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Confusion, anger, and fear. That was what Spock said-- what Pike had felt.

He hadn’t said anything about intense fucking pain or soul-sucking regret, but then again, maybe those were finer emotions.

Somehow, he managed to crawl back to the access port, get the inner hatchway behind him. He wasn’t counting time right, because Scotty was talking to someone on the comm, looking like-- well, like Jim was dying, and fuck, Jim didn’t want to see that look on anyone’s face, but at least Scotty had the damned sense to stay on the other side of the door.

He might have passed out just a bit, either that or reaching for the touchpad to close down that last tube entry behind him was just-- engrossing, somehow, but then Spock was there, others piling up, too, behind Scotty, but-- fuck, fuck, fuck, no, Spock definitely hadn’t picked up the goddamned sheer physical agony of actually dying while he still needed to get that last damned portway closed.

Just because he’d gotten the core realigned didn’t mean it couldn’t come out-- if it blew, that half-meter of door could be that extra twenty seconds of purchased time for someone to make it to a shuttle, and if he didn’t get that damned portal closed, he was no kind of captain at all. Already wasn’t, but at least he could do … this.

He wished he wasn’t so... afraid, so confused about what-all he’d fucked up where to get to this point to be whining this all to Spock, here and now, but-- if that sonofabitch was going to take care of their crew, he had to know. Had to understand why.

He tried-- tried to explain, once Spock had said Enterprise was okay, and Jim-- he could see, see all the questions but Jim had some of his own. And if this wasn’t the way he’d have chosen to get the right kind of rise out of Spock (maybe his Gram had been right and there were some shiny things Jim just shouldn’t poke), well-- death, the final frontier, all that horrible Shakespearean shit, but-- it hurt, and there were still things to do, even-- yes-- now that he’d sealed that last door behind him-- but.

It wasn’t going to be him. Funny to be so afraid. Funny to be so angry that Spock-- Spock of all people was upset, crying even when Mr. Scott, Uhura, all the rest of them standing there-- he could just make them out, watching-- why were they watching when the ship was dying around them? Couldn’t they hear it? Even Jim could, around his own rattling breath, through the deck plates and glass doors and all around them-- even through the sound of Spock calling him friend, he could hear his ship dying, all that climbing, kicking, crawling, jumpstarting his girl back into action-- it hadn’t taken, or hadn’t sustained-- something poetic, some metaphor about Jim and the way he’d been captain.

He tried, at least, to make the Ta’al. Wasn’t sure if he succeeded or not, not with the glass cold, so cold, the deck cold, but he tried to line his hand up with Spock's, tried, the wall hard and it hurt, his head against it and his eyes hurt, things so blurry and then-- then that hum, that hum with that microfifth treble that he’d known, always had since he’d helped bring her online, pitched the harmonics in the test bays back in the Yard...

It was good to hear her running the right way again. She’d steady up and fly right now, his girl, bring his family home.

Funny, Spock hadn’t said anything about pea...