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Written as a pinch-hit for the trekreversebang for swordsart's amazing art. Also thanks to my cheerleading squad, jen ,littleboycalico , and yesterday_girl

 

(For some reason the formatting is all wonky. I'll fix it asap!)


Link to Art: 



Here


 










Chapter 1






There was no possibility of saving the shuttle.

The small craft gave a shudder, as though agreeing with Spock’s unwelcome certainty. Spock calculated swiftly, correcting the trajectory and trying to compensate for the shuttle’s nearly absent propulsion system.

There was a dip as the fragile shuttle gave another shudder. The fire from the Orion slaver had been most unwelcome. If the gravitational sensor had not immediately engaged once the phaser fire had breached the hull, both he and the Captain would have been sucked out into the blackness of space.

Spock’s vision was disorientating, blurry; he knew he had hit his head sharply on the console. The green blood that slid slowly down his nose confirmed that fact. Spock ignored his own injuries as irrelevant. He had a duty to his captain, who was currently not conscious, to make sure that they landed safely onto the planet.

The anomaly that the Captain had chosen to fly towards had shaken their small craft around like a Sehlat with a particularly tasty morsel in its fangs. As the craft was propelled forward and out of the anomaly’s gravitational pull, the shuttle gave an ominous sounding crack; the ship’s metal sides groaned alarmingly. The craft’s sensors were still offline, but Spock knew they had sufficient oxygen. It had been quite fortunate that the environmental controls had not chosen to ‘go on the fritz’ as the Captain had often stated, but the integrity of the hull was compromised.  

Spock’s fingers flew across the console, repairing what damage he could. He diverted power from the small transporter, and allowed a small twitch of his lips when, with a minute dimming of the lighting system, the navigational controls came back on-line. Spock’s eyes widened slightly in shock when he saw the large planet looming in front of him.

The craft dipped again, and Spock began scanning the planet, attempting to glean what information he could. The shuttlecraft was firmly entrenched in the planet’s orbit. It was highly unlikely that the craft’s controls would allow him to break away from the gravitational pull, even if the craft had been in optimal condition.The craft being disabled made the likelihood of  successfully meeting up with another starship, let alone the Enterprise, less than four percent.

There was a moan to his left and Spock reached out with one hand, the other still flying over his controls, scanning. The captain was still not moving. Spock gripped his captain’s wrist to keep him upright and away from the hissing force field that still shimmered with a sickly lavender glow every time one of the wires from the hull’s bulkhead slid against the gaping hole of twisted smoking metal.

Class L. There appeared to be some more Terran-like Class M aspects to small pockets of mass on the planet’s surface, but the classification was clearly Class L. Used to processing several different thoughts at the same time, Spock had no trouble focusing part of his attention on the issue of whether the planet would even be suitable for him and his Captain to survive there. Class L were classified by Starfleet to have the proper mix of oxygen, water, and other life-sustaining nutrients, but it was likely that the planet might not sustain them for long. Spock cut his glance to the Captain, still slumped back against the headrest of the seat. There were quite a number of injuries visible to the fragile human skin. A large lump was already beginning to swell with a sickly-looking red color.  There was no other choice. The Class L planet would have to suffice.

A high-pitched wail of alarms had Spock jerking his attention away from his captain and back to the console. He so rarely miscalculated that Spock’s error caused him to freeze for a moment in shock. His previous attempts to divert power had taxed the shuttlecraft’s small databases too far. There was no way to control the shuttle’s controls.

A crash onto the planet was eminent.

Unfortunately,  there was just a small amount of land visible in the vast oceans of the planet.  Spock caught a quick, disjointed glimpse of land to the west through the broken viewfinder before he grabbed the Captain and dove behind the two shuttle chairs, moving quickly, curling his body around the other man’s to protect it as best he could.

The shuttle slamming into the surface of the water was most unpleasant. Spock bounced, allowing himself a small grunt of pain when his spine cracked against the ceiling of the craft, quickly losing his tenuous balance when he and the captain slammed back against the floor of the shuttlecraft, the small breath whooshing out of his lungs. He felt it when his frontal bone, much more dense than the captain’s fragile skull, assailed the captain’s head.

The environmental controls went off-line as the shuttlecraft hit the water with a teeth-rattling crash. Had Spock the time to waste, he would have cursed as his skull slammed against the titanium chair. He felt the shuttlecraft vibrate as it was sucked under the surface. Spock stood, a quick glance around the shuttlecraft taking in the fragile hold of the faintly shimmering force-field. Spock made the most efficient use of his time, casting around for what items he thought that he would need immediately; knowing that he had mere minutes before there was a system-wide failure and the mechanism that kept the water from rushing into the small craft also went off-line.

There was a crash, a horrendous scraping sound as the back of the craft slid against whatever it had stuck and Spock leaped into action. He removed the emergency pack from its space near the seat and placed the strap around his shoulder. Working quickly, Spock also ripped off two of the seat cushions from the back two seats and crouched, tying one around Jim’s waist and shoving the other up under his uniform, tucking his shirts into his trousers. Not wasting a moment of time, Spock picked the captain up and held him, positioning the other man so that one of Spock’s arms would be free to propel them towards the water’s surface. He had just enough time to get the captain situated before there was another warning hiss of sound and water flooded into the craft as the safety measures on the force-field completely failed.  

Spock took a deep breath and pushed with his feet, sending the two of them out through the jagged hole before the seal could completely malfunction. Were that to happen, there was a 98.7 percent certainty that the force of the incoming water would keep Spock from being able to exit the Shuttlecraft and swim to safety.

As it was, Spock had not calculated for the suction created when the water crashed through the small hole, and he went tumbling through the water, unable to ascertain which way was up. His body mass, so much more dense than a human’s, began to sink, despite the standard issue ‘fleet flotation device he had shoved into his clothes.  

The water wasn’t completely dark. Spock felt his eyes burn as the substances in the water hit the fragile tissue. As illogical as it was, the claustrophobia that hit him as the water pressed against every inch of his body made made his heartrate increase and his skin crawl with distaste. Spock squinted towards the light. His lungs were beginning to hurt now as he strained not to breathe. He caught the movement of displaced water as something very large swam near to where the shuttle had landed.

Spock did not think it would be wise to stay to meet the creature’s acquaintance.

He began scissoring his legs desperately, clawing at the water to gain some sort of altitude from the heavy wetness.  The water was almost viscous. Spock was startled from his smooth glide when the captain gave a jerk, his limbs twisting, and Spock kicked again, heart thrumming in his side. There was no time for this. He must go faster.

The water was lighter in one direction, so close now- only meters away- and Spock continued his swim, his muscles burning, lungs aching.  The captain gave another violent jerk, and Spock could not keep his hold as the human's limbs thrashed. He made a feeble grab and his hands slid against Jim’s face, fingertips tingling as the slid against his psi points. The bag he had recovered from the shuttlecraft was in the way, tangling between their two bodies. With a quick jerk, Spock broke the strap, letting the bag sink. With his other hand he grabbed Jim’s hair, curling his fingers in the short strands, unwilling to cease their contact.

The captain was drowning.

 


 


 


“Captain’s log, supplemental.  Commander Spock has beamed back aboard the Enterprise with very little fanfare.  He did not have much to say, not that I really expected him to. His Vulcan controls are just as rigid as they were in the first months of our mission, with the effects from the
Valiant
 and that dammed Psi200 still running rampant over the ship.  Everything has happened so quickly. Spock surely knew, logically, that his parents could be used as targets. With Sarek’s status as Ambassador, and Lady Amanda’s stubborn refusal to leave her husband’s side,
surely
Spock knew that this was a possibility. Spock is a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of.... computer, pause recording.”

Kirk sighed, looking out into the stars. He could see his reflection in the small window, and realized ruefully that if anything could make him drop the captain facade, it would be the slightly too-tense line of his First Officer’s shoulders when he barely acknowledged Kirk’s greeting before requesting to spend the remainder of his leave in his quarters. He watched his reflection as he pulled on the scratchy sleeves of the new wraparound tunic, nervously meeting his own hazel gaze, the lines of the stars as they warped away from Vulcan on their way to their next mission serving as a backdrop to his own worry.

This was stupid.

Kirk blew out a breath, jumping to his feet and pacing around his quarters.  Spock was only a few feet away, separated from him by only the bulkhead. Spock needed a
friend
right now, and it was Kirk’s own cowardice that was keeping him in his quarters instead of Spock’s. He tightened his lips and took a deep breath, tugging a little on his uniform as it rode up a little over the waistband of his trousers. It only took a few steps before he was out of his room and standing uncertainly in front of Spock’s door, trying not to feel like a nervous prom date.  He blew out another frustrated breath and waved his hand over the door sensor.  There was several minutes of silence before Kirk repeated his action, ignoring the faint stirrings of trepidation deep within as he realized that Spock was not responding.

There could be several different reasons. Spock could be in the ‘fresher, or asleep, or.

It was the
or
that had him using his executive override, stepping quickly into Spock’s quarters only to come up short, embarrassment warring with a strong sense of shame for interrupting Spock’s ritual.

Spock didn’t react, and part of Kirk had to wonder just how deeply he had sunk into his mediation cycle. It wasn’t like Spock not to be hyperaware of his surroundings.  Spock sat perfectly still, the deep black meditation robe spilling around his kneeling legs. Spock’s fingers were steepled, his head bent slightly enough to show the fragility of his sharp, angular cheekbone, the long slope of his neck. The faintly green cast to his skin seemed strangely pale against the silk of the robe. His breathing was extremely shallow and for a moment it looked to

Kirk that he was hardly breathing, a Vulcan statue come to the barest hint of life.

With a shake of his head, Kirk took another step forward, feeling the doors of Spock’s quarters slide shut behind him. Part of him wanted to turn right back around and leave, and apologize profusely for his horrible intrusion. The rest of him acknowledged the faint buzz of arousal that always seemed to flare at the sight of his friend, and the slightly voyeuristic feeling was easily ignored as Kirk quietly removed his boots and sunk down in front of Spock, trying to be as still as possible. Spock didn’t even flinch, and that more than anything made Kirk feel justified in his actions. Whatever had happened on Vulcan, Kirk knew that Spock would need him once he emerged from his meditation. With Spock, it was easier to just be there for him than to walk through the tiresome dance of attempting to get Spock to give into his half-human need for companionship. Jim took a deep breath and stared at Spock’s bent head, his lips twitching in the familiar half-grin that he always seemed to wear in his favorite Vulcan’s presence.

His ass was numb by the time he saw Spock’s eyelids flutter. Kirk watched as Spock’s nostrils flared, and felt his heart-rate accelerate when Spock’s deep brown eyes opened, fixing on his own hazel gaze.

“Captain.”

“Spock.”

Spock inhaled, rising gracefully to his feet. Jim bit his lip, feeling uncertain. Had this been over just about anything except Spock’s parents, he would have just blurted out what he was thinking.

“Do you wish for refreshment at this time?”

Kirk nodded, forcing a smile that felt brittle. “That’d be great. Some of that bark stuff?”

Kirk saw Spock’s lower lip twitch, and all at once he felt less unsure of himself. He got to his feet, wiggling his toes in his socks to wake up his tingling feet. He sat down at Spock’s workstation, tugging unconsciously on his uniform shirt as he did so.  

“Vulcan Spice Tea is, as I have mentioned one-hundred and thirty-three times since beginning this five year mission, not made of  ‘bark’.” The replicator beeped and Spock brought the two beverages to the table, setting them down with a small clink. “That is to say, it is not made solely of the bark. There are seven other types of spices indigenous to the L-langon Mountains.”

Spock timed his rejoinder just as Kirk was taking a sip, so that he managed to dribble some of it down his chin when he laughed.  Kirk’s whole body relaxed when Spock sat down beside him.

“You seem much less... tense.”

“Indeed. The meditation was quite successful.”

Kirk couldn’t have kept his smile from his face if someone had held a phaser to his head. Spock must have still been shaking off the remnants of his meditation, because for a moment his brows tightened, his eyelids blinking rapidly before he looked back down at his tea.

“I’m glad, Spock. I was kind of worried about you. I want you to know that no one on the crew knows the details, Spock. I kept everything under wraps. They just know that you took some leave on Vulcan and that your parents happened to be in attendance. Come to think of it, I’m not exactly sure what strings T’Pau pulled to keep all of that off the nets but--”

“All of the crew, Captain?”

“Jim, Spock. You know you can call me Jim.”

Spock just waited patiently.

Kirk just nodded. “I respect your privacy, Spock. I figured that if you wanted me to know, then you would tell me.”

Spock sipped the tea, his long fingers wrapped around the mug. They were both quiet for a minute, the sound of the ship’s engines filling up the quietness of Spock’s chamber. Kirk was very aware of the play of the muted light against the silk of Spock’s robe, the heavy smell of the incense that would hang in the air until the ship’s purifier took care off it. He could taste the tea; the blend of not-cinnamon and what still tasted like dirt-flavored bark on his tongue, despite what Spock said.

“My mother is a very strong-minded individual.”

The words, when they came were soft, hardly breaking the comfortable silence they had fallen into.  Kirk straightened, looking up from Spock’s reflection in the shiny table surface. Spock was also looking down, and Kirk watched as he opened his mouth to continue his quiet conversation.

“My father married my mother despite the protestations of the Vulcan council. They were somewhat... less than enthused about the idea of my father diluting his bloodline with alien blood.” Spock ignored the sound Kirk made and continued. “My mother was undaunted. She chose to remain on Vulcan with my father, chose to travel with him when his duties called him away from our planet. Even with the disharmony between my father and myself, my mother never tired in her belief that we would, ‘eventually quit acting like the south end of a north-facing mule.’”

Kirk couldn't help the snort of laughter at Spock’s use the colloquialism. He was rewarded with another twitch of Spock’s lower lip.

“You could say that I am the living embodiment of IDIC, with imperfect results. There have been threats on my life before, of course. Some of the more traditional thinkers on my planet have been quite vocal in their belief that my birth was an abomination to traditional Vulcan thinking.”
Spock’s voice trailed off, and Kirk twitched in his seat, calling on all his diplomatic training not to show what he was feeling.  He couldn’t control the slight squeak as his fingers tightened on his own mug, stopping just before the ceramic surface cracked.

“My father was not aware of much of my own experiences with cultural and xenophobic bias. Part of that was my own insistence. I did not wish for my mother to … worry.” Spock’s voice was off. The normal rich cadence of his speaking voice had an undercurrent of strain to it. Kirk bit the inside of his cheek and forced himself to let go of the tea mug.

“They claimed to be working for the
Pahth
, a insurgent group that took it upon themselves to purge my father’s blood line of its less desirable members. They used explosive devices, set in my mother’s quarters at the Embassy.  My father should have been working.  Had he not heard the particular high-pitched sound of the device, it is likely that my.. my mother...”

Kirk couldn’t help it. He reached out to grasp Spock’s forearm, trying to mute his emotions so that Spock would not be overwhelmed. The touch wasn’t even skin on skin, but the jolt that went through him shocked him so much that he jerked away from Spock’s arm on reflex.  His fingers felt like they were burning, the feel of Spock’s heat through the silk lingering on his skin.

“But they’re okay, right?”

Spock was quiet for several seconds. His face had slid into the blank mask that he usually wore around strangers, and Kirk cursed himself for touching Spock without his express permission.

“They are. ..adequate. My father’s injuries were severe. He managed to shield my mother from the worst of the debris and fire from the explosion. My mother also sustained some injuries, but they were negligible when compared to what had been intended. They were both.... fortunate.

Kirk tossed back the rest of his tea, telling himself that the warmth he still felt was leftover from the hot beverage, and not the Vulcan sitting rigidly in front of him. Spock wasn’t as standoffish as he’d been once he beamed back to the Enterprise, but neither was he displaying the almost relaxed comfort he’d been enjoying before Kirk had fucked everything up by touching him. He stood and bent to retrieve his boots.

“I’m going to go. I just wanted to make sure that everything was okay. Well, as okay as could be expected. Thank you for telling me, Spock.” Kirk waved him down as Spock half-rose, his impeccable manners not failing him even now when he was under stress.

“Of course.”

Kirk forced another smile, and walked to the shared ‘fresher. He didn’t usually use that way between their quarters, but frankly he was too damn tired to mess with his boots and going around the “official” way.

“Good night, Spock.”

The door slid shut behind him, but not before Kirk heard Spock’s softly returned, “Goodnight, Captain.”

Later that night, when Kirk was stretched out on his narrow bunk, he found sleep almost impossible. When it came, it was full of dreams of heat and the slide of silk; affection and the imagined echo of desperate, needy cries.


Chapter 2

 

Spock broke through the surface of the water with a sucking, gasping moan, the air thick and so humid that it was as though he were breathing smoke.  He jerked the captain to him with one precise movement of his shoulders, curling one arm around him so that the man’s head was above the water.

He cast about quickly and blinked, tossing his his head so that the thick water slid off of his face.  The light was strangely reddish, glaring oddly with the green cast of the water. He felt Jim’s body bump against his, and Spock began to tread water, yanking the other man to him and feeling for a pulse. There was none. Spock realized his fingers were shaking.  He forced himself to breathe and bent so that his ear was against the human’s chest.  No. No movement.

Spock turned in the water,quickly realizing that the shuttle must have crashed on some sort of shelf or sandbar. There was land within swimming distance.  Spock allowed himself a small frown, calculating the chances of Jim’s brain not suffering significant damage due to lack of oxygen as he began to swim again, forcing his body to go as fast as he possibly could towards land.  He was not certain that he could adequately resuscitate the captain while in the water, therefore he needed to reach a solid surface in order to do so.

Starfleet training, even for one who was not particularly fond of swimming, took over. Now that Spock could switch his grip on the captain, he found that he could swim much faster. Everything narrowed to his aching muscles; burning tendons and slightly acidic oxygen intake making his lungs feel heavy.  His knee struck something solid, and Spock gave a grunt of exertion as he was able to twist his body, hefting the captain into his arms so that he could pull him out of the water and onto the shore.

Spock did not take the time to notice the strange, powdery consistency of the sand , nor the strangely colored foliage as he immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tilting back his captain’s head and placing his hands on Jim’s chest. Spock pressed carefully, mimicking the breathing movements of a human’s normal respiratory rate. It seemed illogical that so much fluid could come out of the lungs. Spock bent his neck, carefully ascertaining that Jim’s tongue wasn’t blocking his airway, before placing his lips on the human’s mouth, breathing for him as efficiently as possible.

Jim’s lips were very cold. His normally tanned skin had a faint bluish cast to it of which Spock refused to dwell.  

He shifted his weight so that he could bend properly, placing his hands on Jim’s chest, ignoring the jolt of not feeling anything. Spock began compressions, counting to thirty. He had to make a conscious effort to move Jim’s lungs at a human-slow breathing rate instead of the more rapid Vulcan. He moved to check Jim’s airway, bending to force two breaths into Jim’s unresponsive lungs.

No response.

Spock repeated his actions, wincing a little when he heard Jim’s ribs break with the force of his compressions, check the airway,breathe, compress. Spock’s fingers twitched as he bent to breathe once again into Jim’s mouth. Spock’s careful hearing caught the small sound of oxygen as it whistled through Jim’s body and he allowed himself a small, weak moment where his eyes shut in relief as the captains’ lungs slowly began functioning again. Jim twitched, but otherwise remained completely unresponsive.

But he was breathing on his own. Spock watched as the faint bluish cast of Jim’s skin began to fade as his oxygen-rich blood began to circulate through his body once again.

Spock swayed for a moment, straightening up and settling back on his feet as he stared down at the unconscious Captain. He reached out his hand to the the clammy wrist, shoving the sleeve of the uniform up and out of the way. Spock could feel the human’s pulse, counting the beats. The pulse was slow, as were Jim’s-
no the Captain, he was not Jim but the captain and Spock would do well to remember these boundaries
-
respirations.  

He was alive, but unresponsive.

Spock looked to his surroundings, to the light green water that they had crashed in, attempting to calculate where the bag containing the medical kit had likely sunk. There was a medical tricorder, as well as a portable regenerator in every standard medical kit. Well, at least in every standard medical kit put together by Doctor McCoy that had even the slightest chance of coming into contact with James T. Kirk.

He must have that bag.

Spock’s gaze jumped from the aqua colored ground foliage that snaked out onto the lavender sand, to Jim’s too-still form. Spock had the oddest urge to go to the Captain and try to make him more comfortable, and shook his head sharply.

Most concerning was the fact that Jim’s brain had been without oxygen for so long. Spock calculated the infinitesimal likelihood that he would indeed be able to find the medical equipment and make it back to Jim before the other man woke. Had Doctor McCoy been here, Spock would not have been so... troubled. Spock himself was not a medical professional. He did not know the particulars of drowning on a human’s body. What if Jim should wake and find himself in some distress? Spock would be unable to assist him if he were not here, carefully monitoring Jim’s condition.

Spock frowned, as dizziness caused his vision to blur.  He shook his head impatiently.  The head wound he had sustained on the shuttle was interfering with his ability to think logically.  Spock had at his disposal a method by which to assist his captain. If they were to meld, then Spock could certainly manage to discover exactly how damaged Jim’s brain was from its trauma.

Spock looked back down to Jim, lying pale and fragile-looking on the faintly lavender sand. Fragility was not an adjective Spock frequently associated with his captain. Yet it was the one that came most aptly to his mind.

Spock released a breath, focusing himself, once again reaching out with both hands, settling his fingers carefully into position. Jim’s skin was clammy, a faintly oily residue from the liquid that had nearly taken his life sliding unpleasantly against Spock’s fingertips as he pressed, the buzz of Jim’s mind like a low level electric current. ‘

Spock muttered the ritualistic words as another wave of dizziness caused him to falter, his shields bulging for a moment, rippling as though a rock had been thrown into a shallow pool before Spock was able to firm his mental barriers, appalled at his own lack of control.

He shifted, and Jim’s mind opened to him.

When Spock was very small, I-Chaya, (whom his mother had insisted on calling Snuggles) his desert-bred
Shelat
, had wandered off to find its mate. When I-Chaya returned to their home, he had procured water in a matter that had shocked the young Spock; the single-minded focus and want almost obscene in its necessity.

This meld was much like that. He found himself plunging into the mind before him, overwhelmed with the sense of another that seeped through his very psyche, greedy and reveling in the touch of another’s mind sliding with forbidden sensuality against his. In the year that they had been serving together on the Enterprise, Spock had not deeply melded with anyone. Now he felt that lack most severely.

Outside of the meld, Spock was aware that his fingers were rigid, his body taunt with tension. Inside of the meld he forced himself to focus, to pull away from the sensation of such forbidden intimacy and look into Jim’s mind. He worked quickly, ignoring the subtle shift of memories, the spectre of barely contained emotions that crowded around Spock’s mental self. It was very simple to sift through what he needed, to find that spark of light that was simply
Jim
and coax it back to the surface where it belonged.

He broke the meld only when he felt Jim physically moving underneath his fingers, his eyes cracking open slowly, the bright blue drawing Spock’s own gaze like a magnet. Jim’s brow wrinkled, his lips turning down momentarily in a moue of pain. A sound caused Spock to disengage his fingers, breaking the meld. He moved, instinct and adrenaline causing him to whirl; protecting Jim’s prone form when he heard a monstrous sound from the water. Spock heard a small, primal sound emerge from his throat as he reacted to the sight before him.

The beast that he had glimpsed had risen up, its size momentarily incomprehensible as vast, tree-like tentacles shook and swayed in the air before plunging down into the water. The fall of water roared as the tentacles broke the surface, whirling above the beast’s head and flinging its prize onto the shore, several hundred feet from where Spock still crouched protectively over his captain. The sound when it landed was quite unpleasant, causing indignant squawks from the avian lifeforms that perched in the trees near the shore. A giant plume of sand puffed up, drifting over the both of them, Spock still bent so that he took the brunt of the cloud of sand, protecting Jim’s prone body as best he could.

“Sp--ock?”

Jim's voice was thready, exhausted and lower than Jim’s normal register. Idly, Spock hypothesised that Jim’s trauma had somehow damaged his vocal cords, causing the his normal tones to come forth an octave lower, gravelly and roughened. He watched as Jim’s pink tongue came out to wet his lips, blinking once before shifting slightly, moving so that none of his uniform was touching Jim’s.

“Did the Loch Ness Monster just throw a shuttle at us?” Jim sounded dazed as he stared in shock at the shuttle, the green, oily water dripping into puddles that smoked for a moment against the powdery lavender sand.

Spock’s face was impassive as he watched two of the smaller tentacles plunge back under the surface of the water. A small black object dangled from one of the suckers on the underside of the tentacle, the silver Starfleet insignia stark against the blackness of the bag. The tentacle flexed, the bag moving in an almost perfect arc.

The bag landed twenty feet from the Shuttle with a muffled clatter.

“Indeed, Captain. It would appear so.”


 




“Report.”

“Aye, sir.  Communication from Starfleet states that the planet was a highly technological, but pre-warp society. The planet, Veragon IV was not a member of the Federation, so information is sketchy.  What we do know is that the planet shows no life signs and scans show that it has been abandoned for several years.”

“Any sign of a geological distress? Sickness? Warfare?”

“None, sir.”

Kirk sat back in his chair, crossing his legs.

“Spock?”

The lack of a reply sent Kirk’s startled gaze towards the science station. “Mister Spock. Report.”
Spock straightened from his viewer. He looked over to where Kirk sat, the expectant look on his face fading a little into concern. Had Spock been anyone else, Kirk would have called the expression on his face almost... preoccupied. As it was, Spock blinked twice before responding.

“Spock?”

“Yes, Sir.” Spock straightened his shoulders, back ramrod straight. Kirk knew it was his way of reorienting himself, and the fact that Spock would show such a lapse on the bridge had  Kirk inwardly reeling. He doubted that it was noticeable to the rest of the bridge crew, but to him the small slip was as loud as the red alert klaxon.  

“Scans show no lifesigns on Veragon IV, per the previous report. With your permission, I would like to lead an away team down to the surface.”

“I believe I might accompany you, Mr. Spock.” Kirk heard the turbolift door open and knew it was Bones by the sound of his step. “Surely not even I can get into trouble if there’s nothing down there.”

“Ha. I’ll believe that when I see it.” Bones’ grumble was just loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to be blatantly insubordinate. It was a fine line that he’d walked for most of the time Kirk had known him.

“Sir, as previously stated-”

“Save it, Spock. You’re not talking me out of this one. It’s just a planet. No lifesigns, no sign of distress, no earthquakes... not even  an omnipotently taunting alien playing chess with the Federation. ”  Kirk looked over to Chekov to confirm his last statement, grinning at the way the navigator nodded, watching his and Spock’s conversation go back and forth, as though watching a ping-pong tournament.

“Sir I do not believe that ‘omnipotently’ is an actual Standard word. ”

Kirk snorted. He looked over at Bones who was staring at him, brow creased in a scowl.  “Don’t look at me. I’m a doctor, not a damn grammarian. I don’t know if any planet is safe when you’re on it, Jimmy boy, but I
do
know that you haven’t had leave in over three months. You were in sickbay the last time the crew had it. If there ain’t nothin’ goin’ on on that bit of dirt down there, then I say you can hold a tricorder as well as anybody.”

Spock simply cocked an eyebrow.

“Mister Sulu, you have the conn.” Kirk had to restrain himself from rocking back on his heels with excitement.  As much as he loved his job, it would be nice to have some time with Spock on the deserted planet. Nice enough to override Spock’s obvious objections.

Spock followed him onto the turbolift and the two of them made their way to the transporter room as they’d done thousands of times before. Kirk stole a few glances at Spock out of the corner of his eye, but he couldn’t detect whether Spock was irate or not. Not that he would actually show it if he were really mad.  Even during his
pon far
,
he’d had a way of being remote, even when his body was out of control.

“Ready, Captain.”

“Thank you Ensign.” Kirk adjusted the strap of the tricorder and straightened his shoulders.

“Energize.”

Before he could blink, he and Spock had materialized onto the planet.  He and Spock moved as one, turning so that their backs were to each other.  Kirk blinked, taking in the sight before him. His eyelashes fluttered for a second in surprise as he gazed around them, breathing a soft “wow” of disbelief.

They were in a city.

Vehicles littered the streets, choking the avenues and boulevards with traffic locked perpetually in a state of motion, forever going nowhere. There did not seem to be any discernible power source.  Kirk took a step forward, his senses on alert, even though it was obvious that whatever had happened here, had happened long enough in the past that he couldn’t help anyone.  Ferns and other fauna choked much of the pavement, creeping up over streetlights and buildings as though the land was reclaiming its own space. Kirk watched as Spock bent to begin taking readings of the purple flowers that waved gently in the breeze.

“Curious, Captain. Whatever caused the sentient life forms on this planet to leave has not effected the abundance of plant life.”

Kirk raised his arm to rub at the back of his green wrap-around tunic, absently scratching at the synthetic material as he surveyed the buildings around him. It never ceased to amaze him that Starfleet could design starships to send people out into the black to boldly go and discover new and amazing things- but couldn’t design a goddamn uniform that didn’t have some manner of itchy fabric. Between the back stitching and the Captains braids on his wrist, Kirk felt like a little kid who had been given over-starched shirts at a family gathering.

“Let’s take some readings then. See if we can start to put together the puzzle.”

“Affirmative, Captain.”

The buildings seemed to tower over most of the small town square that they had beamed in to, casting strangely elongated shadows over most of the rest of the once-thriving city. Kirk scanned the material with his tricorder, eyes taking in the material used. It looked like a mixture of what was probably local granite and other materials. It almost reminded Kirk of stucco. He heard Spock walking off a little to his left and had to smile to himself.  Even though he was going to be stuck here until Spock explored just about the whole damn hemisphere- which, actually, that reminded him.

“Spock? This is the only land mass on the planet built above ground, right? The scans from the ship showed that this was mostly a planet of water, right?”

“Indeed.”

“Are we sure that they didn’t just- go aground? I mean, just because we see buildings we think that they must have been deserted. But what if the predominant culture was indigenous to the ocean?”

Kirk was rewarded with the slow blink and slight twitching of lips that showed he had managed to surprise the Vulcan. Kirk ignored the way his heart leaped at the sight. Spock’s whole face had softened as he stared back at Kirk with warm brown eyes.

“An interesting theory, Captain.”

“Aw, come on. Surely you can call me Jim. We’re on duty, but we’re alone here. You don’t have to be so formal with me, you know.”

Kirk cursed himself as Spock blinked slowly again, turning and walking off to investigate some  darker aqua vines without a word. Shit. He should have just kept his mouth shut. Frowning, Kirk started walking, continuing to examine the ground, buildings and objects that had long-since falling into disuse. His footsteps echoed strangely on the city’s streets.

His tricorder gave a strange sort of beep, before the screen flickered off and then quickly on. Kirk’s brow furrowed and he shook it slightly.  “Damn thing,” he muttered under his breath.  He caught a glimpse of out of the corner of his eye as something moved. It was so out of place on the deserted city streets that he froze, adrenaline spiking through his body.

The being that stood there was very small. She looked about ten years of Terran age. She stood calmly, the faint breeze stirring the gossamer o
f her dress. She had her fingers steepled together under her chest, with the pointer fingers against the hollow under her throat, and the back of her hands facing outward.  Her eyes were slanted. She did not appear to have a nose. instead, a raised ridge gave her face a bisected look. Her ears were set at the top of her head, consisting of several bumps of cartilage that looked vaguely like horns to Kirk’s st
artled gaze.

The girl turned and walked away, her steps making no sound on the ground as she walked. She stopped about five meters away and looked back at Kirk. Jim heard a footstep and jumped a little when Spock’s fingers slid around his bicep. He jumped for another reason entirely when Spock leaned forward, his breath tickling Kirk’s ear as he spoke. “Captain. No readings on the tricorder.”

Well that was hardly a surprise. And honestly, it wasn’t the first time Kirk had shared a hallucination. Kirk was hyperaware that if he turned his head, even the smallest fraction, that Spock would be kissing his ear. He tried to beat that thought back before Spock picked up on it.

“She obviously wants us to follow her.”

“I do not know if that is wise.”

Kirk felt the adrenaline still whirring inside his gut, although if it was from the appearance of the strange alien or from the heat of Spock’s hand, he wasn’t sure. “Probably not, Mister Spock. But if she took the trouble to appear to us, then I think it’s only polite to follow her.” Kirk broke away from Spock’s hold and began walking after the being.  “You coming?”

Kirk watched something flit across Spock’s face before he controlled himself, presenting the indifferent mask that he usually wore.  He nodded once, glanced down at his tricorder, and began walking beside Kirk, both of them following the child-like being out of the city and into the unknown.


Chapter 3


“This will not feel pleasant.”

Perhaps that was somewhat of an understatement. Spock ignored the withering look Jim shot him and arranged the setting on the portable regenerator. The tricorder had shown that Jim had a dislocated shoulder, a broken wrist, three broken ribs, and numerous contusions.

“Your eyes are kind of beautiful.”

Spock blinked.  Perhaps he had administered the hypospray on the wrong setting. The Doctor had left a note on the canister that said ‘safe for jtk; for pain, dumbass,’ but the prescription amount had worn away. Spock must have miscalculated and given his captain too much.

Jim blinked up at him, a small smile on his face.  “No really. They totally are. Your face is all ‘grrr, Vulcan,’ but your eyes tell me that you want a big ol’ hug.”

Spock refused to allow his lips to twitch in amusement.  “I find it highly unlikely that my eyes have suddenly developed the ability to speak. Perhaps, Captain, you should refrain from movement And from speech.” Truly, Spock doubted that this state would ever occur, despite how hurt he was. “Close your eyes and allow me to attempt my medical treatment.”

“Can’t.” Jim’s lips frowned down into a pout. “When I close my eyes, ev’rthing is all swimmy. Spock, am I stoned? I feel stoned. I like being stoned, but you know what? They don’t let you do that shit when you are a captain. And especially if you have  a Bones that’s always in your business. He’s worse than a girlfriend. He like frowns frownily at me and I haven’t touched anything in like four years and wow I really wish that I could stop talking now.”

“I have no wish to know of the doctor’s proclivities; especially if it somehow involves excrement.”

Jim looked confused for a moment, before he laughed in delight. The movement caused him to wince, pain causing the bright blue gaze to darken. Spock heard the way he caught his breath and bent over him, applying the regenerator to his skin. They were both quiet as they listened to the little machine work. Spock looked down at the tricorder and back at Jim. He heard a growl of thunder and looked up at the sky. Had the action not been so blatantly illogical, he would have frowned up at the sky.

“There is some sort of interference with the tricorder’s readings.” Spock allowed his lips to twitch in a small frown. This was unacceptable. He had to ascertain whether the regenerator was sufficiently performing its task. It was possible that it had been damaged and not performing at peak efficiency.  Spock moved the medical tricorder and straightened his shoulders. Of course.

“Captain, I believe that we need to move away from this location. The radiation from the shuttlecraft is not contained. Interference could be from the gathering storm or, perhaps when the being threw the shuttle onto the beach...” Spock trailed off, shaking his head.  He was babbling. Ridiculous. He had control over his body’s responses to pain and fatigue, but his controls were shaky at best. He needed meditation and rest. Fatigue was burning behind his eyelids like a living entity.  Spock looked down, blinking, to see Jim staring up at him, his face strangely solemn. “I believe that we should move further inland.”

“Oh.”

Jim’s muscles twitched as he began to gather himself, ready to attempt standing. Spock shocked himself once again when he pressed down on the unhurt shoulder of the stubborn Human, his sensitive fingers fairly buzzing with the contact.

“It is illogical for you to further stress your body.  Your weight is negligible. I will carry you.”
“‘Kay.” Trusting blue eyes blinked up at him, still completely solemn.

The evidence of a completely docile Jim Kirk somehow made their situation all the more bizarre.  Spock nodded once in acknowledgement and stood from his crouch, tightening his grip on Jim’s uninjured shoulder as unexpected dizziness caused him to stumble. Jim made a small pain sound, and Spock jerked his hand away, appalled at himself.  He stood and walked the small distance to the shuttlecraft, glancing inside to see what else he could use. There was nothing of use; the twisted metal still buzzed and hissed as the compound in the strange ocean reacted with the exposed wires.  


Bath’pa
,” he muttered under his breath. Of course. Anything that had been in the shuttle would have been sucked out into the ocean when the force field failed.  

“Spock? Did you say something?”

“It is not important.”  Spock straightened his shoulders, tugging on his uniform as he made his way back to where Jim lay, having pushed himself up to a sitting position. Jim was holding the regenerator in his hand, cradling the arm with the dislocated shoulder protectively to his body.  Spock took the small piece of medical equipment and packed it carefully in the titanium case with the medical tricorder, slinging the strap back over his shoulder.  

“Spock, wait a second.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

“I think you need to pop this in place.” Jim’s fingers indicated his dislocated shoulder. “It hurts like a bitch, but having it jarred around won’t feel very good either.”

Thunder crashed, causing both of them to look up at the sky. Jim sighed.

Spock found himself strangely reluctant to cause further pain to Jim’s body, but he nodded, accepting the logic. “Although it is an anterior dislocation, there is a chance that I will not align it correctly. You will have tendons and muscles that will be damaged.”

“Yeah. I know. Not my first dance at the rodeo.”

Spock blinked twice, then decided that he didn’t really wish to know.  “Prepare yourself, Captain.” He watched as the younger man did, tensing his body for the onslaught of pain, his jaw clenched in a rictus of expected pain. They arranged themselves, Jim lying back down, and Spock moving his clenched arm as best he could. The skin of Jim’s wrist was hot against his fingers. Spock rotated the arm, his superior strength not allowing Jim’s arm mobility as he pulled the joint back where it belonged.

Jim cried out, his head falling forward onto Spock’s shoulder. Spock was awash in sensation: the mangled pain/relief of the shoulder popping back into place, the disassociated feeling Jim had complained of from giving him a double dose of the pain medication, the muted worry and disgust Jim felt at being so helpless all causing his own shields to buckle for a moment.

“Fuck, that wasn’t cool.”  

Spock felt a small wiggle of discontent at causing Jim further harm, but ignored it. “It was necessary. Are you dizzy? Nauseated?”

“No... I. I’m fine. Let’s go before we get rained on.”

“You appear to be more coherent.”  Spock stooped again to pick up his captain, focusing on his shielding so he would not invade Jim’s privacy any more than he already had.

“I feel better. Sore as all fuck, but better. I don’t know if that regenerator had time to work, but my ribs feel... better. Spock, how are we gonna get back? Does your communicator work? I think I lost mine in the water.”

“There have been other tasks that were more necessary to complete before I attempted to use the communicator.”

“What? What the hell are you talking about? The Enterprise isn’t even gonna know where the fuck we are! What the hell could have been more important than that?”

Spock’s grip tightened on Jim’s body, causing the other man to tense. He was all at once furious and had to pause for a moment so that he didn’t lose the fragile hold on his temper. “You were injured.” Three words that seemed to contain all of the logic in the world. Spock felt the dull burn of anger at himself.  The truth was, he had been so occupied with Jim’s injuries that he had not followed protocol at all.  Jim was correct.  There could be a way of contacting the Enterprise.

That should have been his first priority.

But Jim’s health was his first priority.

“Yeah, well...” Jim trailed off and shifted a little, turning slightly in Spock’s arms. Spock could feel Jim’s increased heartrate and stopped walking.  “No... it’s okay. I’m just getting your communicator. I figure if I hav’ta be baggage, then I can at least be useful.”  Thunder growled again and Spock silently echoed Jim’s muttered, “Damn thunder.”  Spock grit his teeth at the way Jim’s fingers scrabbled near his hip as he pulled the case up, opening it and fishing out the communicator.  The first raindrops began to splat onto their uniforms, and Spock hurried further into the aqua-colored foliage. The terrain changed slightly, and Spock felt his calf muscles tighten as he carried Jim’s weight up the incline.

“Spock-- gotta. Gotta stop for a minute.”  

Spock stopped immediately when Jim tried feebly to struggle. He looked extremely pale. Even his eyes seemed to have dimmed in the twenty minutes that Spock had been walking. Jim swung down and staggered, the palm of his hand pressing on his ribs.

“Shit. Shit!"

Spock moved to assist him, raising an eyebrow when Jim waved him away, watching as the human stumbled over a tree root and fell to his knees, sucking in huge gulps of air.  There was a crash of thunder and Spock winced at the sound. He turned to give Jim some measure of privacy and realized that they were in the remains of some sort of structure. There was another crash of thunder and the rain began to fall more steadily.  Spock looked from Jim, hunched over in the bushes, still holding onto his ribs eyes shut as he tried to keep himself from hyperventilating-- to their surroundings.  The light had dimmed in the time they had been on the unnamed planet, but Spock could see that there was a small overhang in the corner, choked with weeds and what looked like some sort of ivy- possibly the corner of the building. It looked as though it had been there for eons.  He began to walk closer, removing the tricorder from the case and taking readings.

“Captain. This corner of the structure will provide some shelter from the storm.” Spock watched Jim come towards him, still looking horribly wan.  “There appears to be a sub-struct--”  

The ominous groan of stone scraping together was the only warning. As Jim’s weight was added to his, the floor trembled. Jim’s eyes were very wide as the floor began to give way.  Spock saw his muscles tense, his reflexes off from their normal times from the trauma of his body. The tricorder went flying as Spock grabbed his captain, twisting so that when the floor broke apart under their feet, they fell so that Spock hit the surface first, breaking Jim’s fall.

They fell several feet, landing with a crash and a plume of dust. Spock immediately twisted and bent, ignoring the twinge in his back, protecting Jim with his body as stones and debris from the floor above them began to fall around where they’d landed.  Spock felt the scrapes on the palms of his sensitive hands as he used his arms to keep from crushing Jim’s body, their chests so close, both heaving from the adrenaline of literally having the floor crumble beneath their feet that Sock could feel Jim’s elevated heartbeat. Their foreheads brushed as they both sucked in breath, staring at each other from only inches apart.  Spock watched Jim’s lips tremble with breath and was ashamed of himself at the bolt of need that went through him. A small bead of blood slid slowly down Jim’s cheekbone. Spock moved away quickly, appalled at his behavior, using the dirt and debris settling around them as a distraction.

“Spock? Are you... Jesus, you were like a ninja or something. I knew you could move fast but Christ that was insane.”

The footstep was loud enough that Spock once again found him reacting before the thought fully processed that someone was in the subterranean room with them. He shifted his weight forward, one knee on the surface with his foot tensed, ready to spring up if necessary. He had no weapon other than the strength of his body, but would use whatever was necessary to protect his captain from the harm. He felt his chest vibrate in the low, deep growl of his ancestors.

There was another footstep, and a familiar-sounding scrapewhssssh of the breaking of a flare. The pale green light caused Spock’s pupils to dilate. He felt Jim tense underneath him, and for one moment stared, completely mute at the two beings who stood under the arch that had been indiscernible in the dark.

“Uh.. Spock?  I think I may be hallucinating.”

That was likely. However, that did not explain why Spock was seeing the same thing.

 


 


 

Kirk tried his best not to stare at the curve of his first officer’s ass, but it was an exercise in futility.  Once he realized what he was doing, he forced himself to jerk his gaze away from the tempting, pert curves in the too-tight regulation trousers.  It was extremely warm up here and, Kirk had to smile wryly at himself, the heat wasn’t only from the two suns that burned down onto the planet’s surface He leaned back on his hand and looked around, glancing down idly at the tricorder, bored.  He sighed. It was beautiful up here.  He could almost pretend that he and Spock were here in their own little paradise.  

Spock was still scanning the statue, lost in his own little world. Well, not true. Kirk couldn’t imagine a world where Spock wasn’t completely aware of his surroundings. But, if Bones was going to order him off duty, then this would be the place to enjoy it.  A cool breeze wafted over his sweaty hair, and Kirk leaned back a little further, resting his boot on the lip of the side of the.. whatever it was. Temple, probably.  They hadn’t seen the little girl again, but had just as obviously been led to this spot.

Spock seemed convinced that there was something interesting inside, and Kirk, remembering the ancient pyramids from ancient Earth history, conceded that yeah. There was probably something inside- but they couldn’t figure out how to get in there, so what was the point? It was driving Spock insane. Well, the Vulcan version of insane, which was pretty damn amusing. Not that he’d hurt Spock’s feelings by laughing at him.  He’d walked around the perimeter of the building no less than three times, scanning with his tricorder.  The third time Kirk had followed him, grabbing a bright yellow fruit off the tree and scanning it. Each time left him standing in front of the large statue, lips twitching down in a frown as he tried to process the information. Kirk made his way back to his ledge, polishing the fruit on his tunic. He took a crunchy, satisfying bite and ignored Spock’s sharp look.  He’d scanned it. It was safe. Besides, he was hungry.

“Still the same?” Kirk took another bite, the sweet, sharp flavor exploding on his tongue. It tasted something like a cross between a kiwi and a radish, but dribbled juice like  a q’lava.  Not bad, actually.

“Indeed. Most Fascinating. There appears to be some sort of...energy surge two-point-three meters from the foot of this statue, then several different readings converge in a... blip.”

Kirk felt his grin stretch the muscles of his face. He licked a bit of juice that snaked down his hand. “A... blip, Spock?”

If Spock had been any less Vulcan, Kirk thought that he would be getting a very dirty look right now.

“Well, we could take samples, maybe.. beam up.”  Kirk jumped off the surface of the building and stood besides Spock, watching the Vulcan’s profile as he studied the tricorder’s vastly different readings. He stooped to bury the core of the fruit in the soil.

“I would prefer to stay, Jim.”

Kirk knew his face was doing a piss poor job of containing the happiness he felt at Spock’s finally using his name, but  he couldn’t seem to help himself. He sat up from his sprawl on the ledge and slid down, wiping the slight bit of grit off of his hands as he did so.  “I’m glad, Spock. It’s nice here.” Kirk bent down, stretching his legs by placing his palms on the ground.

“Captain.”

The note of warning in Spock’s voice had Kirk reaching for a phaser before he even thought about it, standing up so quickly that blood swam in his head for a minute, making him dizzy. He blinked at the sight in front of him, his body still tense with Spock’s sharp word.

“I do not believe she means me harm, Captain.”

Kirk’s eyes narrowed. The being from before stood in front of Spock.  This closely, Kirk could see that the light of the planet’s double suns filtered through her... him... it. She made the same gesture from before, steepling her fingers under her chest, pointer fingers against the hollow under her throat, and the back of her hands facing outward.  She lowered her arms, staring benignly at both he and Spock. She raised her arms and made the gesture again.

Maybe it was because they worked together so seamlessly as a team. Maybe after saving each other’s lives so many times, after living together and working together so closely it was just second nature to the two of them to move so closely in sync.  Regardless, it happened at exactly the same time.  

They both made the gesture at the exact same time the being did. There was an almost disharmonious sound, then a bright flash of light.  A small archway appeared, set into the large statue that faced them.  They met each other’s gazes out of the corner of their eyes.

“What do you think, Spock?”

“I am unable to reach the Enterprise, Captain. I do not believe that it’s wise to continue. We should return to the beam-up point immediately and... Captain!”

Kirk grinned back over his shoulder taking another step towards the archway. “Oh come on, Spock. It seems pretty obvious to me that she doesn’t mean us any harm. You just spent an hour scanning this place within an inch of its life. You can’t tell me that you’re not curious to see what’s inside.” Kirk could see the small shift of Spock’s eyebrow that indicated that he was on the right track. “Come  on, Spock.” He grinned, watching as Spock gave the Vulcan equivalent of an eye roll.

“I would like to state my objections for the record, Captain.”

“Noted.”

Spock gave one more, almost forlorn, look at his tricorder before taking a step forward, matching his gait with Kirk’s. They stepped perfectly together, shoulders and hips brushing as they walked through the archway and into the temple. Kirk tried to ignore the way his body shivered for a second, soaking in the indescribable heat that Spock’s body gave off. There was a swirl of light, a feeling of vertigo as his stomach dropped out of his body, then their steps had carried them through and into darkness.

He felt Spock’s fingers wrap around his bicep and made himself take a deep, steadying breath. He opened his mouth to speak, but before he could a deafening crash sent Spock jerking Kirk behind him, hard enough that he lost his balance. His fingers brushed against the tight muscles in Spock’s back, before resting lightly on the sharp hip. Kirk sucked in a breath and jerked his hand back, heart beating.  Spock’s body felt like it was made of rock as he stilled, straining to hear.

It sounded like the ceiling had fallen in. Kirk blinked, fumbling in his satchel for a flare. He leaned forward, unable to see but guessing where Spock’s ear was. His lips touched the lobe and Spock jerked away.

“Flare,” Kirk warned, shaking it and holding the end away from their bodies. Funny how in God knows how many years of technology, the basic design of a flare didn’t change. Kirk shook it, then popped the seal. He heard Spock step forward as the pale green glow filled the room.  

For a second, Kirk thought he must be hallucinating. He took a step to the left and tugged on his uniform, straightening his shoulders.  There were two men huddled a few feet ahead. One was on his back, and the other was crouched protectively over the other, perfectly still.  Kirk couldn’t see any physical characteristics, other than they both seemed to be covered in a thick plume of dust. Kirk took another step forward and put his hand on his chest, bending and wheezing for a second.  It was so unexpected that Spock whirled, keeping his body between Kirk and the two beings on the ground.

“Capt--”

Kirk felt like his lungs were tightening. The whole room seemed to tilt; sending his stomach into his throat.  All at once the feeling of wrongness made the air in the dark room felt heavy, as though he had walked into a room full of fog.  His lungs burned, as though each breath of air wasn’t acceptable. Then the weird sensation was gone. Kirk blinked the tears out of his eyes and gasped for a second, not trusting that the air would turn to something less friendly with his lungs. That had been fucking weird. He looked at Spock, whose pale skin showed evidence that he too was having some sort of breathing issues, before it also went away.  

“Spock, are you...”

“I am well, Captain.”  Kirk jumped when he felt Spock’s fingers slide against his neck, testing his pulse. His throat tightened for another reason entirely as he stared dumbly at his first officer.

“No way!”

Kirk looked over at the two figures, surprised to hear the Standard. This planet was supposed to be uninhabited. He blinked in shock to see that it was a Vulcan standing guard over the man in the yellow  uniform... the Starfleet insignia faintly visible in the faint green light.  

It wasn’t possible.

Well, that was his first mistake. Kirk was ridiculously glad to see that there was no trace of a beard on the Vulcan’s... the other Spock’s face. He started to take a step forward and Spock allowed him, although Kirk could feel every muscle in his First’s body tense with awareness as Kirk put himself into danger, per First Contact protocols.

“I’m Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise.” He took a step forward, Spock one half-step behind him as was his habit, holding the flare up so that they could see. Kirk’s foot crunched on rubble as they walked, and he shot an uneasy glance up at the ceiling. A shift of movement out of the corner of his eye caused Kirk to look back at the two in front of him.

I’m Captain James T. Kirk of the starship-- Enterprise.” The man in the command shirt stood up, allowing the Vulcan to assist him to his feet. It was obvious that the kid was hurt, and was standing on his feet by mostly willpower, lips twisted into a smirk.

Kirk smiled. The kid looked about ten years younger than himself. Cocky little bastard. It was hard to see specific details in the pale light, but the kid looked like he had gone a few rounds with a Klingon and had gone back for seconds.

“I am Spock, First Officer of the Starship Enterprise.”

Kirk opened his mouth, and closed it. The other Vulcan sounded  like his Spock, but he too had enough differences that it was jarring. He was younger, but it was harder to guess his age. Older than the kiddie version of himself and younger than his Spock.  He also looked banged up, like there had been a fight or something. He held himself absolutely rigid, his face just as impassive as his own Spock’s at his most intimidating.

Kirk wasn’t much intimidated.  He wasn’t sure what was going on here, but he was willing to go with it.  “Huh. Interesting. Wouldn’t you  say, Spock?”

“Indeed, Captain.” 


Chapter 4


Kirk watched as the kid jumped a little, squinting at Spock when he spoke. Something flicked over the younger face, and Kirk found himself shifting imperceptibly closer to Spock as he talked.  

“This can’t be happening. I mean, really? What are the chances of crash-landing on a random planet in the middle of nowhere and meeting.. ourselves?”  The words sounded glib and amused, but Kirk could see wariness on the kid’s face, as though he wasn’t willing to accept anything without proof.  Strangely, Kirk found himself approving.

“Well, unfortunately our instruments were going haywire before we ended up down here. Maybe we can move somewhere that they’ll work later. But right now, I have to admit that I’m not too keen on the idea of the rest of this ceiling falling down on top of us.”

“We have not had the opportunity to explore the premises. Our primary concern was finding shelter.” The other Spock spoke without inflection, but Kirk could see that he had not relaxed in the slightest.

There was a short, tense silence while the four of them eyed each other like children picking for teams. Kirk cocked his head, his lips twitching. “In the interests of cooperation, how about this.  I’m sure that you are just as ... leery of us as we are of you.” He laughed, pleased that it didn’t sound nearly as forced as it felt. “I mean, it’s not like people step into alternate realities every day!”  Kirk watched the two men give each other a significant look. It was uncanny. Whatever was happening here- it was bizarre to see that the two men... well, the man and the Vulcan... they even seemed to
act
the way that he and his Spock did.

Spock seemed to understand where he was going with this and seamlessly continued Kirk’s line of thought. “It would, perhaps, be advisable to move to an area that is more structurally sound. I have medical equipment with me and we can use it to tend to your injuries.” He paused for a moment. “If that is acceptable?” Thunder seemed to punctuate Spock’s sentence.

Kirk could see that the kid was dead on his feet. He looked around, moving the light so that he could better see the other man’s injuries. He offered the light to the other Vulcan, being careful not to brush his fingers with his. Kirk still wasn’t one hundred percent sure that this wasn’t some elaborate hallucination, but he wasn’t going to take the chance that this alien version of his Spock pick up what he was feeling. Kirk bent, rummaging in his pack for another flare.

“Okay. I’m just going to look around. Spock, why don’t you assist here?” Spock’s eyebrow managed to communicate exactly what he really thought of that suggestion. It didn’t, Kirk reflected, really take all that much skill. His First Officer wasn’t particularly pleased with him.

Kirk had to hide a little twitch of his lips as he turned away, activating the flare, holding it up so that  he could better see the room. He heard Spock rustling in the bag and took a few steps away, wanting to examine the archway that had brought them here. The first thing he noticed was that there was no arch. Another one of the statues was nestled in an alcove, but there was nothing that looked as though it would take them anywhere. Frowning, Kirk looked to his left.
The room was not overly large. To the left of where they stood was what looked to be a ramp. Kirk moved cautiously, hand near his phaser. His mind was whirling, impossibilities and strange scenario upon stranger scenario shifting through his thoughts as he looked. The ramp wasn’t too steep. There was a door that stood sentinel at the top of the ramp, but it opened with a click and a squeak of hinges. The muted conversation stopped immediately.

“Just a door. I’m fine, Spock.” Kirk called back over his shoulder. He could practically
hear
how displeased Spock was with him traipsing about the strange room by himself.  It wasn’t like there was anything he could do about it, though. They needed somewhere they could try to figure this craziness out.

Curious now, Kirk took a step inside, only to be met with another door. This one did not open easily. Kirk had to shove at it with a knee braced against the surface before it would open, but strangely, this door opened silently. Kirk gasped, blinking at the sight.

There was light, dim from the storm, but enough that Kirk could see the entire room. In one corner steps led up to what looked like a trapdoor. Even more interesting was the thousands of glass panels that reflected the light. The rain seemed to have a faintly purple cast to it, giving the shadows on the floor an odd color. Windows lined the room. He could see what looked to be a desk, and shelving of some sort. Whatever had sat on the shelves had disappeared into dust long ago. He turned around again, stepping through the first door, then the second.  

“Hey! I think I found us a place to hole up!”

Now if they could just figure out what the hell was going on, they’d be in good shape.






Spock was not used to feeling out of his element. Yet, when the two walked towards him, their footfalls falling directly into sync it caused a small feeling of... well, Spock was not adept at naming emotion, but the first word that came to his mind was
trepidation.
He felt a completely illogical sense of foreboding when he saw the blue science uniform and the captain stripes on the green wrap-around tunic of the other man. It wasn’t that he sensed danger from the other Vulcan. Quite the contrary. If anything there was a fierce protectiveness for his captain. An almost obsessive curiosity. It was the same sense of .... of... recognition that he felt with the Ambassador.

Spock knew that this
was
an alternate version of himself. And if that was himself, then the being next to him... had to be another Jim Kirk.

He listened as everyone identified themselves, edging slightly closer to his Jim as he swayed on his feet, exhausted from everything. The alternate Jim was older, and somewhat stockier than his own Jim, but the sense of confidence, even in the way he moved in such bizarre
circumstances was also familiar.

Jim winced when the other Kirk lit another flare, and Spock fumbled for his medical tricorder. “Commander Spock. If you raise your arm by .049 meters, the light from the flare will shine at an optimal level for me to read this medical equipment.”

His counterpart nodded and did as he requested. Spock had duties to see to. It was the utmost of illogic to ignore his duties to his captain, even for a moment. He watched as the other Spock bent, pulling out equipment that looked significantly older than Spock’s own tricorder, yet was easily identifiable as a regenerator. They worked in silence for a moment, until a large squeal of hinges caused them both to wince. Jim even moaned and tried to sit up, grumbling with two sets of Vulcan hands pushed him back down.

Spock tightened his controls when he saw the other Vulcan touching his captain, and worked in silence, feeling the muscle in his jaw twitching slightly in response to the pressure he exerted on his back teeth. He forced himself to relax and continue the examination. The medical tricorder gave the blip that signified a low battery. Spock had to resist the urge to roll his eyes, making a mental note to discuss the Chief Medical Officer’s rather lackluster adherence to medical equipment protocol.

Jim blinked up at him in the eerie not-quite darkness. “Things’ll get confusing having to call everyone the same name.”  His words sounded like he was attempting to ignore the pain from his shoulder and ribs. “What’s your middle name? Is it .. Mikey? I bet it’s Mikey.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

The other Spock raised an eyebrow.

Jim’s grin seemed very bright in the semi-darkness. His bright gaze went from one face to the other, clearly amused.

Spock was saved from having to respond when he heard Kirk’s bellow; he’d found somewhere for the four of them to go. He set down the useless tricorder and watched as Jim lifted up his shirt for the other Spock to apply the regenerator to Jim’s ribs. The equipment from the other timeline seemed to be working, judging from the way that the pain lines around Jim’s face seemed to relax.
Curious.

Spock felt another jolt of something unpleasant, followed by shame so bright that it took him a measured breath before he could control it. He desperately needed to mediate. Spock knew that he shouldn’t be jealous that someone else was assisting Jim with his medical needs. It was ridiculous. The height of illogic. It was much more important that Jim be healthy than
who
administered his care, yet Spock could not seem to control himself. He sat back on his knees with an abrupt movement. “I will go help the Captain investigate our surroundings.”  

“Good idea, Spock. Then I think we need to talk. This shit’s gone a little crazy and I’m beginning to realize that it’s not all from my head wound.”  Jim’s lips twisted into a wry smile as he nodded at him. Spock found himself nodding back as he walked towards where Kirk had disappeared.
He found himself slightly dizzy and used the wall to steady himself.

“Hey, you okay?  I didn’t notice before, but you look like you got a bump on your head too. Do you need to sit down?”

“I do not.”

In the pale light, he could see the details of the other man’s face. At first glance, he did not look at all like his Jim. Instead of the arresting blue, this Kirk’s eyes were a strange golden hazel. Spock could see that the older man had faint laugh lines around his eyes.

“That’s uncanny. It’s like I can see little bits of him in you, but obviously you are not
my
Spock. How the hell were you able to become a Commander so young? And the kid? He looks like he should be busting ass as a yeoman. He’s what, twenty-two? Twenty-three?”

Spock blinked. “Captain Kirk was field promoted. The circumstances of his... promotion were quite profound.” An understatement, to be sure.  Still, Spock did not relish sharing the details of his own timeline with this man.

“Yeah, I bet.” Kirk clapped his hands together, changing the introspective moment between the two. “Look, I think we can use this room to rest. One of the planes of glass... or whatever that is... has been broken, but its not letting in too much rain. We can probably burn some of this stuff without causing too much trouble. I’m just a little leery--”

The sharp sound echoing from the outer chamber caused them both to break off, turning as one back to the doorway. It sounded like someone was in pain. Spock found himself running to where he had left Jim with the Commander.

The green flare had been cast aside. He could see Jim’s eyes were closed, face pale with pain. The older Spock was leaning over Jim, his fingers pressed into the skin of Jim’s face, spread in a heart-wrenchingly familiar pattern. Somehow within one moment and the next, Spock found himself bent threateningly over the other Vulcan, his fingers wrapped around the other’s wrist, pulling his fingers away from Jim with a sharp jerk.


Krokiah!

He watched as Jim’s body arched, watched as he stretched his neck out as though looking for more of that contact.  It was a movement that Spock had seen his own mother do countless times. His heart trembled in its side as he watched Jim arch into another’s touch.

“Let him go.”  

Kirk’s voice was an unwelcome intrusion. Spock darted his furious gaze up to the warm hazel eyes, not missing the flash of... something on the human’s face. Spock looked down at the Commander, forcing himself to release his wrist, finger by tense finger.  He was hyper-aware of the blank look on the Vulcan’s face- as though he was ripped from a mind meld every day of the week. Spock took a step away from him, uncomfortably conscious that he was still breathing heavily.

“Spock?” Jim rubbed the back of his neck, shooting him an uncertain smile.  “It’s okay.” He made his way to his feet, stepping purposefully between the two Vulcans.  “Sorry about that. There’s some... stuff in our timeline that Spock was.. uh. Making sure you didn’t see.”

Jim seemed oblivious to the slow blink and raised eyebrow of disbelief.  Spock found himself gritting his teeth again as Jim attempted to explain what he saw as truth. It was not Jim’s fault  that Spock had not even spared a thought for the impact of the two alternates knowing about Vulcan’s demise and the reasons behind it. “Indeed.”  The not-quite lie sat on Spock’s tongue like rotten
gespar
 in the unforgiving Vulcan sun. “My apologies, Commander, Captain.” The words tasted like dirt on his tongue as he spoke.  

Jim offered him an uncertain smile.  It was a smile that Spock had seen often. Not like the bright grins he usually offered Doctor McCoy, or the wicked smiles that Jim gifted Nyota, or even the indulgent smiles he shared with the rest of his bridge crew.  Spock had seen this smile forty-two times since he had accepted the post as Jim’s First and each time it was though Jim lacked some of the cockiness that was so prevalent in everything he did. Jim’s hesitancy almost spoke of a nervousness, as though he didn’t trust Spock’s willingness to answer.

And true, Spock had not exactly gone out of his way to make overtures of friendship to his Captain. Even if he was not entirely sure that all he wished to enjoy with the Captain was best termed ‘friendship,’ Spock had no inkling of how one broached the subject.

The Commander’s voice was purposefully mild when he spoke, jarring Spock out of his thoughts. “
Ni'droi'ik nar-tor, Spock. Sh n'fai-tor ton ihv-tor sa-telsu
. Spock nodded in acknowledgement. While he could understand that the Commander might not have meant to pry, he still could not tramp the feelings of jealousy that his touch on Jim had caused. He completely ignored the fact that the Commander seemed to think Jim and he were mated; ignored his reaction to Jim being referred to as his mate. His actions had not been those of a lover, but rather those of an officer concerned for his captain's well-being.

“You guys found somewhere for us to go?” Jim broke the tense silence.

“Yes. There’s a little room over here. It should work nicely. There’s light, which is nice.” Kirk’s voice was mild enough, but his gaze had hardened mistrustfully after observing Spock’s illogical actions. Spock could feel its force, no less compelling than his own captain's gaze, and found himself  ashamed, unwilling to meet Captain Kirk’s gaze.  

“Did you have other equipment with you when you fell through the ceiling?”  The Commander’s voice was soft when he spoke.  Spock didn’t miss the way Jim shivered at the smooth tones. It was perhaps a side effect of the interrupted meld, but Spock found himself digging his fingernails into the meat of his hand, hidden by the rigid line of his back.

His own actions were unacceptable.

“No. Not really. Right, Spock?” Jim’s hand felt like a brand on his shoulder and Spock jerked away. His shields could not withstand  the unrestrained emotionalism that Jim broadcast at all times. He simply did not have the strength to do it.

“No. We should go.” Spock turned on his heel and walked back towards the other room, knowing that the others were following him by the scrape of boots on the stone. Spock winced from the pale light illuminating the small room, the headache that he’d managed to ignore returning full-force. Spock blinked, walking to the windows and looking out onto the landscape.

He could see that the storm had blown itself out, but the wind whipped the plant life into a mild frenzy as the deeply lush vines twisted and turned with the force. The ruins in which they had taken shelter were situated on a plateau. The planet’s two suns were a darker red lower in the sky as they set.  It was uncanny that he could not hear any evidence of wildlife. No brush animals, no sound of insects. Other than the large creature that habituated in the planet’s ocean, he had no other evidence of life on the planet.

As though a reminder, Spock heard Jim’s heartfelt groan as he sat his pained body down on the raised dais and turned to see him stretching out of the corner of his eye.

“Okay, guys. Let’s get comfortable. I mean, I’m sure that you’re as unsure as we are about the validity of having alternate versions of ourselves walking around,” Jim’s smile was all teeth.

“Actually, Captain, I believe that---”

“Actually, Captain, I believe that---”

There was a long, strange silence broken only by a snort from Jim, as he unsuccessfully tried to stifle a bark of laughter.  “Wow, it’s like.. Spock in Stereo. But seriously, we really do need to figure out what to call everyone. I keep thinking you of ‘Mellow Spock’ and “Grouc’-er, I mean....”

Spock felt his eyes narrow. His shoulders straightened and all at once he was again aware of  of the feeling of vertigo he’d previously experienced. Spock shifted so that his back was resting on the windows, trying to shape the threads of his control into some sort of barrier to the headache he felt.

Jim, unaware that he was in any distress, hurried on. “My friends call me Jim.”

Kirk stood with his legs braced, hands resting lightly on his hips as he grinned at the younger version of himself currently stretching carefully, favoring his aching shoulder. “I think Kirk would be fine. It would be confusing if  anyone were to call out,’Captain!’ We’d both be looking around like idiots.”

“My alternate has been referring to me as ‘Commander’. I believe that is sufficient.”

“Which leaves you with Spock, hey! What are you--Sp--- Spock?
Spock!

With a sound like a snap of his fingers, Spock felt his control give; his tenuous strength of his own awareness slipped, and he slid into unconsciousness.  


 


 

Kirk heard the panic in the kid’s voice and was moving before the other man could even get his tired body to up from his painful sprawl. He caught Spock as he slid to the ground, grunting as the Vulcan’s heavier mass knocked him off balance.

Spock was at his side in an instant, the kid a half-step behind him and falling to his knees with a small pained sound. Spock’s voice was calm, but the small look that he darted to Kirk over Jim’s head was not. “He is exhausted. His body needs to meditate, but his injuries are preventing him from reaching that level of comfort.” He moved Spock, feeling at the bump behind the younger Vulcan’s ear. Kirk watched as Spock reached in his bag for the medical tricorder, frowning down at the reading.

“Captain, the mechanical instruments are not working at optimal levels. I noticed this when he attempted to scan his Captain...” Spock broke off, looking from Jim’s wide eyes to Kirk’s slightly harder gaze. “Indeed, there is insufficient data for conjecture at this time. I suggest that we make him comfortable, and as soon as his body has healed itself, he will likely slip directly into a meditative doze.”

“But, he’s gonna be okay, right?”

“I see no reason that he should not be.”

Kirk watched as the kid’s shoulders slumped a little with relief. Jim reached back to rub his neck, wincing at what Kirk assumed to be a bruise there.

“Look, ki-.” Kirk stopped and started again. “Jim. You two are pretty banged up. I think you should hang out here. Maybe try to get some rest. Spock and I can go and see if we can find some food or something.”

“But what if you guys disappear again? Shit, I’m not exactly all the way positive that I’m not hallucinating you as it is.”

Kirk smiled. “Well then. You’d be no worse off, now would you? Rest. Get your strength back. We’ll be back before you know it.”

Jim looked down at Spock, bending to straighten his first officer’s out-flung arm, his hand hoovering over the mussed hair as though he itched to smooth it back into a straight line.
“Alright.”

“Alright then. Spock, you’re with me.”

Spock, just raised an eyebrow,stepping calmly to his side. It hadn’t escaped his notice that Spock had been strangely quiet since he’d melded with the kid. Or how pissed off he himself had been when he’d seen the kid arching up towards his Spock. Kirk knew exactly what that jsick sort of jealousy felt like, and was appalled at his reaction.

“Yes, Captain.” Spock’s smooth tones gave away nothing; his face was the same impenetrable mask as when he was at his most logical. Kirk just nodded, itching to go outside. He picked up the Starfleet issued bag, emptying it of medical equipment on the off chance that they actually found food. They walked through the two doorways in comfortable silence, tacitly agreeing to wait until they were out of earshot before speaking. The dark seemed excessively dark after the relative brightness of the other room. It didn’t take long to see where the floor had fallen in.

“Captain. I believe that it will be most efficient if you boost me up. I can then haul you up.”

“Okay.” He bent down, sighing. Spock wasn’t exactly a lightweight. He was nimble though, and almost seemed to hop up to the high part like a cat. Kirk didn’t have much of a chance to prepare himself before Spock was stretching his long body down, grasping his forearm, and hauling Kirk’s bulk up the hole in the ceiling. Kirk blinked at the feeling of weightlessness, then had to shake his head. For a second it felt as though Spock’s hand had slid against his as he helped him up. Kirk tugged down his tunic and took a deep breath, ignoring the way his hand seemed to tingle, looking around at their surroundings.

“Captain. Perhaps we should walk some distance away before beginning our discussion.”

“Sounds good.”  They walked around to the left, and Spock stopped for a minute, blinking in Vulcan surprise.

“Fascinating, Captain. It appears that the core that you buried has bloomed into a... tree.”
Kirk opened his mouth and shut it, quickly disregarding the wisdom of arguing with a Vulcan. He looked around, trying to find some sort of landmarks.  The landscape had changed. What was once lush and overripe, was now almost wild and overrun.  He turned in a quick circle.  “Veragon IV has changed, Spock. Everything is...” Kirk trailed off, looking at the remains of the temple.

“Indeed.”

They were both silent as they followed what had to be Spock’s path from wherever they had landed. The trail of broken leaves and tattered shrubs and flowers had been easy to pick out in the mass of resplendent plant life.

Kirk saw the crashed shuttlepod and blinked, surprised. It was easy to see that the other two versions of themselves had crashed landed on the planet. Spock stopped, shifting into what Kirk thought of as his “thinking” stance, and stared off into the distance of the light green waves, crashing onto the lavender sand. On a whim, he removed his boots and socks, curling his toes into the sand, grinning to himself at the silly indulgence. 

“Okay, Mister Spock. Spill. Give me your best guess.”

That got the expected response, a quick twitch of lips and quirk of eyebrow. “I have no need of a mere
guess,
Captain. I believe I may have informed you of this on several previous occasions.”

Kirk grinned, bending over to dust off a rock. He didn’t much relish the idea of parking his butt on the bare sand. No matter how up-to-date and well designed the Starfleet uniforms were, it was a sure bet that he would end up with sand up his ass at some point if he wasn’t careful. And if there was anything that he’d learned on the three and a half years of serving on the Enterprise, it was that alien sand...
itched
.  “So you have. Have a seat.  I think I understand why you had us come all the way out here. So come on. What are your thoughts?”

Spock sat near him, every muscle in his body tense.

“I am struck by the changes, and yet the similarities that both planets pose are fascinating. You will recall the trouble we both had breathing when we crossed through the arch?”  

The question had Kirk nodding. He did. It had been like knives in his lungs.

“Precisely. I would have to take samples to be sure, but I believe that we are now several years in this planet’s future.”  Spock didn’t move, staring out at the crashing waves. “While this is hardly the first time an unknown species has waylaid us for their own purposes, this has a feeling of...necessity to it.” Kirk opened his mouth to speak, but before he could, Spock continued. “Initially I melded with Jim to ascertain if they were real. I had hypothesized that they were in actuality shades or a hallucination brought forth by the young being that had led us to the temple.” Kirk couldn’t help the dark twist of his gut at the familiar way Spock spoke the name ‘Jim’. Kirk knew the meld had forged that connection. He had hated the sight of his Spock touching that Jim as much as the other Spock had.  

“In our arrogance of determining that no one habited this planet, we ignored the possibility that a species, more powerful than our own, had no need of our investigations.”

“Well, it was pretty benevolent.” Kirk thought back a  few hours ago to when he had met the being. “If anything... and believe me I know this sounds completely absurd... it felt like I was
supposed
 to follow her. That we were
supposed
 to go to that temple, to.. find those other versions of ourselves.”  Kirk ignored the way his skin broke out in gooseflesh.  “Now that I put it into words, I’m not too sure that I like that idea of ...”

“You are speaking of Destiny, Jim.”  Spock turned to look at him. Kirk stopped picking at the itchy braid on his wrists and looked up, surprised. “If what you say is true, then does it not follow that we were intended to meet those alternate versions of ourselves?”

Kirk blinked, shocked.  “Spock? What did you... see in that meld?”



Chapter 5


Spock’s body went even more rigid, and Kirk knew he had hit the nail on the head.

“I should have been prepared for the... veracity of the other Captain’s mind. He was like you, yet not like you. Much more emotional, yet for all of that he was quite determined. He and his First had crashed onto this planet. He was hurt, and had been given a slight overdose of the medicine. He was quite... verbose.” Spock stopped speaking for a moment.

Kirk had to bite the inside of his jaw to keep from speaking, jealousy sparking through his blood like lava at the almost fond tone of Spock’s words. All at once uncomfortable with his own reaction, Kirk shifted slightly away from Spock on the sun-warmed rock, ashamed of himself.

“The meld was shallow, but I could not hide from one fact that blazed brighter than the suns of Vulcan. That captain is in love with his First Officer.”

Kirk froze. Spock was looking at him, fearless as always. His own heart seemed to pound in his chest. He watched, almost unbelieving as Spock slowly moved his hand out to touch Kirk’s own, brushing his pointer finger lightly with his two fingers. Kirk licked his lips nervously. This was stupid. He’d never been this nervous over a simple kiss in his life.

But then again, a simple kiss had never mattered so much in his life before.

He watched as a fine tremor caused his own fingers to shake as he returned the caress, listening to Spock’s tiny catch of breath as he did so.  “Then.” He had to shut his eyes for a minute, not believing that he was actually about to do this. “Then it would seem that there are constants in every timeline, Mister Spock.” Kirk would have laughed at how breathless he sounded if he had any air in his lungs.

Spock’s fingers trailed over the thick part of his thumb, up his wrist, sliding under the sleeve of Kirk’s uniform. He couldn’t stop the gasp of air any more than he could stop the way his uniform trousers tightened at the intimate caress. Spock had rarely touched him voluntarily, and when he did so it was always for duty. Kirk had never realized the inside of his wrist was an erogenous zone. He licked his lips again, and saw Spock’s own gaze following the small, quick movement of his tongue.

Spock moved his fingers again, moving up the musculature of Kirk’s forearm, up past his elbow and biceps, before sliding over his shoulder and pausing. Spock’s eyes darted to his own before back to were the Vulcan’s long, thin fingers rested lightly on the deep vee of his wrap-around tunic. Kirk slowly raised his arm and cupped the back of Spock’s neck, listening to the slight tremble of Spock’s breath as his callused fingers slid against the skin under the back of Spock’s hair. He didn’t draw Spock to him yet; waiting for Spock to move. Spock’s fingers seemed too hot as they slid down over his chest, the tips of his fingers situated so that one finger was on his uniform and the other was on his naked chest.

“God, Spock is this really happening?”

That caused the eyebrow to raise, and Kirk couldn’t keep the grin off of his face for anything.

“Do you feel like you are hallucinating, Jim?” Spock’s deep voice was only a whisper away, so close that Kirk thought he could feel the ghost of Spock’s lips against the slight stubble of his jaw.

He drew Spock to him, tilting his head. Kirk kissed him, once, the softest touch of lips before moving back to check Spock’s reaction. Spock had only kissed him in the Vulcan way. Sure he had had his time with Leila, and god knew what had happened with Zarabeth (Bones had been strangely tight-lipped on the subject, despite Kirk’s questions.), but Kirk was certain that Spock had never before kissed a man. Even so, Kirk had to press his lips together. They felt electrified, as though a low buzz of adrenaline had centered exactly where Spock’s lips had touched his.

Spock made a low sound in his throat and moved forward, slating their lips together again. His tongue touched Kirk’s, and Kirk couldn’t have kept his fingers curling around Spock’s neck for anything.  Kirk shifted so that they were touching, feeling Spock’s own hand move to cup his shoulder, before it slid down over his heart, and down further over his hip. Kirk moaned, half unbelieving that this was actually happening, half in disbelief that just a kiss could get him more than semi-hard and wanting nothing more than to crawl over Spock’s lap.

He’d no sooner had the thought before Spock made that funny, deep sound again and tightened his hand, his other hand coming to Kirk’s other hip, yanking him up and over Spock’s lap so that he half-knelt there, breathing hard. Kirk could feel something in Spock’s hand, pressing against his hip and he broke the kiss, panting in some confusion as he looked down to what Spock held.

It was Kirk’s turn to raise his eyebrow. “Spock, not that I’m exactly complaining here, but is that
lubricant
?” Kirk was close enough to see the olive-tinted flush stain the tips of his Vulcan’s ears.

“I expected our need was greater.”  Spock sounded almost sheepish as he set it on the rock where Kirk had been seating just moments before. “They are just beginning their mission together. I am quite certain that neither of them shall have any need for this particular medical supply, although I have to wonder why their timeline’s McCoy would have included it in the emergency supplies.”

Kirk bit his lip to keep from laughing at the look on Spock’s face. He moved his hands so that they were cupping Spock’s face and bent in to kiss him again, licking at his mouth without restraint. Spock’s hands tightened again on his hips, and Kirk tilted them so that Spock could feel his thickening length.

A Klingon war party could have beamed down and start a clan
maSuv
for all the notice the pair of them gave their surroundings. Kirk felt the cooler air on his skin and shivered, realizing that Spock had undone the front clasp of his tunic and was moving his hands up Kirk’s spine, sliding them down to cup his ass and pull him closer so that their cocks bumped together. Kirk moaned again and felt Spock’s teeth scrape against his jawline, tasting his skin with as much ferocity as he had tasted Kirk’s mouth.

It killed him to have to try to stop, but Kirk didn’t want to rush Spock into anything. He broke off with a groan, climbing off of Spock’s lap with legs that were unsteady.

Spock blinked at him, and Kirk had to dig his fingernails into his palms to keep from going back to him, from kissing the swollen lips again, from demanding more than the reticent Vulcan was ready to give.

“Jim?”

Kirk took a steadying breath, taking a step back when Spock stood up. He saw the Vulcan flinch, and held up his hand, horrified for a moment, panicking that he’d somehow hurt Spock’s feelings. He opened his mouth to try to explain, but no words were forthcoming.

Spock’s face was carefully blank. He straightened his shoulders, and Kirk took stumbling step forward.

“Jim. Were my actions ... in error?”

“No! No, god Spock definitely not.” He pushed the fingers of his hand through his thick hair, blowing out a harsh breath. “This is just... “ He broke off again, looking up at Spock’s calm gaze. “I.. want this to be...”  Damn it! Why couldn’t he fucking
talk
! He’d practically made a second career out of loving and leaving numerous women, but now... with Spock.... he was so desperately afraid that he was screwing up, that he was screwing everything up!

“Ah. Perhaps I could clarify a few matters.” Spock took a step forward, brushing his hand over the  tumescent erection still tenting his ‘fleet trousers.  Kirk gasped, shocked. “For a Terran, you know many Vulcans.” Spock moved his hand, pressing the flat part of his palm against Jim, causing Kirk’s eyes to widen for a moment before his eyelids slid shut at the blissful touch. “In  all of that time, have you ever known a Vulcan to act timidly? My blood is the blood of warriors, Jim. I assure you,” Spock took a step forward, pulling Kirk’s hips to his, “when there is something I want, I will acquire it.”

Kirk blinked. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to swoon in Spock’s arms or jump him.

Spock dropped his hands and stripped off his science blues in one deft movement before stepping forward and tugging off Kirk’s uniform top He spread both of them down onto the sand.  Jim licked his lips again as he stared at Spock’s naked chest. He had seen it before of course. He had tried not to be unprofessional, but had definitely saved the glimpses of Spock’s naked skin for later use.

“If you have any further doubts, Jim, I will speak plainly.” Kirk could hear the teasing lilt in Spock’s voice. “I want you. I want to feel my body stretch as you thrust inside of me. I want to be joined with you, Jim. Physically and mentally. Mated together.” He scooped up the tube and pressed it into Kirk’s hand.

Kirk’s mouth was dry. “Parted from me and never parted?” His voice was like sandpaper dipped in Bones’ whiskey. Kirk took a step forward and if Spock answered it was lost in the tangle of lips, of bare chest against bare chest, hands clutching the other in need and matched desperation. They each went to their knees, Kirk careful to lay Spock so that he was protected from the sand, stretching him down on their uniform shirts. He bent and jerked off Spock’s boots with a quick movement, darting back up to kiss Spock with brief little kisses.

Kirk licked at Spock’s chin, sucking on the dip of skin on the Vulcan’s clavicle, tracing the line of his collarbone with his tongue. Spock’s breaths were harsh in the quiet roll of the ocean as Kirk moved down the line of his body, finally stroking the hot skin with his hands and lips, finally able to discover what would turn Spock into a shaking mass of want and need.

“Spock...”  Kirk mouthed over one nipple then the next, tugging at them lightly with his lips before flicking his tongue over the tip, moving from one to the other as Spock twisted underneath him. “You have no idea how much I’ve wanted to do this. I never dreamed...”

He stopped, pulling off for a moment in complete shock.  “Wait. This isn’t a Goddamned dream, is it?”

Spock actually smiled at the way Kirk’s voice cracked on the last word. He leaned up and licked at the bottom of Kirk’s jaw, tugging on his earlobe with his teeth for one quick breath before nipping it.  Kirk shuddered, his breath stuttering out on an embarrassingly loud groan.  “Got it,” he gasped. “Definitely not dreaming.” Kirk shifted so that he could swing his knee over Spock’s pelvis, bending over him with a small smile. Spock’s hands settled on his hips and they both stopped for just a moment, hazel and brown gazes locking.

“I guess if I had any doubts about why you dragged me off through the jungle, the fact that you snagged lube from the other you should have been a clue.” Kirk teased them both, tilting his hips so that both of their cocks rubbed against each other.  Kirk moaned again, and Spock’s fingers tightened reflexively on his hips, pulling him closer as though he couldn’t help himself.

“Yes---
Jim
.”

From there, Kirk found himself searching out each tiny spot on Spock’s body that would sent him shifting restlessly underneath him. Spock lifted his hips, and Kirk slid off the trousers, hooking his thumbs in Spock’s underwear and leaving him naked in just a few quick tugs of fabric. He had to sit back on his heels and stare when he saw Spock spread out below him, miles and miles of pale skin spread out on the lavender sand. It
was
like a fantasy. Spock had dug the fingers of both hands into the sand, his arms stretched out horizontally from his body.  The muscles of his abdomen were sharply defined, the tangle of black hair drawing Kirk’s gaze to his cock. It lay thickly against part of his thigh, curving up to rest on his abdomen.  Kirk met Spock’s gaze with an impish one of his own, kissing Spock from tip to base in the Vulcan way, before moving his fingers down Spock’s body. Kirk stroked over Spock’s hip, now ignoring Spock’s erection, sliding his hands against the hair on Spock’s thighs.  Spock shifted, opening his legs in blatant invitation.

Kirk nodded, bent and took Spock into his mouth in one quick movement, reaching out for the small tube with one hand while Spock was sufficiently distracted.

Spock cried out, his hand raining sand as he slid it through Kirk’s hair, muscles trembling as he fought not to arch up into Kirk’s hot mouth. Kirk backed off a little, the wet trail of his tongue drawing patterns against his hard length. Kirk worked his way down, pressing Spock’s legs a little further apart with his shoulders, mouthing down over the dark green balls, before resting his chin on the very edge of his uniform shirt. Kirk slicked one finger, sliding it around the small ring of muscle, watching as the small digit slid inside of him. The sight was so hot that Kirk had to thrust into the sand to keep from coming, glad that he was still clothed.

“Jim--- you are aware that I have...” He broke off, shuddering as Kirk stroked the finger deeper, his callus dragging against the thin membrane of the inside wall. “...that Vulcans can control each and every muscle in their body, so that...” he broke off again when Jim slid the finger out, tracing around his hole a few times before sliding it slowly back inside. He grinned as Spock tightened his fingers in the sand again so tightly that small lavender poofs of sand popped out into the air over his hands. “... such thorough and
careful
preparation.”

“Of course, Mister Spock. But where’s the fun in that?”

Kirk stroked more of the slick over Spock, saturating his first two fingers before sliding both of them inside.  He did know that he wouldn’t hurt Spock, but
God
. Spock was so hot, so tight, that Kirk was afraid if he
didn’t
take a few minutes to drag this out a little, he’d go off like a teenager as soon as he was inside Spock’s incredible heat. He listened to Spock’s breathy little gasps of air as he began moving his fingers properly, spreading them and rotating his wrist so that they went deeply.

When Spock planted his heels on the sand and arched up onto Kirk’s fingers, he couldn’t keep himself from dropping his head against Spock’s thigh, moaning at the shameless way Spock moved his body, seeking more contact with Kirk’s fingers. He pulled his fingers away, watching as the little hole tightened around nothing for a moment before heaving himself up from his careless sprawl, not even caring that half his body was covered in sand from where he lay.

Kirk cursed his clumsiness as he shoved down his trousers, fumbling for the tube of lubricant and slicking his own cock. Spock watched him with heavily lidded eyes and Kirk moved into place, bumping against Spock’s stomach as he kissed him again, hard.  He broke away with a small grunt, as Spock’s hand closed around Kirk’s cock, lining him up with his entrance.

“Spock-- you’re sure you’ll tell me if I hurt--”

They both cried out when Spock’s hands slid to Kirk’s ass, pulling him forward and into Spock’s body with one hard yank. It was Kirk’s turn to pitch forward at the sudden, clenching heat, catching himself on the palms of his hands so that he had room to maneuver. Kirk caught that Spock was whispering one word over and over as he began to thrust in and out, rolling his hips as much as he could with each of Spock’s hands clutching at his ass.


Ashayam,
Spock?”  The effect on Spock of Kirk’s whispered question made Kirk’s own heart knock in his chest. Spock arched under him, his cock shuddering as he began to come, the spurts adding to the sweat between them. Kirk gritted his teeth and managed three more thrusts before Spock tightened his muscles, fingers ghosting against the meld points of Kirk’s face. Kirk thrust deep, moaning Spock’s name as lights went off behind his eyelids, feeling his own come deep within Spock.

Kirk collapsed on Spock’s chest with a little
whuff
of sound; trying to communicate to the rest of his muscles that his need to move was not going to happen for a few minutes. Spock’s fingers still stroked lightly over his face as both of their heart-rates slowed. Kirk pressed a small kiss against Spock’s shoulder and sighed, completely content.

Getting back was somewhat anti-climactic. While the two of them dressed, idly brushing off sand here, sharing a kiss there, Spock had said that he believed it was the two of them echoing the being’s movement in such perfect synchronization that had caused (or seemed to cause) the archway to appear. Kirk had shaken his head at Spock’s simple idea of going back to their Enterprise.  “It would be a negligible matter of sending McCoy a message, telling him where and when to “pick up” our two alternates. I find, Captain, that imagining the good doctor’s face as he opened my transmission to be quite... pleasing, even if it isn’t the Doctor McCoy that we know.”

Kirk had fallen over in the sand, laughing.

And in the end, it was just about that simple. Kirk had insisted on peeking in on the ‘two kids’ as he called them, and had trusted Spock’s ability to move on catlike silent feet to peer down at them from the surface.  Spock had returned, an enigmatic look on his face, insisting that Kirk join him.  Spock’s medical assessment had been right, of course.  The younger Spock sat in what was clearly a mediation pose, the younger Jim staring unabashedly at him while Spock couldn’t notice his regard, absently chewing on his lip.

Kirk had muttered about that as they dropped quietly down into the lower level, hoping that unbelievably besotted look was never on
his
face, but admitting privately to himself that it probably had been... numerous times.

They had moved perfectly together, Kirk feeling a tad self-conscious as the graceful movement sent his shoulder brushing against Spock’s. When the archway appeared, Spock had pulled him close for a quick kiss, before they walked through and back to the beam-up point, where a slightly hysterical Ensign had been trying repeatedly to raise them on their communicators.

Bones was waiting for them in the transporter room, tricorder already scanning them as he grumbled about alien microbes.  “Jesus, Jim. I don’t know what’s in the air down there, but you look ridiculously content.” His blue gaze cut suspiciously to Spock. “The hobgoblin too. What, did you two manage to find some kind of alien joy juice?” He glanced down at his scanner, looking for toxins and missed the amused glance Kirk shared with Spock over Bones’ bent head.

“No, Bones. Of course not. It was just a... surprisingly...informative vacation.”

He jerked his head, and Spock followed him walking in step and shoulder to shoulder, both ignoring Bones’ shouted questions. On the turbolift, Kirk felt greatly daring as he reached out to slide two fingers against Spock’s, only to find his First reaching at to him with the same movement. The small touch caused him to shiver, sensation skating down his body at the simple gesture.

Kirk was so blindingly happy that he was having trouble keeping the bounce out of his step as he walked, whistling to his own quarters to change before starting his next bridge shift. As the Enterprise warped away from the strange little planet, he couldn’t help but wonder if the two would ever know what they had done for him. He allowed himself a quick little thought, that somehow... some day the two of them would be able to experience just a fraction of the effulgent joy that Kirk knew would be a part of the rest of his life. From where he was standing,
parted from him and never parted
sounded incredible.

He couldn’t wait.


Chapter 6


Spock blinked into awareness, confused as to why his cheek hurt. He had been meditating, choosing to go into a state deep enough that he could heal quickly. Spock opened his eyes to Jim’s gaze, concern plain in the bright blue depths

“I’m sorry, Spock. You said to hit you if something happened, and .. well... you’re not going to believe this.”

Spock arched an eyebrow, quickly taking stock of his inner controls. He felt stronger, although his head still ached abysmally. He watched the emotions flick, too quickly to name, across his captain’s face. His eidetic memory flashed on the alternate Kirk, and they way that Spock seemed to understand his captain’s moods, needs, and emotions with flawless precision. For a moment Spock’s shoulders slumped. It seemed as though he would never be able to emulate that closeness.

“Uh, I saw feet. Starfleet feet, to be specific. I wanted to make sure you were awake before they found us. Which should... uh, be any minute.” Jim rubbed the back of his neck, looking off towards the door. “I wonder how the hell they found us?”

Spock, noting the lack of alternate timeline personas, had a  few theories on that subject. He cocked his head, and sure enough he could hear voices- too many to be their alternate selves- around the planet. Jim stood and held out his hand, and to Spock’s surprise, he took the offered help. He suppressed a wince at the still present vertigo.  “That news is most pleasing. I confess, I look forward to resuming my duties. It has been an...” Spock paused, eyebrow arching up to his hair line, “...interesting day.”

Spock was rewarded with Jim’s bright burst of laughter and pleased, turned to meet the security members that made their way through the door to the small chamber.

“We have found both the Captain and Commander, Lieutenant Scott.”

“Aye. We never thought we’d be findin’, ya, Captain. Commander. If you don’t mind my saying so.”

“Not a problem, Scotty. Ready when you are. Get us off this damn rock.”

Before Spock could comment, the familiar swirl of transporter energy took him from the planet, reforming them on the transporter pad.  Before he could blink, a furious McCoy took a step forward, so irate that his mutterings were lost in the accented drawl of his Terran ancestors as he scanned the both of them.

Spock did not find this development to be too much of a loss.

Unfortunately, McCoy broke off at Jim’s hearty call of “Bones! It’s good to be back!”

“Sickbay! Get your damn arms off me, you fool of an infant. God knows what planetary contaminates you’ve picked up!

Spock stepped off the pad, stepping to the right to avoid Jim’s most unseemly display of excitement at seeing his friend again. Perhaps his controls were not as firmly entrenched as he had previously believed. He did
not
like the unrestrained way that Jim threw his arms around his the doctor. Most troubling was the realization that what he was feeling was the same jealousy that he’d felt on the planet when his alternate melded with Jim.

“And don’t think for a minute that you’re gonna sneak off to your lab or whatever. Get your pointy-eared behind to my bay immediately! And yeah, you can count
that
as an order.”

Spock suppressed a sigh, gesturing for the doctor and Jim to proceed him through the doors. He listened to Jim telling McCoy all that had happened from the time he woke up. Spock knew that there was much more to the story, and did not relish the medical debriefing McCoy was sure to put him through. Bizarrely, he know that he had done nothing improper. McCoy would approve, albeit grudgingly, at all of the ways Spock had executed his most important duty: keeping the Captain healthy and whole. Yet, Spock was astounded to find that to allow McCoy to think his actions were motivated only by duty did not sit well. His brief healing trance and restorative meditation on the planet had brought home several truths to Spock and the fact remained that he could no longer truthfully maintain that his actions were unmotivated by ... a personal regard for the young, brash man that had become his captain.

“And then? Like, this giant sea monster
threw
the shuttle at the beach, like an old holo where someone spits?  
Paah- toooie!
” Spock watched as the doctor raised an eyebrow, muttering under his breath again as he adjusted something on the tricorder, scanning Jim’s head more carefully  to check for a head wound after Jim told the story. “Didn’t it, Spock? And Bones! Spock was completely badass. He saved me.”  

Spock, unprepared for way the full force of Jim’s pleased gaze hit him, faltered as he stepped out of the turbolift. It was disconcerting, to say the least.  “Indeed. Doctor McCoy there are several factors of which you need to be briefed. Captain, the particulars of our landing might best be discussed behind the closed doors of the doctor’s office.

Jim’s face fell. “Oh. Of course, Spock.” Jim was silent the rest of the way to sickbay. He stared at nothing in particular, obviously deep in thought as they walked. Spock could feel McCoy’s hard, introspective gaze on him as they walked, but Spock found that he had no comment on the matter. Well, not one that he could readily articulate.

McCoy wouldn’t allow anyone else from medical to check them over. He was meticulous, occasionally hemming or hawing at a healing bruise. Spock watched as the doctor ghosted his fingers over Jim’s shoulder, the lines around his mouth becoming more pronounced as he frowned.  The wrist and half-healed ribs got the same treatment. Jim just continued to watch McCoy work, thoughts still focused inward, seemingly unconcerned with his surroundings.  “Okay, Jimmy. You look pretty good.” Spock watched as the doctor smacked Jim lightly on the back of the head. “Don’t even say it, you vain little bastard. You’re taking the rest of the alpha, beta, and gamma off, Jim. You can play with your ship tomorrow. Now go wait in my office.”

Spock watched impassively as the doctor put on gloves, turning to him and examining the large bump on the base of his skull. He too was quiet, listening to the soft sounds of sickbay, the soft hum of the regenerator as it worked to heal the swollen flesh. Spock was pleasantly surprised at the doctor’s courtesy. He was quite certain that he had no wish to confirm any of the human’s illogical emotional responses to his presence. “You experiencing any headaches? Dizziness?”

“Yes.”

“I’m not surprised. You had a concussion.” The doctor took a step back from Spock, crossing his arms over his chest, staring at him broodingly. “Look. I know you would rather snuggle with Chekov’s teddy bear in the mess hall then spend a night here in my sickbay, so I’m willing to compromise. I’ll assign someone to check in on you and trust that you will set an alarm so that you wake up every four hours, but you gotta tell me everything that happened. You wouldn’t
believe
the strange shit I just saw.” He blew out a frustrated breath.

Spock showed no surprise, again inwardly pleased at the doctor’s thoughtfulness.

“Now come on, before Jim falls over on his damn feet.”  

Spock slid smoothly off the biobed and walked to the doctor’s office, standing aside to let him in.  Spock’s gaze went right to where Jim stood, looking out into the stars. The doctor had situated his desk so that he would not have to look out onto the vast emptiness of space. When the doctor crossed to his desk, he clasped Jim’s undamaged shoulder, and Spock had to look away at the slight grin he received for his efforts.

“Hey Bones, how did you guys find us? That’s been bugging me.”

When the doctor smiled, it was all teeth. “That’s easy, Jim.  I received a message from someone who referred to himself as Ambassador Selek.” His gaze narrowed at Jim’s wince. Spock had to confess, he was interested in hearing how Jim knew his counterpart as well. The doctor sat down, swinging his legs up so that they were propped up on his desk. “Okay you two. Cop a squat. I’ve had a fucking
weird
 day and I want to know what happened. And Spock? Jim? Y’all better not leave anything out.”


 



Spock stood in the sonics, head bowed as he the dirt and sweat from their mission vanished. It was times like these that he wished he could abide an actual water shower. Him mother had not often spoke of things that she missed when she moved to Vulcan, but after strenuous activity, she often would mention how much she wished for a ‘nice, hot bubblebath to soak away her troubles.’  

He found himself with much to think about.  

Spock slid into a black mediation robe, ironically a gift from the Ambassador, and sat behind his computer console, entering the subspace frequency. Presumably, there were only a few people who the Ambassador allowed an unrestricted access to his comm, yet he always seemed available when Spock desired to speak with him.

It was so now. It was jarring to see the wizened visage. He always looked for commonalities that he and the alternate version of himself shared. Now though, with the younger man’s image so fresh in his mind, he could see the similarities more clearly.


Moi tema
, Spock. I confess, I did expect you to contact me much sooner.”

Spock responded to the greeting, stretching his fingers in the ta’al. “
Moi tema
, Elder. I am... I have queries.”

“I would expect nothing less. But first, I wish to convey my gratitude. I have desired to do so for... quite a number of years.”

Spock sat back in his chair, raising an eyebrow.

“If my Jim and I had never met you, then I fear I never would have found my
T'hy'la

Spock was not prone to displaying illogical bouts of human emotion, but trusted that his shock was conveyed by the slight widening of his eyes. The ancient word was often sought after, but very rarely realized. “Your
T'hy'la
?”

The Ambassador’s lips twisted in a soft smile. “Exactly so.”

Spock remembered the words the Ambassador had spoken to him with sudden, sharp clarity.
...Because you needed each other. I could not deprive you of the revelation of all that you could accomplish together, of a friendship that will define you both in ways you cannot yet realize. ...
His breath felt too harsh for his lungs.

As though reading his mind (and it was dismaying to realize that if anyone could it would be this being in the monitor across from him) the Ambassador held up a hand; a surprisingly human gesture that halted the flood of words before they could spill from Spock’s lips.

“Spock. It amuses me to find that you and Jim are so very different from myself and my Jim, yet there are so many things that are similar... I know I need not tell you that just because events unfolded a certain way in my universe, it does not necessarily follow that things will unfold the same exact way here.” The Ambassador spread his hands to indicate the world around him. “When I melded with Jim on Delta Vega, it was astounding to me that it was even possible to meet the young captain again. For you see, in
my
reality, it was the second time we had met. The glimpse into his mind was powerful. I confess that I had ruminated on it several times over the long years of my life, and later after Vulcan’s destruction, wondering how likely it was that I was able to meet the same dynamic mind under such circumstances.

Spock clenched his fists, into the folds off his robe, unseen under the table. Jim’s mind was not some ... morsel to sample. He had always been quick to anger, and this was no surprise that fury was what he felt now.

“So you have manipulated him twice.”

The Ambassador’s bushy eyebrows hiked up past his hairline. “You are angry.”

Spock forced himself to take a deep breath. “One does not expect to begin to acknowledge a... regard for someone, only to find that they have been manipulated into the events that proceeded it.”

The Ambassador blinked. “Uncanny. Your Jim had nearly the same response.” He shifted in his seat, leaning forward slightly. “Only his was much less polite. Several years ago I encountered the same alien species that brought the younger version of myself into your timeline.”

Spock could see the memory play out on the ancient face, and attempted to hold his tongue. It was disconcerting to realize that the roundabout way the Ambassador had of leading up to his point had been learned from their father. It was that, as much as the desire to hear what the ancient version of himself had told Jim, that kept his mouth silent.

“They wished to thank me. For what, they never communicated. But their thanks was.... Their race had mastered the manipulation of time, across hundreds of billions of different universes. It was a very small thing for them to allow us to cross over to your universe, and yet such a small thing....” He sighed. “One minuscule act of kindness was responsible for my greatest joy.”  The Ambassador blinked. Spock refrained from commenting on the wet eyes, instead looking down at his table for just a moment.

“I have sworn to myself that I would not reveal other aspects of my time to you. And yet....” The Ambassador’s voice hardened, the tired old eyes sharpening in sudden focus, meeting Spock’s gaze unflinchingly.  “And yet. When you hear of the launching of the Enterprise B, or hear of a planet called Veridian III, do not attempt to contact anyone there. No matter what you must do to ascertain these events, do
not
allow James T. Kirk to set foot on that damnable planet.” The harshness of his voice didn’t change.  Even if you never see that species of aliens again, even if these events do not happen exactly as they did in my timeline, you must promise me, Spock. Swear on our mother that you will
not allow him to go there.
”  The ambassador broke off with s harsh breath.

“Hey, Spock?”

Spock’s neck turned so quickly that he felt his vertebrae pop. Jim’s silhouette was outlined in the doorway of their shared ‘fresher. Of course. He had forgotten to engage the privacy lock.

“Is everything... okay?” Jim took a step inside the room, dressed only in sweatpants, a towel around his shoulders. Spock’s breath caught at the sight, and to his shame was struck dumb, unable to respond to Jim’s question.

“He is fine, Captain. We have been conversing.”

“Rii-iiight.” Jim looked from the monitor to Spock’s stiff form and back. “Like the ‘conversation’ you had with me? Look.” He stepped into the room, agitation obvious in the taunt line of his body. “Sorry, Spock, but this is bullshit.” Spock blinked as Jim bent down slightly so that he could look directly into the Ambassador’s eyes. “Look, sir. I get that you loved your Jim. And god knows I get the idea of doing
anything
, and I do mean
anything,
to save someone you love. My whole life, literally, was shaped because my dad completely adored my mom enough to do everything he could do to save her.

And you,
Spock wanted to add, but refrained. His glance quickly flicked from the monitor to Jim’s face.

“But here’s the thing. As awesome as that was for you, and as many similarities as there may be between you and us,... we’re not some chess pieces that you can just push around. I don’t know if I believe in your destiny, or if it’s just one old guy meddling where he doesn’t need to be, but please. Respect us enough... at
least
to let us figure it out for ourselves.”

Spock had no trouble recognizing the small amused twitch of the Ambassador’s lips at Jim’s impassioned tirade. “My apologies, captain. And now, Spock, I find that I have several duties that require my attention. Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have further need of me.” He smiled. “Employing my customary farewell is still  self-serving, so I shall simply say... Good Luck, Spock. Captain. And Farewell.”

The transmission ended and Jim seemed to realize just how close it was that he was standing to Spock. He started to step away. Spock’s hand whipped out, grasping his bare forearm with more force than he intended, keeping Jim where he was.   

“My father once attempted to advise me regarding the paths one must choose in their lifetime. He said that we are fully capable of deciding our own destiny, that we must face the fact that only we can decide our own path to chose.”

Spock heard Jim swallow and stood, so that he was at eye-level.  “I do not know...” Jim’s respiration rate had increased twelve percent higher than his normal rate of breathing. “I. I am at a loss to explain how we should, I believe the phrase is, ‘deal with this,’ but I do know that there is no one that I trust more to assist with such an endeavor.” Spock forced himself to release Jim’s forearm and take a step back.

“Uh. You know the craziest thing? It’s there. It’s like, I feel that we really could be amazing friends. Like me and Bones, only ... more. But it’s all fucked up in my head to where I don’t know what’s real, and what’s that old you messing things up. I mean, we work well together. Well, you know how it is. You’re like my right arm. Everything we accomplish is because of this way we
get
each other. But... that’s on duty. Off duty we don’t even see each other. But...” Jim bit his lip, trailing off as though he was not quite certain how to best finish his sentence.

Spock nodded.  “While sufficiently more colorful than I may have chosen to term it, your explanation is not without merit.”

Jim’s smile was bright in the semi-darkened room.  Spock watched as Jim leaned forward, the lips that had occupied his thoughts brushing against his once, twice, before he took a quick step back. Spock pressed his lips together. He could feel a strange sensation, like a low grade electrical current buzzing along his skin when Jim’s slightly chapped lips slid against his. They were both frozen for just a moment, staring at each other in surprise.

Jim took another step back. Spock thought the slight blush that stained his cheeks was oddly appealing. He cleared his throat.  “So...”

“So.” Spock turned away, not missing the way the expression on Jim’s face fell a little. He walked the few steps to a cabinet and removed the case. It was one of the few gifts from his mother that had not been obliterated with his planet. When he had left Vulcan to enter Starfleet, it had been done hastily. At the time, he did not have the inclination to pack the small things that Spock had kept in his room, but his mother had made a special point in sending many of them to him in one of  the numerous ‘care packages’ that had arrived every three months, sent directly to his student quarters at the Academy.

Spock opened the case, tilting it so that Jim could see the 3D chess set.  He allowed himself a small smile at the dumbfounded look on Jim’s face.

“Perhaps you would enjoy a small game of chess?"



THE END!!

Chapter End Notes:

A/N:  Be sure to go to  love on the artist,
[info]swordsart . I was a pinch hit- but the funny thing is, this was the piece that I had initially seen and spazzed out over, and I GOT IT!!!! :D:D:D   It's so damn pretty! I hope that I managed to capture Kirk kind of being a letch, albeit a letch who is in love with his favorite Vulcan. I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I

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