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Plomeek Soup for the Vulcan Soul

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spirk - soup copy
Based upon this adorable drawing by shards-of-divinity

***

Jim Kirk will be the first to tell you: there's not much worse than a sick half-Vulcan.

Klingons are grouchy. Telosians are mindfucks. Andorians are generally assholes. (There are exceptions. Also, don't suck on their antennae. Contrary to rumor, it's not their equivalent of a blowjob. See also: That Other Time Jim Kirk Got a Black Eye at the Shipyard.)

But half-Vulcans, when their other half happens to be human, and that other half is struck down by a decidedly human disease, are more obnoxious than a vid conference with the admiralty about the importance of upholding the Prime Directive, and not transporting illegal substances (Romulan Ale will be legalized any day now), and how saying "go fuck yourself" to the Gorn ambassador is generally frowned upon.

Jim Kirk's half-Vulcan first officer had been sick for three days. The Enterprise orbited an uncharted planet with a swirling, golden atmosphere. Spock's nose dripped unforgivingly onto his console as he leaned forward to study the computer's readings. He sniffed and wiped the offending splatter away with a tissue he took from the pocket of his black regulation pants. Dr. McCoy had offered him medication that would halt the symptoms of his common cold (and what an apt name for the viral infection, for he was, indeed, uncomfortable in the xenophobic, human-standard temperature on the bridge). The trade off, however, was that his mental capacity would be reduced by said medication, making him the intellectual equivalent of his human counterparts. That would not do. He would not be able to perform his expected tasks if his thought processes were compromised. His nose continued to run.

"Mr. Spock, status."

The captain regarded him from his chair, glancing back over his shoulder. Spock reviewed the monitor and touched the tissue to his nose. What a pointless, debilitating disease! Spock was physically able to stand at his console, which meant he would report to work, but the sinus discomfort and the way his neck ached made it uncomfortable to stare at the screen for long. Yet, he refused to quarantine himself. Mr. Chekov could perform some of his responsibilities as chief science officer, but he was not a Vulcan. The captain was young. Though motivated, he was inexperienced. Number One had told Spock, when she learned he might turn down the first officer position, it was his purpose to ensure the reckless human didn't get himself blown up or killed. Spock was fond of his captain. He took the charge seriously.

"Status," the captain repeated, impatient.

"Sensors are picking up no lifeforms on the planet's surface," he said. "Captain," he said.

He sniffed.

"Sick again today, Mr. Spock?"

"A minor affliction," he said. Vulcans did not lie, but Spock had become fluent in exaggeration.

"Captain," Uhura called, raising a hand to her left ear, the way she always did when she trying to concentrate or translate or pretend she wasn't listening to Kirk. "I'm receiving a radio transmission. It's hard to make out, but it seems to be originating from the planet's surface."

"Spock, I thought you just said this planet is uninhabited."

"My exact words were 'sensors are picking up no lifeforms.'"

"What do your sensors read now?"

"No lifeforms, Captain."

"How is that possible, if we're receiving a transmission?"

"Keptin," Chekov piped up. "It is possible for a species to exist but not register on our sensors. Unlikely but possible. Perhaps there is some type of shield."

"I do not need you to defend me, Mr. Chekov."

"Watch it, Spock."

"My apologies, Meester Spock."

"Nor do I require your trite human platitudes, Navigator."

"Perhaps a visit to sickbay would be wise, Science Officer."

"Is that an order?"

Kirk regarded him through narrowed eyes.

"Consider it a friendly suggestion."

"In that case, I will remain at my post."

"Spock," the captain said, rising from his chair. "Go see Bones."

Spock stared at him defiantly and crossed his arms.

"Go to sickbay or go to your quarters."

"I will do neither."

"You'll go now, or I'll order you off my bridge."

"Respectfully," Spock said, "I must decline."

"Mr. Spock!" snapped the captain. "You are dismissed."

Shooting him a Vulcan death glare (ie. a neutral expression that only Jim could read as Seriously Pissed Off), Spock straightened his back, smoothed his uniform, and walked silently to the turbolift. The captain returned his attention to the main viewing screen and the planet below.

"C Deck," Spock spoke calmly, and the doors swished closed.

He considered what had just occurred. The captain had yelled at him. The captain rarely raised his voice at Spock, and now he had done so in front of the senior bridge crew. If Spock's nose hadn't been dripping so disgracefully, he might have occasion for upset.

The downward motion of the turbolift made the pressure in his sinuses almost unbearable. He pinched the bridge of his nose and willed the floor to stop moving.

Vulcan diseases were elegant. They either affected the mind, disabling it over time and rendering the sufferer an invalid (one had time to prepare in such an event), or they affected the blood and were lethal within a week.

But human diseases were numerous and often unpredictable and as illogical as the species they affected, with a terrible variety of symptoms; and working with a crew consisting mostly of humans, Spock was daily assaulted by the pathogens they carried on their bodies. Not one washed his (or her) hands as thoroughly as he did. He considered posting signs in the public wash stations (Chief Science Officer's Recommendation: Rub hands together vigorously with 4.928 ml of the provided cleansing agent for a period no less than thirty seconds) but knew the captain would probably order them removed. Jim Kirk tried to run a friendly ship, without what he termed Vulcan Sass. Spock found that term offensive, but he knew the captain meant it affectionately.

He could meditate, were he afflicted with a disease common to Vulcans. He could meditate and eliminate the ache in his muscles, the congestion in his nose and ears. He was a Vulcan. Pain was of the mind. The mind, he could control. He had once successfully meditated through pain from a parasite that took hold and grew along his nervous system. However, he found he could not meditate when his human half was ill. Its diseases left him conscious and aware of every little discomfort, and they exacerbated his human emotions. He could not settle his mind or control his wants, instead wishing to burrow underneath a stack of blankets and wait for Jim to join him. Of course, because the captain had just ordered him off the bridge, he doubted Jim would come.

As soon as the turbolift doors opened, Spock barreled forth into the corridor and walked to his quarters at a quick pace, avoiding eye contact with a member of security and a fellow scientist. He ordered the temperature in his room up five degrees. The sheets were cold; he slid beneath them in his uniform, then thought better of it. He left the uniform to be laundered and pulled on a long-sleeved orange shirt that Jim had left behind two nights ago. The shirt was made from cotton, a Terran plant, and it was worn and soft against his skin, which had become increasingly sensitive to touch as the day went on. It smelled of Jim. Spock gripped the neckline in his hands and brought it to his face, inhaling. Tugging the covers up past his shoulders, he fell asleep.

...

The sound of a ceramic dish being placed on a wooden surface roused him from sleep, though his eyes were heavy, and he felt as though a great weight were pressing on his face. He could not breathe through his nose. His eyes watered, and his extraocular muscles were sore. His throat was dry and his joints ached. He peered out from his nest and spotted a bowl of dark soup on the table beside his bed, and the captain standing before him in low light. He looked concerned.

Jim sunk onto the mattress. He stripped off his uniform top and flung it across a chair, leaning back in just a blue undershirt and slipped an arm around Spock's shoulders, helping him to sit upright.

"Nice shirt," he said. "Feeling any better?"

Spock frowned.

"You put on quite a show today."

He felt around for a tissue. Jim presented him with a fresh one, and he blew his nose. Jim took it from him and set it on the table. Spock wished Jim would go now and wash his hands, but he did not say so.

"Are you warm enough? I'm already sweating my balls off in here."

Spock shook his head. Jim arranged the blanket over his legs.

"I brought you dinner." Jim pointed to the bowl. "It's your favorite."

Jim's fingers curled around his shoulder. Spock leaned into his arm. It was un-Vulcan to desire this unnecessary contact, but he found in his compromised state, he very much desired Jim to touch him.

"You're not talking to me? Fine. You don't have to talk, but you're eating the damned soup. I'm not letting two hours of prep go to waste."

Is it not the job of the kitchen staff to prepare food items when requested by the captain? Spock thought.

"You know I didn't have the kitchen staff make this, you stubborn Vulcan. Open up."

Reluctantly, Spock opened his mouth. Jim inserted the spoon, and the soup splashed against his tongue. It tasted of home. He closed his eyes.

You used less onion this time.

"Yeah, well, you don't like onion that much. How is it?"

Warm.

Jim sighed and fed him another spoonful. "Do you have to be literal all the time?"

The plomeek is a closer approximation to the actual fruit than your last attempt.

"I've been messing with the replicator."

Surely one of the science labs would be better suited to that task.

"Hey," Jim said. "Are you doubting my programming skills?"

There is no finer hacker aboard the Enterprise.

"Thank you."

I meant that you should not waste time preparing food for me when you have a ship to command.

"You're my first officer. Therefore, logically, your health is my responsibility."

My health is the responsibility of Dr. McCoy.

"Who is also under my command. My argument stands."

Jim touched his cheek.

"You're all green," he said. "I think you have a fever. Just a few more sips, and you can go back to sleep. I'll have Bones come check on you."

Jim kissed his forehead and his nose and the greenish tip of a fever flushed ear. Spock felt a little ridiculous but ate three more spoonfuls to please him.

"I've got a bit before I'm due back on the bridge. Uhura is still trying to get through the interference. Want me to stay for a while?"

Yes.

"It's not overly emotional on my part?"

I am cold. You are human and have a slightly higher body temperature. Therefore, it is eminently practical you stay.

Jim chuckled and set the spoon aside, smoothing the hair from Spock's forehead. "Only you would try to rationalize cuddling. Go back to sleep. I have Chekov covering your station for alpha shift so don't even think of stepping foot on my bridge tomorrow. And you're going to let Bones treat you. No arguing."

He nodded, and Jim lowered his head to the pillow, stretching out alongside him on top of the covers. He lightly brushed a kiss across Spock's hand before his arm came to rest over his side.

You're a pain in my ass sometimes, but I love you.

Spock heard it as he slipped back into unconsciousness. He gave Jim a radiant Vulcan smile (ie. his mouth twitched) and nestled his face into the captain's neck, stilling.

...

Jim Kirk will be the the first to tell you: half-Vulcans, even sick ones, look pretty adorable sleeping.