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***

Spock isn't winded at all, damn him, but Jim sits down, groans, then proceeds to lay out on the cool grass, staring up at the sky. Overhead the summer sun comes and goes between busy thunderheads, keeping him just warm enough to be comfortable. It takes him at least a minute to catch his breath, which is better, though not better enough for him.

He sees, out of the corner of his eye, Spock take a seat on the grass as well. "That was a slight improvement over yesterday, captain. Dr. McCoy will be pleased with your progress."

"I'm not pleased."

"This is a remarkable recovery for new musculature and nerves. I would advise you to not set expectations you cannot hope to meet. Emotional stress is as much a factor as physical in human recovery."

Jim knows Spock is right, and this is just his own grumpiness at how long the entire process of coming back to life is taking. "Well, when you're getting used to a re-grown body, I'll make sure to tell you that."

"Should I ever find myself in such a position, I would be grateful to have you remind me of such things."

Jim can't help himself; he cracks up. He doesn't know why the idea of him being the one to tell Spock to take it easy and not push himself has him in near hysterics, yet finds himself powerless to stop the laughter. And then his chest tightens and his laughter threatens to turn into something else, something a lot more out of place given that he's physically improving and alive when he should be dead, and he finds himself saying, "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you." It leaves him breathless, but at least he's got it out, and the laughing's stopped.

When there's no reply forthcoming, Jim lifts his head. Although Spock is looking out at the Bay with an air of forced detachment, his eyes glance to Jim for a second. After numerous false starts, he says, "I am sorry, captain, that I was unable to convince you."

"I'm not sure how much harder you could've tried. I wasn't exactly listening."

"There were steps I could have taken."

"Steps? Like what, like--having Bones drug me and locking me up in medical, those kinds of steps?"

"Among others."

"You're not actually trying to apologize to me for not leading a mutiny, are you?" Jim doesn't wait for a response; he rolls his eyes and lets his head fall to the ground. "Spock, if there is a single person in the whole galaxy who doesn't need to apologize to me for anything for the rest of my life, it's you." He pauses to consider that. "I guess it's more like a few hundred people who don't, with you right at the top of the list."

Now Spock does face him, and before he can respond, Jim levers himself up and reiterates, "I'm not letting you apologize to me for not doing something that goes against everything that you think is right. That's insane. So, don't try."

Either Jim is getting better at reading Spock, or Spock's not trying very hard (and maybe the difference isn't worth quibbling about), because he can see a variety of things pass over his friend's features before that calm, stoic demeanor goes back into place. "As you wish, captain."

"Jim."

"...Jim."

Jim flops back onto the grass. "And if this kind of thing does happen to you, it's not going to just be jogging and laps in the pool. There'll be push-ups. Maybe pull-ups. Stair-climbing."

"Are you trying to dissuade me or convince me?"

"Which one will work?"

"Possibly neither."

Jim blows out a breath. "I'll just get Uhura to help me."

Spock gives him a look that Jim has come to associate with accusations of cheating. Jim just smiles in return.

The next day, the physical therapist has him doing pull-ups.



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