"Of course you're real," Nyota laughed, tilting her head back with a bit of a twisted smile.
It was the third time that Spock had sat her down and explained to her that he could never be a real boyfriend. He was too stiff. Restrained. Unemotional. He could never give her the things she wanted in a man.
"I hate it when you talk like this," she replied, frowning slightly, with a hint of worry, "Can't you see I like you as you are?"
Spock's mind fumbled for an argument as she leaned forward and pinched his ears. He trembled slightly.
"See, real," she mocked, as she leaned forward and kissed him. He kissed back hungrily. Stiffly. Awkwardly. His body stayed rigid. His arms stayed glued at his sides.
For months, it had been like this. She always seemed to think that she could change him.
"You're starting to warm up," she'd protested the first time he'd brought it up, the first time he'd said out loud the things he'd been thinking since the beginning. That he might never make it to where she was hoping. That he might never be able to show her the affection she wanted.
"I can tell you like me," she'd whispered in his ear defiantly, and it was true. He did like her, he thought about her all the time. But those were thoughts, and then there was reality, and whenever he tried to bridge the gap and say something to her, he would freeze or lose the words and then she would be staring at him again with her hand held against his cheek.
But he never could convince her to give up. She always refused to accept his assertion and move on.
She was still there when they boarded the Enterprise. The day he refused to admit, even to himself, that the distress call from Vulcan already made him anxious. On any other day, he would have never given in to her insistence, but his nerves were already frayed. It was easiest not to argue.
His calm demeanour was a façade as they made the short trip to Vulcan. Terrible speculation filled his mind. What could have possibly happened to cause Vulcan command to send a priority 1 distress signal? He tried to convince himself that the most likely scenario was a malfunction of the distress beam. But if that was the case, why didn't they correct the error over other channels? He thought that it was probably a natural disaster, but he didn't entirely dismiss the possibility of a terrorist incident. It was something that you had to grow up Vulcan to know, that the prejudice went both ways. That there were a lot of people out there that hated Vulcans.
The destroyed fleet confirmed his suspicions. At first he tried to convince himself that it could have been a sudden ion storm, or something similar, but any natural occurrence would have carried off the debris. He wasn't surprised when they heard from Nero.
And then it was into Starfleet mode. Making plans. Beaming to the ground. Running up to rescue the elders without wavering. Watching the pillars fall and crush people he known since childhood to their deaths. Trying to save his mother and his culture, his mother on one hand and his culture on the other. Seeing the ground crumble and his mother falling, just out of reach, just so he couldn't save her.
And then waking up in the transporter bay, feeling as if the whole thing could have been a dream. Except that his father and his colleagues surrounded him. Except that Vulcan was no longer in the sky. For a moment, he stood contemplating. Contemplating the magnitude of the destruction. Contemplating his next move.
There was no time for grief. Pike had left him in charge, he had to decide that to do next. It wasn't enough to have to found the fleet obliterated, watched his mother fall to her death, see his planet destroyed, he was also somehow responsible for preventing future destruction. He stood up, enraged by the injustice of it all.
He heard Nyota's footsteps follow him into the turbolift.
"I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," she whispered. Tears ran down her face. Was she all he had left, beside this ship and this epic responsibility? No, there was still his father. He felt her arms close around him and her lips touch his. It was too little comfort for too much destruction.
"What do you need?" she breathed, "Tell me, tell me."
An arm closed around her. He wanted to tell her that he needed her now, more than anything, but then there was the future and the ship, and the sickening feeling at the bottom of his stomach that still prevented him from saying anything.
"I need …" his voice creaked, fell off in midair, "Everyone to keep performing admirably."
As he spoke, the look on her face, with all the sadness and impatience and frustration that she'd built up was just one more thing that scathed his mind. He walked out of the turbolift without looking back.
The hours passed. The future started to unfold. He ordered to crew to go back and regroup. He abandoned Kirk on a desolate planet. He supressed his anger, and then it grew, and then he was on the bridge, pounding Kirk, letting his fist hit his jaw again and again and again.
He stumbled away, ashamed that he had lost control, ashamed that he had added more violence to a day that would already go down as one of the most horrific in history.
When he got down to his quarters, he found Nyota waiting. She was crying. He let her in, and for the first time, reflexively, he put his arms around her without thinking. And it was strange, comforting her after his planet had been destroyed, but he could tell that she was just overwhelmed by everything that had happened. When she stopped crying, she asked in a low voice,
"Are you alright?"
He didn't answer. What was there to say? He sat down on the sofa and slumped forwards, putting his face in his hands.
She sat down next to him and put her arms around him. They stayed seated like that for hours. They didn't talk. They didn't sleep. They just sat and stared into space, as it all started to unfold. As what had happened really started to sink into their minds.
Spock didn't cry. Vulcans didn't cry. It was more like a low, scratchy howl, emanating from the bottom of the throat. At first, Nyota looked at him with worry, as if she thought that he might be choking, but the she understood.
"It's okay Spock," she whispered, in a statement that was completely untrue and held onto him harder, putting her cheek against his. They sat there until Spock felt slightly more collected, and they felt the ship shake.
"I have to go do something about that," Spock spoke in what could have been a dark, dark joke. She nodded and followed him up to the bridge.
Kirk told Spock they were hurtling towards to Earth, and slowly, he outlined his plan. It seemed like moments later they were in the transporter bay, waiting to beam to the Narada.
He was in Starfleet mode again, knowing it was most likely he would die, but not resisting, not really thinking about it. But Nyota was, and when he saw her lurking outside the say, he motioned her over. He had to say goodbye, but he couldn't get the words out, he couldn't do anything but put his arms around her and lean in for an awkward kiss.
And then she pulled away, and then they were being dematerialized, and then they were on the Narada, walking towards the Jellyfish. And then it dawned on him. He was about to die, and Nyota had been so kind and so loving, and he had been too embarrassed, too frightened to tell her how he really felt.
"In the event that I am unsuccessful," he murmured, with a deep breath, to Kirk, "Please tell Lieutenant Uhura,"
But Kirk wouldn't have any of it, and cut him off,
And then Spock's mind cut out, and then he was back in Starfleet mode, flying the Jelly fish with razor sharp precision, carrying out his mission. And everything went according to Kirk's prediction. In what seemed like minutes, he was back in the transported bay, with no damage done except for a couple of broken ribs and a few bad bruises.
They were dead in the water, waiting for Starfleet to tow them, when Spock barged into Nyota's room. Steeped in adrenaline, high on painkillers, he grabbed her in his arms and whispered things he knew he never would be able to say again.
At first she was alarmed, but she fell back when she saw his sincerity.
"I was almost killed," he intoned, as if it explained everything.
As he kissed her, he told her how he loved her, how she made him feel better about everything. With tears in her eyes, she clung to him. They made beautiful love.
He fell asleep holding her, impassioned, in his arms, but when he woke up, the world had fallen back in place. His ribs were throbbing, and the fear and shame was bearing down on him, and his hand trembled as he stroked her hair.
When she woke up, she was afraid too. Somehow she had known it wouldn't last.
"Are you okay?" she asked, that vague, meaningless question. Her eyes were big and sad, like she didn't want it to be over. Spock decided he didn't want it to be over either.
"Kiss me," he whispered, and her eyes widened, and she complied.
"More," he said when she pulled away, and she leaned in again, not pulling away this time.
Soon, her hands were sliding across his body. It wasn't the way it had been before, but it was something.
"I have two broken ribs, remember," he tried to excuse his stiffness, and she just smiled, and pinched his ears and moved her hands back below the blanket.
A/N: I wanted to write a short story, but it turned out to be extremely long, so I decided to split it. Two or three more chapters, I'm not sure how I will split the rest.
A/N2: Yes, I am totally procrastinating on NaNoWriMo