Kirk chewed his fingernails while fidgeting, an unfortunate habit he seemed to have picked up from somewhere two years into his five-year mission. His leg bumped up and down anxiously as he stared at the view screen and then down to his chairs’ communication panel. He suddenly reached for the button but stopped himself. What if Spock was still in surgery? He couldn’t interrupt Dr. McCoy, just to calm his nerves.
Oh god, what if Spock had nerve damage?
His stomach clenched and he broke out in a cold sweat.
How could this have occurred on his own ship?
Casualties happened, he begrudgingly reminded himself. It was a sad factor of the job. They were constantly attacked or knocked about by the dangers of space.
Yes, he had lost several good men, but this was Spock.
They had faced so much worse together and for this to be the thing that could but him the grave would be destroying to Kirk.
As Captain, he had tried to never show favoritism, but it was different with Spock...
He rubbed his temples.
Spock was... his feelings for the man were... complicated.
Friends. They were just really good friends. Brothers even. He had never felt so close to anybody in his life. Sure McCoy was a close friend as well, but Spock was...more.
Or at least Kirk wanted him to be more.
He sighed in frustration as he reviewed what had happened in his mind for what must’ve been the millionth time.
It had all happened so quickly. He and Spock had been down in the cargo bay checking on their newest shipment from Starbase Orin, when one moment Spock had been reciting cargo information to him, and the next, he had been roughly shoved out of the way as a metal band snapped on one of the shelving units and a heavy container fell in the place where he had been standing.
He had been saved but Spock had not been so lucky. The container had come down right on Spock’s entire arm crushing everything from his shoulder down to his hand.
Kirk visibility winced at the memory.
Spock had let out a horrific cry, one he could hear play over and over again in his mind.
Kirk had been at his side in an instant desperately trying to remove the container by himself but it took the combined strength of four other men to even slightly lift the weight off of him. Spock had not made another sound after his initial cry but soon passed out from the pain, he was rushed to the med bay and Kirk had even tried to follow him into surgery, not wanting to leave his side for even a moment.
He, of course, had been stopped at the door by Dr. McCoy and had to watch a sickly pale yellow Spock, with tear stained cheeks, disappear into the surgical suite.
All while he stood there without a scratch on him.
He tensed as he suddenly felt a gentle hand on his shoulder pulling him back to the bridge. “Captain Kirk,” he looked up to find Uhura standing next to his command chair. Her delicate eyebrows were pulled together over her expressive dark eyes shining down on him with concern. “It will be alright. Mr. Spock is stronger than you are giving him credit for.”
Kirk’s lips hardened into a line. Just how transparent was he? He looked towards the rest of his crew on the bridge, but only caught heads quickly turning away. They couldn’t have known his feelings right?
He hoped that they all just assumed that it was a Captains concern for his CO, and nothing more.
“That will be all Lieutenant Uhura.” He said in a dismissive tone, but he gently squeezed her hand on his shoulder before she left to return to her station.
Hours went by and Jim had not heard anything. He practically ran for the turbo lift when his alpha shift was over and he found himself down in sickbay faster than he remembered getting there. Once through the door, he was immediately stopped by Nurse Chapel.
“Captain Kirk-“ she said throwing up her hands to stop his progress into the surgical suite. “You can’t go in there, not yet.”
“How is he? Is he alright?”
“Dr. McCoy is just finishing up. There was extensive damage but it looks like he managed to save his arm.”
Kirk swallowed but he felt no less anxious. He needed to see for himself that Spock was alright.
The doors to the surgical suite swished opened and McCoy, looking a bit tired came out.
“Bones, how is he?”
McCoy glanced at him, seemingly unsurprised to see him standing there. He folded his arms and leaned against the wall. A haggard sigh came from him as he gathered his thoughts.
“Nurse, he said turning to Chapel, could you please help M’Benga put the equipment away.”
“Of course Doctor.” She said obediently. Though she looked just as anxious as Jim to hear anything about Spock’s well being. He watched as she left through the door McCoy had just entered through.
“Well Jim, he’ll live but his arm...well it’s too soon to tell. Dr. M’Benga and I fixed what we could by using a bone knitter, but it was a lengthy process. If he had been completely human we would have had to remove his arm altogether, but thankfully his bones were just dense enough to retain some sort of structure. If they hadn’t been, we would be having a very different conversation. We reconnected most of his nerves and tissue, but Vulcans are tricky. Their hands are highly sensitive and extremely important to their species so it’s too soon to tell if there will be any complications or lasting damage.”
“Can I see him?” Kirk asked knotting his fingers together.
“Not right now. He is in a Vulcan healing trance.”
Kirk looked at the surgical door, his tense shoulders bunched up even further and his eyes shone with unshed tears.
“It should have been me Bones. I should be in that bed, not Spock.”
“ Yes, I heard what happened from officer Jones. Jim, if it had been you, you would have lost your arm. You might not even have survived the surgery. Just be grateful that Spock was able to react fast enough to push you out of the way.”
“He’s always saving me Bones. I don’t deserve a friend like him.” He whispered.
McCoy patted his back. “Yes, you do Jim. Yes, you do.”
McCoy had never outright asked him if he had feelings for his first officer and Kirk had always been grateful for that. But the doctor wasn’t a fool, he was trained to see the differences in behavior and body language. He probably never said anything to avoid uneasy conversation, Kirk guessed he didn't want another reason to drink added to his list.
“Go get some sleep, Jim. I’ll call you if anything changes.”
Kirk nodded, but the action felt hollow. He allowed himself to be led out the door, but all he wanted to do was turn around and remain by Spock's side.
Spock remained unconscious for the next three days and If there was a Hell, it was waiting for him to wake up.
Everyone around him seemed to be on edge, though Kirk didn’t know if it was because they felt worried about their only Vulcan Officer or if he himself was making everyone nervous. He hadn't exactly smiled at anyone since the incident. No jokes. No small talk. He wasn’t really in the mood to try and fake his emotions with the crew, and unfortunately, that also meant the brass.
“Captain Kirk, are you listening?”
Kirk’s frown grew deeper. He looked up to the small screen on the table in his ready room. Admiral Chu, a withered old man, crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in his seat. His neck scrunched together as he went, pushing his uniform up to his chin giving him the appearance of a grumpy turtle.
“Yes Sir, forgive me I have a few things on my mind right now. My CO was hurt this past week and it’s been...taxing on myself and the crew.”
“Ah yes, the Vulcan. Speck correct? I believe I read that somewhere in your report. How is he doing?” The Admiral asked with a wave of his hand.
Like you really care, Kirk thought bitterly.
He knew Admiral Chu had a particular dislike of Spock ever since he had questioned the Admirals logic at a Federation conference in front of the other Admirals in Starfleet. Of course, Spock had been in the right. Everybody knew Vulcans spoke their minds when it came to logic, so Kirk wasn't quite sure why he had taken it personally. He seemed to hold an unfounded grudge against his first mate and often showed it when he gave out assignments. He had once assigned Spock to do fecal matter testing on a passing barge and cataloged it in the Starfleet records as "scientific inquiry". Kirk had caught the order before it reached Spock and deleted its existence from the database.
“It's Spock Sir, and he’s stable. Dr. McCoy and Dr. M’Benga have been monitoring his progress closely.”
“That’s good to hear." he didn't even sound sincere. "Although I’m sure his replacement can handle everything just fine. Speaking of Doctors I have approved Dr. M’Benga’s paperwork for his holiday leave on Omicron Delta. Make sure he goes this time, he hasn’t been using his shore leave and we are open to liability if he continues to avoid it. And I hate to add on to your current mission for delivering those cargo containers, but we have received an urgent request from the mining colony on Janus VI. They have recently had an outbreak of thropien measles and since you are the closest in the area you are to divert the Enterprise there for relief. Have Dr. McCoy create a batch of at least 12 dozen vaccinations.”
Kirk nodded. “I’ll see to it that Dr. McCoy starts right away.”
This would mean that delivering the cargo units would have to be moved to their last task since Omicron Delta was the closest planet in the system at the moment.
Though he wasn’t too thrilled about the information of their only Vulcan experienced doctor having been granted holiday leave, but Dr. M’Benga was desperately due for a little relaxing and he could not ask him to say because of Spock. McCoy would have to take over his primary care between making the vaccines. It wasn’t an Ideal situation but they would have to make do.
So they would drop off Dr. M’Benga and anyone else who requested shore leave on Omicron Delta, next deliver the vaccines, and then the cargo units.
“Are you able to handle this?” Admiral Chu asked a bit skeptically.
Kirk was insulted, they had done busier schedules than this. This was only three tasks.
“I’m sure the Enterprise can handle it.” He said giving a fake smile. He dreaded the day when they tried to boot him to Admiral. They may have been honored veterans but sometimes they didn’t know anything about the way things worked anymore. It was different supervising from the earth rather than from a captains chair.
“Good to hear it. If you need me to send another ship it won’t be there for a few more days. There’s also new protocols concerning the filing system so expect to see new forms in the next few days. I’m sure a bright young Captain like yourself can figure everything out. Even if you’re down a Vulcan.” He said chuckling at his own joke.
Kirk ground his teeth but never lost his bright facial expression.
“Well, that’s all for now. Give my best to Speck. Chu out.”
The monitor went blank and Kirk leaned back in his chair rolling his head to work out the kinks in his neck.
He blew a breath out of his mouth. “Can you believe that Spo-” he stopped himself.
Spock was in sickbay.
Admiral Chu had just told him to give Spock his best. God, did he really miss Spock that much? It had only been three days! He should know better.
No, he told himself, his mistake was understandable. After all, every time the brass annoyed him he always turned to Spock to complain, and he had just done so out of habit.
He looked at the chair Spock usually occupied when they used his ready room together. He was so used to Spock being next to him, listening quietly as he complained out Starfleet...what if he never sat there again? What if the damage done to his arm was so extensive that he had to retire from Starfleet?
Kirk rubbed his eyes and let his thoughts spiral out of control. His stomach twisted into knots. How could he care so much? It made no sense! His very soul hurt just thinking about Spock injured and unconscious in sickbay, and yet he had only known the man for a few short years. Now, he couldn’t possibly imagine his life continuing on without him by his side. He had come to rely so much on his wit, intellect, and strength of character. Together they made a great team and he somehow felt whole when Spock was around. It was a weird sensation because all his life he thought the only thing that would help fill the emptiness inside of him was the thrill of adventure in the great unknown. Space the final frontier waiting to be explored...and yet when he had met Spock he felt that emptiness leave him as if he had found the very thing his soul had been searching for.
It wasn’t among the vast scattering of stars like he had thought, but only a few feet away at the science station looking through a viewfinder.
“I’m such an idiot.” He mumbled to himself. How had he fallen so hard for this Vulcan?
“I swear Spock, you had better be okay… Just wake up soon.” He whispered.
As if some merciful being had been peeking in and spying on him, he heard the boatswain whistle.
He sat up straight and answered quickly. “Kirk here.”
“Jim, Spock’s awake if you’d like to see him.” Came Bones calm voice.
He heaved a sigh of an uneasy breath. Not quite relief but, a little less than stressed. He didn’t need any more coaxing than that.
“I’ll be down in a moment. Kirk out.”
It was as if he had transported to sickbay because he certainly didn’t remember his trip. He walked in as if gravity itself had pulled him there.
Spock was sitting in a biobed propped up against several pillows that he'd presumably been given by Chapel. His eyes were dark and weary, and his skin was waxy and pale, making him look sufficiently zombie-like for the severity of the situation. Despite his sickly pallor, Spock turned his head slightly to watch Jim come in the room and Jim had never been so relieved to see those piercing brown eyes open.
Even in sickbay, with his disheveled appearance, Spock seemed to take his breath away.
He stayed silent, carefully watching Kirk approach, making him feel as if Spock's eyes were staring into his very soul.
“Spock,” he said softly as he came to the edge of the bed.
He hadn’t really thought of what to say to the man when he woke up, he had been more concerned with whether or not if Spock would wake up at all.
“Captain.” Spock greeted in a deep scratchy voice, probably due to the fact that he hadn’t used it for a few days. It made Kirk’s stomach flip nonetheless.
Kirk reached out to touch him, to confirm that he was still alright, but he stopped himself before he made contact.
He didn’t want to stress Spock out, especially since he was a touch telepath, nor did he want to cause him pain of any kind if his body still hurt from the accident. He curled his hands back to his side before deciding to lock them behind his back altogether so he wouldn’t be tempted to reach out again.
“I’m glad you’re awake Spock the crew has been worried about you.”
“That seems highly illogical. Their worry does not change the outcome of my recovery.”
“Yes, well humans worry. It’s what we’re best at. I myself have particularly missed you on the bridge.”
Spock raised a brow. “As I recall Lieutenant Gardner is to take over my duties if I am unable. Has he been lax in his assignment as my temporary replacement?”
“No, no, I just prefer you doing them. Call it a personal preference if you will.” Jim said smiling softly down at him.
Spock turned his head upward in response and his eyes held the barest hint of a smile, the kind only Spock could convey.
It was moments like these that caused Kirk’s chest to squeeze the most. If he could just look at Spock and have him somehow magically understand everything he wanted to say to him perhaps they…
but no Spock could never feel this way about him.
“Then I shall endeavor to return to my duties at once.” he began to move as if he was going to leave his bed.
“Like hell, you will.” Bones snapped as he stepped into the room with Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel following close behind. “Lay back down or I will strap you in.”
All three stopped at Spock's bed and suddenly the room seemed very crowded.
“You’re not going anywhere. You’re gonna have to rest for a few weeks before I can even think of clearing you for light duty. It’s a miracle you didn’t lose that arm of yours. If you had been completely human you would have been looking at a different outcome.”
“Dr. McCoy may I remind you I am a Vulcan, I will heal faster than you expect, there will be no need for me to take a few weeks for recovery.”
“Ah, but you are not fully Vulcan,” Dr. M’Benga interjected. “Dr. McCoy is correct, it may take you a little longer than you are anticipating to heal. Your bones were crushed and it was only thanks to Dr. McCoy’s ingenious techniques and medical knowledge that you are able to continue using it. Your Psi-points are another matter that must also be treated with care. Those also were also badly damaged and you will have to work hard to regain their full usage.”
“Yeah so don’t go putting all my hard work to waste by jumping back into your duties just to defend your Vulcan sensibilities. You need rest and time for recovery.” McCoy quipped with a glare as if he could sense Spock's mind trying to form a rebuttal.
Instead, Spock tried to straighten himself to appear proper. The action caused Kirk to press his lips in a firm line, hiding the smile that was now threatening to break over his face. The action was only something Spock ever did when he was uncomfortable or confronted about something he may not know enough about. It was a cute quirk that he rarely got to see because Spock was so knowledgeable about everything.
“I will adhere to your advice in best how to treat me.” He stated flatly.
“Good.” McCoy turned to nurse Chapel and she handed him a medical PADD. “Now I know you desperately want to go back to work but you will need to regain strength back in your entire arm and upper body since your shoulder was affected too.”
They all looked at Spock's arm that lay rested at his side, still wrapped in a compression bandage.
“Now modern science has helped you quite a bit. I was able to advance your healing process by practically years down to maybe two months. Knitting your bones and helping you regrow your flesh was the easiest part but now you will still need to go through physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and to avoid the build-up of possible scar tissue. Your muscles having been destroyed and then reconstructed and you will be at a higher risk for the fibrous tissue build up. So I have created a schedule that should help you on your path to a quick and healthy recovery and by God’s mercy, you won’t suffer any life long afflictions like numbness or tingling. It will be hard work but I have no doubt that you will do it, so long as you stick to my schedule.”
McCoy handed the PADD back to nurse Chapel and folded his arms in a bracing manner as if expecting a fight against his medical advice. Kirk wasn’t surprised, Spock liked to “debate” McCoy on a lot of things but this time Spock remained quiet.
McCoy actually gave a small smile, it was a rare thing indeed to not have Spock retort something back to the doctor. “Phase one is to control pain and inflammation. At this stage, I recommend the R.I.C.E. protocol, which is an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Simple enough. I have some pain medication I mixed specifically for your body chemistry that should help you relax. Then we will move on to phase two, which we will start in a week. I would like you to come in and work on physical therapy with me on Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s. Dr. M’Benga will help you with your delicate Psi-points.”
Kirk bit his lip he needed to tell Bones and M’Benga of their new assignments. “Actually Bones I don’t think that schedule will work. I just got new assignments for you and M’Benga from Starfleet.”
McCoy raised a brow. “Well, if That’s the case, Nurse Chapel is also qualified to help you.” His face became softer as he looked over the Vulcan. "For now Spock, I would just like you to rest and I would like to keep you here overnight. You can return to your room tomorrow. Do you have any questions?"
"None that you have not already answered. However, I will not need your pain medication, as Vulcans have a high tolerance for pain."
McCoy's face that had softened through the conversation suddenly became hard again. "Spock don't be mad," He barked out. "You may feel like you have some control over your pain right now, but once you start the physical therapy your really gonna start to hurt. There's no shame in taking medication to help with the pain."
"I decline," he said a bit weak as he was beginning to get tired. Everyone in the room looked at each other.
"Perhaps we should talk about this later." Dr. M’Benga pronounced to the room. "For now, let's let the man rest and clear the room." He began gently pushing everyone towards the doors.
Kirk turned around to protest, he didn't want to leave yet, but he caught the half-lidded look on his friend's face and realized that Spock did indeed need some rest. He bit his lip and allowed himself to once again be shown out of the med bay.