Outside the Storm
Jim jolted awake as if he’d never fallen asleep, heart jack-hammering and breath coming in shallow pants. For a moment, he stared at the wall uncomprehendingly, the sight of red velveteen so completely and unexpectedly foreign that it took his brain a few seconds to reboot.
When it did, he threw himself out of Spock’s bed so fast that he actually slammed into the wall.
His arm throbbed, the regenerated muscle tissue in his bicep protesting sharply at its rough treatment. Jim bit his lip and hissed through his teeth, gaze swinging toward the heavens as he gripped his elbow. The pain was slow to fade, but he hurried the process along by breathing deeply and relaxing into the pain as his mother had instructed him to so many years ago when he’d broken his wrist for the first time.
When his arm finally settled into a dull ache, Jim turned back to Spock’s bedroom, eyes scanning the cramped space before finally landing on the rumpled bed. He shifted nervously as he realized that, no, last night hadn’t been a medicated hallucination. He had actually –
“Captain.” Jim’s eyes snapped to the main living space, where Spock stood with a steaming cup held delicately in one hand. His head was tilted ever so slightly to the side, his eyes narrowed in what Jim had come to recognize over the past few years as concern. “Are you well?”
Jim swallowed, suddenly very aware of his nearly naked body.
“Yeah,” he said, but what he’d meant as a reassuring statement came out more like question, and Spock’s lips thinned into his version of a frown in response.
“Yes,” Jim reaffirmed with conviction. “Yes, I’m fine, Spock.”
Spock still didn’t seem entirely convinced, but he didn’t push the issue, for which Jim was undeniably grateful. Instead Spock handed over the mug, and Jim nearly groaned in bliss as the scent of fresh brewed Brazilian dark roast hit his nostrils. He flashed Spock a grateful smile and savored the first molten sip of coffee, eyes drifting closed in enjoyment.
When he opened them again, Spock was studying him with the most peculiar expression on his face. It set him on edge almost immediately, but even worse was that he found himself incapable of divining the emotion behind his –behind that gaze. Jim shifted self-consciously, and cleared his throat.
“Are you alright, Spock?” he asked, hoping that his voice didn’t sound as unsure to Spock’s ears as it did to his own.
Spock was silent for a moment as he contemplated the question, but while the intensity of his stare didn’t lessen, Jim saw the tense line of his shoulders gradually relax.
“Yes, Jim. I believe I … feel fine.”