Ladies and Gentlemen, we have reached the end of our harrowing journey, and as always, I choose to go out with a 'bang'. This of course depends on your definition of the word 'bang' but hey, we're still going to leave an impression. I am considering writing a bonus chapter. Something involving possible bloopers, deleted scenes, and maybe an alternate ending. That...well...will certainly be interesting. Also, a big thank you to my beta Lilith Luciferia for being patient and awesome as per usual and going through every mind numbing chapter. Without her there would be a hell of a lot more errors. Also, a huge thank you to all my readers and reviewers, you guys give me the drive to push and bring all my talents to the foreground. You guys rock, and to all you lurkers, thanks for sticking around. Hope you like the ending as much as you loved the journey. As evil as it was...
Jim's mouth tugged into a smile before his eyes even began to flutter open. To say that it made the Georgian-born Doctor relieved would be an understatement. "Bones, he's gonna join back together…" he rasped out, pausing for a moment to breathe. "Do you remember what all happened to him? Because it's gonna happen again. Bones, please, do your best; keep him alive."
McCoy listened to the words that came out of his best friend's mouth and confusion mounted, until the biobed wailed again, and a Vulcan healer requested a bone knitter. Leonard felt his heart sink, and then more voices joined the first, and the tone was changing. McCoy turned around slowly, listening in amazement as he registered a change in tone. Next moment he was wading into the fray with the expertise of one who dealt with the half-Vulcan on a regular basis.
The surgery was long, grueling; Leonard up to his elbows in green cooling blood, but his mouth was pulled into a manic smile the entire time. He was finally given the chance to save him, and he was not failing now.
When they were finally finished Spock was stable, the Vulcans were satisfied, and McCoy was practically euphoric. Sitting with his back pressed against the wall and his head buried in his upper arms, green-splashed forearms clasped in front of him, laughter bubbling out randomly. He was relieved, and he was tired. The Vulcans gave him his moment, quietly cleaning tools, busying themselves with straightening and tidying the area. Jim was grinning to himself, eyes closed, letting the feeling of their success wash over him.
McCoy was finally prodded into standing up and moved over to clean up by a pair of Vulcan healers, the indifference and calm that they presented leading to him calming down exponentially. After that was done they quietly led him over to a biobed next to Jim, adjusting it before he was pushed down onto it so the alarms would not go off. McCoy accepted their heavy hinting, mainly because he was ridiculously tired, and figured that it was likely a better idea to sleep than argue.
Jim felt groggy enough that he figured he could sleep, only to meet the twinkling eyes of an elder Spock and smile. "Hey, old man, nice to see you."
"It is as detrimental to my health and mental state to see you as it used to be, my friend, but I do not 'hold a grudge' with you for it."
Jim laughed, voice sandpaper-rough until he fell into a coughing fit. A Vulcan healer brought him some water, and Jim noticed then that it was cool in the hospital versus the usual dry heat. He was leveled upright, and while he felt like he could at least sit up, he let them help him drink, letting himself be lowered back down afterwards. He wrinkled his nose when he smelled something foul, only to realize that he was feeling more tired than he had been. Once again, everything fell into blackness, this time drug induced.
The next time Jim awoke he felt better than he had in a long while. The reason for this was standing right in front of him - faces split into wide, slightly ridiculous smiles, eyes slightly glassy with un-spilled tears. He gave them an answering grin, and slowly levered himself upright, feeling them tense, ready to help him should he need it. When he was sitting upright, he looked around at them all, smirking slightly.
"So, were you able to manage the ship without my awesome presence there to lead you all to victory?" Jim asked finally, and the four people standing there burst out laughing, reaching out to hug him, pat him on his back, and tell him how glad they were that he was alright.
"Jim, if you ever do anything that stupid again, I am blowing your ship up, and Scotty is not going to be able to stop me." Uhura glared at him, her words ringing through the chaos of the reunion that had been a long time in coming.
Jim automatically jerked his head over to look at her, his own face pulling into an angry glare of his own. "You do that and I am so not coming back!"
"You lowe ze ship more zan us?" Chekov asked; there was a teasing edge to his voice, but Jim blinked before cocking his head to the side.
"Of course not, but if it wasn't for that ship…" his voice trailed off, and he sighed. "This is way too deep of a conversation to have just when a guy wakes up from fighting for his life and the life of his First."
That made them sober up immediately and they looked at each other before looking back at Jim. "He still hasn't woken up yet…"
Jim realized then what it would seem like and gave them a reassuring smile. "He'll be fine, he just…some of his memories were savagely butchered and he is cleaning them up before he resurfaces. To be honest…considering what that thing did, it's probably a good thing that he is refusing to resurface before everything is fixed."
They blinked, looking at each other before focusing on Jim. "What happened in there?"
It was a question that Jim was dreading with almost every fiber of his being, and he paused, wincing slightly before looking at the biobed at the far end of the room, and the Vulcan lying still and silent on it. He considered, and then looked up at them with a slight shake of his head. "I can't talk about it. It's not really my story to tell, and there's…there's a lot of shit in there that's a bit wild, and all of it is personal to that Vulcan."
Scotty, Sulu, Chekov and Nyota traded glances, and then looked back at him, sitting on chairs that the Vulcans had been helpful enough to leave out for them. They looked at each other before sighing, "Will he be alright?"
Jim paused, looking over at the still form on the biobed and shrugged weakly. "I think so…he was fine when I left."
"Jim, as much as we might joke about it, or rib you for it… I have to admit that I'm both surprised and relieved that you cared about him enough to go in and do that." Jim opened his mouth to protest, only for her to continue, "Especially since it cost you your hair…I didn't think you would be able to stand that, no offense, but well…" Nyota spoke softly, tentatively, her brown eyes reflecting adoration, but slowly clouding as she noticed the mounting horror that seemed to be in Jim's eyes.
Jim's mouth closed. He blinked. He blinked again, and slowly, rigidly lifted his hand up. The four of them watched, tensing slightly as that hand trembled, and slowly, with the lightest of fingertips, touched the top of his head. Those fingers paused, gently spreading out tentatively, eyes pressed closed, and face pulled into a grimace. Finally, in a fit of desperation that hand pressed flat to the top of his head, rubbed around once, twice, three times, and finally trailed down from his head to eyebrows, and then gripped at the neck of his gown, pulling it out a little and looking down at the rest of him.
"Bullshit." It was then that they realized that he had had no idea what they were talking about.
"Jim…it's really not that bad!" Sulu started.
"Yeah, it's bold, sort of…um…well…"
"It's not that bad, really, Jim; you're still as attractive as ever, I mean…"
Jim was glaring at them, hairless eyebrows pinched together and face pulled into a snarl. The four of them looked at each other helplessly and turned back to look to him in despair. "We thought you knew!"
Jim fisted his fingers in the blankets, and looked over at the half-Vulcan lying peacefully on the bed. "Well…actually, no, a certain Vulcan didn't mention it to me. How bad is the damage; will it grow back?"
"Actually, Jim, I'm sorry, most of it won't." The Georgian drawl from the Doctor would be something that Jim would normally be happy to hear, but at this point in time it pushed him over the edge from slightly on edge, to bubbling rage.
"WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT IT WON'T GROW BACK? I'M STUCK LIKE THIS? BALD IN MY TWENTIES, WHAT KINDA SHIT IS THIS? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! THIS IS RIDICULOUS!" Jim shouted out, hands gesturing wildly, expression a mixture of rage and disbelief. It was both comical and distressing, and Uhura was hard pressed not to laugh at the hairless Jim that was snarling at them. The ranting continued and they listened, finally beginning to giggle helplessly in some cases, Chekov and Uhura finally bursting out into full fledged laughter that led to Jim snarling and attempting to tackle them. Scotty and Sulu grabbed him before he could fall off the bed. This of course made them laugh harder, Sulu and Scotty finally falling into soft chuckles. The only one who was not was McCoy, and his mouth was twitching suspiciously, before he finally clapped his hands loudly, over the sound of Jim's ranting and threats and nearly hysterical laughter.
They fell silent, Jim glaring at him angrily, fuming. "Jim, the hair on the top of your head and your eyebrows will grow back out. The rest of it…the hair follicles were destroyed, and it therefore will not grow back on the rest of your body. But hey, look at it this way, at least then you won't have to shave. It will take a while, but it will grow back."
Kirk hesitated, panting, looking at each of them closely before turning his head back to meet McCoy's gaze. "The hair on my head will grow back?"
"The hair on your head will grow back," McCoy confirmed, nodding.
Jim slowly relaxed, and finally gave a sigh. "Alright. Alright, I'm good, you can let go of me…"
"I'm sorry it was such a shock, Jim; you really didn't know?"
"No, but…then again, I wasn't really all that good at it to begin with. I kept having issues. You…had to watch all that, didn't you?"
McCoy paused, looking to the side before sighing, "Yeah, I was there for every moment. These guys saw a bit of it."
"I do not ewer vant to see zat again, Keptain."
Jim paused, and looked at them all, staring at him silently, eyes holding a gravity he hadn't seen in them before. "Hey, guys, it's fine. I'm alright, Spock's alright, we'll both be alright. Spock needs a little time to piece his memory back together, but he'll come out of it soon, I promise."
They looked at him, eyes searching his for honesty, before small smiles appeared on their faces and they nodded. The rest of the time was spent updating Jim on the status of the ship. To his slight surprise, McCoy was lauded for his help, above and beyond the typical medical job as they detailed the way he would give alternatives to the overworked crew, helping them stay healthy and sane. It seemed that even with the amount of time that he had spent in sickbay he had also had a hand in the internal workings of the people of the Enterprise.
Jim gave him a grin, clapping him on the back. "Always knew you had it in you, Bones."
McCoy snorted, before shoving his hand off. "Never put me in that position again; leadin' these kids is your job, not mine."
Kirk paused, before nodding. "I'll try and make it a point."
Finally the four officers had to leave, McCoy remaining as one of the head medical practitioners. Jim paused, looking around slightly, and then turned to McCoy. "Spock…Spock told me to tell you what happened in there. He told me that you needed to know."
Leonard's eyebrow shot to the ceiling. "Oh? The hobgoblin wanted to let me in on some of his most precious memories?"
"Bones knock it off," Jim glared, and McCoy held his hands up. Jim paused, and rubbed his hand on the back of his neck, slightly unsettled at the absence of hair that he would usually find there. "This is hard to start…there was a lot of stuff that happened in there and absolutely none of it was pretty. Just…hell…"
Slowly but surely, word by word, Jim began detailing what had happened in the meld. Describing in half-stilted speech what had been found there and what the thing had looked like. Each and every word spoken made McCoy tense, hands clasping into fists as he listened, mouth pulling into an angry frown. Jim quoted verbatim every word spoken to that Vulcan that he had heard, and each and every thing that that creature had said and did. Neither of them noticed the other Vulcan that stood in the doorway, hands clasped as well, lined face pulled into a small, nearly unnoticeable frown, eyes flickering with unknown emotions.
When Jim finally could speak no more he trailed off, and a heavy silence followed. "Do you know what the weird thing is though?" he finally asked, eyebrows pinching again. "His mind latched onto mine. We're actually brothers now; we have one of those weird link things. It's kind of strange; I can't really feel it, but…"
"Your mind formed a sibling bond with Spock's?" The voice made them jump, and the two of them turned to stare at the Vulcan who had been standing there. Jim's eyes widened when he realized he was staring at Sarek.
"Um…yeah, um…surprise? I'm…kinda related to you guys somehow… I'm sorry, I didn't really mean to, but, um…" To Jim's surprise, Sarek shook his head.
"It is not undesired, merely surprising. That sort of bond would not form lightly."
"Trust me, it didn't."
"Indeed." He leveled him with a striking gaze, and finally walked forward. Jim tensed, eyes widening, as he came closer step by step.
"I thank thee for saving my son." At that Jim blinked before moving to wave it off. "No, do not cloud yourself in modesty that is not necessary. You risked your life many times over to save that of my son, and I thank you for this. I would be honored to accept you into our family."
Jim's eyes widened, McCoy's jaw dropping, before the Ambassador bowed. "I have much to attend to. I shall leave you now; live long and prosper until our next meeting, no matter how soon it may be." Then, just as silently as he had entered, he left.
"Well…that was the strangest thing I've ever seen."
Jim paused, and then started to laugh. "Trust me, Bones, you haven't seen anything yet."
"Yeah, I suppose not, compared to your crazy villains and all that other shit in Spock's head. I can't believe… Well…I can't believe a lot of it, but I think I know why he told you to tell me."
"What do you mean?"
"Face it, Jim. Neither of us get along enough to really wish to trade that amount of information about ourselves. He told you to tell me to give you a type of preemptive therapy, and damn, do you need it."
Jim spluttered wildly, and McCoy just laughed, clapping him on the back and grinning at him. "It's really good to be able to talk to you again, Jim. I missed it. Now if only the hobgoblin would get back, too."
Contrary to Jim's word, Spock did not surface any time soon. In that time, Jim got stronger, was back to eating normal amounts, and had a hairpiece that the crew had affectionately named 'Blondie'. Jim was annoyed, but he was amused. But he was still worried about Spock. Even though McCoy grumbled about New Vulcan being too hot to be a regular vacation, the crew took shore leave there as a whole, waiting for when Spock would resurface. The show of loyalty was astounding and left Jim feeling warm on his First's behalf.
Even then, Jim finally could take it no more and visited him, once again falling into the mind of his 'brother'. He formed his body, and slowly sat down on the air, waiting for Spock to join him. He was unsurprised when someone popped up. He was surprised at the fact that he seemed to be a teenager. Spock smiled at him, pointy ears and eyebrows the same, but he couldn't have been older than fifteen. "Jim."
Spock paused, then looked down at himself and made a brief 'ah' sound. "Vulcans have a longer lifespan than a human; you were aware of this?"
"Well…yeah, I just thought… Actually…that makes a lot of sense come to think of it. Your memories, their tone; huh, I guess I really hadn't thought of it. Damn."
"It is of little consequence. How is everyone?" Spock asked, rolling his eyes at the first bit.
"Worried about you to be honest, and so was I…how are things going; is everything piecing together alright?"
"It has been a slow and tedious process, but it is being done. I apologize for the wait, but I am doing the best I can."
"No, no, take as long as you need; I just wanted to make sure, see how you were. The rest are worried too; I think they'd take it better if it came from you."
"Thank you for your concern."
"No problem; oh…by the bye…I have a bone to pick with you. What's with the not telling me that my hair was burned off?" Jim snarled out at him, glaring at him. He watched that face light up in a bright smile before he was shoved unceremoniously out of Spock's mind with a quick,
He fell on his ass as soon as he rejoined with his own mind, glaring at the form on the biobed. "Jerk."
A few days later Jim was on the ship with the rest of the normal bridge crew. As happy as the crew was to see Jim in the captain's chair, they couldn't help but look at the science station every so often. It was a lazy day, and they were quietly chatting, their orbit around New Vulcan held easily. That was when the comm. came through. "He's waking up!"
The officers stood up automatically, only to realize that there would be no one to man the bridge should they leave, only to have a team of officers enter from the lift. "Go, give him our regards."
They didn't need to be told twice.
"Is he waking up yet?"
"His brain waves are kickin' up; he's certainly workin' on it."
"Come on, Spock, wake up, open your eyes, do something!"
"Don't shake him, ya moron!"
"You better be."
"Oh come on, I saved his mind from a tyrannical invader, I should be allowed to freak out when he's supposed to be waking but he won't open his eyes!"
"Back with the mentions of your brilliant save, can your ego get any bigger?"
"Hey, even Sarek is proud to have me in his family. I'd say that entitles me to getting a huge ego."
"Yeah well, I can't wait until someone pops your swollen head and brings you down a few notches."
"But Bones, then I won't have a head! I won't be able to command or do any other awesome things without a head!"
"That is, of course, easily rectifiable. All one would need to do is take a balloon, inflate it with helium, draw a manic smile on its 'face', and then attach it to your spinal column. I am quite certain that it would perform your job quite adequately."
The silence was omnipresent, until snickering and snorting and finally all out hysterical laughter was heard, Spock's eyes blinking open to be met with the sight of a Jim that was laughing almost as hard as the rest of them. McCoy was turning a bright shade of red, and the rest were nearly falling over themselves.
"I do not understand; did I say something humorous?"
McCoy was the one to stop laughing first, and grinning wide enough to split his face open he clapped his hand on Spock's shoulder, shaking him fondly.
"It's good to have you back, Hobgoblin."