This came about when narlade and I giggled over Amok Time, how it might work in reboot!land and the cracky goodness that is Pon Farr. I'm not sure how that chat became so serious, but it did, and this was born. I promised narlade I'd post it before I went away so here is part one of three. Some of the dialogue – mostly McCoy's – is lifted directly from the episode.
Just a heads up: while angst is my usual byword, this one is very dark in places. It's a good job I like happy endings, right? This is set in the same verse as all my longer stories but you don't have to have read them to follow.
All but the last few of Alpha shift rotation had left their posts for the day and Jim could no longer think of reasonable excuses to put off his task.
"Lieutenant Uhura, a moment?" Jim caught the way Uhura's eyes darted to one side in surprise as Jim called her out. She'd nearly made it off deck before he reached her side, forestalling any attempt to leave without him.
"Yes Captain?" That she met his eyes at all was a sign of her stubbornness, not a comfort at his presence.
Something had been off with her all week.
Correction: something had been up with her and Spock all week. Jim had proved Bones wrong by being mature and staying out of it – none of his business, after all – at least until Uhura had showed up to her shift that morning wearing a long sleeved under tunic beneath her uniform. Jim had noticed it straight away, but it wasn't until he'd spent the first two hours subtly observing her body language that he'd understood just what it meant. He'd spent the following six hours silently working himself in and out of various panics and hoped to god nothing of great importance had actually happened. If it had, someone had better have taken good notes.
Jim flashed her one of his easiest smiles. "Would you walk with me? I'd like to talk to you."
He knew that piqued her interest. It was rare for Jim to talk to her about anything of actual significance. She was one of his closest friends and most trusted officers, but even a year into their five year mission, they preferred to keep certain things to themselves. "Of course."
Jim led her into the lift and took them all the way down to the Observation Deck. It was one of Jim's favorite places on the ship, and at shift changeover, very rarely occupied. As soon as they were in, he put a lock on the door. It wasn't often that he abused that privilege, but he didn't want to be interrupted.
"Careful Kirk," Uhura said, sounding more like her usual self now they were away from prying eyes. "I might think you're trying to impress me."
"Nah," Jim laughed. "If I was I'd have brought chocolates." Her sweet tooth was a very poorly hidden secret thanks to Chekov, who had wanted to thank her for saving his ass with a delayed communiqué and had left the mother of all boxes of chocolates at her station for her. Uhura firmly denied her squeal of delight, but Jim had the security footage to prove it.
She rolled her eyes fondly and took a seat on one of the curved benches that offered panoramic views of the stars. "It's so peaceful."
"I know." Jim admitted. "It's one of my favorite places on the ship. I could spend hours here."
"You don't look out at the stars enough when you're on duty?"
"Never," Jim laughed. "I was born in the stars. I don't think I could ever get tired of them." He reached over and gently took her hand in his own before carefully pealing back the edges of her long sleeve. "I'm not going to insult your intelligence," he said softly, "but I am going to need you to tell me how you got these." He touched his finger gently to the bruised skin that encircled her wrist.
Uhura pulled her hand back and looked away. "It's nothing."
"That wasn't an invite to insult my intelligence." Jim said, his voice mild even as his heart pounded in his chest. There weren't a whole lot of ways for her to have picked up bruises like that and each one worried him more than the one before it.
Uhura's eyes flicked back to meet his. "I don't see how it is any of your business." Her defensive tone only made Jim more certain in his suspicions. If she'd gotten the bruises fooling around consensually, she might have been embarrassed, but not scared.
"It's not." Jim admitted. "But this is me, Uhura. Name anyone on this ship less likely to judge you than I am. You want to tell me you got them during kinky fun times, I'll happily share some stories; you tell me you got it sparring and I'll take you down to Bones for a wrap and we can run drills until you get the moves right." He made sure she was looking at him before he continued. "You tell me someone hurt you…" Her eyes dropped to the faded scar that was visible just above the neckline of his uniform.
"Jim, please." Her dark eyes were glassy but he knew better than to expect her to cry. Nyota Uhura was tough as nails.
She was also stubborn as hell. Sensing she wasn't going to make it easy for him, Jim took a steadying breath and asked the question he'd been circling around all day.
"Nyota," he used her first name to hammer home just how serious he was. Even though he'd known it for years now, he never used it. "Did Spock do this to you?"
The words felt funny just leaving his mouth. Jim knew better than most just how dangerous Spock could be when pushed too far, but he also knew his friend would sooner cut off his own hands than use them to inflict pain on his loved ones.
He knew Spock as well as he knew Bones…as well as he knew himself, really.
But… he had to ask. He had to. How many times had he been left covered with bruises left by someone's malice and no one had ever said a thing? He refused to be just another person who told themselves excuses for the sake of an easier life.
"It's not like that." Uhura said desperately, confirming Jim's fears. She grabbed his hands frantically, all but begging him to listen to her. "It's not, Jim, really. I don't know what it is, to be honest. He's just…" she flushed, color high on her cheeks. "Not gentle any more."
"What do you mean?" Jim pushed. God, the last thing he wanted to do was be prying into Spock's sex life, but needs must, he supposed.
She looked just as uncomfortable as Jim felt. "I don't think he even knew he was doing it." Uhura admitted. "He's always so careful."
"He's a lot stronger than you are." Jim said evenly.
She nodded. "Yes, but he's never hurt me. Not once. And he didn't mean to this time. I don't know if he's just suddenly gotten stronger, or if he's less in control of it… but really Jim, this isn't what it looks like."
The heavy weight at the bottom of Jim's stomach lifted. "Okay, but why have you guys been so snippy all week. Don't think I haven't noticed. Usually it's fun winding you up about it but-"
"He's being an asshole." Uhura said angrily. "Not, not that kind of asshole," she said in exasperation as Jim's expression twisted. "Just…he's not talking to me, he's channeling his bitchiest inner Vulcan. If he was a woman I'd swear he's having the worst case of PMS ever."
That…was a terrifying thought. Jim shuddered. "Right. Okay. I mean…can I do anything? Can I help? I can kick his ass for you if you like." Her eyebrow rose. "Okay, I can kick his ass verbally." It rose a fraction higher. "In chess." She was outright laughing at him now. He huffed, pleased, "Okay fine, I can annoy him until he stops bugging you and works out his inner angsty thirteen year old girl on me. I might even get him drunk so you can play loud music at him."
"Thanks, Jim." She laughed, squeezing his hand.
Jim grinned back. "Any time." He softened his smile. "You know you can talk to me, right? Always." It was important that she knew that. Spock might be his First Officer, his brother, but she was his friend as well.
"I know." She leaned over and kissed his cheek. "Ditto."
That did not mean Jim was about to back off. He was James Kirk. Backing off was not his style.
No, his style was more direct.
It was inviting Spock over to play a game of Go that night – because chess was something Jim took seriously and their ongoing battle was not something he wanted interrupted should Spock decide to throw the board at him.
It was pouring Spock his favorite tea – smelled icky, tasted icky.
And it was outright saying, "Okay, what's up with you?"
"Excuse me?" Spock's voice was evenly modulated and calm, but Jim swore he'd been fidgeting all night. Spock did not fidget. A fidgeting Spock was like a teetotal Bones: weird and a little terrifying.
"You." Jim said, studying the board with only half of his attention. "Your drama. What is it?"
Spock predictably gave him the eyebrow. "I'm not sure I follow."
"Of course you don't." Jim sighed dramatically. "Okay, let's start with the fact that you haven't drunk your tea."
"Perhaps I am not thirsty?" Spock countered.
"Hydration is important." Jim said. "And that shit is hard to come by: you never waste it."
"Are you basing some kind of psychological profile of me on my tea drinking habits, Captain?"
"And there's that." Jim pointed triumphantly. "You only call me Captain when we are off duty if you are being an evasive bastard."
"Are you purposely trying to anger me?" Spock glared at him.
"Is it working?"
"Good, that's point number three. It usually takes me a good hour before your eyebrow starts twitching at me."
"Perhaps you are simply improving with experience?" Spock said dryly. "is there a purpose to this discourse, or do you simply seek entertainment?"
"Of course there is a purpose." Jim rolled his eyes. "Believe it or not, I am trying to help."
"By angering me?"
"It's a working theory," Jim defended hastily. "Seriously Spock, I'm worried about you."
"Your concern is unnecessary." Spock said, his voice dropping to the same frostiness it had often done in the infancy of their relationship. "I am quite well."
"Are you really?" Jim asked earnestly. "Spock, talk to me."
"There is nothing to discuss." Spock said with ringing finality. Jim sighed. He had hoped they were beyond this all by now. Spock hadn't been so cold or uncooperative in years. "I am well."
Still, Jim was not without his weapons. "Okay. What about Uhura then?"
Spock's expression shifted to surprise. "What about Nyota?"
"You know why she was trying to cover up her arms today?" Jim pushed.
Spock looked troubled. "I had not noticed."
"Yeah, well I did." Jim countered. "Noticed the fuck off bruises as well."
"Bruises?" Spock said faintly, pulling his chair back and making to stand. Jim snatched out and grabbed his arm, gently stopping his retreat. Jim was under no illusion that he could actually stop Spock if he truly wanted to leave, but the gesture had always been enough in the past.
"Release my arm, Jim." Spock warned him in a low voice.
Jim ignored it, pushing on gently. "Not until you tell me what's wrong. Damnit, Spock, this isn't like you. You'd never hurt Uhura on purpose, I know that. But you have to admit something's not right with you. You're fidgety, you're moodier than Bones, who, by the way, tells me you haven't been eating at all and you know how he gets about things like that…"
Jim looked at him earnestly. Surely Spock understood that Jim was on his side, always? Hadn't they been through enough together?
"Please, Spock." He begged softly.
For a moment, he thought he might have gotten through to his friend, but it passed quickly. Spock's expression darkened. He pulled his arm away from Jim's grip.
When Jim reached for him again, he twisted it aside roughly.
The loud snap of bone shocked them both.
Jim stared at his arm in surprise because holy crap, was that bone? He had to blink a few times to right his fuzzy vision, his legs suddenly wobbly as a wave of nausea hit him from the side.
Spock jerked his hand back and stared at Jim in horror.
"Jim…" he choked on Jim's name then made to run.
"Oh no you don't." Jim said, proud of his ability to string the words together when all he really wanted to do was throw up. "No no, you're staying right here mister. This is totally counting as point three. Or four. I lost count. Holy shit that's disgusting."
He wobbled violently to one side and Spock quickly braced him, his hands as careful and gentle as always, though far more hesitant. "Jim forgive me… I…"
Jim waved him off with his good arm. "Fastest way to forgiveness right now is a Bones. Oh my god." He was still staring at his arm with morbid fascination and a hefty amount of shock. The pain hadn't really kicked in, but it looked like it should be agony.
"Of course." Spock said, trying to sit Jim back down, alternating between being flustered and horrified. He looked as sick as Jim felt. "Of course, I shall call him. Do you require water? A blanket perhaps?"
"I'm not cold, Spock. I'm, oh fuck me." Yep, there came the pain. Jim gagged on it and pulled his arm protectively against his chest.
He vaguely heard Spock call for Bones and spent the time between then and his arrival doing a level best not to start hyperventilating. Oh god it hurt.
Bones arrived with his usual bluster of annoyance and urgency. He took one look at Jim's arm and nailed Jim in the neck with a hypo. In an instant, the good drugs kicked in.
The good, dancing elephants and sparkly lights drugs. Jim both loved and hated them. "Holy shit," he breathed, "Bones, why can I see bones?" The sentence struck him as hysterically funny and he grinned up at the two worried faces staring down at him.
"Be quiet Jim," McCoy said gruffly. "How the hell did you manage this? Christ, I'm going to have to reset it. You understand what I'm telling you Jim? Of course you don't: you're away with the damn fairies. Spock, help me get him down to sickbay."
"Boooones." Jim whined, wobbly limbed as Spock carefully helped him out of his chair.
"Doctor, I do not think I should be-"
"Shut up, both of you." McCoy growled. "Jesus Christ Jim, how the hell do you get yourself into these messes? You're in your own damn quarters."
"Just clumsy I guess." Jim mused, still wildly fascinated by the way his ulnar bone had decided to just pop right out of place.
"Jim," Spock admonished, his voice choked. "Doctor, I inflicted the injury."
"You didn't mean to." Jim defended his friend. Spock could do guilty conscience like no one else.
"Regardless of intent, I have caused you harm." Sure enough, Spock's eyes were dark with self recrimination.
McCoy, surprisingly, did not blow his fuse. He eyed Spock sharply. "Okay, you're both coming with me. Jimmy, you don't even think about arguing or I'll put you out for the rest of the day. Spock, so help me if you run and make me come find you I'll have those ears of yours."
"I think we should do as we are told." Jim whispered loudly to Spock.
"I believe, Doctor, that I would be better placed in the brig."
"Oh bullshit. Shut up and come with me already." McCoy looped Jim's good arm over his shoulders and helped Jim out into the corridor.
"Bones?" Jim felt it only kind to give the doctor fair warning, "I think I might throw up on you."
"Wouldn't be the first time, kid," McCoy sighed, "wouldn't be the first time."
Jim woke up on his least favorite bio-bed just in time to see Spock storm out of sickbay, leaving a worried looking Bones in his wake. He caught sight of Jim and headed over. "How are you feeling?"
"Did I pass out?" Jim asked, holding up his arm and rotating his wrist, pleased to see no sign of bone. McCoy smacked him around the back of his head and scowled.
"Damnit, don't mess around with that. You need to keep it elevated and still for a few days. That was a bad break, Jim." He held up a sling, oblivious to Jim's utter disgust.
"Elevated?" Jim moaned. "Oh come on Bones, you've fixed up dozens of breaks for me in the past. Wear the bandages, don't put too much strain on it. Simple as. Why do I have to wear a sling?"
"Jim, that wasn't a simple fracture." McCoy said seriously. "I had to surgically set the bone."
"Oh." That explained the whole unconscious thing. Damn. "Did you talk to Spock? Is he okay?"
"I ran some tests." McCoy hedged.
"Okay, and?" Doctor Patient Confidentiality ended when it came to the running of Jim's ship.
"There's a growing imbalance of his bodily functions, as if huge amounts of adrenalin are constantly being pumped into his blood streams. Now, I can't trace it down in my biocomps and Spock won't tell me what it is."
"You say you're convinced he knows what it is?" Jim frowned.
McCoy nodded. "He does. And he's as tight-lipped about it as an Aldebaran shellmouth."
"Well what are we talking about here?" Jim asked as McCoy helped ease him into the sling. "How bad?"
McCoy said nothing until he could sit down and look Jim in the eye. "Jim, if it isn't stopped somehow, the physical and emotional pressures will simply kill him."
Jim blinked rapidly. "What? No."
"I'm sorry, kid." And he looked it too. For all their posturing, McCoy and Spock cared deeply for one another.
"You've got to be wrong. Made a mistake somewhere. Run the tests again." Jim demanded.
McCoy shook his head sorrowfully. "I ran them twice." He said. "I'm sorry Jim, but I can't change the facts. Either we establish what's causing Spock's body to go haywire, or he'll die."
"How long?" Jim choked."How long do we have?"
McCoy held his gaze. "A week. Eight days at the most."