With apologies to Bill Cosby...
Title: There’s Always Room For Captain
There's Always Room for Captain
Captain James T. Kirk slowly seeped back into consciousness. His first thought was that his head felt like jelly. That thought was quickly banished when he attempted to open his eyes and found such an act physically impossible. It wasn't like waking up with his eyes welded shut by mucus. Trying to part his lids, even though physically difficult, would have been at least comfortingly familiar even in its inconvenience. Instead, he felt a completely alien phenomenon: there seemed not to be any lids to open in the first place. First subconsciously, and then more consciously and with a great deal of concentration, he sent neural messages to the muscles in his eyelids, but the messages dissipated across something unknown and went nowhere.
*OK, I can't open my eyes. I'm not even sure if I have any eyes to open,* Kirk thought. He tried to move his hands up to feel his face, but just as before, no muscles responded to his mental commands. It was becoming more of a mental strain to even try to send these neural messages, and he had the strange feeling that they were being filtered across a completely alien sort of nervous system. Frantically at first, and then more methodically, he tested almost every area of his mind's memory of his body. Nothing worked. His brain, however, continued to race.
What had happened just before he blacked out? Oh, yes. Kirk, Spock, and Ensign Morgan had beamed down to investigate the strange chemistry of the ponds on planet Taxodium. Spock had found it most fascinating --of course-- that almost every one of the dozens of ponds in the peculiar system of wetlands contained a different liquid chemical with a completely different ecosystem. It was almost as if the entire planet was some kind of laboratory for some super-race of alien scientists with a very large grant. But there was no sign of them, and whereas there was chemical evidence of their initial involvement in the development of the ponds, there was also sufficient chemical degradation to indicate that they hadn't been present for possibly thousands of years.
Spock had been running around like a child on Christmas morning, taking samples and comparing analyses and, of course, peppering it all with a liberal amount of "Fascinating!"'s. Kirk felt a sudden sharp sting of loneliness as he thought of his closest friend. Where was Spock? They were always together, because they balanced each other. Kirk was friendly, and Spock was curious. Kirk was the smile, and Spock was the cocked eyebrow. Kirk dreamed, and Spock tweaked the dream so that it fit the laws of physics enough to bring to life. What would happen to the stars in a binary system if one of them spun out of orbit?
As Kirk had apparently done. *I'm somewhere in a place without the use of any muscular movement,* he noted to himself. But it was not a place of no experience. He could not see, because he couldn't communicate with his eyes, but he could feel. And with the loss of most of his other senses, his sense of touch seemed to have increased a thousandfold. There was something unusual about what he felt. It seemed to envelop his entire being, in a way so utterly complete that it would have reminded him of the womb had it not been so bitterly cold and coarse.
Was this the womb of death? Was he about to be born into a grave?
*Spock! Where are you?* It was a mental sob, from a mental voice that knew itself to be useless.
Spock's eyes snapped open and he shook his head briefly to dismiss the initial dizziness. As he stood, he checked himself for broken bones and, thankfully, came up negative. Next, he surveyed the sight around him.
He stood in a shallow cave whose entrance was blocked by a rabid patch of overgrown vines. That portal was obviously not how they had originally gained their entrance to this darkened place.
As he found the place in the ceiling where he had fallen through, he replayed the foreign thought that had come blazing into his mind, bringing him out of his gravity-borne state of unconsciousness. The Captain had called to him for help.
Quickly and subtly, Spock's behavior changed. His surveyal of the cave had been curious and almost leisurely, but now that he knew that Captain Kirk's safety was somehow being jeopardized, all of Spock's intellectual and physical power sprang to action. He groped for his communicator, but it was gone. Swiftly he whipped out a phaser and shot a rock until it glowed, dimly, but enough to see with. Now he could see the cave.
The floor was cold and covered with a coarse sand that was somewhere between grit and pebbles. It was powdery and rough to the touch. Patches of a strange, pale gray, translucent jellylike substance were spattered unceremoniously across the sand. Carefully avoiding them with his feet, Spock used the dim light to locate his communicator.
After retrieving it from the gravel, he discovered to his dismay that it had been damaged in his fall. "Spock to Enterprise," he spoke into it. "Lieutenant Uhura, my communicator has been damaged and I can only speak to you. I will not be able to hear anything that you say in reply." He waited a moment for her to react to his statement. "I have fallen into a cave, and I strongly suggest that you do not use the transporter beam to rescue me. It was the Enterprise's attempted beaming of Ensign Morgan that somehow caused the explosion that seems to have buried me alive." He paused again. "A rescue team, sent by shuttlecraft to these coordinates, should be sufficient to retrieve me." This time, the pause came from deeper within him. "I believe the Captain may be injured. I am currently searching for him and will continue to update you on my progress. I myself am unharmed. Spock out."
*Spock!!!!! Where are you?*
"Jim?" Spock spoke aloud in surprise to the empty cave. The Captain had once again spoken in his head, and this time he was lucid enough to pursue the mental thread. "Captain, are you injured?"
*I'm not sure... where are you? I'm right here. I hear your voice. Why can't you see me? I hear you as if you were right next to me!*
It was a new experience, although not an unpleasant one, to hear the Captain's inner voice suddenly as clear as aloud within his head. This was not the ceremonial, graceful formality of a meld. This was pure alien telepathy. It was as if Jim was Betazoid.
An invisible Betazoid, that is. "Captain, I'm afraid I do not understand exactly *where* you are. There appears to be no one in the cave besides myself." Spock continued to speak aloud, concentrating his mental powers on being completely open to listen. He must find his Captain! This Human meant something to him that he did not know the words for. But, as with the delicious fruit on an unexplored world, must every comfort be named to be enjoyed? It was a personal feeling, an individual feeling, something that he kept to himself *because* it was a feeling. It was like a pet hidden in a dorm room at Starfleet Academy.
*I can't feel anything. I can't move my eyes, or my mouth to talk, or any of my other muscles.*
"Have you been transformed into energy?" Spock the scientist asked.
*I don't know!!* Spock could sense Kirk's frustration. *I can't see, and I don't think I can smell and I *definitely* can't taste, but I can hear and I can feel.*
"Tell me what you hear," said Spock.
*You are somewhere... close to me.*
*Yes, I am, Jim.* Spock thought a tiny thought to himself, forgetting in his concentration on finding the Captain that he had opened his mind completely for him. Aloud, he said, "I am going to walk around the cave. Tell me when I am moving closer to where you are."
*Good thinking, Mr. Spock.*
Spock slowly paced around the room, talking continuously. "'Nuns fret not at their cloister's narrow walls'," he recited, stepping carefully around the puddles of pearly gray slime on the ground.
*You're closer!* Jim's thoughts suddenly shouted.
A flash went off in Spock's green brain. "Captain, I do not know how to tell you this, but you seem to have been transformed into a few small piles of a jellylike substance that are currently scattered around the floor of the cave."
*What?!? Jellylike-- WHAT? Wait, we're in a cave? What happened? What happened to Morgan?*
"Ensign Morgan was killed when the transporter beam that was attempting to beam her up failed and caused an explosion," said Spock. "I have informed the Enterprise that using transporter beams on this planet is dangerous, due to the unstable compounds in some of the experimental ponds. A shuttlecraft will be sent for us."
*So the explosion knocked us into a cave and turned me into... jello?*
"It would appear so. But your texture is somewhat softer than that of a gelatin dessert," Spock corrected. "You are, in some senses, more jellylike, as stated previously."
*Yes, yes.* The Jim-thought paused. *Spock?*
There was something pleading and vulnerable about his tone of.... thought. "Captain?"
*Since I've lost most of my senses, I seem to be all... touch. And this floor is VERY uncomfortable.*
"I shall attempt to gather you from off the cave's surface," said Spock. He knelt down in the gritty dust and studied the largest pile of slime.
*How many pieces... clumps... am I in?* Jim wanted to know.
"I would say fourteen or fifteen, Captain, depending on whether this big one can be counted as one or two." Spock tenderly tapped the mass with the pad of one slender, muscular finger.
The thread of Jim's mind that Spock held in his own suddenly burst into color as if a prism had been placed in front of its beam. *Spock!*
Spock drew his hand away sharply and sat there silently for a few moments. The rush of pure and sanctified pleasure that had flooded into his mind from the foreign source had caught him completely off-guard. It took all of his Vulcan self-control not to follow that call of paradise with an answering cry of joy. But he could not close up his mind, not while that was the only way to communicate with the jiggling mass that was Jim.
*Come back... where are you.... Spock....* Jim was starting to panic.
Spock remembered guiltily that his voice and touch were the only two ways the Captain could tell that he had not left him. He doubted Jim had any real idea how to use the telepathic powers he was now wielding like a three year old with a fencing sword. "Jim, I have not left you." There was no reason now to hide the tenderness in his heart. He placed both of his hands on the slimy mass and simply let them rest there for a few minutes.
Jim's mind learned to react and swim with Spock's, and relaxed into a happy glow instead of the erratic, passionate burst that had been his initial reaction. Spock's hands were soft like a rose, and in the folds of that rose Jim nestled. Spock worked carefully and thoroughly, gathering each individual pile of glop together and adding it to the main pile of Jim without losing a single drop. His fingers were careful and could not have been more gentle, because to miss or crush a single fraction of the jelly would have meant loss of a part of Jim, his Captain, his friend.
Finally, all of the jellylike substance had been consolidated into one large quivering grayish-clear pile, about the size of a small melon. Spock slowly worked his hands between the sand and Jim, underneath him, cradling him, lifting him out of the gritty dust. He now held in his two hands the entire soul of Captain Kirk, the most precious thing he had ever known. He thought of how much this man meant to him as a Captain, as a friend, as something else he had never before let himself say, even internally...
But he had felt what Jim's reaction to his touch had been. Perhaps there was no longer a need to muffle the music that Spock felt singing inside his heart. "Jim...." Spock realized that he was trembling with the beauty of the moment. In this very instant he was Jim's link with life, and with sensation. He suddenly felt the need to give him more of that sensation.
Spock breathed deeply and channeled all of his love... yes... he had admitted it... through his hands and with a touch so light like a memory, so that he wouldn't injure the delicate tissues of the Captain's new form, he massaged and touched and cradled his Captain.
Captain Kirk was overwhelmed by this onslaught of pure affection. Spock's touch was all around him on his entire body, his entire *being*. He no longer had the power to hide emotionally all that he felt for his friend, but he knew now that there was no reason to hide anything anyway. He was living in a world of Spock, and was almost too afraid to think in words for fear that something would scare this miracle away.
Spock held the Captain in his cupped hands until the rescue team successfully managed to bring both of them back on board the ship. Once there, Spock, Dr. McCoy, and Nurse Chapel worked furiously in the lab to develop a counteragent to the contaminant from the pond that was, apparently, acting to keep Kirk in his jellylike existence.
Kirk awoke after a few hours in Sickbay and breathed a welcome sigh of relief as his eyes opened and his voice came readily to him. "Wow! Am I back to normal now?" he asked the group gathered around the biobed.
"For a human, you are in excellent condition," said Spock. Kirk studied his face curiously. Had that really been Spock down there on that planet, pouring such love and care into his entire self?
"That must have been some interesting experience!" Dr. McCoy exclaimed. "But tell us later. You should get some rest, after spending several hours as somethin' related to a slime mold." He ushered Chapel out of the room. Spock pretended to leave with them, but lingered behind in the doorway.
"Spock..." Jim blinked at his friend, and smiled. "Thank you.... for saving my life. Again."
Spock could read all he wanted to now, in that smile. Everything was exactly as he had felt down on the planet. With a quick glance at the closed door, he rushed back to the Captain's side.
They fell on each other before another moment could slip by.