Why Vulcans don't dream
A/N: This is the longest Star Trek I've ever written
I don't have much to say except that reviews are love, so pretty please? ^.^
Also, this is entirely un-beta'd (if that is even a word?) so any mistakes or inaccuracies are mine, and mine alone, and for these I apologise. Otherwise, enjoy! And review...
Spock felt his standard-issue boots thudding against compact, wet sand. There was a rushing in his ears but he couldn't say whether it was the angry grey sea or the protestations of his pounding heart.
Running faster and harder, the beach seeming to grow longer and longer the more desperate he became. The edges of his normally-perfect vision were becoming blurred, and what he could still see whirled around him, tormenting him with the knowledge of his own impotence.
Lying on the verge of the white-cresting waves Spock could see a humanoid figure. It was perfectly motionless, save the rippling of golden hair as the dirty waves rushed first forward then retreated, covering the familiar silhouette then regrouping for another assault on his person.
Suddenly Spock felt anger rising up inside of him. He had stopped running in a futile attempt to recover his breath, his legs weak beneath his panting, trembling form. He reached into his mind to quell the emotion before it could take hold and found that he could not. His thoughts were chaotic, all clamouring to steal his attentions and distract him from the task at hand. He found himself wondering if this was how it felt to be human.
A cloud of rage enveloped the Vulcan as he watched the cold, murky water wash back and forth. How dare it violate his friend so; tainting his very spirit with its icy filth? Spock was frightened by these unfamiliar feelings, but he had remembered the name of the figure in the sand, and the memory gave him a new strength of resolve.
He found he had no breath to speak, but in his mind he cried out, "Jim!" The unconscious form did not respond, and Spock felt confusion, though he knew that he had not spoken aloud. The other man, he knew instinctively, had heard him. He could not say how he knew or even why it was so, and this too disturbed him.
Setting out once more, Spock's measured strides took on the rhythm he employed when patrolling the corridors of the Enterprise. He found that this brought him closer to the motionless form, and he fought to suppress the urge to break into a run, remembering the futility of doing so.
His feet had stopped, and Spock did not know why until he looked down, and saw the captain's body immediately in front of him, so close that he could bend down and-
His hand reached out to touch the waxy skin and stopped mere millimetres away. Spock tried to force himself to touch the lifeless figure, painfully aware that he might already be too late to save him but knowing that he had to try. But he couldn't do it. Always something stopped him, like an invisible barrier around the still, pale form. With some difficulty he managed to hold his arms by his sides as he knelt in the surf, and just watched the sodden yellow cotton that clung to the captain's chest. His motionless chest.
An anguished cry rent the air and it was a moment before Spock understood that it had come from him. His eyes flashed wildly, irrational panic overcoming the last remaining shreds of logic he had managed to cling on to. He shook the lifeless form desperately, murmuring his name like a prayer, over and over.
"Jim, Jim, Jim," he whispered, throat hoarse from the sobs that tore from him in hysterical bursts. "Please, Jim, no," he begged, collapsing down beside his unhearing, unseeing captain – and friend. Something in the recesses of Spock's mind told him that it was pointless to lament so, but he could not heed its words for the terror that grasped at his stuttering heart with icy claws.
The captain tossed and turned in his bunk, unable to sleep for a pervasive feeling of urgency that he could not explain. He pulled his pillows over his head and scrunched up his closed eyes as if it would somehow help him to rest. "Damn it," he muttered irritably, and swung his unclothed legs over the edge of the bunk, resigned to another sleepless night.
Then he heard it; a heart-wrenching cry that turned his bones to rubber and seemed to suck the very air from his stilled lungs. It was a single word, a name, called out in despair and desperation. It was his name.
And Kirk knew the voice that called it, if he stripped away the almost consuming terror in its tone. "Spock!" he yelled as he ran from his cabin. He spared no thought for his state of near-undress as he skidded up to the door of Spock's cabin. Thumping the access panel impatiently he squeezed into the darkened room as soon as the door cracked open.
He paused a moment to allow his eyes to adjust to the absence of light compared with the stark, white light that illuminated the ship's corridors. In the corner across the other side of the room was the bunk, as in his own room. On the bunk there was a bundle of black sheets, that seemed to be trying to wrestle with itself. From within the confusion of fabric Kirk could hear a quiet sobbing that made his heart bleed affection.
Crossing to Spock's side in quick strides Kirk pulled back the sheets to reveal the compact form of his first officer, curled into a defensive foetal position though his legs lashed out and his hands were balled into fists. "Spock," hissed the captain through the darkness, to no response.
He shook Spock's unconscious form, gently at first but with increased urgency as the Vulcan did not awake. He paused in his efforts a moment to think, fear clouding his thoughts and making it difficult for him to reason effectively. He was making progress in ordering his thoughts until Spock spoke, a whimpered plea that tore at his soul.
"Jim," Spock breathed, and fresh tears spilled from beneath closed eyelids. Kirk sat on the edge of the cot and raised the sleeping Vulcan into a sitting position, supporting his full weight in his arms. Spock seemed to take some comfort from his proximity, burying his face deep into the crook of Kirk's neck and pressing their bodies together as if unconsciously seeking reassurance of his presence.
The captain stroked a trembling hand through Spock's tousled ebony hair, soothing him with hushing sounds as one might a very young child. He clutched the vulnerable form close to him, terrified of whatever it was that had broken through the normally-impenetrable Vulcan shields.
In the darkness he had no way of measuring how long they sat there, unmoving, but for Kirk it didn't matter. Time lost all significance. The only thing that mattered was Spock. He was afraid, hurting, and the captain felt responsible. The knowledge that it was an irrational response to the situation did nothing to comfort him.
Spock barely noticed that he was able to touch the captain now. He just curled against him and clung on tightly, like an infant to its mother. He knew that it was not Vulcan to behave so, but in the spiral of his despair he cared for nothing but bitter tears and remorse.
He opened his tear-sore eyes and realized that the scene had changed; they were in his cabin back on the ship. The captain was sitting upright, motionless, but Spock could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He found himself in his captain's arms, the warmth from the other body comforting. He knew it was improper of him to cling unceremoniously to a senior officer in this way but the Vulcan could not find it in himself, amidst the all-encompassing sense of sheer relief, to retreat from the necessary embrace.
Kirk felt Spock's body stiffen in his arms and immediately panic fluttered in his breast. He felt a rush of air past his neck and shivered, feeling Vulcan tears crawling in soft lines down his hot skin and tickle his collarbone before dripping silently from his body. "Spock?" he whispered cautiously, and the Vulcan turned his head to face Kirk for the first time.
He heard the captain utter his name and looked into those liquid gold eyes in wonder. "Captain," he murmured. Now that Kirk was conscious Spock was painfully aware of his shameful display of emotions earlier on, and he was nervous about how the captain would react.
Spock said his name almost reverently, and Kirk's shoulders sagged in relief. He was alright! Spock's eyes, now wide, gazed deep into his own as if memorizing every minute detail. He was struck by how vulnerable Spock looked, curled up defensively and clothed only in a pair of black silk pyjama trousers, and he was overcome by the urge to protect his innocent, earnest Vulcan from anything that made him hurt like this. Kirk gathered Spock up in his arms once more and squeezed him, hard. "Spock," he breathed happily.
Spock was pulled into the crushing embrace, all the air whooshing from his lungs. He thought that this felt different, somehow, to before. On the beach, he had touched but not felt, whereas here...
"Captain?" asked Spock tentatively. Kirk released his hold and looked abashed. He tried to slide back and allow the Vulcan some space, knowing his customary dislike for close proximity, but a hand on his arm stopped him in his tracks. "Do you recall... a beach?" Spock's voice sounded drained and that worried the captain.
"Spock, it's okay," he soothed gently, not understanding Spock's seemingly unrelated query.
"A beach, captain," pressed Spock.
"No, Spock. No beach. You just had a bad dream, that's all."
"A... dream, captain?"
"Vulcans do not dream, captain."
Kirk paused and realised that he was stroking one hand along Spock's forearm. He pulled his hand back, embarrassed. "Sorry," he murmured. Spock furrowed his brow, confused. The tenuous grasp he had had on the situation had slipped away the moment Kirk had removed his hand. The Vulcan suspected that he knew why, though the idea frightened him immeasurably.
"There was a beach," Spock began, his voice little more than a whisper, "And I was running. I did not understand why, only that it was imperative I reach a place further down the beach. I saw a body, at the edge of the water," he paused, swallowing. Kirk noticed that he had begun shaking again. "Shhh," he comforted, feeling useless but not knowing what else to do.
The captain felt that he was on more familiar ground now; he himself often suffered dreams featuring the dead, especially following events in which he had failed to save the lives of his crew – or worse, innocent people who happened to be caught in the crossfire between the Federation and whoever they were fighting at the time. Their agonized faces tormented his nights regularly, so he thought he could understand Spock's turmoil. "I knew who it was," Spock was saying, "but I couldn't remember who they were. Then it came to me..."
The Vulcan stopped, breathing laboured and eyes squeezed shut. Kirk was worried about him, having never seen him even nearly so emotional before. "Who was it, Spock?" he asked gently, hoping that talking about the dream would relieve some of his pain.
"It was you, captain," Spock whispered hoarsely, and Kirk froze. He felt his heart breaking even as they sat there in the silence. He had done this to Spock – to his friend. It was he who had opened the Vulcan up to his emotions and now it was Spock who was suffering the consequences of his own selfish desire for the friendship of the one person on board that he had ever been denied.
"I'm so, so sorry," Kirk said softly. He felt the guilt swelling inside of him and rose unsteadily to his feet. Spock looked at him in surprise. "Captain? If I have said something wrong..." The look on his friend's face almost tipped Kirk over the edge. "Don't you dare blame yourself for this Spock," he snapped bitterly, and the Vulcan recoiled slightly, only adding the captain's self-loathing. "The last thing you need right now is me," he muttered, "Adding to the damage I've already done."
He turned his back on Spock's hurt expression, but he couldn't block out the words that followed.
"Captain..." Kirk steeled himself against responding. He had done enough.
"Captain, I know that you blame yourself for... whatever happened tonight, but I do not understand why. It is perfectly simple: I succumbed to my human side in sleep and experienced a dream – my first since childhood. I allowed the experience to unsettle me. I awoke to find that in failing the teachings of my Vulcan ancestors, I had also disturbed you from your much-needed rest, for which I apologise."
"But, Spock," Kirk wept internally at the Vulcan's self-deprecating words. They made him angry. He wished that Spock could see himself as others saw him, as he saw him. "I did this to you; I forced you to feel for my own amusement, never stopping to consider what my little project was doing to you..." He snuffled, trying to hide the tears that swelled at the brims of his blue eyes.
"You did not make me feel, captain," replied Spock gently. He was stunned; he had had no idea of the depths of Kirk's feelings on the matter. For Spock the idea of so much emotion was terrifying, and he could only imagine how much it cost the captain to remain as composed as he was. "Even Vulcans have emotions. Our emotions are actually much more powerful than those of other species, which is why we must suppress them. Our feelings were almost the end of our race in the past, before we learned to control ourselves. You did not make me feel," he repeated deliberately, "You simply... unleashed the emotions I had locked away."
"What emotions, Spock?" asked Kirk, mesmerised by Spock's rough voice and honoured by the depth of his trust. He didn't know why he asked more of the Vulcan after all he had already confided, but it felt right, and James Kirk always trusted his instincts.
Spock was silent and for a moment Kirk wondered if he was asking too much, but then he spoke. He sounded so afraid of judgement for this thing he was unused to sharing, Kirk thought. "I do not have names for them, captain." Kirk gave him an encouraging nod, and he continued.
"I feel like there is a storm raging inside of me, destroying order and logic and forcing me to behave unacceptably."
"Anger, Spock," Kirk explained, watching the Vulcan file away this new information carefully before moving on.
"I feel myself faltering, and I find that I cannot be the person I know that I must, that I should. It is a selfish feeling," he added, "because I fail only when I do not wish to endure the consequences of my actions myself."
"Fear," Kirk identified easily.
"I feel like a part of myself is missing-"
"Loneliness, longing," Kirk interrupted. He did not need to hear more to recognise his own constant state. Spock raised one eyebrow but refrained from comment.
There was a long pause, and then: "Spock?"
"Apologies, captain. I cannot find sufficient words to describe the final sensation that plagues me. However, you have been most helpful in identifying all of the others for me – thank you." Kirk nodded in acknowledgement, but Spock could sense there was something else on his mind.
His patience paid off when he heard the captain murmur, as if to himself, "You called me Jim." Spock held his breath, feeling like a player in one of the old Terran plays the captain was so fond of. 'Shall I hear more?' he thought breathlessly. 'Oh, speak again bright angel!' Spock stopped himself sharply. He knew it was only a quote, but the fact that he had thought it at all disturbed him greatly.
"Not "Captain", "Jim"," he reiterated. Kirk looked down to where Spock still sat on his bunk and risked a smile. "What are you thinking, Spock?" he asked softly. His human intuition cut right through the Vulcan's defences and diversions to the heart of the matter. Spock experienced a moment of mild irritation at this, then realised that he could not remain faithful to his personal principle of always being truthful and maintain his valued friendship with the captain. The irritation was replaced by recklessness brought on by panic, and he breathed, "Death, that hath suck'd the honey of thy breath, hath had no power yet upon thy beauty..."
"Shakespeare," Kirk smiled. He didn't know how else to respond. His beauty? But there was something more worrying about Spock's answer. "It was only a dream, Spock," he reminded the Vulcan gently, sitting beside him on the bunk. "It's alright, I'm alright," he said softly, placing a tentative hand on his friend's shoulder. "No death," he added in a whisper. Spock met his eyes and Kirk was alarmed by the tumult of conflicting emotions he saw there. Part of him wished that the Vulcan would return to his safe, normal, reserved self, but it was a very small part.
"I know, captain," Spock replied. "And yet, I cannot forget the sight of you lying dead at my feet, like a wax model..." He could feel his control slipping and took a deep breath to restore his composure before going on. "I could not reach you at first, then when I was close enough to save you my hands would not touch your skin. I tried to help you, I fought my own body to try to reach you, but I was too late," he whispered with a small gasp. "Too late. When I realised that I had failed you, only then could I touch you," he murmured, staring without seeing into the captain's concerned face. "You were cold, hollow. I felt anger at those who did this to you, and fear that I could not save you, and I felt alone. So alone. You were there, but I could not reach you. I called to you, and you heard, I felt you hear me..."
Kirk, looking on in dismay, saw Spock breathe more rapidly and gasp for breath as he began to panic. "Spock!" he cried out, "Spock, can you hear me? It's me, it's Jim, I'm fine, everything's fine, oh, God, stop this Spock," he moaned. The Vulcan was suffering a panic attack, that much was clear, but he had no idea how to snap him out of it. He grabbed Spock's hand and placed it in his own, grasping tightly. "Can you feel me now, Spock?" he asked urgently, "Alive, warm, you can feel my pulse," he wrapped the Vulcan's fingers around his wrist. Spock's grasp almost crushed his arm as he held him, as if anchoring himself to reality by that single touch.
"Captain?" Spock whimpered. Kirk choked back a sob. He hated to see Spock like this, more than anything. He held his free hand to Spock's cheek. "I'm here, Spock," he hiccupped quietly. "I'll always be here."
He ran his thumb over Spock's pronounced cheekbone, eliciting a tiny shiver from his friend. Kirk assumed that this was a good sign, that he was getting through to Spock, and repeated his action. His hand felt its way up the Vulcan's face, inspecting every line and angle. It felt odd to be so close to the reticent first officer, but not uncomfortable, Kirk realised.
The captain laced his fingers into Spock's hair, its silky quality reminding him inexplicably of the black trousers he knew the Vulcan wore. He ran his short nails down the back of his head, acting in response to some almost primal instinct inside of him.
Spock had broken free of his memories and now sat quite still, simply feeling Kirk exploring his face and hair. He took solace in the reassuring contact that reminded him of the captain's continued safety, which was unusual for him. He was unsettled by how natural Kirk's touch felt, when he normally shied from direct contact. The emotional transference from skin-on-skin contact was powerful at the best of times, and Spock's shields were still down from his traumatic experience earlier that night.
But there was no rush of emotion, no invasive feelings for Spock to guard against; only a warm glow of affection, and tremendous relief. He allowed these feelings into his mind, surprisingly comfortable with the mental contact.
Kirk pulled Spock's head down until it was level with his own. He didn't let himself think, just acted on impulse. He knew if he stopped to consider what he was doing, taking advantage of his friend while he was so vulnerable... 'Damn,' he thought, pulling away slightly. "Spock, once again this evening I find that I owe you an apology," he sighed. The Vulcan was uncertain what Kirk thought he had done wrong, and awaited to find out. "I'm taking advantage of your... condition," he added, when Spock didn't respond.
Then Spock spoke up: "Captain, you are aware that I am a touch-telepath?" Kirk nodded, shock written across his face as he hastily withdrew his hands to his lap. How could he have forgotten?
"My God, Spock, your shields, I wasn't thinking," he murmured, immediately realising what this meant. "I'm so sorry," he repeated, pleading forgiveness with his eyes.
"What you may not have known is that my telepathy is built upon my ability to read emotional output," Spock continued carefully. "As you rightly assume, my shields have been down since I awoke. As such, I have been able to receive your thoughts and feelings through your touches." He paused, gauging Kirk's response to the news. "That is why I know that you meant me no harm by your actions – nor did you cause me any," he added quickly as the expression on Kirk's face changed. The captain's relief was palpable.
"But I might have done," he stated flatly. Spock nodded.
"But you did not," he said quietly. "And I do not believe that you would have done," he added. "I have seen your mind, captain, and so I know that no malice resides there. You would not have hurt me."
He sounded so certain. It warmed the captain's heart to hear his words, but something still bothered him. "But I have hurt you, Spock," he insisted. "You dreamed about me getting hurt, and that hurt you. I made you care about me," he said, and somehow saying it made him realise that it was true. Spock did care about him. "I cannot promise you that your dream will never come true, Spock," he warned gently. "This is how I have hurt you, and continue to hurt you so long as you continue to care about me."
"That, surely, is something I must consider for myself, captain. I am willing to accept the consequences of our friendship," the Vulcan replied instantly. "If you are in danger, I will rescue you. If I cannot..." He looked darkly at Kirk. "If I cannot then it will not matter to me for long," he concluded simply.
Kirk heard his words in disbelief. He had seen the depth of emotion in Spock's eyes when he had thought him dead... How could he say it would not affect him? "You would get over my death?" he asked coldly, hurt by Spock's response. The Vulcan looked aghast. "You misunderstand me, captain," the Vulcan explained quickly. Kirk felt understanding dawning and a terrible suspicion gnawed at his stomach. "I would not survive your death, I think," Spock said. He said it so casually, as if discussing the time of day or the type of cloud in the sky.
"You- what?" Kirk almost yelled, causing his friend to flinch away slightly as if in shame. The captain realised then that it was not like shame; Spock had grown up hiding his human side, ridiculed for his emotions, and now, when he had finally managed to speak out, his friend had shouted in his face. Spock could see dismay in his expression, his posture and voice. "You care about me that much?" he asked suddenly, looking into the Vulcan's eyes with fire in his gaze. Spock simply nodded.
"What is the word to describe a feeling akin to anger, only happier?" asked Spock into the stunned silence that followed. Kirk knew the answer to this one.
"It's called love, Spock," he whispered.
Spock nodded as if processing a piece of data, then looked seriously at the captain. "That is the fourth feeling; the one for which there are no words," he murmured softly.
Their faces had drawn closer as they spoke, so that their hot breaths intermingled in the space between them. Neither said anything, just sat there a moment. Spock saw desire in Kirk's eyes, and the captain saw trust shining back out at him. Pure, undiluted trust. Kirk felt his heart swell with pride to think that he had earned this honour. "I love you," he breathed, nervous in spite of himself.
Then Spock's hand was on his face, and as the world melted away he felt a single, unfamiliar word in response. "T'hy'la," hummed Spock's mind as it enveloped Kirk's in warmth and affection. "My friend, my brother," he replied to the unspoken query. Kirk thought he could sense that Spock was holding something back. He stroked the beautiful Vulcan mind with his thoughts, tenderly caressing his Spock. The Vulcan shuddered in pleasure and gasped, "...my lover."
Kirk's mind exulted joyously, his euphoria infecting Spock and turning his thoughts to pure, unadulterated pleasure. "I love you too, Jim," Spock purred.
Amid the chaos of exploration and discovery, a single, human, thought rang out: "You called me Jim."
"Yes, my t'hy'la."