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The Heart of a Vulcan by Khiori

 

            He materialized in the midst of utter chaos. All around him people were either running past in panic or standing stock still, their gaze focused on the destruction in the nearby distance. Others were on the ground, some sitting, some flat on their backs as medical personnel bent over them. The air was filled with the cries of suffering and an occasional panicked scream, and in the distance was the constant sound of the roaring fire.

 

            He spared a glance at the bright flames topped off by thick black smoke swirling toward the midnight sky before turning his attention to the wounded and dying scattered about. Several of his staff had beamed down moments earlier and were now busy setting up a makeshift triage nearby. Their efficiency and skill were evident as already the worst cases were being evaluated and treated.

 

            Knowing that would be the place where he would be needed most; he started toward them, but was brought to an abrupt halt by a hand grabbing his arm.

 

            "Dr. McCoy!"

 

He turned to see the be-smudged face of Lieutenant Haskell, one of the members of the security team that had accompanied the captain and first officer to the ceremonies. Ceremonies which were well underway when the building in which they were housed exploded in a fierce fireball not more than ten minutes ago.

 

"What is it, Lieutenant?"

 

"Sir, it's Commander Spock."

 

A brief surge of panic rose. "Is he injured?"

 

Haskell shook his head. "No, sir. But the captain..."

 

Panic grew to terror. "What about the captain?"

 

"He’s dead, sir. Or at least he has to be."

 

McCoy’s heart skipped a beat. "What do you mean, has to be?"

 

"He and Commander Spock were helping to rescue the survivors from the building. They’d just gotten a few out when the captain went back to search for more. The commander tried to go with him, but the captain ordered him to stay behind. Then just as he entered the building, it exploded and collapsed. He hasn’t been seen since." Haskell took a deep breath, obviously shaken. "Sir, I don’t see any way he could have survived."

 

 

For a moment, McCoy could only stare at the young crewman in front of him. Jim dead? It couldn’t be. Jim was invincible, the one who always, always beat the odds. Especially when a certain half Vulcan was at his side. Except this time he wasn’t. Still it just didn’t seem possible that Jim was gone, that he would never see him again…No…it can’t be…not Jim.

 

A loud, agonized cry brought him back to his surroundings. It served as a stark reminder that as much as he wanted, needed to find Jim, he still had a job to do. Jim might be dead...and until I see the body, I won’t believe it…but he couldn’t afford to focus on that right now.  Now, he had a job to do.  Later, when he had the time, if Jim was truly gone, he would mourn his friend. As for Spock…

 

Spock…

 

He turned to Haskell. "I need to get to triage. Find the commander, and bring him there. He’s probably in shock, so try to keep him quiet and warm, and whatever you do, don’t leave him alone. I'll take a look at him as soon as I can."

 

"Yes, sir."

 

As Haskell hurried away, McCoy focused his attention on the task at hand. Soon he was busy mending broken bones, treating burns and open wounds, and occasionally cursing as, despite his best efforts, a few lives slipped through his fingers. It was well over three hours before he could finally take a break and despite his exhaustion, he immediately set out to look for Spock. There’d been no sight or sound of Jim, no word he was alive, and the realization was beginning to sink in that Haskell might be right, that his friend, someone he considered almost as a son, was dead.

 

The thought brought an involuntary moan to his lips. But even in the midst of his own grief, he knew it was nothing compared to what Spock had to be going through right now. Since Kirk and Spock had announced their "engagement" a few months ago, they’d been practically inseparable. Their official bonding was scheduled to take place less than two weeks from today…a bonding that now would never take place…

 

By the time he'd spotted the Vulcan a light rain had begun to fall. He hunched his shoulders against the cold drizzle as he hurried forward, but his discomfort was soon forgotten as he drew closer, his eyes widening in alarm. As a doctor, he'd seen his share of tragedies, of lives ending much too quickly and much too soon. He’d also been witness to the aftermath, to the grief and loss and mourning of those left behind. But he never, never thought he’d be witness to this. For the being in front of him was a Vulcan and as McCoy well knew, Vulcans didn’t mourn the loss of loved ones, at least not to the point where it was obvious. No, if Vulcans grieved, their grief, like all other emotions, was kept under tight control. And Spock was no exception. True, he was half human, but he always strove to keep that part of himself completely suppressed. Not that he was always successful, but those occasional times when his mask would slip were few and far between, and often went unnoticed by those who did not know him well.

 

Until now.

 

Spock was huddled on the cold, damp ground, a heavy blanket draped over his shoulders. Even from this distance McCoy could tell he was shaking. As he drew nearer, he noted the pale, haggard features...God, he looks like a ghost...and how he was curled in on himself, as if he wanted nothing more than to just disappear into the ground. He was totally oblivious to everyone and everything around him, his gaze focused on the disaster that had shattered his world, leaving him bereft and so utterly alone.

 

McCoy approached carefully. Spock made no acknowledgment of his presence, his gaze never shifting from the flaming debris where his captain had evidently breathed his last. Long fingers clutched the blanket so hard the knuckles showed through pale skin. There were bits of debris in his hair and his face was as filthy as Haskell’s.  But it was his eyes that caused McCoy to draw in his breath. The normally brown orbs were now as black as the smoke still rising in the sky, empty and void of life. Spock of Vulcan, second in command of the finest starship in the fleet, soon-to-be bondmate of James T. Kirk, had ceased to exist. In his place sat a broken man and the one person who could fix him, who could heal his wounded soul, was gone.

 

"Spock?"

 

Not surprisingly, there was no response. McCoy crouched down next to him and laid a gentle hand on his back. "Spock, it’s McCoy. Look at me."

 

Again nothing. McCoy started to rise, intending to get a med kit, when a small sound caught his attention. He sank back down, leaning toward the distraught form. "What did you say?"

 

"I was wrong." The choked whisper could barely be heard above the splashing rain. "I should have never…"

 

"It’s okay, Spock. It wasn’t your fault."

           

The Vulcan continued as if he’d never heard. "He was the only one who ever cared for me. Who accepted me for who I am. Now he is gone and I…" He closed his eyes and bowed his head until it rested on his knees. His voice was so muffled McCoy almost missed the small, anguished cry.

 

"Jim…"

 

***************************************

With his charge now in much more capable hands, Haskell made his way back to the once majestic structure that was now a pile of burning rubble. He circled the perimeter, hoping against hope to get a glimpse of his captain, of some sign he was still alive.  But there was nothing. Sighing heavily, he started to make his way back to the others when a sound caught his ear. He paused, listening closely. A steady bang! bang! bang! echoed a slight distance away.

 

Curious, he made his way toward the noise, noting the banging grew faster as he drew near. "Hello! Is someone there?"

 

No answer except the rhythmic metallic thumps! which appeared to be coming from the ground below.

 

"What the hell?"

 

For beneath his feet was a round steel cover, set into the ground. Someone or something was pounding on it from the inside. Haskell could feel the vibrations through the soles of his boots.

 

"Hey! Over here!"

 

Within moments he was joined by his fellow security officers and they immediately began wrestling with the heavy cover until with one combined heave, they flipped it over, exposing the dark hole beneath. Seconds later a familiar form emerged from the murky depths.

 

Captain Kirk, his face pale, dirty, and haggard, blinked tiredly at his rescuers. "It’s about time."

 

************************************

McCoy, busy searching through his medical kit for a sedative, swore as his communicator beeped. "Now what?" He flipped it open. "McCoy here." His face paled and he almost dropped the device. "What did you say? Okay…okay." His heart racing, he reached forward, grabbing the Vulcan by his arms. "Spock! He’s alive! Jim’s alive!"

 

There was no reaction. Spock’s head remained pressed tightly against his knees.

McCoy’s grip tightened and he shook the Vulcan hard. "Damn it, you green-blooded hobgoblin! Didn’t you hear me? Jim’s alive! He’s okay!"

 

This time Spock’s head rose as a weary gaze met his own. "Doctor…?"

 

"I said they found him. He’s alive!" McCoy swore under his breath as Spock just stared at him. "Jim, you thick-headed Vulcan! He’s okay!"

 

Spock’s features twisted into a frown. "Jim?He’s not…?"

 

"No, Spock, I’m happy to say he is very much alive."

 

For a moment Spock simply stared at him blankly, then before McCoy could even blink, the Vulcan was on his feet. He glanced around wildly and then suddenly took off, the blanket tumbling to the ground. McCoy had no time to wonder how the hell Spock knew which direction to go as he started after the Vulcan, doing his best to keep up. Ahead of him Spock was running as McCoy had never seen him run before, hurling himself through the air, feet barely touching the wet ground, arms pumping wildly, his silhouette reflected off the orange-red flames licking around the pile of rubble, dodging and jumping past anyone in his way, practically flying…

 

McCoy cursed as Spock soon disappeared from sight. Valiantly he kept running, chest heaving as he gasped for air, legs cramping as he fought to keep going, determined not to slow down, not when he knew that Jim was somewhere up ahead, no doubt in the middle of one very happy reunion with his soon-to-be bondmate. A reunion he had every intention of joining as soon as he caught his breath.

 

But he was soon proven wrong as, exhausted and on the verge of collapse; he barely missed colliding with the solid back of the Enterprise’s first officer. McCoy stumbled to a halt, glancing around in confusion. Why had Spock stopped running? And where the hell was Jim?

 

He thought he had his answer when he spotted the small crowd of people about 30 meters away. They were gathered around someone or something and he peripherally noted among them were several of his medical staff. A sudden stab of fear pierced his heart. While Haskell had said Kirk was alive, he hadn’t said anything about his condition. What if right now his best friend was lying in the midst of that group of people, critically wounded, perhaps even dying? Was that why Spock was just standing there? Had he seen or did he sense something was wrong? Was the thought of losing Jim just when he got him back again just too much too bear?

 

McCoy gave himself a mental kick. He had no time for such maudlin thoughts. Not when there was the possibility Jim needed his help.

 

He stepped forward, then paused again when the crowd parted and he caught sight of Haskell standing next to another man - a man clutching a blanket around his shoulders, listening intently to Haskell as the other bent close to his ear, a man who was covered in what looked like mud from head to toe, a man who was wearing a shirt that still had patches of gold showing through the muck...

 

A wave of relief washed over McCoy. Jim. He fought the urge to rush forward and embrace his captain and friend, to check him over from head to toe to be sure he really was all right. That could wait.   

 

He turned to Spock, who remained frozen in place. "Well, there he is. What are you waiting for?"

 

Spock still didn't move, seemingly transfixed by the sight before his eyes. McCoy got behind him and gave him a gentle push. "Go on, already!"

 

He watched as Spock slowly approached his captain, his gait stumbling and awkward, hands clenched into tight fists, gaze locked on the dirty, blanket-wrapped figure just a few meters away. As he drew nearer, Kirk's head rose and he paused, a slight grin crossing his features. "Look at you, you're a mess."

 

McCoy rolled his eyes. While it was true the normally fastidious Vulcan was at the moment anything but - soaked to the skin, hair an unkempt mess, face smeared with dirt and blackened by smoke, uniform singed and torn - his appearance was practically pristine compared to that of his mud-encrusted captain.

 

McCoy watched silently as the two men finally came together. Yet it seemed that Spock still hadn't grasped the concept that his captain was indeed alive, despite the evidence of his own eyes.

 

If Kirk thought the same, he was careful not to let it show.  Instead, he gently brought one hand up to caress the Vulcan's forehead. "Is that a cut?" Before he could make contact, however, Spock flinched, jerking his head back. He seemed almost…frightened.

 

McCoy frowned. What was going on? Why was Spock acting as if Kirk were really dead, like he was staring at a corpse rather than the living, breathing essence that was his captain and future bondmate?

 

He watched as Kirk dropped his hand, his eyebrows drawing together in confusion. "Spock, what is it? What's wrong?"

 

There was no answer; no acknowledgment Spock had heard his captain's plea. Instead, he just continued to stare at him.

 

McCoy was beginning to get a little unnerved by the Vulcan's behavior. Apparently so was Kirk, who sent a puzzled glance in his direction. McCoy shrugged. Damned if I know what's the matter with him. Shock, maybe? I guess I'd better check him out.

 

He was just about to step forward when Kirk shook his head. McCoy paused as the captain gestured toward the rabble of people in the drizzle nearby, still working to contain the fire, before turning back to his still-silent lover . "I got lucky. Stumbled into an underground tunnel right before the building went down." His voice was a little louder than it needed to be, no doubt so McCoy could hear him, as well. He paused expectantly, apparently waiting for some type of response, but again there was none. Spock remained unmoving and silent. "Um, I managed to find a manhole cover and started pounding on it. Luckily Haskell heard me and got me out of there."

 

Still no reaction.

 

"Spock, it's okay. I'm here. I'm all right. Say something."

 

Again, nothing.

 

A look of frustration mixed with slight desperation crossed Kirk’s features.  Not that McCoy could blame him. He was getting a bit desperate himself. If Spock didn't react soon, he was stepping in.

 

"Look, I'm sorry about ordering you to stay behind, but..."

 

"I thought you were dead." The words came out thick and heavy, as though Spock had to purge them from the depths of his soul. "I thought..." He began shivering violently.  "I thought..."

 

"It's okay." Kirk stepped forward and laid both hands on the trembling shoulders. This time his touch was not rejected. "It's okay. I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere."

For a moment there was no reaction, then McCoy's eyes widened as a slow smile crossed the austere features, a smile which quickly broadened into a wide grin. Then, to McCoy's utter amazement, Spock began to laugh and even more astonishing, reached out and pulled his muddy captain close, arms wrapping themselves around the broad back as the dark head buried itself in the crook of Kirk's shoulder.

 

McCoy couldn't believe it. Spock, Spock, the unfeeling, touch-me-not Vulcan, was embracing his captain, apparently not giving a damn about the fact he was smack-dab in the public eye.         

 

Kirk's puzzled eyes met McCoy's over the bowed head. McCoy shrugged again. Go with it, he mouthed silently. For if this was what Spock needed right now, to see and feel and smell the living presence of his captain and future bondmate, who was McCoy to deny him that?

 

Kirk needed no further encouragement as he wound his own arms around the thin frame, his head lowering to whisper soft words of reassurance in one pointed ear.

McCoy left them there, cocooned off from the rest of the world, seemingly unaware of the people milling around or the cold rain that continued to fall or even the fire that still raged nearby.  He knew his services were no longer needed, for the two men twined together behind him had all they needed to heal.

 

No, his job here was done.

 

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