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Spock sits quietly in light meditation. The rest of the away team are towards the front of the cave, working to clear the rock fall that will allow them to reach a clear area for beam out. The body of the serpent-lichen has been vaporized, but a faint scent of vegetative char remains. There is pain, but it is not severe; the rock-dwelling lichen struck his left arm, and the bite itself is no longer bleeding. The venom is treatable. Better himself than Jim, or the others. He is not in danger, merely in discomfort until they return to the ship.

The serpent-lichen's venom works it's way through his bloodstream as the away team work, warring slowly with the natural defenses of his body and the broad spectrum antivenin from Ensign Yara's kit. Spock's stomach turns over, and over again, churning gently, and the sensation sweeps in a slow, cold wave along his spine.

Meditation eludes him now, but his eyes remain closed against the shifting tricorder shadows. He doesn't need sight to feel someone kneel down next to him, or to know Jim before he speaks.

"How're you doing, Spock?"

"Acceptable, Captain." He swallows, as speech seems to thicken his tongue. His salivary glands release a glutinous, mucoid saliva that coats his mouth and triggers his normally unresponsive gag reflex. "But- quite nauseous."

Jim's hand on his deltoid radiates a gratifying steady caring, even as Spock's heartbeat thumps heavy against his stomach.

"If you could ensure-"

"I'll keep everybody at the front of the cave. Don't worry."

Discretion is not always possible in a Starfleet setting, but Spock deeply appreciates when it is. As churning becomes clenching, he leans away from Jim in the darkness and tries once more to swallow back the thick saliva. Instead his throat closes, and he is forced to spit or choke.


"You do what you need to, Spock."

Jim's grip is steady, his hand cool and grounding, unaskingly providing counterbalance so that Spock does not try to brace himself with his injured arm.

Venom surges and Spock retches over the rocky cave floor.

Replicated food, half digested, has an unpleasantly grainy consistency, and a suspiciously uniform taste. Spock's temples and arm throb in echo, and he heaves again. And again.

When his stomach has emptied itself entirely the nausea retreats to a watchful distance, and Spock is
able to compartmentalize each discomfort once more. Jim squeezes his hand and that wave of contact supersedes his own biofeedback, initiating release of several neurotransmitters. Tension and pain alike recede.


Spock breathes. "Affirmative."

"Ok. Sit tight, Spock, we'll be out of here before you know it."

His departing fingers curl against Spock's; fore and middle lingering in a concealed caress. Yellow-gold starburst of affection and faint cool purple-brown concern. Spock touches back in answer; hand and mind.

"I look forward to it, Captain."