Nice soft bed.
There were many peculiar things Spock observed about his Captain over the years. He noticed that sometimes he didn't eat for days, sometimes he'd go down to another department when off shift and lend a hand, that he never ever put himself in front of anyone else, civilian or crew member. Despite the way he acted he was selfless to the point of becoming a danger to himself sometimes.
This one was new.
The first time Spock observed this one was after he had been informed of an abnormality from the Beta shift in the quadrant they were studding and had gone to wake the captain, who had not been responding to his communicator.
He stopped outside the captain's quarters and rung the bell twice before entering.
The Captain was not asleep in his bed as Spock would have predicted but rather on the floor next to it, looking like he'd fallen out. Something looked a little off about the scene but he dismissed it as the fact Kirk had slept through numerous attempts to contact him, considering how light of a sleeper he was.
He woke the captain, informed him of the situation and filed the event away. It wasn't worth thinking over if all that had occurred was the captain falling out of bed. And the not waking could be due to the long hours they were working. Humans required more sleep than Vulcans, after all.
The second time was on Huerilia VII. They were on a diplomatic assignment and Spock and Kirk had to beam down with Security officers Danvana, Lexin, Matthews, Bitters, Jensen and Andersmith. The mission went to hell quickly when it was revealed the call for aid was a ploy to steal Federation weapons and that both governments had assassins after the captain. it was a set up.
The government who'd called for aid wanted the Starfleet officers as hostages, the opposing government wanted them dead. However, both sides were targeting the captain as he was the senior officer.
With jammers stopping their escape and people after them on both sides they'd had no choice but to flee to the outskirts to work out their next move and attempt to re-establish contact with the Enterprise.
They ended up in an abandoned district, mostly bombed out in the war, in one of the only building's they'd found that was structurally sound, choosing to all stay in one bit to keep safe. Having lost Lexin and Danvana in the initial assassination and kidnapping attempts.
The only issue came when they realised they only had two beds and that there were six of them. They had insisted that Kirk and two of the security Lieutenants sleep while Spock and the other Lieutenants took first watch. However, with only two beds someone would have to sleep on the floor.
Kirk had volunteered immediately, falling on the floor with blankets and a pillow. No arguments could come from any of the others as he'd fallen asleep before they could protest.
It took them days to make it back to the ship but they hadn't lost any of the other members of their team, although they'd come close to losing the captain near the end.
With informing Starfleet of the planet's situation and filling in as acting captain until the captain recovered from his injuries, he forgot all about the sleeping comfortably on the floor thing.
The third time was after Khan destroyed the Enterprise, after Kirk woke in hospital. Again, Spock had paid it no mind, it was inconsequential, especially with his captain's personality and inability to stay put.
It had started with whining, "Please let me walk around," and "Don't make me lie here forever," and "I hate this bed."
The captain was placated for a while with chess and the re-establishing of their T'hy'la bond after it snapped when he was in the core but quickly returned to needing to get moving. A difficult task given he was weak as a new-born kitten, or so Doctor McCoy had phrased it.
The man could barely raise his head or hands for the first week, by the second he was able to sit up and move enough for chess but even still, he fell asleep half way through a game or even a sentence, too tired to keep his eyes open.
Honestly, it hurt to see his ever-in-motion captain so confined by his health.
Once McCoy finally discharged the captain with strict orders to stay in bed, with emphasis on the word bed. Spock had long since stopped paying attention to the words McCoy used with emphasis, it often was illogical and non-sensical, pointless. That was why he ignored the possibility of connotations of the word, that the doctor might have, in his years as Kirk's roommate, learnt something important to be emphasised.
It never occurred to him.
The fourth time, the time he finally received an answer, was just over six months into their five-year mission.
He and the captain shared a room, not officially of course. Their rooms were next to one another, sharing a bathroom and all senior officers had queen-size beds. It was only logical that, as their relationship progressed, they ended up sharing a bed. It had started when the mission did, starting with Kirk sneaking into his room and bed one night. It was no secret the captain had nightmares, he felt the fear through their bond often, but that had been new, not unwelcome though, not at all.
After months of this they were used to sharing, so it was odd when he found himself alone one night. He'd heard his T'hy'la enter but he hadn't been joined, there was no warmth in the bed with him.
So, he searched...
And, he found him...
On the floor.
That was when it all clicked into place, maybe not the reasons why but the often 'falling out' of bed, the captain was far to light a sleeper. The ability to sleep on the floor soundly, despite that being an issue for most humans, the orders to stay in bed.
All because he slept on the floor.
Before it could be for safety or comfort, he knew, with detail, that Kirk's childhood was undesirable, but now, now he was meant to be safety, comfort, if not then he had failed, done something wrong. His T'hy'la had never, since they started sharing, not wanted to share. The only times they had not was in the field.
He had to know so across their bond he asked,
"T'hy'la, are you asleep yet?"
"No Spock, I'm not. Why are you awake?"
"I was waiting for you..."
"You want to know why I'm on the floor."
It wasn't a question, it was a statement. He knew what Spock was wondering. Their eyes met.
"Did I do something undesirable, Jim, to make you not wish to share?"
"What, no Spock you did nothing, this...this is all me. My issues. My flaws not yours. My messed-up brain."
Kirk let his head fall back against the pillow he had on the floor with him and sighed out loud. Spock got out of their bed and joined him.
The floor of the quarters was cold and hard, not comfortable or pleasant like most human sleeping places. Humans loved luxuries, the most comfortable beds, the softest materials. This was nothing of the sort.
"T'hy'la why then, if not because of me, why sleep here? What good does it do for you? It offers no comfort."
"It does for me. It's stupid but it does."
"I... I'm not sure I can, not simply anyway. It's a coping mechanism, I guess. I don't know."
"Would it be easier to show me than to tell?"
"Yes, it probably would."
Being bondmates, it was easier to meld than if they were strangers, there was no danger. Neither probed past points the other was comfortable with. Spock placed his fingers on the meld points and whispered,
"My mind to your mind, my thought to your thoughts."
Entering someone's mind was always odd, the swirl of colour and raw emotion for seconds overpowering, then calm.
Jim's mind was calm, organised, despite the man being the opposite. Jim knew where every memory was, how to access every piece of information.
"The first one is through here."
Spock followed Jim through his mind to a memory of a household in disarray.
"Mum," called 10-year-old Sam, "Jim needs a new bed. His is too small now."
"Why," she replied, "would I waste a bed on him. He doesn't need a new one Sam, if he has an issue with his current one he can sleep on the damn floor."
Spock winced at the harsh tone, no Vulcan child would ever be treated in such a way. The memory blurred to a few years on.
"Sam, please don't go," a 12-year-old Jim was begging, "you're the only one who cares."
"Jim, this school is a once in a life time opportunity. I have to go."
"Take me with you, please. They hate me, you know they do. I can't live like this, not without you."
Sam didn't respond, rather he grabbed his bags and walked out. He never once looked back.
Frank beat Jim to a pulp that night, only one punchbag now, he couldn't lose that one due to some stupid idea that running might help.
Jim crawled back to his room, finding his way to the small pile of blankets and pillows on the floor, most of which had holes and were fraying on the edges. He also retrieved a small box with string and a needle, sewing his wounds shut and checking for breaks. When he was finished he curled up in the blankets and dozed, safe in the layers of material, not bed in sight.
His mother would be angry if he slept in Sam's bed, Frank would be angry. It wasn't good, he knew that, but it was all he had.
The memory faded and Kirk wandered off, Spock following behind. he had questions, of course he did, but he wouldn't ask. Not until they were done. So, he followed, with anger at the ones who'd done so much damage to such a kind soul and wondered what tragedy would crop up next.
They arrived at one the captain had sealed away, it was much harder to access this one, so he knew it was a Tarsus memory, the question was, a good one or a bad one.
The scene shimmered into a barn, with Jim and two other kids his age watching the stars through a hole in the roof. The air was crisp but not unpleasantly so and they were lying on the wooden slats of a raised part of the barn, accessible only by a ladder. They all had blankets and pillows but nothing more. The scene flickered and sometimes they lay in different positions or were missing one of the trio.
This memory was snapshots rather than one that played through, so it was one that occurred often.
"That was where we hung out, we weren't meant to be there of course, but it never mattered."
"It looks peaceful."
They departed that memory and moved deeper into the Tarsus section, this one would be worse.
It was another set of snapshots but this time in a cave. Nearly 40 children huddled close for warmth and safety on the cold floor, Jim holding a dying girl as she took her last breaths, his body used to protect her from the harsh ground she would have had to lie on. The ground she would be buried in. The floor being where they slept for months.
Then it shifted to the next memory along, the floor of the cells. That was a luxury, for Kodos to let him sleep on the floor rather than from where he so often hung from the ceiling or the walls. The floor offered the comfort of taking his weight, it soothed him. When everything hurt it added to the sense or normal, the sense of home.
The memory swirled away and they briskly left the worst parts of Jim's mind in favour of a lighter area. They ended up at Starfleet Acadamy in the room shared by Jim and Doctor McCoy, Jim choosing the floor over his bed.
"It's too soft," he'd said, "not what I'm used to."
That was something the doctor had later made sense of himself, having learnt the facts.
"This is pretty much it, only more memories from Starfleet as to why standard issue beds are too soft sometimes. It's so stupid, I know, and not logical. It doesn't make any sense..."
"It makes sense and it is logical. You are not accustomed to the new arrangements so you do something to remind you of home, the thing that is natural to you. I am sorry you went through the things that made you uncomfortable in comfort but do not think they will make me think any less of you."
Jim curled in close to Spock and slept peacefully against him.
Maybe a nice soft bed wasn't always what Jim needed.
Maybe this was nice too...