The moment Spock knew the inevitable was going to happen, he clamped down tightly on the bond that connected him invariably to his t'hy'la. It would be hard enough to let everything happen without the human's emotions distracting him. And he still had a job to complete. When the familiar tug of the transporter tore him out of the active volcano, everything he was doing was rendered useless but not gone.
It was too hard to turn off his emotions about his imminent demise and turning everything back on was impossible at the moment. He couldn't look at his bondmate with any emotion because he was still in the mindset of the dying. Spock could not risk what he knew would happen should the bond flare to life just then. Walking out of the transporter room, his suit still smoking slightly, Spock went straight to the science deck and the safety showers. He needed to cool off literally and let his mind go blank.
A year of the constant humming that came from the newly formed bond evened Spock's temperament out a great deal. It was still easy to slip into the stony facade that kept him sane throughout his childhood. But to do what he had done in the volcano cost him and he couldn't let his Jim know. Not at the moment. Not when everything was still so fresh. His shock at Jim's breach in protocol was the only emotion he could come across that had nothing to do with dying.
Spock wasn't surprised when the door to the antechamber opened and admitted Nyota, who stood by wrapped in a robe of her own, her eyes cast to the side lest he be in a state of undress. As he was still in the suit which was throwing off steam as the water hissed on the metal plating, she quickly met his gaze with one of disappointed and unveiled anger.
"You need to talk to him."
Her opening sentence did nothing to relax the Vulcan as the steam slowly sank into the skin of his neck and face. "There is nothing to speak about." In days past that would have earned a nod from most everyone. Not today apparently. Nyota had other ideas.
"So you were just going to die and not let us do anything about it?" she asked, her voice heating up to similar temperatures as his suit. "The idea of losing you-"
"But you did not," Spock interrupted. He didn't want to talk about this with Nyota Uhura of all people. He usually reserved conversations on emotional etiquette with his bonded. Obviously Jim did not want to have that conversation with him.
"We didn't because we broke the rules. Again."
Common sense warred with logic in Spock's mind. Breaking the rules had indeed saved his life. However it may have cost them a great deal more. Jim would live with his demise, painfully, but would live. Saving him meant that there was a good chance he would be failed in his final testing.
"Lieutenant, I understand your concern, however as this is neither the time nor the place-"
"It's never the time, is it Spock?!" Nyota practically screamed at him before she took a breath, visibly attempting at control. "You didn't have to see him. He was desperate. He would have sacrificed the entire planet if it meant your safety."
"That is illogical."
"So are humans," she countered before pursing her lips, her hair swinging as she shook her head. "Just go talk to him," she finished before turning to leave him.
The entire conversation was only 27 seconds, but in that time Spock felt the bond attempting to reignite. He exerted pressure once more to keep it closed, not wanting his own lack of feelings to surprise his bondmate. The blocking of the connection would be better than for Jim to realize that Spock did not feel anything.
Shedding the rest of the suit like an outgrown carapace, the Vulcan found his regular uniform, stored in a locker in the adjacent room, and quickly dressed. He needed to make this right. But there were other, more pressing matters. Like keeping Jim in Starfleet when there was a good chance he was going to be blamed for the breach in one of the most important regulations.
With that in mind, Spock sat down at his desk in the science lab and opened the reports menu. What would he say? He couldn't lie, that would be a large breach as well. But he could make it very clear that it was his fault the situation occurred. Had he not insisted that he go down, sent a security officer in his place, sent anyone else in his place, Jim would not have felt so strongly about saving him. That in itself struck him as illogical, but Nyota's proclamation of human illogicality also held true. He dismissed all other notions about Jim sacrificing the planet for him.
No one could be that attached other than a Vulcan. Surely a human would not feel such a strong need to save a bondmate.
He opened the official first officer records and started a new document. This was going to be hard enough without being able to ask Jim about his word choices, as it seemed some of his reports contained whole paragraphs that insulted the human admiralty. Making certain that the blame was cast mostly on himself was going to be harder. He stared at the blank document for several moments, being reminded forcibly of when he was living on Vulcan and sending out his application to Starfleet, the human emotions of dread and worry forcing themselves to the forefront of his mind. The difference was that now he could stop them before his hands started shaking and growing cold. But the fear of losing his bondmate, of Jim being forced to remain on Earth, made Spock's stomach turn in an unpleasant way.
He started filling out the official report, sending it long before they docked at the Earth station and the announcement went that he and Jim were being summoned directly to Admiral Pike's office. Spock moved quickly back to his quarters to find the simple gray ground uniform and change once more, getting back to the shuttle hanger to catch one of the last back to Earth. This put him with Doctor McCoy and several nurses, always the last from the ship.
The doctor looked at Spock with a frown. "Thought you'd've been on Jim's shuttle."
"I was not fully prepared for docking," Spock said evenly.
He ignored the look one of the nurses shot him and focused on McCoy. "I suppose nearly being burned to death gives you some right," he responded. "Jim only barely got onto the command shuttle. He was too busy sending in his report. Had to tell him twice we were docked."
"The captain is efficient to get his report in before docking," Spock said. McCoy didn't bother hiding his eye rolling. Spock caught it and his eyebrows pinched together. "Have I said something wrong?"
"He practically has a mental breakdown and you call him efficient," McCoy said in a mocking tone. "If I wasn't aware of how robotic you are, I would swear you didn't care."
Spock could only blink and withdraw from the conversation, a stern look on his face as he contemplated what had been said. His last two interactions had failed spectacularly, and he could not figure out why. The humans were being irrational, something that while humans were prone to do, did not happen often on the starship.
Waiting for the shuttle to dock, Spock stood near the door, one arm holding onto the stability bar. The sound of the airlock disengaging led him to opening the door and nearly running down Jim, who was in the process of opening the hatch himself.
"Finally," Jim said with relief. "Pike wants us, come on."
The eager captain led the way from the hangar to the grounds. Spock kept his strides even, watching as Jim became more excited the closer they got to the administration building.
"Did you see the memo?" Jim asked suddenly, turning so he could look directly at Spock. "They're choosing them now. The ships. They're choosing. Spock, I'm telling you, this is why he called, I can feel it."
Spock tried not to let his concern show through. The admirals were currently discussing sending ships out on extended exploratory missions. Their own record meant that they were the least likely candidates for such a voyage.
"Your feeling aside, I find it highly unlikely that we will be selected for the new program," Spock said, trying to get Jim to see reason. Even if he couldn't feel the excitement because he was still blocking the bond, he could see it in Jim's eyes.
"Why else would Pike want to see us?" Jim asked, not being deterred. "Forget about seniority they gave us the newest ship in the fleet. Who else are they gonna send out?"
"I can think of numerous possibilities-" Spock started, but was quickly cut off by the human's exuberance.
"A five year mission Spock!" Jim said, one hand landing on Spock's chest in his excitement. Jim started walking backwards so he could properly look at Spock. "That's deep space. That's uncharted territory. Think about how incredible that's gonna be!"
Not to be one to dissuade Jim when he was excited about something, Spock wanted very much to point out the flaws in the human's thought patterns. But it was so rare that Jim was excited about anything, so Spock let him go, a bounce in his step, as they took the lift to the floor where they would find Pike. Even entering the office, Spock felt that sense of dread once more, his stomach tying itself in knots as he saw the admiral sitting at his desk, reading. He didn't even look up when the entered, just waved them forward. Spock stood there silently for what he counted was thirty seconds before Pike spoke.
"Uneventful," he said, the single word hanging in the air.
"Admiral?" Jim asked. Spock stayed silent since he was the second in command, not the captain. It wasn't his place to say anything.
"That's how you describe your survey of Nibiru in your captain's log," Pike said, looking up at them. Spock's stomach sank further and he knew what was happening. He wished he could give Jim some warning.
"Ah, yes, sir, I didn't want to waste your time going over-"
"Tell me more about this volcano," Pike said, playing along. Spock cringed inwardly. "Data says it's highly volatile, if it were to erupt it would wipe out the planet."
Jim was getting nervous now. Spock saw him clench his fists. "Let's hope it doesn't sir."
"Something tells me it won't," Pike responded quickly, his anger easily readable on his face. The Vulcan had to bite his tongue.
"Well sir, volatile is all relative," Jim said, still trying. Spock couldn't fault him for that. "Maybe our data was off."
Right before he started, Pike looked up at Jim with some level of disbelief. Spock's immediate reaction was to want to put himself in between whatever Pike was about to level at Jim. But he was locked in place by rigid disipline. "Or maybe it didn't erupt because Mr. Spock detonated a cold fusion device inside it right after a civilization that's barely invented the wheel happen to see a starship rising out of their ocean." That said and the facts laid out in front of Jim, Pike turned to Spock now. The Vulcan wished himself several thousand lightyears away from the instant feeling of betrayal from Jim that even his tight control on the bond couldn't displace. "That is pretty much how you described it is it not?"
"Admiral-" Spock said, about to do some damage control, but Jim interrupted that.
"You filed a report?" his bondmate asked, not looking at Spock and keeping his voice low as if Pike couldn't hear them. "Why didn't you tell me?"
At this point, there was nothing he could say to make the situation right with Jim. That didn't stop Spock from responding though. "I incorrectly assumed you would be truthful in your captain's log."
"Yeah, I would have been if I didn't have to save your life."
That stung in a completely human way and Spock had to push the vitriol down again before he attempted to explain his side. "A fact for which I am immeasurably grateful and the very reason I felt it necessary to take responsibility for the actions-"
"Take responsibility, yeah. It wouldn't be so noble, pointy, if you weren't also throwing me under the bus."
Anger flared to life. Where was this coming from? Spock's logical mind estimated that Jim was being defensive about something. What that was went past the Vulcan nearly completely and he responded with similar defensiveness. "Pointy? Is that a derogatory reference to-"
There conversation was quickly cut short as Pike stepped in again. "Gentlemen. Starfleet's mandate is to explore and observe. Not to interfere."
Now Spock had an actual target on which to explain how he was responsible. And maybe take some of the attention off his bondmate, who was going to held responsible for not only taking action but lying about those actions. "Had the mission gone according to plan, admiral, the indigenous species would never have been aware of our interference."
"That's a technicality," Pike said, seeming to dismiss the notion. Spock wasn't so quick to do so.
"I am Vulcan sir," he pointed out, appearing completely logical as Pike stood. "we embrace technicality."
"Are you giving me attitude Spock?"
Although Spock couldn't immediately think of the human idiom, he decided that he was going to go in as deep as he could. Get the attention off Jim at least for the moment. "I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously." That made Pike practically go apoplectic. "To which are you referring?"
"Out! You're dismissed commander."
The words going through Spock's mind were neither appropriate nor in English, so he simply gave a nod and looked once more at Jim, wanting to make certain that he was going to be alright. But his bondmate was so tightly wound that there wasn't a crack in his features. Spock let out a breath and headed out of the room, hearing only a bit of the beginning of Pike's reprimand as he took the elevator down again. His overwhelming urge was to put a hole in the lift door with his fist, but he held on a bit longer.
After the events on Nibiru, his multiple failed conversations, and his confusion with Jim, Spock was ready to crack. Instead he focused on not feeling, not caring, letting that all go. At least for now. He would talk with Jim when he returned from meeting with the Admiral.