Notes: This didn't want to happen. But I made it. And now I'm going to crash. Cheers, guys.
Jim didn't sleep. He lay silent and brooding, obsessed with his thoughts, churning around in the middle of his skull like tempests in that proverbial teacup - and depressed that their volume didn't wake Spock, the way even a tendril of coherency would have done before - until dawn began to inch through the windows, and he faintly heard movement in the rest of the house, and then he felt movement as Spock stirred under his arm.
"Hey," Jim said into the back of his head.
Jim left him where he was: sometimes, it was easier to talk without having to look people in the face. And frankly, over the years, he'd gotten used to the back of Spock's head. It was always easier to talk about the big things to the back of people's heads. At least that never changed. "I'm not sorry about last night."
"I'm not," Jim repeated flatly.
"Then why bring it up?"
Jim snorted and said, "Elephant in the room is gone now. But I'm not going to say that I'm sorry, because I'm not. We should have talked it out rationally, but I won't take back anything I said."
"I'm not going to let you do that. You don't get to just slip away. I don't care how long it takes, or how much things have to change, but you and me? We're getting through this," and though his words were angry, his tone was flat. He spoke matter-of-factly, and to hell with Spock's opinion on the matter. Jim Kirk had decided, and so it would be done.
"With your career, and my lack of one..."
"We'll get through it," Jim gritted out. "You'll get through this...this impairment, and I'll get through all the distance, and then I'll be back and you'll be better and we'll get through it. And if I have to drag you kicking and fucking screaming, then I will."
Spock said nothing, and his muscles bunched under Jim's hands.
"I nearly lost you," Jim said. "Hell, I did lose you. And I'm not going to voluntarily just give you up, even to yourself. I'm hanging on this time, and if you don't like it, then fucking tough."
"It is nonsensical to 'hang on' to a relationship and a partner who..."
"Don't you fucking dare finish that sentence."
Spock fell mercifully silent.
"I'm not giving up on you," Jim breathed. "Not this time."
"Not even if I have?" Spock asked quietly, and Jim's hold tightened minutely.
"No," Jim said eventually. "Not even then."
The last three weeks were more or less silent. Snowed under with last-minute paperwork, Jim barely got to really discuss anything at all with McCoy or Spock, and though he would watch the physical therapy in the afternoons, it was with a tired eye and to silent participants.
And yet it was obvious that the doctor and the Vulcan had talked in Jim's absence. Something had shifted between them; McCoy made no effort whatsoever to goad Spock into reaction, response, rebuttal, recovery. He did his job and that was all - otherwise, he left Spock alone. He was the epitome of professionalism in a way that he had never, ever been with Spock, even in the most dire of situations.
Spock said nothing now, and if Jim lay awake at night, he knew that Spock was doing the same. But they didn't speak.
"I'm scared to leave him like this," Jim confessed one morning, early, before Spock rose.
"Leave him to me," McCoy said, far too casually.
"What are you going to do?"
"Push him into prosthetics," McCoy replied easily. "His telepathy's more or less stabilised now - you notice how he's getting used to using his hand again? He's starting to shield properly again as well, so I'm hopeful he can keep that up. I'll poke him enough to keep it going anyway."
Jim didn't smile. "You think he could be mobile?"
"Yes. Whether he will be is entirely different. But he could be. Still, I'm going to start him with the arm. He needs two hands more than he does legs - and in any case, he's going to need further surgery on the left leg."
"Calm down. Just...well, a trim, I suppose. It was a clumsy amputation, I admit it. As it is, it'll be too uncomfortable with a prosthetic. I'll have to refine that at some point. But not yet - I can't risk putting him in a healing trance right now."
"Bad idea for depressed Vulcans," came the pessimistic response, and Jim winced.
"I heard...look, I don't know where I heard it, but...I heard somewhere..."
"Spit it out, Jim, I haven't got all week."
"Can Vulcans will themselves to die?"
McCoy didn't look remotely surprised. "Yes."
"Fuck," Jim breathed heavily. "Oh God. Shit, Bones, what the hell am I doing, going back to...!"
"The right thing. Don't worry about that. I got it covered."
"Needs a certain amount of mental concentration - and it drops the heartbeat. I can monitor a heartbeat," McCoy shrugged. "And if he even tries it, I'll have him stoned stupid in under ten seconds. We don't have to worry about that one, Jim."
Jim didn't look wholly convinced.
"Jim. Go. Trust me."
"You've talked this over with him."
"We came to an agreement, yes."
"And?" Jim pressed.
McCoy gave him an enigmatic smile - the one he'd learned to fear from years of rooming with him - and said: "And...go back to space. I've got him. We'll get somewhere, even if it's not quite where we want to go."
The morning of Jim's departure dawned wet and miserable, raining like an Indian monsoon, and it matched Jim's mood perfectly. Spock was silent as Jim gathered his meagre belongings, seated in the wheelchair in the living room like a dying sentinel too stubborn to leave his watch, and Jim could feel his heart freezing in his chest just watching him.
"Hey," he dropped to his knees in front of the chair. "Promise me something?"
Spock cocked his head.
"I'm going to write to you, every week, without fail. You don't have to answer me, but promise me you'll read them?"
"Please look after yourself," Jim breathed.
He didn't care what he sounded like, or what he looked like, or even that there was a lump in his throat that scratched at his strength like a permanent irritant. He didn't care that he was begging for something futile, or that this would be the last time that he would see Spock for months, perhaps even years, or that this, despite all the assurances of McCoy and Pike, could very well be the end of their relationship.
Spock said nothing, and Jim closed his eyes.
"I have to go," he croaked, then rose up to clasp his hands around the back of Spock's neck and draw him into a kiss.
How he forgotten this? How could he have forgotten the kisses - the slot-click-placement of lips where they fit just right, the perfect comfort in kissing when there was nobody to impress and nothing to live up to, the way everything seemed to right itself just for those brief seconds, when he could pretend that everything was the way it had always been, and that it would always be the same.
How could he have forgotten?
And how could he miss the moment, however brief, when Spock kissed him in return?
"To run, it takes the courage of a lamb; to love, the fierceness of a storm." - Carbon Leaf, Paloma.
END PART THREE