Hey guys! I finally got around to writing more fic, go me! This is my remix of Conscience of the King (one of my favorite episodes, so intense, I am basically crying for Kirk the whole way through every time I watch it!) It's a prequel to Breathe, Come Together, Breathe, which is a few entries below if you haven't read that; it's also on my ao3 and the link to that is on the top of my journal page. The title is from a Pink Floyd song, for some reason I keep listening to Pink Floyd while writing. You don't have to have read my other fic but the last little part will make more sense if you have. Anyway. I hope you are all having a good week so far...I have 3 days left of work this week and am dreading each and every one. Oh well, guess I'll just sneakily write fic while I'm there?
--the curtain rises, it rises—
Something is wrong, Spock knows, he registers it in the prickling on the back of his neck; an endocrine response to an element out of place he cannot yet quantify. Captain Kirk (or Jim, as he is learning to say, though it tinges his cheeks a faint green 86 percent of the time) is almost always more transparent than he is aware of when one knows what signs to observe. Spock knows these signs better than he should. He can admit that to himself, now.
A diversion from course is unusual, but not so much that it should cause alarm. Leonore Karidian, however, is a different matter altogether. She is, Spock acknowledges, beautiful, exactly the sort of woman he would expect to flutter her eyelashes and fall at the captain’s feet.
He has never before considered that his own inability to do so would be detrimental. Still, the sight of her makes his shoulders tense, and he watches her simper and pout openly on the bridge, as Dr. McCoy would say “in front of God and everybody.”
She is beautiful in the way a snake can be regarded as beautiful, until it is time for it to feed and a different quality takes the place of beauty. Two days ago, this would not have been out of the ordinary at all. He knows he has felt differently, he has felt
—Spock stops this thought before it can be completed, snatches it out of the air as if everyone can see it. Kirk is, as they say, flirting
with this woman, and Spock feels
a cold weight inside.
He registers surprisingly little for thirteen full seconds, until Yeoman Rand enters the bridge and glares at Leonore Karidian with such open distaste that Spock immediately revises his opinion of her. Then she shoots him a wary look, unaware he is watching. In front of God and everybody, indeed.
Something is wrong and Spock must put the workings of the Enterprise over his own judgments. It does not come together all at once, and with the captain otherwise engaged, Spock turns to the doctor. He does so reluctantly, as their conversations end in insults exactly twice as often as they do not, but he turns to him nevertheless.
“You think the captain thinks he’s Kodos,” McCoy says, putting it together. The doctor clearly also does not know about Tarsus, about Tarsus as a part of the captain’s (Jim’s) personal history that bled over into the histories of so many others, a freely flowing wound that, though hidden, never healed.
There were nine survivors of the massacre on Tarsus 4 who witnessed it with their own eyes, and James Kirk was one of them. The fact that Spock discovers this from the ship’s computer rather than the captain’s own mind does not disappoint him. He does not know if he has the right to be disappointed, if this is customary as he is merely a friend, though he lacks sufficient time at the present moment to categorize what he does feel. This is insignificant, really. Anton Karidian is Kodos, he is nearly certain, though it does not make it easier to look the captain in the eye and tell him “Lieutenant Riley is a survivor, and so are you.”
James Kirk wears a mask more often than he does not, and it occurs to Spock during this conversation that he does it as much for himself as he does for anyone else. Spock wonders if Kirk knows he can see through it, wonders if it matters.
“I’m interested in justice,” Kirk says, blue eyes brimming with ill-concealed anger.
“Are you sure it’s not vengeance?”
He is not; none of them are. This is an experience they have shared before, albeit differently. Men change, memory changes
, Kirk says, and he is so mired in memories that he cannot change. He has lived twenty years with these memories buried close to the surface and though they are hidden, knowledge such as this does not change itself. Spock considers how it changed him, if he knows he cannot bring back the dead. Even as he asks himself, he knows the answer. Your lives mean slow death
, Karidian says. I find your use of the word mercy strangely inappropriate
. Spock thinks that there are men for whom a slow death would be a mercy. He thinks his life would be significantly different if his logic and control, the instilled qualities of his father’s race, were not his prison house, forbidding him to tell his secrets.
Spock finds Kirk in his quarters after Lenore is confined to the brig, after what Rand calls “pretty much the worst play I’ve ever seen,” after Kodos dies a quick and merciful death. Kirk is simply sitting in his bed, legs crossed, with an old paper book in his hand when Spock enters.
“Spit it out, Spock. Metaphorically.” Kirk takes off his reading glasses (the sight of which does not in any way cause Spock to reevaluate his entire world view) and places them to one side.
“I am unsure of your meaning.”
“I think I should institute a rule that you’re only allowed to willfully misunderstand human idioms once a day. Actually, computer, make a note of that.”
the computer trills softly. Spock raises an eyebrow.
“I merely wished to inquire whether you would care to join me for a game of chess, Captain, if you are not otherwise occupied at the present time.”
Kirk closes his book, placing the red-and-white paperback next to his glasses. “If I didn’t know better, Mr. Spock, I’d think you were worried about me being alone after today. I’ll tell you the same thing I told Bones when he showed up here an hour ago with a fifth of Saurian brandy: I’m fine. I’m a big boy and I can face my demons by myself, whatever they may be.” He sighs, but goes to set up the chessboard anyway.
Spock swallows and meets his eyes. “You can, but that does not mean you must.”
When the game ends, Spock leaves with a book he has promised to read and the sense that he has done the right thing. He hopes he has, as human as it is.--there’s no time to sleep--