A/N: Based on this prompt on st_xi_kink. Also, totally unbeta'd.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Star Trek, unfortunately.
As a Vulcan, Sovak has been following the same path of telepathy study Spock has. That Spock is a few units ahead of him, and a natural talent, means nothing at this moment – Sovak is a full blood Vulcan, which means that until Spock has studied for years, he will be disadvantaged against him in the mind arts.
This means Spock has no real way of blocking the images Sovak is sending him. Half-breed, uncontrolled, emotional, failure, deserving of scorn, impure filling his head so he hits faster, harder, each punch bringing a new slur which just makes him hit again, and he is stuck in that cycle until he is pulled from Sovak's body by his teacher.
The last thing he sees before he is removed to await his father's arrival is a glint of accomplishment in Sovak's swelling eyes.
All new cadets at Starfleet are assigned a 'mentor,' to make sure that they are settling in correctly, to offer answers to any query they might have. Spock had researched Starfleet in some depth before choosing to apply there, and as such he had few questions for his mentor. This seems to annoy Thompson, who repeatedly asked if he needed to know anything, and looked put-out when Spock informed him that he was already in possession of the information he required.
Thompson also presses Spock into social situations, forcing him to leave his studies and his experiments and make small talk with cadets, and spend his evenings in bars, where he stands not drinking and silent, gaining unwanted looks and avoiding questions.
Apart from these social engagements, Spock finds himself enjoying his time at Starfleet. His tutors are supportive of his research, his peers seemed to appreciate his methods, and he thinks that perhaps Starfleet has been the logical choice after all, that perhaps he may have found somewhere he will be... accepted.
It is three weeks and four days after he is introduced to his mentor that he brushes hands with him when being passed a PADD of the upcoming social calendar.
Half-breed, freak, what makes you so much better than us, arrogant, silent, creepy, go back where you came from, boring. The thoughts and feeling being passed to him are so similar to those he received from his childhood tormentor that Spock's breath catches in his throat. Then he blinks and hands the PADD back into Thompson's uncomprehending hand.
"I will no longer require your services," he informs the human, and guides him towards his door. "You can offer me nothing I cannot investigate on my own, and my leisure time is better spent completing research over attempting to intoxicate myself to the detriment of my health."
Thompson says nothing, but Spock thinks he looks almost relieved as the doors shuts in his face. Spock takes a moment to mourn the freedom, the acceptance he had hoped he might receive when no longer on Vulcan. Then he takes one deep breath, and suppresses it to the back of his mind, and moves his attention to his latest equations.
Spock has come to understand human friendships. He is surrounded by them, and one if the strongest is between Kirk and McCoy. They are linked, a deep connection which apparently sprung into being the day they both applied to Starfleet.
As such, he can understand McCoy's worry. Kirk has been off radar for four hours, and they have been unable to track him. The entire bridge is working to their optimal efficiency, and he is working as hard as he can to fight against the panic growing in his gut. Emotions will not help him to locate the captain, will do nothing but distract him, and so he has pulled up all his control so he can focus on finding a solution.
"Do you even care about him?" McCoy asks as he bangs a hand down onto the side of Spock's console, pulling him from his calculations.
"Doctor, may I request that you return to sickbay. There is nothing you can accomplish here." Spock looks McCoy in the eyes, and sees them darken in anger. There is only a four-point-seven percent chance that McCoy will allow the comment without a reply, and yet Spock attempts to return to his work
A hand on his shoulder pulls him around, and he finds himself eye to eye with a furious McCoy. "Listen here, you cold blooded goblin, just because you don't have a heart doesn't mean I'm not allowed to care when my best friend has gone missing."
The rest of the bridge crew avoids looking at them, but Spock is aware that they can hear every word. A large percentage of them probably agree with McCoy's assessment. But now is not the time for Spock to try and prove him wrong, or argue his case
"Doctor," he says calmly, one hand raised, and McCoy grabs it in a rage, pulls it down towards the ground, and leans in so he's only four-point-six inches away from Spock's face.
The thoughts he sends through Spock's hand mirror the ones he is speaking allowed, but the pure vitriol surrounding them is a surprise. He has been on the ship for four months and three weeks now, and yet had no idea that McCoy still hated him so thoroughly for what he did to Jim.
"You don't get to lecture me, you heartless, cruel, arrogant, ignorant son of a bitch. Just because you haven't got any friends ino-one to care about you, no-one to care about, alone, good riddance/i, doesn't mean I can switch off my emotions stone cold, unfeeling, callus, inhuman."
Thankfully, an alarm sounds and Chekov turns to them with a smile. "We have him," he exclaims, and Spock pulls his hand free and moves towards the Ensign, avoiding McCoy's gaze.
"Then let us go and collect him," Spock says quietly before leaving the bridge, already compartmentalising everything which will not help him save the captain.
Spock does not know if he loves Nyota. He thinks that he might, if he had a better grasp on his emotions, a better understanding of what it was to love someone. He knows that he cares for her, that he admires her intelligence, her mind. She is beautiful, but that is not what draws him to her. He thinks it is her unspoken acceptance of him, the way in which she allows him to act as he chooses, instead of expecting human responses and emotions.
That is why what he reads when their hands brush over the mess table comes as such a surprise. They are discussing their plans to meet for an evening meal later this week, when his fingers meet hers. frustration, sorrow, not enough love, emotion, how can I make him express, can't keep this up.
He pulls away with a gasp, and Nyota's eyes widen as she realises what must have happened. "Spock," she says, but he ignores her. He stands swiftly, eyes on a spot above her shoulder.
"Lieutenant," he says neutrally. "I apologise. I must attend the science labs at once. I am sure we will speak again at a more convenient time."
He goes to move, and Nyota follows, one delicate hand wrapped around him upper arm. "Spock," she says, almost pleading, and he looks at her. He eyes are wet, mouth curling downwards. "I didn't mean to... I don't..."
He can feel the eyes of the crew on them, curious and intruding, so he replies in an undertone. "It was quite clear," he says quietly. "You need no longer worry about pretending to be content with my companionship. I wish you well with your further endeavours."
He nods at her and then leaves the mess hall, a sharp pain in the vicinity of his heart. He does not think he will ever understand human emotions, or his own.
The Klingon is grinning at Spock's struggles. He has been separated from the rest of the away team, lashed to a wall and given no answers. He has no idea why they have been taken, where the rest of the team are, or if they are even alive. M'cTar apparently takes great pleasure in physical torture, and over the past few days Spock has been whipped, burnt, had bones broken, and for nothing. They have demanded no information from him, have asked him to reveal nothing, and whenever he asks what it is they require he is just laughed at, the Klingon's breath foul across his face.
On the fourth day, Spock awakes from a troubled doze to find M'cTar watching him, a cruel sharp smile on his face. The Klingon lifts one his hands and picks up Spock's, the grip painful on his broken fingers. But nothing as painful as the images the Klingon is pushing through the grip. Randley, choking on her own blood, Smithey, broken and bowed, killed by phaser, Dezod, his antennae ripped from his head, slowly going mad until his throat is cut.
Spock watches them all die; his science team, the people he handpicked from the crew to map this planet, and he cannot help the bile which climbs his throat, although he manages not to expel it. When he had begun to slowly try and be more at peace with his emotions, attempt to understand them more, he had no idea it would be like this. A sharp pain in his stomach which causes his breathing to hitch occasionally as he pulls up his control again, like a shield.
After he has regained some kind of control, he looks up into M'cTar's smirking face. "Why?" he croaks out, and M'cTar leans in.
"So you think twice about crossing us, Starfleet," he replies, and then cuts the chains which hold Spock. By the time he regains his footing, M'cTar is gone, leaving only his communicator behind. He calls up to the ship with a broken voice, illogically wishing he had not been forced to watch his colleagues die. Wishing he could have done something to save them.
Spock opens his eyes to find Jim leaning over him. His chest hurts, a sharp pain which stops him from breathing deeply, and he opens his mouth to ask what is happening.
"Spock, oh thank god you're awake," Jim says, eyes wide and worried. "Just... just don't try and talk, ok?"
The pain on in his chest increases, and he lifts his head slightly, looks down, and sees Jim's hands pressed to his chest, green blood spilling through his fingers. "Wh... what..." he asks, trying to remember what happened, and Jim pushes his head down firmly with one green-stained hand, and then presses again on his chest. It hurts, deeply, and he realises that this might be fatal. He is losing a lot of blood, feels too weak to even attempt a healing trance, and he clenches his hands into fists to stop the sudden flash of fear he can't quell.
Jim must see something in his eyes, because he leans further down, face hovering over his. "You'll be ok, Spock," he says, and his eyes flick away for a moment, as though searching for someone. "McCoy's on his way and he'll get you fixed up."
Spock shakes his head slightly. "No, Jim. I... Jim." He tries to tell him it is fine, that dying in Jim's place is the way he wants to leave this life, but Jim shakes his head vehemently.
"No, Spock. You aren't dying here, you hear me? After the stunt you pulled, you don't get to die on me. That's an order!" His eyes are a light, deep blue, wet and wide, and he moves one hand to grab Spock's. He is instantly bombarded by Jim's emotions, and he gasps as they fill his mind. No, Spock, no, don't die, should have been me, can't die, don't leave, don't go.
"Jim," he groans out as other sharp pain steals his breath. He has to speak, tell Jim that he feels the same, that he would not leave if he had the choice, but then the pain fills his head and his vision fades out. The last thing he sees is Jim's blue eyes, panic filled and beautiful.
When he next opens his eyes, his first thought is that he is surprised to be alive. His gaze is blurry, and he blinks a few times to clear his vision. He realises he is in sickbay, can feel a pressure on his chest and hear the monitor beeping out his heartbeat above his head. He tries to lift an arm, to see if the weight around his chest is a bandage, but he doesn't have the strength to. He licks his chapped lips, but before he can speak, can attempt to alert someone, there is a gentle hand cupping the back of his head, and a cup being lifted to his mouth.
He sips from it thankfully, and then looks up to find Jim looking down at him with a smile. His face is pale and still specked with the grey dirt from the surface, and Spock surmises that he has been at his bedside since they left the planet. This realisation creates a warm glow in his chest.
"About time you woke up," Jim says, voice quiet. "Bones was worried we didn't get you back in time." His voice is not quite steady on those words; he was clearly affected by Spock's state.
"I apologise, captain," he forces out through his dry throat, and then coughs. The contractions of his chest make his injury twinge, and he winces before he can stop himself. Jim's hand comes to his forehead, cool and soothing, and he settles slowly, trying to find a comfortable way to lie.
"Don't speak, Spock," Jim says, almost a chastisement, and looks down at him warmly. "You did some serious damage to your lungs, you need to look after them for the next couple of days until they're all healed." Spock wants to reply, thank Jim for his care, for being here when he woke up, but Jim is still talking.
"Now, I know you aren't great at emotion, Spock, and that's fine," he says, reassuring. "But I have to tell you something, and you need to listen. Because I almost lost you down there, and I don't want that to happen again without you knowing this." He takes a deep breath, eyes closing for a moment, and then steels himself.
Spock wants to tell him that Jim doesn't need to speak, that he sent through his feelings in their purest form on the planet, with his fingers wrapped around Spock's, but his throat will not permit him to. As it is, all he can do is watch Jim's jaw unclench and his eyes spark with determination.
"I love you, Spock," he says, clear and bright, and Spock has to close his eyes briefly against the shine of love on his face. He breathes deeply, once, twice, regaining control, and then opens his eyes again to find Jim looking at him worriedly.
"Are you –" Jim starts to ask, but is cut off when Spock manages to lift his hand enough so that two of his fingers lie across the back of Jim's hand, where it sits on the bed.
It is hard to speak through such a weak connection, especially when Spock feels so lethargic and weak, but he is determined. Jim, he transmits. Thank you for your love, acceptance, passionlaughterteasinglove, I loveadmireneedwanthaveyou also.
And even though his message blurs and contracts, Jim's face lights up and he places a sweet human kiss onto Spock's forehead. Spock's eyes flutter shut at the contact, and then struggle to open as sleep attempts to pull him under. He feels Jim smile against his skin, and when he mutters it is in a whisper against his cheek. "Sleep, Spock. We have plenty of time to talk this over."
Spock nods, or attempts the gesture, and then falls gladly into sleep, his last thought of the man who is still touching his hand, surrounding him emotions which feel purely Jim.