The ice cave on Delta Vega was dark, and cold. Once he wouldn’t have noticed for a long while, now…
Now he just didn’t care. The gradual chilling of extremities was nothing to the pain in his katra. H could only hope that the Vulcans in this time line did not have the ability to universally feel the deaths of those of their extended House.
Emotional controls collapsing in sheer terror and desperation:
Mental screams of panic of children for their parents, parents for their children.
Couples caught in Pon Farr, the male trying to defend against an enemy that wasn’t visible, driven by that need to protect his mate.
The agony of marriage bonds snapping, the screaming pain as it ricocheted back on the survivor… and was cut off as they too perished.
Students in the stages of Kohlinar, opening their bonds one last time in order to seal them, assaulted by the rush of emotions and flung down comatose.
Mental streams of warmth and desperation between separated pairs, which they knew would be their last communications.
Vulcans willingly committing suicide in deep meditation to avoid a worse death.
They echoed around his head, lashing him with pain. The previous Romulus destroyed, almost all the Vulcans here dead… Because of him.
He longed for Kohlinar, but He deserved death. it would be the punishment by Starfleet and Vulcan both. And he intended o fulfill that. More logically, it would be best not to contaminate this universe any more than he already had. He would not go to the Starfleet outpost he knew to be nearby. He would stay here, grieve and mourn his lost people,and eventually die. A lingering death was perhaps the best punishment.
A noise echoed in the cave. Slowly he rose to his feet, lighting the primitive torch he had fashioned out of habit. The flame threw wild shadows on the walls, but even if he strained his eyes into the maze of passages, he could see nothing.
Then, there he was. Spock instinctively put distance between them, trying to control himself.
“You’re a hard man to find, Commander…”
Spock swallowed, and even then, his voice came out in a harsh rasp “Jim? How… How is this possible?” It couldn’t be him, it couldn’t.
But it was with the same half smile and laughing eyes that the man gave him his answer “Lets just say the Nexus isn’t perfect.” He circled on the spot, surveying the cave as he kept talking “It thinks itself an idealists heaven, could give you anything you don’t even realise you desire. Except…”
Spock watched him, then finished the sentence “The bond… It cannot be imitated.”
Jim turned back to him, pain raw in the slightly averted eyes “No…everything pales in comparison.
The Nexus tried to bribe me Spock, gave me my favourite day when I was young, manufactured feelings for a woman… And I followed it.”
The last time he had seen such agony in his T'hy'la’s eyes they had been on a bus in 1986 San Francisco “Jim…”
But Jim kept talking, the words running from his mouth“It all seemed so real, so true. Even when Picard came, told me that it was just a trick, my mind believed it was real. It made me say things I shouldn’t have” Jim lifted his head, locking him with tortured eyes“I was so rude to him Spock, I sashayed about as though I was the King of the World, solver of all possible scenarios. All I am is a Captain of a Starship, a captain who lost far too many crew on his missions. It was the crew, the ordinary enlisted people that made the Starships great, I was just the face of the swan, gaining all the plaudits…”
Jim screwed his eyes shut and looked away, Spock could see the effort it took to regain his control.
After a moment he carried on “It was only when I seriously listened to Picard, felt the gravity of the situation. I did what I always do…
Spock found those beautiful eyes on him, close to tears.
“I looked to you and my mind kept trying to dodge it. That was when I realised the bond was wrong, the Nexus was all madness. And all I wanted was to be with you…”
Spock took a step forward “Jim…”
“I’m sorry Spock. Sorry I went on the Enterprise-B rather than staying home with you, sorry for getting crochety over you maybe going to Romulus for a while. Sorry for what I must have put you through all this time, when a few weeks was hell for me. Sorry… so… sorry.” He crumpled as though that last torrent of words had drained every bit of strength.
Spock closed the gap between them, dropping to his knees and holding his bondmate tightly “Hush… Hush t'hy'la. It is over now, you’re here, I’m here.”
Jim clung to his encircling arms, gasping through his tears “Promise we’ll never part again.” Then he raised one hand to his face, pressing his fingers in mimicry of the meld position.
Spock placed his own on his bondmates meld points “My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts…” As they slipped into the meld he felt Jim’s mental voice join his.
’My katra to your katra, Never parted, always touching and touched.’
There was a distinct sensation, as if someone was knocking on a door. Slowly, still not quite believing, he broke the shields that his father and the Masters had built around the torn end of the bond, in order to prevent him dying, wasting away from the mental pain.
The golden, sunlike Aura that was Jim rushed in, wrapping and entangling the tail until it became a rope once more.
And with the sealing came the most recent memories from his t'hy'la.
A stone ranch house... Captain Picard trying to persude him... The sudden changes of the Nexus... Picard challenging him to help... Spock... Riding with Picard into the glow.. finding himself deposited in the Cave.
An echoing roar drew them abruptly from the meld, rising to their feet on long habit even as their thoughts struggled to re-organise to the two separate minds. Above the snarls, Spock could hear sharp, terrified breathing, coming closer and closer. He snatched up his torch and started forwards, some instinct driving him. He felt rather than saw Jim a little behind him, covering his back.
All he saw was the large monster and a humanoid figure on the ground, attempting to pull away from the tentacle which had grabbed their leg. He sprang forward, lashing out with the torch. The monster cowered, then turned and fled.
‘Spock’ There was confusion mixed with alarm in Jim’s mind-voice
'I am unharmed t'hy'la, creatures of ice do not take well to fire.’
He turned to asses whoever he had rescued… his mind reeled as the bond tried to split, to reach out to the young man in front of him. A young man who, to all his mental recognition if not his eyes, was unmistakably James T. Kirk.
'Of all the ice planets and all the ice caves, he walks into yours, t'hy'la…’
“James T. Kirk” Spock spoke slowly, uncertain whether he was truly addressing the name to the older man hiding further back in the caves, or his young counterpart laying on the snow.
Blue, Blue? eyes filled with confusion as they stared at him “How do you know my name?”
And across the bond, with all the timing of a Greek Chorus came a heavily layered 'Oh Dear…’