A Star Trek Classic Story by Erique
Small ThingsCategory: hurt/comfort, slash, first time, pairing: K/S
Notes: I've written this sometime in the 1980s and found it on a forgotten floppy. It was never published. Feedback is always welcome, even though I don't write in this fandom anymore.
Summary: A nightmare leads to an epiphany.
fb: webmaster @ erique.de
I open my eyes to darkness.
It is the middle of the ship's night, the computer informs me, 2.47, to be precise, and I am confused.
Why did I wake? I seem to remember hearing a sound... the terrible cry of a soul in distress. And as I lie, struggling to recapture it, I hear it again.
Without thinking I rush through our shared bathroom into his adjoining cabin. The warmth inside greets me, the familiar smell of Vulcan incense and something uniquely Spock--but I do not pay much attention to it this time. Stumbling through a darkness lightened only by the flickering of the guardian's flame, I reach the sleeping area.
There he is, curled into a tight ball amidst his tumbled bedding, shaking violently, obviously deep in the grip of a nightmare. As I approach, he cries out again, trying to disappear into his pillow, and I reach out to touch him, calling his name.
When he doesn't react, I begin to shake him, gently at first, then harder. He tosses his head. For a moment, I catch a glimpse of his tortured face, and I see fear, gut-wrenching, horrible fear and desolation. Desperate now in my need to help him, I grab his shoulders, squeezing them, calling him again, and suddenly his eyes snap open.
He stares at me in utter disorientation, confused and still frightened, unable to escape the impressions that have made him cry out in such terror.
"Spock," I say gently, "you were dreaming, only dreaming. It's over now. You're safe, and I'm here with you."
Still staring at me, he slowly begins to relax the tenseness in his fear-wrought body. "Jim..." His voice is only a whisper, and yet I could not have missed the total relief the single word conveys.
I smile at him, unaccountably happy, when, totally unexpectedly, his mask of nonemotion suddenly begins to slip, and he barely manages to turn his face away in time.
But I have already seen what he is trying to hide, and even if I hadn't, the shaking of his shoulders would have been enough.
Feeling my heart tightening painfully, I gather him up in my arms, holding him close, murmuring soothing, meaningless words, trying to calm him.
Sobbing helplessly, trembling with need for understanding, he begins to tell me what it was he dreamed. He came too late to save me, and had to watch me die, unable to help.
While he talks in a broken voice, weaving a picture of hollow emptiness and searing despair, my own heart turns to lead.
I did this to him.
In teaching him the joys of friendship, I also gave him the fear of loss. And then I took away his only way to deal with that fear. For this last month he had to work too hard, was under too much pressure, and had too little time for his soul-cleansing meditation. I have no excuse. I know that, to a Vulcan, meditation is as necessary as eating to a Human. And still, unthinkingly, I heaped more pressure on him, making him go without his disciplines for far too long, allowing the poisoning fear to accumulate.
He must pay the price for my thoughtlessness.
Through my feelings of guilt, I realize he has stopped speaking and is crying again. What can I do to erase that fear, to make up for what I did to him? I cannot undo what I have done, nor can I soothe his troubled soul with flimsy words of apology. I can only offer the comfort of my touch, whatever it may be worth.
And he clings to me as to a life-saving anchor, pressing his tear-stained face against my shoulder. I wrap him up in my arms, enveloping him in warm folds of love and acceptance, and slowly, his helpless weeping grows less and less.
I wait patiently, marvelling how little things can make him happy. He offers everything for me--his honor and his life--and all I give him in return is 'Thank you, Mr. Spock' and now and then a smile of gratitude.
He has quieted now, and, wanting to give him a little privacy at least, I move to go.
But as I stand in front of his bed, looking down at him gazing up at me out of large, liquid eyes, I realize how inhumanly cruel it would be to leave him now and turn him over to the dark abyss of his own fears. And there is, too, a naked pleading in his eyes, begging me to stay. He is too afraid to ask it aloud, too scared of my rejection.
My gentle, vulnerable Vulcan, how can you even think I could be heartless enough to hurt you so deeply? I've done enough to you.
So I lie down again next to him, taking him in my arms, and he snuggles close with a sigh of profound relief. Soon, his even breathing tells me he has slipped into a sleep untroubled by nightmares, even giving a small sound of pleasure and contentment that swells my heart.
As I lie there, holding him close, listening to him breathe, I wonder once more how small are the things that can make him happy.
I shift position slightly, so I can look at his face, relaxed now, peaceful, and I begin to stroke him softly, gently, first with my fingertips, then--recklessly--with my face. He smiles in his sleep, snuggling closer, and my affection for him almost spills over, out of my eyes. No words in any language I know will ever be able to fully express what he means to me.
I am glad there is no more turmoil in his soul; the sight of Spock crying had been almost too much for me to bear. Now, there is an eager acceptance of my caresses visible in his face instead, an acceptance he would have to deny, were he awake. I kiss his forehead, unable to help myself. This gentle, quiet being has had far too little tenderness in his life. And he deserves all the love in this universe, far more than I will ever be able to give him.
I pull him closer, thinking of all the people who must have known this beautiful Vulcan without seeing the loneliness in his eyes, without hearing the silent cry of his soul, and I marvel that this life of hurt and rejection has not made him bitter. He continues to give everything he has to give without asking anything in return, although it must always have been taken for granted. I feel an upsurge of anger at all those nameless people who have so thoughtlessly hurt him in the past, promising him silently that it will never happen again. I will give you all you need, to repay what you gave me all those years... and I will let no one ever hurt you again...
His eyes slowly open, and he blinks up at me sleepily. I must have smiled at him, for he smiles back slightly, and I feel his arms tighten around me before he lays his head on my shoulder again, exhaling softly, I am deeply moved. Another gift, this time one of trust. His smile has told me that his defenses are down, the shields around his mind lowered, leaving him deeply vulnerable to anything I might do, even think. Still, he makes no effort to re-establish his barriers; simply lies close to me, trusting me not to hurt him, and I feel very humble.
When have I trusted him enough to even tell him how I felt, to let him get close enough to help me? I never rendered myself vulnerable to him to even that small extend, and now he leaves himself so totally open to me. The least I can do to thank him for it is give him a little love and tenderness in return, to make up for the pain of his long, lonely years, so I stroke him again, nuzzling his face with my nose and lips, hoping my feelings of love are transmitted to him, hoping they will help a little.
For a long time, he lies in my arms, soaking up my caresses like a plant basking its leaves in sunlight, eyes closed, utterly relaxed. I gently kiss his cheeks and forehead, stroking his silky hair, his face. In my mind, there is a picture of a desert on which a long-awaited rain is falling. The first drops vaporize instantly on the hot sands, but then, the first shoots of green appear that have lain dormant, waiting for the life-saving moisture to make them sprout and blossom.
Then my picture become reality, as Spock slowly, hesitantly, begins to return my gentle ministrations, rubbing his cheek against my neck; the first tender shoots of love turning trembling leaves towards the sun. Instinctively, my touch grows lighter. Those first filaments must not be crushed. They must be nourished instead, protected from harsh winds. I feel the responsibility I now have to keep thoughtless people away from him, lest they trample down those delicate shoots, and I hold him close, in a warm embrace, my cheek resting against his soft hair.
"Thank you," I hear him whisper softly. "thank you, Jim..."
"For giving me this... it feels so wonderful... I've never felt this way before..."
For a moment, I am unable to speak. I can feel he is overwhelmed with gratitude for such a simple thing as an embrace. It must really be the first time anyone ever held him like this. How can he have survived this long and still be so gentle? "No, Spock," I say then, tenderly. "Don't thank me for it. It's so little compare to what you've always given me..."
He doesn't respond, merely lies close to me, motionless. Then, "Jim...? Will you hold me... like this... again?"
His childlike question is ample evidence of how unused he is to asking anything for himself. And there is, too, the pleading undertone of someone who aches for something with all his soul, and I hug him close, whispering, "Of course I will Spock, you know that. I will whenever you need it." I kiss him again on his hair, and he raises his head, smiling a rare and very beautiful smile, before snuggling down again.
Then, suddenly, his mood changes. He presses his head into the hollow of my neck, his arms in a crushing hug around me, trying to get even closer. I stroke him reassuringly, wondering at the sudden desperation apparent in the very tension of his body.
"Spock...?" Gently, I tell myself. He has no shields. Don't hurt him. Whatever you do, don't hurt him. "What is it?"
"Please tell me, Spock. Let me help. Please!" I feel my own desperation rise, thinking of the tender leaves that may be dying even at this moment because of something I should or should not have done.
He shakes his head. "It's nothing," his muffled voice come. His tone tells me he is struggling for control, and I can almost see the shields rising again, shutting his vulnerable soul off from me.
I've hurt him. The thought is like a branding iron against my heart. I must have hurt him after all, and how he's withdrawing, protecting himself from further harm. "No," I whisper raggedly, "please don't Spock, please. I'm sorry. Please don't pull back from me. I only wanted to... please!"
At last, he raises his head to look at me again, and I realize instantly that my fears have happily been unfounded, for there is confusion plainly visible in his eyes. "Pull back?" he asks. "No, Jim, no.. How could I pull back from you after what you've given me?" Then he looks away, and I finally recognize the signs. He is ashamed. But that still doesn't explain....
"Spock... what is it?"
He shakes his head, hiding his face in my shoulder.
After a long pause, he whispers, "It is an unworthy thought, and I have no right. You've already given me so much..."
"Please tell me," I insist.
He hesitates again. Then, with great reluctance, "You have just told me that you would let me be in your arms again whenever I needed it..."
"There will, however, come a time when you would not be able... may not even willing... to keep that promise."
"Never, Spock. You mean more to me than anything!"
He turns to me again, letting me read his eyes. "That may be true for now Jim. But eventually you will meet someone who will mean more to you." His voice is barely audible. "In fact, I may happen tomorrow, and then you would... never hold me like this again." He falters, draws very close to me, as though savoring this embrace with all his senses. "I would lose this closeness. You are to only one who ever held me in this way. Of course," faster now, "I realize that your life is your own, and I have no right to make any demands of you, let alone for something as distasteful as this, and if you again find someone whose company you prefer over mine, you are of course free--"
"Spock," I interrupt him firmly, "please stop talking such nonsense. You know very well that, to me, there is nothing 'distasteful' about holding you. No one and nothing in the universe could make me break any promise I made to you..." I continue trying to talk him out of his fears, but deep inside I am badly shaken. It is obvious to me that he has been longing for this closeness for a long time, and that he has felt pushed aside, discarded, every time I fell in love with a woman. Yet that is not all. His word and his tone of voice leave only one interpretation.
Spock is in love with me. Deeply enough to want to be close to me, and deeply enough to step back willingly and without jealousy as soon as he feels I would be more happy with someone else. It is the purest form of love, the kind that desires only to give, never to take. And he doesn't even know it.
I ground to a halt, simply holding him in my arms again, and he snuggles up to me as close as he can possibly get, burying his face against my neck. What can I say now? I cannot protect him after all. The next woman I meet could be the one I've been searching for all my life, and then Spock will be hurt, hurt by me, who have sworn to myself that I would do anything to keep him from harm.
Spock needs more love than the friendship we have can give him, and he doesn't understand the nature of his longing. My next love will hurt him, and he won't even understand why. All I can do, I reflect, is find someone for him who can give him what he needs, someone whom he can have to love....
The sudden stab of an unidentified emotion startles me. For some reason, the thought of someone trying to get close to my gentle, vulnerable Vulcan, getting to know him as only I do, of Spock responding to that person as he does only to me, showing her the feelings I have brought to life within his soul... somehow the thought turns me cold with alarm.
For a moment, I sit motionless, my mind blank with incomprehension, gaping at this unexpected feeling. Then, equally suddenly, all parts of this strange jigsaw-puzzle fall into place before my confused eyes, and I almost laugh out loud.
So this is why I find nothing strange in holding Spock in my arms, in stroking him with my face, even in kissing him! I shake my head at my own blindness. You'd think the feeling of being in love should be sufficiently familiar to me, and yet, even with the knowledge of Spock's love for me staring in my face, I am still incapable of realizing what's been going on inside my own heart. It took the picture of Spock in the arms of another to make me see it.
I look down into the eyes of a worried Vulcan who obviously followed the sequence of my emotions through the physical contact we share.
"It's all right, Spock," I reassure him immediately, aware of the difficult task before me. Searching for the right words to express what I am feeling, I run my hand through his hair once more, conscious this time of the deeper implications of the gesture. "Everything is all right. There will be no one to take me away from you, and you're looking at the greatest fool who was ever given command of a starship."
I can see I have his full attention now. "Spock," I say intently, "would you like for us to do this every night from now on?"
He merely stares at me, probably wondering if I've gone mad.
I try again. "What would you call this feeling both of us have now, when we're lying close together like this? What name would you give it?"
That, too, seems to have been the wrong approach, for there is insecurity visible in his face now. "I do not understand."
His soft words strike a protective chord within me, and I wrap him up in my arms again. "I'm not trying to accuse you of anything, stupid." I take his face between my hands. "Do you truly not realize what this is, Spock? This feeling that makes you want to be with me, and that makes me want to protect you from the whole fierce universe? No? It's called love, Spock. Love."
A dawning wonder is beginning to light up his beautiful eyes. "Love...?" he whispers softly, almost incredulously.
"Love." I smile at him. "I'll show you." And without hesitation, I take his mouth in a long, sweet kiss.
As I expected, there is surprisingly little resistance. In fact, I can sense a growing enjoyment as his lips press against mine, his tongue twining, drinking avidly. Eyes closed, I lose myself in the essence of a Vulcan male. Like a heady perfume it is, making my head spin and overloading my senses. Time seems to spiral down onto itself as I hold my newfound lover close, devouring him with my kiss.
When I finally try to end it, he follows my retreat with his face, unwilling to allow the contact to break. Never before have I been kissed so thoroughly, yet so gently, so full of love, and I can feel my body beginning to respond.
We move apart at last to look at each other's faces. Spock is so close to me now, I can discern the structure of his alien skin, the straight black lashes. Hot, dry fingers are brushing against my cheek as dark Vulcan eyes gaze deeply into mine.
"Love..." His voice is a soft, deep purr that sends shivers up and down my spine, set my blood in fire. "Yes." I am unable to move until those warm lips touch mine again, and my arms and legs turn to jelly. My mind refuses to acknowledge anything except the feeling of his lips and body pressed close to me, his tongue against mine, his taste, his smell.
We separate again, and as I rise up to the surface to breathe, my eyes take in confused impressions of the deep red draperies around us, the face of the guardian, the glinting metal surface of an antique dagger hanging from the wall, but then there is nothing for a long time except my beautiful, beloved Vulcan holding me, kissing me, loving me... loving me....
I wake up for the third time tonight, and as I open my eyes, the first thing I see is the dark glossy hair of the one being with whom I am going to spend eternity. Spock is still asleep, and, gazing at his calm, serene face, I an hard put to recall the expression of pure ecstasy I beheld there just a few hours ago. Involuntarily, my lips twist into a smile. Who'd have thought my stiff, proper first officer would be capable of such wild, uninhibited passion?
Now, all that remains to do is to figure out what to do with this glorious thing we found. I'm going to keep him, of that I am sure.
After what happened between us, not only tonight, but during all the years that we've been together, I am certain that I will never love another more than I love Spock. And even if I could... how could I ever do that to him? It would destroy his soul, tear him apart.
My imagination conjures up an image of his beautiful dark eyes screaming silently with the agony of slowly dying inside, and I gather his peacefully sleeping form closer. Never! Never hurt you! Never! No one and nothing is going to come between us.
All we have to do is think of how we are going to prevent the universe, and Starfleet in particular, from driving us apart, and I think I've got a pretty good idea.
We might as well make it permanent. What was that Vulcan phrase? Parted from me, and never parted... After all, not even Admiral Nogura would dare to separate a formally bonded pair.
I smile again, settling back comfortably to wait for my sleeping beauty to awake, so I can tell him what I've planned for the two of us. I've got the feeling he'll like it....