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Needs of the Many

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When Jim wakes up, he feels like he's been on a bender and got into a bar brawl that ended with a wall collapsing on him. This has only happened once, but it's not a feeling you forget.

He lies still and takes stock of his situation. He's in the med bay, obviously, and judging from the lack of human noise he's probably alone.

Jim opens his eyes.

"Captain," says Spock, putting aside the PADD he'd been fondling and turning the full force of that gaze on Jim.

Jim rolls back over with a groan. "Bones really must be mad, if he sent you to yell at me instead."

"Doctor McCoy indicated that he was 'tired' of requesting that you refrain from risking your life and asked that I take his place on this occasion."

Jim blinks, then gingerly pushes himself up on what elbow. "So what are you going to say?" he demands. Bones isn't the only one who's sick of this conversation. "I'm too important to die, people depend on me, my friends would miss me?"

Spock raises an eyebrow, but continues as if Jim hadn't interrupted him. "It has been pointed out to me that I lack the emotional vocabulary to have this conversation."

"It's a wise man as knows his limitations," mutters Jim.

"Therefore, I wondered if you would consent to a more direct approach."

Exhausted as he is, it takes Jim a moment to catch on. "Oh, no, you do not get to telepathy me. Been there, done that, do not want to repeat the experience." Vulcans are not emotionless. Vulcans feel things, Vulcans feel things very strongly, and Jim does not want to be on the receiving end of a Vulcan's concern for his well-being.

"Telepathy is not a verb, Captain."

"Spock," says Jim.

"I do not wish to berate you for your self-sacrificial tendencies," says Spock, after a moment's contemplation. "The needs of the many may, on occasion, outweigh the needs of the one. That is logical."

Jim pauses. "Then why are you here?"

"You are, I believe, under the impression that I do not hold you in high esteem."

Jim sighs. "Spock, I don't think you're being insubordinate by disagreeing with me."

"While you were in surgery, I realised I have let that misconception lie uncorrected for too long."

Jim flops back onto the bed. "Spock, just spit it out."

"I wish for you... Jim... to know that I have, for some time, considered you a friend."

Jim is so distracted by the use of his nickname that he almost misses the second half of the sentence. "A friend," he repeats. He thinks about the gut-clenching horror he feels when one of his friends is threatened, then imagines that feeling magnified to Vulcan levels.

For once in his life, Jim is speechless.

Spock starts to rise. "I just wished for you to know. I will let you return to your rest."

"Wait, Spock," Jim manages to choke out.

Spock glances back at him.

"Thank you," says Jim.

"For telling you?" asks Spock, just as calmly as if he were asking for clarification on Jim's orders, the jerk.

"For being my friend," says Jim. Maybe Spock isn't the only one who doesn't have the vocabulary for this conversation.

Spock inclines his head. "You are welcome."

"And, Spock?"

"Yes, captain? Jim?"

"I like you too."