Author's Note: Based on the TOS episode 'Amok Time'

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The Other Side of the Fire

Chapter 1: The Burning

October, 2267

The woman would not leave him alone! He had done everything in his power to drive her off and still she came, offering him food now. Enraged, he flung the bowl through the door, barely aware that he threw it so hard it hit the opposite wall. He followed her, his eyes blazing. "If I want anything from you, I will ask for it!" He did not care that she cowered against the wall, terrified. She was of no concern to him.

It was then that he noticed the captain and the doctor standing in the hall. Immediately, he demanded a leave of absence on Vulcan. For some reason, the captain decided that he had the right to query him about that request. He was incensed. All he required was a yes or no answer. He turned back into his quarters and the captain followed him, demanding to know what this was all about, trying to get him to go elsewhere, pushing him about that aggravating woman. He clenched his hands behind his back, trying to hide the trembling. At last the captain acquiesced, calling the bridge to change the course. And then, thankfully, left him alone.

***

She knew something was wrong with him, but she hadn't had a chance to find out what it was. She was surprised when the captain ordered the course change to Vulcan, but kept silent, as she had no right to question his orders. And then there came the priority urgent message on the StarFleet Channel, sending them elsewhere in a hurry.

It was just a short while later, after the captain had left the bridge, when the object of her concern strode from the turbolift, straight to the helm console. He calmly changed the course again, and then went to his own station, not speaking to anyone else. Something was definitely wrong. She could see him tremble. And his hands never unclenched at all. Nor did he ever look in her direction, no matter how long she sat with her chair turned in his direction.

When she heard the captain's queries to Chekov, she knew something was seriously wrong. The captain returned to the bridge, stood by the turbolift door, and spoke directly to Spock. "Come with me, please."

Spock straightened up slowly, finally sending a swift glance her way, barely meeting her questioning eyes, before turning to meet the captain by the turbolift. She turned her head as he went past, watching him, her hands idle on her console, wondering.

***

Kirk kept his eyes glued to Spock as he questioned him. Spock swayed as he stood there, his eyes locked on the wall, never looking at the captain. He claimed no knowledge of his actions. And then he made a very strange request. Locked away? Why? When he refused to answer further questions, he ordered him to sick bay.

***

Spock staggered out of the turbolift and wandered down the corridor, eventually, by some circumstance, finding his way to sick bay. He refused the doctor's demands that he get on the biobed, stating that his orders were only to report to sick bay, nothing more. He wanted desperately to return to his quarters. McCoy took his arm, telling him that he also had orders, and then they involved a complete physical. He spoke of logic. Spock no longer felt that he had any logic, but he allowed himself to be led. He lay on the biobed, his hand clasped on the frame, his fingers twitching. The examination would do no good at all.

***

He was eventually allowed to return to his quarters. He sat at his desk, calling up an old holo on his comlink. He had not seen her since they were seven years old. He had no desire to see her. He had no desire at all for what was coming. He had been assured repeatedly that this would not happen to him. He did not understand why it was happening now, when he had been on the verge of something so wonderful, so powerful, that it literally shook his soul. Why?

The door chime sounded. He quickly hid the picture. He wanted no one else to see this. He was not even sure why he himself had it. Kirk entered, concerned. McCoy had told him things, but not everything. When he saw Spock's hand shaking, he grabbed it.

"You've been called the best first officer in the fleet. That's an enormous asset to me. If I have to lose that first officer, I want to know why."

Spock rose and walked toward his sleeping area. "It's a thing no outworlder may know, except those very few who have been involved. Even we do not speak of it among ourselves. It is a deeply personal thing. Can you see that, captain, and understand?"

"No, I do not understand. Explain. Consider that an order."

"There are some things that transcend even the discipline of the service."

Kirk walked over to Spock. "I'll treat this as totally confidential."

Spock walked away from Kirk, spoke with his back turned. "It has to do with biology." His voice was hoarse. He struggled to explain his problem to the captain, to his friend. It was difficult. The captain had difficulty understanding. Even when he said that it stripped away logic, brought madness, the captain did not understand. Kirk told him he was not a fish. He replied that he was also not a man. It was only when he finally told him that he would die that the man finally seemed to comprehend. He promised to get him to Vulcan, and finally, finally, left his quarters.

***

Uhura was on the bridge at her station, when Kirk called her, telling her to get Admiral Komack and pipe it down to McCoy's office. She acknowledged the strange request and put through the call. What was going on? And why all the course changes? When she had a moment, she took a chance and put through a call to his quarters, wanting so badly to find out what the problem was.

Spock was in his quarters, playing his ka'athyra, trying to maintain some type of control when the call came through. The sound of her voice, so greatly desired, enflamed him. He could not have her now, did she not understand? That part of his life was over, finished, undone. He rose, throwing his ka'athyra on the bed, clenching his shaking hands. He muttered, something unintelligible, then yelled. "let me alone, let me alone", pounding his fist into his comlink, smashing it beyond repair. He trembled and shuddered, in agony with wanting her.

He could not see her dazed face, so concerned.

***

Kirk and McCoy sat in McCoy's office. They talked to Admiral Komack to no effect. Kirk was beside himself. "I can't let Spock die, can I Bones? I owe him my life a dozen times over, isn't that worth a career? He's my friend." He called bridge, telling them to lay in a course for Vulcan.

Chapel had been listening, and when she heard this, she jumped up and ran to Spock's quarters, leaning over him as his laid on the bed. She reached out but did not touch him, then started to leave.

Spock sat up, telling her he had a most startling dream that "she was trying to tell him something, but he couldn't hear her." He stood up, shakily, leaning on the divider. "It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures, don't you think?"

She didn't understand him. She told him that they would be at Vulcan in two days and turned to go. She was greatly surprised when he asked her to make him some soup and ran out of his quarters overjoyed.

He could not understand why he had done this. He did not want this woman. And he could no longer have the one he did want.

***

He found himself being escorted by Kirk and McCoy. Perhaps this was best. He was not certain that he trusted himself at this point. When they were in the turbolift, he asked them if they would accompany him down to the planet, explaining that it was his right. They appeared to be quite pleased to be asked. When they exited the turbolift onto the bridge, she was seated at her station. He could not keep his eyes from going to her. He was filled with turmoil, sadness. He kept his face calm, even as his mind cried out in distress. She said the hailing frequencies were open to Vulcan and Kirk directed her to put the call on the big screen. They were standing near her, first Kirk, then himself, then McCoy. If he had been any closer to her, he would not have been able to stop himself from touching her, he was sure. She had no idea what was about to happen and there was no way he could tell her. It was like acid, eating away at him. Why had he never explained this to her?

The screen lit up. The three men faced it. Uhura swiveled her chair about, first facing the science station, then the men, finally looking at the viewscreen. She was nervous and she didn't know why.

Kirk was talking to someone at Vulcan Command, who asked if he was there. He replied that he was present. Whoever it was on the planet said to stand by. Behind him, he was conscious that she was relaxed now, her legs crossed, her elbow on her console. She did not know what was coming, could not possibly expect it. He raged inside, showing nothing. Nurse Chapel entered the bridge and handed McCoy a PADD, questioning softly about what was going on.

And then T'Pring's face was there on the viewscreen. She spoke, reciting the ancient words. He found himself responding, giving her the words she expected, his face as impassive as he could make it. But inside, inside he ranted, he revolted. This was not what he wanted, not who he wanted. He had lost control of his life and it was bitter. There was no hope for him now, no future. He was chained. Brightness and laughter and joy would no longer be part of his life.

Beside him he heard the voice that he desired the most to hear, speaking words he had no desire to answer.

"She's lovely, Mr Spock, who is she?"

He made the only reply he was able. "She is T'Pring, my wife." He heard her almost inaudible gasp, the sound wounding him even further. He sensed the others standing close turning to look at him in astonishment, but he ignored them, staring straight ahead, struggling for control.