Sweet Fire

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

(Standard Year 2247)

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PART FOUR

They met the Captain in his office. What Ruth and McCoy had to tell him had to be said in private. Ruth planned to let McCoy do most of the talking. He had managed to convince her hysteria that it really wasn’t her fault – but that didn’t mean the thought didn’t linger in the back of her mind. She wasn’t even sure she should be there. Bones didn’t think she could be any help, especially since she was finding it difficult to think coherently, but she needed to present the option anyway.

Kirk was sitting at his desk when they came in. He looked up. “You said this was important,” he began. Seeing the worried, serious expressions on their faces, he quickly added, “I see it is. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know where to start, Jim,” McCoy said wearily. He sat in the chair in front of the desk, with Ruth standing behind him. Kirk waited. “It’s Spock,” McCoy continued. “We know what’s wrong with him.”

Ruth stared at the floor. She could feel Kirk’s gaze swing between McCoy and herself, but she didn’t look up.

“How serious is it, Doctor?” Kirk asked. His quiet tone indicated that he understood the gravity of the situation.

“Cordrazine,” McCoy answered. “He’s addicted to it.”

The words, their meaning hit Ruth again. They held the sound of a death knell; jarring and final. She shuddered with the helplessness of it.

“How?” It was all the stunned captain could manage. McCoy sighed.

“I don’t know, but Ruth has a theory. It sounds impossible, but it’s the only one that fits. He’s well into it, Jim, advanced stage I’m sure.”

Kirk turned to Ruth. “Miss Valley?” he asked.

Ruth shifted uncomfortably. “Mr. Spock seemed, well, preoccupied of late with the idea that I was trying to somehow discredit or replace him. I think he might have tried a seven percent solution thing to be able to work harder and longer and…”

“Seven percent solution?” Kirk questioned.

“It’s from a Sherlock Holmes story,” Ruth replied with a grimace. “Holmes used a stimulant, cocaine, in the books, and in one alternate reality story it’s postulated the criminal mastermind Moriarty is really only a math professor and that Holmes’ addiction is the reason he thinks Moriarty is some kind of …” Her voice trailed off. “Since Crawford, Mr. Spock’s been seeing to it that I’m culturally literate…” she rejoined, then broke off again as tears welled in her eyes. She remembered how Spock had recommended Sherlock Holmes; ‘a Human capable of logic – proof, Miss Valley, that such a thing is conceivable.’ “Well, maybe he thought the drug would give him an edge or something and it got out of hand, like in the book…” she finished lamely. It sounded ridiculous now. Maybe it was. Maybe she was the one transferring fiction to reality.

“It’s the only thing that comes close to making sense, Jim,” McCoy was saying. “All his life he’s had one thing shielding him from his neuroses; he was the best. The fear of losing that may have been too much for him. The pressure may have gotten too great.” He sighed. “We both knew it might happen someday.”

Kirk nodded sadly. “Is there anything you can do for him?”

McCoy shook his head. “’Fraid not, Jim.”

“Miss Valley?”

“I can try,” Ruth answered hesitantly.

“Ruthie, we’ve been over that,” McCoy interrupted.

“Been over what?” Kirk asked.

“It would be hard to deal with, I know that, but…” Ruth began

“It would get you addicted without doing a damn thing for Spock,” McCoy said harshly.

“We don’t know that,” Ruth insisted. “I could at least…”

“There’s enough proof of it for me. Not even keheils can handle chemical addiction, not if their bodies like it. You told me that yourself. Cordrazine is a stimulant, Ruth. I guarantee your body will like it – until it’d be too late for you, too.”

“But it’s never been tried with non-Haven chemicals…”

“Miss Valley,” Kirk said softly, “If the doctor thinks there’s too much risk…”

“But Captain…”

“With no appreciable gain, it’s hardly the logical thing to attempt.” Kirk’s gentle irony made Ruth close her mouth and stop her objections. “If there were a reasonable chance, it would be different. I don’t want to lose more of my crew.” He looked at her closely. “That’s an order, Lieutenant.”

“Yes, sir,” Ruth mumbled.

Kirk turned to McCoy. “I assume you have him confined in Sickbay, Doctor?”

McCoy rubbed his jaw. “I tried. The paranoia has started to effect him. He may be dangerous. No, strike that, he’s very dangerous.”

“Then we’ll have to find him.” Kirk opened the comlink on his desk. “Kirk to Bridge.”

“Spock here,” came the immediate reply. Kirk stared frantically at McCoy before continuing.

“Status?”

“No increase in Haven activity.” The com was closed with an abrupt click.

Zehara!” Ruth exclaimed quietly.

“He’s got my ship,” Kirk said. “I left Sulu with the con.”

“We’ve got to get him confined, Jim. There’s no tellin’ what he’ll do,” McCoy reminded grimly.

“Have you alerted Security?” Kirk asked.

“They’re awaiting your orders, Captain,” McCoy replied.

Kirk got up, pacing. “I can’t just take a phaser and gun him down. I can’t send a team after him, there’s too much damage he could do on the Bridge.” He abruptly whirled on McCoy. “McCoy, how could this happen? He’s the best officer, my best friend…”

“I know how you feel, Jim,” McCoy said softly. "That he could destroy himself like this…" His voice trailed off sadly.

“I have to do something,” Kirk said from between clenched teeth. "Now. But what?”

Ruth fidgeted nervously. She had an idea, but she hesitated to suggest it. It smacked of shunting her responsibility – what responsibility? Bones says it’s not your fault! But Spock wouldn’t let her near him, nor McCoy, nor the Captain. There was only one person who he was likely to still trust – and Jilla had already indicated her willingness to…

No, it’s false. It’s asking her to lie, to use her bond with him…

But if it’s the only way to get him safely confined…

He’s sick, he needs help, and like it or not Jilla could…

“Captain, I have an idea,” she said ruefully. Both Kirk and McCoy turned to her. “Spock and Mrs. Majiir are – close,” she swallowed nervously, hating herself. “He has no reason not to trust his mate.” She winced. “If you understand what I mean…”

“Yes, Miss Valley,” Kirk replied tightly. “I think I do.” He opened the com to Engineering. “Ensign Majiir, report to the Captain’s office. Acknowledge.”

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Jilla heard the call and pulled herself away from the half-completed prototype of the warp shuttle engine. “Mr. Scott, can you…” she began

Scott smiled at her. “Aye, lassie, I’ll look after her.” She nodded her appreciation and stepped to the wall com.

“Ensign Majiir, acknowledging,” she said, and wiped her hands on her coveralls. She stopped in the changing area to remove them, straightening her uniform and her hair before heading for the turbolift. She wondered idly why she had been summoned, hoping it was the official go-ahead for the shuttles. But if that, Ruth should have also been called. But Ruth had been doing very little of what should be done of late, notably on their joint project. After Spock’s threat, her Antari roommate had become very cautious regarding anything that wasn’t a direct order. The thought disturbed her, reminding her of the mystery surrounding Spock’s behavior. Dr. McCoy has him under observation, she thought. For the time being, it is all that can be done.

But Spock, what is wrong with you?

The worry and regret and hopelessness hit her as soon as she entered Kirk’s office. She inhaled, biting down on the gasp, immediately forcing control. Ruth, Dr. McCoy and the Captain were standing in the office. “Re- reporting, sir,” she faltered. She noted that Ruth refused to look at her.

“Mrs. Majiir,” the Captain began, and something played false with her tia. She shook it away, the intensity of the emotions in the room again threatening to overwhelm her. “You are aware of Mr. Spock’s – difficulties – this past week, are you not?”

“Yes, sir,” Jilla replied. “Has Dr. McCoy found – “

“He’s addicted to cordrazine, Jilla,” Ruth broke in.

Sumin tu!” Jilla gasped.

“He’s dangerous, paranoid, suspicious of us all – and on the Bridge,” McCoy added, and his gruff tone could not hide the grief that poured from him.

“Except you, Jilla,” Ruth rejoined, her voice filled with unutterable sorrow. “He trusts you. You’re the only one who even has a chance to get close to him.”

Jilla struggled with the emotions, her soul wanting to scream in agony. Another mate dead, not again, Aema, not again! The horrified, incredulous pain threatened to consume her. A thousand questions burned in her mind as she stared, unable to speak, gaping between Ruth and McCoy and Kirk.

“It’s true, Mrs. Majiir,” Kirk said heavily, and again a sense of wrongness touched her. “We don’t really know how or can do any more than guess at why.” Ruth lowered her head and guilt reached Jilla’s senses. “We do know he’s – “ the voice grew quieter. “- insane. He’s no longer capable of rational thought or behavior. And he’s violent. That’s why we’re counting on you, on the bond between you, to be able to reach him.” Kirk moved to stand before her, and she shrank from the unmistakable, confusing satisfaction that emanated in his tia. “This is a delicate thing to ask, Ensign,” he continued, “and it is a request. I can’t order it. I can tell you that it’s for the good of the ship –“ He paused. “- for Spock's good.”

Jilla blinked back tears. Whatever he wanted of her, he was not lying. The emotions were too strong, even if they felt somehow – unfathomable. “What – “ she faltered, “am I do to?”

“You’re capable of performing the nerve pinch, aren’t you?” Kirk asked.

“Yes, sir, but…”

“I realize that it might not be effective on Spock’s stronger musculature, but with luck, it won’t have to be.”

“I don’t understand,” Jilla pleaded quietly.

“I want you to go to the Bridge, Ensign.” Kirk’s voice was firm, but gentle. “I want you to convince Spock to leave with you. Assure him he won’t be hurt.” Jilla’s eyes flashed up at him. It wasn’t a lie, not exactly, but not yet completely the truth. “I assure you, he won’t be, unless he becomes violent.” The words explained the small evasion, and Jilla understood. The captain was being torn apart by the decisions he had to make. “Use whatever you have to, Ensign, however embarrassing it may be to you personally. Once he’s safely off the Bridge, we can sedate him, take care of him. He’s a sick man, we want to help him, but the drug has made him irrational and paranoid. However, as Miss Valley pointed out when she came to me with this idea,” a small, sad smile touched Kirk’s features, “Spock has no reason not to trust his mate.”

Jilla felt her skin glowing as Ruth softly groaned, “I’m sorry, Jilla.” She tried to clear her thoughts of the power of the emotions that swirled around and through her. Spock, addicted to cordrazine? By his own hand? How else? But I have had no contact with him for over a week, he would not even suspect I know the truth.

And even if he did, it would not matter. The Bond, even as tenuous as ours is, cannot be mistrusted.

Is there any other course? Would another do him more or less harm? Will he trust me after this?

Will there be anything left of his mind to trust me with?

It does not matter. You have a duty to your mate.

She trembled, fiercely fighting the tears that threatened to fall from her eyes. “Very well,” she said, nearly inaudible. “When?”

“Now, Ensign.”

For a moment, Jilla blinked in renewed confusion. Why had there been a touch of glee in the Captain’s grim response?

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Sulu couldn’t believe the report his assistant called to the Bridge. McCoy had reported an assault and had asked for a full alert pending the Captain’s orders – on Spock. He had described the First Officer as disturbed and violent, extreme caution to be used if he was sighted. Spock? Disturbed and violent? He’d been edgy, a little more upset over the Haven situation than would have been expected, but… Sulu shook his head. McCoy had been serious and, impossible though it seemed, as Chief of Security, he had to take it seriously. He only wished Kirk would give official orders to he could do something instead of sitting, wondering and worrying.

He looked up at the sound of the turbolift door and froze. Spock stepped onto the Bridge, obviously tense and agitated, his eyes hooded and fierce. Seeing him, Sulu suddenly had no trouble believing the report. Violence seemed to radiate from him.

Spock took the few steps to the con, not looking at him. “You will step down, Mr. Sulu,” he snapped.

Sulu swallowed. “Aye, sir,” he said and moved down to the Helm. Instead of taking the con, Spock crossed to the Science Station, his fingers flying over the computer controls. What in god’s name is he doing? Sulu thought frantically. Can I let him go on? Can I stop him? Captain, where are my orders?

The com whistled and Spock punched it to the Science Station before Sulu could move. “Spock here.”

There was a half-second pause before Kirk’s voice said, “Status?”

“No increase in Haven activity,” Spock said and snapped the com closed.

That was it, Sulu thought. Now what the hell do I do? He took a deep breath. “Mr. Spock,” he called, “if you’re handling the con, I’d like to…”

“Stay at your post, Mr. Sulu,” Spock broke in. “Attend to the helm and keep pace with the Borderline.”

“There’s a relief helmsman here, sir, and…”

“I will not discuss it!” the First Officer barked

Sulu closed his eyes, the muscles in his body tensing, the adrenalin prickling his skin. He was frightened out of his wits, and wasn’t ashamed to admit it. If Spock could go mad, nothing was certain and nothing was safe. His body refused to relax, his mind alert for any sign of hostile intent from Spock. What would Kirk do? He had a few ideas – such as quietly transferring control of the ship to auxiliary then flooding the main Bridge with sedative gas. Or create a diversion at the turbolift and have a man sneak up the stairs with a phaser. Or –

His thoughts were interrupted by the hiss of the lift door. It was Jilla. And she was heading straight for Spock.

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On the way to the Bridge, Jilla thought of the perfect excuse to approach Spock. She was having difficulty with the ratios of the decreased intermix formulae for the shuttles. Ruth should have worked them out, and now Jilla was glad she hadn’t. Without a legitimate reason to speak with Spock, she was certain she would have betrayed her true intention too soon to do what must be done. It would be more than difficult even so. She took deep breath as the turbolift door opened, forcing her strictest control, and started across the Bridge.

Jilla no!” Sulu’s voice hissed. She ignored it, but Spock swiftly turned from the Science Station. She swallowed the shock as her senses were inundated with the extremity of his emotions; desolate terror, hopeless, grieving sorrow, bitter, angry despair. His strong features looked drawn, almost hawkish, and his eyes were fevered coal. Was this what Ruth had called ‘workaholic’? How had she been unable to see that he was desperately ill? Cordrazine, she reminded herself. He is addicted, and quite mad. And he threatened her. What else was she to do?

She again forced calm and control into her being. “Commander," she began, “if you have some free time…”

“I do not!” he snapped at her. She made her voice as soft and submissive as she could.

“A moment, only. I would not presume to intrude on your valuable time if it were not imperative.”

The tone seemed to soothe him, as she knew it must, for it was the tone of deference and appeasement. It would call to his instincts, if not his mind, the bond that invoked such subordination. “I have command,” he returned, and his voice was less harsh.

“A moment, only, Spock,” she repeated, more humbly, and saw the hesitation in his eyes. “It is the intermix ratios for the shuttles,” she went on. “Ruth has not…”

That was a mistake. At the name, his eyes flashed, his body tensing again. “Did Miss Valley send you?” he rasped. The fear and fury flowed from him and Jilla winced. He is hurting, he is lost… he is insane!

“No, Spock,” she replied swiftly. “She has not done the work she should have, that is all I meant. We need not speak of her.” She tried to bite back the words and found she could not. “She cannot harm you, I would not…”

His eyes bored into hers. “They have told you,” he said.

She flushed. “I… ”

Rilain, will not even you believe me?”

She fought with the pain and grief. He seems so lucid! “Spock… kindred…”

“It is not me, Jilla!” he whispered in a voice full of desperation. “That I will go mad is a certainty, but – the Captain is not Jim! You must listen, you must help him!”

“Help…?” she stammered.

“Help Jim!” he cried. “It knows I know, that is why it has done this to me! Rilain, I must have time…”

“Yes, Spock, yes,” she broke in quickly. It was an effort to keep her voice steady, so great was his panic and her own answering sorrow. “Come with me now, we cannot discuss it here.” A sudden feeling of treachery nearly overwhelmed her. How could she be doing this?

“No, I cannot.. I must stay here… I must work, find a way… it must be in the reports, the artifacts from…”

“We can work elsewhere, together,” Jilla pleaded. “Come, Spock, come with me.” It is betrayal! her mind screamed.

Rilain, you must believe me!”

“Please, Spock,” she begged, “come to me, trust me…” How can you do this?! Win him, then turn him over to the very thing he fears?

“I cannot leave the ship to it!”

“I will help you, please Spock – “ She took a deep breath. “Farr’ain, come to me, take my hands.” She held them out. “Please, come, farr’ain… please.

He took a faltering step forward. She knew he would, he must. She had called him not husband – she could not bring herself to that – but ‘mated-one’, and he could no longer mistrust her. Bitter accusation shrieked in her mind as he came closer. How can you betray him now? Listen to him, believe him…

He is mad, it is the cordrazine…

Do you not trust your own tia? Have you not felt this ‘thing’ with your own senses?

But the drug…

Aema, help me!

Behind her the turbolift door hissed open. Spock’s face went ashen pale and he hissed one word at her, his extended hand moving from hers to her throat. She reacted automatically, reaching for his shoulder, exerting all her strength when her hand touched the uniform-covered flesh. She heard Sulu’s sharp cry and her hand tightened – and Spock slumped. She sank to her knees beside him, pulling him into her arms, swallowing sobs. A security team surrounded Spock and she felt Sulu’s arms coming around her. She shrugged them off.

“Well done, Ensign,” Kirk’s voice said, and she looked up as the Captain turned to Ruth. “You’ll be temporary Chief of Sciences, Miss Valley. I’ll outline your duties when Spock is secured.”

Well done, Ensign? I’ll outline your duties when Spock is secured? Jilla stared at the man taking the con. There was no remorse there, only cold, callous satisfaction. Aema, was Spock right? Was that being not James Kirk? He had said ‘help Jim…’ If that was not ‘Jim’…

The word Spock had hissed came back to her: m’lkta’fee, ‘mate-betrayer.’ She sobbed and quickly stumbled off the Bridge.

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Sulu stabbed furiously at the com, hissing an urgent call to the Security Section. His fear hadn’t disappeared, but it no longer mattered. Not when the woman he loved was walking toward a madman five times stronger than anyone else on the Bridge. He readied himself for quick action, probably a bad beating, even possible death, and started to rise. The Captain’s voice stopped him. It was an intense whisper from the com.

“Mr. Sulu, don’t interfere! That’s an order!”

Don’t interfere? God he could kill her! he cried silently. But military discipline held and he watched, frozen as if in some nightmare, Spock’s fever and Jilla’s trembling calm. She’s strong, capable… kami guard her!

He couldn’t hear what they said, each second taking an eternity to pass. Spock took a step forward and it was too much. He started for him, to put himself between the Vulcan madman and Jilla’s fragile, delicate form. The turbolift opened, Spock reached for Jilla’s throat. Sulu cried out, Jilla clutched at Spock’s shoulder and abruptly it was all over. She slumped to her knees and he went to her. She refused his comfort, sobbing over Spock’s unconscious body instead. Helplessness overwhelmed him as he watched Spock being carried from the Bridge. Before he could speak to her, Jilla, too, was off the Bridge. He glanced at Kirk, hoping for some explanation. It came from Ruth.

“Cordrazine,” she said in a voice strangled with tears. “He’s an addict. She was all he would trust.” Then she collapsed into his arms, and he gave her all the consolation Jilla had rejected.

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He went about the rest of his duty watch in numbed shock. There was no sense, no certainly anywhere, but his hands knew the helm controls and they worked as efficiently as always. Off duty, he found himself at Jilla’s door, but she wouldn’t answer, not even to tell him to leave her alone. In his quarters, alone, he lay down and let the hopelessness wash over him in dark, heavy waves.

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Ruth entered her quarters quietly. She’d been subdued, dazed since seeing Spock carried off the Bridge. It was too horrible to think about. At least Jilla had been able to leave. She’d had to stay and take over all of Spock’s scientific duties. It had been the hardest day of her life – and what was worse, she knew it was only the beginning.

“Ruth?” Jilla’s voice called from the sleeping room.

“You were expecting someone else?” The wisecrack came out lame. Jilla walked into the room, wearing a pale blue robe. Her eyes were rimmed in dark gray. She’d been crying. Ruth tried not to notice.

“I have been waiting to talk to you,” Jilla stated.

“Yeah, well, a Chief of Science’s work is never done.”

“Ruth, please do not joke about it,” Jilla said softly.

Ruth sat at the desk, pulling off her boots, rubbing her calves. “What do you want me to do about it?” she asked wearily. “It happened. It’s terrible and unthinkable, but he’s mad. He’s been under too much pressure…”

“I do not believe that,” Jilla broke in. “Do you?”

“There’s no other…”

“Are you so sure, Ruth? He was making sense. Captain Kirk has not been behaving…”

Ruth sighed. “Jilla, you just want that to be true.”

“No, Ruth, there is more to it than that. I have felt the…”

“You can’t accept the idea that Spock – any Vulcan can go insane!” Ruth blazed. “He pushed too hard! He was taking cordrazine in fantastic amounts! You know what that stuff can do!” She stood up and crossed the room. Jilla’s voice followed her.

“He said the captain did it to him,” she said. “He asked me to ‘help Jim’. And in his office, the Captain was… I felt it, Ruth. There was a strangeness about his tia, a wrongness…” She rose, turned to again face Ruth. “What is it Spock insists the Captain did to him? The drug? Spock is not the type to use stimulants, you know it as well as I…”

“Jilla, he’s a sick man,”: Ruth explained patiently. “He’s been paranoid about everything. He thought I was after his job and he was trying to…”

“But Ruth, that would all be symptomatic of the chemical abuse, not of reason to…”

“It’s sad and it’s horrible but facts are facts!” Ruth spoke clearly, painfully. “Spock is addicted to cordrazine! There’s no cure! He’s hopelessly, finally, irrevocably insane!”

She went to the bathroom, turned on the shower and heard Jilla say, “But which was first, the drug or the insanity? Ruth, what if it was the drug?!”

As the cool rush hit her skin, Ruth became aware that she had been quite rational. Except for a momentary collapse into Sulu’s arms, she had finished out her watch without a complaint. She had held a reasonable if painful conversation with Jilla. She had undressed, stepped into the shower stall, turned on the cold water. Yet she didn’t feel any of it. She didn’t quite believe in the reality of all the mundane actions that had made up the day since…

She closed her eyes and waited for the thoughts to wash over her. It was coming, she knew, it had only waited for this moment, for privacy to allow the waves to swell up and hit her with all its familiar force. She felt the warmth of her tears and heard her voice sobbing above the shower’s hiss. Goddess, I’ve done it again! My doing, my compulsion, my pushing him to be something he couldn’t be. Minneapolis. Who the fuck do I think I am?

It wasn’t her ambition, not this time. It wasn’t her compulsion to be the best at everything that had destroyed another life. She hadn’t pushed him to compete with her. Not this time. This time, she had pushed him to join her cause, to believe, as she did, that being a hybrid was the only way to a fulfilled life.

Why? she snarled at herself. What, do I need converts now to sing the praises of the One True Lifestyle? I tried being the wise, gentle healer, and I tried denying her. Neither course completed me. But being Vulcan was everything to Spock. Why did I push him to be what I am? Was it my Human half that drove him mad or his own? Human jealousy, Human fear – did I bring that out in him? Human weaknesses, not Human strengths, and his Vulcan half wasn’t able to cope. How could it? Vulcan philosophy doesn’t deal with demons, it refuses to acknowledge they exist. So where was Keheil ani Ramy when he needed her? Right here, I could’ve sworn…

Push. Push, push.

And because I’m afraid to admit to it for fear he doesn’t return it, I drive him insane? Did I pull an “if I can’t have him, no one will” number on him? Am I that sick, that needy?

“I’m hungry for company, but I can’t think of the words.”

The same words she had sung to Kevin Riley, from an old song that continued, “What’s a nice girl like me doing in a place that never closes, I can hardly hear you, holy Moses, lookin’ so sad…”

Enough! she screamed at herself, goddamn it, enough! It’s over. Live with it. Feeling sorry for yourself does nothing for him, nothing to change it whether it was your fault or not. And there’s nothing anyone can do for him ever again, so just…

So just what? Forget he exists? He’s not dead yet!

I know. That’s what makes grieving even worse.

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“We’d be away from the sector for only four days, sir,” Kirk said to the screen image of Admiral Davidson. The Chief of Operations for Starfleet Command looked properly sorrowful and understanding.

“This is quite a blow, Captain. We can alert the ports of call in your sector about the Borderline. That should be sufficient for the time you’d be away.” The Admiral shook his head. “Such a waste. I’ll see about a replacement immediately. For now, make do with the personnel you have.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Will you inform his family, Captain?”

Family. Kirk’s mind moved swiftly. Ambassador Sarek, Amanda - Human? – on Vulcan. Strained relationship with Sarek, deep love for Amanda. “Yes, of course. It – won’t be easy.”

“No. We’re all sorry, Jim.”

“Yes, sir. Elba’s the best place for him.”

“Agreed.” The Admiral sighed. “Davidson out.”

The screen went blank and Kirk smiled, stretched, and rose from his desk. I’ve done it! he thought fiercely. And I’m exultant! A wonderful feeling! He even laughed out loud.

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Jilla followed Dr. McCoy from the Sickbay to the maximum security cell of the Brig. He was going to give Spock another shot of cordrazine. They had found his tolerance level, 20 cc’s in a twenty-four hour period, more than three times the usual fatal dosage for Humans. But massive amounts of the drug killed the mind before killing the body. That was what made cordrazine addiction so horrible. Without the drug, an addict would go mad and die. With it, he went mad, and eventually died. Only time and the physical agony of withdrawal made one course preferable over the other.

“You will allow me to see him Doctor?” Jilla asked.

“Mrs. Majiir, he’s irrational,” McCoy answered. “I have no idea how he’d react. I can’t take the risk.”

“I am the one taking the risk, Doctor, and I am capable of rendering him harmless. I have already done so.” Her voice held little of the bitterness she felt.

“He won’t let you get near enough for that,” McCoy commented.

“Then he will not get near enough to harm me,” Jilla replied.

“Ensign…”

“Please, Doctor, let me see him.” McCoy looked into the pleading grey eyes and sighed.

“Ten minutes, Jilla. No more.”

They reached the cell. Two guards stood outside the force field. Behind it Spock paced nervously, stepping lightly and quickly on the balls of his feet, his fingers grasping erratically at nothing. McCoy nodded to one of the men who turned and switched off the energy barrier. Spock whirled, his eyes dark and wild. McCoy held up the hypospray and approached cautiously.

Jilla closed her eyes. To see the way Spock followed the hypo was too painful to bear. He needed it, she knew, and it was better than what he would go through without it, but the devastation it wreaked on him tore at her.

The relief on his face as the hypo hissed the drug into his arm lasted only a brief moment, then he turned away from McCoy.

“Spock, Mrs. Majiir wants to talk with you,” McCoy said. Spock turned back to him.

“No,” he replied.

“Commander, please,” Jilla said quietly. Spock gazed at her. Betrayal and accusation flashed in his eyes, then he looked away. Abruptly he strode across the cell.

“Very well,” he said tonelessly. Jilla stepped into the cell. McCoy stepped out and the screen was switched back on.

Spock stood, his back to one wall, watching as Jilla moved toward him. The fear and anger and uncertainty beat at her, and she fought to remain calm and unemotional. She spoke, barely above a whisper.

"Spock, farr’ain..” she began.

How dare you!” he hissed at her. She bent her head and murmured Vulcan words begging for his forgiveness, a properly chagrinned and contritely subservient mate. She heard his ragged breathing slowing, and did not look up until he had grunted his acknowledgement, if not his acceptance of her apology.

“I know what you were trying to tell me,” she whispered. “I can feel that it is not the Captain. What must I do?”

His gaze flickered, darting anxiously about the cell. “No help,” he answered at last. The words came out hoarse and strangled, as though straining to be spoken. “It has destroyed me.” He paced away from her.

“How do I help James Kirk?” Jilla asked. “How can I free him? You spoke of the reports from Shas…?”

He stopped, staring at her with fevered, haunted eyes. “Be careful, it will know,” he whispered.

Tears forced their way into Jilla’s eyes and she blinked them back. “You are being taken to Elba II,” she told him, “there is not much time…”

“Thanks to you!” Spock snapped, beginning again to roam agitatedly about the cell. She close her eyes against the sting of his words.

“If I could release you from this place…”

“You put me here!” he snarled. “A few more days, I might have been able to stop it – it has the ship, the captain of a starship…!”

Farr’ain, I will find a way to help him…”

“I doubt if Jim needs your kind of help, Lady.” Spock’s voice was thick with insinuation. His use of the Terran equivalent of the deferential Vulcan title was both cruel insult and bitter reminder of more than Selar’s death. Jilla choked on the sobs that rose in her throat.

“Nonetheless, I will find a way to do something, for the captain, and for you,” she promised. Ignoring McCoy and the guards, she grasped Spock’s hands, touching her palms quickly but firmly to his. “Peace and long life, my kindred.” They were the first words she had spoken loudly enough to be overheard. Spock’s gaze softened for a moment, then he pulled harshly away.

“I will have neither,” he said. “Neither, I think, will you.”

Jilla turned, the guard disrupted the field and she walked into the corridor, controlling the tears until she was safely alone in her quarters.

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“Sir, I wouldn’t go in there if I were you,” Ensign Belker advised.

The security guard spoke hesitantly. Captain Kirk had been standing, gazing sadly into the maximum security cell for a good ten minutes. Spock had been sitting on the cot the whole time, visibly struggling to remain seated and still.

“He’s my friend, Ensign,” Kirk responded. “If I can help him, I want to try.”

“Yes, sir, but Dr. McCoy is due in half an hour. Mr. Spock is worst just before…”

“That may be, but his mind is freest of the drug also.” Kirk took a breath. “Well, it isn’t going to get any easier. If you would, Ensign…”

“Yes, sir.” The guard snapped off the barrier, turning it on again as soon as Kirk stepped inside the cell. Like all those assigned to this extremely disquieting duty, Belker had heard Mr. Spock’s rants against the Captain. He faced ahead, refusing to intrude on what would undoubtedly be a very personal confrontation.

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“Spock,” Kirk said.

Spock jumped, looking up, then forced himself to sit back down. “You,” he said.

Leave him alone! Jim screamed. “I had to come, Spock. We have to talk.” This is quite necessary, you know.

“I do not wish to talk to you,” Spock replied grimly.

“Do you really think I did this to you? Do you think I could?” Spock stared at him balefully.

“No, the captain could not. I do not think you did, I know it.”

“Spock, you’re not making any sense!” Kirk pleaded. “Do you know what you just said? Listen to yourself, think, man! I know the cordrazine has done this to you, why, Spock, why did you do it?!”

What are you doing to him, did you come here just to gloat?

It would be out of character not to visit my poor, mad friend.

Bastard!

“You are trying to drive me mad,” Spock whispered fiercely. “You will succeed, but I am not mad yet. I know what you are and what you have done to me.” Spock’s agitation grew as he spoke, and he stood up, no longer able to keep still. Kirk grabbed his arm.

“Why would I, Spock? Give me one solid, logical reason why I’d want to destroy my First Officer and my friend!”

Spock pulled away, hissing, “You are neither my captain nor my friend!”

“All right then, how did I do this to you?” Kirk shouted. “How did I addict you to cordrazine?”

Stop it, stop it! You’ve won, McCoy’s committed him to Elba, let him go in peace...

I’ve won? My intentions from the beginning were peaceful. This is your fault. I haven’t won anything.

“How isn’t important,” Spock was mumbling. “I will die. Perhaps Jim Kirk is already dead. If so, it makes no difference.”

Spock, it isn’t true! We have to live! We have to survive, Spock, where there’s life, there’s hope. Don’t give up, Spock, not on me, not on you! Jim Kirk cried out silently to his friend, a cry so desperate that somehow, it had to be heard.

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Spock had turned from the captain, but whirled back at the clear yet quite inaudible command.

Jim?!

He looked at Kirk, into the eyes of his captain. They were full of sorrow and helplessness and a remorse deeper than the darkest hole of the galaxy – but also of fierce desire and desperate yearning.

Jim, I hear you!

But it lasted only a moment. Spock watched as Jim was pulled back from his own eyes, to be replaced by the cool hazel of the thing that possessed him. Renewed anger and pain flooded him.

“Get out,” he said to the thing before him. “I do not wish to injure Jim Kirk.”

Kirk sighed. “There’s that much, at least…”

Get out!” Spock roared.

“Jim, I think you’d better leave.” McCoy’s voice came from behind the energy barrier. Kirk turned. The doctor stood just outside the cell, a hypospray in his hand.

“All right, Doctor,” Kirk said. “Help him.” Spock could feel the hazel eyes on him but he had seen the hypo, and his gaze was fixed on it. He trembled, aware that he could do nothing else. He didn’t hear Kirk’s parting words.

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“Goodbye, my friend,” Kirk said. The Captain’s voice was as full of grief as anything Ensign Belker had ever heard.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said quietly as Kirk stepped out of the cell. “There’s no hope, is there?”

Kirk placed a hand on the man’s shoulder. The gesture was sad, resigned – and final.

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Off duty, needing to be alone, Ruth went to her quarters. She was depressed, the whole ship was depressed. And why not? The most trustworthy, sane, dependable, brilliant man any of them knew was slowly dying of madness. And there was nothing even a keheil could do.

She fell onto her bed. Jilla was hiding in the Engineering Section, like she always did when life became too stressful. Ruth lay on her bed, staring at nothing, wishing it would all go away. They were in orbit around Elba II. Soon they would take him away. She’d never see him again.

Never again. It was suddenly very hard to breathe. She choked on a sob, unable to see for the tears welling in her eyes. She hadn’t realized how attached she’d become to Spock…

Push. Push, push.

And isn’t that the way it always is?

She stifled the bitter thought, feeling tension growing in her, building, swelling…

She was up and out the door before she knew what she intended to do, in the turbolift before she knew where she was going.

What good will it do? Why not try to remember him as Mr. Spock, calm, logical Vulcan, First Officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise, not what you’ll find in that security cell? Why disturb him? He won’t want to see anyone, least of all you. Not after that scene in the lab, not after you turned him in to McCoy. He’ll only think you’ve come to gloat. That’s how cordrazine paranoia works.

No. He’s worth the effort. He’s worth the admission. Even if he can’t hear it, won’t understand it, won’t want it. I give, Jilla.

“May I see Mr. Spock?” she asked the security guard on duty.

The guard looked closely at her. The captain had left no orders concerning visitors, and Ruth Valley had been Spock’s assistant… “He’s been quiet,” he responded. “I suppose a few minutes would be all right.” He switched off the force field long enough for her to enter. “Just let me know when you want to leave.”

Spock must have heard, but he paid no attention. The change in only four days shocked her. He sat on the edge of the cot, slumped forward, his elbows resting on his knees, hands clasped tightly, his head hanging dejectedly. He had always been slender, but now he seemed skeletal. She bit her lip to keep back the groan of pity, pity she knew he would not want. She swallowed, then spoke gently. “Mr. Spock.”

He looked up. Ruth gasped as their eyes met, his seeming enormous in the shrunken, hollow face. There was pain and defeat in those eyes, but he was calm; the demented creature that the drug had created was held in check.

“I was waiting for you,” he said.

She discovered that she had backed herself against a wall. She tore her gaze from his. “Why?” she asked, not sure herself what she meant.

He held his body very still and looked at her in silence for what seemed like a very long time. She was held by his stare. She felt as though she was being drawn into his mind, memorized, as though she were a thought he wanted to keep. Maudlin foolishness, she thought. He simply doesn’t have anything to say to you. He’s waiting for you to leave. Suddenly she had no idea how to say what she had come to say.

“I – I wish this hadn’t happened,” she said, knowing the words were totally inadequate.

“As do I, Miss Valley,” he replied.

“If I could do something…”

He shook his head slightly. “There is nothing. It would only cause you pain to try.”

He’s so lucid! How could he have done this? How can this be happening?

She hadn’t realized she’d spoken aloud. Perhaps she hadn’t. Perhaps he had only seen the thoughts cross her face, reflected in her eyes.

“I did not do this to myself, Miss Valley. I know what it sounds like, I no longer ask to be believed. I know it is hopeless.”

“Maybe on Elba, Dr. Cory…” she began, and stopped, caught by his feeling of hopelessness, sharing it.

“No,” he said. Then, “There were several things I wanted to say to you.”

“To me?” she asked, surprised.

“Yes. I wished to apologize for my behavior. I did not know it at the time, but I was suffering the early effects of cordrazine withdrawal.” She started to speak, but he continued. “You need not blame yourself for my condition. The things I accused you of – they were paranoia, absolutely untrue and uncalled-for. You have been nothing if not a help and an aid to me in more than your official capacity.” She flushed, but he seemed not to notice. “You are an excellent Science Officer and a curious one. The captain knows that. While you will be Chief of Sciences only temporarily, he might feel threatened by you, particularly if you seem to be spending too much effort on the Shas excavation. Be careful. I would not wish him to find a way to destroy you .”

She realized he was clasping his hands so tightly to prevent himself from trembling. She made a small, whimpering sound. She couldn’t stand this! “Mr. Spock…” she began, “I have much I…” Her voice trailed off as a sudden, violent tremor shook him.

“Goodbye, Miss Valley.” He lowered his head once more, forgetting her presence. No, not forgetting it, shamed by it. He didn’t want her to see him lose control again.

“Goodbye,” she whispered, and fled.

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When he looked up again, she was gone. With no more need for the iron control, he allowed his body to have its way, and began pacing the small cell. It was over. My golden one, my Iocasta, my untamed lioness… it is over.

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