Chapter Thirty-eight

Spock had not expected to wake again so when he did he was understandably confused. Taking a breath brought a soothing wash of hot heavily scented air into his lungs. The natural heat was not something that could be reproduced by the systems aboard the Enterprise. This lead Spock to conclude that he had been removed from the ship.

Opening his eyes Spock was greeted by nothing more than a dark green haze. The blood that had been staining his eyes had finally spread, blinding him. Closing his sightless eyes Spock fought to make sense of his situation. He tried to speak, to call out to anyone who might be near by, however he was unable to produce any sound. Frustrated he scratched his nails against the hard surface he was laying on.

At first he didn't understand why he had been stretched out on a bed of stone. He thought that perhaps death had already come. Now he had to work out the rules of this new kind of existence. It wasn't until he felt someone sit down next to him that he decided that it wasn't logical to assume that this was death. After all he was still struggling to breath, and such an action would not be necessary in death.

The hand that gently touched Spock's face was Vulcan. He knew it the instant that contact was made. There was a certain energy behind a Vulcan's touch that no human could duplicate. When the stranger leaned in closer Spock caught the scent of female of advanced years. A Priestess he concluded, she could be nothing else.

Understanding that he was facing dying rather than death itself helped Spock organize his thoughts. He felt no fear, but he had a vague sensation that something was terribly out of place. The Priestess pressed her fingertip firmly into the skin under his eye and around his temple. He gasped sharply, and arched his back as she began invading his mind.

"Relax, Spock." The Priestess said softly. "Open your mind to me, tell me all you know so that it may live on."

Forcing himself to submit to the Priestess' treatment Spock allowed her to begin melding with his thoughts. The process of connecting with someone so close to death was a difficult, and delicate task for even the most skilled Vulcan. As the Priestess slowly meshed deeper into his mind Spock was overwhelmed with the need to fight her. Even only half conscious it took little effort for Spock to shut the Priestess out. Figuring that it was her own skill that was failing her she began to try once more.

"No..." Spock muttered weakly.

"Spock, I am only trying to help you."

Spock didn't want her help. With what was left of his strength Spock put his hand on the Priestess's shoulder and attempted to push her away. He did not have the physical power to move her, but she complied with his wishes and sat back. Exhausted Spock concentrated on continuing to breath.

When the Priestess reached out and touched him once more Spock forced himself to roll over on his side to escape her. The switch in position caused a violent wave of vertigo. Retching noisily he stained the plain stone alter with blood. The Priestess put her hand on his shoulder to keep him from falling off the edge and guided him to lay on his back once more. Panting heavily Spock took a moment to compose himself once more.

"Spock, the transfer of a katra is only possible if you accept it. The removal of your katra will ease your transition."

"I do not wish to be eased into death."

"Death is not to be feared, Spock."

"I am not afraid."

"Your refusal of a katra transfer is not logical."

"Priestess," Ambassador Tek'tiel broke in "if Spock wishes to fight for his life it is his right to do so."

"It is illogical to fight a battle you can not win."

"There is a small chance that he can survive if left alone, however the drain of transferring his katra at this point will kill him."

"Spock is beyond the reach of medical arts." The Priestess insisted.

"True, however is not beyond the reach of his own healing capabilities."

"If he fails his experience will be forever lost to the Vulcans."

"The choice is his." Tek'tiel pointed out.

"His will to live would need to be incredibly strong."

"I believe that it is."

Spock had not been paying attention to the conversation about him. He was too concerned with making sure that he continued to take each new breath. Spock came close to edge of passing out when Tek'tiel gathered him up in his arms and lifted him off the altar. He peacefully allowed the Ambassador to carry him.

"Thank you, Ambassador." Spock whispered.

"As your last living relative, it is my responsibility to see that your wishes are respected."

"Relative?"

"Your father named me your Bal'lat long ago."

"Logical..."

Teetering between consciousness and death Spock fell into silence once more. By the time they reached their destination Spock was barely aware of his surroundings. Tek'tiel laid him down on a soft bed. A delicate hand took his, and Spock's senses were filled with Uhura's scent. He tried to open his eyes to look up at her, however, everything remained dark. Lacking the strength to speak Spock listened to the world around him.

"Ambassador," Kirk said "what happened?"

"Spock has chosen to keep his knowledge and experience to himself."

"What?" Bones asked in surprise. "Is that really the logical thing to do?"

"No." Tek'tiel answered honestly. "However, if Spock is to have any chance at life this is his only path."

"But, aren't we talking about saving his soul?" Kirk asked. "Isn't that more important than his life?"

"It does not take transferring a katra to save one's 'soul', Captain. Vulcan will simply not benefit from all he has learned. I do not agree with his decision, but I respect it."

"Is there anything you can do for him?" Uhura asked quietly as she stroked Spock's hair.

"We have done all we can. His recovery or death depends on him now."

"Spock?" Uhura said softy. "Can you hear me?"

Spock wanted to respond to her, however he was unable to even tell if his eyes were open or not. The effort it took to try and speak pushed him over the edge and everything faded. The dreamless sleep that followed was eventually interrupted by an unusual sensation of warmth weighing down on his stomach. It wasn't until Anubis began purring that Spock was truly brought to the surface of the conscious world.

The cat was curled up on Spock's stomach purring as Uhura rubbed his soft fur. The relative chill in the air told Spock that night had fallen. It could have been days since he'd last woken for all he knew. Spock tried to move, but his body was not interested in responding. Trapped in his own flesh Spock managed a quiet moan.

"Doctor?" Uhura called softly.

Spock could hear McCoy jerking awake. He could visualize the doctor having fallen asleep in a nearby chair while on a night time vigil.

"Doctor, his eyes are open again."

"The tricorder still shows his heart rate well below even human norms." Bones muttered to himself.

"He's not really awake, is he?" Uhura sighed.

"I don't think so." Bones said gently. "The way his eyes wander pointlessly back and forth like that make me think it's mostly reflex."

"I wish he knew I was here."

"There is always the chance that he does know. Something must be keeping him with us. Personally I think it's you."

Spock struggled once more to give them a sign that he could hear them. He was able to lightly grip the sheets, but it was once again mistaken for a muscle spasm. Uhura's whole frame tensed as Spock arched his back slightly. He had no way of knowing that several times before this motion had been a prelude to violent seizures.

Uhura placed her palm against his chest to hold him down in case his motions become uncontrolled. Soothed by her touch Spock relaxed. After a few minutes of silence McCoy excused himself, informing Uhura that he was right across the hall if she needed anything. Once the doctor was gone she leaned down and kissed Spock's unresponsive lips.

"Keep fighting," Uhura whispered tearfully "I need you to come back to me."

Filling his lungs with the cool Natalian air Spock poured all of his effort into a slight nodded. He was unsure if Uhura caught the motion or not because he was instantly seized by darkness. Time was impossible to gauge in the world in between life and death. He rose to the surface a dozen times without truly waking before something brought him a little closer to the waking world. A cold liquid that tasted like watered down blood slipped down his throat.

"Bones," Kirk protested "you're going to drown him."

"Quiet, Jim, you're going to wake Uhura. She needs her sleep." McCoy hissed. "Besides he's not going to drown, he swallows convulsively."

"What is that?"

"A copper solution the Vulcans gave me." Bones replied. "If he's going to have any chance at replacing all the green blood he's lost he's going to need it."

"It's been two weeks, Bones." Kirk sighed. "What are the chances that he's going to pull through?"

"I don't know. If you'd asked me two weeks ago what the chances were that he'd still be breathing on his own after this much time I would have told you: 'zero'." Bones admitted. "It's amazing, I think there is something about the hot Natala air that is giving his system the edge it needs to keep going."

"So he's getting better?"

"Well...he isn't getting worse."

The doctor's semi-optimistic prognosis was the last thing Spock caught from his friend conversation. Sinking into the depths of his own mind Spock's previously dreamless episodes turned to chaotic nightmares. He feared that the nightmares were a direct result of the Vulcans attempting to contact his mind in a meld. Spock fought these invasions to the brink of death.

During a particular gory dream Spock was woken by a cold contact across his forehead. Uhura was holding a damp cloth against his skin to help break the fever that Spock was suffering from. Delirious Spock tried to speak, but even to his own ears it was little more than an incoherent babbling.

"I am sorry, Uhura." Tek'tiel's voice said softly. "Spock does not wish anyone to touch his mind. He will not allow me to help him."

"Thank you for trying."

"You must sleep, Uhura. Your own health is slipping."

Hearing that Uhura was suffering as well lanced fear through Spock's heart and he lost his tenuous grip on reality. Waking again he felt as though he should be able to speak. As his strength returned his frustration became more palpable. Fighting for control only gave the impression that he was flailing in the throws of restlessness. Unable to do anything for her ailing husband Uhura began singing in an attempt to sooth him.

Spock's ear caught the sounds of the ancient Vulcan lullaby and he calmed himself in order to appreciate its beauty. Uhura's sweet voice was thick with emotion as she continued to perform to an audience that she wasn't sure could hear her. As she came to the end of the song she leaned down and kissed Spock's forehead tenderly.

"I don't know if you understand anything I say, but I do know that it relaxes you when I sing." Uhura purred. "Everyone keeps telling me that you might not wake, that you could remain trapped like this for years. If your only choices are to stay like this or death...I just want you to know that I won't blame you if you chose death."

Spock's heart broke as he listened to Uhura break down into mournful tears. Opening his eyes Spock found that instead of the green curtain he now saw dark shapes. Uhura was so used to him opening his eyes without really seeing that she didn't notice the change in his focus. She laid down next to him and curled up against his side.

"I don't want to lose you," Uhura whimpered "but I don't want you holding on to a painful existence for my sake."

Uhura continued to cry until sleep took her. Spock closed his eyes again and listened to the sound of her breathing. Looking for some kind of control over his physical self Spock worked to match his breathing to her own. The warm Natala air felt good as it rushed into his lungs. Uhura had expressed her concern about his pain, but during these brief nearly conscious moments he felt a certain peace. The voices of the dead no longer whispered to him. The uncontrollably emotions no longer threatened to tear his mind apart.

As Spock slowed his breathing down even further to match that of his lover's sleep washed over him again. The nightmares had subsided making it easier to gain strength. Now and then he felt the sting of McCoy's hypospray, but for the most part repairing his poisoned blood was his own responsibility. He had no sense of wether he was achieving any goals or not. However, a strong voice brought him closer to the surface than he felt he had been in a long time.

"Jim, I am sorry it took me so long to arrive. The Romulans are crying foul over a new human colony near the Star Empire."

"I understand, Admiral."

"How is Spock doing?" Pike asked. "I have several medals to award him, I would rather not do so post-humorously."

"It's hard to say, Sir." Bones replied. "Anytime a Vulcan tries to contact Spock's mind he fights, and ends up have a seizure. Most of his motions seem to be reflex driven."

"He seems to enjoy it when Anubis purrs." Uhura noted.

"Spock," Pike spoke firmly to the Vulcan directly "the Enterprise needs her First Officer back...that's an order, Commander."

Spock felt like he should be able to answer, that after all his years of service fulfilling a direct order should be second nature. Pike reached out and brushed Spock's hand. A small static charge that had built up on Pike's skin from using his wheelchair discharged and gave Spock a slight shock. The tiny stab of pain was exactly what Spock needed to break through to the waking world.

"Aye, Sir..."

"Spock?!" Everyone gave a collective gasp.

Although unable to answer further Spock forced his eyes open and focused them despite the harsh light of the Natalian morning. Uhura practically pounced on him and engaged him passionate kiss that he was able to return somewhat. When she released him there was a trace of smile left on his face.

Spock looked around at the simple room that was open on the far wall to a large patio that looked out over the dry landscape of Natala. Kirk and Bones had similar looks of pure shock on their faces, but Pike and Uhura seemed as though they had been expecting his reaction. Uhura put her hands on either side of his face and smiled brightly.

"Spock, are you really awake?" Uhura asked desperately.

"Yes." Spock whispered.

"Damn it, Spock," Kirk chuckled "do you have any idea how worried we've been?"

"Worry is illogical...it changes nothing."

"Spock...you really are back." Bones beamed.

Still incredibly weak Spock closed his eyes and allowed himself to fall asleep. The next few days brought even greater gains in his over all health. Now able to sit up for short periods of time he became even more impatient about returning to work. McCoy had made it clear that Spock was going to need to spend at least the next month recovering his strength, but he felt two weeks would be sufficient.

Sitting up in bed Spock enjoyed a cup of Vulcan tea with Uhura. Her belly was slowly becoming more pronounced as the tiny life inside continued to grow. As they finished the warm drink there was a knock at the archway that lead into the room. Spock looked over and saw Kirk standing in the doorway.

"Can I come in?"

"Certainly." Spock replied.

Spock noticed that even though he had been invited inside Kirk hesitated. The Captain had become increasingly quiet around Spock as his health improved. Even Uhura had begun to notice the change in him. Getting out of bed Uhura kissed Spock's cheek.

"I'll leave you two." Uhura announced.

Spock nodded. Uhura glanced sadly at Kirk for a moment before stepping out of the room. Kirk walked over to the end of the bed and just stared at the floor for a moment. Spock chose not to speak.

"So..." Kirk said awkwardly. "The trilithum seems to have not only stopped the Vulcan sun, but it has also calmed the Vulcan spirits. No one else has fallen ill, and most of the victims have recovered."

"I have found myself in control of my emotions once again."

Silence fell over the room once more. Spock waited for the Captain to bring up the real reason why he'd come. Sighing heavily Kirk walked over and sat down the edge of the bed. Spock continued to watch him silently.

"Spock...why didn't you let the Vulcans take your katra?"

"For the same reason I refused the attempts of the Vulcans to meld with my mind during my recovery." Spock replied.

"Spock..."

"I promised to keep your oath to the Romulans a secret. To allow the Priestess into my mind would be to betray you to the Vulcans. They would have instantly reported your condition to the Federation."

"You shouldn't have risked so much to cover for me. The oath was my mistake, not yours."

"We both made the only choice we could."

"I guess we'll just have to face the consequences of them when the time comes." Kirk smiled sadly.

"Thus is the nature of the future."

"At least I'll have you to help guide me through it."

"Always, Captain."

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NOTE from the PHOENIX: Thank you all for joining myself and the crew of the Enterprise on this rough ride!! I enjoyed writing this and all of your comments and encouragment so much! I'll be keeping you up to date on any chances of it being published. If Pocket Books does pick up this story you can all be assured that it will be spit polished with a few changes and extra twists so that hopefully it will be fun even for those of you who have already read the story! Hugs and Love to you all!!!

Keep your eyes open for the sequel..... Star Trek: Treason