A/N: A new chapter in less than a week?! Crazy! In truth, this one was tough. I know I say this a lot, but this one was tough. I think tragicCrazySpock is hardest to write.
Disclaimer: I borrowed some events and dialogue from the movie, some quotations from Memory Alpha, and I do all that lovingly and with no attempts to profit.
Beta love: mhgood is my beta and she is awesome in every way.
He did not speak more than a few words to any particular individual aboard the Enterprise for the first sixty-seven minutes after he landed on the launch pad with the Vulcan high council.
Neither Sulu nor Kirk, who had both been standing at the edge of the transporter ring as they all beamed aboard, had spoken a word to him. Kirk's eyes had been heavy with...sympathy, perhaps, though it was a human emotion with which Spock possessed little more than an academic familiarity, and thus he could not be certain. The medical staff had poured in, at that point, and ushered the injured crewmen and the rescued Vulcans to the sickbay for evaluation and treatment. Chekov, standing desolately at the transporter console, dropped his head and shoulders after the first long breath was released. Spock observed him only briefly, saw him swallow hard. Sulu gave him a squeeze on the upper tricep as he limped past, drawing his navigational partner away from the screen that had forsaken him.
McCoy, who had not yet know what had transpired in the preceding 4 minutes, not to mention what was happening to the planet below at that very moment, had only briefly, brusquely, evaluated Spock for injuries, before releasing him with a dismissiveness borne of too much work in too little time.
Spock experienced an appreciation of the man's efficiency.
Shortly after Vulcan was destroyed by the singularity, while the medical convoy travelled between transporter pad and sickbay, McCoy called Nyota down to assist in diplomatic interaction with the Vulcans newly aboard. Though they spoke perfectly satisfactory standard, they were all experiencing some degree of medical shock following the tumultuous events of the last several hours, and, though they would never admit it, they found comfort in being addressed in their native tongue. No human spoke it more competently than she.
She knew, already. He knew this, though he could not logically explain how, but she knew. He only saw her quickly: he took a sharp left to separate from the Vulcan delegation and their medical attendants midway along deck five as she rounded the corner en route between the command deck and the medical bay, and she crashed into him, bodily. Though he maintained his balance with little effort, the impact was jarring all the same.
Meanwhile, she steadied herself by grabbing onto his upper arms, unstable in her boots. She looked at him, hard, with weighty emotion on her face, and had seemed about to speak, and he struggled with a quick, curt response, because he was not sure how else to stop her, before he said something unwise, when McCoy saw her and grabbed her rather roughly by the shoulder and dragged her away, surprising whatever words she had been reaching for out of her throat.
He returned to his captain's chair on the brutally silent command deck. Chekov requested no direction; Spock was disinclined to provide it.
Instead he watched, as if from a great distance, his hand shake, almost imperceptibly, reaching for the record button on the captain's console. It was his duty to log the events of the evening; he reached for the button to commence his task. He reached, and his fingers shook. The sensation was distinctly foreign.
Lessons from his childhood murmured meditatively in his too-large skull. There is no place for anger. Anger is a weakness. Logic offers solace. Detachment provides peace. Efficiency provides harmony. He saw the rage and the sorrow in his trembling fingers, and was frightened by the lack of control they represented.
A captain must understand fear in order to overcome it. Surak's words came to him from his adolescence, a time during which they were all he had known: Cast out fear. There is no room for anything else until you cast out fear.
(Odd, anyway, the sensation was rather the opposite: too much room in his brain. Was this a human sensation?)
(That particular koan had caused him several weeks of meditative trouble when he joined Starfleet.)
What had Surak known of loss? This loss? Spock's self control frayed, his fingers quavered again, hovering over the armrest of his seat. Slightly. And then, from his childhood: The mind controls the body; control the mind and the body will follow.
He clamped down, hard. The trembling stopped.
"Acting Captain's log."
He dictated the events of the day, concluding with a summary of Vulcan's losses. His losses. Reviewing his recorded comments, he noted, with some displeasure, excessive inflection, even for the naturally emotive Federation Standard, but concluded that his time could be better employed elsewhere. Efficiency is often found in knowing when the job performed is sufficient.
Nobility lies in action. Surak's words echoed through his strangely hollow brain. There were numerous duties requiring his immediate attention, before the larger issues could be addressed. He rose from the chair.
He first visited the medical bay proper. The fires in the auxiliary bay had been quenched, finally, but the injuries were numerous. Spock was not trained in medicine, but he inquired briefly as to the status of the refugees from his lost planet. He saw his own staff being tended to--Kirk, with a dislocated shoulder and a deep and ugly laceration to the right hand. Sulu, with whiplash and a cracked rib and another ugly wound--what exactly had those Romulans been armed with?--and a broken toe. Various security personnel from the upper decks, afflicted with an array of electrical burns and, in one case, a brutal concussion. He tallied their losses as best as could be done, from the records and recollections of various crewmembers. Not an unexpected number lost, and Olson the only senior staff member. The loss of the Engineering Chief could pose a serious problem in the case of a protracted engagement, but for their current purposes, though stretched a bit thin, his remaining crew would suffice.
(Suffice for what?)
He saw his father across the medical bay, their eyes meeting for a brief, bright moment. They did not speak. There was nothing to say.
Arrangements had to be made for the refugees from Vulcan. They required quarter and food and clothing. This required rearrangement of staff, to provide comfortable lodging for their distinguished guests.
Maps of crew quarters were pored over and adjusted.
A trip to engineering next occupied some time. The repairs were going well, and the second-in-command, a quiet Andorian by the name of Shras, had stepped up competently in Olson's absence. While Spock possessed more expertise on this level than he did in medical, there were few tasks requiring his attention.
The con remained silent, though Nyota had returned, listening quietly to the transmissions space chose to share with her.
He returned to the captain's chair. Waited for reports. Steepled his fingers.
Rock exploded behind his eyelids, and the ground shook beneath his feet.
Nobility lies in action.
He stood. He had not checked on the progress of the crewmembers tallying what had been lost in the forward storage bays; he desired a report. He moved with precision towards the lift.
She moved so quickly, so silently, that he genuinely did not hear her leave her post and follow him to the turbolift. She had removed her headset, suggesting that she was not moving throughout the ship on official business. He did not speak in acknowledgement of her, not even when she reached to press the turbo's manual override and stopped the car between floors. He had, very plainly, nothing to say
She looked him dead-on, again, eyes full of more sorrow and feeling than he could ever imagine visibly emoting. He felt her look at him and it was as though he were behind glass, or submerged in water, or cement. Though he knew that the logical, productive, efficient course of action would be to reprimand the inferior officer and to restart the turbo lift, his hands wouldn't follow the order to move. He experienced a sudden and powerful yearning to be back at his room at the academy, her warm body in his arms, her laughter against his neck.
This desire was entirely illogical. It could not possibly be. There were duties to be performed. He was required on the equipment decks. Control the mind--
Her words broke in. They genuinely surprised him, or the small part of him that possessed the capacity for surprise, under these particular circumstances. He had never heard words remotely like them before. Had never imagined words like them.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
She was powerfully human, he observed distantly, reaching her hands to his face to look him square in the eyes.
"I'm so sorry."
And then she kissed him, holding him firmly, against the lips, and then the jaw, and the cheek. She smelled so much like Nyota that it was easy to forget himself; he felt his eyes slide shut for an instant at the contact, all warmth and love. Her hands slid behind his head to the back of his neck and she wrapped her other arm around him, to pull him close to her.
He struggled to maintain his posture, though he could no longer remember why. Surak reminded him. Reach out to others courteously. Accept their reaching in the same way, with careful hands. He was falling, pulled by a gravity to a center far below himself, and the only thing to grab hold of was her.
His head dropped into her shoulder, against her neck, and his hands grabbed along her back, which felt so small beneath them, and pulled her against him. His body felt burdensome in its weight, as though it would be too much for her, but he grabbed her and held on and she did not lose her posture.
He felt her speak against his neck as much as he heard it, her breath cool against the skin, her words vibration against the side of his throat. "What do you need, tell me?"
She pulled away from him now, holding his head again, which kept him steady; the loss of her body against his struck him with a momentary vertigo which passed as quickly as it came. "Tell me."
What do you need?
Such a question had variable implications. The question was either defined too broadly or too narrowly.
But the portion of his brain that fought back against his control answered for him, in a stream, without further prompting. He needed to be warm. He needed to be home. He needed to be thirty minutes earlier, conducting himself differently, saving the person who had taught him about humanity. He needed to meditate. He needed to sleep. He needed to curl up around her and breathe.
(But he did not need to sleep, truly--he had slept sufficiently the previous evening. These desires were illogical, to be suppressed, and not true needs at all.)
There were other things. His desires were louder now, drowning the sensible Vulcan that tried to quiet them. He needed the ship to run. He needed the ship to run, and he needed Starfleet within hailing distance. He needed to know where the Narada was going. He needed engines large enough to catch up, and guns powerful enough to be of service.
The words garbled strangely on their way to his mouth, and his instincts suppressed the expression of either ill-formed or illogical thoughts. There were not words in the universe to tell her, so he did not try to. Instead, Spock looked into her eyes, dark and liquid and full of an emotion he could not express but, for once, fully understood. He steadied himself in her.
He could not say that he felt less sorrow, less fury, less rage. He did feel, however, perhaps, very slightly, warmer. And very slightly less hollow. There were duties to be attended to. They were at war. Spock looked away, reaching for the button that would release the lift and send him along to his destination. His hand obeyed as though it were the simplest task in the universe.
He turned back to her, and his voice did not sound like his own, sorrow and self-control grinding it to gravel. "I need everyone--" A pause, a swallow. A continuation. "--to continue performing admirably."
She nodded then. She understood him, as she always did. He had observed this fact to himself on more than one previous occasion: for all that he found humans difficult to parse, and for all that humans commonly (and vocally) reciprocated the sentiment, she never seemed to struggle with his meaning. She whispered only the simplest "OK," with a nod, and kissed him again, a quick but meaningful pressure against his lips, once more, before the doors swept open, releasing them back into the broken universe.
For this, he did not attempt to exercise any measure of self-control. He simply closed his eyes against his vertigo and allowed himself to kiss her back.