It bothered me, of course, that Jim was in the predicament he was because he had to rescue me. That Jim could ultimately die because I was too vulnerable to abduction was something I found hard to face.
And it did not help that I could see my own pain and doubts reflected on the face of my young counterpart. I recognized a Spock who had finally come to the unwilling conclusion that Jim Kirk was the center of his universe. I had certainly done so in my own time.
“I wish to accompany you on the rescue mission,” I stated flatly as I watched Spock make preparations.
“You will stay here,” Spock said harshly. “I cannot risk having you there and providing distraction for Jim. Should you become compromised in anyway, Jim will find it necessary to give his life for you.”
“That will not happen.”
“It has already happened,” Spock returned coldly. “Jim is my t’hy’la. Mine. And it is up to me to see to his safety.”
I nearly spoke unkindly about how he had done such a great job of protecting Jim so far, but I bit back the bitter reply. This younger version of myself was very proud and tended to more emotional outburst than I did at his age. The different circumstances of this universe were no doubt responsible.
Jim would not thank me for being unkind to Spock. And it would do neither of these young, intense versions of myself and my own Jim good.
Though I most definitely wanted to be there during Jim’s rescue I also recognized the wisdom of staying behind. I was not young anymore. I had begun to notice the signs of my own frailty and if I endangered Jim’s rescue in anyway it would be most unforgivable.
“I am gratified that you finally have accepted Jim’s importance to you,” I said quietly. “You will discuss everything with him when you have him back, I assume.”
Spock just looked at me but I had no doubt he would make things right with Jim. At the moment, all he wished to focus on was finding his mate.
“I would appreciate notification the moment you have him.”
He nodded but his face was pinched as though in pain.
“He is not well,” he whispered. “I feel his torment and I…what if I am too late?”
“You will not be.”
“If I had only—”
“What ifs are never helpful, Spock. Regrets are illogical. All you can do is move forward and bring back your t’hy’la.”
He nodded again, rather curtly but I also saw some level of gratitude in his eyes as he turned and left.*
Hours went by during which I could barely contain my own panic, but eventually it was Leonard McCoy who contacted me to say that Spock had broken Jim free.
He was at Starfleet Hospital.
Those that had conspired with Marcus that they had been able to capture had been imprisoned but there were many still loose and Khan and his people had not been located. It was not yet over, by far. But Jim was safe. And that was what mattered to me.
I hurried to Leonard as soon as I got to the hospital.
Leonard looked haggard and stricken. Several shades lighter than was normal for him. “He’s in bad shape,” he spoke very softly. “Broken bones, which have been healed, lacerations, psychological torture. They, uh, they opened him up…” He broke off, looked away. I saw the tears in his eyes.
“Can I see him?”
He nodded. “Spock’s with him. He won’t leave his side.”
Of course he would not.
“Leonard, is he expected to make a recovery?” I did not want to ask and yet did not know how I could not.
“Yes. It will take a little time, but yes. But the mental strain? I don’t know.”
“Spock will help him.”
“They messed around in his head some,” Leonard told me. “And mixed in some other blood into him. Other than Khan’s.”
“Yeah. All a part of their experiments. They were operating on him when we found him. Had his damn skull open.”
My blood chilled. “For what purpose?”
“To see how he had been changed by not only Khan’s blood but the blood of the others. They injected him with some elemental compounds too.” He shook his head. “I don’t know what else they would have done to him if we hadn’t gotten there in time.” He touched my arm. “Listen, Spock’s…Spock’s pretty wrecked. Go easy on him, all right?”
I nodded. “I can do little else, Leonard. I know exactly how he feels.”
I slowly pushed open the hospital room door and walked inside. Jim was hooked up to various medical machines and equipment and Spock was laying on the bed, holding on to Jim. I could see that Jim’s eyes were open and blinking. Spock had him cradled to his chest and he looked over at me sharply as I approached.
“I will not leave,” he said immediately.
“I do not wish for you to.” I looked down at Jim. Yes, he was awake, but he wasn’t really looking anywhere. “How is he?”
Spock’s hand rested on the crown of Jim’s head, which had been shaved. “I am caring for him.”
“Do either of you need anything?”
“Just for the men who did this to pay,” Spock whispered.
For a long time, I said nothing, then I nodded, leaned forward and took Jim’s hand in mine for the briefest of seconds, then released it.
I met Spock’s gaze. “I will see to it.”