Jim sighed as he walked into his quarters. Not that it had been a long day, but everything was just...wrong for him at the moment. He felt dead to everyone, and had to force every smile he gave out. Every medication he tried only made the problem worse, and sleeping had been difficult for him the last few days. He was glad that there were no current emergencies.
He hauled himself over to his bunk and fell onto his bed, eyelids heavy. He wondered if he should call McCoy...? No, he decided. He hoped that it was just some crappy-ass bug or virus, and that maybe he'd sleep it off. If it continued for more than another day or two, he'd go to Sickbay and ask McCoy for something to get rid of the damned thing.
He rolled over and was about to doze off when someone buzzed at the door. He groaned loudly and flopped back onto his back. "Come!" he called in frustration. Right then, he didn't care who heard or saw him, so long as it wasn't some giggling hallway yeoman.
"Jim?" came a soft voice as the door slid open. He forced his head up and saw a tall Vulcan standing in the doorway. "Are you well?"
"Yeah, just tired," Jim replied, forcing a smile. "How're you doing, might I ask? You weren't at lunch today; I can tell when you don't eat, you know."
The Vulcan flushed green, and Jim hung his head in exhaustion and realization. Of course he'd been with Uhura during lunch break; it was that way at least once a week, if not one meal a day. He always missed one. "Sorry, I forgot."
"Jim, you have been overly forgetful over the past week," Spock observed, walking over to his friend and placing a hand near the human. "I would ask you what the problem is, but I doubt I can help as much as the good doctor would be able to."
"'S alright, Spock," Jim muttered. "Just go. I'm terrible company right now; you really don't want to be around me."
The Vulcan drew back, hurt flashing in his dark brown eyes. "Very well, sir," he said before standing to leave. "But if you desire assistance, I shall be in communication range." He didn't turn back as he left, missing the silent tears that ran down Jim's face as he fell back in his original position.
"Jim?" The voice was calling him through a thick, black haze, and he groaned, not wanting to leave the warmth of sleep. "Jim, you must awaken. It is nearly 0700 and you must be on the bridge in... minutes," the voice continued.
"Go'way," Jim slurred. Then the shaking started, and he groaned loudly as his eyes stubbornly opened. Only then did he hear his alarm going off. "What...?" He turned to see Spock standing over him concern flashing in his eyes.
He was also only in his black thermal shirt and regulation pants.
"Spock, what are you doing here?" Jim asked, sitting up in foggy alarm. He still didn't want to leave his bed, but then he realized that not only was he uncomfortable on the cushion, he was also cold. Freezing. "Spock, how are you in here in this temperature?" Jim demanded, moving to grab a sweater for himself.
"Jim, it is currently 72.3 degrees Farenheight," Spock said, sounding confused. "The temperature is sufficient for me not to be cold, and you should be quite warm in this air. What is wrong?"
"Nothing," Jim snapped, harsher than he'd intended for it to sound. "Sorry, Spock," he said. "I'm just really tired, and I'm not sure why. There's nothing I can really do about it except try and sleep it off."
He turned and went to go and shower, changing out of yesterday's uniform and shaking as he went. As he washed, he vaguely wondered why everything felt so heavy to lift that morning.
Eventually, he had to turn the shower cold because he realized that no matter what he did, he wouldn't feel warm. He felt the shock help wake him up a little, but not by that much. It also didn't last very long, either. In fact, it only lasted for ten minutes before he felt the same sleepy drag pulling on him as he trudged off to the bridge.
When he arrived, Spock was waiting for him, and the Vulcan stood up from the command chair to face his friend. "Jim, I was wondering if I should send a search party to look for your person," Spock said as he passed Jim.
Jim smiled and chuckled slightly, but that only caused his weakness to get worse. He nearly stumbled as he reached the seat and practically fell into the chair. He hoped that maybe Spock hadn't noticed... But it wasn't Spock who expressed the concern that time.
"Captain?" came the voice of Nyota Uhura. "Are you alright?"
He turned and gave her his best flashing smile. "Certainly, Lieutenant," he said brightly. "Thank you for asking." When he turned away, the smile fell and he felt like groaning in pain as a wave of agony rushed over his entire body.
People were, nonetheless, watching him the rest of the day, noticing every unusual trip, his otherwise lack of movement, and his extreme lethargy in decision-making. It was when his shift ended that Spock came up and suggested he go see McCoy.
"Spock, I can't do that," Jim muttered as they stood together in the lift. "I just can't. Don't you know what it would do to the morale of this crew if they saw me get ill and in sickbay? Every rating would drop!"
"Jim, that is not true," Spock said, trying to be soothing. "This crew is loyal to you to their very core. I cannot imagine why they would see your getting ill as a sign of the ship's weakness. You are only human, after all."
The doors opened, and as Jim took a step, one of his legs buckled and he fell with a cry of alarm and a rush of adrenaline. But he was quickly caught by a strong pair of supportive arms. "Jim, you require rest."
Before Jim could protest, Spock scooped him up into his arms and cradled him as he finished the journey to Jim's rooms. "Spock, what're you doing?" he demanded. "Put me down!"
"If I did, I fear that you would fall," Spock replied as they entered the room. "You cannot walk very well at the moment, Jim." When he set the human down onto his bed, Spock noticed that the human had begun shivering again. "Are you chilled, Jim?"
"It's freezing," Jim muttered in misery. "Turn the heat up, please." Spock went over to the thermostat and turned the heat up to human body temperature. "It's still too cold," the human complained.
Now Spock was very concerned. "Jim, are you certain that you are well? If you have a fever, then I should fetch Doctor McCoy-"
"NO!" The shout startled Spock. "No, Spock, please." He shuddered and closed his eyes before turning away. "It's just a simple forty-eight hour bug. I'll be over it soon enough." He was lying through his teeth, but he didn't want Spock to worry about him. "I'll be fine, Spock, I promise. Now go see your girlfriend before I have to-"
"Jim, Nyota ended our relationship this morning," Spock interrupted.
Now it was Kirk's turn to whirl and stare in shock. "She did? But I thought that-"
"She told me that I wouldn't be able to be with her because she was afraid for her safety during my Pon Farr," Spock said tonelessly. "She also noticed my...attraction... to someone else." He looked deeply into Jim's eyes, hoping he'd understand what he was trying to convey.
"Someone... else...?" Jim nearly choked with hurt. How could the Vulcan have kept all this from him? That was what friends- and secret lovers- were for. Confessions of the heart. "Who?"
Spock took a step forward and placed a gentle hand on Jim's shoulder. "I believe you already know," he said softly before placing his lips carefully over Jim's.
The human's eyes widened in surprise, feeling truly awake for a moment. Then he closed his eyes and let himself be taken by the strong Vulcan as the alien claimed his mouth. But when Spock's hand dipped under Jim's shirt, the captain gasped and pulled away. "I... Spock... you can't... no," he said, staring in surprise at the immense change in the Vulcan. "I'm sorry Nyota broke up with you, but you can't just-"
"Jim, I have longed for you, but Nyota was keeping an eye on me to see if I showed interest in anyone except her," Spock said, trying to move closer. "As soon as I did, she tried a very... immodest... seduction attempt to 'take me back'. She tried to get me intoxicated, but failed. Once I realized what she was doing, I asked that she stop her out-of-character behavior. In response, she stared in silence until she decided to call off our relationship."
"Spock, I'm not going to let you-" Jim tried to force Spock away, but the Vulcan refused to budge. "SPOCK!"
The Vulcan paused right in front of his face, eyes wide and dark with lust, and Jim held up a hand to push him away. "No," he said softly. "No. You need a wife, Spock, someone who can give you an heir. I found out who you are the day after I met you. I thought that maybe you'd-"
"Jim, I do not desire a permanent female companion," Spock said. "I never have. I was merely 'going along' with Nyota to attempt a relationship with a female."
Before Jim could reply, a rush of agony shot through his entire body, and he was unable to supress the cry. Faintly, as he blacked out, he heard a soft "Jim? JIM?!"
When he awoke, he was still in his bed, thankfully, but there were two other people standing over him. He blinked fuzzily as they knelt and their faces showed. "Jim?" came McCoy's voice. Spock came into view, and Jim noticed that the Vulcan was holding his hand. "How're you feeling?"
"Sleepy..." the captain mumbled drowsily. "Lemme alone..."
McCoy sighed. "Alright. But if I see you on the bridge tomorrow, I'm knocking you out and hauling your ass to sickbay, got it?" Jim nodded. "Goodnight, Jim."
He fell asleep before he felt Spock's lips brush his own.
Someone was shaking him. He ignored it, trying to pull himself down into the wonderful dream he was having where Spock believed what he was saying instead of forcing it upon himself to please Jim, as he assumed Spock was doing.
"Jim... bridge... must come now..." burst through his pathetic attempts to remain asleep. "Jim... up... won't wake up... tried everything..." The voice was becoming more panicked, and Jim heard another voice, this time a female one, come through his ears.
"Alright!" he cried, but it came out as a croak. "Alright." He sat up to see Spock and Uhura standing there, about to move over and start slapping him. "Oh..." His eyes went between them, but there was nothing obvious as to what they were thinking regarding each other; only Jim.
"Jim, you must get to the bridge," Spock said, emptying a hypo into his arm. "It is imperative you do; there is a Romulan freighter in the area that appears to be carrying weapons."
"So what?" Jim asked, not truly caring.
"So, captain," Uhura snapped. "They're carrying weapons into federation territory! They must have a hidden base somewhere in this area."
With both of their help, Jim managed to get to the bridge and sit in the chair, eyes feeling glued and every muscle either in agony or numb. He could barely see, and he couldn't think clearly at all. Everything was wrong, and still getting worse.
But as they began to follow the freighter, Jim stood to go and check up on one of the crewmen at the navigation...
And promptly his eyes rolled into his head and he collapsed on the floor, entirely unconscious.
"JIM!" Spock cried in terror as he whirled to see the human fall. "Jim, wake up!"
There was no response from the human.
"Nyota, get Doctor McCoy up here now!" he ordered, and she whirled to obey him instantly. "Oh, Jim, I should have made you see McCoy sooner..."
McCoy had taken Jim down to sickbay over two hours ago, and there was still no response from them as to what Jim's condition was. Part of Spock wanted to order McCoy to tell him what was wrong, and another said to trust Mcoy, and that he'd know when to tell them what was wrong.
However, he didn't have to wait too long. "Spock..." McCoy's voice was shaky. "Spock, you should come down here. NOW!"
The Vulcan bolted from the bridge, leaving Sulu in charge with Uhura as second. When he arrived, he was met by a heart-wrenching alarm; the captain, Jim Kirk, was dying. Again.
"Doctor..." Spock said, approaching slowly. "What is wrong?"
"It's the blood-transfusions he got from Khan," McCoy said shakily. "That regenerative thing only lasts temporarily in another's system, and now that it's wearing off, Jim is becoming weak again."
"But the radiation in his system was flushed out," Spock said, confused and horrified. "His body was regenerated and the radiation stains removed."
"Unfortunately, Spock, I'm afraid that's not truly the case," McCoy confessed. "He was never free of the radiation. Now that the drug has been flushed out of him, the radiation is taking over again and it's killing him."
Spock looked down at the man lying on the sickbay cot, respirator on his face, which was now paling. "Is there anything that can save him?" Spock asked shakily.
"No," McCoy confessed. "Spock, I didn't notice this before, but their blood-types are also incompatible. I can't give him any more of that drug, or it will just kill him faster."
The Vulcan turned away, the pain worse than the first time Jim had died in front of him. But this time, there was nothing he could do to save the man he'd fallen for. After a moment, he had to sit down, and there was nothing else he wanted to do except bawl his eyes out for an hour, crying for the man he was going to lose.
Surprisingly, he did. He cried into McCoy's shoulder for an hour, and when he drew back, he laid a hand across Jim's, where the radiation burns were starting to come back. His skin was also coming loose. Shuddering, the Vulcan closed his eyes and whispered his question. "How long?"
"Maybe a day," McCoy said sorrowfully. "It would have been longer, but he refused to see me, and the effects accelerate over time."
"Doctor, before... he dies, can you try to rouse him?" Spock asked, brown eyes dull with pain. "There is something I wish to tell him."
McCoy saw the look in Spock's eyes and knew there was no sense in denying him what he wanted. He hesitantly reached out a grabbed a stimulant before carefully injecting it into Jim's arm. As the human on the bed slowly woke, he began to moan in agony, and Spock felt a wave of pity for his captain. He placed a careful hand on Jim's, and Kirk's eyes shot open wildly.
"What the hell?" he croaked in a whisper before he started coughing. "Help... me...." he choked when he saw Spock. His gaze was fixed on the Vulcan, and he didn't even notice McCoy standing near him. "Spo-*cough*!"
"Jim, you must relax," Spock said tonelessly. "It is imperative that you calm yourself. It will help you to breathe more easily." For the first time in his life, he was lying to Jim Kirk himself. Jim stared at him and closed his eyes, trying to relax. "Jim, do you remember my visit to your quarters last night?" the Vulcan asked, eyes brimming with unshed tears. Jim nodded.
"You... kissed me....didn't you?" Jim asked, eyes pleading. "I'm...sorry, Spock..." he croaked out. "Find yourself someone who deserves you."
"Jim," Spock whispered, noting that the human's skin-tone was changing by the second, and he brushed his fingers across his love's forehead. "You must hear me out. I am in love with you, captain," he said softly. "Nobody will ever change that, not even Nyota. I have never told her that I loved her, for I never did. I want only you, ashaya. And I will find a way to save you."
He kissed the human's mouth with desperation and sorrow, and he felt Jim try to respond. "I'll... never... truly... leave...," Jim forced out. "I'll be in you." He smiled at Spock. "At least I am not... in fear... this time a... around..." He closed his eyes and let the world slip away as he began weeping silently for his Vulcan.
He managed to croak out one more thing to Spock before blackness consumed him. "Don't... die..."
Spock gasped with his own grief as he watched Jim fade away into oblivion once more. The only sign that the human wasn't dead yet was the oh-so-slow rise and fall of his chest. "No, Jim," Spock choked. "It is you who will not die." He bolted for his room, desperation flashing through him.
"Mister Spock." Elder Spock's face stared back at him, confusion and pleasure in his eyes. "It is pleasurable to see you again."
"Ambassador," Spock replied, dipping his head.
"Commander," Elder Spock asked when seeing the look in his counterpart's eyes. "Why dost thou weep?" he asked, switching to Vulcan. "Surely there is nothing amiss where thou are currently."
"Selik," Spock blurted out before he could stop himself. "Jim is dying again. I do not know what to do to save him."
Selik's expression became alarmed at once and he looked down at his hands. "I remember when I lost my Jim," he said in reply. "We were t'hy'la; I therefore felt him die. It was painful- and he was right. He did die alone; he died without any of his dearest friends there for comfort; only a man he barely knew. And I know he was adversely affected when I died. Is it the radiation?" he asked.
Spock nodded. "Affirmative."
Then Selik held up his hands, and Spock's eyes widenend in shock. "It is happening to you as well," he said in shock.
Selik nodded. "Now that my Jim is gone, there is no reason for my body to fight any longer. It is giving up and the radiation is causing me to age faster than I would under normal circumstances, even with my hybrid physiology."
"Then how do I save him?" Spock asked. "You must know; you have kept it at bay until now."
"You must bond with him," Selik replied. "Only you have the strength to withhold the effects of the radiation. He will then only die when you do."
"How do you know this will work?" Spock demanded Selik. "What if he doesn't respond the way he should?"
"He will revive," Selik promised. "I am alive, aren't I? My bond with Jim is what preserved me; now you need to do the same for your Jim."
Spock made sure that McCoy was not in Sickbay when he went in that night. He went directly to Jim and kissed his lips softly. "I am here to save you, ashaya." Then he placed his fingers gently on Jim's head...
And was swept into flames. He cried out in surprise and horror when he felt the agony ripping along his entire frame. He shuddered and tried to calm himself before he went in search of the human he loved so. "Jim!" he called frantically. "JIM!" He stumbled in the howling gale and flames, trying to see through the smoke. "Jim, you must return!" he called. "You cannot leave me! I... I am in need of you!"
He suddenly saw a flash of blonde hair through the fire, and he spun to see Jim standing in the center of the blaze. The head was staring at him blankly, and he wondered if enough of Jim's mind was left for him to revive the human. But the human was already burning there in front of him, and making no move to leave. "Spock?" came the soft voice through the fire. "Spock? What are you doing here?"Jim asked, his gaze desolate. "You aren't supposed to come here. You should be safe. Go now before you're taken down with me."
"No, Jim," Spock said soothingly. "I am safe; you are not. I need to bring you back from the fire of radiation poisoning, and we must bond to save you. I shall be yours forever, and you will be mine." He watched Jim's expression go from relieved to horrified to wary. "Jim, this is my choice. I love you."
The human's eyes widened, and the flames began to die down. In its place came the beginning of the darkness. "Spock, I'm dying," Jim protested. "Please just leave. I'll drag you with me."
"Only if you are too far gone," Spock said. "At the moment, you are not. I will bring you back. Let me heal you, ashaya!"
They each took a step towards the other before Spock lunged for his human and clutching him desperately. "Spock-"
"No," Spock snapped. "I won't let you leave me." He began pushing his way deeper into Jim's mind, locking the two of them together. He twined their minds together and began pumping his mental strength and self-healing into Jim's mind. After a moment, the darkness faded and the fires died down some. Jim began clutching Spock like a drowning man, and they kissed fiercely in Jim's mind.
They faded completely into each other, and Spock began to pull Jim back towards the surface, where they opened their eyes together...
And McCoy struck Spock in the face.
"So, he bonded with you, and you're all better now?" McCoy asked, eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Are you sure that's what he said? I could have sworn that he'd bond with a woman some day, and-"
"Bones!" Jim laughed. "You were the one who slapped him, remember? And he saved my life!"
"I thought he was going to follow you," McCoy confessed. "It wouldn't do us any good if both you and Spock were to die."
Jim laughed again, glad to be feeling strong again. Since the bonding with Spock, he'd recovered immensely, and now they were sleeping in the same room and were planning to take leave in a few weeks so that they could get to truly know each other better. Spock's mental healing abilities were keeping Jim strong through their bond, and since Spock was the healthy one, he didn't need to try and draw strength back. He usually gave most of his strength to Jim at night so that he'd have more of an excuse to sleep. But they were not losing their battle anymore; they were happy.
He stood up and left, walking back to Spock's quarters to find the Vulcan waiting on the bed, where he rushed over and kissed his bondmate longingly before reaching to remove the Vulcan's shirt.