A/N: I've always loved that moment in ID, when Spock was grieving and seething with rage but he still took that moment to respect Nyota's wishes and make sure she was ok with him doing the dangerous thing, and I've wanted to explore it further for a long time. This is a somewhat adjusted version of my original idea to make it more painful for Whumptober, but I love it nonetheless, and I've been practically vibrating with excitement waiting for midnight so I could post it lol. I might write an alternate ending and post it as a second chapter at some point, but I hope you guys enjoy this version! (Or don't. Because pain! :) )
Written for Whumptober Day 28 - Beaten
When Khan started crushing his head for the second time, Spock knew he would not survive the fight. He had learned from his first attempt, pinning Spock to the ground, keeping his head protected and out of reach. Spock struggled, prying at his arms, straining for his head, to lock him into even the feeblest of mind melds, but he was too weak. He was beaten.
He had expected to feel relieved at that realization. Not entirely relieved, of course, but he had expected some part of him to feel that way. He had lost so much, and he struggled every day to find the perfect balance between his Vulcan and human halves. If he were to die here, he would no longer have to struggle. If he were to die here, and some sort of afterlife was indeed real, he would see Jim and his mother again, rather than live nearly two centuries without them. Relief, therefore, was logical.
He did not feel relief.
He was terrified.
He did not want to die. It hurt, and he did not want to hurt anymore. He did not want to feel the fear choking him, or the hands crushing his skull. He had plunged recklessly into this battle, and he was paying the price. It was logical, and it terrified him.
That did not concern him quite as much, though, as the thought of everyone he was leaving behind.
Chekov, young and green and eager to learn what he had to teach. Sulu, intelligent and capable and an excellent fencing teacher. Scott, entertaining and compassionate and always there with good advice and a distracting task. McCoy, sarcastic and warm-hearted always ready to offer a clash of wits or a listening ear. Father, wise and steady and lonely with his wife dead and his son off-planet.
Nyota. Loving, thoughtful, fierce. His rock, his soulmate, his supporter. She had told him to get Khan, and he had failed, and her last memory of him would be sending him on a suicide mission. She did not deserve that. She deserved someone who would love her with everything he did. Not someone who threw it all away for a friendship that had not even lasted a year.
He thought a normal human would have screamed in their agonizing final moments.
All he could do was think I am sorry to a woman who would never hear him.
Nyota didn't know exactly what she expected to see when she beamed down. Spock wasn't responding, so she guessed she had assumed he was embroiled in a vicious battle, pitching all of his Vulcan strength and human vengeance against Khan's own strength and intellect and rage. That, she thought, she could have handled.
But never, never, not even for the briefest nanosecond, had she thought she would beam down to see him trapped, terrified, and mere seconds away from literally losing his head.
She whipped her phaser up and fired. It hit Khan squarely in the back, stopping him for a brief moment, but he didn't fall. Setting her jaw and planting her feet, she kept shooting. He kept coming, but she didn't quite care. He was leaving Spock alone, and that was what mattered.
Everything else could be dealt with later.
Spock almost did not believe his eyes. He was dying from a wound that would certainly affect his brain – of course he would hallucinate Nyota coming to his rescue, appearing in a brilliant flash of light, hair flying in the wind and phaser shining in her hand, looking every inch the fearsome guardian he knew she was.
It was only when Khan abandoned him to go for her that he realized she was real.
Every inch of him hurt. The frenzied sprint, the desperate leaps, the ferocious attacks. Not one part of him had been spared, and a heartbeat ago, the exhaustion of that had let Khan contain him.
But now, Nyota was in danger. Her phaser was only slowing him down – Why is she only using it on stun? – and if he reached her, his enhanced strength would make quick work of her, just as it had of Jim and Marcus and Scott.
Knowing his bare hands would not do the job, he tore a piece off the machine they flew on. With Khan only a step away from Nyota, Spock forced himself back to his feet and slammed the metal into Khan's head with every ounce of strength he had left.
Finally, Khan was caught off-guard, stunned for a precious moment.
With vengeance and protection in his heart, Spock attacked.
Nyota tried to aim again, ready to shoot, but Spock was in the way now, spinning Khan around and slamming him to the ground, kneeling over him and whaling away on his face with a viciousness that terrified her. Seeing him up and moving had been a relief a second ago, but now…
"Spock!" she cried.
He did not even glance at her.
Realizing that a battle stance would only encourage him, she fell to her knees. "Spock! Spock, stop! Stop!"
He only punched harder, switching from one fist to both.
"He's our only chance to save Kirk!"
His assault froze as he finally, finally looked at her. Sunlight glinted off the blood staining his face, the shadows casting further darkness over his hate-filled eyes, and with a chill running down her spine, she realized she had encouraged this. She had told him to do this. In the haze of her own grief, her own anger, she had guided him down the most destructive path possible.
He didn't deserve that. He deserved someone who would treat his humanity with the respect and care it needed to flourish after a lifetime of suppression. Not someone who used it for her own gain the moment she had to face a situation she couldn't deal with.
He glanced at her before making his decision, a glance full of trust that she wasn't leading him astray.
As he lifted Khan up and knocked him out with a powerful uppercut, she could only think I'm sorry.
When they beamed back to the ship and he collapsed in the transporter room, she told herself she would apologize later.
When he woke up briefly in the hospital and she was sound asleep beside him, he told himself he would apologize later.
The blaring of alarms woke her. Before she could process what was happening, a nurse was pushing her out of the room, deflecting or ignoring every question she tried to ask. She was left alone out in the cold, heart racing in her chest and tears welling in her eyes.
She didn't know how long it was before Len came to find her. By his expression alone, the faltering of his steps, she knew long before he spoke that later would never come.
"There was… He had an aneurysm. We didn't- we didn't detect it. I- God, I'm so sorry, Nyota."
The guilt hit her in an instant. She broke down crying, collapsing beneath the weight of it.
Go get him.
It had seemed so simple at the time. The obvious thing to do. The only thing to do.
Now Jim would wake up, and Spock would not.
I killed him.
I killed the man I love.