"as you are the apple of my eye"
Genre: Drama, Romance
Time Frame: Post ST-XI
Characters: N. Uhura/Spock, Ensemble Crew
Summary: It had started as an away mission that went south, an adverse situation that they made due with in most unforeseeable of ways. In the end, though, him seeing the world through her eyes was nothing short of fascinating.
Notes: This started as a viggie for my 'What a Lovely way to Burn' series, and a way for me to play around with the mental bond that I often establish in so many of my Spock/Uhura stories. (You will see what I mean.) In the end, though, it quickly became long enough to stand on its own as its own piece. Knowing this, I gave no thought to length, and was quite surprised when this . . . beast erupted with a total of forty pages and 20,000 words and no good cut-off points whatsoever. Of course the muse would decided to be finicky that way . . . So, I decided, after some debating with my beta, to post it whole in its entirety rather than force in a few cut-offs to give you chapters. So, basically, what I am trying to say is that I heartily recommend sitting down with a cup of coffee and just letting this simmer over a few days if you decide to undertake the task of reading this.
As always, a huge thanks goes to Jade_eyes for her patience and awesomeness when helping me through this. You rock as a beta reader and so much more, hon!
Disclaimer: Nothing is mine except for the words.
"Perhaps it was the circumstances that drew us so very near – that knit us so very close: for I was his vision, as I am still his right hand. Literally, I was (what he often called me) the apple of his eye."
~ Jane Eyre, Chapter 38
I think that in all my time serving aboard the Enterprise, never had a situation been more odd than the events of Minavad IV. At least, on a personal scale. After serving this long with a Captain like James T. Kirk, there were certainly situations that ranked high on the list for the crew as a whole, but this one was different . . . This one hit so very close to home.
Minavad itself was a gas giant in a seldom traveled corner of the Alpha quadrant. While the gas giant was of little interest – its great flow of storms was stable, and the mining colonies that had set up within the nets of gas had long since closed down due to the exhaustion of the Karmondian ore that had once been abundant there – the surrounding ten moons were very much so of interest. Minavad III was a trading outpost for those preparing deep space voyages, and was fairly busy during most parts of the solar seasons. Six other of Minavad's moons were too small and underdeveloped to support any kind of life, either being to far from the systems three suns, or too close for ideal conditions to thrive. The remaining three of Minavad's moons were of a barren nature, but showed the first signs of holding plant life and the first bactoids that would lead to true sentient population in the centuries to come.
Minavad IV was the most developed of these three moons, and was the obvious one for us to drop down to and collect various samples and what not for the research divisions who were interested in planetary development and the properties of undiscovered flora in general. In short, the whole of the mission was rather dull for those of us who didn't have an interest in the sciences. Kirk, in particular, had a rather glazed expression as Spock talked on about this and that with as much glee as one could insert into a Vulcan's voice. I tried not to smile at it while we all donned envirosuits in an anteroom to the transporters.
While Minavad IV was showing signs of supporting sentient life, the fledgling atmosphere still bore many of the same gases that were found in the giant that it orbited. The Carmonian gas in particular was particularly detrimental to human lungs – Spock would be fine for short amounts of time, but not for long – so, until the gas levels regulated themselves in the years to come, it was gas masks for us all.
While I fastened my own mask, I listened with a fond sort of smile as Spock and Kirk's conversation went back and forth.
"Three years prior to our visit, Doctor Vladimir Rovania found several properties in the main line of fungi that the planet sports – a strain of Mistocloparous Duncionus – which promises to be of use within the field of ocular treatment. He and his team aboard the Vigilant made enough progress with the fungi in question to request further expeditions from Starfleet. It is an honor for us to be taking part in this."
"Yep, I'm sure that this fungus is the most fascinating thing we'll see in a few systems, Mr. Spock."
"Indeed it is, Captain," Spock said, his voice conveying as much traces of eager anticipation as he was opt to show. Apparently we were taking much too long to suit up. "I am glad that you find yourself in agreement."
Kirk rolled his eyes, mumbling under his breath something about Vulcans and too smart for their own good.
I shook my head as my sensitive ears picked up on the words. Someday, he'd get that Spock's hearing was just as good as mine – if not better. As it was, Spock stiffened just slightly.
Kirk noticed it. "Spock," he said on a sigh, "I will be just as enthused about the fungus as you were about those dancers on Amaria II."
Spock blinked. "I do not see how the situations are in any way related."
"Exactly," Kirk said with a grin.
"I'll take the fungus over the dancers," I said as I brushed past Kirk somewhat rudely. He had taken Spock where?
Kirk flushed a bit red under his helmet. "It was just a bit of fun, Lieutenant."
"Fun, huh? And just how did you win on your bet with Scotty, Captain?" I drawled, stressing the syllables of his title. Jim hated it when I did that. In the back of my mind, where the ever constant link between Spock and I dwelt, I could feel his faint humor at Jim's annoyance. I tried my best not to smile at it.
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Kirk muttered sullenly. Under his breath he muttered, "Out ten creds, too." With a final shake of his head he snapped his faceplate into place before moving forward to the transporter room. "So, fungus anyone?" he inquired merrily.
I rolled my eyes, but followed Kirk out. Spock was close behind me.
There were a few more last minute instructions, and then I could feel rings of gold engulf me and the tingling sensation of being drawn apart before reappearing on the planet below.
And well, the reports had not been lying when they said that the moon had the potential for life only.
All around us the planet was shaded in serene colors of gray and pale blue rock. A few hundred feet away I could see a deep indigo sea stretching on as far as the eye could see. The curve of the horizon was dramatic and defined over the waters due to the heavy atmosphere, while on the surface of the sky, colors of flame and topaz danced as they reflected the gas giant above past the storms that constantly played in the upper spheres. All around us the air was heavy, pushing us against the ground and tingling against our skin with a raw and vivacious energy. I was grateful for the mask that allowed air to pass through my lungs as I adjusted the suit to let me walk easier within the heavy gravity.
Every few seconds the ground rumbled with far off tremors, the crust moving very literally under our feet as the moon suffered its growing pangs. The tremors were not too bad – they made walking interesting at times, and they made the sensors on my tricorder go haywire, but they were relatively stable. It was an experience, surely, to feel the moon under me struggle so. There were hisses of steam as fissures in the ground opened, sighing out their displeasure to the turbulent skies above. Around me, the whole world teemed with the violence of life struggling to be born.
I tore my way from the beauty of the streams of color fighting in the atmosphere to turn to where Spock was already kneeling besides a rather peculiar plant that dotted the rocky landscape at random around us. In fact, it seemed to be the only thing that covered the rocks. In the distance, the sea beat out a mournful dirge, equally as empty as well.
I knelt down next to Spock, reaching out a gloved hand to touch the odd looking little plant – it was like a cross of mushroom caps and English ivy back on earth. Small, domed heads dotted long vines that clung tenaciously to their rocky host. The domes were yellow in tone, dotted with dozens of small white marks. They felt rubbery under my touch, and the domes shrunk away when I lingered for too long.
"Sensitive guys," I muttered.
"Indeed," Spock agreed. "Each head is a sort of receptor for the vine beneath. What is really of value here is the roots." I watched as he skillfully pried the roots whole from the ground. The roots pulsed white and living before yellowing in the air around us. I raised a brow curiously at the phenomenon.
Kirk was peering over my shoulder. "So, that's it?" he questioned.
Spock raised his eyes to meet the Captains. "Were you expecting more?" he commented dryly.
"Yeah," was Kirk's blunt answer. He was already fidgeting like a child.
"I feel compelled to remind you," Spock said as he turned back down to the plant he was cataloging and placing in a vial for later, "that it was you who insisted on accompanying me."
Kirk shrugged. "It beats bridge duty," he muttered.
And I did not want to relive the conversation that revealed that my reasons for being here were much the same as Kirk's – minus my desire to be with Spock for a few hours away from the ship, of course. "So, do you need more than that?" I asked. I was ready to move on.
"There are seven key locations on the moon that I would like to collect from, yes," he answered me.
I nodded, and took a step back when the ground under me rumbled, and a moment later Spock deftly lifted me away from the fissure that opened in the ground. His hands were sure around my waist as he tilted his eyes at the fissure of boiling water and sulfates. "It would be wise to keep away from those, Lieutenant. They could prove quite detrimental to you."
I was shaking slightly as I steadied myself. "I'll keep that in mind, Commander." I could feel the heat from the steam from where I was standing a few steps away from it.
Spock nodded as he drew away from me, and we spent the better part of the next two hours visiting various points on the moon where we collected samples from. On the other side of the small sea there were plants of a slightly different breed, although I will admit that the particulars of their breed and function escaped me.
While we were hiking up through the burgeoning foothills, some ways from the shore, I looked down and noticed that the plants started turning almost gray and blue in their tones, instead of the rich gold from before. Spock noticed too, and this was once again cataloged with the utmost precision.
"Odd," Spock was muttering, his mind obviously very far away from us. "These samples show a development that should be at least a hundred years further off. There was a catalyst of some sort here that prompted the growth."
"Interesting," Kirk said absently, moving his weight back and forth restlessly. Truly, he looked like he was almost hopeful for a Klingon war party – or something that would require an equal amount of action.
The poor little plants didn't look like they'd be much of a match for Kirk.
Around the blue plants – some of which were even starting to show white buds and blooms intermixing with the mushroom like features, I noticed an increasing amounts of dead and wilting plants. Apparently, the catalyst was not such a good thing here.
I touched a wilting bloom absently, noticing the contrast of the dying white against the rich red of my glove.
When Spock reached out to the wilting blooms, he lifted his faceplate to sniff delicately at the yellow pus that remained alongside the dying petal's leaves. He was frowning slightly, and I wondered at what he had found there.
The question was taken from my tongue when a tremor racked the ground underneath us, this one more strong than any I had felt yet. The tremor rocked the pebbles on the ground and made the tenacious vines shudder. Underneath me, my feet twisted, and I reached out a hand to steady myself on Kirk's shoulder, who had reached out a hand to rest on Spock's crouched frame.
We were an awkward tangle of limbs for a moment, to be sure. A moment later – a very long moment, the ground settled under us with a sigh again.
I found myself laughing at it as I straightened myself, my heart still pounding from the activity. Kirk's smile was lopsided as well.
Spock was quiet, very quiet, before looking down at the tricorder in his hands. I could feel a sudden apprehension from him as he spoke, "Captain, Lieutenant; I do believe that it would be wise if you were to brace yourselves."
I knew that tone of voice from battle situations and crisis conditions. Instantly I crouched closer to the ground, bracing my weight against Kirk's form as the ground erupted around us. Steam filled the air as the ground broke apart, making my skin beneath my suit clam with sweat and my visor fog up white before my vision. I was thankful for the suit that kept the worse of the heat and acid from my skin.
I could feel strong arms pulling me through the mist – and the grip was stronger, more at ease with me in his grasp than Kirk's. I let Spock pull me away, feeling uneasily where my feet stumbled on what had just become a gaping chasm in the ground. There was nothing for as far as the eye could see as I looked down – black everywhere and unending.
I felt my heart hammer in fear as I realized the gravity of the situation. From my right I could hear Kirk call from clear ground, and I could hear Spock respond. Still, I could see nothing until the steam and mist cleared. When it did the ground under me breathed an angry sigh, as if annoyed at having to stitch itself back together again.
My hands were shaking as I passed them over my visor and suit controls, checking for leaks that had allowed the heat or the gas in. There were none.
I could hear Kirk's voice when I looked up. He was chuckling, the adrenaline rush lighting his eyes an amazingly clear shade of blue. "Well, that was fun," he said on a shaky voice.
I smiled hesitantly along with him. And yet, my amusement was cut short when I felt surprise at the bond in the back of my mind. I looked over at Spock, expecting him to have found something new with the plants, and felt the first flicker of worry when I realized that his uneasy realization was not directed at his surroundings, but at himself.
"Spock?" I questioned. "What is it?"
Kirk caught on to the worry in my tone, and looked over at the Vulcan who was still crouched on the ground.
Spock did not reply, and I felt my heart trip in my chest as I came over to kneel down next to him. He was holding a blue gloved hand over his eyes. On his gloves there was the same yellow pus that had been on the dead blooms. The skin I could see beneath his hand was a bright and angry red that immediately had me snapping out, "Kirk, I think you'd better get medical ready."
Spock's faceplate had been open during the eruption.
I forced my voice to be calm."Spock, c'mon, can you let me see?"
"The tremors resulted in a lapse of judgment on my part," Spock said in answer. While his voice was calm and clear, I could feel the pain that was lancing through his body at the back of my own mind.
When he slowly drew his gloved hand away, his eyes were red rimmed and bloodshot. He was blinking them rapidly, as if trying to clear a haze away. His skin was puckered and raw and bleeding from where he had taken the blunt of the fissure's anger, and I found myself thanking his mixed heritage that made him more hardy than a human. I refused to let myself think down the lines of what-ifs . . .
I handed him the water canister that was at my belt, and he splashed it in his eyes with his clean hand, and yet the redness did not clear. I could feel him in my mind – irritation bubbling while at the same time facts and figures fluttered a mile a minute, past what my mind could handle.
"It is not the burns that worry me, Nyota," he said softly, his voice just for me. I looked down at his gloves to see the pus coating his fingers. The plants . . . that had been a corrosive agent of some kind.
His worry threaded with mine to create a sickening sort of unease to pool low in the pit of my stomach, threatening to make me sick. I could feel the bond flicker slightly in response as he drew away from me. I felt the pain – burning hotter than I would have imagined - as soon as he cut back.
I fought to reopen it. "Spock, what was that stuff?" I asked, trying to keep the tremor from my voice. Alien substances were unknown variables at best – volatile ones, at worst.
"I am not completely sure," Spock mumbled, his voice calm. Kirk hovered close to us, feeling the queasy sort of worry that had flooded the air.
I had a flicker of thought from him – a burning sensation, like the tickle of static, and swirls of color that kaleidoscoped in front of his vision.
Distantly, I could hear Kirk order us up - "Okay, Mr. Sulu, get us out of here. And have McCoy ready, Number One here got something nasty in his eyes."
I was surprised when Spock took my hand in full view of the Captain, and squeezed briefly, as if for support. Before he drew away I could feel, for but a moment, another flash from his mind, and it was a flash only. But within that glimpse I stole, everything was black.
Sickbay was quiet this shift – there were a few there on routine physicals, and those checking up on older wounds, but the Enterprise had been peaceful for the last few standard weeks. McCoy, I thought, looked almost thankful for an interesting case when the three of us walked in. Spock was touching at my hand every few moments, as if making sure of where I was . . . As if he were making sure of where he was.
My stomach was tying in knots. Spock had been silent the whole way back . . . and he had not stopped blinking. The movements made his eyes redder; the haze I felt in his mind more tangible. His skin was blistering white and angry.
"What did Kirk get into this time?" was McCoy's first question when we approached. He had yet to look up.
Kirk glared balefully. "Funny."
I was not in the mood for their customary banter. "There were tremors," I explained. "Spock got an unknown substance in his eyes." He's having trouble seeing, my tongue tripped on the words.
McCoy's muttering of, "just blink and flush it out with water," died when he looked up at Spock. He scowled as he reached for his ever trusty tricorder. "Damn, but you weren't kidding," he grumbled, his eyes narrowing.
All of the light levity and sardonic humor that the doctor normally sported faded as McCoy turned and ordered nurses about with a quirk and practiced efficiency. He was holding up a tricorder to Spock's face, ascertaining the degree of the burns, and the state of his ocular nerves. All the while, people moved and things were passed back and forth and Kirk and I were told not-so-politely to stay out of the way.
I stood on the opposite side of the biobed as McCoy stepped up and waved the tricorder in front of Spock's eyes. He frowned at the readings before reaching up a gloved hand to touch gingerly at the bruised looking flesh around Spock's eyes. Spock didn't flinch away from the touch until it was upon him.
He didn't see it coming, I realized.
The burns were bad, and so they were treated first. I was thankful that they didn't require extreme measures like grafting, but they had gone past the point where shock was a what-if and more of a given. The sedative that McCoy gave Spock made his mental control weak, and I could feel his pain, tightly controlled and unbearably human, in waves against my senses. I was thankful for the advances in medicine that let McCoy repair the skin right then and there before applying a salve to stimulate his body to accept the newly regenerated skin.
The treatment for the burns took much too long for my tastes. Inside my mind I could feel shadows and light fade and become darker around the edges. Soon there was nothing. There was something terribly wrong, I knew.
Sure enough, McCoy drew his scanner back from Spock's eyes with a curse under his breath, and his dark brows knotted in tension. I felt my heart twist painfully.
"Doctor, what's wrong?" I asked impatiently, when he said nothing as to his findings.
McCoy didn't bother raising his eyes to look up at me. "Why don't you have Kirk take you to get some tea or something of the like, darling? I'm going to be a while, and frankly, you're a distraction."
I could feel Kirk's hand, firm but gentle on my shoulder. "C'mon, Nyota," he whispered. He never used my first name . . . ever. "Everything will be okay here. Bones knows what he is doing."
I knew that, truly I did.
I pressed my hand to Spock's, who was dipping in and out of consciousness. "I'll be back," I whispered, but could feel no acknowledgment in my mind. Whatever was dragging him under was strong.
I knew I was not good company in the mess hall – my glass of iced tea sat untouched before me as I stared listlessly at it. I was still wearing my envirosuit, my helmet hanging numbly from my fingers. I didn't dare change for fear of being called in that time . . .
From across me, Kirk had yet to move either. His eyes were sympathetic, and his voice aimed to cheer me up, but I could hear the worry that colored his tones. He had yet to touch his tea, either. A part of me was touched that he stayed with me, while another part was not so very surprised. Not anymore.
"I'm sure that there will be no lasting damage," he was saying for the umpteenth time. "Spock's too stubborn to not pull out of this at anything less than a hundred percent."
I knew that, and still . . . Kirk couldn't feel what I felt leaking from Spock's mind. It was burning and so dark and endlessly black . . . I shuddered at the memory of it.
"I'm sure," I agreed though, my voice as bleak as my thoughts. I swirled my glass, watching the play of the nearly melted ice in the warm toned liquid with unblinking eyes.
When, an hour later, we had still not heard from McCoy, Kirk insisted that I change. The envirosuit was stifling by then, and my skin was clammy and itchy underneath. My hair must have looked a fright from where I had had it gathered under my helmet. After an official order I made it back to my quarters – our quarters - and after a sonic shower, I changed into my everyday uniform. By the time I was throwing my hair sloppily up, McCoy was asking me down to Sickbay to share his findings.
When I appeared, Spock was fully conscious, and his presence at the back of my mind was not as turbulent as it had been earlier. The skin of his face was still raw and angry, but it was now a shade of pink that indicated the irritation of growth rather than the burn of dying skin. There were wrappings around his eyes from whatever treatment McCoy had been working on.
He turned to face me, even though he could not see me. I could feel his greeting across the back of my mind. I smiled weakly at it before realizing that the gesture would be unappreciated by him.
"So, what's the diagnosis, doc?" asked Kirk, who was already in one of the hard plastic chairs that the small corner of the medbay had to offer.
McCoy scowled as he looked down on the readings on his tricorder. At the doctor's silence, I felt a tightening at the bond in my mind. Spock felt apprehension where his face showed none.
"The whole of his optic nerves were fried," he muttered. "The combination of gasses and burns from the fissure I could have fixed – but there was something in the fungus that was a rather potent corrosive. The swelling that resulted from the burns made for a rather neat mess tied with a pretty bow."
I frowned. "And you were able to fix this?"
McCoy shrugged. "Can't tell yet – I rebuilt as much of the nerves as I could, and I got the swelling down. Now, it just stands to see if the scarring resulting from the rebuilding is enough to allow enough signals to transmit from his eyes to the nerve receptors in his brain."
He moved to undo the wraps, and I fought to wince at seeing the bruised flesh that surrounded Spock's bloodshot eyes. It certainly did not look comfortable at all. In his hand, McCoy held a hypo that would be the last stage of his treatments at the moment.
He administered the spray quickly and effectively, and I watched anxiously for any change. As the cleanser set it, the red cleared from Spock's eyes, as did the purplish sort of bruising that had appeared around them. I let hope fill me – this was just a nasty irritant, the nerves had been rebuilt enough, it was nothing permanent or . . . I bit my lower lip as I let my thoughts circle around each other in a torrid way.
A moment later, the red completely cleared.
As McCoy muttered an oath under his breath, Spock turned to face me, and I was shocked to see that while the red had faded, the violent shade had done everything to take the color from his eyes . . . His gaze was glassy and glazed. The deep brown was colored over by a muddy tan that shone white when his eyes hit the light. There was no spark within their depths. No brilliance of sight and light reflected . . .There was just . . . nothing. His gaze was blind . . .
When Spock spoke next, his voice was calm, without any underlying tremors. "It appears that there has been further damage, Doctor."
McCoy's snort of "understatement," was lost on me as I pressed my hand on top of Spock's, reopening the bond between us. Spock made no move to close me off to it, and immediately I was swept away by his deep set unease and uncertainty. The logical part of his mind was already computing – sciences and medicine flashing a hundred ways to fix this. The other part . . . the human part was struggling, weighing the worst possible outcomes with the darkness that swam in his vision . . . He had never seen something so black before, with not even the promises of light amongst shadow to be seen.
I pushed as much encouragement and support as I could to him. Now was not the time for my emotions to go haywire.
"Is it permanent?" was all that I asked McCoy. I felt a jump of fear in my breast that was not just mine.
McCoy shrugged. "It's hard to say – we'll run some tests. On my end I'll check out the extent of the nerve damage, and on his end we can get that damn stuff analyzed. I should have a more accurate diagnosis within the hour."
Spock made as if to get up. McCoy put a forceful hand on his shoulder, holding him down. "You aren't going anywhere, genius. Not until I run a few tests."
Spock raised a brow. "It would be logical for me to assist my team in the analysis." I could feel the anxious energy in him – the focus was the one thing that kept his tightly bound control in place.
McCoy snorted. "Nothing of that sort is 'logical' until you can see what you are doing."
Spock looked as if he would protest; his mouth opened once, then twice, before he fell silent. He had no logical argument he could make. I know that that ate at him. Next to me, Kirk got to his feet, rubbing his hand through his hair in a frustrated manner. "Just let us handle this one, Spock," he tried saying lightly. "We'll have you patched up in no time."
There were parting words – plans for tests and treatment options, both. Later, after some rest, I knew that Spock would meet with his officers in the science departments, but the whole of the information passed went admittedly over me. I was in my own little world, watching with almost morbid fixation the blank shade of suede that now made up his eyes . . .
Later, I know not how much, Kirk and McCoy filed out, leaving Spock and me alone. I wasted no time before twining my hand through Spock's, taking as much of the negative emotion I could feel churning inside of him onto me. I tried to keep my own emotions in check as much as I could, but it was a hard battle indeed.
Spock squeezed my hand once before drawing away. "You should not worry so," he commented softly. "You are already showing sufficient signs of impending ill health – stress shall only speed that process."
I snorted softly, he turned to me, his head tilted curiously at every small sound I was making. His eyes were staring straight ahead and unmoving. He hardly blinked.
"How can I not worry?" I whispered.
Finally he blinked, slowly and deliberately, as if he had to remind himself to make the movements. "Either outcome, even those less favorable, shall be adjusted to and lived with. To worry over such factors, that are at the moment uncontrollable, is illogical."
He said that . . . but the worry I felt threading through his mind spoke of a different story entirely.
I nodded anyway before gently moving to curling up at his side. The biobed was narrow, but we made due as I rested my head on his chest and my hand over his heart, feeling his pulse strong and reaffirming beneath my fingers.
I let its beat lulled me as I drifted off into a light and tormented sleep, his warmth a soothing thing behind me.
I woke a few hours later, the sounds of voices just past Spock and I gently rousing me from sleep.
I blinked groggily before turning my head to make sure that my stirring had not awakened Spock – the man was notorious for not sleeping, seeing as he only needed a scant few hours every few nights. I took a moment to gaze down at him, my weary expression softening. It was rare for me to see him so at peace, never mind that his peace was interrupted by a grimace here, or the flesh under his eyes jumping there . . . His sleep was not peaceful. I was reminded of our situation so very well as I looked away.
Gently, I got to my feet. After tugging out the wrinkles on my uniform, I made my way out into the main expanse of the medbay. It was nearly deserted this early – right at the end of the Gamma shift, and about an hour before the start of the Alpha shift. There were a few nurses doing this and that, and McCoy and Kirk were in the Doctor's personal office, the low turn of their voices telling me of a terse and tepid conversation.
Guessing as to the subject, if not the matter, I made my way to McCoy's office, stopping right before the threshold. They could not see me yet.
"You see, had he just hit himself with one thing, I could fix it here and now." I could hear the frustration in McCoy's voice from here. "The optical nerves were fried from the fissure, and then the burns swelled anything that was left. Whatever is left in that pus is a corrosive. It's still doing its damage as we speak – I can do this and that to treat the symptoms, but the root of the problem won't be able to be solved until the compound is dissected by our 'higher minds.'"
I closed my eyes long and slow. My breathing was stilled.
"So, is this permanent?" I heard Kirk ask.
McCoy hesitated. I did not care for the hesitating. Not one bit.
"It's hard to tell," he finally said. "If the compound is broken down – if, and that's a big if – it'll have to be soon. The corrosive will act to a point until the nerves are far from salvageable. Once its past the point of no return, its just that."
My heart jumped into my throat. Really, it was time for that pesky organ to stay put . . .
"What about other options if the worst happens?" Kirk asked. His voice was calm and level, not betraying any of the worry that I could see in the depths of his gaze, clouding the normally brilliant blue. The flesh under his eyes was violet and shadowed. His hair was mused and his clothes were wrinkled – he had not slept. Neither had McCoy, from the looks of it. I felt something deep clench in gratitude for the both of them – such dear friends that I had not imagined the possibility of finding(or needing) until I did . . .
"You're talking about alternate sight technology?" McCoy asked.
"Yes," Kirk affirmed.
McCoy sighed. "VISOR technology is purely experimental at this point, more of a theory than working technology – and when it is fully developed, it'll only be used at the point where the eyes are completely slagged. The surgery removes them whole, and the result is not much better than operating completely blind – technology simply isn't advanced enough to replace vision, even in the form of sensory rays. In a hundred years they will still be rare, no doubt."
I found myself disliking the thought of robotic vision aides, anyway. There was something cold and impersonal about them, and Spock always had such an organic take on life. No, this would need to be treated, or . . . I could not let my mind trip down that path.
Kirk sighed. "Gotcha," he mumbled, bringing up his hand to rub at his chin. I recognized the pose from whenever he was in thought over a truly staggering problem. There was silence for a moment, and then his hazy eyes sharpened considerably. A false life animated them as he looked over and locked eyes with me. "Nyota?" he questioned.
He still rarely used my name. Even now. I tried not to linger on the thought as I walked into McCoy's office. "Jim," I gave in return. Any other time he would have smiled wolfishly at me. I never thought that I would miss the expression . . . But I did.
"The techs in the science department are changing shifts soon – I figured that Spock would want to see them along. McCoy said he's free to use the computers in the medbay and direct them from here."
Spock would not like that. I felt a determination steal through me, though – he would get used to it quickly, I'd wager. He didn't have a choice.
"Thank-you," I said softly.
He nodded. "And you are free for the Alpha shift to help things get settled – unless something comes up, of course. If, by the Beta shift, you think you are ready, then by all means," he waved a hand, finishing his thought. There were times when I was thankful for the somewhat relaxed (as laxed as a military vessel could be, anyway) measures that Kirk employed on-board.
McCoy watched us both with a soft sort of look. "Well, I'm ordering the Captain away for the next few hours – I'm not going to be the one to carry his sorry hide back to his quarters when he drops dead from not sleeping."
"Eloquent, as always," Kirk drawled.
McCoy shrugged. "I'm a doctor, not a damn Wordsworth."
"No one would would ever be accused of making that mistake," Kirk said, most seriously.
A snort escaped from the Doctor. I felt a smile warbling past my lips, cutting through the worry I felt thick and tangible in my veins. It was shattered when McCoy moved to the storage container on his desk that Nurse Chapel had brought to him just minutes before my arrival. Inside were a variety of items that every blind person knew as well as their own hands – a sensor net that was like a walking stick, only with sensor technology that fed information into ear pieces about the surrounding areas. There were a few other pieces of equipment like these, even though I must admit that my attention was not completely on McCoy as he told me the hows and the whys of their uses. I could only hear static in my ears, white and uncomfortable as I clenched my hands together at my side to control their shaking.
This was really happening, wasn't it?
I took a deep breath in, and with gentle fingers I lifted a pair of dark glasses. Curiously, I turned them over in my hands, wondering as to their purpose. Their addition would be something that I'd think Gaila would have, not -
McCoy must have understood the turn of my thoughts. "Some people find it . . . disconcerting to look at a blind gaze," he explained softly.
I felt something in me go cold as I wrapped my fingers gently around the slim frames. The plastoid was cool under my touch, picking up the moisture from my clammy skin. Gently, I placed the glasses back down, and placed the lid to the container on with a satisfying hiss.
My intention of spending the Alpha shift with Spock didn't play out as well as I would have hoped.
Lieutenant Conrad, my second, while a competent officer, was simply not fluent in the tongue of Garnain – which was the only speaking language of the shipping freighter that we encountered lost in deep space not even a standard hour into the shift. I translated for the Captain of the freighter – a belligerent and crass man named Goiltoch who still was looking out for the best interest of the crew. His more colorful language made translating interesting for me – and Kirk, who had been called back to command after not even an hour of rest.
When it became apparent that the freighter was damaged to the point where we couldn't send coordinates for them to follow us out of the Kainra sector, we decided that, rather that sending our own repair crews over to fix their navigational system, it would be best for the Enterprise to buddy-jump with the freighter through several small warp shifts to get them to a Starbase two hours away. The freighter was Federation contracted, warranting any lengths for our aide, although I don't think that Command realized the particulars of these that they contracted . . .
In the end, my presence with Spock would have proved unnecessary anyway. Spock spent the day directing his team of scientists via vidscreen. I believe that the method worked well for a time, but I could feel his frustration and irritation at the back of my own mind where his tone remained perfectly straight and level with those under his command. It was nothing personal to his fellow officers, I knew. But sometimes when it came down to it, his was a brilliant mind that had no equal. For them to try to match it in a situation like this must have been strenuous for them as well as him.
By the time the Alpha shift was completed, I was able to make my way back to the medbay to see that Spock had taken a break from directing the scientists. Even though I was as anxious for results as much as he, I was grateful for the lull in the task for him. His control and irritation bubbled at the back of my mind, causing my own emotions to fray as he sought to reign in his. It was an odd sensation . . . one that I found as foreign to his mind as it was to mine. I have never known him to be anything more than (if not completely at peace) calm, with both himself and those around him (for the most part, anyway.) It was a quality that made him such a fine teacher – he had a soothing presence, and his patience could help even the most difficult student through the most challenging of courses. It was what made him so good in command positions – as a foil to Kirk's more leap before looking manner, that, while brilliant at times, was just human at others – and a leader in his own right, both.
I reached Sickbay a moment later, and was please to see that Spock was up and in a fresh uniform. The irritation that I had felt in my mind had faded for the moment, replaced by something numb and resigned. He must have taken an hour to meditate . . . And then I felt a curiosity coming from him. I raised a brow at it as I walked over to him. When he turned to greet me, out of reflex as much as anything else, turning towards me could afford him no sight of me, I faltered in my step to realize that he had the sonic walking stick out. He must have been practicing with it about the small room.
In that moment I felt something hard settling in my chest, like stones. I think that it wasn't really real to me until that moment – that moment where I saw him clumsily waving the sensor field back and forth as his once brilliant eyes stared blindly ahead . . . Their light was gone. Their depths were murky; glazed, as if seared over by a fine flame. The contrast to the memory I cherished in my mind was chilling.
"Nyota?" he asked, his voice hesitant.
I was not close enough for the sensors to pick me up. Oh . . .
"I'm right here," I answered, and moved close enough to him so that I could lay a hand on his arm. The muscles under my touch jumped slightly at the contact, before relaxing . . . he did not see the touch coming.
He lifted one hand to rest over mine. His hand trembled for a moment before he let his touch draw away from me. I could feel himself compose his mental barriers, warped and wilted as they were under the pressure of the day's events.
"Thank-you," he breathed out softly.
I smiled a watery smile, grateful that he could not see how the motion was strained.
"You are holding yourself unusually stiff," he commented as he adjusted the settings on the sensor web in his hand. The beams of red lengthened and whispered out over a larger area. "The strain on your breathing indicates a stress that you are holding at bay. Your heart-rate is elevated by point 2.3 percent."
Had I ever found that adorable before? My lips down turned as I rolled my eyes. "Of course I'm a little on edge."
He titled his head. "Indeed," he said softly, and I felt a soothing sort of presence filter through my mind.
"I think you're turning this around the other way," I commented, a smaller, more sincere smile on my lips. "I'm fine – really. I want to know how you are holding up."
There was a mental snort in his mind – a sound that would never make it past his lips, I knew. The human tendency to talk – stating the obvious in order to 'get something off ones chest' would always be a dubious concept for him. I bit my tongue at the thought. "What do you have here?" I altered my choice of conversation.
My eyes flickered down to the sensor web in his hands, and even though he could not see the direction of my gaze, he answered, "A more . . . sophisticated form of a walking stick. This takes out readings from where the sensors – the red lights, I trust you can see – touch, and reads them aloud here." He tapped one long finger at a metal circle that clipped over his ear. A light flashed steady and green at ready on the side.
"Nifty," I said.
"It has its uses," he commented. "I endeavored to chart certain areas of the ship earlier – computing how long it would take to transverse often traveled areas in a manner of different speeds. For instance, there are one hundred and eight-four steps at a leisurely pace from our quarters to the turbo-lift. Another twelve to my station after that. Seventy-seven to the mess hall a mere eighteen to sickbay; from the same point respectively."
"That's . . . useful." There was a lump growing in my throat. How very . . . Vulcan of him. A part of me knew that I would have asked him to calculate the same things for me had our situations been reversed.
"Exceedingly so," Spock commented dryly. "Together," here he tapped the sonic walking stick again, "I should be able to get about well enough. It is a temporary arrangement." This was said with a determined wave of emotion in my mind. His voice was as hard as it was opt to get without suitable provocation.
"Very," I agreed, adding a more human hope to the cocktail of emotions running in my mind.
I could feel his thoughts settle and still at the input. He turned towards me, his blind eyes finding mine out of habit. "Nyota," he breathed suddenly. "There is something that I wish to speak of with you. Seeing how this situation has a high likelihood of some semblance of permanency -"
" - are you hungry?" I interrupted, my heart jumping wildly into my throat in a base moment of fear as I understood the sort of conversation he wished to have.
He titled his head. "My consumption of nourishment is not a matter at this time. Nyota, I feel that -"
" - thirsty?" I interrupted again.
"Thirsty?" he echoed, somewhat perplexed.
"Yes," I affirmed, biting my lower lip.
The corners of his mouth pressed together – his version of a frown. "Nyota, this is something that needs to be discussed," he said, his voice low and gentle – a tone he only used around me.
I had taken his hands in mine somewhere in the last few moments. My pulse beat out a wild tempo at my wrist. I knew that he could feel it. "Spock, I don't want to talk about this right now," my voice was low – pleading.
"It is logical -"
" - I know it is," I assured him, cutting him off again. "And we will talk about it. Just not now . . ."
He was silent for a moment. "Very well," he acquiesced.
"Thank-you," I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that he had caved to my more childish whims.
He let my hands go, and stepped away from me. I could feel a bewildered sort of confusion brim in his mind . . . He really didn't know what to do next.
"Have you eaten today?" I asked again, serious this time in my question.
"I have no desire to," he said simply.
I saw an in. "Now that's not logical," I said gently. "C'mon – I'm starved. We can hit the mess hall, and then you can come back here and scare your poor team into submission all over again. . . And then we'll talk. Really talk."
His shoulders had stiffened a little at my mentioning of his team. I bit my tongue, sensing a sore spot. Another thing that we would talk about later . . .
"You may go if you desire sustenance," he said.
"I would like to go with you," I tried again.
"Nyota . . ." he said my name on an exhale, the breathy quality of it giving it the same feel as a sigh. He didn't want to go anywhere, I knew . . . This was overwhelming for him, and here, away from prying eyes and waggling tongues, and the stares he couldn't see was safer . . . better.
I wanted things to return to normal so very badly in that moment, perhaps that is what drove me to insist. The human desire to act as if things were the same in hopes that they would become that way . . . "Please?" I questioned. "It's been a long day, and I'd love a coffee and something to eat. You need to get out of here too." That, at least, I firmly believed.
He was silent for a long moment. I looked up at him with wide eyes, my lips turned in the beginnings of a pout, but nothing nearly so childish . . . It was a look that he rarely ever said no to, I knew. I pushed a thought of it now, letting his mind present a vision in memory that actuality could not now replicate.
"You are most unfair," he said after a moment.
"Love me for it?" I asked lightly.
He gave me a Look. It failed to bother me after a time.
I took a step towards the exit, and looked back with a brow raised when Spock turned to walk the opposite way. When his searching hands went to the box that Nurse Chapel had left, I immediately walked over to offer my assistance. "Here, let me get whatever you need," I offered.
He inclined his head. "That is not necessary," he said softly. Blinking, I looked over to see what he had gotten, surprised and unsettled when he had taken the pair of glasses from the container's depths.
I hated them on him. "You know, you don't have to wear those around me," I said gently.
"And yet I wish to around others," was his return.
I bit my tongue, and watched him walk a few hesitant steps with the sensor web and glasses . . . I did not care for the sight he presented. At all. It twinged at something deep inside of me that I didn't dwell on long enough to name . . . After a moment, I went to his side to loop an arm through his. He would let me this close to him around others, I knew, and found it inwardly ironic that these were the circumstances that would let me touch him in public.
He trusted me to guide him. That knowledge was enough to sooth over anything unsettling that I may have found about the moment.
"How many steps to the turbo-lift from here, again?" I asked, trying to keep my voice light.
"Eighteen," was his soft reply. "Another Ten from this location."
"And to the mess hall?" my voice was not strained until the last syllable.
"Alright then," I said. "One, two, three . . ." My count tapered off as we drew away, the numbers running and blurring together as we went onwards.
I knew that making Spock come here was a mistake soon after we reached the mess hall.
The journey there was not too bad at all – the passage was slow with Spock being unsure of his bearings, but his walking gained much confidence by the end of our route. The crewman or two we past was polite, and silent, with nothing but curiosity in their eyes as they passed.
And yet, I had forgotten how gossip spread about the Enterprise like wildfire amongst the brush. When we entered the mess hall, there were stares aplenty that tingled at the back of my spine, making my hairs stand on end. There was a hush as people muttered . . . well meant mutterings. Curious mutterings. The pity that I heard there was worse . . . I knew Spock heard it too. His pointed ears were twitching as he strained to hear in recompense for the loss of his sight. The whispers must have been thundering.
I chatted amicably about this and that as I asked the replicator for plomek soup and tea. Spock stood stiffly at my side, his eyes staring resolutely ahead from behind the glasses. I took it upon myself to lead him to a table as subtly as I could. There were darkened tables in the corner away from others. I hoped that my pointed glares would keep them away. For a while, it seemed to be working.
Instead of lending to a false sense of normalcy, the outing seemed to reinforce how much things had changed. The very act of eating was different now – slow and deliberate with much guesswork. Spock ate little in the end, aware of the stares and caught on the high points of his own composure.
I could feel his discomfort at the back of my mind like a living thing. He valued his privacy, and he valued the face that he presented to the crew. He did not want to be here.
Feeling uncomfortable with the knowledge that I had pushed him here, I made to prepare to leave when the first crewman stopped by to offer his apologies. I recognized Marius Okei from my Transgalactic Phonics class – a class that Spock had assisted in teaching in my first year at the Academy. Marius was a kind soul, with a hand for the more lyrical aspects of translation.
While his well wishes were nice, the deluge it unleashed was . . . not.
Human nature, I had to remind myself as person after person came over to us – expressing their sympathies for our . . . situation. Hopes for a solution, and questions of a more . . . obvious nature. "What's it like?" "Wow, that must be so weird for you . . ." "Can you see anything, anything at all?" And one rather softhearted Annalien ensign's step forward to actually wave her hand before Spock's eyes and helpfully ask if that was any better due to the proximity.
At that point, I was on my feet to leave and pointedly shooing away the rest of the well wishers. Spock was very still across from me, looking pointedly down, the tips of his ears flushing a telling shade of green in his discomfort. I whispered an apology across the back of his mind, well aware of the unease that had long since thawed over into something numbed and pained.
When it became apparent that my attempts were getting nowhere, I was almost thankful to hear Kirk's voice assisting me. Almost.
"As Captain, I call upon the right for exclusive access to the invalid. Now, if everyone would kindly return to their own meals, I would greatly appreciate it." The overly chipper voice did it, and the crowd around our table thinned to almost nothing.
I opened my mouth to thank Kirk and take Spock away when the Captain plopped down in the seat next to me. As merry as could be, Kirk took the untouched apple from Spock's tray, and started munching happily. I glared at him with as much venom as I could.
"Thank-you, Captain," I started my polite retreat, and then -
"Don't mention it, Lieutenant. I'm just doing my duty in looking after the welfare of all those under my care. Speaking of – and maybe you should sit down, Uhura, you're looking a little tense there – it really is good to see you up and about, Spock. I knew that something this trifling wouldn't keep you down for long."
"Indeed," was Spock's somewhat cold reply.
Kirk smiled at it. "Now that the formalities are out of the way, I'd like to take a moment to formally invite you by later. I would very much like to play you in chess now, Mr. Spock," Kirk said with an exaggerated drawl. The glint in his eyes wasn't there – but Spock couldn't see the change in his demeanor.
"Would you, Captain?"
"I think that I would like the advantage – it's too rare that I get one of those."
I could see Spock's jaw tighten. Just barely. "With the computer speaking out the moves, I can assure you that my knowledge of the game would allow me to play – and best you – even with your . . . advantage."
Kirk gave a watery grin. "Surely," he said dryly. "Still, you can't fault me for trying."
Spock inclined his head. "Indeed."
There was a moment of silence. Kirk looked over at me with heavy eyes before a childish glint invaded. With a completely straight face, he reached out one finger like a toddler and tapped my hand just once, eyes on Spock's for any acknowledgment of the movement. He did it again, and I snatched my hand away.
"Your maturity never ceases to amaze me," I hissed out on an exasperated breath.
He looked at me, and shrugged. I knew that I wasn't the only one who was trying to act normal.
"Sticks and stones," he gave, grinning.
He went to tap me again, and before he could touch me, Spock said "Captain," in a tone of voice the same of a parent admonishing a child. Apparently, he wasn't as oblivious as Kirk would believe him.
I tapped the side of my head. "Everything that I see, he sees . . . in a way."
Kirk made a face. "Figures," he breathed.
Spock was looking at me oddly, something churning in his mind that I could not extinguish.
I titled my head in question, but received only a muted 'later' from his mind. I nodded.
Kirk sighed. "You two were doing that whole no-words, my-mind-to-your-mind-voodoo again, aren't you?"
I just smiled.
Kirk rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I just wanted to say good luck with everything . . . I spoke with Lieutenant Matthias on my way here. He sounded pleased with the prospects of an antidote to the corrosive being made."
Spock stiffened, just slightly. I raised a brow at him. "It is too early to tell," he said carefully.
"Such modesty," Kirk smiled. He got to his feet. "Well, I've kept you from your hasty retreat long enough. Just . . . don't get to down, okay? Wallowing is one of the worse inclinations of the human psyche at times – I hope that you will be able to skip out on that."
"I am not . . . down, Captain. But I thank-you for the sentiments."
"Any time," Kirk beamed. The badge at his chest pinged, requesting his attention. He sighed. "Duty calls," he lamented. "Chess, later?" he asked.
"Perhaps," Spock gave carefully.
"See you then," Kirk took what he could, and with that was off again.
Spock merely inclined his head, while I stared after Kirk for a moment, blinking. He was one man that I was certain that I would never understand . . . At all.
Spock was looking at me when I turned to him. "You are ready to leave?"
"You've no idea," I breathed.
When we walked, our crewman parted for us like a sea.
The walk back to our quarters was terse and quiet. I tried to fill the air with light chatter for a moment or two before falling silent. Spock was moving the sensor net back and forth with a determined sort of movement, one two three, one two three . . . The counts echoed dully around my mind. The tap of the stick against the cold gray floor was loud past the hum of the ship all around us. I tried to concentrate on his steps instead. He could feel my discomfort, I knew. It only made things worse.
When we made it back, I didn't have time to help him to a seat before he managed on his own. I simply stood off to the side, biting my lip nervously as I debated with myself. Finally, I said softly, "I can make some tea, if you'd like." Do something useful, something other than simply standing there, uncomfortable in my own skin as he so clearly struggled in his . . .
Useful . . .
The single word snagged from my thoughts to resonate in his. He mused over the word softly, his shoulders tense and his hands tightly clasped. He had taken off the glasses as soon as we had entered the room, I was thankful for that, at least. The only thing I disliked more to the dead gaze in his eyes were those glasses . . .
"I was not useful today," he started softly after a moment. The words were heavy in his mouth, tripping from his thoughts out to me. I moved closer to him, knowing that this was something burdensome to him . . . I wanted to help, really I did, disastrous trip to the mess hall excluded . . .
I sat next to him. He made room for me out of habit, and this time it was his hand that found mine rather than the other way around. His eyes turned down reflexively to observe his actions before stilling. I hated seeing the confusion that would flicker there before understanding and something more base set in . . .
I squeezed his fingers gently, letting my mind leak peace and contentment into his. I was ready for him to talk when he chose to elaborate, some seconds later. I would listen this time.
"With my team I was nothing more than a chiding ear . . . With nothing to do other than tell them what to do, and listen to their findings, I was unhelpful. I believe that with my experience compared to theirs, I may have become somewhat . . . irksome to them today."
I felt my own ire flare up at that. They could very well deal with a little irritation from Spock with the circumstances being the way they were . . .
I opened up my mouth to say as much before I felt amusement cut through the black thoughts that had settled over Spock's mind. "Calm, Nyota," he said softly, the corners of his mouth stretching as he heard my thoughts more clearly than I intended. "They were right in their annoyance. I was . . . less than easy to deal with, I know. My own frustrations should not be taken out on those who wish to assist."
I bit my tongue. Really, I doubted that it was as bad as he was saying . . . He was infamous for not showing anything – whether it be annoyance or more positive emotions.
Spock heard these thoughts as well. "Lieutenant Matthias requested that I leave them until tomorrow so that they could work more . . . efficiently."
I saw a fragment of the memory in his mind – the tired unease, and even worse – pity – in the Lieutenant's eyes that he had responded to; and nothing more.
"I doubt he was trying to get rid of you -" the words died on my tongue as I saw the events preceding that. Ah . . . so he had been a little overbearing.
"A little?" Spock questioned. A faint amusement lined his thoughts.
"Okay, a bit more than a little," I gave. "But they know how out of character that was for you. Tomorrow will be better, and even better will be the day after that – you'll see." I smiled at him, even though he could not see the gesture. I know that he could feel the hope that lined my words.
"Perhaps," he said softly. And there truly was no emotion lining that word.
I felt a flush of shame as I thought of my pushing earlier. "And . . . I'm sorry if I pushed you today. I think that I thought that if I could carry on as if nothing had changed, then nothing would have changed. You know? It was silly . . . and illogical human thing that I promise won't happen again."
He squeezed my hand once before letting the touch fall away. "Do not mention it. I too wished for . . . normalcy."
I nodded, and accepted the absolution (if not forgiveness) for what it was.
The silence that threatened to fall was not so heavy this time. I patted his leg as I moved to stand. "I am making tea now," I said lightly. "Would you care for some?"
"If you are already making it," was his answer.
From the kitchenette, I looked back and could see Spock tilt his head as I went about my task; discerning my moves and the sounds that I made with every great interest. There was something soothing in the motions for him, I knew. I could feel the same peace creep over me as I went about the motions for making tea. The water heated and the air flooded with the scent of spices as I emptied the herbs into the water. As I waited for them to steep, I pulled out our mugs.
Briefly, (but not as briefly as the thought should have been), I considered switching them. Spock was forever commenting on the bright green and violet . . . thing I used. The truly atrocious mug was a gift from Gaila – stolen from one of the more . . . unique establishments she frequented that needed a morning coffee service. The thing was hideous, but it was one of the only things I had left of my friend. Spock hated it. That was somewhat of a plus in the mug's favor, in a very human way.
I was good though, keeping the green mug for me, and placing one of the stone mugs saved from before Vulcan's destruction that he preferred out. Kirk would have been disappointed in me, I knew.
When I passed the tea to Spock, the corners of his lips twitched. "I half expected you to give me the mug that your roommate saw fit to gift you with."
"Would I take advantage of you like that?"
He merely tilted his head and sipped gently at the brew.
Fine. I could handle that. I sat back down next to him and watched him with a smile, the tea still in my hands. The smile grew when Spock tilted his head, his brow furrowed in thought. After a moment he softly said, "You are smiling, are you not?"
"How did you know?"
He placed his tea down on the table before him – touching carefully to find the edges before releasing the cup. He turned to me and slowly lifted a hand to touch my lips, letting his hand trail up from my arm, over my shoulder and neck, to be sure of his placement. My smile grew under his light touch, and his fingers moved to trace the wide arch my mouth made. "I know how your smile feels," he said softly. "That is something I can see." The statement was something . . . odd for him. While I knew the height of his feelings – an inevitable side effect of being bound to his mind, spoken moments were at times rare between us. I felt tears prick at my eyes as his fingers traced gently over my face, relearning old lines that he knew by heart if not now by sight . . . When he rested a hand against my cheek, I raised up mine to cover his.
Out of habit I lifted my eyes to meet his, and found it easier this time to hold his stare. To find a beauty in the ruined depths . . . I felt a great sorrow overwhelm me, but this time it was not in thought of the future. It was more of an empathy of what he was going through now . . .
I knew, that if I could see for him, I would.
"If I had a theory, would you be interested in hearing it?"
"Of course, you know that."
"I do not speak of the matters forefront to your mind in the way you would imagine – this does not pertain to the condition of my sight. In a way, at least."
I raised a brow, curious now. Upon realizing that he could not see the unspoken gesture to continue, I said, "Of course, I want to hear anything you have to say."
He paused. When I concentrated I could feel something like a trepidation coming from him. Odd . . . He was never anything more than completely open with me.
"Spock?" I prompted.
"I will be blind for some time further," he started by saying. Hearing it spoken out loud, heavy and frank on the air made a sour feeling settle in my stomach. "And as time goes by, the permanence of my situation will be more and more likely. In the outcome of the worse . . . I know that my position here may be forfeit out of necessity."
I squeezed his hand tighter.
"I wish to aide my team more than I am, without a repeat of today's events."
This I knew.
"With this, you can help me."
"Yes," he confirmed, having heard the thought in my mind.
He paused for a moment. "I ask if you can be my eyes."
I frowned, thinking of me simply conveying my own observations to him through words spoken aloud. I easily saw several flaws with the scheme, and -
"No, Nyota, you misunderstand me," he said, amusement threading through the back of his mind.
I did not profess to understanding right away, and he seemed to be ill at ease describing his intentions. When he reached out to touch my face again, this time resting his fingers on the meld points that were as familiar to me as to him, I think that I may have started to understand.
"It is theoretical only," he whispered. "But as we share thoughts, we may be able to share senses as well. I know, that in high adrenaline situations, I can see where you are and how my aid is needed."
I remembered back to a mission the last month past to Serilious Prime, where a routine negotiation and drop off had turned into a hostage situation. When the negotiations had turned dire, Spock had literally found my by seeing through my eyes where I was . . . I had not thought much of it at the time, being high on adrenaline and relief as I was, but now I seriously thought about it . . .
"I will try anything that may help," I said, meaning every word.
He inhaled deeply. "It is a theory only," he whispered.
I reached my hand up to press his hand firmly against my skin. Already I could feel a hum around the bond I shared with him that spoke of his presence growing stronger in my mind.
"I want to try," I gave my assent.
His eyes, blind and searching, locked with mine. I let my hand fall away when he started whispering softly - alien words that tickled across my mind before gently slipping into the deep parts of my thoughts that were reserved only for him.
I exhaled, and my let my thoughts blend with his before whispering and drifting away . . .
The landscapes of his mind were rich and lush. Now, I knew them almost as well as I knew my own. At first, they had taken some getting used to. Here there was so much more than mere paltry sight and sound. His mind moved at high speed, the higher planes of his thoughts swirling in rich bands of color that flickered and morphed faster than my mind could process and handle. Under the thoughts, I could feel the great wells of emotion that made up the center of his psyche. These were torrid and unchecked, all reds swimming with the coolest blue bands that bound and held them in place like ribbons of light. The red never failed to draw my mind's eye, everything human in me responded to the sheer passion that he kept checked by everything Vulcan in him . . . In moments like these I understood why his race valued control so very well.
This time he guided me with a presence that I can only describe as a flickering candle. A flame, steady and small and warm . . . Warmth. So much warmth, like a winter's hearth. This was the manifestation of him in his mind; my guide to a world that was beyond human hopes of exploration and comprehension.
The experience humbled me every time. The first several times experiencing this, the waves of thoughts and emotions and memories had left me dizzy and nauseous in their wake. The room had spun around me when he had released my mind, an apology on his tongue. I was grateful that I had the ease of vast experience now, instead of giving up those first few times.
I had asked him before how my mind looked to him . . . He had said that he could only describe it as golden. The planes of my mind were lush and rich with bands of warm color – the comforting heat of the dessert mixed with the promise of rain. I thought in a dozen different languages, he had noted with some amusement. My dreams were in sepia – an oddity, he had told me. He himself only dreamed on the rarest of nights. He dreamed in the most staggering of color.
Now, I was led beyond the normal planes of his mind that I frequented . . . I let his thoughts flicker past me, lingering on none but those of curiosity and concentration. I let his memories pass by untouched as well. This time I found a part of his mind that I hadn't thought to search out before . . . The more menial parts of his mind. Here there was sight. Sound. Taste. Scent. Touch . . . Movement. They all dwelt here, filtering together in a perfect symmetry, presenting a living and breathing view of the world around him . . . It was odd to have his senses overlap mine, creating an odd sort of double vision view of the world in my mind's eye.
His hearing was sharper than mine, I realized – he could hear the two ensigns passing in the hall beyond us, gossiping idly. From far away he could hear the low hum of the warp core; the purr of the ship as she slipped through the stars. He could hear my heartbeat, echoed by my breathing; it was this he centered his thoughts on so very often. I smelled like jasmine in his nose . . . The sensation of my skin under his hands was a hundred times warmer than his was under mine. I knew his hands were sensitive, but I never knew just how much so . . .
As I processed this, my mind stumbled over something dark and red and angry . . . Something that should not have been there . . . An absence of light so much as an overabundance of it. It was so dark here . . . His mind ached and burned where it was trying to process out of reflex what never should have been missing . . . My own head throbbed in sympathy.
"If this ails you, I shall desist," was Spock's voice, watery and disjointed in my mind. I could feel his concern as my own.
"No," I whispered."I'm fine." Really.
I could feel as the small flame in his mind burned brighter. My eyes itched, and I fought the urge to rub at them.
He was looking for something, I knew. Knowing this, I concentrated, trying to summon the memory of me calling him from that mission on Serilious Prime. I remembered the unconscious thought . . . the wish for him to see where I was, be where I was . . . As I was . . .
I could feel the lock of our connection. And then gently, very gently, his mind slipped away from mine. I could feel, before he told me, that a part of him remained.
I reached up a hand to touch my temple, observing the hazy shade of rose that loitered around the edges of my vision. My head throbbed, my mind tripped over itself to understand and adjust to what was happening. And then something just snapped into place. . .
"This is . . ." I whispered, unable to completely put my thoughts into words.
"Completely fascinating," Spock breathed.
"You can see?" I questioned.
There was a pause, heavy and considering before he responded. "In a way. I have shapes and images from your mind . . ." And here he paused again. "And sight," there was something quiet about his voice. Awed, almost.
"The world is brighter in your vision," he commented, everything about his tone suggesting a curiosity and careful cataloging of sensations and movements. I looked at him with a smile quirking at the corners of my mouth.
I felt amusement in his mind. "And I must confess that it is . . . odd seeing myself through an outside point of view."
Oh . . . that would be, wouldn't it? I carefully looked away, casting my eyes about the room, trying to see just how this worked, and how far it could be pushed.
"You don't blink at the same time I do," Spock commented.
At the comment, I blinked in response. A part of me swelled in a sort of amazed humor . . . this was all so unreal. Impossible – alien, even. And yet it felt so, so right.
"I'll endeavor to blink at the same time as you," I deadpanned.
His dead eyes twinkled. "Nonsense. I shall merely grow use to your lapses in sight."
I rolled my eyes. This he could 'see' as well.
He touched the side of his head gingerly at the motion. "Perhaps this will take some practice."
"Perhaps," I agreed.
I felt his affection for me, warm and soothing before his mind moved on to more practical matters. Setting my tea aside, we spent the next hour adjusting to this strange double vision that we had going on between us.
The apple of my eye . . . Spock's voice whispered fondly at the back of mine, and I had to fight to keep a smile from my face at the reference to my more classic taste in literature.
You are this and more, Ashal'veh . . .
The words echoed in my mind, lingering in my ears until all that we had before us didn't seem quite so insurmountable.
Of course, the situation was not perfect. It had its ups and downs; its ridiculous situations and its more practical applications. As time past, I was able to keep my eyes forward and steady, and Spock was able to avoid walking into the poor abused table in the middle of our quarters every time my eyes wandered. I carefully kept to his left, right at his shoulder so that we were sharing the same field of vision. Through our bond I could sense where he needed to look, and when, and I kept up with the speed of his mind until it was almost as if it was my own.
It was a . . . foreign sensation indeed. It is that that I think I will leave it at.
After the next shift change I accompanied him to the labs so that he would be able to assist his team in a more hands on way.
The scientists that Spock worked with found it rather interesting to hear Spock's somewhat watered down version of his temporary form of sight. For these officers – who walked a fine line between the consistency of the sciences and the more alien things that we have encountered on our travels – I knew that there must have been some head scratching and thought whirling.
Lieutenant Matthias, a kind human male from Earth's moon colonies was Spock's second in command And he was particularly pleased for the aid, minus the interesting circumstances of their earlier tries.
Within moments, the hows of Spock seeing through me was lost within the very real puzzle that was laid out before them. I kept carefully to Spock's side, trying to keep my eyes focused on whatever tube he was filling or equation he was pondering over. It was . . . strenuous work, in the end. For me, at any length, who had only a working knowledge of the sciences and math to scratch the minimum for my role in Starfleet.
Of course, Spock was completely in his element.
"Interestingly enough," Spock was commenting. "Dr. Vladimir Rovania – the officer first on site for Minavad's exploration - has made great strides in the field of ocular regeneration with the fungus in question. Strains of Mistocloparous Duncionus have been used galaxy wide in many forms of ocular treatment."
Curious, I looked over Spock's shoulder to the screen that was flashing the molecular breakdown of the corrosive agent. It was startlingly similar to the strains of fungus that it was attacking, I noticed.
"It looks remarkably similar to the Misto . . . Mistocliparus? Mistoclopis?" My tongue tripped over the overly long name.
I felt Spock's amusement in my mind. "Mistocloparous Duncionus," he repeated slowly for my benefit.
"Mistocloparous Duncionus," I tried it out, successful this time. Truth be told, I had more fun speaking the clicking language of Gorchin than trudging through the proper terms that the sciences preferred to use. Some of the terms were ridiculous just for the sake of being ridiculous, in my opinion.
"The name speaks directly to the molecular make-up of the plant," Spock commented. "It is a logical name."
Right. I raised a brow, but said nothing more.
"And yes, the two are very much alike," Spock said thoughtfully in reply to my original comment. "Obviously, the catalyst signaled the next stage in the growth process of the plant. Something in the make-up of the compound made for an overabundance of the growth agent – and that is what we are searching for. Catalysts are strong things – they can signal either growth or destruction, and it is often times a fine line between the potency of the reactions. This is a common enough problem to experiment with."
I blinked at the screen, the wholes of the problem, if not the particulars, threatening to escape me. Fondly, I remembered Gaila trying to walk me through Xenobiology in return for me helping her in Galactic Phonetics. In the end, neither of us had been very successful, if I recalled correctly.
"It is fascinating," Lieutenant Matthias said from the console at Spock's right.
I looked over at him, bemused.
"What?" he smiled at me. "He's not the only one who can use the word." He nodded towards Spock.
Spock remained oblivious to the comment as his hands flew over the console, setting up this equation and that in order to further break the compound down, comparing and contrasting it with other catalysts and reactive agents. Eventually he was moving at a point where I could no longer keep up with him. At the back of my mind, his thoughts whirled with a single minded intensity of the problem before him.
Even Matthias was looking at Spock with the same impressed gaze that I had.
When the hour stretched into hours, I found it harder than I thought it would to hold my attention on Spock's work. While the situation was interesting, it was not interesting enough to warrant my attention for this long under normal circumstances. And where I found my perseverance faltering, Spock was still going on slow and steady, obviously in his comfort zone as he trudged through the enigma before him as best he could.
When I found other ways to keep my mind occupied – my normal pastimes of watching him, letting my eyes linger on the sure and steady play of his hands or the sweeping lines of his body . . . there would be a pointed nudge in my mind to remind me that I was slipping. I never had to be worried about being called out on that before.
I stuck my lower lip out in as petulant of a pout as I would get away with. Against the back of my mind, his presence shimmered in amusement.
I steadfastly kept my eyes on the screen before us.
When, moments later, the doors to the labs swished open, announcing a visitor, I was relieved. Spock felt this too. If, in retaliation, I was quick to turn my eyes from his work and to the doors, he was not one to say anything to it.
I was surprised to see Kirk approaching us, a curious sort of smile on his face and his eyes glinting impishly. "I knew that I'd find you holed up here when you stood me up."
Oh, the chess.
Spock blinked – as close as he would get to shrugging. "My presence was required here. I regret not informing you."
Kirk waved a hand. "Don't mention it." His sharp gaze turned to Lieutenant Matthias. "He isn't treating you too badly, now is he?"
Matthias shook his head. "Not at all, sir."
Spock stiffened. "Captain, I fail to see how the question is -"
" - Trust me," Kirk interrupted. "It is."
Spock fell silent.
Kirk's gaze turned me. "You've lasted this long in here while these two talked . . . science-ish stuff?" He looked equal parts horrified and impressed.
I rolled my eyes at the child that the Captain could still be at times. There would always be a part of Kirk that would remind me of a bouncy kid with a shiny toy to play with. . . "My presence is required here," I said softly, wondering just how to explain . . . Well, everything.
Spock picked up for me. "She is serving as my eyes, Captain."
Kirk smiled, just a little. "Now, while that was a nice thing to say, it -"
"I meant the sentiment literally," Spock clarified, his tone miffed that Kirk would suspect him to speak . . . endearments, I guess that you could call them, out loud in the presence of others.
I watched as the gears turned in Jim's mind. His eyes were clear and easy to read once you knew him. I watched confusion flutter through them, then a sort of detached understanding. I then watched him talk himself into what his logic was telling him was so . . .
"Oooh," was Kirk's baffled acknowledgment. "You mean . . ." his voice tapered off, and he tapped his right temple with a single finger.
"If you are referring to the mental bond we share being of use, then yes. You are correct, Captain."
Kirk shook his head. "I think I'm overdue for a shore leave," he muttered. He ran a hand through his short hair as he blew out a breath through his nose. "Well then . . ." His demeanor turned serious. "Has there been any progress?"
Spock inclined his head. "The molecular structure of the corrosive is almost completely dissected. Afterward, I have high hopes for a counter strain to be produced."
I frowned at that, thinking at how long these things took to be developed and replicated, even in this day and age, with all of the technology at our disposal.
Spock turned to me when he spoke next, "We will be able to tell much when the scan is complete." He gestured to the screen that was flashing in response t the equations that he had input. Facts and figures scrolled across faster than my mind could follow and process. I gave up trying a moment later, blinking my eyes against the strain.
Feeling that do nothing to alleviate the pressure behind my eyes, I rubbed the heel of my hand against them, hoping that would help. It did nothing save for make my eyes itchy. I puffed out a small sigh.
"Do you find it necessary to partake of rest?" Spock's voice was level, but I could feel the concern that loitered at the back of my mind.
"No, thank-you, Commander."
Spock frowned. "By my estimation, you have gotten a total of five hours sleep in the last thirty-two hour cycle."
I smiled crookedly. "I've put in longer hours than that before."
"True, and yet not under this particular sort of stress."
I yawned. "I'm okay. Really."
Spock raised a brow.
"Okay, I'm tired – but it's nothing. I'll be here as long as you need me."
I could feel the tug of war that was going on inside of him. Biting my lip, I was going to go about to convince him when Lieutenant Matthias spoke up, "Now that the Commander sorted through the trickiest algorithms, there is really nothing more to do than monitor the process of breaking down the compound. It's going to be an uneventful few hours." He raised a brow. "Now, I know that the Commander thinks I am competent enough to carry that out."
From that phrasing, Spock could not refuse passing over the reins. I felt his more strict sense of logic breathe a sigh of relief. "Thank-you, Lieutenant," he said. "Your assistance is much appreciated."
Kirk rolled his eyes at the Vulcan's more . . . precise way of speaking. He patted Matthais on the back. "Good man," he said brightly before turning to us. "I'm heading the same way," he gave by way of explanation. He had that same glint in his eyes that normally preceded him begging Spock to file a report or two for him . . .
The three of us were walking away from the labs a moment later. In the back of my mind I could hear Spock curiously counting steps, even though they were not needed at the moment. I'd hazard a guess that that would be a habit that he would not move to break for a while.
Kirk was walking on Spock's left, with his hands clasped behind his back. I knew, had Spock been the Doctor, or even a touch less . . . Spock, he would have looped an arm over the other man's shoulders when he whispered. "You know, you never cease giving me things that are kinda . . . difficult to word in a report to Command, you do realize that, right."
Spock blinked. "I shall endeavor for more . . . mundane and trivial events within the foreseeable future."
Kirk grinned. "Now where will the fun in that be?"
"In me filing the report for you, Captain?"
Kirk looked as innocent as he could. "Now, would I do that to you?"
Spock stopped, and raised a brow. I could feel his amusement thread through our bond. "No, that does not sound like you at all, Captain."
Kirk clapped him once on the shoulder. "Didn't think so," he said, and then with a parting wave he took off down the hall.
I watched him go with a perplexed sort of smile, and shook my head at the . . . very strange relationship that he and Spock held. Months ago, I would not have thought it possible. Now . . . now it just felt right. In a very strange way. They clicked, for lack of a better term, and that did nothing more than completely baffle me at times.
"You find something of amusement?" Spock questioned, having felt my emotions.
I shook my head. "Not really . . . just extremely fascinating."
"Ah," Spock gave, and I could feel his own bafflement.
Leaning close to him – all for the sake of aiding in directing him, of course – I breathed in deep and smiled, feeling the most at ease that I had since the whole situation began. I had a peace that was settling over me that said maybe, just maybe, I was content and at peace . . . with whatever the end result would be.
Spock threaded his fingers through mine – a concession to a more human form of comfort, born out of his need as well as mine – and I knew that he felt the same way as well.
I woke a few hours later to a persistent finger tapping at my shoulder. Annoyed, I swatted at it, and turned back into my pillow.
"Five more minutes, Gaila," I mumbled sleepily. "You may be able to spend all night with that Aldian Cadet and still get your Theoretical Calculus down before dawn, but us normal bipeds need sleep. Eight hours, remember?" The garbled words were reflexive, and it took my hazy mind a moment or two before it picked up a sharp thread of amusement against the back of my psyche. My eyes flew open as I realized my mistake.
"I did not think that I looked Orion in appearance," was Spock's voice, cutting through the sleepy fog in my mind that was becoming less and less foggy as I realized my blunder. "And I do not have the habit of spending my nights with the aforementioned Aldian Cadet. And yet, I was in the practice of completing my Theoretical Calculus before dawn."
I propped up on my elbows, and fought the urge to smack my forehead. "Sorry, habit."
I could feel his eyes curiously on me out of reflex. "Cadet Falen-Raz was the early riser amongst the two of you?"
I made a face. "Xeno physiology. She didn't need as much sleep as I did."
Humans really got the butt end of the evolutionary stick sometimes . . .
"Ah," Spock gave.
I sat up completely, and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. The sheets draped about my body, warm and cozy and just begging me to dive back into . . .
"The corrosive breakdown is complete."
I was out of the bed faster than a klaxon could wail during a Klingon attack.
"That's wonderful!" I exclaimed as I reached for a fresh uniform. Taking a minute to grimace at the state of my hair, I swept it up into it's customary ponytail. It was a little crooked, but I didn't really bother to fix it this time. "How are things looking?"
"I am not sure," Spock said. "I was waiting for you to accompany me."
Right . . . the whole sight thing.
Muttering a curse at the boots that saw fit to hide from me, I cast my gaze around for them. Spock pointed by the door. "There, Nyota."
Of course he would be sharper with my vision than I was myself . . . Rolling my eyes in amusement, I set down to pulling the disobedient boots on.
"It is not a matter of . . . sharpness, so much as observation."
"Is that all it is?" I smiled up at him.
He inclined his head. "I do believe so."
I sprung to my feet. "Ta da," I breathed. "I'm ready."
"A record," Spock drawled dryly.
I swatted at his arm. "Funny," I said. "Just how long have you known about this before you decided to wake me up?"
"One hour, and twenty-three minutes," he said. "Twenty-four minutes, now."
"Really, over something this important, you could of woken me up, you know."
"I know," Spock said. "And yet, you were tired. I require you alert now, and if an added hour would provide you with that and not be a detriment to the events to come, than it was logical for me to delay."
"I guess," I said, my lips quirking upwards in a grin.
For the early morning shift, the labs were more crowded than they were late last night. Two dozen scientists milled about working on this and that from various planets we had seen thus far on our travels. More crewman ran to and fro, delivering this and that and assisting where they could. The whole thing made for a sort of controlled chaos that never the less threatened to send my head spinning. This was not my comfort zone, I knew . . . the Communication's deck – there I could handle a bit of activity.
Lieutenant Matthias was ready and waiting for us with a cup of coffee in his hands stood when we entered the more deserted corner of the labs . . . There were some advantages to being head of your division at times, I knew.
When he handed the mug of coffee to me, I beamed in thanks. He nodded his head at Spock, and I understood where the coffee came from.
Sweet Okeon above, but that was beautiful . . .
"The module just finished up before you arrived," he started to fill Spock in. "And I think that you will like the results."
I turned my eyes towards the screen for Spock, and skimmed through the pages of data at a pace that was too fast for me to completely get the gist of the results. In my mind I could feel Spock guide me where to look and when, and I followed along as best I could. I was getting used to this odd set-up that we had going.
"Fascinating," Spock said after a long moment.
"That's what I thought you'd say," Matthias agreed.
I blinked at the screen, trying to see what they saw. "What does that mean?" I inquired.
"It means that the catalyst in the excrement was nothing more than a highly concentrated mix of the fungus' own genetic make-up and the chemical formulas for many of the key gases in the atmosphere. The Carmonian gas in particular."
That was . . . almost painfully simple.
"Interestingly enough," Spock commented, "the Carmonian gas in the air would be a natural detriment to the catalyst taking a corrosive turn in small doses. In concentrated areas – like the areas where the fissures released vaporized forms of the gas from far underneath the core, the high doses of the gas made the catalyst too strong, fighting with the natural elements of the fungus in question."
"That should explain why the plants were showing such a remarkable rate of growth before dying off," Matthias said.
"And why those areas untouched by the catalyst were growing just fine." Things were starting to click, the beauty of a growing world once again making sense in the simplest, easily overlooked ways . . .
"Correct," Spock said, an obvious pride lingering in his voice.
I let out a breath. "So, you'll be able work out a cure?"
Spock inclined his head. "Seeing as how the base formula for the gas is a natural deterrent for the corrosive, then yes. I have high expectations."
I reached out and discreetly touched his hand. "I am glad," I whispered.
"As am I," he gave in return.
After that was the interesting part – synthesizing a reversing agent was mainly trial and error. We knew what we needed to make the antidote, but now there was the figuring of how much of what, and how the compounds would work in relation to each other . . .
Each possibility was tested against the samples of Mistocloparous Duncionus that we had taken. The compounds that aided in healing the plant were worked on and tweaked until they had something that could be formulated for Spock particularly. At this point, Spock was actually in contact with Dr. Vladimir Rovania himself over how best to go about the ocular treatment. McCoy joined him here, his customary manner set aside in order to pick the genius of one of the leading minds in medicine that the galaxy had to date.
Both Doctors were practical and wise sounding boards, and Dr. Rovania even suggested keeping in contact with Spock as long as the scientist was going to work on the strands of Mistocloparous Duncionus. I could see the professional respect between two acute minds flourish.
In the end, it took that day, and the better part of the next two for a compound to be synthesized. During the time, McCoy kept a close eye on the condition of Spock's ocular nerves, (in the end, Spock could be as peeved as Jim – although perhaps more discreetly – over the Doctor's waving a scanner in his face at the most inopportune of times. Personally, I think that McCoy was enjoying his job a trite too much, seeing as how he rarely had cause to irritate the other man this way), and did his best to keep the rate of decay down to give us a chance to work out a solution.
In the end, we cut it much too close, in my opinion. Much too close. Even with the treatments that McCoy administered, I could feel the pain through Spock's mind . . . The burning that was like an itch that couldn't be scratched, that even his high tolerances of pain felt anguish at. His own pain messed with my concentration at times, which I think, merely resulted in him working harder.
Three days later, we had a synthesized compound that we were pretty confident in. It was worth a shot, in any case – we were running out of time for more testing.
When the hour finally arrived, I found myself more anxious than I had been than in those horrifying moments on Minavad when the injury had been inflicted. My breathing was quickened, my palms were clammy as I rubbed them together to hide their tremble. My breath tasted like ash in my mouth, and my tongue was as dry as chalk. I didn't dare try to speak as McCoy readied the hypo he was going to be using with more care than he normally would. If it were any other time, with any other injury, I would have been amused by the callused man's show of emotion. (In a way, McCoy was more like Spock than he cared to admit . . . merely in a different way. Same patterns cut from different cloth, and all that . . .)
Next to me, Jim was shifting his weight from foot to foot. He had a straight expression on his face, and his eyes were light, but he had his hands clenched much the same way that I did. He smiled once at me in reassurance before turning back to watch McCoy's progress.
In the end, any ceremony about the task was dropped as McCoy ignored me and Kirk completely to do the job. He worked with quick efficiency, applying the hypo and moving a replicator over the ruined nerves. There was no sounds in the medbay save for the faint hum of machinery and the occasional curse or comment from McCoy.
I closed my eyes, and passed the time by counting his breathes in my mind. They centered me as I waited . . . for a spark, a flash of color, anything . . . The sight before my eyes – his eyes, by extension – remained stubbornly black.
As the moments past, his breathing came quicker. I could feel the jump in his pulse as my own – the only sign he gave of the more human things, base and overwhelming, stealing through him . . .
I moved a step closer to him, discreetly touching my hand against his.
And then I saw a single ray of light break through the black. It was faltering, and it was weak . . . but it was light.
McCoy let out a sigh. "The nerve is repairing itself," he announced to the waiting room. "The compound destroyed the corrosive. Now, it just stands to see if we can get that nerve up and running again."
I exhaled, and felt my legs grow dangerously weak. I had not known how much strength I was using on keeping myself upright until the moment.
There was light before my eyes . . . light. Light and shapes and shadow . . . even if there was not yet no more, it was a start . . .
In the end, it was a start to a long path. Spock continued to see in shadow for the next two months as sight dawned slow and steady on him. Through this time I was his second self as well as his vision. He saw a world through me, and perhaps I did through him as well. I had believed myself to be close to him before, but I think after that . . . After that I was bound to him in more ways than I could ever think possible. I was, quite literally, the apple of his eye.
When, exactly eight weeks and two days after the treatment's beginning, I became aware of him leaning over my shoulder as I worked on some overdue reports in our quarters, I was surprised to hear him say, "Nyota, are, by any chance, the pair of earrings you are wearing blue?"
The implications of the statement immediately set in, causing a low and giddy feeling to settle in my stomach. Laughing, I turned and got to my feet, my eyes eagerly searching his. The dead shade of brown, which had been steadily growing in color and brilliancy over the past few months, was now a deep pool of sepia brown . . . calm and beautiful and anchoring. I passed my fingers over the skin underneath his eyes somewhat reverently, a grin splitting onto my face that I couldn't particularly hide.
"You can see me?" I questioned. I already knew the answer, in the back of my mind, my eyes were my own, and while his mind remained firmly entrenched with mine, our senses were once again our own. I tried to shake away the oddly . . . missing feeling that came with the severance of the contact. In a way, I had enjoyed being so close to him.
"Clearly," he answered softly, his eyes were flickering over me, taking in everything that he had not 'seen' in weeks.
"It's good to have you back," I said sincerely. "As much as I enjoy being with you every second of every shift -"
"When the Domarian Ambassador diverted your attention -"
" - and you ran into his second wife trying to find your way back."
He grimaced – a slight narrowing around his eyes. "Yes, that was . . ." his voice tapered of.
"Kirk was proud of you." I grinned mischievously.
Spock was silent. "I am grateful for my own eyes."
"As am I," I said softly, slipping into his arms.
I could feel his hands on my back, tangling with the trailing ends of my hair. I could feel his breath against my skin – warm and soothing and perfect. But best of all, I could feel his eyes on me, open and beautiful and just as it was always meant to be.
In the haze of memories and moments that made up our time serving aboard the Enterprise, the events of Minavad managed to stay with me more than any other.
It is years later now – two five year tour were served under James T. Kirk's command, and years of a diplomatic translator and Ambassador's wife are under my belt. I am a mother, and a grandmother both, a woman who has lived a full and happy life in the best possible way.
I can feel my years in their autumn now, weighing heavy on my body with a pleasing weight while at my side my husband looked nowhere over fifty – I could really envy his mixed blood at times, I knew.
It was at this time when we returned to Minavad after a trip to the planets in the neighboring sector – in some ways, diplomatic work for the Federation kept us busier in more locations than active duty ever did.
The moon was much the same as we had left it all those years ago . . . but the hard and barren rock was in full bloom, the strains that we had studied so diligently so long ago had erupted in shades of silver and blue against the dark stained rock. In the distance the sea beat out its same low song, but the notes were fuller now. Warmer, almost.
My sight was not what it once was. Many things about me were not. At the unspoken thought, Spock took my hand in his, and a moment later I could feel my vision sharpening and clearing as I was fed the world through his eyes. I squeezed his hand back once in thanks.
I took a deep breath in, my lungs filling in time to the sea's beat. Around me the barren moon continued to struggle and bloom.