Original Title: Loathing to Tolerance
Notes: The first in a series of six or seven stories mapping the turning points in the relationship between Jim and Spock. In every turning point, it is influenced or caused by Spock being hurt, ill or in danger. It'll take a couple of stories, as you can see, to get to the slash, but we will get there. The series is called the Progression Series, and a masterlist will eventually appear on my profile. While they will have different titles, the transitions are as follows:
Loathing to Tolerance
Tolerance to Respect
Respect to Friendship
Friendship to Companionship
Companionship to Love
Love to Soulmates
Soulmates to Singularity
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
Human feelings are illogical.
Much as Jim didn't really like Vulcans (no one liked them. They weren't likeable) he had to concede that point to them.
The facts were as follows:
1) When re-forming his crew to take the Enterprise back into space after the Narada incident, it had felt wrong right up until the point that Spock had walked onto the bridge and requested to be his First Officer. It had felt wrong to go without him. Despite all the nasty history there, Jim wouldn't have felt right going without him. Spock belonged there. They needed him there. And Jim would be the first to admit.
2) Jim didn't like Spock.
Well, didn't those two match up nicely?
Jim hadn't liked him from the moment he'd seen that smug Vulcan visage in the assembly hall. From the moment the hybrid had brought up his dead father. And he continued to dislike him through that entire disaster. Just how are you meant to like a guy who tried to strangle you? You don't. And Jim wasn't an exception.
Jesus, he sounded like Bones sometimes.
But he didn't like Spock. Yes, the guy was a freaking genius. Yes, he could run rings around the admiralty when they called demanding answers, veering between feigning alien confusion at the precise terms being used, and killing their protests stone dead with that logic of his. Yes, he was a brilliant scientist. Yes, he could help out in the engineering and science departments whenever they needed him. Yes, he could do the bureaucratic paperwork three times as fast as Kirk. Yes, he even took some of Kirk's paperwork too.
But Jim didn't like him. None of that meant he had to like him.
The guy was also incredibly dangerous when he lost his temper. He was also not in full control of that temper after the massive losses that the Vulcans had suffered. He was also incredibly dry and sarcastic. He was also a complete stickler for the rules, even when they weren't appropriate to the situation. He was also...
Fuck it, he was an asshole.
Jim had met plenty of assholes before. There were even some on the ship (he wasn't too fond of Lieutenant Giotto in Security, for example. Jeez, he called the guy Cupcake once. You'd think a man would get over it!) that he had to deal with. But Vulcans...wow, Vulcans made it into an art form.
They all did. Their first job was to take the refugees to their new colony. And they were all the same, superior, self-worshipping, stuck-up, snobbish jerks as Spock. Half-human or not, he certainly took after his old (old!) man. And no matter what Spock Prime said, or did, or behaved like, Jim's Spock was never going to turn out like that. He was too...prickly and cold and...dickheaded.
A whole species of pricks. And not in the good way.
The journey to New Vulcan had been enough to make Jim idly reconsider whether he wanted this captaincy, or to be expelled for cheating on the test. A five-year mission with that for a First Officer...one of them was going to die.
And judging by the Vulcan's superior strength, probably Jim.
Bones told him he was being an asshole himself. "Give the guy a break, Jim," he said. "He's just lost his whole planet, most of his species, most of his friends and family, and his mother. I think he's entitled to have a short fuse."
"He tried to strangle me."
"And you deserved it," Bones said flatly. "I won't pretend I much like the guy either, but put up with him for a bit, alright? I'd be pretty out of whack too if some batshit Romulan had just blown up Earth and my Joanna."
Well, sure. Only Spock didn't have a kid. A kid was one thing. But your Mom - well, he'd have lost her one day anyway. Vulcan lifespan and all that.
And yeah, Jim was aware that that wasn't the nicest thought he'd ever had.
But still. Spock wasn't even grieving, not really. He just went around the ship like nothing had happened. Criticised Jim's every damn decision, held whispered conversations with Uhura, talked with the other Vulcans, reduced a couple of ensigns to tears with his completely blunt, very rude, annoying way of talking down to you.
And then they reached New Vulcan, and...it sorted of changed.
New Vulcan (they'd named it, but Jim couldn't pronounce it. Humans could barely pronounce the Vulcan word for Vulcan, never mind their new place) was a planet in similar size to Vulcan, and similar atmosphere, and an even hotter equator. It had had a small Vulcan research station there (had a good view for passing comets, apparently) for the last fifty years or so, but it was miniscule and barely used.
So when they took the shuttles full of supplies down...they took it down to a desert.
There was nothing there. Nothing whatsoever. It was like setting up some kind of weird refugee camp. They were completely exposed and...Jim hated to use the word in connection to Vulcans, but...vulnerable.
And they just got down to it. Not even a flicker of a reaction to the barren wasteland they were building their new homes on. Nothing.
"Look at them," Jim muttered to Bones, well out of earshot of any Vulcan ears. "Like nothing's happened."
"What else can we do, Captain?"
He jumped when he realised that Spock had heard him, and cursed himself silently.
"Vulcan is gone. We are not. To delay now, rather than rebuild, would cost lives that we can no longer afford," Spock said flatly - as flat as he ever spoke. "We cannot afford to wallow in grief now, however much we may want to."
"You want to?" Bones asked, incredulously. Jim felt like echoing the sentiment.
"Naturally, Doctor," Spock inclined his head. "Vulcans mourn their dead as much as humans do. We form telepathic bonds with our loved ones that are...very painful to destroy. Death destroys them. The pain - physical and mental - for the survivors is...immense."
And now that Jim really looked at him, rather than scowling at him, he noticed the pallor to his skin, and the pinched quality to his face. His fingers shivered slightly, and Jim glanced at Bones.
"We will lose more, if we delay," Spock continued. "What would you have us do? Lament that which we cannot change?"
And then he was gone, away to help his own people, and Jim was left chewing his lip.
"You should know," Bones said quietly. "He lost his mother, his grandparents, and his fiancée. I've been pumping him with painkillers morning, noon and night, just to keep him on his feet. If he even starts to come down off the drugs, the pain readouts on the biobeds have a fit."
"They're in pain, Jim. Every last one of them is screaming inside, bloody and raw, and there's nothing we or they can do about it. They have to heal, and they don't have the time to do it," Bones shrugged. "There've been reports of suicide. Vulcans driven to suicide, it's hurting them so badly."
His drawl was thickening, and he cut himself off with disgust.
"The only thing I can do," Bones continued angrily, "is keep my eye on that Vulcan and make sure he doesn't go over as well. Jesus, Jim, I can't help them. None of us can. I can barely even help him."
Jim walked his First Officer disappearing into the hubbub of activity, and his Communications Officer looking after him with a lost expression, and bit his lip.
"You don't have to like him, Jim," Bones said. "I'm not asking you to. Hell, I don't like him, nine times out of ten. But leave him alone. Tolerate him. Don't add any more to his plate because, dammit Jim, if he goes over, there's nothing I can do to stop him."
Jim flinched, and frowned.
Fine. He'd leave him alone. Let him be a jerk. Tolerate him.
Because hell, Jim didn't like him, but he sure as hell wouldn't wish that kind of pain on anyone. Not the kind of pain that must be necessary to drive a Vulcan to suicide. He'd heard the reports too, drifting in on the communications channels. He knew Spock must have heard them. Knew Uhura definitely would have heard them. And he wouldn't wish that amount of pain on anyone, even if he didn't like them.
Except maybe Nero.