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Beneath the earth

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It’s day 116.

 

Jim’s sitting quietly on her bed, that same bed she woke up in right after their abduction, and sighs heavily as she forces her lazy ass to get up and start her day.

 

She locks herself in the bathroom. This is one of those mornings where she likes to take her sweet time while taking a shower, letting the hot water unwind her muscles and playing pleasantly with her fingers, braced on the tiled wall. By the end of it, she gets out of the stall in a better mood and more relaxed.

 

After quickly brushing her teeth and donning her robes, she gets out ready to face the world. Or, more precisely, what has now become her world.

 

A bunker. Her very much imposed new home. A base built underground and made of steel and concrete.

 

Yeah, she’s still not used to it.

 

The corridors are quiet, as usual. There’s no sign of her fellow inmate.

 

Again, as usual.

 

It’s ridiculous, if not terrifying, how vast this place is. There are enough rooms to welcome at least a dozen persons more, even though there’s only one bathroom. A living room and a kitchen. A well equipped training area. And more.

 

For God’s sake, they even have a television with a shelf full of DVDs put right next to it. It’s so farfetched that Jim actually spent her first day here convinced that she would find a secret jacuzzi somewhere.

 

Oh, wait, no. That was on the second day. On the first, she wasted hours of her life she’ll never get back frantically searching for a way out.

 

Whoever put them here obviously wanted them to be comfortable.

 

Well, fuck them.

 

Not only is the bunker luxurious, but it’s also surprisingly very near self-sufficient. If they could grow their own food, then she’s pretty sure they would be able to spend decades here without encountering any problem. But they can’t, so it’s irrelevant. Besides, she’s not planning on spending the rest of her life down here.

 

Every two weeks, their captors beam them their food down, accompanied with other necessities they might need. Like it’s some kind of ridiculous internet grocery shopping, delivered directly at home. That’s how they manage not to starve; because there’s someone up there who’s been taking care of them ever since they woke up here.

 

Jim wishes she could wrap her hands around that someone’s neck and strangle them to death. At some point in the near future, she definitely will.

 

Today’s the day and she goes to lie lazily on the couch, waiting for the delivery.

 

“Come on,” she mumbles grumpily. “What are you waiting for, asshole?”

 

She waits a few minutes. Leaves to make herself a cup of coffee and comes back to sit on the couch. Gets up once more when she finishes her beverage and washes her glass without a word.

 

Risking a glance at the corridor, she entertains the idea of searching for her companion. Not particularly because she wants to, but because the deadly silence around her is starting to get to her.

 

Just as she’s about to go look for him in his room, a swirl of light appears in the middle of the living room and, there they are. Boxes full of food and others things they might need.

 

“Hallelujah. It’s about time.”

 

“They say speaking to one self is the first sign of insanity.”

 

Jim jumps, scowling as she comes face to face with Ambassador Sarek. The mocking tone is enough to remind her why she didn’t want to go to him in the first place. She doesn’t exactly appreciate the condescension.

 

“Come help me out,” she orders instead.

 

They grab the boxes and bring them to the kitchen, putting them on the table to sort through them. Usually, Jim is the one who takes care of this task and she doesn’t care enough to ask why Sarek decided to suddenly change their habits today.

 

It’s painfully obvious that he’s not used to it, if only because he opens practically all the cupboards in search of the right places to store the groceries. It makes sense, as she’s usually the one who prepares their meals and she suspects that Sarek simply eats the leftovers when she doesn’t.

 

She could point out that they have a small pantry right next to the fridge, but oh, well.

 

When he still doesn’t manage to stow the small pack of rice, Jim stifles a laugh. Serves him right for not helping out for so long. But then Sarek reaches for a particular cupboard and Jim immediately stops him.

 

“Wait, no,” she says hastily. “That’s not where it goes. There’s a pantry right here, you can put the rice there. Just don’t take anything from this cupboard, okay. This one’s off limits.”

 

Sarek’s features barely twitch, and yet she knows he’s incredulous behind that calm facade. After all this time living together, she’s pretty sure she became a master at deciphering the Ambassador’s many indifferent faces.

 

Honestly, she should have known that her words would arouse his curiosity. Sarek promptly opens the cupboard and frowns when he sees it already staffed with food. He puts the pack of rice down and takes a tin can from the storage space, watching it curiously.

 

“There’s enough food to lasts us for at least two months, in there,” Jim explains. “It’s just a precaution, alright?”

 

Every two weeks, after the beam down, she stores whatever she can in that cupboard. Only the nonperishable food items and some bottles of water make it in there. It’s not much, as most of what they receive is fresh. And they don’t receive a lot. They don’t exactly need to, considering they’re supplied fairly regularly. But because Jim keeps replenishing her secret stash, they end up skipping a meal or two during those two weeks.

 

She would have thought that Sarek would see the logic in that decision, but judging by his hypercritical expression, it’s clearly not the case.

 

“This is a waste,” he states coldly. “Your paranoia is preventing us from beneficiating from fully nutritious meals. You have not eaten a properly in 1.7 days.”

 

She stiffens, taking a moment to fight back against the raw anger that threatens to overcome her. Ok, so they may not be eating to their hearts content every day, but they’re doing just fine. 

 

“It’s not like we’re starving,” she spits out disgustingly. Trust me, I’d know. “We just need to be smart here.”

 

Of course, Sarek doesn’t agree with her.

 

“Our captors have gone to great lengths in order to make the living conditions in this bunker as comfortable as possible and provide us with all the resources we might possibly need. Moreover, we have been receiving sustenance every 12.5 days without fail. I doubt they will ever stop feeding us, if that is what you are worried about,” he remarks drily.

 

“You don’t know that.”

 

“It is the most likely scenario. Whoever is behind this farce is keeping us alive for a reason. Surely, you understand that.”

 

Jim takes a deep, calming breath. “We should be prepared anyway, just in case the routine changes. They might one day decide to stop beaming the food down here. If that happens, we’ll have to make do with what we have until the rescue party arrives.”

 

Sarek’s expression changes slightly and her hand itches to slap the newly formed condescending look off his face. “You are not denied of intellect, Captain, and you should know by now that the chances of us being rescued after all this time are—”

 

“Don’t,” Jim snaps at him.

 

Sarek’s mouth closes shut but he scowls right back at her, as emotionlessly as possible of course, and they enter a glaring contest that Jim does not plan to lose.

 

Not this time, you fucking bastard.

 

To her great satisfaction, the Vulcan is the one who turns away first, putting the tin can back in the cupboard without a word. They go back to sorting the food in silence, each making sure to stay well out of the other’s way. Once they finish, they both walk at opposite sides of the bunker to their respective spots, where they’ll probably stay until lunch time. At which point, they will reunite in the kitchen and share a quiet, unpleasant meal.

 

Yeah, that’s their routine.

 

She doesn’t actually know where Sarek goes to hide when he can’t stand to see her face anymore. This place is incredibly huge, after all. But she suspects he just locks himself in his room and tries to meditate his frustration away.

 

When she feels particularly immature, she finds herself hoping that he doesn’t succeed. 

 

For her part, she just buries herself in the library. Because, yes, they also have a library. She adores reading and it provided her a much needed escape in the beginning, but she stopped doing it as much lately. She’s finished so many books that it sort of depresses her now; it means she already spent too much time here.

 

Jim honestly doesn’t know what she’s even doing here. 4 months ago, the Enteprise had been called back on Earth after a terrorist attack on Starfleet’s headquarters. The ship had just docked at destination when the group responsible for the attack made their demands known; they wanted New Vulcan to pull out of the Federation.

 

The last thing Jim remembers is accompanying Spock to the Vulcan embassy and running into the Ambassador. Next thing she knows, she’s waking up underground.

 

 Jim closes her eyes, heart clenching painfully at the thought of her First Officer.

 

God, Spock, where are you?

 

She shakes her head; no, she’s not going there.

 

In any case, she’s practically sure that Sarek was the true target of the abduction. What with the attack and him being on the council; it just makes sense. Jim was just… at the wrong place, at the wrong time. She’s collateral damage.

 

Or she could be entirely wrong and she’s the one who actually brought Sarek into this mess. Jim won't truly know until their captors make contact and finally fucking explain what it is that they want with them.

 

They don’t get along, her and Sarek. God knows she tried to, in the beginning. But the man is so closed off and cold that it makes it impossible to find an opening. They barely talk to one another and when they do, he treats her like a child instead of the respected Captain that she is.

 

She can understand that the situation is overwhelming for Sarek in a way it isn’t for her. She’s a soldier and she’s survived worse things than a luxury bunker. Sarek of Vulcan is not weak, far from it, but he’s a civilian who was born into the equivalent of royalty and probably never had to lift a finger in his own house. That’s not saying that he’s lazy, not at all, but the man simply doesn’t know what to do with himself when he’s not negotiating diplomatic treaties or working for the well-being of his people.

 

Sarek could probably put an end to a war without breaking a sweat, but give him a household task to accomplish and suddenly he has two left feet.

 

It makes her sad, in a way. Spock would probably be disappointed that his father and captain can’t seem to stand each other.

 

Sighing in frustration, she walks towards the other side of the library. Her mess is still there, scattered across the carpet, and she promptly sits down in front of it. As of now, she’s managed to salvage the electronic parts of a few devices: the remote controller, the DVD player, the toaster… anything she could get her hands on that aren’t exactly essential for their daily lives. She’s gathered enough parts to finally start building instead of disassembling.

 

This little project of hers came to life thanks to the power of boredom. Honestly, she just needed something to do. She hadn’t actually believed that it could turn into something useful, but the more she worked on it, the more the idea took forms and became more plausible.

 

She’s trying to build a communicator.

 

Trying being the key word, here. Engineering has never been her forte; she’s much more at ease with mechanics. But she does have some knowledge, the advantage of having spent four years around the influence of an incredibly smart Vulcan and a ridiculously brilliant Scottish madman, her newfound determination and the books.

 

Because, somehow, their captors were dumb enough to leave behind precious books whose subjects range from electrophysics to power systems.

 

The library quickly turned into Ali Baba’s cave after that.

 

Jim’s still not getting her hopes up. Much. And she hasn’t told Sarek about what it is exactly she’s doing in here. This room is basically her turf, so the Vulcan tends to stay away. But she knows she’s going to have to tell him eventually. Hell, she should have told him when she first started this project. She’s just not sure she’ll be able to handle it if Sarek shoots down her idea and deems it impossible to realize.

 

In the end, the decision is taken from her hands. She’s barely been working for an hour when she hears someone clearing their throat behind her.

 

Jim freezes, slowly turning around to meet Sarek’s questioning gaze. Bracing herself, she waits for the inevitable comment, but nothings comes. Sarek simply contemplate the mess around her and, for once, he doesn’t look derisive.

 

He might even look impressed.

 

“You are building a communicator,” he states.

 

Jim swallows nervously. “I—…” She shakes her head, chiding herself. She has absolutely no reason to be nervous. “Yes, I am.”

 

Well. If Sarek guessed what she was trying to build with just one look at her crap, then maybe that project wasn’t completely hopeless, after all.

 

“I might be able to help,” Sarek finally says, waiting until Jim looks up once more to add, “if you will allow me.”

 

Jim frowns. Half of the work is done already, and she doesn’t actually need his help with finishing the other half.

 

But unless her eyes are playing her tricks, she could swear that, for the first time since they woke up here, Sarek looks unsure of himself.

 

He’s as lost as you are. This situation has to be freaking him out too.

 

Don’t be a dick, Kirk.

 

“Sure,” she agrees amiably. “Could you go get us the microwave? I think we can salvage the rest of what we need with it.”

 

Jim’s pleasantly surprised to observe that Sarek works quickly, his mind sharp and alert as he focuses on his part. She doesn’t know why she expected any differently, really. The guy’s a Vulcan, so of course he’s smart. And he’s Spock’s father, so he must be even smarter than a regular Vulcan.

 

For once, the silence between them isn’t suffocating. It’s comforting. At some point, she even starts humming the tune of one of Bones’ favorite song and, apart from a quick glance towards her, Sarek doesn’t comment. The dismounting process takes time, but they work fast; certainly faster than she expected. It’s only when Sarek gets up and comes back with a plate full of fruits that he puts on the small table besides them that she realizes that they skipped lunch and dinner.

 

She thanks him with a smile. He nods wordlessly. They get back to work.

 

A few hours later, Jim is the one who finally calls it a night.

 

“Alright, I’m beat,” she yawns as she stretches her arms behind her. “Let’s continue tomorrow.”

 

Despite her exhaustion, she feels a thrill of excitement coursing through her. The communicating device they’re making finally starts to look like something workable and if they keep up with the pace they’ve set, they could have it operational by tomorrow night.

 

God, tomorrow night. Their range will be shitty as hell, but all it takes is one message, heard by the right person.

 

It suddenly feels too real. Up until now, the homemade communicator has been a little project she didn’t even completely believe in. It might work. It might not. Who knew? But now it’s here and they have a real, tangible chance.

 

Jim’s so nervous, she might throw up.

 

“Sarek,” she simply says, unable to take her eyes off the device.

 

A beat of silence. Then. “I know, Kirk.” There’s no hiding the enthusiasm in his voice either.

 

Jim grins when she looks at the Vulcan and it turns into a joyful laugh as she catches him smiling right back at her.

 

She’s tempted to stay and keep working until it’s finished, but she doesn’t want to make a mistake because she’ll be too tired or too thrilled to think properly.  So with great difficulty, they both tear themselves away from the library and walk back to their rooms. It occurs to her that they just spent hours together without the usual tensions that follow them everywhere. Hell, she might even call it a nice moment.

 

God, she hopes that it’s not a fluke.

 

She should have known things couldn’t possibly be that easy.

 


 

The next morning, as Jim walks still half asleep to the kitchen and prepares herself a cup of coffee, she absentmindedly puts two slices of bread in the toaster, closing her eyes in delight once she can take a first sip of her beverage.

 

Wait.

 

The toaster.

 

Jim’s eyes snap opened and she stares at the sight before her in growing horror.

 

There’s a new toaster in the kitchen. And next to it, a new microwave has replaced the old one that Sarek disassembled just the day before.

 

“No, no, no,” Jim stutters as she takes off running to the library. “Sarek!” She yells. “Sarek, wake up!”

 

It turns out she didn’t even need to call the man. Sarek is already there, sitting on one of the chairs, shoulders dropped in defeat as he stares at the now empty library.

 

He doesn’t turn around when Jim comes to a stop behind him.

 

It’s all gone. The mess they’ve left last night, the disassembled parts, the half finished circuits, the communicator… the room has been cleared of everything.

 

Breath caught and chocking in her tight throat, Jim’s eyes fall on the small table. The plate is still here. It’s the only thing the intruders left behind.

 

The only thing that acts as proof that their miraculous way out had truly existed, but was taken from them before they got the chance to use it.

 

A scream of frustration escapes Jim and she grabs the plate, throwing it as hard as she can against the wall. It breaks into a dozen of pieces. Unsurprisingly, that doesn’t assuage her at all.

 

She wants nothing more than to curl into a pathetic ball, right here on the floor, and cry her heart out, but she won’t give those bastards the satisfaction.

 

Someone came into the bunker while they were sleeping to get rid of the communicator. And if they knew about the device, then it means that they could observe Jim and Sarek while they were building it.

 

They don’t actually say it, but she has no doubt that Sarek knows as well as she does that there’s only one possible explanation.

 

They're being watched.