And I am also quite blind…
Those words reverberated through Kirk’s mind. How Spock could say it, so prosaic, so factual…
He had not been able to face him – had not been able to keep his own eyes on Spock’s blind ones for more than a few minutes. McCoy would take care of him. McCoy would take care of him, and he, the captain, would continue about his duty, continue with the lives of a million people resting in his hands, continue with everything resting on his shoulders.
He sighed, folding his arms across his face, pressing hard to shut out the light. How would they survive this? How would he and Spock continue through this?
After a while he uncovered his eyes again, blinking in the brightness after absolute dark as the thought struck him that Spock could not do this now. He turned his head, his gaze falling on a book left on the shelf by the bed, carefully aligned at ninety degrees to the decorative panel that separated living from sleeping quarters, and with no bookmark because Spock, of course, never forgot his place. Spock had been reading The Odyssey, on Kirk’s recommendation.
Guilt and grief stabbed through him. Sam, dead, Aurelan, dead, little Peter still unconscious and riven with pain even in his sleep. And Spock, not dead, no longer in pain, but his sight burned out of his eyes because one of Kirk’s thousands of command decisions had finally gone wrong.
The intercom whistled. Jim did not have the energy or inclination to answer it, but he did so anyway. It was his duty, and he would be damned if he did not do his duty.
‘Captain,’ McCoy said, and Jim could still hear the tightness of anger laced through his voice.
‘What is it, Bones?’ Kirk asked tiredly. ‘You shouldn’t need me for another few hours.’
‘I don’t need you,’ McCoy said meaningfully, ‘but I can’t do any more for Spock in sick bay. There’s no need for him to be there, and he’d rather be in familiar surroundings.’
‘You don’t need my permission to clear him for release, doctor,’ Kirk said impatiently.
He did not want to think of Spock any more. Just for a few hours he wanted to block his existence right out of his mind, no matter how cruel that decision seemed. For a few hours he wanted to be a rock, without love or friendship or any of the attending pain.
‘I’m not releasing him to sit on his own, blind, goddammit,’ McCoy said with a stronger edge of anger. ‘I want to know if you’re in your quarters so he can stay with you.’
Jim hesitated. He was bone-tired. He was scared. Yes, he had to admit that to himself. He was scared of being with Spock, scared of looking at him like that, less than capable, wrapped in his own personal fear.
‘Jim,’ McCoy said with hissing impatience.
‘Oh. Yes, of course, Bones,’ he said. How could he refuse? ‘Bring him down. I’ll be here.’
He lay back on the bed, folding his arm over his eyes again, letting the darkness settle. But the door buzzer jarred into the silence. He jerked upright, almost angry now. It was late, and he had set his privacy status to high. No one should have come to his door without contacting him via intercom first.
‘All right, what – ’ he began as the door slid open.
Spock stood there, pale faced and rigid, with McCoy beside him.
‘Spock,’ Kirk stuttered. He was not ready for this… ‘Bones, you only just called. You must have been – ’
McCoy nodded at the intercom just down the corridor.
‘All right,’ Jim said, masking over his annoyance in deference to Spock. ‘Come in.’
‘You don’t need me, Jim,’ McCoy said meaningfully, touching Spock’s arm to nudge him forward. ‘I’ve given Spock all the advice I can to help him. There’s nothing else I can do.’ He paused a moment, then said, ‘I’ll get back to my work in sick bay, Captain.’
Kirk stood, silent, as McCoy turned and stalked off down the corridor. The doctor was angry with him. He understood that. He was angry at himself.
‘Jim,’ Spock said in an uncertain voice, and Kirk’s attention snapped back to him. He was taking tiny, tentative steps into the room, one hand angled out a little before him.
As the door closed behind the Vulcan the fear and guilt and anger melted into one and fell away. They could be picked up later. For now, there was simply Spock, standing in the entrance to his quarters, his face pale and his lips tight, his eyes fixed on nothing.
Jim stepped forward and took him in his arms, holding him more tightly than he had in a week, feeling the warmth of his skin through his clothes and the solidity of flesh and muscle and bone beneath his palms. He had been so, so close to losing him to the predation of that abhorrent creature. For a week he had been tight with pain, his skin seeming thinned by it, his bones made sharp by it. He had seemed so fragile he would break. He had never slept, only sat in the chair at the desk, his sinews rigid with control, reading or absorbing information from the computer screen, pressing himself on through the pain as if it were an arduous journey he had to complete.
Now he was soft, somehow collapsed inside. At Jim’s touch he leant forward, his hands coming up to enclose Jim’s back, tentative at first but then desperate and needful. His head was pressed against Jim’s own, he was inhaling deeply, taking in the scent and the presence of his captain as if he had been alone for years.
‘Jim,’ he said in a faltering tone.
‘It’s all right,’ Kirk murmured, his hands making slow circles over Spock’s back, feeling his shoulder blades and his spine and the beat of his heart. One hand moved up to cup the back of Spock’s warm neck and his lips touched the side of it, kissing him with desperate firmness.
‘No,’ Spock said, his voice hollow and quiet. ‘No, it is not.’
Kirk withdrew, stepping away a little, and Spock reached out immediately as if casting for an anchorage in tumultuous seas. Kirk caught his hand and held it hard, and then reached up and stroked the angles of Spock’s cheek and jaw, tracing a finger down the sharpness of his bones and trying not to collapse at the sight of those dark and sightless eyes.
‘It will be all right,’ Kirk promised, coming closer again, landing kisses on his cheeks and lips.
Spock started forward, yearning, finding Kirk’s lips again with his own and kissing him with desperation and anger. His hands began an urgent exploration of Jim’s face and hair, trailing the sides of his neck and his shoulders. He reached up under the uniform shirt, hands wide and flat and searching, feeling the solidity of Jim’s chest, peeling away the clothing and replacing hands with lips and beginning to taste as well as feel him. Warmth and sweat and silken skin and the light sheen of hair came to his tongue. There was a sob in his throat that he would not release. Jim could see it in the hardness in his throat, hear it in the catch in his breath.
‘We will continue to be together,’ he promised, peeling off Spock’s clothes with deft assurance. ‘Whatever happens, we will continue to be together. I won’t lose you.’
Spock was silent but for his breathing. Jim unwrapped the clothes from his body and threw them to the floor until they both stood naked in the living area of the cabin. Jim held Spock as close as he could for a long, tight moment, feeling his breathing steady and his heart rate settle.
‘Come on,’ he said in a low voice, taking Spock by the hand and leading him towards the bed. ‘Come here and be with me.’
Spock lay down on the wide mattress and Kirk knelt over him, staring at him, marvelling at the beauty of that taut, lean body. He had been so close to losing him. So close… If they had not found a way to kill the creature Spock would have killed himself, eventually. He could not have lived with the pain, made useless to himself and others by the need to control that overwhelmed every other impulse. He had lost weight already through the ravages of pain and sleep deprivation. His body had taken such punishment, and it would only have been a matter of time before his mind suffered the same.
‘Oh, Spock, Spock,’ Jim murmured, kissing him again, stroking his hands over his skin again, trying to take in all of him in infinite gratitude that he was still here, alive. Those precious hands, the delicate wrists, the fine spidering of hair over chest and stomach. That beautiful aquiline face and sculptured ears and those dark eyes, no matter the lack of light in them now. He could not see, but he was alive.
Spock’s lips parted in a wordless sigh as Kirk’s mouth brushed over the length of his dark, awakening penis and then took it in, firm and secure, stroking his tongue over its length as if he wanted to consume it whole. Oh, the taste of him… How could he have turned away from him in those moments of guilt? His hand was straying over the soft, cool bag between his legs, his fingernails catching softly on the rucks of skin and then moving further back to the tight, dusky opening between his buttocks.
‘Jim,’ Spock whispered, arching up, his hand moving with certainty even without sight to find the hard and cool glass bottle of oil that stood by the bed.
Jim took it and slicked the fragrant fluid into his hands, warming it gently before letting it slip onto the Vulcan’s skin, turning his erection into a glistening column, the beauty of gravity channelling the oil down between his buttocks. Jim rubbed it, slick, into his hands, and then softly pushed one finger into the tight muscular opening. Spock gasped, arched again, raising his knees and opening himself up as Kirk explored further, massaging first one then two fingers deeper into the Vulcan’s body. His own erection was hard and eager, his skin alive with the need to feel Spock around him, the shivers moving through his abdomen and focussing in that rod of flesh.
He positioned himself and pushed, slipping with infinite care into the Vulcan’s waiting body, letting out a grunt of satisfaction as the tight heat pressed around him. Spock’s head was thrown back, his mouth part open and his eyes fluttering closed over the sightless pupils. Jim lowered his mouth to kiss him again, focussing on the dusky nipples and the whirls of hair about them, the dark trail down to the dimple of his navel, stroking his hands over the naked flanks and the parallel curving lines of his ribs. Oh, he was beautiful, and he would not let him go…
He let Spock’s legs fall wide and lowered his body over the Vulcan, always connected at that one point, kissing his mouth hungrily as he began to move. He withdrew, pushed again, setting up a rhythm, letting the flatness of his abdomen move back and forth, back and forth over Spock’s erection until the Vulcan was letting loose small moans of gratification. He slipped his hand between their bodies, gripping that hard, hot organ in tight fingers, pumping it as he continued to drive himself home into the Vulcan’s body until awareness blossomed away and fell like petals about him and he found himself lying over Spock, kissing his lips and cheeks and eyes and sobbing out some kind of incoherent utterance of apology and love into his ear.
‘Jim,’ Spock murmured, running fingers down the slick sweat that coated the human’s back. ‘Jim, Jim…’
Finally Kirk straightened up, looking down at the Vulcan, at the mat of fluid that was swirled in his hair, over his stomach and the now flaccid penis lying against his body, flushed with blood. He thought he had never seen him so beautiful.
‘Spock,’ he murmured, slipping away from him. ‘Here, let me get something to clean you up…’
Spock sat, reaching out a hand.
‘I am not ill, Jim,’ he said, his voice low and rough and still a little breathless. ‘Help me.’
Jim could not help but smile at the sight of him, his hair in disarray and his cheeks still faintly olive. He loved the way Spock looked after sex, so soft and somehow real, so close to the biological being that sometimes he seemed a million years of evolution from being.
‘Come on,’ he said, taking his hand, feeling the heat of Spock’s skin against his.
Spock stood and followed him, moving tentatively, his forehead furrowed in concentration.
‘You’re all right,’ Kirk muttered, half a question, half an assurance.
Spock nodded silently, following Jim’s guidance through the door into the bathroom. Kirk glanced at him as he moved, naked and looking oddly vulnerable with one hand holding Kirk’s and the other held out in front of him to feel for anything in his path.
‘Shower?’ Jim asked, and Spock nodded.
They stepped into the cubicle and Spock stood as Jim adjusted the settings for a water temperature bearable to both him and Spock together. He saw Spock listening, and stiffening suddenly, his lips pressing together.
‘What is it?’ Jim asked, hesitating with his hand on the dial.
‘You should not need to do this for me,’ Spock said in a low voice, a tone away from anger.
‘I won’t,’ Jim assured him, stroking his hands down his arms. ‘I won’t always. You’ll be able to work it out. Give yourself some time.’
Spock nodded, lips pursed, a look of apology in his face. Kirk turned the water on, then stroked his fingers over the Vulcan’s temples as the spray began to cascade over them both. Spock’s mind had been noticeably absent as they made love – always a sign that he was not content. Even now, as Kirk deliberately sent probing thoughts to his lover, there was none of the usual sparking response. There was just a darkness, or an absence of thought.
‘Spock, let me in,’ he said softly, beginning to smooth soap over the Vulcan’s shoulders and chest. ‘Don’t keep me away from you at a time like this.’
There was a momentary stiffening in the Vulcan’s muscles, and he said with unusual haste, ‘As you kept me away in the lab, after – ?’
‘I’m sorry, Spock,’ Kirk said with real grief in his voice. ‘I’m so sorry. I just – didn’t know how to handle it. I do now. I’m human – please forgive my weaknesses.’
Spock reached out with one hand, running the edge of his finger down Jim’s cheek, touching his lips and then continuing down, using both hands now with fingers spread out to read the contours of his chest.
‘I am Vulcan,’ he countered softly. ‘Please forgive my weaknesses. I – am scared, Jim…’
‘I know,’ Jim said, pulling him close, holding him still until the continual flow of the water. ‘I can feel it. But I will always be here. I will always be here.’
‘I may not always be here,’ Spock said hesitantly. ‘I am blind.’
‘Spock, we don’t need to – ’ Jim began, but Spock cut him off, his voice becoming strained.
‘I cannot continue on the Enterprise. I cannot live here merely as your consort. Starfleet does not allow such privileges.’
‘Not right now, Spock,’ Kirk pressed him, stroking his hands over him through the water that streamed down his back. ‘We don’t need to talk about this right now. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Wherever you go, I will be with you. Now, be quiet and let me clean you off. I want to be allowed the privilege of being close to you. I need it after today.’
Spock bowed his head, becoming still and letting Jim’s hands move over him, cleaning his abdomen and then moving down to soap his thighs and buttocks. Jim’s hands slipped over his skin with firm caresses, feeling the solidity of his muscles with a strange, sharp feeling of grief inside him. Spock was so lean and fit and active. How could he reconcile that life of ceaseless activity with the veil that had been drawn over his eyes? How would he ever manage?
He straightened up, looking into Spock’s face again. He had to stop thinking like that. He wasn’t looking at Spock rationally. They both served in a force that saw its fair share of accidents. He had heard of – he had met – fleet veterans before who had lost their sight in various ways, who were moving on to lead perfectly active and useful lives. Some even stayed in the fleet. But Spock… His heart contracted again. He could not look at Spock like that, as one of the unfortunate ones, one of those people who were lauded as brave and special, who were looked at through the glaze of pity by those lucky enough to still be whole and hale.
‘Come on,’ he said finally, turning the water off as he realised that he had just been standing still in the shower watching Spock’s face. ‘Let’s go eat. You must be starving after this last week.’
Spock followed him again, dripping with water, and Kirk found him his robe and then walked with his arm about his back into his rooms again. Spock sat, damp and enclosed in his towelling robe, in his accustomed chair by the desk while Jim began to arrange a platter of the Vulcan’s favourite foods. No doubt Spock would barely taste what he was eating, preoccupied as he was, but Jim saw no reason to stint him.
‘There,’ he said, putting a plate down before him with the cutlery neatly wrapped in a napkin beside it.
Spock was silent and pale-faced again, but Jim was not surprised. This was how Spock dealt with such things. He pushed them away and did not speak of them and pretended and pretended that he was not hurting inside.
‘Spock, eat,’ Kirk urged him. ‘You haven’t eaten in days.’
Spock reached cautious fingers out to the plate, finding the cutlery with fumbling movements, his head lowered in concentration and – something else. Embarrassment, Jim realised suddenly. Spock was ashamed of his inability.
‘It’s fine,’ Jim said. ‘Just eat. I don’t care how you do it. Just get some food inside you.’
‘What am I eating?’ Spock asked in a taut voice.
Jim described the contents of the plate with great care, and Spock nodded, lifting his fork and toying experimentally with the food. He tried not to watch as Spock began to eat, focussing instead on his own plate, but he could not help see the Vulcan’s frustration building. He ate with meticulous care, no doubt with more skill than he believed he was using, and finally laid his cutlery down with faintly trembling hands.
‘Now,’ Kirk said firmly, clearing the plates away. ‘Bed. And that’s an order, Commander.’
Spock nodded silently, and stood, beginning to move carefully and without help towards the sleeping area. He removed his robe and hung it on its accustomed hook, and then turned towards Jim’s wide bed. Jim watched him, resisting help. Spock lay down, pulling the blanket over himself, and Jim went to turn the heating a little higher as he was accustomed to when Spock slept here. He picked up the copy of Odyssey, fingering it for a moment before asking, ‘Would you like me to read your book to you?’
‘No, Jim,’ Spock said quietly, turning his head towards him. ‘Thank you. I think I will just sleep.’
‘Okay,’ Kirk said, shedding his robe onto a chair and slipping in beside the Vulcan.
He turned onto his side. Spock lay very still on his back, eyes open, and Jim laid a hand on his chest, feeling the slow, steady beat of his heart.
‘Are you going to sleep?’ he asked after a long time of Spock lying silent.
‘Yes, Jim,’ Spock said quietly.
Kirk nodded. ‘Okay.’
He left his hand on Spock’s chest and reached out with the other to dim the lights, and then curled over and closed his eyes. The void of sleep would be a hard and strange place to enter this night, but he had to sleep. He had so, so many things that needed attention in the morning. He had so many things curling and weaving in his mind…
Spock continued to lie still and silent, and Jim knew he was awake, with no real intention of deliberate sleep. Eventually Jim would fall asleep and Spock would lie there still, his mind churning beneath his expressionless face. This was how it would be, until somehow Jim could break through the carapace again, and persuade Spock to move on. Tomorrow was when the dam of emotion would burst. Jim did not look forward to tomorrow.
And I am also quite blind…