Vulcan was always so silent at night.
I hadn’t been able to sleep, as usual, so I had just given up the battle and gone to sit out in the austere courtyard, bare but for one single solitary bench. It was even hotter out here than it was in my room, but the slight breeze helped to calm my nerves, make me feel less trapped by the high walls and strict rules of this compound, and by the loss of my ship.
My ship. The Enterprise. My home for the happiest part of my life. I’d had to destroy her, and now I would never see her again. Most likely, after Starfleet got through with me, I wouldn’t see any ship ever again. I had the protection of the Vulcan Council for now, but I couldn’t remain here indefinitely. I would go stir-crazy. I had to stay just long enough for Spock, to make sure he was going to be alright. Once I was sure, I would go back to Earth to face the consequences of my actions. What could I say in my defence? My actions had been the actions of a desperate man, a man who had lost the most important thing to him in the world, and who had gone to length after regulationless length to get him back. My chances of success had been tiny, almost zero. I had cost Starfleet all it had ever invested in me, and in the rest of my wonderful bridge crew besides by undertaking this dangerous and politically embarrassing escapade. Relations between Vulcan and Earth were now severely strained because of me. I did not expect to get away with a warning this time.
But that didn’t matter. We saved Spock. All of this I had done for him, and whenever I began to dwell on my new future prospects, I only had to remind myself of my reason for doing it and it all made sense again. We saved Spock.
I hadn’t seen him in 9 days now, not since he recognised me at the Fal-tor-pan. I wanted to be there while he recovered, to help him recover in some way, but every time I asked to see him I was shooed away with the healers’ explanations that this was a delicate and methodical process, and that they did not want to risk over-stimulating him at this stage. He needed to learn the basics first in a clean environment, they said. I had to accept their reasoning. I still knew next-to-nothing about Vulcan rituals and I was not going to risk compromising everything that had happened so far to satisfy my own selfish wants, however much I stayed awake at night worrying.
A small insect-type animal landed on the bench next to me, jerking me out of my reverie. It resembled a small Earth dragonfly, but with six wings instead of the four. I watched as it cleaned its eyes with its feathery front legs, pathetically grateful for its unwitting company and distraction. A few minutes later, it finished its grooming and I watched as it flew off, back into the night. As I raised my head, I suddenly noticed that a figure a few metres away had been watching me. I jumped up, startled. But then I recognised who it was.
“…Spock?” I whispered, puzzled. What was he doing all the way out here? And at this time of the night? Had something happened?
“Are you Jim?” he asked of me. His voice sounded young, uncertain, even scared. I suppose he was functionally a child, seeing as he had no memories before the katra transfer. He still moved awkwardly, as if not quite used to this tall body. My heart went out to him. I forced a reassuring smile, however much seeing him like this hurt me.
“Yes, it’s me. Jim.” I tried to sound normal. “What’s wrong, Spock?”
And then he did something I never expected. His hands clenched by his sides, his face screwed up and he began to cry.
Well, over-stimulation be damned. In just a few steps I was right there with him, pulling him into my embrace and holding him as the sobs racked his new body. I rocked his head against my shoulder, stroking his hair as he cried. If he did this in front of the other Vulcans I don’t know what they’d do. So I just tried to comfort him the best I could, not trying to stop him, just letting him get it out of his system. I was tearing up too. It had been so long since I had seen him, and in all that time I hadn’t stopped worrying about him for so much as a moment, awake or asleep. I hadn’t anticipated how relieved I would be to be able to touch him again, to reassure myself that he was here and this was real.
“What… is this?” he gasped between sobs. “What is… happening to me now?”
“You’re crying, Spock.” I explained, somewhat relieved that this at least had not been left up to the ultra-Vulcan healers to explain. “It’s an… involuntary physical reaction that happens when we’re upset, or frustrated. Hey, it’s alright,” I whispered into his ear, trying to calm him. “It’s… normal.” And then I broke down myself, and we clutched each other tightly, painfully-tightly as we cried together. I would have bruises in the morning and so might he, but I didn’t mind.
Once he had calmed down enough to articulate speech, he drew back so he could see my rather tear-streaked face. He did not shed tears himself on account of his desert physiology. He reached out his fingers to touch my cheek, looking slightly disturbed when they came back wet.
“You are also… crying,” he observed. “Therefore, logically, you must be either upset or frustrated. What is upsetting you?”
What a question. How could I explain? It was everything. That soul-wrenching pain I felt when he died, having to watch, helpless as he sank to the floor and the radiation burned his insides, the image burned constantly onto the inside of my head… the anxiety, the feeling of immense wrongness that dogged my every step by day and tortured my nights when I remained parted from him until his rescue… and now, this boneless relief as I felt his grip on my shoulder, his brown gaze on mine, really here and, against the odds, alive.
All of this and more, and all I came up with was three words.
“I’ve missed you,” I breathed.
His hands tightened their grip on my shoulders at my words. He scrutinised my gaze, searching for… something, I’m not sure what. He either found it or didn’t, because then he looked away.
“All they do is tell me things,” he said, and it took me a moment to work out what he was talking about. “Lists of… facts about my life before this happened. What to eat, what to say, how to act. They expect many things and I do my best to please them. But it all seems somehow artificial. I cannot yet truly recall anything beyond a few… impressions, which are so confused as to be useless. I feel things and do things and do not know why I do them.”
“It will come back to you with time,” I replied, echoing what the healers had told me over and over again. It seemed they had been telling Spock the same thing because he merely nodded. I crossed my arm over my chest to put my hand on his where it still rested on my shoulder.
“So… is that what is upsetting you?” I asked, worried. I had just processed his last sentence properly. He seemed quite emotionally unstable. If he had been showing that in the healing compound… well, that would not ‘please’ the healers at all. That was it. Whatever they were telling me, I needed to fight to be allowed to see him. I understood him, had understood him better than anyone else, and they were not going to keep me out of his recovery any longer. He wasn’t just Vulcan, half of him was human, however much he always refused to admit it. He leaned back into me before speaking again.
“Everything is uncertain. I am unable to remember where this is or who I am. But even so… somehow, I miss you.”
“Oh, Spock…” I extricated my hand from his in order to hug him properly. And so we stood there, in the courtyard, holding each other for a very long time. The smell of him… I had even missed the smell of him. Vulcan meditation incense, smelling a little like paprika. More of the insect-type creatues whirled about us, some landing on us briefly before taking off again. The sky began to look a little lighter, day dawning red as it always did on Vulcan. But eventually, however soothing it was to have him here with me, I could feel tiredness taking its toll. And however tiring it was for me must have been doubly so for Spock, still unused to the world.
“Come on. We’ll get you back to bed,” I said, taking his arm and leading him back to the healing compound. He gave no protest.
When we got back there the door was locked. I knew it only locked from the inside, so Spock must have escaped through the window. Bizarre. Quite the nocturnal adventure you’ve had here, Spock, I thought, feeling a smile quirk my lips. I turned to look at him, but he looked impassive. I shrugged and turned back to the compound. Very illogical. I briefly considered sneaking him back in that way too, but the windows were all too high up to make that a safe idea. Gathering all my courage, I knocked quietly on the door. Almost immediately it flew open and we were greeted by an indignant Vulcan healer.
“What has thee been doing with the Fal-tor-pansu?” he almost spat. I shifted into command mode immediately.
“I did nothing,” I retorted. “Spock came to me because he has no memory of anything else. In light of this fact, and the fact that he is not only Vulcan but half human as well, I once more respectfully recommend that I be granted regular access to him to aid his recovery.”
The healer looked satisfyingly wrong-footed at this tirade.
“It is the logical deduction to make, now will you or won’t you?” I demanded, putting the thumbscrews on.
“…I will talk to the others,” he intoned. “Now come, we are 4.6 hours into the Fal-tor-pansu’s scheduled sleep stage.” He turned, healer’s robes swishing behind him and walked briskly down the corridor. I tugged on Spock’s arm and he followed.
“In there,” the healer commanded sharply as we drew up to a certain door. I thanked him and led Spock inside. I was struck by how bare it was. His quarters on the Enterprise had always been full of odd curios. This just seemed… empty. Under-stimulating, if anything. Lonely.
I let go of his arm when we got to the bed, letting him lie himself down on it. Well, it seemed he still slept ramrod-straight. At least that hadn’t changed. I squeezed his shoulder before I turned to leave, much to the glaring disapproval of the healer.
“Sleep well, Spock,” I said to him.
“Sleep well, Jim,” came the reply.
I turned at the door and beamed at him. Because thanks to him I knew that for the first time in a long time, I would be straight asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Spock wasn’t quite back yet, but I had seen enough of the Vulcan I knew and loved tonight – a look, a mannerism, a turn of phrase – to know that one day he would be. And whether it took months, or years, even decades, I was going to stay by his side until this noble man was returned to himself.
I have saved Spock, I thought to myself, grinning.