Title: Touching and Touched.
Warning: Death is discussed.
Summary: Uhura has almost died and there are consequences for Spock.
A/N: I was interested exploring love and touch in the context of vulnerability rather than passion. What can I say… sometimes I'm an angst puppy.
This story is set about a week after the events in "What the Doctor Knows". Reading that may make this story clearer. For those who don't want the extra reading, briefly: some time into the first five-year mission of the Enterprise, after the 2009 movie, Spock was Acting Captain in Kirk's absence. In the course of her duties Uhura was severely injured, actually dying, before being revived.
The translations of words marked with a * are at the end. Words in italics are thoughts.
Last, but never least, all praise to my beta reader, SpockLikesCats; may she never retire!
When Nyota wakes Spock is there, silently watching her. He looks exhausted.
She lifts her hand to touch his arm. "Hey, what are you doing here? Aren't you supposed to be First Officer-ing or sleeping or something?" Her voice is still rough and whispery.
His head tilts a fraction to the right and he blinks slowly.
"Sleeping ... this is my rest period."
They are lightly joined by the ka'k K'ha* which Nyota thinks of as a "training bond". Now she feels his exhaustion shimmer in her mind like a mirage. This heightens her concern; normally Spock would shield her.
"Then you need to sleep. I'm not going anywhere. Go and get your rest." Nyota smiles carefully; even now with the stitches removed, her lip feels strange.
Spock replies hesitantly.
"I find I am reluctant to leave your bedside. I have been consistently unable to achieve a restful state of sleep or meditate."
"You've been really busy." Again she smiles softly, reaching up to stroke his face. "But the captain's done saving the planet and is back on board, isn't he?"
"Well then. You're no longer on 24-hour call, so surely now you can get some real sleep?"
Spock turns his head slightly, pressing his lips to her palm.
"My inability to sleep is not due to constant interruption. I am experiencing a compelling illogical need to be physically close to you. Even though I can sense you through our ka'k K'ha, being away from you causes my heart rate to elevate; my breathing becomes restricted, and I experience an intense, irrational concern that a negative event will occur in my absence." Spock's eyes meet hers and his bewilderment is clear.
Nyota takes his hand in hers and squeezes it. "You're anxious, ashayam*." His eyes close briefly at the endearment.
"I had reached the same conclusion. To dwell on what is past and irrevocable, or what may happen in the future, is unproductive and illogical, un-Vulcan ... and yet …" his voice trials away.
As Nyota watches him, she recognises the signs of what she calls a landslide. Nyota's learned over the past year that emotional "jolts" sometimes loosen Spock's tightly held memories, causing some to "slip". They lie as raw and exposed as an open wound until processed and integrated.
Spock sits, his head bent, edging closer to the crux of the matter. Nyota waits and she aches to hold him.
"I felt you die."
Nyota struggles to hold her emotions steady. The telepathic bond is a double-edged sword, beautiful and yet appalling. She believes there are some things no one should have to experience.
"When our bond broke," Spock looks up, his gaze caressing Nyota's face, "I collapsed, physically and mentally. I realised … then … that you are the scaffolding that has supported me since … T'Khasi Riyeht Pusau*."
At this moment Nyota's heart hurts with the biting intensity of her love. "Beautiful" and "fragile" are words no one else would use concerning Spock. She alone knows of his fragility, and his amazing resilience. If she is his scaffolding while he rebuilds and recuperates then she can only be proud.
She lies still, listening, mentally braced; she knows Spock isn't finished.
He continues softly. "Ko-mekh* did not die immediately … she fell in terror for seconds." His face is frozen but his eyes show how the weight of those seconds have haunted and crushed him. "We felt her dying, Sa-mekh* and I, as we stood safe on the transporter pad … I did nothing." His pain is vivid in his eyes. "Sa'mekh reached out," Spock reaches out with his left hand, slowly curling his fingers protectively shut as if tenderly cupping something delicate in his palm, "He strove to block her pain and ease her in those final moments … as she was crushed by falling rock. I only extended my hand to her as she fell …"
Oh my ashal-veh*, how much pain can one person hold? Nyota wonders. Her tears flow freely and she makes no attempt to stop them.
Spock lifts his eyes to hers.
"Seven days, six hours and thirty-two minutes ago, I felt you die … and again I did nothing."
"Saving the ship is not 'nothing'."
"I knew your need, I felt your falling, I offered no …."
She talks right over him. "You needed all your resources to do what you were doing. What gain if you saved me, so we could both die when the ship was destroyed?"
"The needs of the many…" Spock speaks so low Nyota can hardly hear him.
"There was no logical option; you had to save the ship first. The man I love would do no less. I was cared for and you came as soon as you could and you did save me. So, you also answered the need of the one." Nyota's voice is vehement.
Silently, Spock sits for several seconds, gazing at her, then nods once before continuing.
"Now, when I sleep … I feel you die … as I feel the death of Ko-mekh."
His numbing exhaustion is palpable. Nyota senses the emotional burden pressing against Spock's discipline. Nyota fears the consequences if there is an avalanche. And Spock is in no condition to grapple with these intense emotions. He needs to sleep, then meditate.
"You need sleep".
Spock doesn't move as he replies, "affirmative". His voice is lifeless and flat.
Nyota knows Spock's unique physiology works against him, causing him to react badly to sleeping drugs, both Vulcan and human; he sleeps but experiences vivid, surreal dreams, but what option is there?
"Perhaps Dr McCoy could assist?"
"A drug-induced sleep would be of little benefit. I would be trapped in my dreams, unable to wake … alone."
Nyota lightly strokes the back of Spock's hand with her thumb, considering. Her expression softens as she asks, "Do you think we can both sleep on this bio bed?"
The expression on Spock's face is a complex mix of surprise, gratitude and exhaustion.
He surveys the biobed and Nyota can almost see him weighing the possibilities.
"I do not want to cause you discomfort."
"Having you close won't cause me discomfort, ashayam*. I want you beside me … where you belong." Uttering the words, Nyota knows they are suddenly so true that hot tears prickle her eyes.
Spock stands, walks around the bed and raises the padded safety rail. Slipping his hands behind her, he gently moves Nyota until she just touches the rail. He gets a spare pillow, rounds Nyota's bed, and carefully lies down on his side, propped up on one elbow. He looks at her questioningly.
"I'm fine," says Nyota and she means it.
"Come here," she commands. Tentatively Spock moves closer. Leaning slightly over her he traces the tracks of her tears with his fingertips.
"I regret that I caused you sorrow."
Nyota runs her hand over his chest, gripping the neckline of his shirt, pulling him toward her. Their lips brush lightly once, twice, and then linger as Spock runs his hand tenderly over Nyota's torso. The kiss deepens into a soft exploration. Nyota's hand wanders over Spock's shoulders then softly strokes the fine hairs at the nape of his neck. Spock's hand ghosts over her face to settle on her meld points. The kiss morphs into a communion; the ka'k K'ha blooms and pain, terror, loss, hope, joy and love flow back and forth between them until the edges of self blur and they are simply "us".
Eventually arousal begins to hum in the background of their minds.
"Another time," says Nyota regretfully and feels the startling rush of Spock's relief that there will be "another time". Unwilling to part they continue caressing, rubbing, nuzzling and kissing … cheek, chin and nose, but always returning to lips.
Spock's lips brush across Nyota's forehead, then he presses his forehead to hers. She has learned why this action is so intimate in his society. Despite his exhaustion the ka'k K'ha sparkles between them, pure and effervescent.
When they finally part, Nyota sighs, "I've missed you."
"I have missed you more," Spock replies softly, his eyes sparking with a very slight hint of humor. He remembers the childish game Nyota told him about at the Academy ... it seems an eternity ago. Nyota presses her lips together and nods, determined not to cry again.
"Get some sleep," she orders. Spock lies down, still on his side; they jostle gently, seeking the best position.
They finally settle, facing, interwoven as possible, on the narrow bed. He seems just about to succumb to sleep when he startles awake, heart pounding; she joins their hands, aligning their fingers so he can feel she is there, safe beside him. Eventually Nyota feels Spock slowly relax and begin to drift. She whispers, "Dr McCoy will be most displeased if he sees us," and feels Spock's slight mental smile as he sinks into a profound sleep.
When Doctor McCoy checks the central monitor he notices a change in Lieutenant Uhura's readings. She's healing to his satisfaction … but something's changed.
He goes to check and finds her, asleep with Spock, on the bio-bed. Spock lies slightly curled on his right side, his left leg over her undamaged right one, his arm draped protectively over her. By her hip, his left hand holds hers, their fingers intertwined. In sleep his face is drawn and … young.
Pressed close to Spock, Uhura nestles her face against his chest. The movement reminds McCoy of Joanna when she was a baby, settling with infant satisfaction into her favourite blanket. Spock's arm tightens around Uhura.
Oh God damn it. McCoy roughly swipes the back of his hand over his eyes. That's the second time they've made him tear up. The doctor takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly to steady himself, then walks way.
k'ak'ka: train to instruct oneself or another in the actions/knowledge necessary to gain skill in some doing (Marketa); Kah-ka Bond, The: the bond; marriage choice made by one's parents and the link made with that choice. SpockLikesCats put these together to imply "the training bond," K'ak-Kah.. I'd figured a mental bond would take some getting used to and the Vulcan approach of having a less intense bond before marriage seems logical but I needed a name so thanks to SpockLikesCats!
T'KhasiRiyeht Pusau*: Meaning something like ... "Vulcan immorally put to death". I made this up. It seemed to me an event as appalling and momentous as the destruction of Vulcan would eventually be given a name, either officially or through common use. People need a way to name such events, for example, the Holocaust, so they can start to process them. I don't pretend to know anything about the Vulcan language that fanon has developed. I just took words from the VLD and combined them. T'Khasi : The Vulcans refer to their world as T'Khasi or Ti-Valka'ain;riyeht: immoral, wicked, pusau: to be killed, put to death. [from VLD, where else?]
Ashal-veh: cherished one
A/N: Many thanks to SpockkLikesCats for the lovely idea of baby Joanna nestling into her blanket.
As ever, I would love to hear what you think of this story. Did anything stand out for you?