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Story Notes:

Original Title: Tolerance to Respect

Notes: Part of the Progression Series. Sequel to Pain.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009 and I make no profit from this work.

It is rather incredible, Jim thinks.

Firstly, the Vulcan is strung up by his wrists, with narrow cuffs. Jim is aware of how painful that is, because he's in the same position.

Secondly, the Klingon 'interrogating' them has been blathering non-stop about the loss of Vulcan. And yeah, even Jim regrets stooping that low as to use it is to get under the Vulcan's skin, and he doesn't like him either.

Thirdly, the Klingon's given him one hell of a beating. There's bruising everywhere, and even Jim can tell there's probably some major internal injuries.

And finally, there is a knife jammed between his rib. Okay, it doesn't seem to have hit anything vital, but that still has to hurt like a motherfucker.

And yet Spock looks bored.

It's insane! It's utterly nuts! He looks bored, like he's at a diplomatic function and some ambassador of a place so far in the Federation's pocket it's up its ass is telling him, in detail, about the sketchy Orion-Andorian trade agreement. Bored like the Admiralty have him in an hour-long conference. Bored-bored.

Jim has to admit, he's getting a little bit of an idea how that Vulcan emotional control thing could come in handy.

And yes, Jim can recognise a not-bored Spock by now. He wasn't bored-looking when he drop-kicked Jim around the bridge, that's for damn sure. He didn't look bored when he was snogging Uhura on the transporter pad. But he also didn't look bored when Uhura broke up with him four months later - more like upset. And he didn't look bored when they were sent to get samples off a comet sailing past Neptune - no, that was positively fascinating as far as Spock was concerned.

But right now, with a knife in his ribs and a Klingon in his face? Yeah. Bored.

Now Jim is a smartass in these situations. He answers back, he throws insults, he mocks and calls people 'cupcake.' But Spock isn't even bothering to answer the Klingon, nine times out of ten. He'll raise an eyebrow now and then, or correct an erroneous assumption (for example, that he was Vulcan, not a well-groomed Romulan) but that's about it.

In fact, Jim is pretty sure he's...well, not daydreaming, that's too human, but doing something in his head. Calculations, probably. Or playing chess against himself. Or (and he doesn't know if this is possible, knowing fuck-all about Vulcan telepathy like he does) conversing idly with some relative somewhere through those mental link things.

Nah. Then he'd look interested in the conversation.

Jim doesn't even know what the Klingon is on about now - he long stopped listening. He's making his own calculations. Spock is badly injured, no matter what his boredom is saying. No way is he not feeling those injuries. And Jim has noticed how the knife hilt twitches slightly every time he breathes.

McCoy is going to have a fit.

This is the first time Jim's seen Spock really up close with an enemy. They've done battle before, but not really face-to-face like this since Nero. And it's...unsettling to see that boredom focused on someone else.

Because that is the same look Spock delivers to Jim all the freaking time. Only, right now, aimed squarely at this raving Klingon, it's kind of fucking awesome. And Jim doesn't even feel the need to be a prick to distract the Klingon from screaming at his First Officer. (He doesn't know how much of that is that he doesn't particularly like his First Officer, and how much of him is enjoying Spock's complete lack of interest in anything the Klingon is coming out with.)

But Jim still winces when Klingon shoves another dagger into Spock's bicep.

"Of course, the challenge will be getting you to lose control," the Klingon says suddenly, and that catches Jim's attention. Get Spock to lose control? Why does he suddenly have the urge to tell the guy that that is a really, really bad idea?

He doesn't, of course. Though Spock's eyebrow tries to, because it crawls up towards his hairline.

"You think I can't do it?" the Klingon demands.

"Correct," Spock says.

"I wouldn't," Jim says.

The Klingon looks at him like he's a bug.

"Piss him off," Jim reiterates. "I wouldn't do that, if I were you. That Vulcan can get really pissy."

Funny, Spock's gone from bored to rather annoyed now. Maybe it's a talent of Jim's.

"I pissed him off, ages ago," Jim says. "And just...yeah. Don't. It hurts."

Spock's eyebrow twitches in irritation again before his face smoothes out. Jim still gets a kick out of pissing him off. Especially when there's no way Spock can strangle him from here.

The Klingon laughs. "A Vulcan would pose no threat to me," he snarls.

"A Vulcan, no. A really ticked off Vulcan? Yeah."

The Klingon sneers.

"I mean, I know you guys have loads of spare stuff in there, but I'm pretty sure you can't survive getting your head ripped off."

"Captain," Spock interrupts, "I have never 'ripped a head off' in my life. Even with a Vulcan grip, it is remarkably difficult to separate the skull from the spine, and the flesh, without a sharp implement."

Jim fucking loves Klingons. Because the guy looks totally baffled at what Spock just said.

"Vulcan hearing is also remarkably superior to Klingon or Human hearing," Spock continues. "As evidenced by the fact that neither you," and he looks the Klingon in the murky eye now, "nor the Captain seem to be aware of the transmission noises emitting from both our communicators."

And Jim thinks maybe Spock has one of those mental links to Scotty, because that's when the guy beams them right out of the totally unshielded Klingon warbird.

"You," he tells Spock, even as McCoy pounces on the Vulcan and starts waving tricorders and issuing swearwords and demands, "are fucking awesome."

And no, he doesn't like Spock. That kind of shit is only funny or appropriate when aimed at someone else. And it could, easily, have got them both killed.

But you have to respect a guy for that kind of insane bravery. And boredom.

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