“Stardate 2258.66. This is Captain Spock of the Starship Farragut. We are returning to port in San Francisco after a three-year voyage exploring the farthest reaches of the known galaxy. Starfleet Command has said that it is their wish to decommission this ship and reassign the crew to new ships in the fleet, and I will be given captainship of the newest ship in the fleet, the USS Enterprise. I am...unsure...how I feel about this situation. I must ponder it some more.”
Spock turned off the recording mechanism on which he did his logs and then looked at the place which he had called home for the last three years. Home was an unfamiliar concept to him; Vulcan was not home, and neither was earth. He was a child of two cultures, two planets, and as such fit wholly into neither. He had essentially turned his back on Vulcan by choosing to go to Starfleet Academy and had, within five years, become the youngest Captain on record, surprising absolutely no one, it had seemed. His mother had been pleased. His father, he had not been sure about.
He would rather have not told them, he thought, but it was proper. It was, he supposed, an honor to have the youngest Captain in history as your son, but then, Starfleet was not too aware of Vulcan culture, and only one-half of his family was human.
He had always done his work with due diligence. He knew he was not everyone’s favorite captain, but he had no need to be. What he cared most about was doing his job, and doing it within the rules set forth by the Prime Directive. He cared about keeping his crew safe. He cared about keeping his ship in one piece.
And he cared about his duties above all else, it seemed, even himself.
He had bonded with no one on his crew, and as such he would not be sorry to see any of them leave his command. Perhaps it would be best if he had an entirely new crew. Perhaps he could study in depth the last three years and see where improvements could be made. Learn and improve. That was always his way.
He reached over for the paper logs he also kept. While technology was a marvelous thing, he did not entirely trust it. There was some comfort to pen and paper. For three years he had dutifully recorded is thoughts, some of which had not made official logs, and he went to the ones which were the earliest from this voyage. There was some time until they arrived in San Francisco and he would have to supervise the deboarding. He could begin his process of revisiting the past and improving upon it.
He’d tried for years to make his mom proud. For years to show her he wasn’t a screw-up, wasn’t a mistake. His dad had died when he was a baby, his brother had high-tailed it out of there when he was old enough to survive on his own, his uncle...well, the less said about him the better. And while his mom had gone off and traveled the stars Jim had stayed in Iowa and tried to just survive and be good for as long as he could, but eventually, he’d said to hell with it. And he’d made mistakes. Made more than he could remember until he’d been given the choice: jail or Starfleet.
It had only been because someone liked him he met Bones his first day. Leonard McCoy was no stranger to a crap life, and they’d bonded. Bones was more or less a straight arrow, though he had his vices, and he tried to guide Jim as best he could, with some moderate success. They’d made it through the Academy just in time to get placed on the newly commissioned Enterprise, under a returning Captain from one of the ships that was being decommissioned. He’d heard about the Captain, Spock. Supposed to be a tight-ass but fair. You didn’t mess around with him but he’d make sure you were okay.
Could be worse, he supposed.
Bones rolled his eyes. “Look, Jim, we gotta talk.” He grabbed Kirk’s arm mid bounce and pulled him to a shady grove of trees in the quad, looking around to make sure no one was nearby, and then pushed Kirk to something resembling a sitting position. “Just because that crank you take doesn’t show up on piss tests doesn’t mean I’m going to cover for you forever if you’re still taking it when this mission starts.”
“I can stop anytime I want,” Kirk said, with an indulgent shrug, but his fingers started tapping nervously against his leg. The very idea of quitting was just not appealing in the slightest, even though he knew this mission was five years in deep space and he had no idea if there was any way he could take that much KCW aboard or if he could get more once they left Federation space. The very thought of it all was making the euphoria of his hit ebb away like the water draining out of a tub.
“That’s bull and you know it,” Bones said, starting to pace. “You’ve been on this crap since day 1 when I met you. Do you even eat anymore? I mean really eat? I can’t think of the last time I saw you eat an actual meal of real food. And don’t think you’re going to have unlimited supplies of water like you do now, or get to take a bathroom break anytime you need. It’s not going to be like the Academy.” He shook his head. “I should rat you out. You know I should.”
“Don’t!” Kirk said, scrambling to his feet. “You know I need to go on this mission. I need to go out into space.” He reached over and put his hands on Bones’s shoulders. “You know it’s important.”
Bones stared into the eyes of his friend. “You need to get help, Jim,” he said, his voice soft but insistent. “You don’t kick this habit by the time the mission starts, I will tell the Captain. Got it?”
Kirk nodded, willing to agree to anything to get on that damn ship. “Fine. I’ll do it. Okay?” He could. He really could. He could kick the habit. He had to, now. Bones wasn’t the type to make idle threats.
He just hoped it didn’t kill him in the process.
As I began writing this fic with the idea of Nyota being Spock's adopted sister before "Star Trek: Discovery" began airing, I may liberally borrow bits and pieces of Michael Burnham's past on Vulcan for what Nyota went through. So if it seems familiar, that's why. Nyota was just more of a rebel than Michael turned out to be while living in Vulcan.
By the time they docked port in San Francisco Spock had a better idea of improvements that he could make to make this five-year mission easier. He had heard stories of captains who did not fare well under long term missions such as the three-year one he had just completed. A five-year mission beyond what had been explored before was an entirely new matter. He needed his crew to be at their utmost physical and mental best before the voyage.
Which meant, he feared, having to interact with them on what they would call “home turf.”
He had never been a sociable person among the Vulcans as a child, though he had been warm and inquisitive when very young. Traits passed down to him from his mother and mirrored by his adoptive sister, he supposed. But by the time his schooling began and he saw how viciously the full-blooded Vulcans treated him for being something “other,” he soon saw conforming to their standards was better. He had emotions, he just buried them deeper down than most Vulcans, though they could flare to the surface much faster. Meditation had been a great help over the years in keeping them at bay, but it had cost him much.
There was the fact he was the superior officer to the majority of the people he would be meeting, so he could go into the situation as aloof and detached, but that would not entice his new crew to want to trust him or to work with him. He was not a slavedriver, as some captains had a tendency to be, but he did not overly care for the small problems his crew faced, and one thing he had noted was that if there was not care given they could, at times, escalate into larger problems that had the potential to trouble more than just one crew member. Should he get to know this new crew on a more personal level, at least on a cursory level, he may be able to head off this problem this time.
He knew there was a bar near the Academy that most of the students went to. As the vast majority of his crew were to be recent graduates, it was logical that they would still be residing near the Academy and most likely attending the same social haunts they did as students. And this is where he went to ask the advice of one of the few people he trusted, one of the few he requested on his crew, the only other Vulcan Learning Center graduate to attend Starfleet, much to the chagrin of their father.
“You have to look normal to not stick out like a sore thumb, Spock,” Nyota Uhura said with a grin, looking at the outfit he had chosen to blend in with the people at the bar. “That outfit screams ‘I am your new boss.’”
“I think I am attired quite adequately,” Spock said.
Nyota chuckled. Though he had known her since she was an infant, there were times he truly thought he did not understand her. But she had been instrumental in his understanding of the human side of himself, in many ways much more than his mother had been, and if she found humor in the situation there must be some. “You still have an air of authority. This is casual by Vulcan standards, S’cchn T’gai, but jeans are an actual thing.”
He permitted himself a slight scowl. There were only two humans he knew who could correctly pronounce his Vulcan name, and Nyota only chose to do so to tease for the most part. It seemed to be her fondness as his adopted sister. He, personally, did not care for it. “You are going to use me as a mannequin for your dress-up pleasure,” he said, his voice taking on a sour tinge.
“Hey, you are the one wanting to do covert espionage,” she pointed out. “I'm sure Bones has probably left at least one pair of pants here, and a belt. Kirk might have left a beanie or something, too.”
His expression perked up at the mention of the name Kirk. “Would this Kirk be James Tiberius Kirk?”
Nyota nodded. “Yes. He and Bones...Leonard McCoy? They're best friends. Bones is pretty much here every night he doesn't have clinic duty. He and Christine are pretty serious, so that's why I asked you to take her on, too, aside from getting one of the best damn nurses in the galaxy.”
“So you are on good terms with them?” he asked as Nyota disappeared into one of the bedrooms in the apartment.
“Pretty much,” she said, her voice muffled from being in the other room. “I mean, I’m not best friends with them, like I am with you, but I know them pretty well.”
“Tell me about them,” he said.
Nyota emerged a few moments later with well-folded trousers. He imagined that if the relationship between her friend and her significant other was as serious as she claimed, the clothes were laundered and kept in a drawer and not simply plucked off a bedroom floor to be folded like that. “Bones is a grump, but it’s kind of an act. I mean, he is a pessimist, or maybe more of a realist, but he’s a decent person. He cares, he just doesn’t like showing it. Kirk is...I don’t know. He’s smart, and he’s charming, but I guess there’s something...off, maybe?”
He nodded. He had learned long ago to trust Nyota’s judgment. “How so?”
“He’s jittery sometimes. He tries to hide it well, but it’s gotten worse over the last year. I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was an addict of some sort.” She shrugged. “He never tests dirty on any tests, though, so maybe he’s just a caffeine addict, I don’t know. Or an adrenaline junkie. I mean, he does own that old fashioned motorcycle and all.” She handed him the trousers. “Go try those on.”
“Very well,” he said, heading towards her bathroom. This had given him something to ponder, and a candidate to get to meet first. If James Tiberius Kirk could be a problematic crew member, he wanted it sorted out before he ever set foot on the Enterprise.
“Jim, behave yourself tonight,” Bones said as they approached the bar. Kirk had to refrain from rolling his eyes. That had been the plan...more or less. He hadn’t told Bones how sick he felt, having held off for a while from having another bump. It had been a long time since he had actually felt this bad, and maybe a little KCW would help alleviate the problem. Fortunately, at this particular bar, he knew where to get it discretely.
Bones walked in and made a beeline for Christine, who had saved their usual booth for them. Really, he hated to be the third wheel on their dates, but it almost seemed like Bones didn’t want to let him out of his sight. At least Christine and her roommate were good people; he liked them, though he wasn’t really attracted to Nyota. She was attractive, she just wasn’t his type. Probably her background growing up on Vulcan; he hadn’t met many Vulcans and absolutely no humans other than her who had been there, but there was something about all of them that came off as...weird. Honestly, he had no idea what his type was, to be honest. He was pretty fluid with who he spent time with and gender didn’t mean much to him. He’d always been the type to judge more on personality and...well, other attributes.
But that was a long time ago. Since he’d entered the Academy, he’d kind of put a halt to most of the random flirting and focused more on his studies. Not that he didn’t have a social life, but it wasn’t like he was a sex maniac, either.
Besides, you don’t want anyone finding out your secret, that nagging voice in the back of his head told him. He usually considered it the angel on his shoulder and just as summarily ignored it most of the time. Not that the devil on his other shoulder spoke up all that much, just to remind him he needed another bump by being a bastard to his body.
Maybe he really should quit.
He moved closer to the bathrooms, trying hard not to bump into anyone in the crush of people at the bar that night. There were so many people in the place it was a literal crush of bodies, and in his withdrawing state, that probably wasn’t a good thing. When he would wait a bit between bumps, he’d get antsy and irritable, and that was when he’d drift back to his old ways and start picking fights. Usually he stuck with Bones, who seemed to be so used to the irritation that would come off those times that he’d just put up with whatever crap would come out of his mouth, and Bones never let him get physical, but now he was on the opposite side of the bar and Bones was with his girl and…
He let his eyes scan the room, moving over to where Bones and Christine were sitting, joined by Nyota and someone else, someone new. The man looked up and he felt something he’d never felt before, a sort of...connection in his mind, opening if nothing else.
The man’s eyes grew wide. T’hy'la, he heard a male voice say in his mind.
His own eyes widened and he clapped his hands over his ears. Hell no. HELL NO, he did not need this crap while he was withdrawing, it didn’t mean shit--
Withdrawing from what? the voice asked in his mind, but before he could really process anything he elbowed a tall guy who was usually in Security Training at the Academy in the side of his neck. The man whirled, picked Kirk up by the throat, and glared.
“Fuck you doing?” he asked in a thick New York accent.
“Let...me down...” Kirk managed to get out.
“Not till you apologize,” the man said.
No, no apologizing he had to go had to leave… He swung his foot out and kicked the beefy guy holding him up square in the balls, and was dropped to the floor. He stood up and Security Guy took a swing at him, hitting someone else when Kirk dropped to the floor. He felt sick and ill and fuck it, he was going home now, he thought to himself as a bar brawl started around him and he crawled away from the first of it. He expected with the last string of thoughts he had that the voice would question him again, but it was blissfully silent, whoever or whatever it was.
If he never saw the man he locked eyes with again, he thought as he hightailed it to his bike and turned it on, so much the better.
He’d had a very hard time sleeping the night before. It wasn’t so much he’d had weird dreams, because he’d had them before when coming down from KCW, but this was different. They weren’t his dreams, or rather his thoughts. It was the guy he’d caught the sight of across the bar. Whatever had happened he’d thought it’s just been some weird drug-induced thing or maybe a new withdrawal symptom, but now that it was morning and he was awake and there was still some sort of...presence...in his head, he wasn’t so sure.
It scared the fuck out of him.
He shuffled to the kitchen to get some water, his hands shaking. Damn it, the withdrawal was worse this time. He should have just gone and found a bump of KCW anyway because this was hell, this whole experience. He felt so hot, so tired and so drained, as though every muscle in his body was made of lead and that not even an entire ocean’s worth of water would be enough. It had been well over a day since he had a bump, the longest he’d ever gone since starting. He nearly dropped the glass while trying to get the water and just before he brought it to his lips there was a knock at the door. With a sigh, he took his glass and slowly made his way over to answer it.
Once the door was open, standing in front of him was the man from the night before. Only now, in the overly bright light of day and without the man in front of him wearing the beanie he had worn at the bar, he could see more clearly said man was a Vulcan, with a very authoritarian bearing, who was none other than his new Captain. He’d seen a picture of Captain Spock and aside from what looked like a slight bit of stubble on his face, this guy in front of him was the spitting image.
“Captain Spock, I presume?” Jim said, finally taking that first drink of water and trying not to chug down half the glass to preserve some dignity.
“In the words of my sister Nyota Uhura, you look like shit,” he said, giving Kirk a quizzical look.
Oh, that was just great. His Captain was related to his best friend’s girlfriend’s roommate. He wasn’t sure Uhura was his biggest fan but he was pretty sure he hadn’t gotten a glowing report from her. He raised his glass to Spock. “Well, you know my secret, I suppose. You stopped me from being...better.”
“I stopped you from damaging your body more than you already have, Mr. Kirk,” he said. “You are unwell.”
“I’m fine,” Jim said, turning away from the door but not shutting it behind him. If his Captain followed, fine. If he didn’t, fine. He didn’t care right now. He wanted water and rest. “I can quit any time I want. This is just temporary.”
“I know it is not,” Spock said, his voice quieter, more calming. “I can tell what it is doing to you, Mr. Kirk. This withdrawal will kill you if you do not have my help.”
Kirk stopped. “What do you mean?” he asked, turning around.
“Your body temperature will rise too much,” he replied. “Your organs will boil. Your blood will boil. You will die. That is what the poisons do to the addicts who try and stop taking it when they get to your point in their addiction. But I can help.”
At that moment something flashed between them in this weird mental link they shared, and he saw Spock helping someone else, a member of his crew before who had gone through the same thing. This time the glass did slip, shattering on contact with the floor. That broke the link between them, and he stared up at Spock in surprise. “Wha--?”
“I have the necessary experience, and it would seem there is a connection between us that should be explored, Mr. Kirk,” he said. “I think it is in your best interest to let me help you.
Kirk began to nod, but a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over him, accompanied by a sense of overheating, and he felt himself feel faint and fall forward, and the last thing he remembered was Spock catching him, almost as if he expected it.
t'hy'la - Friend/lover/brother
k'war'ma'khon - Extended family
kan-sorn - A purposefully induced comatose state of the Vulcan mind
“I don’t understand. He’s doing what?”
“Boiling alive inside. It is the way KCW kills humans. It gives much but miss even one dose in over twenty-four hours and it is fatal.”
“Shit, if that doesn’t kill him I will.” There was silence for a moment. “Sorry, Captain.”
“No apologies necessary. If he was not my t’hy’la it might have been too late last night. He has a chance.”
“Until he wakes up.”
“No murder, Doctor. Captain’s orders.”
And then there was cooling on his forehead and he slipped back into the darkness.
“Nyota, I must. He is...connected...to me.”
“Seriously? Jackass Jim Kirk is your t’hy’la? Mom is going to throw a fit when she meets her new k'war'ma'khon. Human or not, he’s a junkie. Not to mention Father knowing you’re bonded to...him.”
“I am more concerned with saving Mr. Kirk’s life at the moment.” There was silence for a moment. “He is coming out of kan-sorn.”
“How did you get him into the Vulcan coma-- Oh. T’hy’la stuff. Nevermind, I don’t get it still.” A shorter pause. “Do you need anything?”
“Just peace and quiet, and perhaps the herbal tisane Mother sends you for when I’m done.”
“I’ll go brew some.” A rustle and then silence for a bit.
Sleep now, Spock’s voice said softly in his head.
And sleep he did.
“He needs to stay very cold. I can regulate his body temperatures myself, I just need warmth. It is too cold in this room.”
“Leonard, just turn the heat up. I’ve only seen this once, but I think if anyone can save Jim, it’s not going to be us.”
“I know. But you have to have some optimism in this situation. Nyota says he’s saved someone from overdosing. Withdrawal isn’t much different with this stuff. He’ll be fine.”
“Fine, but I’m not leaving.”
“No one expected otherwise.”
“You know I do not believe in Earth religion.”
“No jokes. It’s just an old human phrase. I mean it though. Don’t you dare die on me or I swear, I’ll sic Sybok on you, and I still owe him a punch in the face.”
“To sic my half-brother on me is not necessary, my dear sister. He is past the worst of it. We do not need his presence complicating our lives any further.”
“Yeah, we just have your soulmate being Jim Kirk to worry about.”
“I thought you were friendly with him.”
“Until I found out he was going to kill my brother with a damn KCW withdrawal.” He could hear Nyota sigh. “Your sure he’s past it?”
“I am. And if we are lucky, he will never crave the drug again. Now, I must rest.”
“Take my bed.”
“No. Here is fine.”
“I’m stepping in, Captain. I’ll wait with him. You go to your sister’s bunk and sleep this off.”
“If you insist, Doctor.”
“I do. I’ll wait with the jackass. Anything I need on hand?”
“Water. As much water as he can stomach.” There was the press of a hand to his chest. “Sleep.”
And then darkness again.
“Drink or I’ll hook you up to an IV.”
The water felt good against his lips, like he’d never had a drop of it before in his entire existence. He was sucking it down through a straw but at least Bones had added ice. Damn, it felt like...what was the old Earth term? Manna from heaven.
And heck, if he’d believed in heaven or hell, he was wondering why he wasn’t currently dead and in one of those places. Probably the darker, hotter one, knowing the stupid shit he’d done.
Bones didn’t say anything else and he shut his eyes again. He felt so damn weak, like he’d been wrung out like a rag and hung out to dry. Whatever the Captain had done, he was grateful, but he hoped the man didn’t feel even a quarter as bad.
No, Mr. Kirk, I do not feel...wrung out like a rag. Just tired.
He squeezed his eyes shut. So you really are in my head?
Only if you wish me to be, as you and I are connected. It is rare for this connection to be formed between a Vulcan and a human, but there are exceptions. And in your case, our connection may have been what saved your life.
He hit the bottom of the glass when it came to the water he was sucking down and soon the straw was gone and another was in its place. How much am I going to have to pee when I’m done with all this water?
There was silence on Captain Spock’s end for a moment. Humor?
Kind of, yeah. I mean, do you even get humor? I don’t know most Vulcans who do.
I am only half-Vulcan. Vulcan father, human mother.
How is that even possible? There aren’t many cross-species children that live unless the genetics are compatible and I wasn’t aware humans and Vulcan were.
Only with manipulation at the genetic level, Spock said, sounding almost proud. Do you know much about Vulcan genetics?
Not really, but xenogenetics, in general, is an interesting course of study. I took all the classes I could in it.
Yes. I saw that in your records. You have taken more classes in more areas of study than any Academy graduate who will be on the Enterprise. The work of KCW?
Yeah. Kirk was silent as he finished another glass of water and a third was given to him. There was a thirst in him he didn’t think he’d be able to quench, but it didn’t feel like it did when he was between bumps. In fact, as shitty as he felt, he didn’t feel any urge for the drug. It really is out of my system.
You are very lucky, Mr. Kirk. Had it been an overdose and not a withdrawal, not even our connection could have saved you.
Our connection as t’hy’la?
Do you understand what that means? The tone in his head sounded curious.
Friends, brothers, lovers. I doubt the first two are the intended meaning with this telepathic connection though.
You have surmised correctly, though there need be no reciprocal emotional feelings between us as there are with humans. I just need you near to keep the contact open and to occasionally touch you.
Vulcans are touch telepaths, aren’t they?
Yes, we are. But I imagine if I were to touch your skin now that the poison is out of your system I will hear nothing that you do not allow me to hear. But drink now, and rest. I shall do the same and we can converse more when the symptoms have passed.
So this isn’t the worst of it?
KCW is a poison, Mr. Kirk. There are still aftereffects, but I believe I’ve saved you from the worst of it.
You can call me Jim, you know.
And you may call me Spock when we are alone.
Thank you, Spock. But there was no answer and he felt exhaustion wash over him again as well and he imagined that right now, both of them were going to catch up on some much-needed rest.