Sweet Fire

original story by C Petterson and S Sizemore
rewritten by Cheryl Petterson

(Standard Year 2247)

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Jilla settled herself behind the computer annex and tried to concentrate. She did not find it easy, even Vulcan discipline could not completely control her growing annoyance. Ruth was once again late. Ruth had once again promised not to be. Ruth had once again promised to spend her off-duty time assisting Jilla with what was supposed to be their project. It was Spock, of course. For the first time, Jilla was beginning to believe that Ruth’s devotion to Spock was illogical.

Well, she corrected herself, at the present time it is increasingly inconvenient.

She sighed as she reached forward to feed data into the computer. As the computer’s voice said “Working,” the door hissed open and Jilla turned in her seat to inform Ruth of her tardiness. Her mouth closed on the words as she stared at her roommate, dread filling her. Ruth did not seem to see her. Fear poured from her tia in steady, thundering waves. Jilla almost recoiled from the intensity. “Ruth?” she managed.

Ruth’s gaze swung toward her. He would have killed me! screamed in Jilla’s mind. She froze at the shock of the telepathic contact. The strength and terror tore a gasp from her and she had crossed the room, grasping Ruth’s arms before she was aware of moving.

“Celletyea Aema who?!”

Spock! Zahara kol, SPOCK! Ruth shuddered, her eyes closing as she repeated hoarsely, out loud, “Spock.”

Jilla couldn’t stop the rejecting word. “Impossible!”

Ruth’s eyes opened, riveting on Jilla’s, huge, deep purple wells of certainty and dread. “He said he’d break my neck,” she said from between tightly clenched teeth, “and I believe him.”

Jilla stared. “No,” she whispered.

“Am I lying?” Ruth shouted. “He said it, and I saw it and he would have!”

“But…” Jilla stammered, “why? For what reason?”

“For stealing his job! For plotting against him! It was insane, but he meant every word!”

“That makes no…”

“DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT?!” Ruth screamed. “Damn it, Jilla, he hasn’t been logical for days! What the fuck do you think I was complaining about, his goddamned ears?” She turned, trembling, and Jilla swallowed, trying to handle the hysteria that came from Ruth’s very being.

“Ruth, there must be – “ she faltered.

“I don’t have to deal with this,” Ruth went on rapidly. “He’s got no right and I don’t have to take it. Got no right, hell, he’s got no excuse! He’s an officer in Starfleet and this is an abuse of authority and I can log an official complaint and I will!” She turned back to Jilla. “I will!” she repeated and took a deep breath and stormed back out of the cabin.


Why don’t you leave him alone! thundered in Kirk’s head. Stop tormenting him, you’ve done enough! Why do you have to push him?

Kirk swept Jim’s anguish aside with an irritated effort. Then he smiled, realizing how much a part of him emotions had become. Synthesis was closer than his recalcitrant host believed.

No! screamed faintly from deep in his mind. He decided that, from now on, he would try to dismiss such protests as so much white noise. Perhaps ignoring him to death was the answer to Jim’s stubbornness. He sat behind the desk in his office, going over necessary paperwork. Gradually the protests slackened and ceased and he smiled again.

The door chime sounded and he was pleased at the off-hand “come” that came automatically from his lips.

“Captain,” Ruth Valley’s voice said, and he looked up.

“Yes, Lieutenant?” he asked, then added, “I’ve already spoken to Mr. Spock about – “

“I gathered that,” she interrupted and her voice seemed slightly unsteady.

“Oh?” he said.

“He threatened me, sir.” She swallowed hard before continuing. “And I would like to make a formal complaint.”

“Threatened?” Kirk repeated. “Spock? In front of witnesses?”

She glanced at the deck. “No, sir. We were alone in the lab, sir.”

A pity. Still, it won’t be much longer before his problem becomes public. “Sit down, Miss Valley,” he directed, gesturing to the chair before his desk. “Now, what actually happened?”

She made several false starts before getting the words out. “He accused me of – trying to take his position, sir. Of trying to – I don’t know, prove him unnecessary. He told me he wouldn’t allow it, and that I’d change my behavior or – “ she stopped, her head lowering.

“Or what?” Kirk prompted softly.

“He’d break my neck,” Ruth replied. She looked up. There were tears in her eyes. “I don’t like having to do this, Captain, but I can’t – “ her voice caught. “I can’t accept that kind of treatment from my superior, sir.”

Kirk stood and paced thoughtfully for a few seconds before returning to stand in front of her chair. “Under normal circumstances, Miss Valley, if someone accused my First Officer of something like this, I’d send them to see Dr. McCoy, or to the Brig. Not this time. I believe you.” He looked directly into her eyes, knowing the surprise he’d see there, even though she had been the one to make the complaint. He kept his expression concerned, his tone serious but reasonable. “I’m sure Mr. Spock said what you say he did. I’m also sure he didn’t mean it. He’s not a violent man, as you well know – at least not normally. But I also know you’ve noticed how tense he’s been. I assure you, so have I.” He sighed deeply. “Miss Valley, he’s under direct observation. Dr. McCoy doesn’t know what’s wrong with him yet. So I’m asking you to wait on this complaint.” He made an effort to project all the earnest compassion Jim Kirk was capable of. “Just for a few days, until McCoy can sort it out. I’m not denying the seriousness of it, or that you shouldn’t be treated this way, and if it happens again – “ He shook his head in a sudden dismissing manner. “No, I’m sure it won’t.” Again, he met her gaze. “Please, Lieutenant, for now, bear with it. For the good of the ship, for Spock… please.”

She nodded slowly. “I see. Of course, Captain. Perhaps I shouldn’t have – “

“Nonsense,” he interrupted smoothly. “It was your duty to report the incident. And I want you to report anything else you notice to Dr. McCoy.”

“I – I don’t want to get Mr. Spock in trouble if he’s already…”

Kirk smiled. “I know, Miss Valley. You won’t. Thank you for understanding.”

As she rose and left the office, he ignored the angry snarl echoing in his head.


Jilla waited until her own emotions had settled before deciding on a course of action. Ruth was not exaggerating, that much was certain. Therefore, Spock must be in a very abnormal state. The Vulcan cyclical abnormal state was the first one to come to mind, and she shuddered. She had no idea what phase Spock’s cycle had been in when she came aboard, nor how her own Time may have affected it. That was one aspect of her alteration Selar had been unable to calculate. A female in pon farr was unheard of, therefore no studies of its effect on a male’s cycle had ever been possible. But if that was the cause of Spock’s behavior…

She sat down heavily. If so, she had a duty to aid him. He had said he was free of his own betrothal. Perhaps she should attempt to convince Ruth as Ruth had… No, Spock had threatened her. Golden One Ruth might be, but at the Time, he would be driven to his mate… to her.

And what if it is true? she asked herself. If you have indeed triggered the cycle within him, how will it affect you? Will you, also, be triggered again, to reach the madness in another six months? And will that then trigger Spock yet again? Will you go on, forcing each other into the madness until…

She shut off the flow of her thoughts. It was too terrible to contemplate. She closed her left hand tightly. To go to Spock – how could Sulu understand that? That she would go to Spock’s bed, but not his? How can any outworlder understand the Time? It would not be a free choice. I have a duty to Spock, surely one from a warrior culture would understand…

No. He will not.

And what difference? If it is so, you are lost to him already. Spock is your mate…

The thought sent waves of panic and fear through her, and she did her best to calm it.

You do not even know if it is the case. Find out before you assume the worst. If it is, what must be must be. But if it is not… And can you refuse to confront it in either case?

She was gathering her courage when the door opened, startling her. Ruth looked and felt much calmer. No less frightened, but her fear was under control, and colored with determined compassion.

“The Captain says Spock’s under medical observation,” she said. “They don’t know what’s wrong…”

“I think I do,” Jilla broke in.

“Really?” Ruth asked, full of concern. Jilla flushed.

“As you describe them, his actions seem to indicate – “ She faltered. “If he was fighting the effects – he could be – due to my – Ruth, I was irrational before…”

Ruth frowned, her tia filling with sudden understanding. “No, I don’t think so, Jilla. He’s not irrational like that. And McCoy would know.”

“But if I – disrupted his – “ Jilla stammered.

Ruth shook her head. “He’d still know. Spock had his quarterly physical a little over a week ago. It couldn’t build up from normal levels that fast.”

“How can you be certain?” Jilla insisted. “He is half Human, and I…”

“Believe me, if he were – well, he wouldn’t be threatening to kill me, would he?”

Jilla flushed again. “If he needed - one specific…”

Suddenly Ruth smiled and her voice was gentle and understanding. “Jilla, he can’t be. Vulcans instinctively know what they need. You did. Spock would be demanding to go to Vulcan – or he’d be here. There’s no reason for you to think he wouldn’t, is there?” Jilla shook her head. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to ask him.”

“But if…”

“Jilla, it isn’t pon farr.” Jilla winced as Ruth went on. “Pon farr,” Jilla winced again, “is passionate and violent, not coldly menacing. Pon farr,” Another wince, “is a slow, methodical, predictable descent through aggravation, annoyance and irritability to inexorable lust. Pon farr – stop wincing – doesn’t make you a workaholic for a week then turn you into a crazy person in 36 hours.” Ruth folded her arms. “You don’t have to compromise yourself.”

“Ruth, I have a duty…”

“All right, you would. But it isn’t so you don’t.” Ruth turned away and Jilla was certain her next words had not meant to be overheard. “Besides, I’d have to kill you and Roy would have to kill me and then where would we be?”

“Thank you, Ruth,” Jilla said softly.

“You’re welcome,” Ruth murmured. “I just wish I knew what was wrong with him.”


The ship was sighted barely an hour out of orbit. Its identification beam read HTE Borderline – Haven Trading Empire. Before Kirk could request an open frequency, Uhura was reporting contact. “Let’s hear what they have to say for themselves,” Kirk said. “Put in on audio, Lieutenant.”

“Hi there,” came a falsely cheerful Haven voice. “You’re the Enterprise, we’re the Borderline. Captain Luk Iriden to be precise. We know you’re there, you know we’re here. Let’s keep it that way. Iriden out.”

Kirk grit his teeth. “Uhura, get that – captain – back!”

“Aye, sir.” She pressed several relays. “Frequency open, Captain.”

“Yes?” Iriden’s voice said politely.

“Your vessel is subject to a search, Captain,” Kirk pointed out sternly.

“Not until we engage in trading activities, Captain,” Iriden pointed out in return. “You can follow us around and swoop in for the kill if you like. Of course, we aren’t guaranteeing who will end up the hawk – hello, Kam - and who the prey. Iriden out, again.”

“Contact broken, sir,” Uhura reported.

Kirk was furious. “Get it back.”

She sighed apprehensively. “Aye, sir.”

“This is getting tedious,” Iriden said.

“Yes, it is,” Kirk agreed. “I’m required to serve you with official warning. We will not allow you to trade illegal substances within our borders. Any such action on your part will be interpreted as an act of war. And you won’t goad me into starting it, you can deal on that, Captain. Kirk out.”

Kirk sat back, satisfied with his actions. They had been automatic and the proper way to deal with Havens. He was alert, exhilarated, and most of all determined to do nothing to jeopardize his existence – so if it came to a battle with the Borderline, he was certain of the outcome. Iriden didn’t have as much to lose.


Kevin Riley exchanged relieved glances with Sulu. “I thought for a moment they were gonna push him too far,” Riley said.

“I’ll bet that’s what he wanted them to think,” Sulu replied. “You’ve got to play Havens by their own rules.”

Kevin glanced back at Kirk, a respectful, approving grin coming over his features. “I’ll bet you’re right,” he said, then added, “Speaking of – what did he mean, ‘hello Kam’?”

Sulu frowned. “How should I know?” he asked.


Spock paced in his quarters, his hands held firmly together in front of him. No more, he told himself. He had had two cc’s not four hours ago. A bitter thought struck him; how much had Kirk been putting in his food? Ten cc’s a day just barely allowed him to function without climbing the walls, and the craving was getting stronger. He was expected back on duty. He had to report to the Bridge, no matter how much he wanted to avoid it. If only he could prove that the man captaining the Enterprise was not Jim Kirk… There was no cure for him, he knew that, but he would turn himself in if he could be sure Jim was back in command of his body. Keep enough control, keep your mind alert long enough for that, he thought, and I will give you all of the drug you wish.

He bent his head to his hands for a moment, then jerked upright and strode out of his quarters.


Kirk watched his First Officer at the Science Station, watched the shaking hands moving deliberately over the computer controls. He must be taking it, he thought, with just a touch of worry. He’d be screaming or dead by now.

Spock can control it, I knew he could!

Look at his eyes, they are filled with the drug.

“Mr. Spock?”

The Vulcan jumped, turning in his chair. “Yes… Captain.”

“Report on the Haven ship?”

“Holding steady, she is keeping her distance.” The voice quavered.

“Very good, continue monitoring.” The cool, hazel eyes of Jim Kirk held Spock’s glance for a fraction of a second. Fear leapt into the darting Vulcan gaze and Kirk smiled. You see, panic, madness. He takes the drug.


This is your doing, Captain. You felt the need to concern your intelligent friend with our secret. You threatened my survival and he suffers for it. But you must agree - no one will listen to the ravings of a cordrazine addict.

My friend, I‘m sorry, forgive me! If I could stop it…

Captain Kirk glanced again at the Vulcan, still smiling.


Ruth's head jerked up as her forehead touched the cool metal of the scanner. She blinked, glancing at the report she was supposed to be coding. Several pages had gone by that she hadn’t seen. She switched the machine off. Spock or no Spock, she couldn’t work when she kept falling asleep. He’d gone back to being a workaholic, and though she no longer had to do his paperwork, he’d given her that much and more to do herself. He had asked her, pointedly, if she had any objections. She’d hesitated for a moment, trying to ascertain which reply would get her the least hostile response. It could go either way. If she said no, he might use it as proof of her ambitions. If she said yes, he might jump on her for insubordination, laziness, and god knew what else. Then she realized her deliberation would probably only make him certain she was trying to manipulate him. So she’d settled on “I got a choice?” Of course, she didn’t. She got a reprimand anyway.

“Miss Valley, I sincerely doubt if there is anyone forcing you to remain an officer on board this vessel. However, as long as you choose to do so, you will perform the duties required of you.”

She’d said, “yes, sir,” both the memory of his threat and Captain Kirk’s compassionate concern echoing in her.

She shook her head and left the lab where she’d been working. What she needed was a long talk with Bones about their pointy-eared First Officer’s condition.

The turbolift took her to Deck Seven, and she began the short walk to Sickbay. As she passed an open lab door, she heard the sound of the chemical replicator and casually glanced through the doorway. Then she did a double-take, staring dumbfounded. She closed her eyes, ordering her heart to beat, convinced herself she’d seen wrong, and looked again.

Spock stood before the replicator, his hands trembling, preparing a hypospray.

Ruth swallowed hard, unable to believe what her eyes told her. Spock’s face was pale, his eyes fevered and bitter at the same time. He hesitated, staring at the hypo, then abruptly slammed his hand down on the lab table. He gripped its edges, his head twitching every few seconds. Ruth recognized the fight for control, as though whatever was plaguing him could be cast away with but a shake of his head. She glanced at the hypo. What was Spock trying to control?

A low groan escaped him, and though he didn’t move, his figure seemed to slump. He picked up the hypospray, closed his eyes, and held it to his arm. The hiss of the spray was closely followed by the hiss of his intake of breath.

Goddess, he is sick!

Relief flooded Ruth’s mind, but she had the presence to step quickly away from the doorway. He’s sick and being stupidly Vulcan about it, not telling Bones or anyone else and trying to self-medicate. No wonder’s he’s driving everyone crazy! And of course, alienate the keheil who just might sense his illness and try to help. You idiot, home remedies only work if the home is Antares! Well, Boss, I’m not about to let you kill yourself out of stubborn Vulcan pride!

She strode up the corridor to the door marked ‘Dr. Leonard McCoy.’


McCoy looked up from dictating his medical log at Ruth Valley’s determined voice.

“Bones, he’s being an idiot and you’ve got to do something.”

He hid the half smile at his favorite Lieutenant’s always unique way of starting a conversation. “Who, and what do you suggest, Ruthie?” he said tolerantly, switching off the recorder.

“Spock. I saw him medicating himself for something with something and he needs a doctor. He’s been acting abnormally for days and the Captain said you were observing him. He’s sick and you aren’t doing anything…”

“Hold on, Ruth,” McCoy broke in. “I did a physical on him a week ago. There wasn’t anything wrong – “

“Well there is now,” Ruth retorted, “or why was he at the pharmacological replicator? I saw him give himself an injection.”

“He hasn’t…”

“Of course he hasn’t, he’s being an idiot!” Ruth blazed.

“All right, calm down,” McCoy soothed. “I’ll get him down here for another check. And you can access the replicator log and see what he’s been takin’, all right?”

Ruth nodded. “He’s so damned stubborn,” she muttered, “him and his Vulcan pride, Minneapolis, for god’s sake…” Her voice trailed off, then she looked up, her worried purple eyes meeting McCoy’s blue ones. “I’ll get the log. Call me when you find out what’s wrong, okay, Bones?”

“I will,” he promised. After she’d gone, he called for the First Officer to report to Sickbay.


Not yet! Spock groaned when he heard McCoy’s call. It is too soon, there is too much more I must do! But of course, what has done this to me will have arranged for my capture. Logical creature, remorseless, emotionless destroyer. How could I have hoped to prevail against that?

He clenched his fists, rigidly controlling the trembling of his hands. He did not expect to deceive McCoy’s practiced medical eye for long, but perhaps he would have time to explain before the doctor branded him insane.

McCoy was waiting beside a diagnostic bed. “Yes, Doctor?” Spock said tonelessly.

“Get up here, I want to check you over.”


McCoy scowled. “Now don’t argue with me, Spock…”

“No. I will not argue.”

“Then you’d best answer some…”

“I do not have time for…”

“Spock, I know you’ve been medicating yourself. You can tell me why, and with what, or we’ll do it the hard way.”

Spock felt his control crumbling. How had he found out? He stopped the groan in his throat and realized he had bowed his head when he had to raise it to look at McCoy. “You must listen to me,” he said hoarsely. “You will not believe me, especially when – “ He stopped, turning and pacing away. “No. If that is all, Doctor…”

McCoy’s hand clamped on his arms. “Spock, if you’re ill…”

“I am not ill!” It was a shout.

“Damn your Vulcan pride…!”

Spock turned sharply, suddenly. “It is hardly Vulcan pride, Doctor!” He blinked in agitated surprise as McCoy took a frantic step away from him. He calmed himself with an effort. “Leave it, Doctor, there is nothing that can be done.”


“I said leave it!”


McCoy forced the fear from his mind. He’s trying to scare you off, he told himself, And there’s obviously something drastically wrong with him. He took a deep breath.

“I won’t leave it,” he said sternly, but gently. “I’m a doctor and you’re sick whether you want to admit it or not. I’ll keep you here until you do some explaining, or until I run every test I’ve got on you, so you might as well…”

Spock had begun shaking as he spoke, and he finally slumped into a chair. The long hands came up, covering a suddenly weary face, then folded in the typical gesture of intense concentration. “Please,” he whispered. “Just a little more time, I beg you.”

“Spock, what’s wrong with you?” McCoy asked.

“The Captain!”


“No, not Jim! Does no one else see it?”

McCoy was completely confused. “See what?”

“That the thing in the con is not Jim Kirk,” Spock replied from between clenched teeth.

“Isn’t Jim – Spock, what in blazes are you talking about?”

Spock gave a resigned, bitter sigh. “I did not expect you to believe me. It has seen to that. No one will believe me and it will win, Jim will be lost, it will destroy me. It has destroyed me, I accept that, but I hoped to find – “ The dark eyes flashed up at McCoy. “You must give me the time I need!”

McCoy stared worriedly at him. His face was a sallow yellow-green, his eyes fever-bright. He was concentrating so hard on keeping his hands from shaking that McCoy could see the muscles in his arms were corded, even beneath his uniform sleeve. “Let me do a scan – “ McCoy began gently.

“No!” Spock’s voice was a furious snarl.

“What were you injecting, Spock?”

The tense form stiffened, then seemed to cave in on itself. “No use,” he mumbled. “Too late, no use.” Spock’s eyes closed. “Cordrazine,” he whispered.

It was long minutes before McCoy could speak, or even think clearly. Cordrazine? Impossible. To be injecting that stuff voluntarily… He remembered as a horrible dream the accident that had pumped a massive dose of the drug into his own system, the madness and panicked paranoia that followed… His eyes snapped to Spock. Madness and paranoia. But why? “Spock – “ he faltered.

“There is no reason!” Spock snapped as if he’d read McCoy’s mind. “Do you think I would do such a thing to myself? I take it because to forsake it would mean my death and I cannot die before I do what must be done!”

“You’re – “ McCoy stammered, “ – you’re – “

“The word is addicted,” Spock growled. “I have been brought to that state. I must survive it long enough to insure its destruction.”

“Whose destruction?”

“The thing that masquerades as our captain.”

“Spock, you can’t…”

“Cordrazine will kill me, Doctor! I must have what little time is left me!”

McCoy made a quick, painful decision. Whatever the reason, Spock was insane. He had to call Security, and the Captain. He made a slow, careful start toward the com on his desk. Spock was staring at his clenched hands, trying to breathe deeply and evenly. Now it was easy to recognize the trembling, the brightness of his eyes, his erratic manner as the result of chemical stimulants. There was a lump forming in McCoy’s throat as he realized the intense pressures that must have brought Spock to this. To see him breaking this way… He swallowed hard and Spock’s head jerked up, his voice harsh, furiously anguished.

NO!” he roared, and before McCoy knew it, Spock had pulled him away, smashing the com unit. “You will tell no one!”

"Spock, calm down,” McCoy tried to soothe. “No one’s going to hurt you, just calm down and I’ll…”

Spock stood over him, glaring, threatening. “I cannot trust you,” he stated. “I need time, you must be silent.”

McCoy turned, racing for the door. He never made it.


Ruth tried her best, but she couldn’t break the privacy code Spock had placed on his usage of the replicator. She went to her cabin and paced for another hour. When no call came from McCoy, she headed impatiently back to Sickbay. After all, if it was something too serious for McCoy’s technology to handle, there was undoubtedly something she could do.

“Bones, you said you’d – Zehara!”

She dropped to her knees beside the prone, unconscious form of Leonard McCoy. His jaw was broken, that much was obvious. A panicked voice in her head repeated Spock’s threat to her as she realized who must have attacked Bones. With a groan of self-castigation, she focused her empathy on the doctor, taking and healing the bruised flesh, crushed veins, and broken bones, taking, too the pressure of a life-threatening concussion and the unconsciousness that went with it. Then she forced herself to stay awake as McCoy groaned and then abruptly sat up.

“Where is he?” he asked fiercely.

“I assume you mean Spock and I don’t know,” Ruth replied dully. “What happened, what’s wrong with him?”

“He tried to kill me. He may be after Jim. I’d better call…”

Ruth grabbed him before he could finish. “What’s wrong with him?!

“Cordrazine addiction,” he answered as he pulled away from her grasp.

Ruth closed her eyes and slumped to the deck, defeated and already grieving. McCoy had just pronounced Spock a dead man.

“Damn!” she heard McCoy mutter and she glanced up with hopeless eyes. He stood by a smashed and useless com.

“Bones, how – why - " she stammered, fighting tears. McCoy turned, looking as defeated as she felt.

“I don’t know, Ruthie, god, I don’t know.”

“Don’t call security, let me go to him.”

“Are you out of your mind?”

Ruth swallowed a sob. “Maybe I can…”

“Didn’t you hear me, girl?” McCoy bellowed. “Cordrazine! He’s an addict by his own admission! What could you do?”

“Take it…”

“Take the craving for a while, addict yourself, and do him no good!” McCoy thundered.

“Bones, I have to!”

I have to tell Security and the Captain!”

Ruth grabbed his arm, pleading. “There has to be an answer, a reason, please, don’t just lock him up, Bones, please!”

“Ruth don’t you understand? He’s violently, dangerously insane…”

It’s my fault!" she screamed at him. “I pushed him, I must have driven him – he told me, warned me – oh god, Bones, it’s my fault!

McCoy firmly took her shoulders, pushing her into a chair. “Now you explain yourself, Lieutenant,” he said.

She took a deep breath and started talking.


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