Original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore
Rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2249)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story has been completely re-plotted from the version originally published.

Return to Valjiir Stories

Return to Valjiir Continum

Go To Part Two

The door opened and closed with its usual soft hiss. Jim stared down and across the room to the double-sized bed. She was there, her long legs uncovered by the folds of the green velvet robe that was belted snugly around her waist. Her huge violet eyes looked up, annoyance turning to recognition and surprise. Or rather, feigned surprise, Jim chuckled. He smiled at her.

“Captain,” she stammered, putting the reader aside, her legs swinging over the side of the bed. “Was there something…?”

“Come now, Ruth, don’t play games with me,” he said softly, his eyes drinking in her beauty and taunting movement.

“I don’t know what…”

Jim crossed the room, reaching for her. “Of course you do,” he murmured. “You know what I want. You teased me into coming to get it. I’m here for it, Ruth.” He caressed her cheek and she abruptly pulled away. He caught her wrists, pulling her back to him.

“Leave me alone!” she shrieked. He laughed and let go of one of her wrists long enough to slap her; three hard, sharp, openhanded blows meant to bruise. One of them broke her lip open, and he watched in fascination as the blood smeared across her lips before the cut swiftly healed.

“Let’s not pretend here, Angel,” he snarled pleasantly. “You can heal it, but I can hurt you – and if I have to, I will.” He slapped her again to emphasize his power, to inform her he wasn’t interested in her usual games or coyness. She broke from his grasp and tried to move past him, but he was blocking any escape route.

She took a deep breath and Jim took a moment to appreciate the swelling of her breasts. “Captain,” she said, “I’m not pretending. I’m not playing games. If you don’t leave immediately, I’ll have to call security – and Spock.”

He laughed. “Neither will come to the rescue, Angel. Not that you really want rescuing. You don’t want sterile, Vulcan propriety. You want a man who can master you, and we both know it.”

“No!” she hissed, and again made a move against him, but was more clever. She feinted to one side, then ducked under his arm, dashing to the desk and the com unit there. “Valley to Security!” she shouted frantically, but there was no response other than Jim’s thick chuckle.

“No good, dear,” he said, She pivoted, her eyes full of false terror. “Care to try the door?” he asked casually, folding his arms. She raced across the room. He followed her and waited while she tried every possible way her inventive mind could think of to get it to open. He moved close enough to lean over her, whispering, “Captain’s override is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?” She turned and he pulled her roughly into his arms. “Game time over, Angel,” he growled at her and ripped the robe from her body, crushing her naked flesh to him. She cried out and it sent a thrill through him. God, woman, you’re going to love it…!

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Jim Kirk sat up, driving himself awake and away from the dream. He was bathed in sweat, shaking, and damnably aroused. He ran trembling hands over his face, forcing himself to breathe deeply and evenly. Again, he thought and shuddered. God, why? It was the fourth vicious nightmare in as many nights and always the same; brutalize and rape Ruth Valley. He forced himself awake before the conclusion; Spock finding his wife bound and bloodied, his best friend and commanding officer gloating, mocking, smugly relishing the Vulcan’s helpless rage. Why? Why?! Why did this happen, night after night? Where did these awful images come from, and from where came the others; brief, fleeting but vivid and draped in emotions of cruelty and disdain, visions of deliberately endangering Spock, of abandonment and betrayal and…

Jim shuddered again, glancing at the door that led to the accessory hallway between his quarters and Spock’s. Destroy you, my friend? Is that what I want? Dear god, why?

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

“Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is doing exploratory work at the galactic center. We have been on assignment here for one standard week, studying and cataloguing the myriad of strange phenomenon which seem to dominate this area of space. Due to the gravitational effects of the black hole which is the focal point of all spiral galaxies, and the unpredictable nature of those effects on ship’s instrumentation, as recorded by Federation unmanned probes, I have ordered double the usual amount of maintenance and crew drills to ensure both this ship and her personnel are at peak efficiency.”

Jim switched off his recorder, making a mental note to add a personal addendum later. The details of his nightmares might be private, but he had a duty to report his physical condition. He glanced around the Bridge, noting the stiff backs and occasional nervous movements of his crew. Maybe I’m driving them too hard, he thought. We haven’t had any serious trouble since we arrived at our safe-distance from the event horizon. Still… He let his gaze drift to the forward viewscreen and the bright, slowly swirling mass of stars and interstellar gas and dust which made up the accretion disk of the Milky Way’s center. It was undeniably beautiful, but undeniably treacherous. No, better to be safe, even if there was some tension associated with it. Tension can sometimes be a good thing. It can keep people alert.

He turned to the Science Station to get a status report on the gravitational readings and caught the abrupt raising of Spock’s head and the spasm of pain that crossed the Vulcan’s face. He was up and out of the con before the dizziness hit his First Officer. Jim firmly pushed Spock into his chair and held the Vulcan’s shoulders until the wave of disorientation passed.

Another attack, Jim scowled, the third one this week. “Damn it, Spock,” he murmured, “do I have to order you to Sickbay?” Spock’s eyes had closed and moments that seemed interminable passed before they opened again.

“Captain,” he answered at last. “There is little Dr. McCoy can…”

“That does it. Report to Sickbay, mister.”

After a moment, Spock gave a curt nod and stood, heading for the turbolift. The Vulcan’s movements seemed tense and weary – and what was it I just said about tension being a good thing? Jim told himself wryly. He retook the con as Spock left the Bridge, and a flash of memory from the previous night’s nightmare came unbidden into his head; Spock weak, devastated, in pain…

He swallowed the bitter self-loathing and firmly put it out of his mind.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Lieutenant Commander Sulu was conducting a security drill from the Auxiliary Bridge. The chrono-set was running as he timed the seconds it took for full alert status to be confirmed. The reports started coming in late and finished later. He swore vehemently and turned to M’ress. “Almost a fucking full minute off!” he snapped. “Open the damned channel!”

“Calm down, Sulu,” the Caitian purred. “You know how edgy everyone’s been with all the double…”

“Then they should be doubly efficient from the practice,” Sulu snarled. “Follow my orders, Lieutenant!”

Jilla Majiir turned from her post at Engineering. “Sulu, please, with a little dignity. The crew will respond better to…”

“The crew will respond, period,” Sulu told her, then his tone softened. “If you can function at peak efficiency on the sleep you’ve been getting, so can they.”

“Having trouble sleeping, Mrs. Majiir?” Ensign LiLing asked lightly from the Science Station. Sulu glanced sharply at her, but her smile was merely friendly. Jilla nodded, not noticing.

“I think I may be too exhausted, as illogical as that sounds,” she returned.

“It may be illogical,” Lieutenant Chekov said from Navigation, “but I am having the same trouble.”

“Channel open, sir,” M’ress reported.

Sulu’s voice was calm but stern as he explained eloquently to the crew exactly how much damage could be done in the fifty-six seconds longer it was taking them to get to their stations. He ended the tirade with, “Ladies, gentlemen, we’ll do it until we get it right. Sulu out.”

“There’s an interesting thought,” LiLing murmured as Sulu's gaze fell on her. Their eyes met for a fraction of a second and he smiled. She returned it.

M’ress glanced uncomfortably at Jilla, then to Chekov, who was intently studying his board. With a sigh, she again began to play the simulated alert broadcasts.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Ruth Valley waited in Sickbay, trying not to clutch her pounding head. That she wasn’t able to rid herself of the pain for more than a few minutes at a time unnerved her more than she cared to admit. Spock’s headaches bothered her, too. He didn’t deny them, and for him it was a sign of just how badly he was hurting. “Bones, just give me a painkiller,” she moaned to herself.

“Again?” came McCoy’s concerned voice.

Ruth looked up and winced at the renewed pounding. “Again,” she replied, and her voice was both weary and annoyed.

“Are you getting enough sleep, Ruthie?” McCoy asked as he ran a scanner over her.

“Who can sleep with all the racket my head makes?” she grumbled, then answered his question. “I get as much as I can, Bones, and I shouldn’t be this damn tired.”

“Protein?” McCoy said.

“I’m eating as much as I can, too,” she replied.

“You aren’t doin’ anything dumb – like tryin’ to cure your husband, are you?”

Ruth scowled. “No,” she said, then added, “he won’t let me.”

“Good for him.” McCoy turned, picking up a hypospray. He adjusted it, then gave her a quick injection. “This should do it for a little while.”

She sighed as the relief hissed into her arm, spreading quickly to numb the cacophony. “Thanks.” She got off the exam table, and headed for the door, then stopped and turned back. “Bones, is Del having any trouble?”

“Not that he’s reported, but I’ll check on it,” McCoy said.

“How about Jilla?”

“I don’t know that, either.” The blue eyes studied her. “Why do you ask?”

She frowned thoughtfully. “Just a thought. Jilla’s the closest to an empath or telepath besides Spock and Del and me, and if she is and Del is…” Her voice trailed off. “I don’t know, I just thought there might be a connection.” She turned again, and the door opened as Spock stepped into the room.

“Doctor,” he began, then stopped as he saw Ruth. “Are you all right?” he asked her.

She smiled wanly. “Headache, husband. You?”

He nodded. Her fingers briefly touched his sleeve as she stepped past him.

“Another attack?” McCoy asked.

“Yes,” Spock replied. “The captain ordered me here. Please explain to him that there is nothing you can do, and to prohibit my regular duties will do no good.”

“Now how can I do that?” McCoy replied brusquely. “It just might.”

“Doctor, you have been unable to find any cause for these headaches. I know of nothing which could be affecting both Ruth and myself so severely unless it is somehow connected with our telepathic abilities. And I will continue to be a telepath whether or not I am on duty.”

McCoy sighed. “Logical. Let me at least give you…”

“That is not…”

“Or I won’t let you out of here,” McCoy finished. “Besides, Ruthie took a shot.”

Spock’s eyebrow rose in surprise, then he sighed. “Very well, Doctor.”

“Did anyone ever tell you you’re the worst patient in the galaxy?” McCoy asked as he again adjusted the hypospray.

“Ruth, frequently,” Spock returned, and McCoy snorted in amusement, shaking his head as Spock left Sickbay.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Jim was reading the report on the latest maintenance check when Ruth came on to the Bridge. She said hello to Scotty and Uhura, adding “Afternoon, Captain,” as she passed him. She stretched briefly before seating herself at the library computer – and Jim shivered. Her voice, her lithe sensuality brought back the dream in much too vivid detail. I want you, damn it, and I hate wanting you, he thought. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so insistent. A passing thought, the occasional memory he could deal with, but this frequent desire that was coupled so strongly with the need for Spock to know

“Captain?”

He looked up, aware that he’d been staring at her, meeting questioning violet eyes.

“Is there something you need?”

He stopped the arrogant Report to my quarters, Miss Valley that formed in his mind and smiled at her. “No, Lieutenant,” he replied, then rose and left the Bridge, leaving her puzzled gaze to follow him.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

“Can we talk, Bones, in private?” Jim said as he strode into Sickbay.

McCoy studied the captain for a moment. Jim looked grim and worried. He nodded and motioned the captain into his office. After they were seated, McCoy said with professional cheerfulness, “You look like death warmed over, Jim-boy.”

Jim smiled ironically. “That’s about how I feel,” he replied. “I’m exhausted.”

“Having trouble sleeping?” McCoy wondered.

Jim looked away and cleared his throat. “I’ve been sleeping too well, I’m afraid,” he said.

McCoy was sure he detected a blush. Jim, embarrassed? “Nightmares?” he responded intuitively. Jim gave him a curt nod.

“Bad ones. Isn’t there something you can give me? I know dream time is necessary, but these are vivid – and I remember them too clearly.”

“What kind of nightmares, Jim?”

When the captain finally looked back at him, his face was full of pain and self-recrimination. “In my sleep I’ve been committing some rather horrible crimes. Torture, rape…” His normally strong voice became very quiet. “Murder.” He glanced away again. “I wake up sick and full of guilt… they won’t go away, Bones.”

“Could be a physical problem, I suppose,” McCoy murmured after a few seconds of consideration. “We all seem to be under a lot of stress, especially you, Jim. It’s probably just your subconscious’ way of dealin’ with it.”

“But why so violently?” Jim asked. “And why can’t I forget them?”

“It’s not really my department, captain.”

“You’ve had psychological training, Bones,” Jim pointed out, his tone suddenly angry. McCoy waited patiently. He knew Jim Kirk would have more than a little trouble describing ‘torture, rape, murder’ to Dr. Han, especially since the captain found her attractive. But Jade Han had undoubtedly heard it all and worse, and she rightly wouldn’t give a damn that her patient was an attractive man.

“Psychology is Dr. Han’s specialty, Jim. And she’s the best there is.”

“The best specialist in non-Terran psychology,” Jim corrected emphatically.

“The best, period,” McCoy returned, then added with a wry grin, hoping to ease Jim’s mood, “much as I hate to admit it. Professional jealousy, you know.” He was surprised at Jim’s sudden flush. Jealousy? Of who? ‘Torture, rape, murder’ of who? “Will you at least let Dr. Han examine you, just in case it is physical?”

Jim sighed. “Bones, can’t you…”

“I’ve got my hands full already with three sick telepaths.”

“Three?” Jim was instantly alert and concerned. “Not just Spock?”

McCoy shook his head. “Ruth hasn’t got the disorientation that’s been plaguin’ Spock, but she’s sufferin’ from severe headaches and exhaustion that she can’t keep up with herself. And I just examined Lieutenant DelMonde. He’s got one dull but constant throb.”

“Why is it different?” Jim wanted to know.

“I suspect because they’re all different types of telepaths, but I’m not rulin’ anything out just yet.”

Jim’s worry seemed to deepen. He stood. “Then I guess I’d better take this to Dr. Han after all. Keep me posted, Bones.”

“Will do, Captain,” McCoy said, grateful that Jim’s sense of duty to his crew outweighed even his own sense of privacy.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Jim sat on the edge of the diagnostic table and watched Dr. Han. She wasn’t looking at him at the moment, which was just as well for him; she would probably stare challengingly at his appreciative smile, which would make him more uncomfortable than he already was. He admitted to himself that he found her attractive, but wasn’t at all sure he was ready to admit it to her. Or to anyone else. She was small, but her slenderness and poise made her seem taller than she was. She had the regal bearing of a Chinese empress, and the warmest, most gentle eyes he had ever seen. Her hands were small but strong and sensitive. She had a marvelous smile and a quick, wicked sense of humor, and lovely, long, silky black hair that she wore loose when off duty. Only she’s on duty now, he reminded himself regretfully, and getting ready to ask you some damned embarrassing questions. He sighed, clearing his throat. “Doctor?”

She turned from the scanner, her smile friendly and reassuring. “You’re tired, Captain, but otherwise physically quite healthy. However, both the dermal-optic test and the Steinman analysis show some mental stress.”

“Somehow, Doctor, I knew you were going to say that,” Jim said as he tried his most disarming expression on her.

Her response was an equally charming smile. “Leonard tells me you’ve been having particularly vivid nightmares.”

His grin faded, and he cleared his throat again. “Yes,” was all he said.

There was silence for several seconds, then she said, “Go on.”

“They’re…” he began, “… not very pretty,” he finished lamely.

“Go on,” she repeated, her tone professionally not exasperated.

“There are four of them, more or less,” he began again. “At least – well – they’re connected, but I… there’s one that dominates…”

“James, please, be specific,” she interrupted. “I’m a psychologist. You won’t embarrass me.”

What about me? Jim thought uncomfortably. Again she waited, then said, “Please, Captain, just tell me what you’ve been dreaming.”

“It’s not that easy, Doctor,” Jim snapped, immediately regretting the tone. Another silence, and Jade sighed.

“I can take psychotricorder readings if you’d rather do it that way,” she offered.

Jim hesitated, unwilling and miserable. Still, his efficiency was imperative for the running of the ship and he wasn’t going to be efficient as long as he kept having nightmares about tormenting his crew. Command decision, he said to himself, and gazed resolutely at Dr. Han.

“I think that might be better, Doctor.”.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

It took some preparation; an hypnotic suggestion to sleep and dream, the hooking up of the psychotricorder, waiting for the dream itself to be recorded, clearing, viewing, then repeating the process…

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

The world they were on was windy and mercilessly cold. The sky over his head was a cloudless pewter gray, the rock-strewn landscape rusty iron.

McCoy shivered and sank to his knees, the large boulder he crouched next to giving some small protection from the wind. He reached down to help Spock to a sitting position. The Vulcan was breathing shallowly. His battered face had lost its usual pale coloring and there were already traces of frostbite in his hands and ears.

“This can’t be happening.” McCoy had to shout above the wind’s roar.

Spock’s answer was slow in coming; the words were laced with pain and defeat. “It has happened. He is mad and he has a starship at his command. I regret, Doctor, that he chose this way of killing you as well.”

McCoy could think of nothing more to say. Bitter hopelessness overwhelmed him. He and Spock wouldn’t last a night on this nameless rock and God help anyone else who tried to stand in Jim Kirk’s way. Senseless, barbaric cruelty, why not just kill them outright? And there was cruelty to more than just him and Spock. Jim had done it for Ruth’s sake. She had begged for her husband’s life. Jim had forced her to watch the beating, using threats against her to force the Vulcan to take it. And when she had pleaded hysterically, promising anything if only the captain wouldn’t kill him, Jim had indulged her. And since Spock was clearly in need of medical attention, it had been only right to beam a doctor down to the planet with him.

McCoy didn’t know how long the communicator was beeping before he recognized the sound and answered it. When he did, the voice from the ship was somehow easily heard above the wind; mocking, victorious, insane.

“I hope you enjoy your shore leave, gentlemen. Kirk out.”

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Professional detachment kept Jade from shuddering as she switched off the scanner. Poor James. What he must be going through. No wonder he’s so upset. She pushed personal reaction away and started her evaluation. James Kirk was definitely repressing a great deal of anger, and it appeared to be mostly directed at Spock. The captain was also evidencing a desire for domination, total power. That, coupled with his quite natural desire for Ruth Valley turned what should be normal, healthy, subconscious release into travesties of horror and madness.

She looked again at the readings, and frowned. Jealousy and envy of the luxury Spock had in being allowed to have and express love with a partner aboard ship was understandable; a typical captain’s burden. But why so vivid, and why reoccurring? What was aggravating his Id to these nightmare tantrums?

She considered for a moment, then switched tapes to replay another of the nightmares. Perhaps James himself could give her a clue.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

“She’ll be all right, Spock,” McCoy assured the First Officer. He placed an awkward, comforting hand on the Vulcan’s shoulder, noting that that shoulder was trembling with grief and fear. Spock turned from staring down at his unconscious wife, and McCoy saw the helpless anger in his dark eyes. What he had to say was certainly no help. “She’s been through a bad physical and emotional trauma, Spock. Remember to be gentle with her when she wakes up.”

Spock nodded slightly. “I will know who did this, Doctor,” he said, “and why.”

McCoy wondered that himself. What maniac would beat and rape a woman, any woman? And why Ruth?

“I will know now,” Spock continued, and his voice held implacable demand. McCoy sighed, but nodded and bent over Ruth, applying a stimulant to her arm.

She opened her eyes at the same moment the Sickbay door opened. When she saw who entered, she screamed and both men pivoted to face the intruder. Jim stood there, his arms arrogantly folded, a victorious smirk crossing his features. He hadn’t come alone. Two fully armed security guards were with him.

“I’ve been looking for you, Spock,” he said.

Spock was very much aware of the phasers pointing at him. He didn’t try to move, and his voice was carefully controlled. “I take it you are responsible for what was done to my wife,” he said.

Jim looked beyond the Vulcan to the bed where Ruth lay cowering. She whimpered, tamed. He laughed. Good.

“Your whore’s responsible,” he told his First Officer. “She wanted it rough so I obliged her.” He signaled to the guards and they stepped up to Spock. “Go with them,” Kirk said, “if you want her to live.” Then he forgot about the Vulcan and went to the bed, grabbing the Antari slut by the hair. “And you, bitch, get back to my cabin where you belong.”

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Jade again countered the revulsion with sympathy and professional appraisal, methodically cutting through the emotion to reach for the reason. First, she considered then dismissed McCoy’s presence as the obvious voice of Jim’s Superego. What was left was the desire to use Ruth to hurt Spock. Or rather, to use Ruth and hurt Spock. All right, let’s take them one at a time. Identify the overriding depiction of Ruth in this nightmare.

That was easy. Whore, slut, bitch, ‘get back where you belong.’ Jade remembered the log tapes she had received nearly eighteen months before, Captain James Kirk nearly going space happy with desire for one Ruth Maxwell Valley – and finally satisfying that desire. In the tapes, he’d kept repeating that what he felt wasn’t love. Was that only the captain denying it to his ship? Jade thought. Had he loved Ruth Valley and kept silent? And did he now feel seduced and betrayed? Was he nursing a jilted man’s grudge, egged on by Terran sexual chauvinism, and xenophobia, and his captain’s guilt, not only about loving Ruth, but about letting her go?

And did that explain his desire to torment Spock?

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Ruth was already crying when he pushed her into the rec chamber. “You shouldn’t have protested, Angel,” he told her pleasantly. He’d practically had to drag her along the corridors of his own ship. That kind of spirit was all right in bed, but in public, he expected more obedience. She was going to have to be taught a good, strong lesson, and he knew just what would do it. So he’d brought her to the rec chamber. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he promised as he set the controls. “I won’t have to.”

She stared around wildly at the blank walls, then desperately at him as if she suspected what was coming. “Please,” she whispered, and Jim laughed and activated the controls. Her scream was drowned out by the roaring mass of flames that leapt up around them, totally surrounding them in a circle of fire. She clawed at him, trying to escape, but he held her firmly.

“Just a little fire, Ruth,” he murmured, and she fought more frantically. He turned her, forcing her to face the flames, and she screamed again. The circle was shrinking, the sheet of fire coming closer. Jim’s laughter grew as she fell, covering her face, trying to crawl away from the searing blaze. The heat was beginning to stifle him, and he smiled down at Ruth’s horror-filled eyes, then calmly activated the environmental belt at his waist. Panic overwhelmed her and the circle kept shrinking. She groveled at his feet, whimpering, begging, pleading in a voice rasping and broken with terror. She promised anything, to leave Spock, to be his, what he wanted, anything he wanted. He was reveling in the satisfaction; all that pride broken, the bitch was his! Then her screams renewed in hysterical agony as the fire touched her, and he waited until her hair started to crackle and smoke before he casually spoke to turn off the simulation. Her body shook violently, convulsing, and the intercom whistled. He turned and suddenly heard his own laughter and found himself standing just outside the brig. Spock stood in a cell, his face haunted, the dark eyes grieving and full of pain. The Vulcan was pale, almost ashen, hopelessly defeated; despairing, desperate. His gaze was riveted on something Jim couldn’t see. The intercom whistled again and again he turned, now in Sickbay. Ruth’s bloodied body was lying spread-eagled across a diagnostic bed, the indicators above her documenting the miscarriage that couldn’t be stopped…

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

“GOD NO!!!”

Jim screamed it, throwing himself out of bed and the intercom signaled again, adding Yeoman Rand’s voice.

“Captain, you left orders to be woken. It’s 0300, sir.”

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Jade nodded wearily at Sulu. She had again been summoned to give Jilla a sedative after the Indiian had woken screaming from nightmares she refused to discuss. Her paramour’s surly displeasure at the terror of the woman who was supposed to be the love of his life didn’t help Jade’s mood either. “Try to keep your emotions in check,” she told him. “It will help keep her calm.” The look on Sulu’s face was plainly disgusted and Jade realized she hadn’t told him anything he didn’t already know. Clearly, though, Lieutenant Commander Sulu needs the reminder, she said to herself with more than a little of her own disgust as the door to his cabin slid shut. She turned and walked back to her own quarters, irritably annoyed at the interruption of the first decent night’s sleep in a week. Not that I haven’t been interrupted, she clarified to no one in particular. It was simply that she’d managed to get to sleep early. And what made you think Jilla wouldn’t have nightmares tonight? she thought sourly. She’s been as regular as clockwork…

Nightmares. She paused. Now why didn’t you make that connection this afternoon? James is having them, so is Jilla; DelMonde, Ruth Valley, and Spock are suffering from debilitating headaches. There has to be some link, something that doesn’t involve telepathy or empathy. James doesn’t have the slightest gift in either of those areas.

And why do you think of these things at three o’clock in the morning when you could be getting some much needed rest?

Still, she found herself switching on her computer terminal and requesting the latest medical data on all five.

It didn’t help her mood when, some time later, her door chime sounded a second time. Again? Selar’s ghost must be more than usually active this evening. She took a deep breath, ordering the professional mask back into place, and went to the door.

She didn’t show her surprise when it wasn’t Sulu, but her other nightmare patient. James looked haggard and barely under control. “Captain?” she asked with immediate concern. “James, come in.”

He followed her into the room and staggered into a chair. He was pale and shaking and badly in need of a sedative. She didn’t keep medication in her cabin, although it occurred to her that with her next-door neighbor’s problems it might be wise to start. It would at least save midnight trips to Sickbay, she thought. Leonard, she knew, would have offered the captain a generous dose of something alcoholic, but she didn’t drink. She decided to offer him a generous toke of something Rigellian. Besides, she needed it herself.

She got her pipe and lit it, inhaling deeply before offering it to James.

He waved it away. “I’m on duty,” he managed, his voice strained.

“You need it,” Jade insisted. “One hit isn’t going to impair your efficiency unduly. It will help.”

For the first time, he looked at her, his gaze alarmingly full of dread. Her heart bled for him. “Doctor’s orders?” he asked.

The sternness left her tone. “Doctor’s request,” she said.

He smiled weakly, but he took the pipe and took one long drag, then exhaled slowly, eyes closing. When he looked at her again, the panic had receded from his eyes. “Thanks, Jade,” he said.

She perched herself on her deck. Note the legs, James, her unconscious thought at him. Not bad, you must admit. “Now,” she inquired, “what’s wrong?” Her tone was gently demanding, a technique she had picked up on Vulcan. It was respectful and soothing, but it brooked no evasion.

“Nightmares,” Jim whispered. “They’re getting worse.”

“Which one?”

James looked away from her again. “The rec chamber, and the fire, but… it had a different ending. I think it was because the intercom in my cabin signaled, but… I…” His voice broke and Jade immediately went to him, kneeling down to take his hands.

“Go on,” she encouraged softly. The answer was inaudible.

“James?”

“She was pregnant,” he groaned tightly, then shot up out of the chair, pushing past her. “And Spock was in the brig and she was in Sickbay and miscarrying and I was laughing and…” The panic was returning.

Jade quickly crossed to him, again taking hold of his shaking hands. “James, I know it was awful, but it was a dream. You’ve done nothing to Ruth, nothing to Spock. You can deal with these feelings…”

“No, I can’t, that’s what I’m here for!” Jim shouted, pleading.

“Captain, I’m doing all I can,” Jade tried to reassure him. “Analysis isn’t an overnight thing, you have to be patient. I understand this is upsetting to you, and I realize that you need help, but I don’t have a miracle cure.”

Jim’s eyes had closed again, and he reopened them, staring at her. “I’m sorry, Jade. It’s… it isn’t easy.”

Jade smiled gently. “Of course not.” She guided him back to the chair and handed him the pipe. “Now it’s doctor’s orders.”

“I told you, I’m on duty.”

“And I told you it will help.” She folded her arms, waiting for him to follow her order. “We’ll talk more after your shift.” He stared dubiously at the pipe, then sighed and did as he was told.

#####---#####---#####---#####--#####---#####

Go To Part Two

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