It wasn’t that attempted mutiny particularly surprised Kirk. He couldn’t even say that the source of this particular attempt surprised him. Spock had clashed with him at the Academy, and it was no great surprise that he would do so on the ship.
No, what surprised Kirk was the timing. The whole thing had a rather impulsive air about it, and whatever flaws Spock might otherwise have, that was usually far from one of them.
Then he saw the communications Spock must have read immediately before attempting to slice Kirk’s neck open in the corridor, and it all made sense.
The brig was in excellent condition. Spock hadn’t really expected otherwise, but given the limited resources Lieutenant Commander Scott had to keep the ancient Enterprise in running order, there had been a roughly fifteen percent chance that those resources had been diverted to other, more crucial, parts of the ship. Captain Pike had favored more direct methods of handling troublemakers, and Captain Kirk had been in power only a month. Enough time to begin reprioritizing repairs, but not enough for a full overhaul, and there had not yet been occasion for any major punishment to be necessary.
All of which was to say: The fifteen percent chance he had calculated had been perfectly logical. It was also, unfortunately, demonstrably not the reality he now faced. The small, dark compartment offered no opportunities for him to force the door open even if his hands weren’t restrained by the magnetic cuffs to the opposite wall. His arms had not been forced into a stress position, so the chances of damage, at least, were exceedingly low.
He was not dead. He was not in an agonizer booth. There were still options remaining to him.
But as time ticked inexorably on, those options were eliminated, one by one.
In order to affect change, he needed outside stimulus. If someone would come in, if only briefly, he could bargain for his release and a renewed campaign against the captain. Failing that, he might at least secure new material with which to escape.
No one came.
When two hours had passed, and still no one had come, the probability of him being able to escape in time to make a difference dropped to 0.05%.
When two hours and seventeen minutes had passed, he felt his tentative bond with T’Pring shatter.
The probability dropped to zero.
There was no one there to see him, and it was dark in the compartment, too dark for security cameras to be of much good. A security flaw, but one that had done him no good.
No one could see, so he allowed his shoulders to slump and his eyes to close, and that was all. It was all he could possibly allow himself, even now.
His planet was gone. His people were gone. His parents were almost certainly also gone.
He was not alone in the universe, or at least not more alone than he had always been by nature of his heritage. There were Vulcans off planet. Vulcans that might, perhaps, have realized the danger in time and escaped into their ships.
But never again would he escape the chill of a ship and walk through the heat of his home. Never again would he drink the tea, sure to now grow prohibitively expensive, that his human mother had once managed to pry out a confession of a preference for. Never again -
Spock closed his eyes and breathed deeply and tried to meditate.
He had failed. Likely, he would soon die.
He cared more deeply about the former than it was proper for any Vulcan to feel.
He cared about the latter not at all.
Someday, Kirk was going to tell the Admiralty exactly what he thought of them.
He wasn’t sure exactly how he was going to pull that off without getting executed for treason immediately afterwards, but maybe if he got lucky enough to see his death coming, he could fire off a quick, blistering message to them first.
Shortsighted was the first word that he wanted to hurl at them because it was the only one they might take seriously. Unfeeling would be said with equal venom, but they might regard that as a compliment, so it would mainly be for his own satisfaction. Idiotic - a basic, traditional insult, but no less true because of it.
Yes, Vulcan had been dancing on the edge of open rebellion. Letting Nero blow it up was not an appropriate reaction to that. If the Admiralty had sent in the resources to stop it, the effect on popular perception would have been tremendous. The strength of Starfleet, its necessity, its protection - all would have been made apparent.
Instead, they had a still rampaging madman, the loss of an entire planet’s resources, and, oh, yes, the near extinction of an entire sentient species.
Apparently the Admiralty didn’t care about that. Kirk wasn’t really sure how you could not care about that, but he probably should have learned his lesson on the Empire’s opinion on things versus his own after Governor Kodos had gotten a medal after the whole Tarsus IV debacle.
He couldn’t do anything about that, though. What he could do something about was the First Officer still stuck in the brig.
He swung his chair around and rose. “Mr. Sulu, you have the conn.”
Sulu seemed rather startled, as well he might after everything that had just happened, but with the . . . totally unavoidable and absolutely accidental . . . damage to their communications array that Scotty had reported, there was no need to worry about anyone calling in anything damaging to Starfleet for the next day or so, and by that time, he’d have come up with the right spin to make such a call safe.
And if the Admiralty called him on yet another communications blackout, well, what did they expect, sending him into space in a ship held together by Scotty, duct tape, and faith?
Not, Kirk hastily thought as he left the bridge, that he didn’t love her just the same.
Spock did not look up as a light switched on in the brig and the door opened and then shut once more. It was too late for a visitor to make any difference, so there was no logic in determining exactly who his visitor was, especially when they would no doubt soon make their identity known.
“No salute, Mr. Spock?”
“Captain,” he acknowledged.
He did not salute.
Head still bowed, he looked up enough to see the captain acknowledge this with a wry twist of his lips that did not actually look offended. Perhaps he saw little difference between mutiny and treason and had expected no less.
Of all the possible responses beyond this, the captain sitting down so that he was at Spock’s level was one Spock had not even contemplated.
“I am sorry,” the captain said quietly, and Spock blinked.
It was not enough. It was nowhere near approaching enough.
It was still far more than he had expected to get.
“We’re going after Nero,” Captain Kirk said, and that brought a flare of satisfaction that Spock refused to let show.
Captain Kirk pulled out a data slate and began fiddling with it. “Also, your father keeps wanting to speak with you, and I'd really rather not have to tell him that you’re in the brig.”
At that, Spock’s head finally jerked up. “My father,” he said carefully.
He had been sure his father had been on Vulcan. Had he been mistaken? Was the ambassador actually somewhere - anywhere - else?
“We couldn’t stop Nero,” Kirk said quietly, and if Spock didn’t know better, he’d swear the human sounded apologetic. “But we managed to get a couple dozen people out.”
“My mother?” Spock asked, and he knew emotion was bleeding through, he knew it, but he could not stop it. Not for this.
“One of them,” Kirk said. “Although she suffered a head injury that necessitated a trip to sickbay, thus why she hasn’t also been petitioning to see you.”
Sickbay. That was Dr. McCoy’s domain, and the doctor hated him. If he knew Lady Grayson was his mother - or possibly even if he just realized that she married a Vulcan, for there was no just about that to many human eyes -
“Hey,” Kirk said, knocking his shoulder with overfamiliarity. “Don’t worry about it. Bones has always been more suicidal than homicidal. And he’s got a soft spot for you.” He hesitated. “Deep, deep down.”
Spock looked at him with well warranted incredulity.
“Well, he’s got a soft spot for me, and I asked him to look after her,” Kirk corrected himself, and the first part of that sentence had previously proven to be true, which gave him hope for the second, despite the illogic of it.
“And my own fate?” It would not lead to a long life, whatever it was, but he found he could accept it more easily now.
Kirk made a point of clicking the data slate on to check the time. “You’ve been in here for what, three hours?”
“Three hours, eight minutes,” Spock said automatically.
“ . . . Right. So you’ve got about twenty-one hours left to go.”
Spock nodded. “Will my father be permitted access prior to my execution?”
“Prior to your - Spock, I’m not having you executed.”
“My attempt on your life failed, Captain,” Spock pointed out. “According to Starfleet regulations - “
“Your insubordination,” Kirk corrected, steamrolling over him, “will have been duly punished by that point.”
“Insubordination,” Spock said flatly.
“You have to admit that assassination is very insubordinate,” Kirk said, eyes gleaming. “And as the only witness, due to yet another unfortunate malfunction in our security system, the exact accusation is left to me.”
Spock stared at him in complete incomprehension such as he had not felt since his earliest years. This was mercy beyond any precedent he had ever seen, mercy beyond sense.
Kirk leaned back against the opposing wall and grinned at him. “Do you know what I like about you, Spock?”
There were a number of potential answers to that - his work ethic, his efficiency, his ability to work double shifts without suffering from sleep deprivation - but under the circumstances, he was uncertain of the wisdom of stating a hypothesis. “Negative, Captain.”
“In all your years at the academy, your time under Pike, your time as an instructor . . . In all those years of service, that was your very first attempt to use violence to advance in rank.”
It was not a fact Spock advertised for fear of being seen as weak, but it was not a fact he could argue either.
Kirk flashed a grin at him. “You can see why that would be appealing to a captain.”
He could, of course, but as he considered the Enterprise’s personnel in light of this information, a distinct pattern began to emerge.
Even in the brief time Kirk had been captain, he had shown a distinct preference for crew members who lacked the ruthless ambition so often necessary for advancement. Kirk’s own advancement had been due to brilliance, charm, and, perhaps, a touch of nepotism . . . but never violence, not unless he was attacked first.
Their ship was already well on its way to having the lowest violence rate in the fleet.
Still, Spock had just ruined his own reputation for that, and surely ruined his place in whatever crew Kirk was trying to build.
“So today has proven that you can be driven to violence when your entire species is at stake.” Kirk shrugged. “I can respect that. And, as a captain, given the low likelihood of this situation ever repeating itself, I can accept that.” His face abruptly became far more serious. “If you ever do anything remotely like this again, I will have to act. Under these circumstances, though, I’m prepared to let it go. Understood?”
“Understood, Captain,” he said hoarsely.
There was far more sincerity and loyalty in that title than he had ever given to anyone else before.