Spock awoke with a gasp. He saw the stone walls of Gol around him and remembered the Pon Farr. He shuddered and realised he must still be sleeping, because the floor felt soft. But had the dawn come already? It was too early for the faint golden light coalescing before him to be real.
He felt behind him… nothing. He felt nothing. That in itself was strange, for he could see.
‘I know you can see,’ said a soft voice.
Spock felt his mouth fall open as he stared at the vision before him. Jim was tanned, healthy; blonde… the eyes were soft and full of welcome. He looked as Spock always remembered him.
‘Jim,’ Spock heard himself whisper, ‘This cannot be.’
‘No, this…’ Jim waved an expressive hand around at Spock’s tiny cell, ‘This cannot be. You’ve got to be kidding me?’
‘I…’ Spock turned and gasped, for there was an old man behind him, prone and still on the cold floor, old and thin, with lines of sadness etching his face like gullies. Limp and grey with silver hair and open but clouded eyes. Clouded in death. ‘Who has died?’ asked Spock in alarm.
‘No-one, you’re imagining it,’ laughed Jim softly. ‘Look, he’s gone, see?’
Spock turned to look back, and the human was right, for the body had disappeared.
‘Where are we?’
‘Where we always are… with each other,’ the human’s hands were gently tugging Spock’s thin white sleeping top down, exposing the hard nipple to the cold.
Spock stared up at Jim, and asked, ‘Am I dreaming? Are you real?’
‘As real as I ever was, Spock,’ the words were a caress. Jim was no longer looking into Spock’s eyes, but was peering down at Spock’s exposed chest, examining it as if to memorize the contours and hues anew.
‘Is this all you can think of?’ asked Spock, mildly reproachful, ‘We have not seen each other for-‘
‘Shh,’ said the human, his eyes meeting Spock’s briefly as he bent down to capture the tip of Spock’s ear in his cool mouth, ‘This is all that matters. You just don’t understand that yet.’
Spock turned and found his lips devoured by the human’s. He realised, ‘I can feel you.’
‘But nothing else, right?’ asked Jim, a little sadly.
‘What does it mean?’ asked Spock huskily, fear tugging suddenly at the edges of his mind.
Jim had gone back to surveying Spock’s partially exposed chest as though he were surveying a delicious feast, ‘It means…’
Spock shivered as the cell dissolved around them and turned into the blackness of space. Instinct kicked in and he held his breath. Vacuum was more lethal to Vulcans than to humans. But the human reached for Spock’s neck and pulled him close, their bodies floating together until they touched, and Jim whispered into a pointed ear as he gently drew it into his lips, ‘Relax. Nothing can hurt you now.’
Spock looked around him with sudden comprehension, which took the breath out of his chest where the vacuum had failed, ‘I am not dreaming.’
‘You are not dreaming, no,’ the human kissed him, and drew their bodies tightly together with his legs, hooking them around the back of Spock’s knees.
‘Then I am not-‘
‘Spock!’ the human’s voice was suddenly urgent, ‘Words have power here. Thoughts have power here. Be careful what you say. Reality is not too far away, in any direction. Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.’
Spock frowned, and pulled the human close to him, suddenly self-assured, ‘I have everything I could wish for.’ But then he looked around and said, ‘But I do not know where we are.’
Jim chuckled warmly, and pushed Spock gently back onto something soft behind the Vulcan, ‘I don’t either, and I fully intend to make good use of the fact that nobody else knows where we are right now, Spock. We’re off duty.’
‘How long will this last?’ asked Spock, suddenly more afraid than he had ever been. But then the human’s lips descended on Spock’s chest and Spock felt himself arch into the touch, immeasurable pleasure galvanising every nerve.
‘That’s the joy of it. We don’t know,’ said Jim.
‘That is a joy?’
‘It’s torture,’ grinned the human, and pulled Spock’s hand to his face.
‘Are you real?’ whispered Spock.
‘Find out,’ said the human, inviting the meld.
Back in the cell in Gol, the acolytes silently unlocked the isolation cell and hefted the body of the old ambassador, supressing their surprise at its lightness. Ambassador Spock was half human and he had not eaten for days before his death. He had died quietly, his silence in sharp contrast to the screaming and sobbing from the other cell further up the row which marked the passing of the pure Vulcan who was suffering the same fate. Perhaps, thought the young acolytes, his human blood had granted him some respite from the suffering that a full Vulcan must endure in such a death.