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They torture Ensign Morales with a fucking glass shard.

Apparently, knives are too humane for them. No, it’s not that. The glass is supposed to shock Jim, but there’s nothing that can shock him any more. Jim can still remember the bite of the dagger into Ensign Keller’s skin. He can remember the way the blood leaked slowly from the long, thin lines and how the lines crisscrossed her body in a checkerboard pattern. He’ll never be able to play chess again without seeing the blood dripping down those lines and pooling on the floor beneath the table they laid her on. He’ll never forget the final line they drew across Keller’s neck—Lauren’s neck. He wants to remember her by name, the first woman who lost her life because of him. She won’t be the last.

Destina Morales is going to be the next. The Boldun woman just smashed an empty glass bottle across her chest and now she's using one of the shards of the bottle to rip Destina apart. The wounds crisscross her chest in random patterns, flaying open the skin so that the fat and muscle beneath can be seen.

Jim sees a bit of bone through one deep, deep cut. When the bottle smashed into her chest, he heard ribs break. He wonders if they’ll slice her open like that frog he dissected back in high school, pulling open the flaps of skin so her ribs are visible. He wonders if he’ll be able to see the cracks in her bones, if her heart will continue beating and her lungs will keep filling and emptying like the frog’s did.

“Captain,” she whimpers as one of the Boldun’s cuts into her stomach. “No, no, please, Captain! Help!”

The leader of the group that has captured them looks Jim straight in the eye. “Will you speak now?”

Destina screams then, as the woman with the glass shard splits her belly in two. Jim can see her intestines through the wound.

He remains silent.

The leader crosses to where Jim is chained to the wall. “Humans are fragile creatures. She will die soon. Will you speak?”

Jim keeps his eyes on Destina. A second horizontal cut across her stomach is jagged and deep and allows her innards to spill out on the table. Destina is silent now, unconscious. Jim is glad that she cannot feel anymore. He remains silent.

The leader spits at Jim’s feet. “Her blood stains your hands then.” He pivots and snaps towards the woman doing the cutting, “Kill her now.”

The woman nods and plunges the shard into Destina’s chest. A cracking sound fills the air. She hit a bone. Again she raises the shard, aiming more carefully this time. The squelch of the shard entering Destina’s heart turns Jim’s stomach. Her body convulses once, then blood trickles from the corner of her mouth, and Jim knows she is dead.

He remains silent.

“We will return tomorrow.” The leader moves to the door, but pauses before leaving. “You have two crewmembers left. If you forfeit them, we will not hesitate to torture you.”

The woman follows him out, tossing the glass shard to the floor as they leave. The blood on it glistens beautifully in a patch of light. Jim looks away.

The door of their cell clangs shut, and the chains around their wrists lengthen, allowing them some freedom of movement. Ensign Kozlov collapses to the floor, sobbing, but he’s been sobbing since Lauren died, so Jim pays him no mind. He knows Kozlov will be next, so he can’t pay him any mind, can’t let himself feel sympathy for the man he will kill tomorrow. Doing so would strip him of the little sanity he had left.

Spock, in contrast, calmly walks forward to the table and feels for Destina’s pulse. “She is dead, Captain,” he announces, and he pulls his hand back. It’s bloody. He wipes the blood off on his pants. The black fabric hides the red color, but Jim thinks he can still see the wet sheen. Jim looks away, up, at Spock’s face.

Spock looks as neutral as ever, but Jim can see the pain he’s feeling. His lips are tight and his eyes narrowed. Jim looks away.

“Thank you, Spock.” Jim lowers himself to the floor. There’s nothing else to do in the little room. There’s a toilet in the corner, but there’s no sink, and half of the room is full of Destina and Lauren’s bodies, the table, and the shards of the broken bottle. Jim closes his eyes. His captors didn’t force him to watch, but he did so anyway. Neither woman deserved to die. Jim didn’t deserve to look away from their pain.

Spock takes a seat on the floor next to Jim. He is so close, Jim can feel his body heat. “Ensign Morales experienced pain for only twenty minutes, Captain.”

Huh. The cutting seemed like it had gone on forever. He knew Lauren had been in pain from the moment they started cutting until she passed out three hours later. It took another hour before they killed her, and Jim had felt every one of those cuts she was unconscious for. At least Destina’s death had been quick.

“You cannot tell them the codes,” Spock says softly.

“I know.” If Jim tells, millions will die.

But he wouldn’t have to watch their deaths.

“I know,” Jim whispers again.

Something touches Jim’s leg and he opens his eyes. Spock’s hand is resting on Jim’s thigh. Jim closes his eyes again, and reaches out blindly to return the gesture. He’s careful not to touch skin, but when his fingers find Spock’s leg, he squeezes it.


The night passes slowly. Kozlov’s sobs continue until he passes out from exhaustion. Jim sleeps at some point, but he doesn’t remember when he fell asleep and when he woke. There are no meals to break up the monotony. Hunger is another form of torture.

Jim opens his eyes only once when he rises to drink some water from the toilet and then to use it. It flushes, and the water’s mostly clean, but Jim finds he doesn’t have any thirst. The red liquid he can see on the other side of the room makes his throat too tight to drink. He takes his seat next to Spock again and closes his eyes. He gropes for Spock’s leg in the dark and finds it. Spock grasps his thigh in return, and Jim doesn’t open his eyes again until the Bolduns show up. There are three of them today, the leader, the man who killed Lauren, and the woman who killed Destina. They carry no weapons, but their muscles are thick and ropy beneath their skin. They don’t need weapons to kill Kozlov.

Jim keeps his gaze on them as the chains tighten and drag him up the wall till he’s standing. Kozlov is awake now, and sobbing harder than ever. Boris is awake. Jim will remember them all by name.

Jim watches them sweep Destina’s body from the table. It lands with a wet slap on top of Lauren’s body. Jim watches.

The leader moves in front of Jim. “Are you ready to talk?”

Jim remains silent.

“Put him on the table!” the leader screams, and the man and woman rush to release Boris. He struggles weakly, his humanity no match for their alien muscles. They strap him to the table.

They torture him slowly, starting with his toes. One by one they are broken, then ripped out of their joints. The woman is rougher and rips two of the toes completely off his foot. Boris’s sobs are screams now, constant screams that stop only long enough for him to take a breath and start again.

When they run out of toes, they start breaking fingers. The woman grows impatient and rips all of the fingers off Boris’s right hand. The man shakes his head at her, his actions tidier, more graceful, more precise. The leader watches in silence, his arms crossed over his chest. Jim watches, too.

They move on to the legs. Boris screams through the left calf bone breaking, but when the woman cracks the right calf bone and bends the calf like it’s a knee, there’s silence. The thigh bones are broken and the legs are pulled out of joint. The woman seems disgruntled when her tug only dislocates the right leg instead of ripping it free of the body. They proceed to the arms, breaking all of the bones and then dislocating the shoulders.

When they reach the ribs, the woman uses her fist to break three and four ribs at a time, until they are all broken on her side. The man takes his time, pressing his thumb to each individual rib and pressing until it snaps. Then he moves on to the next one. The woman is tapping her foot impatiently by the time he finishes.

At this point, the leader speaks up. “If you talk now, he may still live.”

Jim remains silent.

The leader waits for a few seconds, then leaves. This must be a cue, for the man and woman unstrap Boris from the table. The woman takes hold of his head and the man takes hold of his body. They twist. Jim watches.

Boris’s neck snaps, and they keep twisting, not stopping until his head rips free of his neck. Blood flies everywhere.

They drop him on top of Lauren and Destina, then leave. The chains go slack and Jim lowers himself to the ground. Spock starts to walk forward, but Jim grabs his pant leg. “He’s dead. And if he isn’t dead, there’s nothing we can do.”

Spock looks down at him. He nods. “Yes, Captain.” He sits with Jim. Their legs touch.

Jim closes his eyes.


When the sun wakes Jim the next morning, he knows what will happen that day. They will kill Spock. They will kill...

Jim’s stomach tightens. “Spock, what is your first name?”

Spock shifts next to him. “Humans cannot pronounce my first name.”

Jim opens his eyes and looks at Spock’s face. “Spock, what is your first name?”

Spock frowns ever so slightly, but he does say a long string of consonants that Jim can’t possibly repeat.

But even if Jim can’t say it, he can remember it.

“Say it again.”

Spock repeats the name.


Spock says it again, and then again, and then again, over and over until the door opens to their prison.

Jim keeps his eyes on Spock as the chains drag them up the wall. “Thank you, Spock,” he says, but in his head he hears Spock’s first name.

When the Bolduns enter the room, Jim doesn’t look at them. He keeps his eyes on Spock when the leader asks, yet again, if Jim will speak.

Jim remains silent.

It isn’t until they come to release Spock from the wall that Jim realizes both the woman and the man are in the room that day. He watches them drag Spock to the table. Spock struggles valiantly, but even his Vulcan strength is no match for them. They strap him down, and when all his limbs have been secured, Spock goes still. He gives up, but Jim won’t. Jim keeps watching.

They start with the toes again. The woman tries to rip them off Spock’s foot on her side, but Spock’s Vulcan muscles won’t give as easily as a Human’s. She snarls but gives up, and Jim is thankful that Spock won’t have to experience that.

When they move on to Spock’s fingers, Jim is afraid that he’s going to have to watch Boris’s death all over again. But Boris wasn’t Spock. Spock is Jim’s First Officer. Spock has sat by Jim’s side, touched him through the long nights even though Vulcans don’t touch anyone. In his silence, Spock has kept Jim sane and sanity is all Jim will have left when Spock is gone.

As it turns out, their plans for Spock are much worse than anything they did to Boris. After they finish with Spock’s fingers, the man takes out his dagger. First he cuts off Spock’s shirt and pants. Then he cuts a line across Spock’s chest, passing just above Spock’s heart. From there, he begins scoring Spock like he did Lauren, cutting only below the line, marking up Spock’s stomach and thighs.

The woman picks up a shard of glass from the floor, the same one that killed Destina. She cuts above the line on Spock’s chest. Her cuts are deeper and random, but Spock’s rib cage protects his lungs. Jim is grateful that she was given Spock’s upper body. One deep cut through Spock’s abdomen could rupture his heart and kill him. He wishes she had been given Spock’s lower body. One deep cut would kill him and take away the pain.

Through all of this, Spock lays still on the table, his eyes closed. He does not whimper like Laura did. He does not cry like Destina did. He does not scream like Boris did. He is silent, so silent Jim thinks he is already dead, but the rise and fall of his chest dashes Jim’s hopes.

Jim watches in silence as green blood fills the wounds and drips onto the table. He waits for Spock to scream. When the woman cuts deep enough that Jim can see muscle, he waits for the scream. It doesn’t come. When the man finishes his horizontal lines and begins to make vertical ones, to create a checkerboard on Spock’s stomach, Jim waits for the scream. It doesn’t come.

When the two of them tire of cutting, they go back to breaking things. A broken leg, a broken arm, a few broken ribs—Jim waits for the scream, but it doesn’t come.

The leader watches in silence. Spock’s eyes are still closed and he’s perfectly still, but Jim can still see that he is alive, can still see him breathe. Jim hopes Spock is unconscious. The leader watches in silence until the woman goes to break the rib just above Spock’s heart. Jim can’t be silent anymore. He can’t keep back his gasp, and the leader hears it.

His gaze sharpens. “Will you speak?”

Jim holds his breath, holds back his words. Spock will not die for nothing. Jim must remain silent.

The leader slams a fist into the wall. “Kill him!”

The woman raises her hand in the air and plunges the shard into Spock’s chest, where a Human’s heart would be. Jim holds his breath. If they leave it at that, Spock might survive. His lung would collapse, but he has two lungs.

The man drags his dagger up Spock’s body, up his throat, up under his chin. The line is shallow. It bleeds, but it would not kill Spock. Then the dagger flashes and Spock’s throat is slit.

The man and woman step away from Spock—from Spock’s body. The three Bolduns proceed from the room. Jim holds his breath.

The door clangs shut and the chains loosen and the scream comes, but it’s not Spock’s scream. It’s Jim’s scream and it continues and it continues and it continues and Jim doesn’t know when it ends but it does and Jim has collapsed onto his knees, but he’s still watching Spock, still watching.

He cannot look away.


Jim watches through the night. He can hear Spock’s name in his head. He listens to it over and over and over again, Spock’s voice saying his name in Jim’s head.

Jim doesn’t sleep. He watches, and it is because he is watching that he sees Spock’s finger twitch. The sob is out of his throat before he realizes it is coming. He’s hallucinating already. Spock is gone, and now he’s losing his sanity. Soon he’ll have nothing left but his bones. Goodbye Bones. Goodbye Uhura. Goodbye, Sulu and Chekov and Scotty and Enterprise. Goodbye—

The finger twitches again.

Spock checked the bodies, proclaimed them dead. Jim climbs to his feet and wobbles across the room, his legs prickling with pins and needles. They don’t matter though. Jim didn’t check the body.

Jim reaches for Spock’s wrist. He’ll feel for Spock’s pulse, just in case. But as he grasps Spock’s wrist, his palm overlaps with Spock’s and blazing pain shoots up his arm into his brain. When the pain clears, there’s another person in his head.

I am not dead, Captain.

Jim drops Spock’s hand. The pain burns through him again, but he looks at Spock more closely. Perhaps it is all a hallucination, but he can see Spock’s chest rise and fall. It’s slower than it should be, but there is movement. Jim takes Spock’s hand again.

The pain returns, but Jim welcomes it because it brings Spock with it.

The pain is from the meld. The Human peripheral nervous system is not meant to be used for long-term telepathic contact.

Spock. It’s Spock! Jim hears the other name in his head, but he pushes it away. He doesn’t need to know Spock’s first name. Spock didn’t die.

Spock didn’t die?

Vulcans can undergo a healing trance. I entered the trance with my first injury and only just now reached the point at which I could survive outside of the trance and I forced myself out of it.

I didn’t think you could do that. Jim doesn’t know much about the trance, but he knows it isn’t supposed to end until the healing is complete.

There was a greater need for me to wake than for me to heal. Spock’s eyes flutter open. What is the extent of my injuries?

Jim recalls what happened to Spock. The memory passes through the meld, and Spock’s eyes slam closed. Sorry, I didn’t know you would see that.

I am fine.

You’re alive. How is that possible?

She missed my heart and he missed my jugular vein. A collapsed lung and severed vocal chords are not enough to kill me.

But the blood!

The larger wounds were shallow and the smaller ones clotted quickly. I have not lost an excessive amount of blood.

The door opens, and Jim knows he should drop Spock’s hand, but he holds on. If they realize Spock is alive, they will kill him, but Jim can’t let go.

The leader steps into the room and sneers. “Holding the hand of a corpse? Your mind is weakening. Today’s the day I will break you.”

You cannot tell them the codes.

Jim looks down at Spock’s hand. The Bolduns are in the room, all three of them now, but Jim doesn’t have to remain silent. He doesn’t have to watch. I won’t, he answers.

It’s pointless to fight them, so Jim doesn’t try when the woman frees him from the still-slack chains and grabs him by the shoulders. He does fight when the man tries to separate him from Spock.

“Let him hold the corpse’s hand,” the leader says suddenly. “Maybe it will help him realize that he’s alone. No one is coming for him. No one can save him except himself.” The leader looks Jim straight in the eye. “Will you speak?”

No! Jim screams inside, and the meld pulses with reassurance.

The man pulls Spock’s body from the table as the woman pushes Jim onto it. Jim can feel the pain Spock is in as he’s tossed to the floor without care, his broken bones and gaping wounds jostled with every movement. Then the pain is gone.


I am here. I am masking my pain.

The leader is talking but Jim tunes him out. Spock is more important.

I’m sorry.

You did not cause this.

I led the mission. I thought they were safe. I let us beam down here. I killed us all.

Emotions burst into Jim’s brain. Anger towards the Bolduns, comfort for Jim, and sorrow over the deaths: they belong to Spock. You did not cause this, Captain.

Jim feels the man and woman strap down his legs and the arm that isn’t reaching down to Spock. He is powerless. He has been powerless since the beginning. The Bolduns had required that all but one person in their party give up their weapons. Jim had asked Giotto to keep his because he was head of security, and the rest of them had given theirs up. Giotto was not there when the kidnapping happened. Jim tried to fight, but they had phasers. He had been powerless.

You did not cause this.

He didn’t cause this.

But he let three people die before his eyes.

You saved the entire Federation from destruction. Those codes would lead to the destruction of every ship in Starfleet.

It doesn’t make the deaths any less painful.

No, it does not.

The first cut slices open Jim’s shirt, leaving a long, shallow wound on his chest. There is no pain.

I am shielding you from your pain as well.

How does that work?

I take the pain signals into my brain and then mask part of my thoughts from you.

Don’t you feel all the pain then?


Don’t do that!

The woman takes hold of Jim’s arm and rips it away from Spock’s. Then she proceeds to break all of the bones in Jim’s arm. She drops his arm and a wave of pain engulfs Jim. He loses himself in the pain. He screams.

There is nothing but pain. All of the world is pain.

Then fingertips brush against Jim’s hand. Through the haze of pain, Jim remembers that Spock is down there somewhere. Jim can’t move his arm though, not with it broken, and Spock can’t hold Jim’s hand with his broken fingers. Jim takes a deep breath and throws his body towards the edge of the table. Spock must lift up his arm a little, not enough for the Bolduns to realize he's alive, but enough for Jim to reach his hand and clasp it tight. He can hear people laughing at him, but it doesn’t matter. He holds on.

The pain of the meld returns, and the rest of his pain disappears.

The dagger flashes in front of Jim’s face and he closes his eyes. Give me back my pain, Spock. At least with the pain the rest of the world blurs away. Jim doesn’t want to watch himself die.

You cannot tell them the codes, Captain.

Jim, call me Jim. When I die, remember my name. Jim won’t tell them the codes. Jim will die before he speaks even one numeral from the codes.

You will not die, Jim.

Give me back my pain.

There’s pressure on Jim’s lower abdomen. He doesn’t want to open his eyes to see what they are doing to him, but without the pain, he can’t tell what is happening to him.

I will not give it back until it is enough to make you lose consciousness.

I’ll let go of your hand if you don’t give it back!

Irritation colors Spock’s next words. Remaining sane in a situation like this is difficult. I propose we talk to take our focus off of what is occurring.

Sanity seems like a long forgotten concept. Maybe they should have been talking this whole time. They haven’t really talked since the first day when they tried to escape and discovered there was absolutely no way out. Jim was the one who went silent. He should have kept talking.

Tell me about something, Spock. Can you... will you tell me about Vulcan? Jim knows a lot about Spock now, but he knows nothing about Vulcan and if he doesn’t know about Vulcan, then can he ever really know about Spock?

Sadness pours through the meld. Speaking of Vulcan is difficult. I would prefer to simply share my memories.


The pressure on Jim’s stomach increases, but a sudden image of Spock's mother floods Jim’s mind and he falls into Spock’s mind. The whole world narrows down to him, Spock, and a planet that exists only in memories. Spock’s concentration soon falters when Jim comes across a memory of Spock beating up another kid, and the world bursts into pain. As soon as Jim realizes that they’ve broken his legs, Spock starts shoring up the meld again and the pain disappears.

Another memory shakes Spock’s mental stability. All Jim sees is a bunch of old Vulcans glaring down from a platform, and then he’s awash in pain again. His stomach is cut up, and all of his limbs are broken now. He screams. Of course he screams. The light trail of a sharp point down his side lets him know that the man is cutting him up with the same checkerboard pattern as the others.

The pain dissolves, but Spock is crying out into the meld, his scream silent.

What can I do, Spock? Will you give me back my pain?

Talk to me. Share your memories. Distract me.

Jim knows it’s cowardly to let Spock take away his pain like this. His arm aches as if he can feel each individual nerve ending burning, but it’s nothing compared to what Spock must be feeling. If Jim would let go of his hand, Spock would be in a much better place.

Jim! Spock gasps, and Jim makes his decision.

He holds on.

And he holds nothing back. He can feel hands on his body, but he ignores them in favor of picking random memories to throw at Spock. He shares everything, from Frank to Bones to Sam to his mother. Spock watches the memories silently, but his hold on the meld is strong and Jim knows he’s alright, that this is helping.

By the time Jim gets around to meeting Pike in a bar and the ways in which he manipulated the Kobayashi Maru, he realizes that the hands have disappeared from his body. Tentatively, he opens his eyes. The leader stands above him, arms crossed, eyes dark.

“Will you speak?”


The leader waits and waits and finally shakes his head and punches Jim in the gut.

“I’m not going to kill you just yet.” He shoves a finger into one of Jim’s wounds, but all Jim feels is pressure. “I’m certain you’re in plenty of pain, and you’re bleeding pretty badly. If you don’t get medical treatment, in a few hours you’ll be dead.” The finger wriggles in the wound, and Spock gasps through the meld. “So I’m going to leave you alone in here with your corpses for an hour. When I come back, I expect the codes.” He pulls his finger out of Jim. “If you still don’t feel like sharing, I’ll kill you.”

He disappears from Jim’s field of vision and Jim hears the door closing. He takes inventory of his injuries. There are a lot of them, and many that should be painful, but they aren’t actually life-threatening.

They cannot kill you until you give them the codes.

Oh. That makes sense. Good. Now, give me back my pain, Spock.

Hesitance leaks through the meld. I am uncertain as to whether this will be enough pain to render you unconscious.

I don’t care. It’s not like I’m going to suddenly gasp out the codes when I feel it. At least give yourself a break until they come back to torture me some more.

...As you wish.

Spock shouldn’t have worried. As soon as the pain reaches Jim’s brain, it knocks him out.


Jim wakes up in sickbay. I never knew this was what heaven would look like.

There is no reply.

Spock? Spock!

Jim is alone in his head, and he hates it. No, he doesn’t hate it because if he’s dead and Spock’s not here, then Spock’s alive, and that is worth more than being alone.

Then Bones’ head pops into view.

“I’m alive?” The words come out gravely.

Bones glares at him. “Just barely. What the fuck did you do to yourself down there?”

If Jim is alive and Spock’s not here, then Spock is dead.

“Spock’s dead.”

Bones rolls his eyes. “No, but he oughta be. Fool Vulcan broke his way out of a healing trance. They aren’t supposed to do that, you know. I had to fix so much brain damage...”

Spock’s alive!

“I need...” His throat closes up on him and he coughs.

Bones presses a straw to Jim’s lips. “Water?”

Jim drinks, but he doesn’t need water. “Need Spock,” he finally gasps out when Bones pulls the straw away.

Bones tilts his head to the side. “He’s right over there.”

Jim turns his neck, but he can’t see past the machine next to his bed. He struggles to sit up, tries to use his arms to push himself up, but he can’t. His arms are in casts, real old-fashioned casts.

“Need Spock” comes out as a plaintive cry, but Jim doesn’t care. He’s alone in his head, and he needs to know Spock is out there somewhere.

“Calm down,” Bones says and presses Jim back against the bed. “Spock’s fine.”

“Need Spock!” Jim raises his arms into the air and tries to rock forward. If he can gain the proper momentum, he’ll be able to sit up. Bones grabs the closest arm and pins it to the bed, and Jim’s left reaching for Spock with one arm, but there are no fingertips in reach this time. “Spock!”

“Stop your struggling your ornery bastard and I’ll move you over near his bed!”

Jim stops moving, lets his arm fall to the bed. “Spock.”

Bones sighs, but he calls in a nurse and they shift Jim onto a stretcher and wheel him over next to Spock’s bed. Jim can see Spock now, but he isn’t awake. His chest isn’t moving, but Jim can see very, very small levels of respiration and circulation on the biobed display. “Spock?”

There is no reply. Bones sets his hand on top of Jim’s, and Jim pulls away. That’s not the hand he wants.

“He’s fine, Jim, I promise. We found the two of you about forty-five minutes after you passed out, according to Spock. The idiot nearly tore his arm in two with his broken bone because he kept trying to grab your hand after you passed out and dropped it. He told us everything that had happened, then fell back into his healing trance. He hasn’t come out yet.”

Jim nods, but he’s not really listening. The heart monitor is pulsing at half the speed it should be, but it’s pulsing.

Spock is alive.


Jim stares out at the stars. He’s been out of sickbay for a week, but Bones still won’t let him go back on active duty.

Jim has a lot of time to stare at the stars.

The door of the observation deck opens and Jim spins towards it. Doors bother him now, even though the mechanical swoosh of the Enterprise’s doors is nothing like the clang of that cell door.

Spock steps inside the room.

Jim’s walking before he realizes it, his hand reaching out for Spock. He nearly takes Spock’s hand in his, but he stops himself. “Vulcans don’t like to be touched.”

Spock looks down at Jim’s outstretched hand. “Vulcans appreciate a kind touch as much as Humans do. We avoid touch to protect others privacy. We try not to read people’s emotions without their permission.”

Jim holds his hand a little closer to Spock. “You have permission, always. Forever.”

Spock reaches tentatively, and as soon as his fingertips touch Jim’s palm, Jim grabs his hand like it’s water in a desert.

“I’m glad you’re awake, Spock.” The week and a half since Jim woke up in sickbay alone in his head have been the longest week and a half of his life.

“I am equally thankful that you are healed, Captain.”

Suddenly, Jim’s all alone again. “Jim. Please... Jim.”

Spock nods sharply. “Jim. I was uncertain whether your request would remain in a non-threatening situation.” His hand tightens around Jim’s. It’s a new feeling, much different from the slack hand Jim held through the torture. “If you wish, I could attempt to teach you my name again.”

Jim’s chest tightens. “Will it offend you if I only call you Spock?”

“No.” Spock looks at Jim, his face blank. “It was the only name my mother ever called me.”

“Good.” There is no reason for Jim to learn Spock’s name. He doesn’t plan on letting Spock die before him.

Jim returns to his place by the observation screen, and he drags Spock along with him. He’s still alone in his head, but he’s not lonely, not with Spock by his side.

Outside the ship, space is dark as dried blood and silent as a corpse with stars that sparkle like broken glass.

Lauren, Destina, Boris. Jim remembers them by name.

The stars go by. Life goes on.

Jim watches.

He remains silent.

He holds on.






Chapter End Notes:

Affliction's Sons is a sequel to Boldun.

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