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for [livejournal.com profile] happy_trekmas, as a gift for [livejournal.com profile] jessica_hobe

many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] theemdash for plotting ideas and [livejournal.com profile] muck_a_luck for an ever-speedy beta read

Spock rescues the captain--as usual--but there are some lasting effects from Jim's imprisonment.

Vox | PG | 2315 words | complete

When they found the captain, Spock immediately knew that something was wrong. He did not believe himself capable of precognition or any type of telepathy that did not involve touch, but he could still tell that something was amiss. The captain stood fists at the ready when Spock heaved open the door of his cell, dropping them immediately when he saw them, but he did not greet Spock with a witty remark. His shirt was torn, and there were obvious bruises on his torso, as well as blood on the side of his face. Spock took a step forward, and Kirk swayed slightly.

“Captain, are you well?” Spock asked.

Kirk opened his mouth to reply, blinked, and closed it again. He touched his hand to his throat, then to his head, then shook his head. Spock pulled out his communicator and called the ship. “We have found the captain. Five to beam up, and have Doctor McCoy meet us in the transporter room.”

“Yes, sir,” came the reply, and then they were beaming back to the ship.

McCoy arrived moments later, tricorder in had.

“What’s that fool done to himself now?” Kirk again opened his mouth to reply, then shook his head and shrugged. “Can’t talk?” Kirk nodded. “Alright, let’s get you to medbay.”

“I will return to the bridge,” Spock said. “Doctor, please notify me as soon as you have test results.” Spock ruthlessly pushed down his concern. McCoy was an excellent physician, and the statistical likelihood that he would discover and cure the captain’s sudden muteness was exceedingly high. He would not concern himself with things he could not control.

*

“Well, I’ve got good news and bad news,” McCoy said without preamble when Spock entered medbay at the end of beta shift. He had not heard from the doctor, so decided to investigate before his rest cycle.

“You may tell them to me in whatever order you deem most useful,” Spock said, and McCoy frowned at him. Kirk was silently laughing where he sat on a biobed. “Doctor?”

“Yeah, whatever. Jim’s fine, other than being mildly concussed and mute,” McCoy said. “I fixed the former, but the latter’s giving me trouble. His vocal cords are in perfect condition, but they’re paralyzed. There’s evidence of injection points on his neck, but no recognizable chemicals in his system.”

“If a chemical had been present and broken down, would it still affect him?” Spock asked.

“Not without some residue,” McCoy said. “I’m rerunning all my tests to be sure, but I’m at a loss.”

“Does the captain not remember what happened to him while he was on the planet?”

“Bits and pieces only, he tells me,” McCoy said, gesturing at a PADD laying on the biobed next to where Kirk sat.

Kirk waved to get their attention, then brought his hand up to his own face, placing his fingers in a remarkably accurate replica of the positioning for a mind meld.

Spock forced down his shock. Yes, the captain had seen him meld with aliens and even objects, but he had not realized the Human was paying that close attention. He also knew that Kirk had melded with Spock’s counterpart, but they had never melded. Spock was Vulcan enough to admit why: there were things he did not want Kirk to see in his mind, which he knew would be shared if they ever melded.

“That will not be possible,” he said.

Kirk picked up the PADD, tapping furiously, and then the computer’s voice said, “But you do it all the time.”

“It is a complicated procedure between persons who know each other well,” Spock said, which was not entirely untrue. “But certainly it will not be necessary. I would not necessarily be able to recover the captain’s memories, and even so, they would not necessarily help with curing his condition.”

“Ok, ok, we get it,” the PADD said. “So what is the plan, Bones?”

“I want to keep you overnight for observation, and you can’t be on active duty if you can’t talk.” Bones smirked. “But we’ll be safe from your smart-aleck mouth.”

Kirk stuck out his tongue at him.

*

The next morning, Spock received a text-only communique from the captain, stating that McCoy was still "stumped", and that he was confined to quarters for the time being, just to be safe. Spock was formally in command until Kirk recovered, but Kirk's intention was to catch up on paperwork and crew schedules. The communique ended with a request for a chess game that evening. Spock replied with a quick affirmative before beginning his shift.

Alpha shift was unremarkable. Spock filed a mission report with Command, though it rankled to not be able to file a complete report, or to have a reason for the captain's muteness...and not just for professional reasons. Spock did not examine his relationship with Kirk very often, but it would be a lie of the most egregious kind to say he did not care deeply for the Human. He wanted Kirk--Jim, as he had insisted on being called time and again--in peak condition and back on the bridge once more. Spock did not like command, and he did not like the idea of Kirk trapped in his quarters, alone.

Beta shift was equally uneventful, as they sped away from the planet and on to their next destination, another exploratory mission of a supposedly-uninhabited planet. Spock found that the captain was going through old reports very quickly; notifications of notes with remarks or questions arrived on his PADD approximately every 5.68 minutes. Spock found himself hearing them in Kirk's voice when he read over them; he had never been so preoccupied with the sound until he could no longer hear it. True, it would live forever in his memory and in numerous audio and video files, but what if that was all? What if Jim never regained his voice? Would he still be allowed to retain command? Probably not.

What if Spock never heard Jim say his name ever again?

Spock found that the latter thought troubled him as much as the former.

*

Spock arrived exactly on time to play chess that evening, but the door did not open when he pressed the chime. He pressed it again, and then a third time, and then the door did open, revealing the captain with his hand on the manual lock, smiling lopsidedly. "The computer does not respond to its own voice," the PADD in his hand said as he stepped aside to let Spock in.

"I had not considered that," Spock said. "I had thought perhaps that something was wrong."

"No, I am fine, just climbing the walls," the PADD said. When Spock raised an eyebrow, it added, "I am bored, Spock, very, very bored."

"I shall attempt to alleviate that condition, then," Spock said. "I believe it is your turn to play white."

Kirk shot him a wicked grin, an expression that never failed to cause Spock's heartrate to increase .5%. The game commenced, and continued in companionable silence, rather than the usual discussion of ship's business or recent news or scientific discoveries. Spock found the silence soothing, but at the same time missed the brightness of Kirk's laughter, the often illogical nature of his jokes. "Has Doctor McCoy made any headway in discovering either a cause or a cure?" Spock asked finally, when it was clear the game was his.

"No," Kirk typed into the PADD. “He is hoping it will just wear off on its own, at this point, since he says he is out of ideas for now. I am sure he or you will come up with something soon, though."

"Captain, I am not a medical doctor," Spock protested. Kirk raised an eyebrow at him, in a fair imitation of Spock's own chosen expression. "Jim. But it remains: I have very little experience with medical matters, beyond being treated for the same."

"But you are my miracle worker," the PADD said, and Spock felt illogically pleased. "I am sure you will figure it out."

*

Jim's enthusiasm remained high over the next 6.5 days, but neither Spock nor Doctor McCoy made any breakthroughs. Jim's memories of the events on the planet did not return, and all McCoy's attempts at medical solutions failed. "Honestly, I think it's just psychological at this point," McCoy was saying as Spock came into the medbay to inquire after the results of the captain's most recent examination. "If stimulating the vocal cords directly isn't working, I don't know what else to try."

Jim frowned. "Hey, Spock," he typed into the PADD. "Tell me you have some good news."

"Unfortunately, I do not," Spock said, and Jim's face fell even more.

"I was really hoping you guys would work this out," the PADD said. "I guess I should make my report to the Admiralty and start the process of promoting Spock to captain."

"Captain, is that really necessary?" Spock said quickly. It was his worst outcome come to life, and it hurt.

"A captain who cannot give commands cannot be captain," Jim typed, the firm way his fingers impacted with the PADD making his point clear. "I would rather get it over and done with, if it comes to that."

"Captain, I believe there is one more method we have not tried," Spock said. It was not fair to withhold this option any longer. "Will you wait to contact the Admiralty until tomorrow?" Jim nodded. "Very well. I will meet you in your quarters in one hour. Doctor." Spock nodded to both men and then swept out of medbay.

He would have to meditate if he were to have any hope of keeping his mind separate from Jim's.

*

The door to Jim's cabin opened at the first ring this time, but Jim was businesslike as he stood aside for Spock to enter, hand clearly tensed on his PADD. "I believe a suggestion was made when you were first rescued, which I perhaps erroneously caused us to discard. The mindmeld," Spock clarified, when Jim looked confused.

"I thought you said it could not be done."

"Not quite," Spock said, feeling a pang for lying, even if only by omission. "As you and I know each other quite well, mental contact would immediately be deeper than a mere surface scan. I will do my best to keep this from happening, as it can be uncomfortable and intrusive to both parties, but I believe it is necessary to attempt before more drastic measures are taken."

"You just do not want me to leave, do you?"

"No, I do not," Spock said, matter-of-factly. "If you will sit on the bunk. I believe that will be the most comfortable."

Jim nodded, and they walked to the rear portion of the cabin. Jim sat on the bed, legs crossed under him and leaning back against the headboard, and looked at Spock expectantly. Spock sat, knees pressed against Jim's, and raised his hand to Jim's face. Consciously or not, Jim leaned into the light touch, eyes closing and head tipping back slightly, and Spock's heart stuttered in his side. "My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts."

*

Jim’s mind was like a ray of sunlight on a cool day: warm and all too inviting. Spock could feel his walls trembling, and focused on the task at hand. What is the last thing you remember of the mission, before you were rescued? he thought.

He was pulled into a memory: Jim, separated from the rest of the away team, forced to his knees by two guards from the unidentified species they had encountered on the planet, a third (female, perhaps, from its more delicate bone structure) standing in front of him. “We ask again, ksh spy, what vrrk do you grrksl?” the universal translator finally converted their clicking, hissing language into.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jim said, and outside of the memory, Spock reveled in the sound. “I mean, really, I have no idea what you’re saying. Translator doesn’t seem to like you.”

Vsh mnaa khvt!” the alien said, slamming its clawed hand into the side of Jim’s head, knocking him to the ground.

“Yeah, yeah, and your mother was a hamster,” Jim shot back.

“If you will not krlll, ksh, you will be silent,” the alien said. Jim opened his mouth to reply, but two sets of needle-like claws slammed into his neck, creating the puncture marks Doctor McCoy had discovered. Jim screamed, but no sound came out, and then another alien fist slammed into his head and he blacked out.

*

Spock opened his eyes and found himself staring into Jim’s very blue eyes. Spock pulled his hand away. “I do not believe we have been successful, though perhaps the additional information I have gleaned will help Doctor McCoy.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Jim croaked. “Hey, cool, it worked.”

“Fascinating,” Spock said. “You should contact Doctor McCoy. I am certain he will have numerous theories as to the reasons behind our success.”

Spock moved to get up, but Jim put a hand on his arm. “Emotional transference is an effect of the mindmeld,” Jim said softly, and Spock’s mind stuttered to a halt.

“I...I will remove myself immediately,” Spock said. “I did not mean--”

The words stopped abruptly when Jim took his hand, stroking his first two fingers over Spock’s palm. “You were so careful, you didn’t see,” Jim said, and when Spock looked up from their joined hands, he could see Jim’s fond smile. “I love you, too, you green-blooded idiot.”

Spock opened his mouth to protest the epithet, but whatever he might have said was swallowed by Jim’s lips against his. Spock closed his eyes, surrendering himself to silence.

Feedback is better than chocolate.
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