Notes: More Pike/Spock. Seriously, you guys should be frightened. Anyway. A little deviation from nu!Trek: Spock stays with Pike on Earth to help the now-Admiral recover. Not related to If Things Stayed The Same. Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek 2009, and I make no profit from this work.
When Chris finds out what Spock has done, he more or less explodes. Which gets a hypo shoved in his neck by the nearest doctor, and then he and Spock aren't able to speak again for another week. By the time Spock returns, Jim has been by, and confirms his story.
Spock has resigned from Starfleet.
It's not a leave of absence - to which, after the decimation of his species and the loss of his mother, he is fully entitled to take. It's not even an extended leave - which everyone knows is a kind of paid early retirement. It's not even an actual retirement. He's resigned.
"In which case," he tells Kirk, who just looks nervous at his still very sick commanding officer shouting at him, "you've got the next - how the fuck long until they launch you lot again?"
"Jesus fuck. Right. You've got ten months to slap some sense into him!"
Kirk laughs nervously. "Sir? Really don't think slapping him would be great for my health."
Chris snorts. Kirk's right. He might break his hand on Spock's face. "Yeah, well, you're going to try anyway."
Kirk looks vagely mutinous then, and leaves without really answering him.
When Chris is finally allowed to regain consciousness and stay there, it is nearly three months after the entire sorry mess. He's missed the memorial services, missed the round of commendations to everyone involved, and learns from one of his nurses that he'll be an Admiral once he's well enough to go back to work.
He has to learn to fucking move first, but whatever.
He's in a foul mood when Spock shows up again, and spends most of that twenty-minute visit shouting at him for his stupid decision. At one point, he distinctly remembers shouting about Spock throwing his career away, and he gets a decidedly unimpressed Vulcan glare for that one. But frankly, he doesn't give a shit. Spock has one of the most brilliant careers of anyone below captain. In ten years, he could be an admiral. He could redefine their universe, and he's thrown it away to...to what?
"Why?" he finally asks, throat hoarse from the shouting, and Spock fetches him a glass of cool water.
He wisely waits until Chris has finished drinking it before replying: "I am required here."
"To assist you."
Chris spends the next ten minutes shouting, and then Spock announces that he has to go.
Nerve regeneration is hell. Chris is unconscious for most of it, and on wonderful drugs for the other half, but there's only so far the treatment goes. Most of his recovery, he is told, will be through physical therapy.
"We're confident you'll regain full mobility eventually," his primary doctor tells him, and he wants to snarl at that word.
"How long?" he snaps.
Two years is the response, and then the next round of nerve regeneration begins.
By the time he's done with it, five of Kirk's ten months have passed, and Spock is still visiting every week, standing stonily at Chris' bedside and listening to him shout, before leaving again without a word.
Chris begins to miss him.
The next time Spock arrives, Chris tells him to sit. It's the first time he has, and Spock even looks vaguely surprised - which in itself isn't a good sign. Chris frowns at his pasty complexion, the weight loss, the tension in his shoulders, and demands he sits down until he does.
"How are you doing?" he asks.
Spock pauses, and frowns - just a little, but enough for Chris to notice. His chest hurts. "I am...well, sir. How are y..."
"No. You. How are you doing?"
"And the truth. None of this bullshit 'fine' nonsense you keep trotting out. Kirk does it too, you know. You're 'fine.' Well, Kirk's a genius, but he doesn't know you yet. Believe me, if he was seeing you the way I do, fine wouldn't be the diagnosis."
Spock stares at him. Chris reaches out to take his hand.
It feels suddenly unfamiliar in his grasp, and he wonders how long it's been since he just held Spock's hand.
Spock says he is fine, and refuses to elaborate.
His hands are cold.
Chris is allowed to go home once the treatment progresses to just physical therapy. He is still wheelchair bound, and doesn't understand how he is going to handle his sixth-floor apartment until Spock shows up in the morning with the doctor.
"I will be honoured to provide assistance," is all that Spock says, and he must have talked to the doctors without Chris hearing about it, because they don't question him, and sign off on all of Chris' paperwork and medications without the bat of an eyelash.
"You," Chris says, "are meant to be preparing to get back into space!"
It's six months since they returned to Earth, and if Spock doesn't start the paperwork process soon, he will miss the Enterprise's relaunch.
Spock says nothing, and takes him out to the waiting patient transport.
When Chris realises that Spock will be staying at his apartment until he is fully recovered, he loses his temper again.
"You are not putting your fucking career on hold for me!" he explodes again, and Spock watches him with detached serenity.
He makes Chris take his medication, and helps him into bed.
He stays in the guest room all night. Chris knows, because he lies awake and listens for him.
Chris' first physical therapy session is long, painful, exhausting and depression. He has next to no feeling in his legs at all, and the physiotherapist gives him tasks that feel humiliating and pathetic - clenching his toes, tensing his thighs, trying to sit forward without assistance. It is shocking how much mobility he has lost, and when Spock comes to collect him, he is once again in a bad mood.
"I don't need to be waited on like some slow child!" he snaps at lunchtime, and Spock serenely assists him regardless. He says nothing, and Chris' temper flares again. "This is fucking pathetic!" he shouts at one point. "I am a goddamn captain, and this is...degrading!"
Spock says nothing.
That night, listening out for the Vulcan moving around his apartment, Chris wonders how much Spock actually speaks any more.
For the first month of physiotherapy every single day, Chris sleeps an exhausted sleep that grants him no dreams. Spock helps him into bed early each night, and comes in two hours before they must leave for the hospital to wake and wash him. Oddly, being lifted is more humiliating than being sponge-bathed in the bathroom, and one day, Chris catches Spock's hands as they help him dress again.
"Talk to me," he says, and Spock frowns.
"Anything," Chris says. "How you're doing. What you're doing. I spend hours every day at the hospital. What do you do then?"
Spock stares at him, as if he doesn't quite understand. "I wait for you," he says.
Chris wants to cry.
Instead, he raises one of Spock's hands and kisses the knuckles gently.
His hands are still horribly unfamiliar, and Chris doesn't like it.
Chris doesn't know whether he could call what they had a relationship, but it was something like it. The fresh-out-of-the-Academy graduate that turned up on Chris' brand new science vessel, the Copernicus, had drawn him in from the very beginning, with that hidden humour and the expressive dark eyes.
He doesn't know whether it was love...but it was a good imitation.
The first time Spock was wounded in the line of duty, a security officer was reassigned with a blistering reprimand for letting it happen in the first place. Chris has never forgotten the way his heart staggered in his chest when Spock's frequency had started to waver down on that planet, and the blood that had spilled over the transporter pad when they'd reeled him back in.
Or the overwhelming sense of relief he'd felt when Spock returned to duty.
It hadn't been much, really. Chris has always been uncomfortable with the age gap between them, and the rank difference in the early days. But he couldn't resist - stolen kisses in their quarters, brushing fingers in corridors, and the occasional incident of trapping Spock in an empty laboratory and ruffling him up a bit. In his lighter moments, Spock had referred to it once as molesting, and Chris had laughed.
When they had returned to Earth, and Chris had gone after the flagship, Spock had returned very briefly for a year patrolling the Neutral Zone.
He returned to teach at the Academy as a lieutenant-commander, with a new confidence and a slippery trickery that was like viagra to Chris' libido.
Only, somehow, 'they' had petered out.
The physiotherapist talks with Spock at the end of the first month. He gives him exercises to work through with Chris at home - simple things, usually involving moving or massaging Chris' legs to prevent blood clots or muscle atrophy.
Spock performs these tasks without a murmur, even when Chris throws temper tantrums like a small child, or tries to lighten the mood. He says nothing - he handles Chris as gently, efficiently, and professionally as a doctor himself.
Chris is saddened by the clinical nature of the touch.
Are you even listening to me any more? he thinks, deliberately forcefully, one evening while Spock works on his left leg. Can you still hear me?
He gets no response.
At the Academy, Chris admits that he'd been distracted by the new talent pouring in. He had had more time for new cadets, for the promising kids like Kirk, and less time to spend with Spock, despite their established ground rules.
Stolen kisses became a thing of the past.
Then Spock's teaching assistant - a languages expert from Africa - had started showing an interest in her Vulcan professor, and Chris hadn't been able to laugh it off.
"Do you encourage her or something?" he'd demanded, and Spock had stiffened as though Chris had insulted his mother.
"No more than you do Kirk," he replied.
It had stung.
Without a word, they fell apart. Chris stopped going around to Spock's apartment, and avoided his eyes in staff meetings. Spock didn't push the issue, and they left each other to their own devices. For a year, they avoided each other without having ever discussed it.
Could they break up, if they had never talked about being together in the first place?
Chris doesn't know - but Spock's hands are unfamiliar now, and it didn't used to be like that.
The nine month mark comes and goes, and Kirk drops by the apartment. Chris stays in the living room, pretending to do his exercises while he eavesdrops, and they stand in the kitchen for well over an hour, Kirk arguing vehemently and Spock saying not much of anything.
It strikes Chris at some point that while Kirk is begging Spock to reconsider his resignation, that isn't the real context of their conversation.
"And don't tell me you're fucking fine!" Kirk snaps at one point, sounding remarkably like Chris himself. "Don't you give me that! You're not fine, Spock! Jesus! McCoy told me about your exit-physical, you know!"
"I don't care what it breaks!" Kirk sounds desperate. "You carry on like this, you're going to fucking kill yourself! You know it, I know it, Bones knows it - fuck, the only person who doesn't know it is fucking Pike!"
"You're not okay," Kirk's voice drops suddenly. Chris strains to hear. "You're not. Just...shit. Let us help you. Let someone help you. Please."
There is a long pause, in which Chris vehemently wishes for the use of his legs, so he can barge into the room and demand answers. Eventually, Spock speaks in a low tone that Chris has never heard from him before.
"I...do not require assistance at this point."
Kirk leaves shortly afterwards, and Spock remains in the kitchen. Chris does not know how to approach him.
The Enterprise relaunches.
There is a ceremony, and a gun salute, and a vid feed of the ship warping away from Starbase One. There is a party, which Chris attends for all of fifteen minutes, and mostly for appearance's sake. His replacements are gone; Spock is still here.
When even Admiral Nogura, not known for being the most sensitive man in the universe, asks after Spock's health, Chris knows he has to pull his head out of his ass and do something about this.
Only thing is, it's harder than it sounds.
A year after he loses his mobility, Chris stands for the first time.
His physiotherapist is ecstatic, even if he maintains it only for a shaky eight seconds, and insists on calling Spock to come early and witness it for himself.
"I think your partner needs to see this too," he beams, and Chris doesn't have the heart to correct him.
"Sure," he says instead, and manages a smile when Spock comes in the door.
The movement feels alien on his face, and he wonders when he last smiled for Spock.
"Come on, Christopher, you done it once, now you can do it again. It'll be easier once you do it a couple more times," the physiotherapist coaches, and Chris manages to shakily stand again under Spock's intense gaze.
A glimmer of...something...passes through Spock's eyes, and Chris swallows against the lump in his throat when a very tiny smile creases that stern, beautiful mouth.
"This is...a wonderful development," Spock says.
Chris resolves then to walk again, just so he can cross the room and hug him.
He sits, and Spock takes him back to the apartment.
"Spock? Come out here."
Spock emerges from the kitchen. Chris has been listening to him chop vegetables; there is nothing that needs to be dealt with immediately.
"I don't want to be in the chair," Chris says firmly.
He cannot yet put one foot in front of the other; now, the technique is that he will stand, Spock will remove the wheelchair, and then pick him up and carry him to the couch.
This time, Chris clings when Spock puts him down, and tugs until Spock sits beside him.
"Stay here with me a minute," he coaxes, and Spock frowns slightly.
"Is everything alright?" he asks.
"We're not," Chris says faintly, gathering both of Spock's hand in his. They are too cool, and he squeezes them until Spock shifts uncomfortably. He is unrepentent. "When did I forget what your hands felt like?"
Spock has no answer for him, and Chris leans forward to kiss him.
His lips are dry, and unfamiliar as his hands, but they're his, and Chris ghosts his tongue across them to dampen them, nipping the lower lip, before drawing back again.
"I'm sorry," he says.
"I'm sorry," Chris repeats, and wraps his arms around Spock's neck, hugging him tightly.
It feels like Spock is going to shake apart in his arms, until there is nothing left, and Chris holds on tighter and prays he can stop a breakdown that he's started in the first place.
They have a habit of falling into things that they don't discuss, and now they do it again.
Chris takes to affectionate touches - hand-holding, kissing, embraces - whenever he can get away with it. He coaxes minor responses from Spock, desperate to discover where his tender, dry, wonderful lover of all those years ago has gone.
Desperate to discover whether he can be brought back.
He talks him into coming for the full physiotherapy sessions, and into eating meals together, and into sitting on the couch with Chris and watching the news feeds in the evenings.
It is still difficult to pry actual conversation out of him, but Chris is determined to be patient this time around.
When Chris does not relearn walking as quickly as he'd hoped, he once again explodes. He spends the evening snapping at Spock, and when the Vulcan essentially orders him to eat dinner, he explodes.
"I didn't ask you to be here!" he shouts at one point. He cannot remember most of the argument, but this he remembers clearly. "I told you to go back to fucking space, but you decided - against my will! - to invade my life and my home and force your company on me! I didn't ask you to!"
Spock walks from the kitchen.
There is a ringing silence through the apartment for several minutes, before Chris takes a deep breath and reigns his anger and his frustration back in.
"Spock..." he begins.
The apartment door clicks shut.
He stumbles through getting ready for bed, cursing himself for his lapse, and wondering whether to ring around any of their colleagues in the area. He does not, in the end, though he lies awake for hours, listening.
He falls asleep somewhere after 0300, and Spock has not returned.
He wakes when Spock enters the bedroom to rouse him, and catches those pale hands the moment they come into reach.
"Where have you been?" he demands, bleary and fuzzy with the little sleep he's had. He notices the chill and the tremor in the hands he holds, and flinches. "Did you just get back in?"
"You have to be at the hospital in..."
"Don't avoid the question, Spock. When did you get back?"
There is a long pause, and then: "Approximately eighteen minutes ago."
"Jesus," Chris hisses. It is November. It is damn cold out, even for a human. Spock's hands are icy. "Get in the shower."
"Shower. Now. Fuck the hospital. I'll call and cancel. We can do goddamn exercises to your heart's content but after you have a hot damn shower!"
Spock capitulates. Chris listens to the pipes as he cancels the appointment, and listens harder to Spock padding around the guest room.
When Spock returns to Chris' room, he is wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt and sweatpants. His bare feet seem strangely vulnerable.
"I'm sorry," Chris says, beckoning him over. When Spock moves as if to lift him into his chair, he simply captures those hands again and shakes his head. "No. Come on, into the bed."
"Into the bed," Chris insists. "You're cold, you've been out all damn night in that weather, and I've barely slept for worrying about you. Into the bed. We're both going to sleep, and we're going to do it here."
Spock hesitates, but eventually creeps under the blankets and curls up, stiff and tense, on the other side of the bed.
Chris rolls to lie opposite him and stroke his hair. He used to do this, usually after sex, all those months - years, now - ago. He liked it. Spock, he thinks, liked it too.
"I'm sorry," he breathes into the small space between their faces. "I'm so, so sorry. You've been a fucking saint with me, and I just lose my temper like a silly child. I'm sorry."
Spock says nothing.
Chris keeps stroking his hair until long after the Vulcan falls asleep.
He watches, and he wishes that things were different.
Chris persuades Spock to sleep in the bed with him again that night, and wakes in the morning to find that they have gravitated together in the night. He can faintly feel the brush of Spock's feet against his own, and smiles, resolving that today will be the day that he takes his first steps again.
His smile fades when he realises that Spock is warm to the touch.
Spock always feels faintly cool - his body temperature is of the Vulcan norm, and therefore several degrees lower than Chris'. His skin usually feels blissfully cool, but never cold. But warm...warm is even more alarming.
Chris resolves to leave him be, and manages to dress himself and get into the chair without help.
The independence feels...good.
He smiles again, and calls for a transport to the hospital.
He leaves a note.
That afternoon, he takes exactly three steps away from the wheelchair.
Spock collects him from the hospital, looking pale and ill, and Chris holds his hand in the transport the whole way home. He is no telepath - doesn't even know how it works - but he tries to project reassurance and affection through the contact.
He has no idea if Spock hears him.
He orders Spock to bed again early, and stays up watching news feeds for a while.
When he retires for the night, he finds Spock asleep in his bed.
He wakes Spock with kisses, feather-light and tentative, and smiles when confused dark eyes meet his own.
"We need to talk," he says, and strokes a soothing hand over Spock's arm. "I've been an idiot. We fell apart in the Academy and I don't even know why. I just tossed you aside like you didn't matter and...shit, Spock. That's never been true with me. You've always mattered."
"You didn't deserve that, and I'm not going to make that mistake again," Chris whispers. "I'm doing to do it right this time. I'm going to make this work. I don't know if I love you, but I want to find out, and I'm sure as hell not tossing it away because I'm an idiot again."
"I care for you," Chris murmurs, rubbing a thumb over Spock's sharp jaw. "I like you, more than is probably healthy. It just about kills me, thinking about what you must have gone through up there. And it kills me now, knowing you're not really alright. I just...I want to take care of you, and I can't."
A bitter smile twists his lips, and Spock frowns at it, a stray hand coming up to touch it lightly.
"Let me try," Chris whispers.
"If I..." Spock swallows. "If I collapse my shields now, then I..."
"Then you'll start to grieve," Chris whispers. "You'll start to cope. You'll start to get better. This has been all about me getting better, but you need to as well. Maybe more. The longer we wait, the worse it's going to be when..."
Spock shakes his head, suddenly moving to plant his head just under Chris' chin, suddenly touching him and hugging him the way that he used to. Chris' heart staggers, and he clutches back, equally desperate.
"Not yet," Spock breathes.
Chris doesn't push.
The parallel bars become Chris' idea of a nightmare, but eventually he reaches the end, and walks into Spock's waiting arms. He hugs him fiercely, their heights suddenly equalised again, and feels the ghost of the weight Spock has lost.
The physiotherapist is enthusing, and talking about a cane, and Chris hangs onto Spock and holds him as close as he can. He can feel that rapid heartbeat, and he wants to protect it.
"I love you," he whispers into one pointed ear, then takes a wobbly step back. "Now I need to sit down."
Three weeks later, he is upgraded to a cane. He still cannot tackle stairs, or remain on his feet for more than five minutes at a time, but he can stand in the elevator and walk into his own kitchen and sit on the couch whenever he likes.
"Don't go," he says when Spock murmurs something about recovery. "Stay here. Always stay here."
Spock stares at him, calculating, and Chris draws him in for a kiss. He tries to pour everything into that kiss, tries to push love past Spock's barriers, but he doesn't know - he never knows - whether he has succeeded.
Spock fails to pick him up at the hospital.
Chris is concerned, even as he hails a cab and tries to swallow it down. He can walk again. His therapy has been cut back to three days a week. There is speak of him going back to work. He doesn't need Spock to collect him.
But Spock always does.
He is twitchy in the elevator, and lets himself into the apartment with more than a little fear, already calling out Spock's name.
He finds him in the kitchen, sprawled out upon the tiles, green blood smeared on the edge of the counter where he's hit his head. The gash is small, lancing the thin skin of his forehead, but like all head wounds, it has bled profusely. It is clotting by the time Chris gets there. He wonders how long Spock has been unconscious.
He calls the ambulance, and sits on the tiles, holding one terribly cold hand, and talking to a man who can't hear him.
When Spock comes round, groggily, in the emergency ward of the hospital, Chris is there, holding that same hand and staring at him sadly.
"You could have killed yourself," he murmurs, leaning over the bed to press a kiss to a slack mouth. "Do you remember what happened?"
Spock blinks slowly, then murmurs: "I was...making tea..."
"You fainted," Chris says quietly, squeezing his hand. "Your blood sugar was through the floor. You haven't been eating properly - or enough. Goddamnit, Spock. How in the hell are you claiming to be looking after me when you can't look after yourself?"
Spock's face crumples in a very vulnerable motion, and Chris feels like a bastard. "I..."
"Ssh, I didn't mean it like that," Chris soothes, stroking that dark hair again. "It'll be alright. We'll go home soon and I'm going to keep a damn close eye on what you eat, you understand me? You scared me half to death."
Spock closes his eyes, and squeezes his hand back.
Maybe they'll make it.
Spock is released after two days, and Chris is given a diet sheet for him. Despite the cane, Chris feels more steady on his feet than Spock looks, and he ushers him to bed the moment they return to the apartment. For once, it is Chris' turn to wait on Spock, and he does it with gusto born of panic and fear.
When he creeps into bed, Spock curls around him like a trap, burying his face in Chris' chest and going very still.
"It's alright," Chris murmurs, stroking his fingers through his hair.
The dam breaks.
The grief, the anger at Nero, the anger even at Chris, the frustration and impotence Spock felt then and feels now, the overwhelming pain, the shaking in his psyche that has been riding out the shockwave that was the death of over eight billion Vulcans...it rushes out, in a torrent of incoherent words, mixed Standard and Vulcan, and a wash of emotions and mental trauma, sweeping into Chris' mind like a tsunami and trying to drown them both.
But Chris holds on, clings tightly to this man that is dangerously vulnerable and yet magnificently strong, and talks over the pain, soothing with human nonsense and comforts and things that even he doesn't believe in, but somehow help.
Eventually, they sleep.
Neither of them dream.
The next couple of days are quiet and morose. Spock is busy, it seems, processing that break, and Chris is busy trying to pull him through. He forces food down him, but largely lets him sleep and meditate, and remains in close physical contact most of the time. He knows nothing about Vulcans, despite a long association with this man, and has no idea how to help.
He has to trust Spock - and trusting Spock with his own welfare is a terrifying leap of faith.
But there is more talk about Chris returning to Starfleet, to that waiting desk job, and he really isn't comfortable doing that until he knows Spock is going to be alright.
Chris walks home - a mile - from his last physiotherapy session. He feels on top of the world - capable, healthy, recovered, and - for the first time in a long while - like his life wasn't destroyed on that Romulan ship. He takes the stairs up to the apartment, catches his breath at the door, and strides in to find Spock beginning lunch.
"Come here," he says, walking right up to him, confident and sure of himself and the man who captained a goddamn flagship for years. He knows what he's doing.
And he does - when Spock turns, he catches that mouth in his, pressing up into Spock's lean body, catching head and shoulders in his hands and gripping hard enough to wake them both up. The kiss is deep and powerful and passion, for the first time in nearly two years, stirs in his blood like something being woken from a long sleep.
When he grinds his hips into Spock's, a Vulcan hand reaches around to turn the oven off.
"Bedroom," Chris says, skimming his hands down that lean stomach before returning to the kissing that is trying to devour his soul.
He gets an agreement: Spock pushes off from the counter, but does not break contact.
They're going to be alright.