

“M’sorry, Sorek,” he says, his eyes drooping—eyelids far beyond his control at this point. “M’sleepy.”

“Please, Jim,” Sorek says, and even with his brain not working, Jim can tell that he’s panicked. “Tell me about your first contact with the Perbolians again.”

“Alrigh’,” Jim slurs, only talking to mollify Sorek. He tries to gather his memories from the mission again. “So we beamed t’the place, and then…”

“Jim.”

“Wha’? Oh, righ’. And they said—Spock!”

“They said Commander Spock’s name?”

Jim shakes his heavy head, ignoring the throbbing in his skull. He summons enough energy to lift his arm and point his finger to the open door where a tall figure stands in science blues. “Spock,” Jim repeats, a dumb grin on his face. His vulcan is here and now he can finally go to sleep.

Sorek stands quickly as the blurry figure enters the room, but Spock ignores the younger vulcan entirely and leans over Jim instead.

Jim’s arm is still in the air, so he reaches for Spock with it, grasping that familiar shirt when he makes contact. “Spock,” he sighs, his eyes drifting closed completely.

The last thing he hears, as he drifts unconscious, is a quiet murmur: “Yes, Captain.”