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Six months ago, James T. Kirk had given in to his curiosity about Spock-from-the-future.

There had been a moment, on an away mission where everything had gone wrong, when Kirk had once again come face to face with the reality of knowing more about his own future than anyone should. He'd been forced into a fight with some huge native man in order to keep Spock from being killed due to McCoy's big freaking mouth, since apparently, having green blood in that culture made you a demon. Kirk managed to get the drop on the guy, and was walking over to untie Spock. And Spock...looked at him. Spock looked at him, for just a moment, the way Spock-from-the-future had looked at him. It was exactly the same expression. As though Kirk could do anything. As though he was some mythic hero given life. It had stopped Kirk dead in his tracks, shoved a chill right up his spine.

Kirk started wondering, after that day, just what the extra-devious-Spock-from-the-future was up to. Just how close was his future going to be to the elder Spock's alternate one? It had seemed so unlikely, when he'd insisted how incredibly close they would be... and now Kirk knew better, and it was making him pretty damned interested in what the older Spock might have to say. Uhura had been collecting lots of information about the colony, every scrap of news she could find, for their Spock. It wasn't hard to get her to share, and when he had discovered what a busy little bee the elder Spock had been, Kirk couldn't resist giving him a little poke. The news was that extra-devious-Spock had just received the go ahead for the new power plant, so Kirk sent him a brief, congratulatory note.

Congratulations from an old friend. Good Luck- James T. Kirk, Captain, Enterprise NCC 1701.

He'd received a response several hours later, and had been surprised that it was a live feed. Expensive, for a civilian. Then the elder Spock came up on his personal viewscreen, and he hadn't looked devious at all. He seemed, instead, slightly guilty and deeply anticipatory. As if he'd struggled with himself for a while over whether or not to respond to Kirk at all. As if logic, this time, had not won out.

This Spock cared about him so damn hard it practically leaked out of the viewscreen. His Spock (and he really should be careful not to get too comfortable with that term) was a good friend, possibly his best friend, but the older Spock...the way he looked at Kirk...it was something to see. Like this Spock had gotten a genie wish right out of the bottle, and that wish was Kirk. Like he was something to stare at in wonder, and Spock didn't give a crap who saw him do it.

Kirk had pestered extra-devious-Spock a bit about sharing more of the future knowledge he had, but from the elder Spock's reaction, that was expected. He'd said no, but from the look of him, Kirk suspected that if he'd pushed for it, Spock would have given him damn near anything in his power, timestream or universe be damned. That particular 'no' had a 'yes' behind it. It was sort of sobering to have that kind of influence over somebody.

The older Spock just kept staring at him, obviously pleased as punch, watching every little thing Kirk did. A smile or a nod of his head...as if Spock was seeing the other Kirk, and finding that he compared favorably. Sobering, and definitely weird. Less weird than sharing space inside of the older Spock's head, but still...

They hadn't talked long, but afterward Kirk found himself writing the older Spock now and then, for no particular reason at all. It was slightly humbling knowing there was somebody out there who had so much faith in him. It was troubling to think that particular Spock didn't really have anybody in this universe. Kirk had kind of wanted to keep an eye on him.

Kirk waited as the lift dropped, and thought about that. The older Spock had almost smiled at him, a couple of times.

Kirk set his jaw and glared at the lift doors, willing them to open.

Instead, there was a rumbling noise, and a sharp jolt. Kirk stumbled but kept his feet as the lights flickered. Spock, his first officer Spock, threw out an arm to catch himself on the wall of the lift, and there was a sickening lurch. Kirk was thrown to the floor, Spock landing on top of him, and Kirk flailed instinctively as he felt the lift slip into free-fall.

They were, luckily, only feet from the bottom level. The noise was impressive, the lights failed entirely, but it didn't do much more than knock the wind out of him. That was mostly because Spock was on top of him, and was a lot heavier than he looked.

“Are you all right, Captain?” Spock asked, shifting his weight quickly. Kirk had to take a moment to convince his lungs to accept air again. When he finally managed to inhale, after a long moment of struggling, Spock was already reaching out, his hands smoothing over Kirk's chest. Carefully touching the area he had hit. Kirk let out a desperate wheezing sound as he got air in.

“Yes,” he managed, knowing the way he sounded put the lie to his words, “fine,” he added, more firmly. He thought that he felt a feather-light touch of a hand at his head. Just for a second, then gone.

Spock make a little exhalation, almost a 'tssk' sound, and Kirk had to choke back a snicker.

Sometimes, he could swear, it was like Spock and Bones thought he got himself hurt on purpose...

“You think you can get these doors open?” Kirk asked, rubbing absently at his chest as he pushed himself up on his knees. He had firsthand experience with how strong Spock was. It was at least possible. Shuffling sounds as Spock crawled over to the lift doors. Then, a creaking, groaning noise. A thin sliver of light opened in front of Kirk, casting Spock in silhouette.

It was a pretty seriously impressive feat of strength. A moment later, they both spilled out onto the lowest level of the power plant.

The first thing Kirk noticed was the noise. An incredible roaring sound, like the wind while driving a convertible with the top down at a ridiculous speed. Or water...a lot of water. There was a chilly, sticky humidity in the air that seemed to suggest it.

The hall was clear. It meant they got a good view of the carnage when they stepped out into the main room.

A good portion of the ceiling had caved in. There were three bodies that he could see...all very obviously dead. Kirk stepped forward, and Spock ran his tricorder over them, though even Kirk could tell there was nothing they could do for them. Two men, and a woman. None of them the older Spock.

Kirk's hadn't realized he had a knot in his stomach until it loosened. He must be somewhere else...evacuated, maybe. Safe.

He glanced over at his first officer, who was staring at the bodies.

He could almost feel Spock's thought. Three more Vulcans dead. Three less survivors than there had been. Silently, Kirk reached out and touched Spock's arm. Spock lowered his head and said nothing.

Kirk looked out over the room. There was a massive chasm in the floor, running the length of the room. Water was channeled through it, streaming through from a damming mechanism along one wall. The water level was obviously far too high- there was a bridge spanning the ten-foot gap that had been half torn away just from the pressure of the flow, and water was splattering on the floor and equipment around it.

Kirk wasn't sure...maybe the Vulcans had come down to try and cut back the volume, the Elders had indicated they had received some record-setting precipitation over the last two days...

His eyes followed the line of the bridge, to the far end of the room and its banks of computers, cables arcing up and over the water, joining them to the computers on the levels above-

There was someone lying on the ground over there.

Kirk went cold.

He was running. He was running flat out, because somehow he knew, as soon as he set eyes on that body on the floor. He skidded to a halt in front of the creaking, swaying bridge. He looked at it for a moment, feeling a weird twinge of fear.

“Spock,” he called. Then, louder, clenching his fists, “Spock!” The old man lying on the floor moved a little, but Kirk was almost positive that he hadn't been heard. The roar of the water snatched his words away almost instantly-he could barely hear himself.

Spock, his first officer, caught up beside him, and he was pretty nearly sure he hadn't heard anything, either. Timestream safe so far...

Kirk put a hand on the rail and stepped onto the bridge, clenching his teeth as it sagged under his weight, dragging lower in the water. The current caught it at the bottom, swinging the structure out a foot or so, away from the side and toward the center of the water. Kirk heard metallic groaning and tearing noises, and a hand on his wrist jerked him back, just as the bridge was eaten by the water, ripping free of its moorings.

Kirk was yanked back into Spock's arms. He stumbled, watching the bridge disappear. Kirk looked up into Spock's eyes for a moment, squeezed his arm once in gratitude. Spock nodded.

Kirk turned back to look at the older Spock. The bridge collapsing must have caught his attention, because he'd lifted his head, and was staring right at Kirk. The expression on his face was almost the same as the one he'd worn when Kirk had first set eyes on him, in a cave on Delta Vega.

James T. Kirk...how did you find me?

Wonder and trust and amazement. As if hope itself had just walked in through the door wearing his clothes. There was blood on the older Spock's face, and after a brief moment, he had to drop his head, as if it was too much effort to keep holding it up.

Kirk swallowed, tasting rage. It boiled up as it did whenever he felt the cold eyes of impossible, of failure, of 'no other choice' on the back of his neck. When Kirk failed, people died, and it had always been that way. There was a wide, rushing press of water between him and the older Spock. Someone who trusted him. Who believed in him. The universe was trying to take Spock from him, to take more that it had already taken, to take everything from him and god dammit it had always been that way-

Kirk smiled, baring teeth.

You can't have anything else of mine.

With a snarl, Kirk pulled his phaser from his belt, flipped the setting to kill and fired at one of the sagging computer cables strung overhead. It burned right through, and the cable swung free. Kirk took a flying leap to catch it, and without a thought, threw himself out over the water.

He almost thought he could hear his first officer's alarmed cry, before it was just him, the empty air and the roar of the water. It sprayed his face and dampened his uniform. He blinked hard to clear his eyes and stretched as he swung out over the other side. Kirk hooked a heel over the twisted remnant of a railing, stopping his motion enough for him to slide down the cable and stumble to his feet. He tied the cable with a quick jerk to the rail, glancing over at his first officer on the other side. Spock had his fists clenched, his face a stone mask, revealing nothing.

Kirk turned from him, and ran to the elderly Vulcan crumpled on the floor.

He rolled him over gently, wincing in sympathy. “Spock,” he said urgently, cradling him close. He could see now that something had hit the elder Spock in the head, hard. One whole side of his face was swollen and bloodied. He blinked up at Kirk for a moment as if he wasn't entirely clear what was going on. Then his eyes widened as neurons connected, and he reached out.

“Jim, you...” Spock's eyes fluttered. Kirk took his hand, gripping it firmly. “you should not have...”

“Easy, Spock,” Kirk soothed, already fumbling at his belt. “You just hang on.”

“I am not capable of completing the sequence,” he gestured with his free hand vaguely at the bank of computers. “This room...removing the flow control...it will fill with water, and relieve the pressure. You must-”

“I got it.” Kirk said firmly, pulling out his communicator.

“I am pleased you are here,” Spock said. He shut his eyes, squeezing Kirk's hand. “It is...more than I ever expected...”

Kirk reacted instantly to the way he spoke.“You're not going to die,” he snapped in a steely voice. Spock opened his eyes at the vehemence in his words, and to Kirk's annoyance, his expression was that I-am-seeing-someone-else look. He looked fond and indulgent underneath the blood and the swelling.

“Jim, I can not get across, and you can not carry me.”

Kirk used his thumb to activate the emergency recall button on the pattern booster clipped to the side of his communicator. Spock's tunic was the type that wrapped around him, and Kirk tucked the communicator neatly inside the fold of cloth in the front.

“You're right,” he said, releasing Spock's hand.

Spock had a moment to look surprised, before the transporter effect glittered over him. It felt like it took longer than it ought to, but there was no mandelbrotization, no drippage or pattern ghosts left behind that might signal a botched beaming.

Kirk stood up once he was gone, and went to the computer the older Spock had indicated. It was a familiar system, and the correct programs were already running, but frozen, which might explain why they needed to physically come down to input the commands. Or maybe there was some security here that kept anyone from accessing this panel from different levels. That part of the problem didn't matter for Kirk. The computer was designed to monitor water flow, and it already knew there was a problem, and even several ways to try and fix it. Kirk just needed to bust through the overrides and tell it what to do. It took him five minutes to get his bearings and manage it. Spock could have probably done it in one.

He told the computer to give him fifteen minutes, but was stopped when another shudder went through the complex, shaking the floor and causing another small ceiling collapse about ten feet away from him. Kirk shortened the delay to seven minutes, and told himself he'd just have to hurry.

He didn't have another pattern booster, so he'd have to get back to the turbolift. It was trashed but there was an emergency hatch in the ceiling. Kirk would have to climb. There might be a maintenance ladder in the shaft. Might not. Either way, he only needed to make it up one level, and shut the turbolift shaft doors behind him. Kirk was pretty good at freehand climbing, he wasn't too worried.

Seven Minutes. Go.

He stepped away from the computer and ran to the spot he'd tied the cable, jerked it loose, his eyes on his first officer. He wondered, briefly, what his odds were of getting Spock to use his booster to get the hell out and leave Kirk behind to make his own way.

Kirk eyeballed the swing he would have to make, noting that this time would be more difficult, because the place where Spock stood was a little higher than where Kirk was at. Spock waited for him, lining himself up to make the catch, and Kirk watched him clench and unclench his fists.

Kirk had a suspicion his odds were really good...at getting neck pinched sometime in the next seven minutes, and ending up passed out on the transporter platform while Spock made his own way out.

Spock was not all that great at freehand climbing.

Kirk jumped off, curling his body up to get more momentum out of the swing. A random surge of water caught at his feet as he swung over, stealing some of his forward movement. He tensed as he was knocked to one side, the arc of his swing changing, he didn't think he was going to-

Spock reacted, grabbing onto the twisted remains of the railing and leaning far out over the water, his hand reaching. He looked like he would force himself to fly if that was what was necessary to get Kirk back safe. Kirk lunged for that hand, their fingers brushing for a heart-stooping moment. Spock grabbed him hard enough to hurt, and heaved.

The water crashed over Kirk's head, and he slammed into the wall of the channel. He let out a sharp cry as something, maybe a portion of the bridge supports, maybe part of the railing, dug into his side. He felt a couple of ribs go, and then realized, when he tried to inhale, that he couldn't breathe. He was too low, the water was over his head-


Then his head was higher, above the spray and he sucked in a desperate breath, grateful even though it hurt like hell. Spock pulled him up out of the drink like a particularly reckless fish. Kirk realized, vaguely, that he was cutting his hands on the railing as Spock helped him over. Spock must have too, there was green blood everywhere.

Ground. He was on the ground. Kirk knew this because it was about two inches from his face. He coughed hard, and then groaned, curling up, wincing over his ribs. Spock was leaning over him, his hand feeling gently at Kirk's newly broken ribs, the other smoothing his hair back. It was an intimate, comforting gesture, and Kirk relaxed under it, thinking idly about-

Kirk shot to his knees with a gasp, his hand clutching at the front of Spock's uniform.

“Seven minutes,” he managed, trying to use Spock as leverage to pull himself to his feet. He gestured wildly, vaguely at the damming mechanism in the wall- a massive thing of gears currently locked on standby. Spock followed the gesture, and his eyes widened.

He grabbed Kirk under an arm and yanked him to his feet. Kirk was pleased when he only staggered a little, and then they were both running. Spock kept him upright the whole way, an iron grip on his left arm.

The turbolift doors were still bent and jammed open, and Kirk leaned on them heavily as Spock reached up to remove the emergency hatch on the ceiling of the turbolift. The running lights in the shaft looked like they were still functioning, which was good, but Kirk could not see if there was a ladder or not.

“We will have to climb,” Spock said, tense.

“Ladder?” Kirk asked. Spock looked as if he would rather Kirk hadn't asked. He didn't say no. He didn't have to.

“I will help you,” Spock began seriously, almost managing to hide the edge of desperation in his voice. Kirk looked down. Spock's hands were more torn up than his were. Spock would have trouble with that climb even without the handicap.

And Kirk...he took a breath, felt the stab of pain along his side. He'd known as soon as he felt those ribs snap that he wasn't going anywhere.

“Spock,” Kirk said gently. An admonishment. He meant to go on, to tell Spock that he needed to use his pattern booster and get out while he could. Spock knew it, too, by the tight, unhappy expression on his face.

They were interrupted by a grinding sound that vibrated the floor. The roar of the water increased alarmingly. Kirk looked back down the tunnel, his heart dropping. That was the end of their seven minutes-

He was half expecting it, but it was still largely luck that he saw Spock move out of the corner of his eye. Kirk pivoted his shoulder away from the neck pinch, snatching at Spock's wrist and holding it out. It took damn near every ounce of strength that he had, and he winced and panted into Spock's face, but did not let go.

Spock paused for an instant, as if he was deciding whether to continue and physically force Kirk to submit, or if he wanted to try and talk a little, to better trick him later. While he did that Kirk darted in with his free hand, plucking quickly at Spock's communicator. He wondered, with a slight flash of guilt, if there was some rule about tricking the same person twice in one day. Even though it was, technically, two different versions of the same person.

“Sorry, Spock,” he said, and meant it. “Not this time.” He stepped back, and Spock looked down with a flash of panicked understanding. Kirk had activated his pattern booster's emergency signal. Kirk figured, given the fact that he'd been taken down by that neck pinch quite a few times, that Spock was owed a rescue-under-protest or two.

Then Spock lifted his head, and Kirk had a split second to be sorry for even thinking something so flippant. Spock stared at him, and Kirk was honestly shocked by the agony on his face. The roar of the water sounded...very close, and Spock looked at him as though the thought of never seeing him again was a lot worse than the thought of drowning alone at the bottom of a power plant.

If Kirk had ever thought that the older Spock was the only one who loved him, he was a bigger idiot than even Bones had ever accused him of being. He opened his mouth, already hearing the musical chime of the transporter starting, meaning to say...to tell him...

Spock reached out and snatched him close in an embrace so tight Kirk could almost hear his ribs scream. He stiffened in agony, and then froze, realizing that the sound of the transporter had continued to gain resonance.

He's trying a tandem.

Terror. Real, raw, heart-stuttering terror. He'd seen the tapes, Starfleet made every cadet watch them, the horrors that could occur trying to tandem without a positive lock on both patterns. A transporter accident begging to happen. There wasn't a worse way to die-

But he could see himself already shot through with the shining transporter patterns, and Spock was too strong for him to break away in time.

Spock had made a choice, Kirk realized with a pang, tightening his arms to return the embrace. The chance to save them both was worth more than Kirk's certain death, no matter what the cost might be. Kirk pushed his face into Spock's neck, as if it was the last thing he might ever do.

If it wasn't, he was going to kill Spock for this.


Chapter End Notes:

Author's Note:

To those who asked, no, Kirk hasn't been informed of Spock's encounter with Spock Prime in the hangar deck at the end of the movie. It seems in character for Spock to do this. Regular Spock is still devious, even though he isn't quite in the same league as extra-devious-Spock-from-the-future. Yet.

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