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Beneath the earth

Chapter Text

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.

 

 

Chapter Text

Looking back, Jim should have known this would happen.

 

They had grown too complacent, Sarek and her. It made them careless. But to be fair, they had already searched the place thoroughly for surveillance devices, knowing that there was a high probability they were being watched. That’s the first thing they did when they first arrived here. At the time, nothing had been found and eventually, for her own peace of mind, Jim simply stopped thinking about the issue altogether.

 

The loss of the communicator is on her. She should have been more careful. She never should have let the device out of her sight. She should have—… done something, anything. Certainly, she should have been better prepared. But she hadn’t been, and now they’re paying the price of that negligence.

 

She’s barely been out of her room since it happened. All her energy was put into the construction of that small, yet precious device. Her drive was stolen alongside that communicator. Now, she’s just… apathetic. Merely existing and uninterested in what could be happening in the rest of the bunker. She just doesn’t have it in her to care anymore.

 

At least, she can say that there’s one good thing that came out of this utter disaster, and that’s her tentative truce with Sarek. The Vulcan has been taking care of her since she turned into a ghost; bringing her meals and making sure she eats them before departing as quietly as he came. That the food’s nearly inedible is irrelevant, Jim’s still touched by the attention. Most of the time, Sarek leaves her entirely alone all day. But the rare moments they do spend together are always full of silence. Jim’s strangely grateful for that. His steady presence alone is comforting.

 

Her self-imposed exile leaves her with some time to think. She constantly rewinds those fateful hours in her head, tries to understand the how? How these people could have invaded the bunker with them sleeping next doors? How both her and Sarek failed to notice the intrusion while it was happening?

 

And then, the realization hits her like a baseball bat between the eyes. Not even a few seconds later, Jim’s storming into the library like a hurricane.

 

“We should have heard them,” she announces without preamble. Sarek looks up at her but doesn’t say anything in response to her abrupt entrance. “They made sure to clean up and replace all the equipment we took apart. That takes time. And it makes noise. There’s just no way they could have done all of that without waking us up at some point. The walls aren’t soundproof. I would have woken up.”

 

The wheels are turning in her head; have been since the theft, really. But in her despair, she hadn’t been able to make the connection sooner.

 

Sarek slowly lowers his book, black eyes fixed on her, sharp and attentive.  “What conclusion do you derive from those facts?”

 

He doesn’t look even the tiny bit surprised by her outburst and Jim holds back a bitter laugh at that. Of course he knows. Hell, he probably figured it out the second he entered the library.

 

Nonetheless, she needs to share her discovery out loud.

 

“We’ve been drugged,” she says and Sarek nods.

 

“I, too, have entertained that possibility,” he reveals, unperturbed. “And I surmise that it would not have been difficult for our captors to do so.”

 

Jim glances up at the ceiling, eyes fixing on a black grid. “The ventilation system?”

 

“Most likely. It certainly would have been easy to use it in order to fulfill such purpose,” Sarek agrees. “It seems to be the only logical explanation to me.”

 

But that’s not it. Not entirely. Jim’s certain that sh’s still missing something here. A piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit with the whole picture. She can’t figure out what it is, but she knows it’s there, just at the tip of her finger but unable to fully grasp it.

 

In her frustration, she looks at Sarek once more.

 

Sarek, who calmly went back to reading his book as if Jim’s not currently losing her mind right now. Sarek, who hasn’t once lost his cool since their abduction. Sarek, who’s always seemed so certain that they had nothing to fear, that their needs would be taken care of, that Jim’s paranoia was absurd.

 

Vulcan control isn’t synonymous with complete indifference. Jim knows that, she’s witnessed it firsthand. Sarek shouldn’t be this calm, this comforted in his belief that they would be alright, and he wouldn’t be unless—

 

The pieces reassemble; click perfectly together to form a new picture, clear and sharp.

 

« Holy shit, » Jim breathes out in disbelief. “You know who’s behind this.”

 

Sarek stiffens. Jim’s doubts turn into cold certainty.

 

“You have got to be fucking—… You know? You’ve known all this time and you haven’t told me? What the flying fuck, Sarek?!”

 

“Calm down, Kirk,” Sarek grits out between his teeth.

 

“No, I will not fucking calm down!” Jim howls in fury. “I asked you! You said you didn’t know!”

 

Sarek lifts an eyebrow and, God, she wants to punch him so badly it makes her hands shake. “And I do not. I can only postulate base on the little information I possess and have no way of proving my assumptions right. Do not tell me you have not hypothesized about our predicament as well. ”

 

“Of course, I have! But it’s all just theories whereas you know what’s really going on here.”

 

“Do not force me to repeat myself, I just told you that I—…”

 

“Ok, fine, but I’d bet that you’re pretty certain about these ‘assumptions’, aren’t you?” A beat of silence and she has her answer. “You two-faced, manipulative bastard. Vulcans don’t lie, uh? What a bull of crap.”

 

She turns away in disgust, unable to bear the sight of that treacherous face any longer. Her anger runs deep and strong and she wants to let it out, wants to take it out on the man, wants him to understand how fucking cruel and sadistic it was for him to keep that information from her. But that won’t help her now. What she needs is a cool head to think. So she takes a deep breath. Then a second. Then a third. She just keeps breathing until her hands finally stop shaking and she’s certain she won’t use them to hurt the Vulcan.

 

Not turning around, she asks “Who is it?”

 

She hears the shuffle of his robes behind her, a sign that he got up from his armchair. “Please, keep in mind that I cannot be entirely certain about my hypothesis.”

 

She turns around wildly and grits het teeth. “Who . is . it ?”

 

The bastard has the guts to look, well, if not hurt, then uncomfortable by her attitude. He takes his unfinished book in his hands and goes to put it back in place on the shelf. Just when Jim thinks that she is going to strangle him to death, the man sighs and his shoulders slump in defeat.

 

“I believe, and as of yet, it is only a belief, that our culprit may be my son.”

 

Jim blinks. Once. Twice.

 

Then she snaps.

 

“What the—… You think Spock is the one behind all of this? Spock?! Ok, now I know you’ve lost it. You need help, Ambassador. You’re sick in the head. I can’t even—…Spock? How dare you? How dare you, you two-faced jackass?!”

 

“Captain—…”

 

“He’d—… Spock is the most loyal, kind, compassionate man I’ve ever known and—… God, you could live a thousand lives and still not deserve a son like him. In fact, he’s probably the only good thing you’ve ever done in your whole miserable life. That you can accuse him of doing something like this? You own son? Fucking unbelievable.”

 

“If I could just—…”

 

“Do you even know him at all? Do you? No, you know what, I don’t even care. Take that bullshit out of your head right now, or I swear to God, I will fucking kick your—…”

 

“Jim, enough!”

 

She’s surprised enough by the use of her name that it stops her in her rant. She closes her mouth, jaw clenched and teeth gritting, glaring at Sarek with so much hatred that it shakes him a little. It’s obvious in the way he takes a small step backwards, looking simultaneously fearful and impressed.

 

“You dedication to Spock is truly something to be admired. However, it is entirely unnecessary.” The way he utters those words angers her even more and, probably realizing that she’s about to kill him with her bare hands, Sarek quickly explains himself. “The one whom I was speaking of is my eldest son, Sybok. Spock’s half-brother.”

 

Jim freezes, her fist raised midway.

 

A brother?

 

What brother?!

 

Since when did Spock have a brother?!!

 

Her mind goes blank, truly, because out of all the possibilities that could have explained their current situation, she certainly never expected this one.

 

All her fury abandons her at once, leaving nothing but incredulous confusion behind. She’s so entirely flabbergasted that the only thing that comes out of her mouth is a pitiful “Oh”.

 

Sarek regards her severely. “Indeed.”

 

Suddenly feeling very foolish, Jim rubs the back of her neck. “I didn’t know Spock had a brother.”

 

Sarek averted his gaze. “He would not have told you. Sybok was declared Ktorr Skann and, as a result, is no longer a part of our household. To speak is name is anathema.”

 

That leaves her even more confused, if possible. “I don’t understand,”

 

“It is not necessary for you to understand. You asked for a name, not the story behind it,” Sarek says harshly before stomping out of the library, disappearing from her sight.

 

**

 

The first thing Jim decides, once she manages to process what happened, is that she has no reason to feel guilty. None. Sarek’s the one in the wrong here. He’s the one who deliberately kept important information from her. For months, he let her obsess over the identity of their mysterious captor and allowed her paranoia to grow when he could have offered her some peace of mind instead.

 

Guilt has no place here. She has a right to her anger.

 

However… she supposes she can try to understand his position. In fact, if she were to give him the benefit of the doubt, then she could consider the fact that he wasn’t exactly lying to her as much as he was lying to himself. Whatever this Sybok has done in the past must have been massive for him to be exiled and literally scrapped from the family tree. Annoying as he may be, Jim knows that Sarek loves Spock. She can only imagine that he feels the same love for Sybok, however hidden and repressed those feelings might be. It must have been unthinkable at first to imagine his own son capable of all of this. Abduction, sequestration and god knows what else.

 

Had she been in Sarek’s place, Jim would have refused to admit the truth. She would have searched for every other possibilities before even entertaining the idea that someone she loved could be capable of doing this to her. Damn the facts and damn the proofs and damn the logic.

 

So no. She cannot even begin to imagine what Sarek must be feeling right now.

 

Pacing in front of Sarek’s room, she finally decides that enough is enough. Jim might feel sorry for the guy, but she still needs answers. Lifting her hand, she swallows nervously and knocks on the door.

 

No answer.

 

“Sarek?”

 

Still nothing.

 

A deep sigh. “Are we really going to do this? You can’t avoid me forever, you know. We’re kind of stuck with each other right now.”

 

She waits, but Sarek stays silent.

 

Jim bites back her frustration. “Listen, I know this must be a pretty sensitive subject for you. I get that. But I’m part of this mess now, just as much as you are, and if I’m going to spend the rest of my life trapped underground, I think I deserve to know why.”

 

Again, there’s no response coming from the other side. Jim sighs, pressing her forehead to the closed door in defeat. Just when she’s about to give up, she hears something coming from the other side. A few seconds later and Sarek finally shows himself.

 

“Indeed, you do,” he says tiredly.

 

He opens his door wider in a silent invitation and Jim enters the room without a word. She’s never been inside Sarek’s bedroom, and while she doesn’t exactly feel unwelcomed here, she does somehow feel out of place. Still, she slowly sits on the edge of the bed, watching as Sarek takes place next to her.

 

The man’s eyes are fixed on the wall in front of them, but Jim can practically see the wheels turning as he’s trying to find a way to start the conversation.

 

“You don’t have to tell me everything,” she eventually says quietly. “I won’t force you to share your family’s history. Not if it’s not relevant to our situation.”

 

Sarek gives a short nod. Posture straight, hands clasped on his lap, dark eyes fixed on the wall in front of them. “You are not unaware that New Vulcan has been subject to political upheavals this past year?”

 

Jim frowns. “ I know there’s been talks of leaving the Federation,” she says uneasily. The idea still seems unthinkable to her.

 

“Indeed,” Sarek says. “The destruction of our planet has profoundly shaken our people’s beliefs and, unfortunately, some of them blame our reliance on the Federation for it. According to them, had we not been so dependent on Starfleet to protect us, we might have been able to defend ourselves and save Vulcan from its fate.”

 

Jim’s eyes widen in surprise. Sarek catches her look and adds, more gently: ”Emotionless as your people believe us to be, Captain, I assure you we are still capable of grief.”

 

“I know that,” she reassures quickly. “I just didn’t think the resentment towards Starfleet ran so deep.”

 

She remembers the bloody battlefield that awaited them when the Enterprise finally arrived that tragic day. Dozens of ships torn into pieces as if they were nothing, only mere flies in Nero’s eyes.

 

All her classmates and fellow cadets were part of that rescue mission. Only few of them managed to survive the massacre. Years later and she can still remember the oppressing silence filling the Academy’s corridors after their return, devoid of the young souls who didn’t live long enough to see past their first assignment.

 

Quietly. Dejectedly. “We tried.” And they had miserably failed.

 

It’s Sarek’s turn to reassure her. “I am very well aware of that, Captain. What happened to my planet was a tragedy that no one could have prevented. We did not possess the technology, nor the knowledge to do so. Kaiidth. What is, is.” He exhales quietly. “However, my people are still grieving, still healing. Above all, they need to feel safe once more and the current inclination demonstrates that a growing part of the population do not believe that safety to be achievable within the Federation. The negotiations on a possible adherence of Romulan have not helped matters, as you can well imagine.”

 

Jim shakes her head, astonished. She knew that the Vulcan situation was complex, but she didn’t think things were that bad.

 

“I don’t understand Sybok’s place in all of this. Why would he be interested in the political climate of New Vulcan?”

 

Sarek tenses even more, if possible. “Sybok has… always been a complicated child. Brilliant, but wild. Uncontrollable. As he reached adulthood, it became clear that he had no desire to follow the teachings of Surak and wished to embrace the depth of his emotions wholeheartedly without a single shred of control. You might not perceive such behavior as problematic, Kirk, but make no mistake it is extremely dangerous.”

 

Jim plays with her ring finger, looking at Sarek thoughtfully, trying to fill the blanks of what he left unsaid. “What did Sybok do?” she finally asks softly.

 

Sarek doesn’t answer right away. All at once, his muscles seem to lose their rigidity, shoulders dropping a little with the movement. For a brief moment, he looks exhausted.

 

“It does not matter,” he says. “All you need to know is that our people are on the edge of a new era and Sybok…might see this as an opportunity to impose his way of thinking onto us. To fundamentally change the Vulcan culture in ways that would ultimately send us back to the dark ages.”

 

“I doubt he has the influence,” Jim tries to reassure Sarek. “You said it yourself, he was exiled.”

 

“From Vulcan. With the proper arguments, he might be able convince the Elders that his exile does not apply to the new planet. Should they agree with his assessment, there is a 84.7% chance that he will sit on the Council in my absence.”

 

Jim looks at him long and hard. “You really think it’s him, don’t you?”

 

“It would certainly explain our living arrangements,” Sarek points out, looking at all the comfort around them. “Sybok would not wish me dead. He would simply need me out of the way. You were merely—…”

 

“Collateral damage,” Jim cuts him off bitterly before looking away. She shouldn’t take it out on Sarek. None of this is his fault.

 

They both stay silent after that. The wheels are turning so fast in Jim’s head that the very act of thinking starts to hurt. New data added to previous information which creates new consequences—…

 

Something suddenly occurs to her and her eyes widen in fear. “Wait. Isn’t Spock supposed to sit on the Council after you?”

 

Sarek nods. “It is his right. As well as his duty.”

 

Her blood turns to ice. “Shit. Sybok wouldn’t hurt him, would he?”

 

The Vulcan is already shaking his head. “No. I do not believe him capable of harming his brother.” After a moment of hesitation, he quietly adds. “But he might attempt to bring my son to his side.”

 

Jim bristles. “You can’t possibly believe that Spock would –”

 

“Sybok has always been able to connect with Spock in a way I never could,” Sarek explains. There’s no judgment in his voice, none that Jim can detect anyway. “My son was devastated when he was banished. We have not spoken in so long and with Amanda gone... I simply cannot predict how he would react, if given the choice.”

 

“I can,” Jim says firmly. “I know him. And he would never willingly join Sybok in this madness. Brother or not.”

 

There is no response to that and Jim can only look at Sarek pityingly, full of helpless incomprehension.

 

“Why do you have so little faith in him?”

 

Sarek stiffens. “My son is very dear to me, Captain. Truly. More than you could know.” And she believes him. She already knew beforehand, but even if she hadn’t, the sheer, nearly brutal sincerity of his voice would have been enough to convince her. She nods slowly, and Sarek continues, a little more measured this time. “However, I do not recognize the man he has become. He is but a stranger to me.”

 

Despite the tight control on his emotions, Sarek can’t quite hide the slight touch of sorrow in his tone.  And suddenly, she just feels extremely sad for this man. This lonely father so estranged from his two sons, unable to connect with either of them. One an enemy, the other draped in fake indifference.

 

She coughs loudly to break the heavy atmosphere, forcing cheerfulness in her voice for good measures and patting Sarek’s arm gracelessly. “Well, once your badass son gets us out of here, you’ll have all the time in the world to get to know him.”

 

That comment nearly earns her a smile, she’s sure of it.  But while he has a tight control on his facial features, Sarek can’t hide the newfound warmth in his eyes. “I look forward to it.”

 

“Great,” Her smile becomes a tad hesitant as she remembers all the insults she had hurled at him earlier.

 

Jm clears her throat awkwardly. “Look, Sarek, about what I said—… You know, when I thought that you—… I just, I’m sorry. I was way out of line and I didn’t, well—… Honestly, Bones always tells me that I should learn to keep my mouth shut and, obviously, he’s right. Anyway. It won’t happen again. Sorry.”

 

She cringes all the way through her little speech. When she risks a glance at Sarek, she’s surprised to see the man looking more amused than disapproving by her pitiful apology.

 

“You seem to be extremely protective of my son.”

 

Jim feels her traitorous cheeks reddening. “Well, yeah. I mean, he’s my First Officer,” she laughs nervously, smiling to mask her embarrassment.

 

Sarek says nothing, but the amused glint in his eyes slowly disappears to make place for something else. She might be tempted to call it curiosity, but that’s not it, at least not entirely. It doesn’t sit well with her, that she’s not able to decipher his reactions as well as she would like.

 

Silence settles around the two of them, not tensed, not comfortable either. Jim’s suddenly accurately aware of how close she is to the other man while he studies as one would study a strange specimen. The awkwardness is killing her and she starts to fidget under Sarek’s gaze.

 

As she lowers her eyes, she realizes that her fingers are still curled around Sarek’s elbow.

 

Abruptly, Jim gets up from her place on the bed and claps her hands together. Her enthusiasm seems painfully fake, even to her, but she’s counting on her companion’s obliviousness to hide it. “Well, I’m famished. I’m gonna go grab something in the kitchen. You want anything?”

 

“No,” Sarek answers in an odd tone. “I am in no need of nourishment at this moment.” Then, after a moment of hesitation. “But I thank thee for asking.”

 

Jim nods and quickly leaves the room, her attitude casual enough as to not make it seem like she’s escaping. Which she isn’t. Obviously.  The moment the door is closed securely behind her, she drops her smiling face and frowns.

 

That was weird.

Chapter Text

Jim doesn’t recognize the woman in front of her.

 

Her hair is too long now, shoulder length, and it’s been years since she let her eyebrows get this thick. She’s also gained a little weight thanks to the lack of exercise and Sarek’s refusal to let her skip her meals anymore. It didn’t occur to her to protest. Now that she knows the identity of their captor, her deep rooted fear that they’ll starve to death has been somehow abated.

 

She hesitantly traces her full and rosy cheeks, threads her fingers through her blond locks, brows furrowed as she silently observes the strange image reflected in the mirror. Her chest clenches in unease. 

 

I look just like Mom.

 

She abruptly tears her eyes away from the traitorous reflection, tying her hair into a ponytail and stubbornly blinking back tears that she simply refuses to let out. She swore to herself a long time ago that she wouldn’t cry over that woman anymore and she refuses to break that oath now. She has control over very little less nowadays, but that much she can still do.

 

Only, the thought won’t leave her be for the rest of the day, crawling back mercilessly in the forefront of her mind every time it starts to fade away. Winona Kirk. Jim hasn’t thought about her mother in so long, refused to speak of her or to her for even longer. The rare few times Winona tried to reach out, her pitiful attempts were brushed aside like mere flies. It’s too late now, too much time has passed, and Jim doesn’t need a parent in her life anymore.

 

She used to pray for Winona’s quick return when she was a kid, back when Sam and her still had each other’s back. She would sit by her window and hold her hands tightly together and wish with all the willpower of a 7 years old child for her Mommy to come back and take them away from their nasty stepfather.

 

Then Sam ran away, fled the Kirk family home and never looked back, not even for her. And that’s when Jim knew. Because if her eldest son leaving wasn’t enough of a reason for her mother to come back, then nothing would ever be. Why would Winona care about the little girl that reminded her so much of her late husband, the girl who’s the reason she wasn’t by his side when Nero attacked, when she obviously didn’t give a damn about what little family she had left?

 

That’s the moment she officially grew up, she thinks. Abandoned the safety of childhood, that pretty universe made of dreams and stars and hope, and crashed into the harsh brutality of the real world. No, Winona wouldn’t come back. Sam wouldn’t come back. Dad wouldn’t come back. She had no one, nothing, just an old house filled with bad memories and a guardian who couldn’t care less about her.

 

So she had taken the car. Dad’s car. Her car. Sam gave up all claims on it when he fled like a coward, so it was hers by right, and she would be damned if she let Frank sell it so that he could die of alcohol poisoning even sooner.

 

Two months later, Jim was sent to Tarsus IV.

 

What was it Spock always says? Kaiidth.

 

Anyway, by the time Winona realized that she didn’t want to lose the only child she had left, it was too late. Jim had been so closed up then, it would have taken a bulldozer to get her to open up again. She had been sent into hell disguised as paradise and came out of it sharper, smarter, harsher. All she could give her mother was suspicion tainted with an anger that ran so deep that it marked her into her very bones.

 

She hadn’t wanted Winona anymore. She hadn’t needed Winona anymore. Or perhaps she had, perhaps that dark period of her life was when she had needed her mother the most, to hold her despite her harsh rebuttals, to fight for her despite the cold indifference, to decide that Jim was enough and to just stay.

 

Winona barely made it two years on the ground before she took off again.

 

But maybe—… Jim’s older now, a little wiser, she hopes, and she’s now reached a place where she can try to put herself in her mother’s shoes and see things from her perspective. As a child, a teenager, a young adult, it had been so easy to blame everything on her and see her as the devil, but the truth is, Jim has no idea why Winona acted the way she did.

 

Perhaps what she took for complete indifference in regards of Sam’s disappearance was in fact fear in its most brutal form, the kind that only a terrorized parent could ever know. Perhaps Winona had spent days, weeks, months searching for her missing child. Perhaps she had found Sam and tried to convince him to return home with her. Perhaps her brother refused and Winona made the necessary arrangements to make sure he would be alright. Perhaps she’s known all these years where Sam was hiding and chose not to say anything out of respect for her son’s decision.

 

And perhaps Winona had truly believed that her leaving was the best thing she could do for Jim at the time. Back then, they had been constantly at each other’s throats; screaming matches and verbal fights and tongue lashings, all of it. It wouldn’t be surprising if Winona had thought that the only way for Jim to start to heal was for her to disappear from the picture.

 

Jim doesn’t know. She doesn’t know because they never spoke of it, never took the time to sit down and talk about any of it. So here she is, as a 30 years old respected Captain who supposedly has her life back together, and she can’t even begin to understand why Winona left them with Frank, why she married the lazy bastard in the first place, why she took assignment after assignment when she could have been with them instead.

 

Sadly, she probably won’t ever get the answers to those questions.

 

And later that day, as she lays on the thick carpet of the living room and stares at the ceiling, maybe that’s why she finds herself opening up to Sarek without truly meaning to, simply because she wants to speak the words out loud.

 

« I miss my Mom. »

 

At first, there’s no response. Jim’s not really expecting one, really. But as she throws a quick glance to the side, she sees Sarek slowly lowering his book on his lap, a clear sign that she has all his attention.

 

It’s strange. She spent so many years deliberately avoiding the subject of family, refusing to even think about the past she was leaving behind when she escaped Riverside. But here, in the space of the too quiet bunker, cut off from everything and everyone, the confession comes easily to her.

 

“I was angry at her for so long,” she whispers. “And I still am. After all this time, I don’t think I know how to not be angry at her.” Her voice is thick with regret. “But she—… She loved us, I think.”

 

Sarek frowned. “You think?”

 

Well, maybe she’s being unfair. She won’t rewrite history. She won’t pretend that Winona Kirk was a perfect mother. She hadn’t been, far from it, and Jim is entitled to her anger and resentment. She is and she will not apologize for that. But maybe – …

 

The rare times Winona had been home, she always used to pull her and Sam into bones crushing hugs, keeping them close to her chest and paint their faces with kisses until both kids shrieked with laughter.

 

Jim also remembers her mother’s reaction when they had finally been rescued from Tarsus IV. Winona had dropped on her knees in front of her as easily as a puppet whose strings have been cut, face drenched in tears, holding her shaking hands towards Jim as if it was taking everything inside of her not to hold her tight and never let go again. Still, she had held back, perfectly aware that her daughter couldn’t stand to be physically touched, not back then and especially not by her.

 

That hadn’t stopped Winona from sleeping on the floor next to Jim’s bed for weeks after she returned home, staying quiet as her daughter woke up screaming from nightmares and waiting until she stopped crying to sooth her with stories of her father. The firsts she had ever told her.

 

Jim only got to know later on that Winona had kicked Frank out of the house and filled for a divorce mere days after sending Jim to her aunt and uncle. That trip to Tarsus was supposed to keep her away from the ugly aftermath of their separation. It was supposed to protect her.

 

What a cruel cosmic joke.

 

“No, I know,” Jim says quietly. “Despite everything, my mom loved us. And she tried her best, she did, it’s just….” She tries to push past the lump in her throat and can’t stop her voice from shaking a little. “I wish her best had been enough.”

 

Her eyes are wet and she curses, rubbing them furiously and letting out a choked laugh. Shaking her head at her own ridiculousness, she turns towards Sarek and is relieved to see that there isn’t any pity in his eyes, just a small spark of understanding.

 

“I’m sorry,” she sniffs. “You probably don’t want to hear about all of this. Forget I said anything.” She plasters a smile on her face and gets up. “I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

 

To her utter shock, Sarek speaks just as she starts to walk away. “ Amanda’s absence is still keenly felt,” he admits quietly.

 

It hurts something in her in a way her own confession hasn’t and, all of a sudden, Jim feels her chest swells with so much compassion for this man that she fears it’s going to burst out of her.

 

“Sybok will let us go eventually,” Sarek says softly. “Do not lose faith, Kirk.”

 

“I won’t,” she promises.

 

Jim hesitantly puts her hand on his shoulder, the gesture simultaneously grateful and comforting, and doesn’t let go for a little while.

 

 


 

 

They’re eating the dinner she’s prepared for them, because Sarek cannot for the life of him cook anything edible or at least tolerable to human taste buds, when the man apparently decides that now is a perfectly fine moment to try to assassinate her via pure mortification.

 

“Are you romantically involved with my son?”

 

Jim chokes on her food.

 

What the—…

 

The back of her throat burns with the harsh coughs, but frankly she couldn’t care less about that right now. Once she regains control of her breathing, she wildly snaps her gaze back to the imperturbable Vulcan.

 

“I—… I’m sorry, what?”

 

Sarek lifts an eyebrow. “It was a simple question, Captain. One not asked in an attempt to judge you, fear not.” 

 

“No!” Jim sputtered helplessly. “We’re not—… I don’t—…Why would you even—…”

 

The eyebrow goes higher, if possible, the only sign of Sarek’s skepticism.

 

“We’re not!” Jim insists.

 

“You speak of him more than you speak of anyone else.”

 

“No, I don’t!”

 

Sarek appears unimpressed by her attitude, as if she’s being the difficult one. “78.6% of our conversations, and quarrels, have revolved around the subject of my son. Even by your standards, that seems to be a rather high rate, is it not?”

 

78.6—… Jim’s cheeks heat up traitorously. God, how much more transparent can she be?

 

“Truly, I make no judgment,” Sarek keeps insisting ridiculously, as if she isn’t currently dying of embarrassment. “I happen to believe that you would be a perfectly fine mate for Spock, even if such choice might be considered ill-advised in the long term.”

 

“A perfectly—… I’m not his mate!” Jim screeches in horror, her face now on fire.

 

The too strong insistence echoes around them and Jim feels absolutely humiliated by this entire situation.

 

“Forgive me,” A strange look filters behind Sarek’s eyes. “I meant no insult.”

 

She flinches, looking down at her hands. “It wasn’t one,” Far from it. “Anyone would be lucky to have a man such as Spock as their life partner.” She swallows hard, doesn’t look up. “But we’re not—… He’s my First Officer. And a good friend. Nothing more.”

 

She tries very hard not to infuse those last words with disappointment.  Sadly, she doesn’t entirely succeed and it embarrasses her even more, because Sarek must see right through her. Just when she thinks that he’s going to call her out on it, his next words throw her off even more.

 

“If you and he are not romantically involved, then I gather he is still in a committed relationship with that communication officer?”

 

Jim frowns. “You mean Nyota?”

 

“Is that her name? Spock never did see it fit to introduce us properly.” There’s a note of displeasure in Sarek’s tone. “I remember her from my short time on the Enterprise. She seemed like a remarkable woman.”

 

“She is, she’s amazing. She’s also the best communication officer in the entire fleet.” Not to mention drop dead gorgeous.

 

Sarek nods, clearly pleased with his son’s choice.  And why would he not be? Uhura is smart and kind and funny, but not in an obnoxious way, not the way Jim is, and she’s also incredibly respectful of Spock’s culture and it’s honestly no wonder that he fell for her in the first place but—…

 

Jim had been so sure that they had broken up. Up until a few seconds ago, she had been convinced of that fact. And she can’t remember Spock ever telling her that he and Uhura were done, that’s true, but how could they not be? Back on the Enterprise, Spock used to spend all of his free time with Jim. When they were not playing chess, then they were eating together in the mess hall or training until Spock forcedly dragged her back to her quarters because “do not be ridiculous, Captain, your human body cannot withstand the same training regimen as mine and I will not have you risking your health in such careless manner.”

 

That leaves very little time for a possible girlfriend.

 

Spock calls her Jim. Always in private, when it’s just the two of them, but he does and that’s something big. She’s the only one who’s allowed to see his secretive smiles or witness his genuine excitement over every new scientific discovery, and she knows that she hasn’t imagined the fond gazes directed at her from time to time or the way his shoulder would lean against hers as they silently worked together on endless reports until late at night.

 

They share something. A connection, more intense that anything she’s ever felt before, that snapped between them so fast and so strongly that it used to scare the hell out of Jim. Even now, she doesn’t exactly know how she went from hating the man’s guts to wanting him constantly by her side, his support slowly becoming as necessary as the air she breathes.

 

It can’t be one sided … or is it?

 

“Why—…” Her voice sounds too weak and she coughs, willing some strength back into it.  “How exactly does me not being with Spock equal that he’s in a relationship with someone else? I mean, what’s the correlation between the two?”

 

His response punches the air right out of her lungs. “Well, why else would he enquire about mating bonds?”

 

Jim feels her insides turn to ice. “What?” she asks quietly.

 

Sarek doesn’t shrug, but the way he tilts his head gives the same impression. He looks entirely unperturbed, as if he hasn’t just turned her world upside down with those few words.

 

“You said you haven’t spoken to him in a long time,” she can’t help but point out a little desperately. How would he ever know about this if he and Spock are as estranged as Sarek pretends they are?

 

“And we have not. Not in length and certainly not in a manner that would allow me to be more familiar about the sort of life he is currently living. As you can see, I was not even aware of the identity of his mate. Frankly, Captain, I do not believe he would come to me at all if not for the fact that I was the only one who could answer his questions.”

 

Jim thinks she’s going to throw up. Mate.

 

“Because you’re the first Vulcan to have ever married a Human,” she says weakly.

 

Sarek nodded. “Yes.”

 

She shouldn’t ask, she shouldn’t—… “What did you tell him?”

 

“That it was illogical to search for a potential mate elsewhere when a compatible mind could be found within his own species and that it would be no bother to set up a satisfying match for him should he require my help to do so.”

 

She looks at him incredulously. And she thought Winona was tactless. “Bet that didn’t go well, uh?”

 

Sarek’s tone suddenly takes a more serious and somber tone and it cuts off any more sarcastic remarks she might have had.

 

“Our lifespan is much longer than yours, Captain, and the loss of a telepathic bond is an incredibly painful and excruciating process for the mind. More so if the brutal death of one party causes that link to break. I—… I do not wish my son to ever know of that agony. I believe that is my right as his father.”

 

Jim feels small under the uncanny intensity of his gaze. Still, she’s unable to look away. “But you married Amanda.”

 

If possible, Sarek’s eyes darken even more. “Yes.”

 

“Why?” she pushes.

 

Sarek opens his mouth, closes it, and shakes his head. “As ambassador to Earth, it was my duty to observe and understand Human behavior. Marrying Spock’s mother was … logical.”

 

You’re lying, Jim wants to scream. You loved Amanda and then you lost her before her time and now you don’t want your son to suffer the same fate. Why won’t you just admit it?

 

Instead, she keeps her mouth shut and says nothing, suddenly feeling extremely tired and defeated.

 

I’m such a fool.

 

“I see that the subject has made you uncomfortable,” Sarek says oddly. “I apologize, it was not my intention.”

 

“No, it’s okay.” Jim lies easily, turning her attention back to her unfinished meal. “Spock and Uhura, uh? I’m sure they’ll be happy together. Wouldn’t want to miss the wedding.”

 

“I also would like to be present at their bonding ceremony,” she hears Sarek say.

 

Her appetite is all but gone, but she lifts her spoon and forces the food into her mouth. It has strangely become tasteless. No matter. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.

 

She can’t exactly cry as she eats, can she?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Sleeps evades her.

 

She stays lying motionless on her bed, staring at nothing. Her room is completely immersed in darkness, no source of light filtering in with the door closed. But that’s alright, she doesn’t mind it anymore. She hasn’t been afraid of the dark in a long time.

 

They’ve now reached the seventh month. She’s missed Joanna’s birthday. She knows because Bones had been a complete mess about her gift. His little girl was growing up so fast and finding the perfect birthday present was becoming a little harder with every passing year. Jim had laughed herself to tears when he came to her for help, good old Bones, desperate and grumpy, but intent on making Joanna happy on her special day.

 

Jim hopes he managed to find that gift.

 

She tries to avoid thinking too much about the events taking place outside of the bunker.  In fact, those are things she never allows herself to think about because she can’t bear it, she can’t bear the thought of someone else sitting on her chair, captaining her ship and getting to know her crew. Who has Starfleet chosen to replace her? Is it someone who’s been recently promoted? Is it Pike? It must be Pike. After all, the Enterprise was his first before it was unfairly ripped away from him. It would be some sort of poetic justice to give it back to him.

 

Is Spock as loyal to the new Captain as he had been to her? Is he getting close to his commanding officer? Whoever it is that replaced her, do they realize how important and vital to the ship Spock truly is? Do they appreciate him enough? Is the Vulcan even still aboard the Enterprise? Or has he finally accepted the promotion Starfleet has been pushing at him for years and is now in command of his own ship?

 

Her head is a mess, dark thoughts pulling her everywhere at once, keeping the wheels of her mind turning endlessly as she desperately tries to hold onto the hope that had kept her going for so long. The deep rooted belief that Spock would find them, that he would never stop looking for them. For her. Because that’s what she would have done for him, had their positions been reversed. The universe be damned, Jim wouldn’t have rested until Spock was back with her, safe and sound, at her side where he belonged.

 

She wouldn’t let him go, she wouldn’t even know how to, but maybe—… maybe it’s not the same for him? Maybe she doesn’t know Spock or understand him as well as she thought she did? Jim hadn’t even been aware that he was still seeing Uhura, for god’s sake, so how—…

 

A bond. He wants to bond with Nyota.

 

Spock cares about her. Jim’s certain of it, it’s the only certainty that hasn’t been shaken to the core by Sarek’s revelation. But if he’s only ever seen her as just a friend, an estimated colleague… Well, Jim’s realistic. It’s been months now and any sane person, any logical person, would have moved on by now.

 

She presses the palm of her hands against her eyes, inhaling deeply and releasing shaky breaths. No, she won’t allow herself to fall apart now. She won’t. She’s stronger than that. Spock will find them. He’s their link to the outside world and he is still fighting for them. Well, if not for her, then for his dad at least. He wouldn’t abandon or give up on his only living parent. Because despite everything, Spock loves Sarek. That’s another one of her certainty.

 

It has to be enough.

 

We’re getting out of here, this won’t last forever, he’ll find us, he will—

 

It has to be.

 

 


 

 

 

Unfortunately, things get tensed in the bunker after that disastrous dinner. Not like it used to be at the beginning, but more akin to a frustrating awkwardness between two strangers who couldn’t even begin to understand each other. No, this time it’s more personal.

 

The truth is, Jim blames Sarek. It’s unreasonable, unfair and cruel, and she knows she shouldn’t. Only she can’t help but wish he had just kept his big mouth shut and never told her the truth about Spock and Uhura. Because the illusion is shattered now, ripped from her bare hands and torn apart mercilessly, and she doesn’t know how to even begin to accept the new reality she’s living in.

 

Sarek broke her heart with cold indifference over a tasteless dinner and he did it like it meant nothing.

 

Jim can’t forgive him for it, even though she’s perfectly aware that there’s nothing to forgive. It’s not Sarek’s fault she completely misinterpreted her relationship with his son. That’s on her and her alone.

 

But she can’t help it. She’s angry and bitter and it’s becoming harder to hide it. Jim doesn’t want to take out her frustrations on Sarek, not does she want to put their delicate camaraderie at risk. It took a long time for them to feel comfortable around one another; she won’t ruin everything by being a brat.

 

So she keeps quiet. And if she doesn’t spend as much time as usual in his company, well, she’s polite and courteous enough that Sarek won’t notice anything is amiss. Probably. God, she hopes so. She just needs a little time to herself, enough space to get her head on straight, that’s all. Just a few days, and things will go back to normal.

 

They will. Eventually.

 

So Jim smiles and answers politely when talked to, but she doesn’t go out of her way to make small talk the way she’s been doing lately. It’s easier than she thought it would be to avoid Sarek. The bunker is big enough and the man has his own little habits by now. So does she.

 

Which is why she’s completely taken by surprise when she goes to the training room for her daily work out and stumbles upon her shirtless companion.

 

The sight makes her stop dead in her tracks.

 

Objectively, she’s always known that Sarek is good looking man. His features are a little harsher than Spock’s, from his black eyes to the severe line of his lips, but they add to his charisma instead of blemishing it. Then there’s the deep warm voice and the regal posture anyone with a desire to avoid future back pains would envy him for… Truly, Jim can understand why Amanda Grayson felt attracted to the man all those years ago.

 

So yes, Jim’s always known. It doesn’t mean she ever consciously thought about it. But now, looking at a bare chest Sarek who’s currently in the middle of practicing what looks like some kind of truly complicated yoga, she can’t help but notice the firm muscles of his arms as he moves them gracefully, the pale skin of his well-toned back, the flexibility of his entire body.

 

He looks… good. He looks more than good. And when he starts quickening his movements in a powerful dance that becomes nearly too fast for Jim’s eyes to keep up, she swallows back an nervousness she doesn’t quite understand.

 

It’s raw strength mixed with feline elegance. Impressive. Beautiful.

 

Enthralling.

 

Shaking her head, Jim wills herself to look away from the scene. Sarek hasn’t seen her yet, there’s still time for her to go.  But of course, the man detects her presence before she can quietly slip away.

 

“Captain?”

 

Jim holds back a sigh, forcing a small smile on her face as she turns to face the Vulcan. “Hi,” she greets agreeably enough. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

 

“You did no such thing,” he says kindly as he grabs a towel, patting his face with it.

 

The gesture seems strangely out of place. Jim’s never seen Sarek so, well, she supposes disheveled isn’t the right word but she can’t think of another one that would fit. Bare foot, wearing lose pants with drops of sweat pearling on his bare chest and cheeks flushed green, Sarek is so far from the usual composed and perfect picture he displays to the rest of the world that it makes her pause, if only for a moment.

 

It takes her a few seconds to realize that the man is still talking.

 

“—occurred to me that I have been remiss in maintaining an optimum physical condition. It seems wasteful not make use of the training equipment that has been provided to us.”

 

“You don’t want to let yourself go,” Jim nods. “I get that.”

 

Sarek gives her a strange look. “Do you wish to join me?” But Jim’s already shaking her head.

 

“Actually, I’m kind of tired. I think I’ll go lie down for a bit,” she says with another perfectly polite smile. Turning around, she throws a quick “See you later” before leaving the room.

 

She feels his eyes burning into her back as she walks away. She pretends not to notice.

 

She’s gotten a little too good at that, lately.

 

 


 

 

 

Soon enough, tension reaches boiling point in the bunker, exploding in her face as she patiently waits for their next delivery.

 

Lying on the couch, eyes closed, she only realizes Sarek’s presence when he starts to speak right next to her.

 

“Kirk”, he calls severely.

 

Jim tenses. He’s too close.

 

“You have been avoiding me,” Sarek accuses her without preamble.

 

The lie comes easily to her. “Don’t be ridiculous,” she says, not moving from her position on the couch.

 

“I assure you, there is nothing absurd about our current status.”

 

A snort. “Actually, I’m pretty sure some people would find our situation hilarious.”

 

Kirk.”

 

Jim sighs, rubbing her forehead wearily. Clearly, Sarek isn’t going to let this go. “We’re the only two people here, Sarek, and as impressive as this place is, it’s still not that big. I couldn’t avoid you even if I wanted to.”

 

“Do not be obtuse, Captain.” And there it is, the first note of frustration hidden under deliberate indifference. “If an issue has arisen regarding our cohabitation, then I demand that you inform me of it immediately.”

 

“Stop being paranoid.” Jim sits up, forces herself to look at him and face his accusative gaze unflinchingly. “Look, I’ve just been having a bad few days.” Try a bad few months. “And when that happens, I tend to keep to myself and stay quiet. It’s nothing against you, I promise.”

 

She thinks it does the trick. Sarek lifts an eyebrow and takes a step back as he quietly observes her.

 

But then he opens his mouth and, as usual, crushes all her expectations mercilessly.

 

“You are many things, James Kirk,” Sarek says, voice cold enough to freeze the air around them. “However, I did not entertain the possibility that you could ever be deceitful.”

 

Jim stills, stunned by the direct accusation.

 

Then a sudden wave of anger washes over her. “Are you calling me a liar?” she asks slowly, careful to keep her tone even and neutral.

 

Sarek’s face is completely devoid of warmth as he looks down on her. It’s such a sharp contrast from the man she’s gotten to know these past few weeks, the one who encourages her to hold onto hope and confides in her about his mixed feelings regarding his family, that she can’t help herself from leaning back a little.

 

“I would not have to if you were not so transparently lying to me.”  There was a little something cruel in his dark eyes, something that made Jim’s belly tighten with unease.

 

“I just want some space to myself,” she grits out between her teeth. “I don’t think that’s much to ask. And why does it matter so much to you, anyway?” Jim challenges abruptly, getting up and putting a much needed distance between them. “Usually, it’s like you can’t stand the sound of my voice, and now you’re throwing a fit because I don’t annoy you every five seconds?”

 

“Do not take me for a fool, Kirk. I am very well aware of what brought this sudden change of behavior on your part.”

 

She refuses to react to the very obvious bait. “Do you, now.”

 

“My son’s choices are his own. It is illogical to hold me responsible for his unwillingness to regard you as a potential mate and romantic partner. The fault lies with you and you alone.”

 

He’s bold. Cruel. And Jim’s so completely stunned by the harshness of his words that she loses control of her facial features for a second before she can school them back into an impassive mask. Too late. She knows that Sarek has caught the hurt twisting her face during that short second. He must have. Why else would he suddenly look so uncertain, taking a hesitant step towards her that automatically makes her move a step back.

 

He may as well have punched her. She’s certain it would have hurt less.

 

“Kirk, I—...”

 

No.” She manages to spit out through her teeth. She’s not interested in hearing any of his excuses.

 

Sarek doesn’t listen. Looks oddly anxious and he reaches for her. “I believe it is imperative I explain myself further, less you misunderstand my words.”

 

Jim scoffs. “Oh, I understood them alright.”

 

“If you would just allow me—…”

 

“Would you just fuck off, Sarek?!”

 

The Vulcan falls silent, his outstretched hand falling to his side. Jim’s shaking under the force of her anger, eyes burning with barely contained rage as she watches Sarek turn around and leave without a word.

 

She tries to calm down, tries a few breathing technics. When that doesn’t work, she simply grabs a couch cushion and buries her face in it. The sounds of her screams are muffled, but just letting it all out acts as a blissful relief.

 

After a while, Jim hears the familiar beaming noise of their delivery. She’s tempted to ignore it this time, so tempted. Yet, she already knows she won’t. So with an exhausted sigh, she abandons the cushion and moves towards the now familiar boxes to start her now familiar storing routine. Something catches her attention instantly. It makes her frown and she rubs her eyes, convinced that she’s hallucinating.

 

She must be.

 

She’s not.

 

The urge to turn right back, grab that one grey cushion and let out a few more screams is overwhelming.

 

“Oh, you must think you’re so funny, don’t you,” she seethes, her fingers tightening dangerously on the shiny bottle of Romulan ale that has been carefully put in a fucking gift basket. Looking up at the ceiling, she hopes Sybok is watching right now so he’ll be able to see every bit of the hatred deforming her features. “I hope you rot in hell, you sick bastard.”

 

Still, she grabs the bottle with her and locks herself in the library.

 

 


 

 

 

The room is spinning and her head feels like it’s about to burst.

 

Jim regrets nothing.

 

There’s a chessboard on the other side of the library. It’s been sitting abandoned in a corner since they ended up here, but they’ve never touched it. Just thinking about playing that game with Spock’s dad instead of Spock himself makes her physically ill.

 

In fact, there are quite a few things that make Jim physically ill right now. Like moving. And breathing. Sitting on the floor and leaning against the back of the couch, she’s still holding the half-finished bottle in a tight grip, practically cradling it to her chest, and nearly presses her nose against the tip. The scent is divine, soft but addictive. Spices and fermented strawberries. Or at least, what passes for strawberries on Romulus. Jim swears they taste the same.

 

Tipping a disproportionate amount of ale into her mouth, she swallows the liquid with gusto, enjoying the way it smoothly slides down her throat. She sighs deeply, no longer in control of her limbs, and slowly falls on her side to lie down.

 

God, how long has she been here? Could have been a few minutes. Or a few hours.

 

Please, let it be a few hours, Jim begs silently. She doesn’t think she can take losing her very hard earned alcohol resistance on top of everything else.

 

Maybe she could just sleep in here tonight. Her room seems too far away, but the couch kind of looks nice. Boring, but nice. It would look so much prettier in pink. She wonders why everything around here is so grey and dull. Where’s the color? Where’s the life? Is it a Vulcan thing? It must be, but then again, Sybok isn’t completely Vulcan now, is he? He’s a pariah no one wants around. That used to be her, back in the day, but she won’t go there. That’s not the point anyway. The point is, Sybok sucks. And he has no taste in interior design. Or maybe it was a deliberate choice on his part to please his daddy. That makes sense. Sybok would want Sarek to be as comfortable as possible during his long stay here and, well, fuck her and her needs anyway. She doesn’t matter. She’s not even supposed to be here. She’s just collateral damage, put in here like trash because some moron had no idea what to do with her.

 

He should have killed her. That would have been merciful.

 

Damn, that couch would look great in pink. With green cushions. And a yellow footstool right next to it.

 

“Captain, what is this?”

 

The sudden echo of a masculine voice in her ears makes Jim aware of two things. One, she’s been speaking her thoughts out loud. Two, she’s not alone anymore.

 

“Oh my God,” Jim groans in utter exasperation. “Go away.”

 

Sarek doesn’t. Why would he? He seems determined to constantly do the exact opposite of what she wants him to do. The actual physical manifestation of her damn headache.

 

His mere presence alone is enough to make the throbbing behind her eyes even more painful. With a curse, Jim tries to massage her forehead. It does very little to help.

 

“If I may, how did you manage to secure this alcoholic beverage?”

 

Jim should be given a medal for the way she holds back her snort. Of course the first thing that pops into is mind is that she made a deal with the devil. “I didn’t ‘secure’ anything, it was a gift.”

 

Sarek frowns. “From whom?”

 

“Who do you think, genius?” she snaps, taking another sip from the bottle for good measures. “Can’t you take a hint? You’re the last person I want to see right now.”

 

“Kirk—…”

 

“It’s just something about your face,” Jim continues carelessly, unable and unwilling to stop the next string of words coming out of her mouth. “It pisses me off. Like, I want to punch you every time you talk. That’s how much I can’t stand you right now. Your face is annoying,” she repeats with a sneer, just in case he hasn’t gotten the message the first time.

 

“Desist with this childish behavior at once,” Sarek practically growls his order.

 

Too fast to properly react, especially in her state, she’s taken by surprise when Sarek reaches for the bottle and tugs it firmly, breaking her hold on it and ripping it off her hands. She blinks in shock, absolutely stunned as she stares at her now empty fingers, and tries to grab it back. But her movements are slow and sluggish and she’s pretty sure she’s seeing double right now. So it’s safe to say that her attempt at retrieving her new best friend fails pitifully.

 

“Would you just stop being such an asshole?!”

 

“Your nonsense knows no bounds, Kirk,” Sarek insults her right back in that haughty way of his. “You have not drunk alcohol in 7.1 months and your body is no longer accustomed to consume large quantities of such beverage. Moreover, you have failed to eat properly these past two days. The impact on your health could be disastrous. I appeal to your reason, should you have any left at all; it is high time you begin taking care of yourself.”

 

“Why do you even care?!” Jim snarls.

 

“Rest assured, I do not. However, I also have no desire to subject myself to your early rants and dreadful disposition coming tomorrow.”

 

Jim honest to God chokes a scream and her body moves on its own volition. As if she’s witnessing the scene from above instead of actively participating in it, she sees herself throwing her leg and catch Sarek behind the knees with enough force to make him bend. Sarek lets out a surprised gasp, losing his balance and, in a move she’s learned from his son, she pulls him down the rest of the way and rolls over to pin him down.

 

The bottle of Romulan ale drops with a ‘thump’, reddish liquid now soaking the carpet.

 

When Jim comes back to her senses, she’s already fisting Sarek’s robes aggressively. The shock on the bastard’s face is too satisfying to back down now.

 

“You want to know what I think, Ambassador,” she sneers disdainfully. “I think you’re full of shit.”

 

Sarek quickly tries to recompose his face, but he’s not entirely successful. There’s a slight frown he can’t quite seem to get rid of and his lips twitch disapprovingly. Jim relishes in this second victory.

 

From her position, she feels how tensed Sarek’s body is. A true marble statue. “Remove yourself, Kirk.”

 

“No, I don’t think I will,” Jim goads him. “In fact, I have a question for you, roomie, and I’ll keep it simple, that way you won’t be able to subtlety lie to my face like you’ve been doing for months. Gotta love Vulcans and their hypocrisy.”

 

“I refuse to participate in this nonsense—…”

 

Jim cuts him off by grabbing his chin, forcing him to look at her. “I may be some mere human, but I have been gifted with a semblance of intelligence. Nothing that equals to your superior intellect, of course, but I can add two plus two. And I’m not so blind that I don’t see the way you’ve been looking at me,” she says, something dark and sickening twisting her insides. She leans down even more, so close that she can feel his perfectly controlled breathing on her neck. Bringing her lips right next to his ear, she murmurs. “Your eyes on me, all the time, following me everywhere.”

 

It suddenly becomes so clear to her. Sarek’s initial curiosity and his desire to know the exact nature of her relationship with Spock. How intent he is that she understands her place in his son’s life. Everything just falls into place like pieces of a puzzle.

 

Even now, Sarek could get rid of her easily. He’s Vulcan. He has more than three times her strength. He could just get up, walk away with his dignity still intact, and there’s not a single thing she could do to stop him. Instead, he’s allowing this to happen. Allows her to get close him in a sick imitation of a lover’s embrace, to shake him, to touch him.

 

On a hunch, Jim slowly loosens her grasp on his robes and slides her other hand down his throat, his upper chest, leans back to sit more firmly on his pelvis. Sarek doesn’t react to her clear challenge, just keep looking at her with eyes as black as oblivion. Those short seconds they spend staring at each other in silence seem infinite. This is a door Jim shouldn’t open. She shouldn’t, knows deep into her bones that she’s committing a grave mistake.

 

Still, she refuses to back down. So in a deliberate move, she rolls her hips and grinds down a little and—… there it is. A firm bulge hidden under layers of clothes.

 

Sarek’s aroused.

 

Jim scoffs, looking down at the man in disgust. “You’re pathetic.”

 

She went too far. She knows by the way Sarek’s face twists with a sudden rage she didn’t think he was capable of. And then the man just snaps.

 

With a deep growl, he moves so fast that Jim barely has time to react. She feels his fingers dig into the back of her neck and, ignoring her surprised yelp, Sarek pulls her back down to crush their lips together.

 

Jim’s eye widen in shock. Her hands awkwardly grip Sarek’s shoulders and she can’t help but gasp when he bites her lower lip, unintentionally offering him free passage. Her heart hammers violently in her chest and it becomes worse as he pushes his tongue into her mouth, avid and hungry.   Luckily, her astonishment isn’t nearly enough for her to let go of her anger; it runs too deep now, Sarek’s words having made their impact on her already.

 

His reaction is proof enough that she’s right, at least partially. He does want her. He wants her and he hates it. Of course it would be easier for him to believe that the relationship she shares with Spock is strictly platonic. That makes his attraction to her okay, it makes it acceptable. But Sarek’s such a coward that he had to hurt her in order to turn his illusion into reality. What he did, trying to pull her away from Spock, was done on purpose and Jim hates that she let him succeed.

 

The doubts have been planted, there’s no pulling them out of her mind. They’ve taken roots, torturing her with the possibility that maybe Sarek’s right. Maybe she isn’t good enough for Spock. Maybe it’s all in her head.

 

God, she hates him so much.

 

Jim isn’t going to let him win. If this is punishment then she’s the one who’s going to be inflicting it on him, not the other way around.

 

Slapping his hands away, Jim grabs his hair and pulls, hard enough to hurt, and takes control of the kiss. It’s messy and filthy, more of a clash of teeth and battles of tongue than anything. Jim ravages Sarek’s mouth with near savagery, surging forward in his lap and grinding back down in a way that makes him moan helplessly against her lips.

 

He sounds pained. Good. Jim hopes he suffocates in his shame.

 

When his hands frantically push at her shoulders, she releases him, sitting back and looking down at him. Sarek looks wrecked; there’s no other word to describe the expression on his face. Cheeks flushed green, eyes closed and breathing heavily, he looks nothing like the collected

Ambassador who has been sharing quarters with her for the past 7 months.

 

“Coward,” she spits out angrily.

 

Sarek’s eyes snap open and the enraged snarl he lets out renders her speechless for a second. She’s entirely unprepared for the way he abruptly rolls them over, grabbing her hands and putting them above her head.

 

“You dare,” he sneers, catching her lips in another hungry kiss.

 

Jim’s suddenly horrifically aware of his superior strength holding her down, of the length his body dominating her completely, settled in the cradle of her hips and keeping her legs spread.

 

“Sarek—…” she tries to say against his mouth.

 

“Do not speak,” Sarek orders harshly, forcing his tongue back into her mouth.

 

It’s clear that she’s completely lost control of the situation here and her chest fills with a sort of dazed panic that renders her pliant. She doesn’t remember how they ended up here, in this position,  and she has no idea if she’s supposed to participate or scream bloody murder.

 

Still, Jim tries to keep up with him. She moves her mouth submissively against Sarek’s, trying to turn the kiss into something softer, trying to calm him down through a more gentle touch. But the Vulcan is like a man possessed and, soon, he is grinding his hips against hers intently.

 

Jim’s unprepared for the surge of arousal that burns her lower stomach and the positively lewd moan that escapes her spurs Sarek on. His mouth slides lower and Jim throws her head back, gasping her pleasure quietly.

 

“Sa—…Sarek—…” His name on her lips sound like a plea. A plea for what, exactly, Jim has no idea. 

 

It all happens so incredibly fast. One minute, they’re kissing on the floor, and the next, she’s straddling Sarek on the couch, pressed flush against his bare chest, her own shirt having been disregarded at some point.

 

The wrongness of it all claws at Jim’s stomach, even as she rocks on the Vulcan’s lap, tearing the most delicious sounds out of him. It’s unnerving, to have these hands on her, to let her fingers stroke the short hair chest of her companion, to feels of their naked bellies rubbing together with every movement. This should not be happening, and yet it is. But perhaps it’s the forbidden aspect of it that excites her so much, encouraging her to throw all caution to the wind.

 

Sarek’s greedy fingers wander all over her back, the man seeming intent on touching every inch of naked skin he can reach. So Jim finds herself baring her neck to give him better access, sighing in quiet delight as he dips his head lower, scattering kisses down her throat, her upper chest, the top of her breasts that are still covered by her bra. Jim lets out a small cry and, unable to stop herself, she cups Sarek’s cheeks in her hands and brings his lips to hers once more, diving into the addictive heat of his mouth. Sarek responds instantly, fisting her hair and kissing her back ardently just as his other hand struggles to remove her bra.

 

It tears a small laugh out of her. She makes no move to help him, choosing instead to let herself fall on the side, bringing Sarek with her until they’re lying on the couch.

 

There’s no real rhythm in the way Sarek rubs himself against her, but with each movement of his hips, Jim feels the deep throbbing between her legs intensify. It makes her arch into the alien warmth, desperate for more. She wants to pull him closer, wants to get rid of the rest of their clothes, wants to feel every inch of his naked flesh against hers, she wants and wants and wants—…

 

Eyes fluttering shut at the sensation of his mouth sucking a bruise into her skin, she tilts her head to the side and accidently catches sight of the chessboard on the other side of the room.

 

It’s enough to act as a wakeup call, the veil of alcohol and arousal swiftly lifting from her thoughts. Suddenly, she feels terribly sober.

 

What the hell am I doing?

 

“Stop,” she orders, voice clear and firm.

 

Immediately, Sarek goes still on top of her. There’s a few ridiculous seconds where they both stay put, seemingly frozen and making no move to entangle their limbs. Jim’s heart thumps violently against her ribcage and Sarek’s panting heavily next to her face. The way they’re pressed together allows her to feel the tremors that are still racking through his body.

 

“Get off me,” she finally says.

 

Sarek obeys, slowly letting go of her hips and keeping his head lowered as he gets up, clearly shaken and unable to meet her gaze. Jim’s not doing any better herself. She doesn’t move from her position, doesn’t dare to; simply closes her eyes as he leaves. It’s only when the sound of his retreating footsteps disappear that she opens her eyes once more, blinking at the ceiling disbelievingly.

 

What the hell was that?!

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jim hears them sometimes. Her crew.

 

Bones’s voice berating her in that grumpy tone of his when she skips a meal. Uhura when she tries to practice her rusty Klingon, failing miserably because she can’t remember what the right intonations are. Scotty when she wants nothing more than to get shitface drunk. Sulu when she trains until her body’s begging her for a reprieve. Chekov when she’s filled with the nearly uncontrollable urge to slap Sarek.

 

More than once, she thinks about trying to rebuild a communicator. Might take some time, but she’s done it once. She can do it again. But then Spock’s reasonable voice reminds her that she only managed to get that far the first time because her captors had been toying with her and urges her to stay level headed. «  Attempting a senseless strategy that has already failed to procure positive results in the past is a most illogical waste of time and resources, Captain. »  No, what she needs to do first is figure out how they’re monitoring the bunker, so she can try to dismantle the surveillance system from inside. If she can render them blind, then she might get a window of opportunity.

 

That’s the theory, anyway.  Approaching the eighth month now and she still has no idea how exactly Sybok is watching them.

 

Theory sucks.

 


 

They become somehow experts at avoidance.

 

Jim has Sarek’s routine memorized by now. He’s an early riser, spends at least two hours meditating in his room every morning before eating breakfast, likes to train afterwards. Takes a quick shower. Then lunch.  Goes to the library, where Jim would usually be by then, just long enough to grab a book before locking himself in his room. After that they each would stay on their side of the bunker for a few more hours before it becomes Jim’s turn to use the training room, then shower, then back to the main room for dinner.

 

The day would eventually end. They would both go to sleep. Rewind.

 

They haven’t discussed what happened. Haven’t spoken to one another even once. And this silence full of tensions following Jim everywhere is slowly but surely driving her mad.

 

The atmosphere is even worse than when they hated each other. Jim can handle Sarek’s distaste, that’s easy, so much easier than what she has to deal with now. She can’t pretend that she didn’t—… well, didn’t suspect anything strange in the Vulcan’s behavior towards her. But at least she still had the opportunity to ignore it, turn a blind eye to the whole thing and hope it went away. She doesn’t have that anymore. Because now? She knows.

 

She knows what it was like to be kissed by Sarek, to have his hands on her bare skin, hers on his, to be pressed tightly against his broad chest and arch against him in search for something more, to be aroused by their physical proximity. 

 

God, Sarek had buried his face in her breasts and she had moaned as he did so. Encouraged him, even. The Vulcan has small white scar next to his right nipple. She knows because she had kissed it and teased it with her teeth and tongue, enjoying the sounds it ripped from his throat.

 

No, it’s definitely not humanly possible for her to think about what happened without dying of pure and terrible mortification. She hasn’t even been able to meet Sarek’s eyes once without flushing red and quickly looking away like she’s been burned.

 

At some point during their captivity, they had learned how to cohabit together. They don’t do that anymore. Instead, they now try to live around each other, doing a magnificent job at basically ignoring the other’s existence.

 

Jim can’t help but wonder what Spock would think about this whole mess.

 

Maybe he wouldn’t even care at all.

 


 

The bridge is buzzing with the familiar excitement of a new mission, crew members passing around her as she stands in the middle of all that unstoppable energy, frozen and invisible.

 

There’s a stranger sitting on her chair. Dark hair, green eyes, so damn handsome and charismatic that it makes her want to puke.

 

« Engineering thrusters and impulse engines at your command, sir, »  Suly says brightly.

 

« Weapons systems and chutes on standby, » Chekov adds with an enormous smile on his face.

 

« Dock control reports ready, Captain. »  That’s Uhura and there’s just so much respect and fondness in her voice, the opposite of the sarcastic edge Jim had gotten used to.

 

She fists her hands, nails biting into her skin, and throws a dark look at the bastard who’s replaced her. « Mister Sulu, »  he says confidently and with all the authority conferred by his new status. « Prepare to engage thrusters. »

 

Wait, Jim thinks in sudden panic. Wait, that’s not right, where’s—…

 

As if to answer her silent question, the Captain of the Enterprise turns his head towards what Jim knows to be the science station. And there’s a fondness in his eyes as he looks there, a gentleness in his smile that Jim just wants to rip off his face because she knows who the asshole is looking at. She knows but she can’t see, because her useless body won’t move, refuse to even allow her the possibility of a small glimpse.

 

Please, please, please, I just want to see him once, please—…

 

But she can’t, because she’s trapped in her own body, trapped in the middle of the bridge, trapped and forced to watch helplessly as the stranger who had taken her place suddenly gets up and walks out of her field of vision.

 

Still, she hears him ask softly. « Where to, Commander? »

 

No, Jim shouts silently, pointless tears of frustration sliding down her cheeks, no, no, no, no, NO!

 

 

She opens her eyes with a silent scream stuck in her throat. The familiar sight of her room, her perfectly nice but lifeless room, calms her down instantly.

 

A dream, she half-heartedly tries to reassure herself, it was just a dream.

 

Her body feels numb, still reeling from whatever that nightmare was, and she takes a deep, calming breath as she reminds herself that none of it was real. It wasn’t.

 

Jim rolls over on the mattress, pauses, then settles more comfortably on her side, putting her joined hands between her pillow and her cheek. Lying next to her, Spock regards her silently, kind brown eyes, mesmerizing human eyes, seeming unable to look away from her face.

 

Jim swallows. « Are you really here? » she whispers, terrified of disrupting this enthralling illusion.

 

« Are you? »  Spock answers just as quietly and, god, she’d almost forgotten the sound of his voice, how deep and warm it could be, more soothing than any other melody in the universe.

 

Jim tries her hardest to hold back her traitorous tears. « I don’t know. »  Her voice is full of tremors. « I’m just so tired, Spock. »

 

Her confession hurts him. Micro expressions on his face that she can still read as easily as any book. Spock opens his mouth but no words come out, kept captive in the prison of his throat. It’s not of his own doing, that much is certain, Jim can see how frustrated he is by his inability to speak. Regardless, the soothing melody is gone now.

 

Jim blinks, feels a tear slide down her nose, and reaches for him. Spock extends his own hand towards her, their fingers brush just so and then –…

 

She wakes up. For real this time.

 

Jim’s shaking from head to toes, sheets damp with her cold sweat. Her room is plunged in the dark. She doesn’t turn the lights on. The obscurity only seems to amplify the silence around her and, god, she can’t stand it anymore. She won’t.

 

Scrambling to disentangle herself from the sheets and blanket, Jim nearly falls off the bed, catching herself on the nightstand just as she’s about to face plant on the floor. Her white top is sticking to her sweaty skin, and it occurs to her that her outfit might make her Vulcan companion uncomfortable, but right at this moment, she couldn’t care less about Sarek’s sensibilities. She needs to see him, needs to talk to him, needs to hear something other than the sounds of her own breathing.

 

She throws her door opened and rushes to Sarek’s room. « Sarek, I—… »

 

Nothing. The bed is made. Untouched.

 

Jim frowns. Perhaps she overslept and he’s already eating his breakfast. She walks quickly towards the main room, pausing a few seconds to check the bathroom on her way there, and stops right between the kitchen table and the couch.

 

Empty.

 

Heart hammering painfully in her chest, she checks the library. No one. Runs to the other side of the main living area and throws the door of the training room opened. Still no one. As vacant as all the other rooms.

 

Where the hell is Sarek?!

 

It doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t. If he’s not in his room, then he should be in the kitchen area and if he’s not there, then he’s probably training and if he’s not training, then he should be taking a shower, but if he’s not in the bathroom, then he should be searching for an interesting book to read in the library right the fuck now. That’s his routine! That’s the only logical explanation!

 

She's become voiceless, can't even call out his name like she wants to because she's absolutely terrified that he won't answer. Why isn’t he here? How the hell did the bunker get so empty? Have they been drugged again? Have their captors decided to separate them?

 

Another horrible thought takes root in her mind. Sarek couldn’t have—…  He wouldn’t have—…

 

He wouldn’t have left behind, right?

 

Jim feels dizzy, tries to force some air into her lungs, and why does her chest hurts so damn much, why can’t she just focus and move? Is that what a panic attack feels like? She doesn’t know, she hasn’t had to deal with one since she was a teenager, she—…

 

« Captain? »

 

Jim turns around widly, and there he is, standing tall and strong right next to the couch like he was there all along and looking at her bizarrely, which is fair, really, because she feels like she’s losing her goddamn mind here.

 

Jim doesn’t think. She just reacts.

 

Her feet take her across the room on their own accord. Sarek’s eyes widen in surprise and he only has enough time to take a panicked step back before she literally throws herself at him, jumping in his arms and trapping him in her own.

 

She thought that she had run out of tears to cry. But obviously, she was wrong. Those fuckers come back with a vengeance, escaping her eyes without her consent, and she ends up sobbing like an overgrown baby all over Sarek, clutching him desperately.

 

Had she been in her right mind, Jim would have probably laughed at the picture the two of them must be making right now. A decorated Starfleet Captain, wrapped like an octopus around an estimated Ambassador, drenching his shirt with her tears as she sobs nearly hysterically in his arms.

 

Sarek is as stiff as a stick, having made no move to return her embrace. Honestly, Jim’s a little embarrassed by now, but she’s also so relieved that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t give a damn about anything but the simple fact that her companion is here, that he’s still here and that she hasn’t been left alone in this hell hole. She’s not alone. And that knowledge makes her feel so light that she starts to laugh through her tears.

 

This time, there’s no mistaking the horrified tone of Sarek’s voice. « Control yourself, Kirk. »

 

Poor guys sounds absolutely terrified and it just makes her laugh even harder.

 

But it’s not funny. Nothing about their situation is funny. They’re trapped and their prison is comfy enough that she’s starting to get used to it. Worse, she now has to remind herself that the bunker is a prison. Jim barely remembers what it feels like to have a breath of fresh air, the sensation of the wind on her face or how soothing the simple sight of a starry sky could be.

 

And it scares the hell out of her.

 

Eventually, her laughter dies down and she finds herself loosening her hold on Sarek, simply leaning against him. A sort of wistful sadness takes over her.

 

« I’m sorry, »  she murmurs without adding anything.

 

Awkwardly, Sarek puts his hands on her bare shoulders as pulls away, just enough to look at her. He’s eying her curiously, but not without compassion. There’s also a little understanding in that gaze. Her intense reaction is not so difficult to analyze, after all, even for someone as emotionally stunted as him.

 

« I—… I apologize for frightening you. It was not my intention. »

 

Jim snorts, wiping her eyes. « It better not have been. Where were you, anyway? »

 

« There is a part of these facilities that we have been disregarding for the past 7.8 months now. I surmised that it might have been an oversight from our part. It seemed logical to give them another thorough examination. »

 

Parts of these facilities they’ve been disregarding? Jim frowns. What—… Oh. That’s right. She had completely forgotten about that small and isolated corridor leading to a few other vacant rooms.

 

How could she have forgotten about that?

 

Sarek suddenly seems abashed. « Should I be entirely honest, I must admit that I also entertained the idea of… relocating my quarters there permanently. »  

 

« Because of me? »  Jim asks softly.

 

Sarek’s meaningful silence is her answer.

 

« You don’t have to do that, »  she reassures him uneasily. « I think it’s clear that I don’t—… Well—…  I don’t exactly do well with isolation and solitude. I can’t—… »  Her voice shakes despite her hardest attempts to control it. It’s useless. There’s no hiding the fear and desperation in her tone. « I can’t do this alone, Sarek. I don’t want to fight anymore, please, can we just stop fighting and be there for each other? I know you don’t need it, but I do. I need you. »

 

There’s a pause; long enough for Jim to feel a little humiliated by her complete lack of control and repeat those mortifying words in her head, realizing just now how ambiguous they sound. She feels the blush threatening to appear and fights against it, willing her face to stay perfectly normal and innocent.

 

Sarek’s hands are still on her shoulders. The tip of his fingers slowly begin to trace soothing circles on her skin.

 

Jim suppresses a shiver at the touch.

 

« James, do not mistake my confidence in our forthcoming release as some sort of indifference towards our situation. I, too, am growing restless in this confined environment and I do not forget that I am responsible for your current distress. Unfortunately, guilt is not a sentiment I am unfamiliar with, but I find that in your case, it is an even heavier burden to bear. »

 

« Don’t say that, » Jim sighs, sad and weary. « None of this is your fault. »

 

« Sybok is my son, » Sarek says simply, as if that explains everything. Maybe it does for him.

 

Jim hesitates, only for a moment, before she puts a tentative hand on one of his wrists, pressing reassuringly. « It’s not your fault, » she repeats, not just to comfort him but because she means those words.

 

Sarek just looks at her, black eyes boring into her blue ones. The atmosphere around them slowly changes into something more charged, less friendly. Something they had already experienced in the library, right before the incident.

 

This time, when Sarek brings his head down to kiss her, Jim’s not surprised. She doesn’t try to avoid it, and the Vulcan is slow enough in his movement that she knows he’s giving her a chance to back out.

 

Jim closes her eyes right before their lips touch. The contact is gentle, barely there and more like a brush. Sarek pulls away, falters, then dives back for second kiss. This one is firmer, but short. The third one lasts longer and is accompanied by a hand on her cheek. With the fourth kiss, the Vulcan grows bolder and teases her lips with his tongue.

 

Jim just stays frozen on the spot. Not resisting. Not truly participating either.

 

Sarek is testing the waters, she knows, waiting for a clear reaction, evaluating how far he can go. How far she’s willing to let them go this time. And Jim simply doesn’t know. There are so many different emotions swirling in her head, all of them extreme and overwhelming and far from helpful.

 

She’s going insane. She has to be for even considering this. The lack of fresh air must be rotting her brain or something. Because, obviously, she wouldn’t be sliding her hand up Sarek’s chest if she had been in her right mind. And she definitely wouldn’t be curling that same hand around his neck and opening her mouth under his curiously, letting the kiss turn more into a languid one.

 

Sarek groans against her lips, wrapping his other arm around her, his hands resting on her lower back. She allows herself to be trapped, allows herself to be pulled closer until his body warmth seems to envelop her completely.

 

It’s not an unpleasant moment, far from it. She’s thinks she might actually be enjoying this, even if Sarek does most of the work here, and when he finally pulls away, she doesn’t try to break his hold on her.

 

He’s breathing heavily, looking down on her searchingly with a hint of nervousness in his gaze, and Jim’s eyes flicker to his wet, swollen lips. She doesn’t know if the adrenaline pumping through her body is from fear or excitement.

 

« James, »  Sarek says, voice rough and soft. « You are not unaware of my intentions. »  That’s not a question. It’s a warning.

 

Jim stops thinking. She’s so tired of being reasonable.

 

She goes on her tiptoes at the same time he bends down – she swears he’s smirking as he does so— and then they’re kissing again. This time, she’s fully participating, threading her fingers through his soft hair, teasingly drawing his tongue with hers, angling her head just right to kiss him as deeply and thoroughly as she can.

 

Sarek’s hands wander over her lower back and he easily slips his fingers under her white top and slides his hand up the skin of her back.  Jim gasps, freeing his mouth, and she tilts her head back as Sarek’s lips travel down her skin until he’s sucking a bruise onto her neck, using his grip on her to press her to his groin and, alright, that definitely feels like an impressive erection.

 

Her lips part to let out a moan; the sensation of this strong body rubbing against hers is simultaneously incredible and terrifying.

 

She’s caught unaware when Sarek lifts her up, so easily she might as well have been a doll, but she gets on the program quickly, wrapping her legs around his waist. The Vulcan is supporting her as if she barely weighs anything and Jim can’t help but laugh a little incredulously at that, pushing past the uneasiness swirling in her lower stomach. This time, she’s the one who has to bend her head down in order to crush their mouths together.

 

With long strides, Sarek takes her to the table, kissing her keenly as he does so. Once she’s sitting on the wooden surface, something digs into her back, and it hurts her enough that she blindly reaches behind her and just throws whatever she finds on the floor. It all falls down with a crash and Sarek looks down distastefully, but thankfully, he makes no move to clean up the mess.

 

She quickly helps him unbutton his pants; sliding them alongside his boxer just enough to free his hardening cock before fisting his shirt and pressing their mouths back together harshly. Sarek kisses her back with a hunger that only rivals her own, sliding her pants down her legs and discarding them carelessly.

 

Jim’s heart positively hammers in her chest as she feels his hands on her bare thighs, wandering on her skin until his fingers slip under her black panties. A deliberate press of his thumb aggravates the needy throb between her legs. One hand still clutching Sarek’s front, she reaches down between them and wraps her fingers around the man’s length. It tears a full out moan out of him. Loud and beautiful and echoing in the deserted bunker around them.

 

 This is what I do to him, she thinks in astonished wonder.

 

His lips travel down her neck, mouthing the bare skin avidly, and Jim’s eyes flutter shut on their own. She lifts her head up to give Sarek better access, unable to focus or form a single coherent thought. Her vision is clouded by arousal and she feels amazed and dumbfounded all at once.

 

They’re going to do it. They’re really going to fuck. Right here, on this table, where they spent the last 7 months eating their meals together. And Jim isn’t going to stop Sarek this time. She’s not even sure that she should have stopped him last time. Probably not. What was the point if they were always heading towards that direction, anyway? 

 

Sarek’s erection pulses in her hand, long and thick and warm, and, fuck, there’s no denying it; she wants that cock in her. She imagines Sarek slamming inside, unleashing on her all the passion he’s kept carefully hidden behind a tight control. The thought alone makes her whine. She wants it so badly she could scream. It’s been too long, her fingers aren’t enough to satiate her anymore, and she needs this.

 

A groan of protest escapes Sarek when she abandons her ministrations on his cock, using her free hand instead to tilt his head back forcedly. She kisses him again, deep and hard, urging him silently to get a move on. Thankfully, Sarek understands. Tongues swirling and tasting hungrily, Jim barely registers him getting rid of her panties by sliding them down hastily. When the last barrier of protection is gone, she immediately raises her knees over his hips, cradling him between her legs.

 

Two strong hands grip the back of her thighs possessively and abruptly bring her to the very edge of the table, making her gasp in surprise. Jim clutches Sarek even tighter, even as she babbles incoherently against his mouth, amazed and terrified when she finally, finally, feels him at her entrance.

 

Sarek snaps his hips forward and their combined groans of relief resonate around them, loud in the too empty space.

 

The act itself allows them to let out months of pent up frustrations. And it’s not gentle or slow or even truly intimate; they fuck with their clothes still on, after all. It’s just sex; awkward and nearly animalistic. A little something to keep them both going and preserve what little sanity they’ve got left. Because it’s been months and no one’s come for them and Jim finds herself wondering more and more if life in the bunker is even real. It can’t be. This situation can’t possibly be her new reality.

 

Nothing matters down here, nothing has true meaning, and sleeping with Sarek isn’t any different.

 

As the Vulcan pounds into her relentlessly, Jim deliberately ignores the little voice in the back of her head – a quiet, weak and irrelevant voice – that reminds that the consequences of this decision will be, in fact, very much real.

Chapter Text

Sarek looks different in his sleep.

 

Jim doesn’t know what else she was expecting, really. For his body to turn itself off as if it were a mere robot, lying motionless and still until it connected once more to a power source, swiftly activating the awakening process ? She should know better than that by now and indeed, she does.

 

Her Vulcan companion looks oddly vulnerable here, lost in a deep and peaceful slumber that makes him appear younger than he truly is. Lips slightly parted, hair dishevelled, cheek pressed against his pillow with a hand reaching unconsciously for the side of the bed she’s only vacated a few minutes ago.

 

After the—…  well, interlude on the kitchen’s table, they had promptly relocated to Sarek’s room where they fully explored the new and bewildering boundaries defining their strange relationship. Exhaustion hit Sarek first and Jim had watched as he fought to keep his eyes opened, greedy hands still wandering on her naked body as if he couldn’t bear to stop touching her.

 

It’s clear now that Sarek hasn’t been sleeping very well latelyand she loathes the idea of pulling him from his much needed rest. So she stays sitting on the edge of the mattress, covered in nothing but a sheet, and quietly observes the last man in the universe she thought would become her lover.

 

She’s not sure she feels better than she did earlier. She doesn’t exactly feel worse either. Everything just seems to have just stop at a standstill inside of her, allowing her to look at the situation critically for once.

 

This is different from the heavy make out session that happened in the library. Raw anger had been driving her then and she barely realized what she was doing, her clouded thoughts unable to focus on anything, unable to comprehend the enormity of what they had been doing. Now, she has a clear head and can’t help but evaluate the pros and cons of the situation.

 

Jim can’t pretend anymore that she doesn’t feel the desire curling low in her stomach when she looks at Sarek. She does, so she knows she’s not entirely against … whatever this is. The Vulcan Ambassador is fairly good looking and he is an incredibly good lover. The attraction between them may have been manufactured by their circumstances – as Jim knows that she never would have thought about the man that way before the bunker— but it exists. It’s there. And they both desperately need to blow off some steam, that’s for sure. So they can sort of…help each other out, in a way; release some of that tension that has been driving them mad these past few weeks. It’s not exactly a bad idea.

 

Except that it’s a terrible idea, for obvious reasons. The first being that Sarek is Spock’s father.

 

But Spock isn’t here. He’s not sharing this golden prison with you. Sarek is.

 

Hell, Spock probably wouldn’t even care. Why would he? You’re just his Captain.

 

In his sleep, Sarek lets out a soft sigh. Jim hesitates then, as silently as possible, she gets out of the bed and leaves the room on her tiptoes, closing the door behind her without looking back.

 

Her feet automatically take her to the bathroom where she gets rid of the sheet and enters the shower stall. The glass pane automatically slides shut behind her. Jim lifts her head and flinches when the cold water hits her, whipping her skin mercilessly. She doesn’t try to adjust the temperature even when she starts to shake uncontrollably, allowing that rain of ice to punish her instead.

 

She did nothing wrong. She owes Spock nothing. No one gets to judge her for sleeping with Sarek. That’s her business and hers alone.

 

Still, the eerie sense of guilt proves itself stronger than reason and Jim chokes on a sob, warm tears mixing with the freezing drops of water sliding down her face.

 

Self-hatred is a powerful thing. Jim had forgotten how devastatingly crushing it could be.

 


 

Ever since the illusion of their privacy shattered after the incident with the communicator, they’ve stopped storing the empty boxes around the bunker, putting them back in the middle of the main living area instead after every delivery and waiting for their captors to beam them back up. They never do it while Jim and Sarek are still within beaming distance, so the two prisoners would simply leave the room and go on about their day until they returned and found the boxes gone.

 

Hair still wet from the ruthless shower she’s taken, Jim promptly performs the task now, moving one box after another until they all end up piled at the beaming point. Only then does she take a look at the kitchen area, the sight pulling a groan out of her. As she bends down to clean up the mess they had made around the table, she tries not to think about how it felt to have Sarek press her there and kiss her with all the desperation of a starved man, tries even harder not to wonder about the depraved and greedy eyes that must have surely been observing them as they –…

 

Stop right there, Jim quietly admonishes herself. You’ll just drive yourself crazy. What’s done is done now. Learn to live with it.

 

“You ought to have waited for me.” Sarek’s voice suddenly resonates around her. “I would have helped you.”

 

Jim looks up, meets Sarek’s eyes, and quickly looks away. “It’s alright. There wasn’t much to do anyway.”

 

The silence that falls around them is so painfully uncomfortable that it makes her wince. They need to talk about what happened, but Jim has no idea how to even bring up the subject. From the corner of her eyes, she sees Sarek walking towards the couch and sit there. He’s wearing simple Vulcan robes today.

 

“Come sit with me, James.”

 

Jim would rather stay right where she is, out of reach in her own personal bubble, but she’s never been the type to run away. She’s an adult. She can do this.

 

Gathering her strength, she joins Sarek on the couch and sits cautiously, looking down at her lap and biting her lower lip.

 

« I don’t know what to say, » Jim finally cracks and admits.

 

Sarek nods. « Amanda would often demand that we vocalize our thoughts and discuss matters that, I admit, seemed redundant at the time, » he muses thoughtfully. « I could never understand the practice. »

 

Jim throws him an unimpressed look. « I don’t know about Vulcans, but sometimes we humans need to talk about about our illogical feelings in order to gain a sense of clarification. »

 

« What is there to clarify? » Sarek appears truly bewildered and, all of a sudden, Jim feels really bad for Amanda Grayson and applauds her seemingly endless patience.

 

She bites back a groan of exasperation. « You can’t be serious. »

 

« Well, I am certainly not jesting either. We are physically attracted to one another and consented to behave accordingly.  These natural urges are perfectly understandable, James. »

 

“That’s—…” Jim feels a blush sear through her cheeks and coughs, trying to mask her uneasiness. « It’s not that easy. »

 

« Did you not enjoy yourself ? » Sarek asks her with a lifted eyebrow, clearly dubious.

 

Ok, there’s no stopping the mortifying red covering her face now. « No –… I mean yes –… I mean –… » Jim pinches the bridge of her nose, wills herself to stop acting like a teenager. « I enjoyed myself very much. You know that. But Sarek, you don’t even like me. »

 

The Vulcan looks dumbfounded. « What gave you such foolish idea? » Perhaps it’s the incredulous expression on her face that gives him his answer, because Sarek sighs tiredly. « Do not be ridiculous, Kirk. You are a ressourcefull and intelligent young woman whom I respect greatly. In the past 7.8 months, you have shown a strenght of character few can claim to possess and gained my sincere admiration. »

 

Jim’s speechless.

 

« I-... What? »

 

There's no trace of deception in Sarek's voice. Only the upmost honesty. « I admire you. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I am not... displeased, to have you as my companion in these trying times. »

 

Her mouth opens in shock. She has to be hearing things. « Am I really that good in bed?! she blurts out stupidly.

 

Sarek looks like he's regretting a lot of things right now. « I assure you that my opinion on your person has in no way been impacted by your sexual performance which, fear not, was most satisfying. » 

 

«Oh my God, » she groans, absolutely mortified.

 

« James, » Sarek says and something in his voice makes Jim forget about the utter and complete embarassment she's experiencing at the moment, just for a second. « Despite our previous unfortunate disagreements, I am sincerely grateful for your presence here. » 

 

« Oh, » she breathes out, touched despite herself. « Thank you. »

 

« Your gratitude is illogical, but appreciated. »

 

That makes her snort and she can’t help the fondness blooming in her chest as she looks at the ridiculous Vulcan. It makes her feel lighter, but not enough to erase the apprehensiveness she’s been feeling since she got out of the Vulcan’s room. She looks away just as Sarek says. "Speak your mind, Kirk."

 

Jim settles more comfortably on the couch, pulling her legs under her. « Look, I get what you’re saying here, Sarek. And in a way I understand why things are so simple for you. I wish they could be the same for me. But can you understand that there isn’t a single part of me that can forget that you are Spock’s dad? »

 

There’s no response at first and Jim appreciates that. She would rather Sarek answers honestly instead of being deliberately obtuse and keeping on ignoring the elephant in the room.

 

Finally, she hears him ask quietly. « Is that such an insurmountable obstacle? »

 

Well, she supposes it’s time to lay all cards on the table. « Maybe, » Jim says quietly. « I don’t know. »

 

« You love him. » Not a question.

 

« Yes. » No hesitation.

 

Sarek titls his head, regards her oddly. «Does he return your affection? »

 

Jim flinches.

 

The things is, Sarek isn’t even asking this as some sort of provocation, Jim can see that he’s genuinely intrigued. But still, the unspoken challenge hits her right in the stomach, makes her look down and swallow back the sudden surge of sadness and hurt flowing within her.

 

« Probably not, » she admits, shoulders sloping in defeat. « Not like that, anyway. I thought—… It’s stupid, but I thought that perhaps he did. I was just being delusional, I suppose, seeing what I wanted to see. »

 

There’s a touch of relief in Sarek’s voice. Jim hates him a little for it. « Then I fail to understand the problem. Your behavior hints at a betrayal that exists only in your mind. I doubt my son would resent us for the solace we found in each other’s company. Is your friendship so weak that it cannot survive a bond created in a dire situation? »

 

« It’s not about that, » Jim tries to deflect. « I just –… I don’t even understand what you’re saying, Sarek. What are we now? Where do we go from here? »

 

« We exert patience until our approaching release and support each other to the best of our abilities. »

 

« What does that even mean? » Jim exclaims in a mix of irritation and bafflement. « The two of us having casual sex? Aren’t Vulcan supposed to be uncomfortable with such concepts? »

 

« Exceptional circumstances demand exceptional measures, do they not? » Sarek answers easily.

 

« Don't play games with me here. » 

 

« I am most certainly not, » Sarek exclaims, a little insulted. « However, I ask that you consider our common behavior objectively. Intercourse has brought us a much needed relief, do you deny it? »

 

Jim closes her eyes. « No. »

 

« In a stressful environment such as ours, we cannot disregard a course of action that can only benefit us both. » Sarek's voice sounds so sure, so certain. Perhaps a little too much.

 

He wants this, Jim realizes in pure disbelief. He truly wants this.

 

She hears him getting closer, feels his side brushing against hers and nearly jumps, startled, when his fingers lightly touch the tip of hers in a Vulcan kiss. Looking down incredulously, Jim is taken back to a quiet evening in her quarters where Spock explained that such gestures were only permitted between bondmates.

 

What the –…

 

Sarek brings her wrists to his lips, press a soft kiss there, mouth sliding on her bare skin in a tender caress. His eyes meet Jim’s, dark and nearly predatory.

 

She gulps nervously. « For this to work, the sex has to be meaningless, » she explains, breathing slightly uneven. « Feelings can’t be involved, Sarek. »

 

« I am Vulcan, Kirk. »

 

That’s not an answer, Jim thinks desperaingly, but she doesn't let the words breach the shield of her lips, doesn't try to turn away when Sarek moves even closer and presses her to him, kissing her firmly, wrapping his arms around her as she hesitantly puts her hands on his shoulders, leaning into him and tentatively opening her mouth to his eager tongue.

 

The contact of their mouths is slow and languid at first, but then Sarek's hand finds its way under her shirt and their kiss becomes so heated that Jim has to pull away to regain her ability to think « Wait, wait, wait, » she says weakly against his mouth despite his quiet protests. « If this is going to work—… Damn it, I can’t believe I’m doing this, » Jim mutters to herself.

 

« Kirk? »

 

She takes a deep breath and meets his hungry gaze straight on. « I need you to promise me that you’ll stay out of my head. »

 

Sarek’s eyes darken in anger, even if his voice stays perfectly calm and controlled. « Do not insult me by implying that I would disrespect your privacy so callously. »

 

Jim refuses to be shamed into silence. « You’re a touch telepath, Sarek. You wouldn’t even need to try. »

 

« Then rest assured that my control is as impeccable as it ever was. There is no need to fear me, Captain. »

 

He crushes his lips to hers before she can say anything else. This time, the kiss is more punishing than enthusiastic, full of teeth and bites, and Jim allows him to devour her mouth, pushing her fingers into his thick hair as his hand slides around the curve of her ass and grips it tight, pulling her all the way onto his lap.

 

Her heart is pounding in her chest, only she doesn't know if it's from fear or something else. It doesn't matter anyway. The choice has been made and there’s no turning back now.

 


 

That night, when she gets out of her room to grab a glass of water, she finds a simple, elegant red box casually put on the kitchen counter next to another bottle of that Romulan ale Jim had received last time.

 

The sight makes her blood burn in sudden and raging anger. She’s going to kill him. Spock’s relative or not, she’s going to find that monster and rip his heart out if it’s the last thing she does.

 

She grabs that box with a shaking hand. Chocolates. The bastard’s sent her fucking chocolates.

 

Jim barely keeps herself from throwing her glass against the wall and bites her lower lip hard enough to draw blood. Then she snaps.

 

When Sarek comes looking for her later, he doesn’t react to the shards of glass surrounding Jim, the strongly scented liquid flowing on the floor, the tore out red box she’s still holding tightly in her hands, empty of the small chocolate cubes that have been scattered a little bit everywhere. He quietly takes note of the destruction, then gently frees Jim of her weightless burden, throwing it carelessly aside. Jim says nothing, doesn’t even look at him as he slides one of his arms under her knees, the other around her waist, and lifts her as easily as a child.

 

Careful not to step on any shards of glass, Sarek takes her back to his room and closes the door behind them.

Chapter Text

 

“You’re getting better at this,” Jim remarks as she watches Sarek neatly cuts different vegetables, adding them to the broth already steaming in the cooking pot.

 

Sarek throws her an amused look. “I fear I had no choice but to improve my culinary skills, for you are quite demanding when the subject of food is concerned, James.”

 

A snort escapes her. “Not particularly. Let’s face it, you were just very bad at it.” To his credit, Sarek doesn’t actually deny the accusation, probably because he remembers as well as she does how his first attempts at cooking ended with Jim’s head in the toilet bowl. She suppresses a shiver at the memory, reaching for the plate full of freshly cut Gespar Sarek prepared for her as a snack. “These are really is really good, by the way,” she says happily, putting another piece of the red fruit in her mouth and letting out an appreciative hum at the taste. “Kind of reminds me of pineapple.”

 

Sarek’s fingers twitch nearly imperceptibly on the knife and Jim doesn’t need him to turn around to know that she’s said something that disturbed him. She frowns, unsure how to proceed, when Sarek simply puts the knife down and starts stirring the broth in the cooking pot. “Gespar is a fruit that was... greatly appreciated by Amanda,” he says, perfectly collected. “Human taste buds differ from ours and she often found our sustenance flavorless in many ways, I suppose. This fruit was one of the few exceptions to her dislike.”

 

Jim tries to lighten the tone. “She was a woman of great tastes, obviously.”

 

“Indeed she was,” Sarek simply says, finally turning around to face her. His face betrays nothing. “Fortunately, New Vulcan’s climate is favorable to the culture of Gespar and I would not be averse to creating an orchard on my propriety to cultivate them. It is vast enough to hold such purpose.”

 

“Not a bad idea,” Jim muses with a small smile. “You know, I’ve never been to New Vulcan.  I hope I get to see it, one day.”

 

“You will,” Sarek reassures her, still as confident as ever in the perspective of their future freedom. “Once we are released from these facilities, we shall travel to Vulcana Regar and you will be given the opportunity to satisfy your curiosity.”

 

Jim looks away, a little disturbed. We. It’s something Sarek has been doing a lot lately. Speaking of them as an unit, discussing future plans that somehow involve her as if he’s convinced that she’ll still be a part of his life once they get out. If they ever get out.

 

Maybe we won’t. Maybe this is my life now.

 

When it’s clear that she’s not going to break the silence, Sarek shrugs and goes back to chopping the rest of the vegetables. Jim absentmindedly finishes the plate of Gespar, her gaze seeming locked on Sarek’s hands, his long fingers wrapped around the knife handle, the movement of the sharp blade cutting through, proper, neat and repetitive—…

 

An idea takes root in her mind. Insane at first, then slowly becoming more and more realistic as she ponders on it. Could she do it? She could. This is their only real kitchen knife, the rest of the few cutlery they possess is useless. But that one knife would be enough. And she thinks she remembers seeing adhesive plaster in their first aid kit. It could work. It’s a stupid and senseless and ridiculous plan, but it could work.

 

Jim throws a quick glance at Sarek, already knowing that he’ll never go along with it. The Vulcan is so completely convinced that their situation is temporary that he won’t want to take the risk, to anger their captor and jeopardize the safe and comforting routine they’ve settled into. Plus, Sybok might not react the way she wants him to if he thinks Sarek has any part in this, might stay inactive just to punish him and then get rid of her body later.

 

But if he thinks Sarek is completely innocent—… Jim looks around her, take in the luxury they’re bathing in. Sybok obviously wanted his father to feel good here, comfortable enough to endure his imprisonment, so that means that in his own sick and twisted way, the man still cares about Sarek. He wouldn’t want to see him suffer.

 

And Sarek cares about her. Enough that losing her would hurt him.

 

Yes, she’s got the beginning of a plan.

 

“James?” Sarek’s voice pulls her out of her thoughts. “Are you well?”

 

“Yeah,” Jim smiles, a little breathless as she tries to control her racing heart. “I’m great.”

 


 

The rest of the day passes so torturously slow and it drives Jim absolutely mad.

 

She endures those endless hours with a scream stuck in her throat, rasping and nearly painful and desperate to be let out. Sarek, of course, knows instantly that there’s something wrong with her and how could he not? Despite her best efforts to appear normal, Jim’s fidgety and jumpy, her mind constantly elsewhere and barely paying him any attention at all. Still, he leaves her be and she suspects that he thinks she’s simply in one of her moods. Good. His obliviousness makes things easier.

 

More than once, she’s tempted to just tell him. The words are there, right behind her tightly closed lips, but through sheer determination alone she manages to stay silent. Revealing her plan – her ridiculous, dangerous, irresponsible plan – is too risky. She can’t control Sarek or his reactions, has no way of knowing if he would support her or try to stop her, though she suspects the former option is more probable. And even if Jim does decide to fill him in, she has no idea if Sarek could even manage to pull it off. Perhaps Sybok knows him too well to be fooled. Plus, if things go wrong, then she doesn’t want him to be punished alongside with her.

 

It’s too risky and she vehemently crushes that small, barely audible voice in her head that advises her against that decision. No matter the outcome, Sarek will be hurt. Either by her secrets and silence, or—…

 

Jim refuses to think about the worst case scenario. Because if by some miracle she manages to succeed… well, that would be worth all the hurt in the world.

 

So she says nothing and can’t bring herself to feel guilty about it.

 

Clock's ticking, bringing her closer to her goal, and Jim feels the already unbearable anticipation building up even more within her, blood in her veins burning with familiar adrenaline.

 

It all comes out after dinner. Usually, by this time of the day, Sarek would grab a book and read for an hour or so before retiring to his room. Either she would join him, or she would wish him a good night and sleep in her own bed. But as they clear up the table, Jim’s eyes catch the kitchen knife lying innocently on the counter, tormenting her with its presence alone and ready to be used.

 

That’s it. She can’t wait any longer. Sarek needs to go to sleep right the fuck now.

 

Just as the man passes by her, she grabs him by his shirt and, with no warning, crushes their mouths together.

 

Sarek stiffens in surprise, body rigid and as responsive as a rock, but that only lasts for a few seconds before she’s wrapped in his arms and his lips open under the pressure of her tongue, allowing her to deepen the kiss. The contact is instantly a hard one, nearly violent, no trace of gentleness anywhere but acting as an outlet for all the repressed emotions she’s kept tightly locked inside all day. Her hands are already under his shirt, feeling the muscles of his back, nails scratching his bare skin.

 

“James,” Sarek sighs into her mouth, dropping small kisses alongside her jawline, then neck. “James.”

 

Jim doesn’t respond, just pulls him towards the bedroom.

 

Sarek’s passion only equals hers, though his exists for entirely different reasons, and more than once Jim thinks they’re going to break the bed with how energetic they’re being. She rides him until he comes with a throaty moan, back arching off the mattress, fingers gripping her hips tightly enough to leaves marks. Far from being done, Sarek rolls them over on the damp sheets, mouth already on hers, hungry and demanding, kissing her until the lack of air makes her pant against his lips, until he becomes hard again and they go for another round. Vulcan refractory period never fails to impress her.

 

Sarek’s breathing is erratic against her ear, his deep, grave voice whispering vulcan words to her, words that she doesn’t understand but already know are terms of endearments through tone alone. Words that would make her uncomfortable and uneasy any other day, only she can’t bring herself to care about it now. Not with Sarek pounding into her like he wants to break her apart and she feels like she might actually do so.

 

Her second orgasm is as powerful as the first, making her shake under its force as she digs her nails into Sarek’s skin, clenching automatically around his him. Jim could have cried in relief when she feels his cock pulsing inside and he finally, finally spills his warm load into her once more.

 

A nearly inaudible cry escapes him. “James.”

 

Jim keeps him close to her, palming his back and buttocks as he’s racked with tremors. This time, she knows he’s done. His body suddenly goes lax on hers but he makes no efforts to move, pressing his lips gently to hers instead in a lazy kiss. It’s nice; makes her sigh pleasantly against his mouth. Jim allows herself to be more affectionate than she would usually be, cups his face and tenderly strokes his face, a silent apology for what she’s about to do.

 

Eventually, she pushes against his shoulders. Sarek instantly gets the message and she winces as he pulls out of her. The Vulcan rolls to his side, breathing still slightly uneven. Jim feels him reaching for her hand and she pulls it away without a word, out of reach. He doesn’t try again. She waits, her focus entirely on her companion.

 

When his breathing evens out and, after what seems to be an eternity, he mercifully falls asleep, Jim has to bite her lower lip to keep herself from crying.

 

This is it….

 

…. and she’s paralyzed.

 

She physically cannot bring herself to get out of this bed, not now, her emotions having reached their crescendo and leaving her unable to breathe, let alone move.

 

What if she fails? Worse, what if she succeeds and it doesn’t change anything?

 

The panic is too strong at the moment, compressing her chest painfully and bringing tears to her eyes. 5 minutes. She can take 5 minutes to get a hold of herself and calm down. 300 seconds where she’s allowed to be a coward and stay safe in this comfortable bed, warmed from all sides.

 

Jim takes slow steadying breaths. The panic slowly recedes. Her pounding heart stop feeling like it’s going to rip her ribcage apart. And through all of it, her mind flashes back to all the reasons she has to do this. To take this chance even if it means the worst.

 

I want my ship back. I want my life back.

 

I want to see my friends again. Bones. Winona.

 

Spock.

 

She gets out of the bed.

 

Walking on her tiptoes, Jim grabs her clothes on the floor and puts them on silently, throwing one last look at Sarek before leaving the room. He’s deeply asleep. Good.

 

No time to waste in second guesses, it’s too late to back down. Jim figures if she doesn’t take the time to actually contemplate the insanity of her actions, then she’ll be fine. This, she knows how to do, how to make good use of the adrenaline pumping in her veins, to jump without looking and for the first time since she woke up in this hellish place, she feels  like her old self.

 

She goes to the bathroom first, grabs the first aid kit and opens it with steady hands, takes the pitiful adhesive tape that will just have to be enough for what she has planned. Then she goes to the main living area. The knife is still where they have left it. Put unassumingly on the kitchen counter.

 

Jim grabs the handle, looks up at the ceiling and gives it the middle finger.

 

Then she runs.

 

Runs back to her bedroom as quickly and discreetly as possible, closing the door behind her with next to no noise. There’s no lock, but that’s alright, she doesn’t exactly want that door to be closed. But it has to look like she wants to barricade herself, so she pushes the dresser against it, nothing their captors won’t be able to overcome easily. If she’s right, then she has approximately 30 seconds before they beam down and try to stop her.

 

She rushes to the bed, throws the blankets on the floor and tears a large piece of sheet. The knife is helpful in that. Thankfully, the ventilation plates are smaller in the bedrooms than they are in the rest of the bunker, so that works in her advantage. Using the tape, she covers the black grid with the white sheet, covering as much surface as she can, using the entire adhesive to add another layer to her pitiful barrier. It’s not much, but it’ll do long enough for her purposes. 

 

Jim smells the gas just as she finishes.

 

Heart in her throat, she falls on her ass and crawls on the floor until she reaches the overthrown covers, knife held tightly in her hand, and brings the sharp blade to her wrist.

 

Do it.

 

She cuts.

 

Horizontally. Not too deep. Just enough to break the skin and draw the amount of blood necessary to make it believable. Nothing she can’t treat herself, but Sybok doesn’t know that.

 

A voice that sounds suspiciously like Bones screams in her head that she’s not a doctor, she has no idea if she cut too deep or not, and even if she could take care of the wound by herself, she can’t afford to wait too long before doing it.

 

Jim helpfully tells that voice to shut up.

 

She allows the knife to slip out of her hand, still within reach, and lets her wrist fall rather dramatically on the covers, ignoring the sensation of her blood sliding down her skin, the sight of the beige blanket tainted with red.

 

Jim closes her eyes. Hopefully, whoever’s watching will just think that she’s falling unconscious. Instead, she listens.

 

At first, she can only hear the sound of the ventilation system breaking the deadly silence of the lifeless bunker. Seconds are felt like hours and she has no idea how long she actually waits, just that the waiting itself is endless but then—…

 

A bang against the door.

 

Jim nearly jumps out of her skin and forces her nerves to turn into steel. She can’t afford to show a reaction, not when she’s supposed to be unconscious and she has no idea if they still have someone monitoring her movements.

 

As planned, whoever’s trying to break the door down does it easily and she hears the sound of the dresser sliding away as more noises filter into her room. Voices. Goddamn voices.

 

Jim stops breathing.

 

“… – she’s fucking insane, I tell ya that, the boss drove her mad. What the fuck was she thinking?” A man, Jim catalogs quickly. Brash. Loud. Definitely not Sybok.

 

“Isolation can prove itself to be a dangerous influence, even against the strongest minds.” Another man. More soft spoken than the first. “I must say, I did not believe she would prove herself to be so… frail.”

 

Ah, Vulcan condescension. She’s nearly forgotten what it’s like. Fuck you too.

 

From what she can tell, they’re the only ones in the room, the footsteps getting closer to her appearing to belong to these two alone. She has no way of truly knowing, but she’s giving herself 10 more seconds to be as sure as possible. She can’t afford more, not with the door opened and the sleeping gas leaking inside.

 

“Remind me why we’re saving her again?” Loud guy complains. He’s the one closest to her. And, dear god, he smells.

 

“Despite the inconvenience she poses, she is a cherished companion of Ambassador Sarek. Zar fears that her loss would wound him deeply.”

 

“No shit. A man has needs and she seems to fulfill them extremely well, from what I can tell.” Jim doesn’t need to see him to know that he’s leering. “No wonder the old man is crazy about her, but you can’t really blame him, can ya? I mean, look at her. I’d fall in love too.”

 

Well, at least he’s making this easy. The pig’s going down first.

 

“Cease wasting our time and tend to her wound. I wish to return to the surface as quickly as possible. There was another breach in our security system last night and Zar asked us to reinforce it.”

 

A breach—… Never mind. She doesn’t have time to ponder on that, not when she’s already starting to feel a little dizzy, either from the blood loss or the gas.

 

When the pig takes a hold of her wrist, she strikes.

 

Her free hand finds the knife easily and, too quick for any of the two men to catch up, she plants it right in Pig’s thigh. A scream tears out of his throat and she only catches the humanoid features behind the breather he’s wearing before his acolyte forcibly pulls her away.

 

“Bitch! You fucking bitch!”

 

Jim loses the knife. Cursing herself silently, and ignoring her victim’s agony who keeps screaming bloody murder as he clutches his leg, she wills her body to remember everything Sarek’s taught her these past few months. And it does. Vulcans are three times stronger than humans, but she knows how to go around that.

 

He may be stronger, but she’s faster. And she actually knows how to fight.

 

The Vulcan has her elbow in a strong hold, but he keeps his arm stretched, which allows her to slip under it. The movement makes his fingers slide around her skin until he has no choice but to release her with a curse. The second she’s free, Jim hits him behind his knees, his lower back, making him stumble and fall. Once he’s down, she grabs him by his hair and bangs his head against the corner of the dresser with every bit of strength she has left. Once. Twice. His breather breaks, robbing him of any sort protection. Still, she keeps hitting his head until his painful cries turn into complete silence.

 

Her throat is raw. Only when she lets go does she realizes that she was screaming.

 

“Fuck,” Pig gasps a few feet away, watching his unconscious – or maybe dead – partner with horror. He’s still holding his thigh, hands and pants covered in blood, knife still planted in the flesh. She wonders if she hit the femoral artery. That would explain why he didn’t take the blade out.

 

Her head turns. Without the adrenaline, the dizziness becomes even stronger and she has to catch herself on the wall to keep standing.

 

“Your breather,” she orders breathlessly. “Now. Or your head’s next.”

 

Pig hurriedly obeys, getting rid of his breather with shaky fingers and throwing it to her. She catches it in extremis before falling to her knees, her vision darkening around the edges. Immediately, she puts the breather on.

 

Breathing has never felt so good.

 

Jim inhales deeply. Feels the pure air filling her lungs deliciously and gives herself a few seconds to enjoy it. No more. If back up isn’t already on its way, then it’s sure as hell about to be.

 

Move, Kirk. Fucking move, dammit.

 

Jim crawls towards the unconscious Vulcan, still feeling weak. The dizziness isn’t as strong as it was, but it’s still there, and she throws a curious glance to her bleeding wrist, having forgotten the wound was there at all. Hum. Maybe she cut deeper than she had meant too.  Never mind. She wraps a shred of the sheets she had disregarded earlier and wraps it around her wrist before turning the Vulcan’s limp body on its back and searching him thoroughly.

 

“Whatever it is you’re trying to do, it won’t work,” Pig warns her weakly, obviously struggling to stay conscious. Welcome to the club, asshole. “You’re dead meat, bitch.”

 

“Charming,” she drawls as she keeps searching. “Where are we?”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

Jim reaches for the knife, twists the blade and tries not to feel satisfied at the pitiful whimpers escaping the man.

 

“I won’t ask twice.”

 

“I don’t know!” He cries, rendered more vehement by the pain. “I don’t know! I’ve been in this damn place for as long as you have. Exterior communications are cut off. They never even told me the name of the fucking planet! I swear, I don’t …” his voice becomes weaker. “… I don’t know…”

 

Jim looks at him. Says nothing. Then twist the knife a little more.

 

Pig’s crying big fat tears now, but he looks like he doesn’t have the strength to utter a single sound anymore.

 

“…Sector 2158…” He still manages to say between hard drawn breaths. Jim freezes. “… that’s all I… Sector…” She thinks she hears him mutter one last “bitch” before the sleeping gas knocks him out. Or maybe that’s the pain’s doing.

 

The Yadalla System, Jim realizes, feeling nauseous.

 

“Back to where it all began, uh?” A bitter laugh escapes her. Passed out on the floor, Pig doesn’t respond. “Idiot,” she spats before moving fully towards him. There’s nothing of use on the Vulcan, but this guy seems much less careful so maybe—…

 

Please, she prays to the heavens, to the Earth Gods, to any higher spirit who might be listening to her. Please, please, please…

 

And then she finds it. Rectangular, hard and thick with a smooth surface, the device fitting perfectly in her hand.

 

A communicator, Jim thinks disbelievingly, gazing at the small object with desperate wonder. “Oh God,” she gasps, feeling like she’s about to pass out, gripping the device so tightly that her palm hurts.

 

She did it.

 

Her fingers are shaking so hard that she has trouble activating the communicator. It’s not ideal, the poor object obviously having seen better days and not really what she would call advanced technology, but Jim swears she’s never seen anything so beautiful in her life.

 

She has a semblance of a location now. The Yadalla System, Sector 2158, Beta Quadrant. That’s near the Romulan Neutral Zone, so Earth’s out of range. But depending on the Enterprise’s position, she might be able to get a signal out.

 

Jim types the code she still knows by heart, even after all this time, and waits, blood pounding in her ears.

 

It doesn’t go through.

 

“Shit,” she rasps, feeling the despair gaining on her. She tries again. “Come on, please.”

 

Still nothing.

 

She exhales, willing herself to stay calm. Alright. That’s alright. Starfleet or the Enterprise would have been easier, but as long as she can still get a message out, then they’ll be fine. Unless—…

 

Jim’s eyes widen in remembrance. Last time she had spoken to Winona, her mother said something about settling on Antar, near the border. That’s closer. Probably within range. That could… that could work.

 

It could work.

 

Heart pounding so hard that she feels like it’s going to rip her chest apart, Jim starts typing the right code when she hears it. A beam down in the main living area.

 

They’re here.

 

Possessed by a newfound energy, the sort that can only be born out of terror and desperation, Jim throws her entire body against the door, closing it just as the first shots of phasers reach her.

 

Miraculously, the call goes through. Now she can only pray.

 

Come on, Winona, pick up.

 

Something seemingly large and strong bangs against the door, nearly throwing her off, but she stands her ground, pushing back with her whole weight and drawing strength she didn’t even know she possessed from somewhere deep within her.

 

Mom, please.

 

Winona doesn’t pick up. But Jim’s still connected to her voicemail.

 

“Mom, it’s me! Ambassador Sarek and I are held prisoners somewhere in Sector 2158 and—…”

 

The door opens so abruptly that Jim’s sent sprawling on the floor, rapping her bare elbows against it. The burning sensation barely gets a hiss out of her; it’s losing her grip on the communicator that has her gasping in fear.

 

No, she thinks despairingly. No!

 

Jim’s grabbed by the neck and only has time to watch a masked man kneel by the unconscious Vulcan’s side before everything goes black.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The first thing Jim registers when she regains consciousness is the killer headache pounding in her skull. The second, a white bandage neatly wrapped around her wrist, she sees through a blurry vision slowly adjusting as she fully wakes up.

 

The third is Sarek’s definitely pissed off expression as he glares down at her.

 

“Before you say anything,” Jim rasps painfully, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “Just know that I didn’t try to kill myself, okay? ”

 

“Rest assured that any preconceived idea I could have harbored about your possible suicidal tendencies disappeared when I found the state of your rooms,” the Vulcan says through gritted teeth.

 

Jim sighs. “So I guess that means it’s still a mess?” Well, she supposes she can’t blame her captors for not taking care of it. She’s surprised enough as it is to still be in the bunker in one piece.

 

“Kirk,” Sarek says with barely restrained anger. “You will explain yourself now.”

 

With some difficulty, Jim sits up on the couch, groaning as she does so. Her movements are slow, weak, and a wave of dizziness washes over her as soon as she abandons the comfortable lying position. Still, she shakes her head, forces herself to focus on the here and now.

 

“Give me a minute,” she whines pitifully.

 

No such luck. “Now.”

 

His tone breaks no argument, so for once, Jim does what he asks without protesting. She tells him everything, from that crazy idea involving their one kitchen knife to the bedsheets she had used to block the ventilation system in her room, tells him about the two men who had fallen for her tricks and beamed down to treat her wound, glosses over the fight that took place but can’t hide the note of triumph in her tone as she reveals that she got an approximate location out of their captors.

 

“The Yadalla System,” she says, managing to sound excited despite the roughness of her voice.  She deliberately ignores the way that name makes her chest hurt a little, still, after all this time. “There’s only a few planets in that sector, and I figured that if I just managed to get a message through then—…”

 

“Have you?” Sarek interrupts her harshly, gaze fixed on the wall in front of them and sitting so still that he might as well pass for a statue. “Were you successful in conveying our location to possible allies?”

 

Jim opens her mouth, then promptly closes it. Desolation abruptly falls down like a weight on her shoulders, robbing her of the well earned satisfaction she had been experiencing up until now.

 

She can’t tell him.

 

She can’t say anything, not when there’s a chance their conversation‘s currently being monitored. It’s too much of a risk. She has to stay quiet.

 

“I –…” Her mouth is dry and she swallows with some difficulty. “No.”  Silence. “One of the men had a communicator on him but I couldn’t make contact with Starfleet or the Enterprise. They stopped me before I could deliver the message.”

 

“So you have nothing.” Condemnatory and unpitying.

 

Jim tries to suppress the irritation she feels building. Sarek doesn’t have all the facts, she can’t blame him for his judgement. “I have answers,” she protests steadily. “Answers that we’ve been deprived of for too long now. That’s something, at least. And maybe next time—…”

 

Next time?” Sarek’s voice is as sharp as the blade she’d used to cut her skin. The Vulcan snaps his attention back to her, a quiet storm hidden in his eyes. He looks furious. “You reckless, irresponsible fool. Have you no regard for your own safety? Are you a mere child, incapable of comprehending the consequences of your actions?  I cannot accept that you deliberately compromised our position, all in the name of a single piece of information that is of no use to us, and dare to speak of it with pride! Nirak!”

 

Jim winces. No need to be fluent in Vulcan to understand what that means. “I did what I thought was best. I fought back."

 

"Kirk-..."

 

"Look, I realize that I scared you, and I’m sorry for that, but you won’t ever hear me say that I regret it.” Sarek lets out a growl of disgust and she grabs his arm before he can stand up and walk away. “Wait!” The man glares at her. Jim just tightens her grip on him in response. “There’s something you should know. The men who beamed down spoke of someone named ‘Zar’ and I got the impression that he was the one calling the shots around here.”

 

She might as well be holding cold marble within her hands, for all Sarek reacts. Complete indifference isn’t the result she thought she would obtain here. Shouldn’t he be overjoyed by the news? It makes her frown and she leans forward, intent on catching his eye. “That’s a good thing, isn’t it? It means Sybok isn’t the one who—…”

 

“You conclusion is erroneous,” the Vulcan cuts her off coldly. “ ‘Zar’ is but the name I had wished to bestow upon my son on the day of his birth.” His jaw clenched. “His mother disapproved.”

 

Well, shit. Speechless, Jim does nothing as Sarek pulls his arm free and gets up from the couch, putting some distance between them as if he couldn’t bear facing her at the moment. His fingers twitch by his sides, the only sign of frustration she can discern from here.

 

“I suppose your madness has brought us the final piece of evidence we required to approve our initial hypothesis.”

 

Jim closes her eyes, letting her forehead fall on her hand and suddenly feeling, as he said, very foolish. She thought she was bringing him good news, was genuinely happy that the few bits of information she’d be able to share would at least offer him some peace of mind. Unburden him of the terrible knowledge that his son is responsible for their current situation.

 

Instead she’s probably crushed the very last threads of hopes he was hanging onto.

 

Jim sighs wearily. “I’m sorry.”

 

“I do not care for your apology,” the Vulcan spits and it occurs to Jim that a few months ago she wouldn’t have been able to detect the scorn in Sarek’s nearly impassible tone. But here they are now. Close enough to know each other intimately like only lovers could.

 

The thought still makes her feel uneasy.

 

A hand grabs her chin and guides her to face its owner. The touch isn’t forceful, in fact Sarek’s fingers stay gentle and it would be easy to escape his grip, but the look he gives her has her swallowing back a sudden wave of nervousness.

 

All of a sudden, his anger seems to have deserted her Vulcan companion. “Have I not yet earned your trust?” he asks softly. His thumb strokes Jim’s jawline. “Have I not earned the right to know your thoughts? To voice an opinion on matters that could potentially endanger your life?”

 

“It wasn’t about trust,” Jim says just as quietly.

 

“Have I not earned more, James?” He insists, moving his hand from her chin to her shoulder and encouraging her to get up, wrapping his arms around her once she does.

 

Jim blinks in surprise but doesn’t fight against the pull. She can’t say she’s comfortable with the intimate contacts Sarek tries to initiate between them from time to time, not when it happens outside of the sex. There’s a clear delimitation in her mind between what they do together and what they are to each other. Sarek and her… they’re not a couple. They don’t do these sorts of things.

 

“Sarek—…”

 

“I had believed the significant changes of our rapports would, at the very least, prove to be sufficient in order to be treated with even the smallest amount of respect on your part.”

 

“I told you, it wasn’t about that.”

 

“This explanation is insufficient, James. I cannot help but wonder if the possibility of our demise had crossed your mind as you put your plan into practice?”

 

“Sybok wouldn’t have hurt you. I was counting on that,” she fires back.

 

“Nonetheless, he could have harmed you. It certainly would have been a far easier option to let you die, helpless and bleeding out while I was sleeping in the next room. Have you thought about the possibility that I might simply wake up and find your lifeless body lying on the ground? You would have subjected me to such agony once more? The fact alone that you would manipulate me—…”

 

“I didn’t manipulate—…”

 

“Do not lie to me,” despite the gentleness of his touch, Sarek’s eyes were blazing at her obvious lie.

 

A chill crawls up her spine. She feels trapped. “Please, stop.”

 

The Vulcan tilts his head, observes her curiously like a scientist would a peculiar specimen.

 

“It is terribly ironic, is it not? That the most illogical and emotional human I have ever met should ignite such potent reactions from my person? As our time together grows, James, so does my understanding of Surak’s sacred principles. Logic has saved our people, for our passions would have surely destroyed us.”

 

He nuzzles her cheek, presses his forehead against her temple.

 

Jim freezes. Sarek doesn’t seem to realize the negative effect his attempts at closeness have on her. She bites her lip when he kisses her forehead. “Ashayam—…”

 

“Ok, just stop!” Jim pulls away from Sarek’s embrace, heart hammering in her chest. “You can’t –… You can’t be saying these things, Sarek! We’d agreed, both of us, you told me you understood!”

 

This is wrong, it’s all wrong, she needs to take a step back and regain some semblance of calm, because if she doesn’t she’ll just keep throwing Sarek’s feelings in his face like they mean nothing, like he means nothing, and the last thing she wants is to treat him that callously. But her mouth won’t stop vomiting word after word, fueled by the panic she’s felt as she stood still and heard his freaking love confession.

 

“I didn’t tell you about what I was planning because it was none of your business! What happens to me shouldn’t concern you!  And, god, I knew you’d try to stop me out of some chivalrous attempt to keep me safe. But I don’t need your protection, Sarek. I need to get out of this place. I need my life back. I want my life back and it’s freaking me out that you don’t seem to want the same for you. This isn’t –…” She gestures between them, around them, at loss for the right words and unable to stop the scourge of wrong ones, unable to even look at Sarek directly as she spats them in his direction. “This isn’t real. I refuse to let it become real and I really, really need you to understand that. So please, stop. Stop with the random touching. Stop with the pet-names. Stop talking about us like our life together will continue outside of these walls. It won’t.

 

She storms out of the room before he can respond and does her damnest to ignore the ever rising guilt swirling in her chest and seemingly pressing her inner organs. She’s crossed a line, she knows that as soon as she escapes Sarek’s suffocating presence.

 

The bathroom seems to be as good place as any to hide.

 

Deep calming breaths do nothing to appease her. “Fuck,” she curses as she grabs the edge of the bathroom sink and looks at her reflection in the mirror.

 

She looks like a mess.

 

“Way to go, Kirk,” she sighs, feeling emotionally drained. “Damn it.”

 

Stomach in knocks and just feeling extremely worn-out all of a sudden, she sits on the floor, back pressed against one of the shower’s glass panels, bringing her knees to her chest and hiding her face in her arms.

 

Okay. There’s nothing she can do about Sarek right now, but her little stunt allowed her to learn a lot more than she had first expected. Information is key. Information is life. She’s learned that a long time ago.

 

They now have the confirmation that Sybok is behind their capture. Sarek was the target and his well-being clearly matters to his son. He didn’t spare her life out of the goodness of his heart, he did it because he didn’t want his father to be in pain. So there’s a big chance that Sarek’s right when he says that the crazy Vulcan will let them go eventually, but it could take months, if not years, and there’s no way in hell Jim’s allowing this to happen.

 

They also have an approximate location. Sector 2158. Memories of Tarsus IV threaten to overwhelm her and she crushes them mercilessly, pushing them back into the furthest, darkest corner of her mind and refusing to lose herself in the past. Maybe she’s on a neighboring world, maybe she truly is back on that cursed planet, but any of those two options are irrelevant at the moment.

 

One of the men also spoke of a breach in the security system, something he needed to take care of right away. Jim tries not to get her hopes up about that one, because it could literally mean anything. What matters is that she got a message out.

 

She did it. It’s out there now, a tangible trace, as useful as a trail of bread crumbs but still leading back to them anyway, waiting to be heard and used.

 

The sheer excitement rushing to her head is so tangled with the terror of a possible failure that it makes her lightheaded.

 

Jim’s done everything she can.

 

Now they wait.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

It takes her some time to get out of the bathroom but, eventually, she does find the will to get up from the cold floor and rejoin the rest of the bunker. The corridors are silent, Sarek is nowhere to be found and Jim tries not to feel too relieved at that. Common sense dictates that she at least tries to fix things between them, the sooner the better, but she wouldn’t even know where to start.

 

Regret swells in her chest. Jim had meant what she said. She definitely shouldn’t have gone off on him like that, surely there were better ways to express herself and make him understand her position, but Sarek had been so intent, focused on her with the sort of overwhelming intensity that she might enjoy in bed but scares her at any other time, and she just –… She snapped.

 

Perhaps a little time apart will do them good. Not too much, just enough to let him cool off. The last thing she wants is for them to fall back onto old behaviors and revisit that awful time where they would avoid the hell out of each other and not speak for days. They’re better than that now. They have to be. So Jim already knows she’ll seek him out eventually, maybe after lunchtime, but for now, giving him his space is probably the best thing she can do for. AT least for a few hours.

 

Turns out, she doesn’t get the opportunity to seek out her Vulcan companion at all. True to Sarek’s words, Jim’s bedroom looks like a war zone. The mattress of her bed has been turned over and practically torn apart, her blankets and sheets are still disregarded on the floor, all tainted red by her blood. Rubbing her wrist unconsciously, Jim’s gaze finds the ventilation system, now devoid of the pitiful barrier she had clamped on it. Figures.

 

For a second, she’s tempted to turn her back on this mess and simply leave it as it is. Just for a second, though.

 

“Alright, Kirk,” she mutters to herself. “Roll up your sleeves and let’s do this.”

 

Time flies by as she gets to work, so much that she doesn’t realize she’s skipped lunch until her stomach starts to growl. Still, she refuses to leave until she’s done. The task has the extraordinary benefit of taking her mind off things for a little while, nothing matters but these four walls and the never ending movement of her hands as they use the ruined sheets to wipe out most of the blood on the floor and dresser, hers and Pig’s and The Vulcan’s indiscriminately, as they use the few sponges they have to clean up the rest of it, aggressively scrubbing at the stone floor, at the wooden surface of the chest, until the water in the bucket is no longer limpid and the red stains don’t seem as dark anymore. She can’t get rid of them entirely, paler as they may be, the colors will always remind her of what took place in this room. What she’s done. Knife in a thigh. Head bashed and crushed.

 

Good. Jim wants the reminder, feels a kind of perverted sense of satisfaction at it. During her worst days, she’ll take a look at those precious stains and remember how she made her captors suffer, how she made them scream and moan in pain. Perhaps even killed them. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that she fought back and she succeeded and it felt so fucking good. It felt like coming back to life.

 

She’s riding on the success, she knows, and eventually the euphoria will die down, but for now Jim’s going to enjoy the heck out of it.

 

Once she’s done, she takes a look around her. The easier thing to do would be to just get rid of everything and throw the unsalvageable items at the beaming spot. After that, she might as well pick another room as her own but, truthfully, she strangely got attached to this one. So Jim takes her old mattress out in the corridor and goes to another room to grab a new one. These things are frustratingly heavy and she struggles to maintain a good grip on it as she does her best to drag it across the corridor. Sarek’s name is right on the tip of her tongue, but she keeps her mouth shut anyway. Bedroom decoration is definitely not a good enough reason to call out for him.

 

Eventually, she gets that useless mass all the way to the finish point, throwing it a little too abruptly on the bed if the painful sounds of the springs are any indication. Sheets and blankets are the next step, which she retrieves easily, then it’s just a matter of pushing the dresser back in its original place and… That’s it. She’s done.

 

 There’s a nice sort of fatigue that settles over Jim the second she allows her body to stop and rest at last, the kind that can only happen by doing something productive. Unsurprisingly, the bunker doesn’t offer many opportunities for that.

 

She’s sweating due to the effort, tee-shirt clinging to her damp skin. A tingling sensation at her wrist has her looking down in surprise. Hum. She’s forgotten about that. Unwrapping the now grimy bandage, she’s not even surprised to discover her almost spotless skin under it. Whoever tended to her wound, they must have had access to a dermal regenerator, because the scar is as faint and discreet as it can possibly be.

 

Why leave the bandage then? The answer to that comes easily. To draw Sarek’s attention right where she doesn’t want it, of course.

 

“Asshole,” she growls.

 

Nothing she can do about that now.

 

Bedroom issue taken care of, she takes a quick shower and finally, finally goes searching for the former Ambassador. Jim’s left him to his own devices far too long already.

 

She finds him the training room, sitting crossed legs in the middle of the mat, and despite the fact that he has none of his usual items for it, deep in meditation.

 

Or not. Taking a closer look, it slowly becomes obvious that Sarek is currently incapable of finding his center. His posture is too stiff, his fingers keep twitching, not to mention that the look on his face is anything but peaceful, brows just slightly furrowing, creating fine lines in the space between them.

 

Jim has no idea how long she stays that way, leaning on the wall with her arms crossed as she observes Sarek and waits for him to acknowledge her presence. Because he has to know she’s here already, and if he hasn’t reacted yet, it’s probably because he doesn’t want to be the first one to break the silence between them.

 

Not that she can blame him. Awful as the execution might have been, it still must have taken a lot of courage for Sarek to share the true nature of his feelings with her, and she can’t say that she’s proud of the way she’s reacted. The Vulcan has every right to give her the cold shoulder.

 

Finally leaving her observatory spot, Jim joins Sarek without a word. He only deigns to open his eyes when she sits front of him and tentatively puts her hands on his knees. His eyes are too guarded. Too reminiscent of his indifference towards during the first few months of their imprisonment.

 

“I’m sorry,” she exhales.

 

 “I fail to discern the logic in apologizing for asserting a truth.” The coldness of his tone makes her wince. “You were not mistaken in your statement that we were both perfectly aware of the conditions inherent to this arrangement when we chose to enter it. I certainly cannot pretend to have been misled by your intentions, which have been clear from the start. The fault is mine, Kirk. That is all there is to say.”

 

Jim frowns. “Don’t do that, Sarek. You have every right to be angry at me.” She cups his cheek gently. “I’m sorry that I hurt you. I just—… You were saying all these things and I—…  I panicked, alright?”

 

Sarek stiffens, but makes no move to pull away. Jim decides to take that as a win.

 

“But you have to know that it doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you,” she continues reassuringly, willing some warmth to return to his gaze. “I wouldn’t be doing this with you if I didn’t. All these months, and you’re the only thing that kept me sane.” That, and her sheer belief that Spock will find them, but she decides that Sarek doesn’t need to hear that right at this moment. He probably already knows anyway. “Sarek, I—….I need you.”

 

“Because your survival depends on it,” Sarek retorts coldly.

 

Jim shakes her head. “Is it really just mine?” She traces his jawline soothingly. “We’re trapped god knows where with no way out and no idea when we’re going to be found. We’re all the other’s got left. And I’m not going to lie to you and pretend that this…thing, that’s happening between us isn’t wrong. It is. It’s such a huge fucking mistake that sometimes I wonder if the men upstairs haven’t messed with our brains. But you were right when you said it helped us cope with all the craziness and that we didn’t have the luxury to deny ourselves that small comfort. We need each other, Sarek. If we don’t stick together, we’re never going to make it.”

 

At first, there’s no response to her words. But then Sarek takes her elbows and brings her towards him. Jim doesn’t protest when she finds herself on the man’s lap. The last thing she wants is for Sarek to feel even more rejected. So, for once, she allows the contact, lifting herself up to fully straddle him and crossing her legs around his back, effectively trapping him against her. Slowly, she starts to feel Sarek lose some of his stiffness, tension draining from him at last until, eventually, Jim doesn’t quite feel like she’s hugging a block of ice anymore. 

 

Sarek lets out a small sigh. “I cannot help my desires, Kirk.”

 

A pang of sadness hits her. “I know. And I truly don’t blame you for them. I just—… I don’t know what to do here.” Then, after a moment of hesitation. “Do you want to put a stop to this?”

 

“Do you?” It sounds like a challenge.

 

Jim hesitates.

 

Human contact. Human warmth. She’s always thrived on those and it seems pretty clear at this point that she doesn’t do well with isolation. In fact, Bones used to say that she was the most touch starved person— “dumbass”— he’s ever met. Life in the bunker is nothing short of excruciating for her and she doesn’t know how she would have reacted if she had been stuck here with someone else. That’s a moot point, anyway. She’s not with anyone else. She’s with Sarek. And Sarek wants her. He’s made that clear a long time ago. She finds him attractive too. This way works for them.

 

Except the times where it doesn’t, a treacherous voice whispers amongst all the other rational thoughts in her head.

 

Sarek makes her feel wanted, he makes her feel less lonely, makes this situation more bearable for her.

 

He also makes her doubt herself so much that she can’t help but feel uncomfortable in her own skin sometimes.

 

Still, the good outweigh the bad in Jim’s opinion. For now, that’s enough for her. And yet when opens her mouth to reassure him, that’s not what she ends up saying.

 

“I don’t know how to answer that.”

 

Her soft confession hangs silently between them and even though Sarek’s shoulders slump a little, she gets the feeling that he still appreciates her honesty. Maybe he finds it reassuring that even at her lowest, most confused point, she still doesn’t reject him entirely.

 

“Then I suppose it is imperative that you clear your mind on this matter,” Sarek says, wrapping his arms around her waist. She settles more comfortingly on his lap, strokes the nape of his neck before she even realizes she’s doing it.

 

“I don’t want to hurt you,” Jim says desolately. “But I can’t give you more, Sarek. I’m already giving you all that I can. If that’s not enough—…”

 

“It is,” he says firmly.

 

Sarek looks sure of himself, but still, Jim feels anxious. “How can you say that after what happened? You—…” You compared me to Amanda. “Are you sure?” is what she says instead.

 

She shivers when he slides his fingers under her shirt, lightly tracing small circles on her skin. Sarek sets his lips in a grime line. “You have shown me honesty, I shall treat you with the same respect.” She closes her eyes when he drops a kiss under her ear, then another against the corner of her mouth. When his lips fully settle on hers, Jim allows the contacts and kisses him back softly, just a tender press of mouths that feels more like a caress than a real kiss.

 

Sarek pulls away with a sigh. “Vulcans are … possessive partners, if you will. We are monogamous people by nature and, in many ways, this specificity inherent to my people magnify my reactions to you. I am well aware that you do not return my regard and yet, it does not affect the manner in which I perceive you. My most primal instincts demand that you be mine, logic and lucidity keep them at bay. Know this, Kirk, I wish to have a bond with you. I wish to have you as my mate. That is my truth.”

 

The uneasiness turns into full blown alarm. This can’t be good. Actually, it’s a complete disaster. Sarek can’t be that attached to her. Certainly not to the point where he wishes to have her as his mate.

 

The gigantic block of stone that got stuck in her throat makes it hard for her to breathe.

 

Sensing her panic, Sarek quickly reassures her. “There is no need to worry, James. I will not ask for more than you can give me.  It is… enough, to simply have some part of you, however small it is. In any case, you were not wrong when you described our relationship as far from conventional. This is the way we both chose to bear our imprisonment and I do not wish to put a stop to it.” Sarek looks down at her lips. “I will not burden you with my affection any longer. However, I would prefer if you… did not put an end to this arrangement.”

 

It hurts to hear him express the depth of his feelings for her with such sincerity. Sarek is usually so level headed, as collected and in control as a Vulcan can be, but somehow he’s decided to lay himself bare for her to see. To take a chance on her even though he had to know that it wouldn’t get him anywhere.

 

Jim feels awful; worse, she feels guilty. Things were so easy when sex was nothing but an attempt to find comfort in an impossible situation. They were both using each other and that was fine by her. But Sarek’s fallen in love with her – Spock’s dad, a little voice reminds her hysterically – and he’s in pain because of it. That breaks her heart and horrifies her at the same time. Feelings make things messy. Feelings mean someone gets hurt. And, God, she doesn’t want to hurt Sarek anymore than she already has. He doesn’t deserve that.

 

When she started this conversation, she had just been trying to make things right with her companion, holding onto the feeble hope that she hadn’t ruined everything. The fact that she hasn’t, that he’s still allowing her so close to him, should be reassuring. But it’s not.

 

“Can I,” she starts hesitantly, carefully. “Can you give me some time to think on it?”

 

Sarek tightens his grips on her and she swears she catches the flash of panic that flickers across his features for a second. Still, he eventually nods his head and lets out an inaudible sigh.

 

“Of course,” he says neutrally. With slow, deliberate movements, he finally loosens his hold, avoiding her eyes as they both get up from the training mat.

 

Jim grabs his wrist just as he’s about to leave, bringing him back to face her and pressing a tender kiss to his cheek. “Thank you,” she whispers, feeling truly grateful for his quiet acceptance. Another kiss, this time on his shoulder, and she pulls him out of the training room. “Come on, I’m starving! Cook me something.”

 

She’s so, so grateful when Sarek decides to humor her. “You are perfectly capable of preparing your own meal.”

 

“Yeah, but I’m exhausted and just went through a very traumatic event. You’re not going to make me work while I’m this emotionally and physically vulnerable, are you?”

 

“Kirk—…”

 

Jim’s laugh cuts off any possible retort and, just like that, things settle amiably between them and they return to their comforting and nice routine. Or rather, they return to something close to it. None of them can fully ignore the elephant in the room, after all.

 

But for now, they’re doing okay. So they eat, make small talk while taking care of the dishes afterwards. Jim teases Sarek to death and tries to force an eyeroll out of him which, like usual, she fails to do, and it’s easy to pretend that everything is alright. Her Vulcan companion keeps his distance, gone are the subtle touches on her lower back or elbow every  time she so much as passed by him, but his eyes are kind, if a little sad, and he seems to enjoy watching Jim rant about whatever subject catches her interest next.

 

Jim ends up talking a lot, actually. It helps her keep her mind off the avalanche of revelations she’s been subjected to and the never ending doubts born out of them.

 

When they retire for the night, Jim pauses right as Sarek disappears into his room, watching his closed door for a few moments. Her gaze slides towards the darkened and seemingly never ending corridor, to the grey walls, to the corner leading to the main living area. In the far too quiet space, even the sound of her own breathing seems loud.

 

Jim blinks, shakes her head and enters her bedroom. Quickly changing into her pajamas, she practically falls face first onto her bed, settles comfortably on her back and closes her eyes, willing sleep to come. It doesn’t. The new mattress is too rigid, too new, the blankets don’t smell right and she’s far too aware of all the empty space around her.

 

She doesn’t know what it says about her that she apparently can’t handle even the tiniest bit of loneliness anymore and the sudden urge to just go to Sarek is so strong that she can feel it deep into her bones.

 

Rationality wins and Jim determinedly stays right where she is. It won’t take long now. A few days, perhaps even a few weeks, a month tops, but things are about to change. She’s standing at the edge of her freedom, can practically touch it with the tips of her fingers, and all she has to do now is hold on for a little bit more.

 

Just a little bit more.

Chapter Text

 

 

A week passes.Then two. After the fifth, Jim feels her renewed blazing hope slowly die down until it becomes nothing more than a mere candle flame ready to burn out.

 

It doesn’t make any sense. Winona had to have listened to the message by now and she would have known what to do with it. A genius engineer with contacts spread across the galaxy? It should have taken her a week at most to find out at least their approximate location.

 

The rational part of Jim’s brain tells her to calm the fuck down already at least twice a day. There are a dozen of different explanations that could explain why the rescue mission she’s been counting on is taking longer than planned. For all she knows, Winona could be on the planet right now searching for her. Jim just has to be patient.

 

That’s the rational part. The rest of her is constantly preparing for the worst, no longer able to see the light at the end of the tunnel as clearly as she did a few weeks ago. Jim spends most of her time replaying the attack in her mind, step by step, each second of those crucial moments analyzed to their fullest until she has nothing left to learn from them. Only—… Eventually, some of the scenes stop matching, different pieces of the puzzle no longer fitting together, and it comes to the point where her memories turn into a messy blur she can no longer trust.

 

Jim remembers the pain, the blood, the inability to breathe. She remembers having held that communicator in her hands, so small and yet so precious. But she can’t remember if the call went through or not. Had she even made it at all? Or has she become so delusional that her screwed up brain is now making her see things she desperately wants to see, keeping her completely disconnected from reality?

 

Perhaps that’s it. Perhaps she really is going crazy. But what if she’s not? God, what if Winona’s hurt? What if she did come and was intercepted before she could do anything? What if she came alone without backup? What if she’s dead?

 

On those days, the excruciating ones that make it nearly impossible for her to get out of bed, Jim will often find herself on the verge of hyperventilating, confined with nowhere to go and crushed by fear and paranoia of the likes she’s never experienced in her life.

 

It can’t have been for nothing, she can’t have risked everything for nothing.

 

When they officially enter the eleventh month, something in Jim, one of the last threads holding her together, just snaps. She destroys the library in a fit of uncontrollable rage, tearing pages and covers and breaking all there is to break, screaming her fury until her voice gives out and her throat burns and still trying to scream some more. The entire time, Sarek stays clear of her, and she only catches a glimpse of the Vulcan when she storms out of the massacred room without turning back.

 

The blackness within her heart spreads a little more when she wakes up the next day only to be confronted by the sight of a refreshed library, filled with the very same books she had destroyed mere hours before, with just a few differences here and there.  Sarek is kind enough to spare her any sort of judgment and stay silent. At first, Jim thinks he’s doing for her sake, but a few hours later, right after she finishes her training, she finds him in that room still, sitting on the couch and gazing into nothingness.

 

By Vulcan standards, Sarek cannot possibly be considered old, but in that moment, as Jim observes the nearly defeated slump of his shoulders, he seems to have aged beyond his years. As imperfectly human as she’s ever seen him.

 

Sarek’s enduring this too, that’s something she tends to forget too often.

 

Without truly meaning too, Jim finds herself moving towards the man and puts a comforting hand on the nape of his neck. Sarek grabs it instantly and brings their entangled fingers to his forehead, holding onto her so hard that she has to suppress a wince of pain. Still, she doesn’t dare to complain and just stays standing behind him, an anchor he can lean on for support, just like she’s leaned on him so many times before. 

 

“We’re getting out of here,” she promises softly and her heart breaks when she realizes that she doesn’t mean those words, not entirely, not like she would have a few weeks ago.

 

There’s no response from Sarek. Jim tries not to read too much into that.

 


 

“Enough.” Sarek’s voice leaves no room for argument. “You mind is elsewhere, Captain.”

 

Jim lets out a frustrated sigh, losing the stiff posture and falling back onto the training mat. “It’s not.”

 

“It most certainly is. May I enquire as to the reason of your current distraction?”

 

“I’m not distracted, I promise. It’s just—… My head’s been killing me all day and it’s really hard to focus when it feels like my brain is going to explode.” Jim laughs ruefully, rubbing her forehead in a useless attempt to sooth the pain.

 

“You have been experiencing these migraines at a frequent pace these past 8.9 days,” Sarek points out, a little something worried in his tone. “This is most disconcerting.”

 

“I’m telling you, it’s nothing. I haven’t been sleeping well lately, is all.” Jim lifts her head and gives him a small smile. “Nothing to worry about.”

 

Sarek doesn’t look convinced and, to Jim’s surprise, he suddenly moves around her to kneel by her head. “May I?”

 

Blinking owlishly at him, Jim gives a small nod.  “Sure…”

 

Sarek’s hands carefully cup the back of her head, helping her lift it so she can use his lap as a pillow. It’s certainly more comfortable than the mat. Jim stays motionless as gentle fingers start to stroke her temples, her now closed eyelids, her forehead, following an invisible path on her skin that only Sarek seems to see. His touch is soothing, enough to make the throbbing sensation more bearable than it’s been all day, and when the tip of his fingers slide through her hair and graze at her scalp, Jim can’t help the quiet sigh of contentment that escapes her mouth.

 

The pressure on her scalp gradually grows as Sarek’s talented hands make their way down her head, the nape of her neck, move back up to reach her temples once more before starting the process all over again. He keeps at it until the pain behind her eyes becomes all but a distant memory, so weak that she barely notices it.

 

In fact, Jim feels so relaxed that she only realizes she’s leaned her head against Sarek’s stomach when the man stops his impromptu massage session to trace the contour of her face.

 

There’s a touch at her jawline, as light as a feather.  Jim opens her eyes, strokes the back of Sarek’s hand even as she slowly pulls it away.

 

“Thank you.” Her voice has gone hoarse.

 

Sarek nods his head, reaches out to smooth a strand of blond hair behind Jim’s ear. “I trust you will come to find me should these migraines perturb you once more?”

 

Something in Jim’s chest tightens. “Yeah, I will,” she breathes out.

 

Sarek’s eyes quickly flicker to her lips, so swift that she might have missed it if she hadn’t been so intently staring at his face in the first place, and for a moment Jim is convinced he’s going to kiss her. Part of her even wants him to. But then Sarek gives a slight shake of his head and, just like that, the spell is broken.

 

“Perhaps it is best that you now return to your chambers.” The Vulcan gently extracts himself from Jim. “It has been a long day and rest will surely be more beneficial than meditation in your current state.”

 

Simultaneously feeling relieved and disappointed, Jim forces a smile on her face that feels more like a grimace. “I wouldn’t dare to disobey the Doctor’s orders.”

 

“Personal history with your physician friend would suggest otherwise,” Sarek points out as he gets up gracefully.

 

“Annoying Bones is part of the treatment!”

 

Her companion’s lips twitch slightly in quiet amusement. “Goodnight, Captain.”

 

“Good night.” Jim waits until he leaves the room to lose her smile, exhaling a shaky breath she hadn’t even realized she was holding in the first place.

 

Suddenly, all her reasons for pushing Sarek away become ridiculous. They’re not doing anything wrong. He knows what he’s getting into and so does she. Why would she ask for space when it’s clearly the last thing she needs? He’s her partner, her only comfort in his hell, and she’s not masochist enough to deprive herself of his companionship when it’s so readily offered.

 

It could have been minutes or hours later, but eventually, Jim abandons the training mat and absentmindedly makes her way towards Sarek’s bedroom. There’s no answer when she knocks on his door, so perhaps he’s already sleeping. As quietly as possible, Jim slips inside, approaches the bed, and quickly gets under the blankets.

 

Already, she feels better. The mattress, the blanket, the pillow, the alien warmth coming from the Vulcan, it all serves to drain the tension from her limbs. Sarek’s back is facing her and she hesitantly puts an hand between his shoulder blades, feeling the muscles move beneath her palm as he turns around to look at her.

 

He says nothing, just keeps her pinned under his gaze and Jim wonders if he’s been waiting for her, if he knew all along that she’d end up back here in his bed.

 

Calloused fingers find their way around his wrist, slowly slide up her arms, around her bare shoulder, down her back, leaving a trail of goosebumps in their wake that has Jim closing her eyes. She gulps, but doesn’t protest when he pulls her closer to his body.

 

“I don’t love you.” Her voice is quiet. Apologetic. “Not like that. Not the way you want me to.”

 

“Not at this moment, you do not.” His voice is low and deep. “I do not lack patience, Jim.”

 

It’s… surprisingly bold of Sarek and embodies the very reason she keeps doubting herself around him. Because he may reassures her all he wants, claim that he’s happy with the arrangement as it is, but some part of him is working with the expectation, the hope, that one day her feelings will change.

 

But that’s not on her, is it?

 

The hand on her lower back gently slips under her tank top, the touch of his palm against her skin cold enough to nearly draw a gasp out of her. Hesitantly, Jim lifts her own hand and threads her fingers into his bowl cut, eyes lost in contemplation. Right at this moment, she can almost pretend that hair is jet black instead of grey, that his eyes would reflect a deep and warm brown color in natural light, that his muscular body is the result of never ending back to back missions and not a strict training regime created to pass the time.

 

It’s so terribly easy to blind herself to the truth.

 

Steadily, conscious of every move she makes, Jim moves under the blankets from her laying position, feeling their weight on her back as she deliberately rolls over Sarek to lie across his body. Her knees are on either side of his hips, his head is framed between her elbows. This close, she can see the deep, raw hunger swirling in his back pupils.

 

He lifts his head to kiss her, barely a brush of lips, something so gentle and tentative that she might as well have imagined it. But the firmness of his body is real, the breath on her skin is warm, and there’s no mistaking the hardening bulge she can feel under his pants. Almost curiously, Jim grinds against it, once but hard, and Sarek lets out a small growl of pleasure, thrusting against her in return.

 

Despite the desire pooling low in her stomach, Jim still can’t help but  utter one last warning. “I won’t change my mind.”

 

“Nor I mine,” Sarek promises.

 

This time, Jim’s the one who covers his mouth with hers. The kiss isn’t frantic, in fact it’s relaxed and controlled, just like she knows he likes. But there’s also an edge to it in the nearly punishing press of their lips, the way his fingers twist in her hair and tilt her head just so to deepen the kiss hungrily, curling his tongue around hers and tearing a quiet moan out of her. Jim pulls Sarek into a sitting position, her fingers working lazily to get rid of his shirt. It earns her an appreciative groan and when she finally does manage to slide the garment off his shoulders, Sarek tips their bodies backwards until his back hits the mattress once more and Jim has to break the kiss, sitting back on his lap with her both of her hands braced on his muscular hairy chest.

 

Their eyes lock in a silent confrontation. It’s strange, how her chest constricts painfully even as arousal courses pleasantly through her veins. Jim simply doesn’t allow herself the time to think about those two contradictory feelings. All that matters right now is that she needs Sarek.

 

And this is what Sarek needs from her.

 

Jim takes her tank top off, forcefully pushing back against the Vulcan’s chest when he tries to surge forward to kiss her once more, keeping him on his back, not allowing him to take control just yet. Instead she grabs his hands and puts them deliberately on her lower stomach, following their movements as they wander freely around her naked skin until they settle on her upper chest.

 

Breathing uneven, Jim tilts her head back and closes her eyes, allowing herself to enjoy the way Sarek gently, yet greedily, palms her breasts. It makes her feel warm all over, makes her blood sing with pleasure, and she bites her lower lip, arching into his caresses.

 

Sarek touches her like he worships her, a mere servant at her altar, and the power she has over him is as addictive as it’s terrifying. But that’s another thing she won’t think about right now.

 

In fact, she much prefers to keep herself busy by trying to take the rest of their clothes off.  And some time later, as she tangles her fingers into Sarek’s thick hair, breathless and gasping for air, as he kisses his way down her writhing body and buries his face between her legs, as he digs his fingers into the meat of her thighs and eagerly pushes his tongue inside, as he licks and sucks and draws a powerful orgasm out of her that has her seeing stars, as he crawls back to fully trap her under his weight and joins their bodies together with a hard thrust of his hips, swallowing her cries with a greedy mouth that always seems to want more, Jim can almost pretend that the pleasure he’s giving her is enough to fill the hollow in her chest.

 

Almost.

 


 

The room looks exactly as she remembers it. Elegantly decorated with bleached oak parquet flooring and soft yellow walls, it gives off a nice impression of comfort and warmth. Exactly the kind of atmosphere new parents would want for their nursery.

 

Baby Jim is dozing off peacefully, surrounded by adorable stuffed animals, most of them being Sam’s. Her brother had handpicked them himself from his own room, Jim knows, intent on giving only the bests to his little sister. He’s also the one who had chosen the color of paint for the walls, because pink was boring and blue was even worse and George and Winona clearly had no idea what color to pick for the baby and so, of course, Sam just had to step in.

 

It’s a story he used to tell her back when Jim was still too little to understand the pain hidden behind his eyes or the fakeness of his smiles. Back when she was still innocent enough to ask for her mother but all she got was Frank’s cold indifference and Sam’s soothing presence. Her big brother had loved her and stayed for as long as he could without going mad, Jim understands that now. But she will never forget how he abandoned her to her fate, just like she won’t forget the life lesson his departure’s taught her, the first she’s ever learned.

 

People always leave.

 

Still, even after all this time, Jim can’t bring herself to blame Sam for putting himself first. No.

 

Instead she blames her.

 

Winona’s sitting on the rocking chair in the middle of the room, watching her child sleep in that beautiful wooden crib George had gotten for her before –… Well. Before.

 

Not sparing the baby a glance, Jim keeps all her attention on her mother. She looks tired, like she hasn’t slept in months and is now only functioning on the very last threads of energy coursing through her weakened body. There’s no shine in her eyes as she silently observes her baby, the so called brightness that’s supposed to be inherent to all young mothers is nowhere to be found in her case. No one could look at Winona Kirk and happily exclaim that she’s glowing, not when she looks more dead than alive.

 

Jim swallows back a sudden wave of bitterness.

 

“I never asked to be born,” she seethes quietly. “I never asked you to choose me over him. I never asked for any of this.”

 

Winona doesn’t answer. The rocking chair creaks as she gets up and slowly starts to walk towards the crib, approaching it like its holding a deathly disease instead of her own flesh and blood and passing by her adult daughter without seeing her. A mocking sneer appears on Jim’s face. Even in her dreams, her mom has no time for her.

 

“I can’t figure it out,” Jim keeps talking without meaning to, resentful despite herself and filled with an old anger that she thought she had dealt with a long time ago but was apparently only waiting for the right moment to be unleashed on its creator. “I can’t figure out why it took Sam leaving for you to finally believe us when we told you that your husband was a fucking piece of shit.” She’s shaking, fisting her hands and digging her nails into her palms, hard enough to hurt, to anchor her to something other than her deep rooted rage. “Why you would even bother pretending to care after they brought me back from Tarsus if you were always going to leave anyway? So, what, parenting wasn’t as cool as you thought it would be? I wasn’t your daughter, Winona, I was your burden.”

 

Winona still says nothing, just looks down at her sleeping child. There’s not a single trace of love or tenderness on her beautiful face. Because she is. Even exhausted, even looking more like a zombie than an actual human being, Winona Kirk is still as breathtakingly beautiful as she’s always been in Jim’s memories.

 

She can’t stop the tears any more than she can stop the quiet sob that escapes her.

 

“Was it just too painful to see the ghost of your dead husband through me?” Jim cries pitifully. “Was I really so hard to love? All my life I’ve needed you, but you weren’t there. I still need you now and you’re not here! Where the fuck are you, Mom?”

 

Why won’t you fight for me? She screams silently, unable to get the words out of her clenched throat. Why wasn’t I worth staying for?

 

Jim glances down at the child through her wet eyes, at her light green pajamas and the little tuft of blond hair on her head, before looking at Winona’s impassible face once more. But then she freezes, does a double take and quickly wipes out her tears to clear her vision. And what she sees has her gripping the cradle so tight it burns her fingers. Her eyes widen in shock.

 

That’s not her.

 

The baby blinks its black eyes open, scrunching its entire face and yawning in that endearing way babies do, lifting up a small, curled up hand to rub one of its pointy ears sleepily.

 

“You deserve better,” a familiar voice says right next to her, only it’s the wrong one, because Winona doesn’t sound like that, it’s not the right tone, not the right intonations and –…

 

No.

 

Jim snaps her attention back to her mother, only to watch in horror as Winona’s features slowly transform. Thicker eyebrows, fuller cheeks, the round shape of her face becoming a little more oval, warm brown eyes turning blue.

 

The blood in her veins turn to ice.

 

“I wish I could love you,” the other Jim murmurs wearily, stroking the baby’s cheek, a silent apology shining in her dead eyes. “Forgive me.”

 

Panic tearing at her insides and feeling nauseous, Jim shakes her head in desperate denial and –…

 


 

… wakes up, presses a shaking hand to her lips as she stumbles out of bed clumsily and nearly trips over her own two feet on her way out of the bedroom. Blindly rushing to the bathroom, Jim buries her head into the toilet bowl just in time to avoid making a mess as the content of her stomach surges up her esophagus and escapes through her mouth.

 

The sounds of her violent retching echo around her, merciless and condemning.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

As per Starfleet protocol, every officer stationed on Constitution-class starships is under the obligation to get a contraceptive shot before boarding and taking part in a multiyear mission. This policy only used to be applied to Warships, but after the attack on the USS Kelvin and the resulting tensions existing between the Federation and the Romulan Empire, it was decided that the Family Abroad program could not be applied to the exploratory vessels any longer.

 

Jim was—… is the Captain of the Federation’s flagship. As such, she, like everyone else, has been subjected to the mandatory contraceptive shots. Bones took care of the task himself, using it as the perfect opportunity to force a general heath check on her person and jab her with as many hyposprays as he could with a relish that was certainly improper coming from a physician.

 

The contraceptive shot lasts a year. Jim has gotten her repeat injection approximately 5 months before the attack on the Vulcan embassy. She’s been stuck in this godforsaken place for the past 11 months. No matter how much she plays with the dates, tries to push them a little, rearranges the numbers, it all comes down to one undisputable conclusion that has her nearly beating her head with her own fists because how could she have been so stupid and irresponsible? How?

 

How did she manage to completely miss the fact that she’s been having unprotected sex with Sarek from the very beginning?

 

And she’s late. God, she’s late. With everything that’s been going on, the changes in her relationship with Sarek, the attack, the unbearable wait for a rescue mission that should have shown itself already, a missed period has been the least of Jim’s worries.

 

Plus, there are a lot of reasons that could explain why she’s late. Reasons that do not involve a fucking pregnancy. This nerve-wracking environment she’s been living in for nearly a year – god, a year – could easily be the cause of a disruptive cycle. Or maybe she’s been doing too much exercise. That’s certainly possible too. It’s just – … It’s illogical to jump to conclusions right now when she doesn’t even have access to something as simple as a pregnancy test.

 

This could just as easily be nothing. She’s tired, stressed out, has been thinking a lot about Winona and Sam and her disastrous childhood lately, and all this self-reflection nonsense could have been messing with her head. It’s possible. Definitely. Makes so much more sense than –… than the thought of being –…and with Sarek of Vulcan of all people –…

 

He’s Vulcan, Jim holds onto that one piece of information like her life depends on it which, she supposes, it does. As compatible as Vulcans and Humans are, natural pregnancies involving the two species are still extremely complicated, if not impossible. The chances that she and Sarek could conceive naturally in such a short amount of time – how the hell was it short, you’ve been fucking each other’s brains out for months, you pathetic idiot – are next to none. Hell, Jim knows for a fact that Sarek and Amanda had to fall back on medically assisted procreation in order to have Spock –

 

The name brings a new wave of nausea even stronger than the first one and Jim quickly returns to the toilet bowl, only her stomach’s empty now so she spends a few excruciating moments retching uselessly before a mix of yellowish bile and saliva makes its way up her already sore throat and directly down the toilet.

 

The dizziness hits her when she’s done, her vision becoming blurry all of a sudden.

 

Oh God, Jim despairs a little bit more, hiding her face in her arms. God, please, no.

 

The fatigue. The headaches. The nausea. It’s all there, these terrifying symptoms thrown into her face ruthlessly and mocking her with their possible, and most probable, meaning.

 

It could be something as simple as a virus.

 

Or it could be a world-changing revelation that will destroy her life.

 

How is she supposed to know, how the fuck is she supposed to know when she doesn’t have access to anything down here? Is she just supposed to wait a little more and pray to all the gods with every fiber of her being that her stomach stays flat?

 

And what if she really is expecting? What then? What can she do in these circumstances?

 

I can’t be pregnant. It’s getting harder and harder to breathe through her ever growing panic. I can’t be pregnant. God, please. It’ll kill me. I can’t do it. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t –…  

A sudden knock on the bathroom door makes her jump.

 

“Jim?”

 

Startled, Jim quickly flushes the toilet and gets up from her sitting position on the floor. “Just a minute!” Her voice was shaking. Damn it.

 

Sarek must have heard it. His next question is more hesitant. “Is everything alright?”

 

Jim grips the sink, turns on the tap and quickly washes away the tears and remnants of vomit and anything else that could give her away. “I’m fine,” she calls out loudly, going for a casual tone but only managing to sound even more messed up. She closes her eyes, hoping that the sound of the running water was enough to hide it.

 

Pull yourself together, Kirk! Jim clears her throat and takes a deep breath. “I’m fine,” she repeats, steadier this time, relieved when her voice comes out normal. “I’ll be out in a minute.”

 

The silence on the other side of the door is dubious and Jim holds back a curse. She rinses her mouth and gargles with water. After a moment of hesitation, she also brushes her teeth for good measures. A quick look in the mirror has her rearranging her hair and trying to get rid of the crying mess look she’s got going on right now. Her face is still a little red but there’s nothing she can do about that right now.

 

Once she deems her reflection presentable, Jim squares her shoulders and exits the bathroom with her heart in her throat.

 

Contrary to what she expected, Sarek isn’t waiting for her right outside. The corridor is empty. Frowning, Jim makes her way back to the Vulcan’s room, stopping just as she reaches the door.

 

She takes a deep breath. Another. Exhales slowly and enters the room as silently as possible.

 

Jim’s under no illusions that Sarek’s sleeping as she slips under the covers. And she’s proven right when, the second her head hits the pillow,  her Vulcan companion pulls her close with his arm firmly locked around her until her back hits his chest. The warmth of his touch almost makes her feel better. Almost.

 

“Are you well?” Sarek whispers softly in quiet room.

 

Jim nods and threads her fingers with his for good measures. “Of course,” she lies through her teeth. “Just, you know, ladies stuff. Sometimes, it just can’t wait.”

 

Sarek doesn’t respond at first. When he does, the tentative tone he uses makes the knot in her stomach expand even more, if possible. “You have gotten out of bed quite suddenly and were gone for some time.” Shit. Of course her abrupt dash to the bathroom woke him up. Damn it. “I feared –…”

 

He doesn’t finish his sentence. Considering what happened the last time she shared his bed and left his side in the middle of the night, Jim doesn’t really need him to.

 

Okay, change of plans. Forcing herself to stay calm and in control, if only for a few vital minutes, she turns around in Sarek’s embrace to face him, a reassuring smile he has no way of knowing is entirely fake playing on her lips.

 

“I know,” she says softly, pressing a short, gentle kiss to his lips. “No more crazy stunts, I promise. It’s just –…I had a nightmare and it was… bad. I didn’t mean to wake you up and I really didn’t mean to scare you. I’m sorry.”

 

The best lies are those wrapped around a truth and Jim nearly sighs in relief when Sarek seems to buy her excuse.

 

“Do you wish to discuss the contents of your dream?”

 

“No,” Jim quickly shakes her head, trying really hard not to lose composure. Not now. “I really don’t. Let’s just go back to sleep.” Her voice nearly breaks on that last word. 

 

Thankfully, Sarek doesn’t notice. Or if he does, he’s probably putting it on the account of her night terrors.

 

Still, for some reason, he seems incapable of letting this go. “I believe it was you who once spoke of the benefits of a mutual, honest conversation regarding one’s emotional state.” He pulls her closer, whispering his next words against her forehead. “Jim, you are trembling.”

 

And God, she is. How did she not realize that?

 

What little control over her body she’d managed to gather is now slipping through her fingers fast and the only thing Jim can think of doing to salvage the situation is slide her hand behind Sarek’s neck and kiss him again.

 

The Vulcan doesn’t react at first, his lips firm and unmoving under hers, clearly recognizing the distraction tactic for what it was. But Jim is insistent and when she runs her fingers through his hair with her nails lightly scratching his scalp, something in Sarek finally loosens.

 

With a defeated groan, he cups Jim’s face in his hands and kisses her back with barely concealed eagerness, running his tongue along the seam of her lips until she parts them obediently and allows him the access he’s silently seeking.

 

Perhaps she should feel guilty for manipulating Sarek’s feelings so callously, but she knows the man wouldn’t have allowed it if he had been truly against it. This, she knows how to do. This, she knows how to deal with. And as they make out under the thick blankets, Jim slowly regains the control that had escaped her earlier, the physical contact helping her focus on nothing but the taste of Sarek’s mouth, the quiet sounds torn out of his throat, the way his tongue avidly curls around hers.

 

The moment Jim’s certain she’s not going to break down in panic, she pulls away, breathless.

 

Sarek’s panting as heavily as she is. “I wish to help, Ashayam.”

 

Jim tenses. She can’t help it. But for the sake of not escalating the situation any further, she deliberately chooses to let the term of endearment go. This time.

 

“It was just a nightmare,” she insists against his damp, swollen lips. “It was bad but it’s over now. I’m fine. I don’t want to talk about it. Please, just let this go.”

 

Miraculously, Sarek does. Jim feels him nod against the side of her head and, granting him one last chaste but no less eager kiss, she turns her back to him, biting back a scream when he curls his body around hers and his hand innocently starts stroking her stomach.

 

Once Jim’s certain that her companion is asleep, she allows the tears to fall and cries silently into her pillow.

 

Where are you? She wants to shout. Why aren’t you here?

 

Please, Spock.

 

No one answers her prayers.

 


 

The next day, Jim waits for Sarek to retire himself in the training room for his daily work out session, one she politely refused to join, before she silently makes her way to the library, the only place in the whole damn bunker where she’s absolutely certain her captors will hear her.

 

She can’t take any chances. They have to hear her. Jim can only hope that Pig and his Vulcan buddy aren’t the ones listening in right now. Just the thought of giving them the satisfaction of seeing her like this makes her sick.

 

Because in the end, there’s only one thing she can do.

 

It’s quite simple, really. Jim needs to know if her fears are well-founded. If they are, then attempting to keep this under the cloak of secrecy is useless, as she’s going to start showing soon and there will be no hiding her condition from anyone, let it be Sybok or his father.

 

Should the worst case scenario happen, then Jim shouldn’t be too far along, which means there’s still time for her to take care of the problem easily. Hopefully, a few pills should do the trick. Sarek would never even have to know.

 

Hopefully.

 

A small part of her feels remorseful for disregarding the man so completely in this decision. But Jim doesn’t let herself ponder too much on it. There might not be any decision to make at all, but if there is, well, Jim can take the guilt. What she absolutely cannot handle is Sarek trying to convince her to keep this hypothetical baby, as she knows he would.

 

Jim knows deep into her bones that he would want to keep this child, their child, and form a family with her. He would see this as another chance at fatherhood. But that can never happen. Not only is it completely absurd to even consider bringing another innocent life into their chaotic lives, what with them still being prisoners and at the mercy of a mad man, but the fact of the matter is that Jim does not want to be a mother. Not right now and certainly not like this.

 

So much has been taken from her already, she can’t –… She has nothing left to give.

 

Cruel as it may be, this is the only move she’s got. Jim can’t afford to wait for Winona. Clearly, something is happening outside of these walls that is keeping her mother from finding her as quickly as she should. A few more weeks and it’ll be too late for Jim to do anything about this possible pregnancy of hers.

 

Maybe this is just a false alarm. Jim prays to God that it is. But there’s only one way she can know for sure.

 

So here she is, in the library and gripping the edge of the couch so hard her knuckles turn white.

 

She has no choice.

 

“I know you care about Sarek,” Jim starts without preamble. “As much as a monster who takes some sort of sick pleasure in torturing his family members can care, anyway. And Sarek also seems to believe that your brother is important to you.” God, she can’t even say his name out loud anymore. Jim closes her eyes and swallows hard. “If that’s the truth, if there’s really any part of you that still loves them, then you’ll listen carefully to what I’m about to say and, for once in your fucking miserable life, you’ll do what you’re told.”

 

Jim throws a quick glance to the closed door, her chest constricting painfully.

 

She has no choice.

 

Her nerves turn to steel. Her heart turns to stone.

 

“I need a pregnancy test,” Jim announces coldly to the quiet room, the answering silence somehow giving more weight to her revelation. “And the necessary medication to handle this… situation accordingly. Abortion pill. Injections. I don’t care which option you choose, but you’re going to provide me with those things, Zar, Sybok, whoever you are, because you owe me.”

 

Steel and stone. Steel and stone. Steel and stone. The mantra helps. A little.

 

“You‘ve taken everything from me,” she grits out with so much hatred that she thinks she’s going to choke on it. “My life. My family. My career.” My self-worth. “You won’t let us out of here. You’re too much of a coward to come and face us. But if there’s any part of you – even the smallest, most insignificant part – that is a little bit like your brother, then you will give me what I asked for.”

 

Jim takes a step back. Her fingers had dig into the couch so hard that it left a visible mark on the leather.

 

Throwing an absentmindedly look around the room, Jim vaguely remembers a time where this side of the bunker used to bring her a little comfort and peace, where she could escape and find her freedom through the numerous books filling the shelves.

 

She wonders when that stopped being the case.

 

“I’ve met many cruel men in my life,” she says quietly, like she’s revealing a secret she’s only now willing to share. “But I don’t think I’ve ever hated anyone as much as I hate you.”

 

For some reason, the confession makes Jim feel worse.

 

Closing her eyes in defeat, she turns around and leaves the room.

 


 

Jim thought she knew what it was like to ardently and desperately wait for something.

 

After all, isn’t that what she’s been doing since that fateful day at the Vulcan Embassy? Waiting as she searched for a way out, waiting for their captors to make themselves known, waiting for a rescue mission that never came, waiting, waiting and waiting some more.

 

Jim’s spent all these months locked up in this golden cage, with each passing day dragging longer than the one before, sentencing her to a life of nothing but meaningless repeats, over and over again, until time itself seemed to have entirely lost its meaning. 

 

So yes, Jim knows what it’s like to wait. Patience has never been a true virtue of hers, but it’s one she’s been forced to learn in order to keep her sanity intact down here. She’d like to think that she’s become an extremely patient person at this point.

 

And yet Jim experiences the mere 3 days separating her from the next delivery of supplies as an excruciating torture of the likes she’s never known before. She can’t sleep, she has to force herself to eat under Sarek’s ever watchful eyes, she’s nothing more than a bundle of nerves and anxiety that walks around the bunker like a restless moth, unable to stand still for even one moment.

 

More than once, she catches Sarek’s inquiring gaze as he witnesses the utter and gigantic mess that she’s become. But to Jim’s surprise, and profound relief, he decides to leave her be, which makes her wonder how much exactly is the man used to her sudden mood swings.  

 

No matter. When it’s finally time for the delivery to take place, Jim paces in front of the beaming spot with the echoes of her pounding heartbeat ringing in her ears.

 

Hurry, you stupid bastard.

 

Finally, finally, the familiar swirl of lights appears in the middle of the room, disappearing after a few seconds to show a line of boxes filled with supplies. On top on one of them, a small, rectangular metal container, large enough to contain everything she needs, instantly catches her attention. She hastily grabs it with shaking hands, her eyes eagerly searching for anything else that might stand out from the rest. Nothing.

 

Sarek walks into the common room just as Jim practically runs out of it, rushing past the dumbfounded Vulcan with a half-hearted smile and a casual wave of her hand. “Sorry. Need to pee. Be right back!”

 

The distance to the bathroom seems endless. Jim locks the door behind her, feeling out of breath and on the verge of passing out. More than once, she nearly drops the metallic box in her useless attempts to open it, her fingers trembling so much that she can’t get a good grip on it.

 

“Come on, come on…”

 

The lid comes off and –… There it is. A long, white stick as large as her thumb with a small digital monitor integrated in it. Perfectly harmless.

 

But there’s no pills. No tablets, no hypos for possible injections. Nothing but the test.

 

“Sybok, you bastard,” she curses quietly with a voice she barely recognizes. She doesn’t think she’s ever been so terrified in her entire life. “Fuck.”

 

Okay, never mind that now. Hopefully, she’ll have no need of them anyway.

 

Jim delicately takes out the test and holds it in both hands, treating it like it might explode in her face any seconds, and takes a moment to observe it.

 

She knows how this works. Not through her own personal experience, but because she grew up in freaking Riverside, Iowa, where teenage pregnancies weren’t that uncommon and the high school nurse was an obstetrician.

 

The digital monitor will shine green if it’s positive. Red if it’s not.

 

She can do this. It’ll only take a moment and then she’ll be free of this emotional agony she’s been living in these past few days. This is just for her own peace of mind anyway, because there’s no way in hell a freaking Vulcan managed to get her pregnant. The chances of that happening are close to zero. So, really, Jim has nothing to worry about. This is just to be sure.

 

Cold sweat breaks across her forehead. Carefully, she puts the test back in its container and slowly starts unbuttoning her pants.

 

Please, let it be red.

 

Ten minutes later and Jim is muffling the sounds her screams with a towel, sobs wracking her body and making her bend in half like a broken doll.

 

Thrown carelessly in the sink, the cursed stick shines a bright green color.

 

Chapter Text

 

“Come on, come on…” Jim’s hands fumble as she frantically empties the last box onto the kitchen counter, throwing food and other items aside to join the rest of the carelessly disregarded supplies.

 

8 weeks. That’s what the digital monitor of the test indicated. 8 weeks. That means there’s still time, however little of it, but there’s still a window of opportunity here for a self-induced abortion. Jim just has to find those damn pills, because they have to be here somewhere. Why else would Sybok even bother sending her the freaking test in the first place if he wasn’t planning on letting her do something about it?

 

“Where are they,” Jim grits out between tightly clenched teeth, palpating every inch of the container over and over again. “You son of a bitch, where the fuck are they?”

 

Still nothing. Cursing under her breath, Jim throws the last box on the floor so hard it dents the surface. Near hysterical now, she once again goes through the supplies they’ve received, hoping beyond hope to find another small metal container that would hold all the solutions to her problem.

 

“Give me those pills,” Jim finds herself begging with a shaking voice, fear crackling through her very cells. “Give me those pills. Give me those pills. Give me those fucking pills, Sybok!”

 

Only no matter how many times she goes through each item, how thoroughly she searches through the mess she’s created, the result stays the same. There are no signs of any kind of medication anywhere.

 

Jim’s vision gets blurry. It’s only her quick reflexes that save her from a hard fall when her knees suddenly give out from under her, as if unable to support her any longer. The weight of despair is crushing her so firmly she feels like she’s going to break apart any moment now, strangled to death by invisible chains of hopelessness that won’t allow her to breathe air into her lungs.

 

“Damn you,” Jim chokes through her tears. “You can’t do this to me. Please. I need those pills, I need them, please –…”

 

God, she can’t breathe. Any attempt at doing so makes her feel like she’s inhaling poison.

 

Jim wishes she could inhale real poison. She would inject it straight into her veins herself if she could, would willingly destroy her cells and organs if it meant regaining the ownership of her own body. She would tear inside her stomach and rip that unwanted fetus out of her, she would –…

 

She would die if she could.

 

The terrible knowledge makes her heart clench painfully in her chest.

 

Jim truly and sincerely wants to die.

 

Because this isn’t a life. This isn’t even a parody of a life. This is Sybok’s show in which they’re all his masterfully directed puppets. Jim is no different. She may fight and resist and try to gain the upper hand over the Vulcan, the truth is that free will is nothing but a mere illusion here and, at the end of the day, she’s nothing more than a monster’s favorite doll.

 

Sybok can do whatever he wants with her. He is doing whatever he wants with her. For all Jim knows, he and his creepy friends could be beaming down here every night in order to observe them more closely, could come into their rooms and watch them as they sleep, could touch them and they wouldn’t even be able to defend themselves.

 

Jim’s a marionette and Sybok’s her master, pulling her strings however he wants to, whenever he wants to, in whichever direction he wants to.

 

She can’t live like this. No one can.

 

“Kill me,” she whispers miserably. “Come down here and finish the job. Kill me.”

 

“Jim.”

 

Her heart stops.

 

Sarek. Shit.

 

Jim hastily rubs her face to wipe her tears, suddenly very much aware of the mess she’s created with their supplies and how terrible she must look at the moment.

 

She straightens up and turns around, the beginning of an excuse already forming on the tip of her lips, only to close her mouth when she realizes that there’s no one else in the room.

 

Jim frowns. What –…

 

“James?”

 

This time, Sarek’s voice comes from a completely different direction. Jim turns around once more and her frown deepens when she sees him standing in front of the library’s doors, looking at her with an unreadable expression on his face.

 

She must have heard wrong. Her head’s not exactly in the right place at the moment.

Sarek’s gaze slowly trails across the room, taking in the disregarded empty containers lying on the floor, the piles of supplies carelessly thrown on the table and kitchen counter, what is probably her extremely disheveled appearance, he takes it all in… and lifts an incredulous eyebrow.

 

Jim clears her throat. “Can you take care of this, please? Today is just …” Her voice comes out as a croak. “Today is not a good day.”

 

To his merit, Sarek just nods in silent agreement. This would not be the first time the man sees her like this, erratic and out of control. He’s witnessed and endured a lot of Jim’s “bad days”, which makes her pitiful excuse even more believable.

 

Jim mumbles a quiet “thanks” before making her way out of the room. Sarek’s hand brushes against hers when she rushes past him.

 

She pulls it away as if she’s been burnt.

 


 

Arms crossed across her chest, Jim aimlessly walks into the depth of the bunker, getting further away from the main living area. The air around her gets colder, the lights dimmer, and she knows that there’s surely an interrupter somewhere to take care of that particular problem, but she doesn’t bother to try to find it, just keeps walking until it feels like she’s completely disappeared into nothingness, a weakening light finally becoming one with the comforting and liberating shadows.

 

She thought she knew misery, she thought she knew true despair, but nothing in her life, nothing, could have ever prepared her for the ocean of agony she’s currently drowning in. Because she is. Drowning in pitch-black waters after struggling to stay afloat and survive for too long. Her arms gave out. Her head went under. And now she’s lost in a bottomless pit of darkness, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to fight her way back to the surface.

 

Jim’s just so tired.

 

This isn’t something she can run away from. She will never be able to run away from the life growing inside of her, slowly taking form and becoming a real person. A child, small and vulnerable and completely dependent on her for survival.

 

Jim is about to become a mother and no amount of denial will ever change that.

 

A movement from the corner of the hallway catches her attention and Jim stops dead in her track as a figure comes out of the shadows, tall and lean and terribly familiar, revealing a face that has haunted Jim’s dreams for months.  

 

The intruder stops just a few feet away from her. There’s something incredibly sad in his kind brown eyes.

 

“I’ve lost you, haven’t I,” Jim whispers to the ghost of the man she loves, still, despite everything. “But were you ever truly mine, Spock?”

 

The apparition tilts his head, watching her thoughtfully. When he makes a move as if to approach her even more, Jim finds herself shaking her head and automatically taking a step back, her chest suddenly filling with cold, terrible dread. She’s afraid, terrified in fact, of seeing any traces of judgment in the eyes that once held so much affection for her, of watching the disappointment she’s certain has to be twisting his beloved features. She can’t face him, she just can’t.

 

Jim tightly closes her eyes.

 

When she opens them again, Spock’s gone and Jim’s not standing any longer, lying on the comfortable mattress of her own bed instead and feeling cold despite being wrapped in thick blankets. There are fingers gently stroking the side of her face, following an invisible path only they seem to know.

 

Jim groans, the last vestiges of sleep cleared from her brain. God, her head’s pounding. Eluding Sarek’s touch, she sits up with the heels of her hands pressed against her eyes. Somehow, that makes the throbbing sensation even worse. Sarek pulls at her wrists and, ignoring her unintelligible protests, presses his palm to her forehead instead. The contact is cold, soothing, and Jim can’t help the quiet sigh that escapes her.

 

A light frown mars Sarek’s face. “Another headache?”

 

Jim shrugs. “It’s nothing.” Fully awake now, something suddenly occurs to her.  “What are you doing in my room?”

 

Not that she really minds his presence, but it’s always been an unspoken rule between them that her room’s off limits. The only times Sarek has even been in here are when Jim specifically invited him. They’ve never so much as kissed in this room. It’s stupid but –… This is her space. The one place left untouched by the strange relationship she now shares with Sarek, where she can still pretend that nothing has changed and they are still nothing more than fellow prisoners trying to survive together.

 

From the very beginning, Jim has needed those boundaries with Sarek. He was her partner. Perhaps even her friend. Someone whom she became intimate with because of their unfortunate circumstances. The sex was never supposed to mean anything, not for her, and keeping her room untainted was a reminder of that.

 

But Jim supposes any boundaries that previously existed between them have now been rendered completely meaningless anyway. No amount of distance or space will ever truly detach her from Sarek. Not anymore. Whether she likes it or not, Jim will be connected to this man for the rest of her life.

 

The knowledge makes her sick.

 

Oblivious, or perhaps overlooking her inner turmoil, Sarek finally pulls his hand away and puts it on her elbow instead, as if incapable of stopping himself from touching her.

 

He must have been really worried.

 

“You have been sleeping for the past 8.4 hours now,” Sarek informs her imperturbably.

 

Jim blinks in surprise. “That long?”

 

He nods pointedly at something next to her. “I surmised it would be more reasonable to wake you up and ensure you eat properly.”

 

Jim follows his gaze to her bedside table where a bowl full of fresh cut fruits has been neatly placed at arm’s length. The hint of a fond smile touches her mouth. She appreciates the attention but –…

 

Jim casts her eyes down. “I’m not really hungry, Sarek.”

 

“Nevertheless, depriving yourself of nourishment can only serve to negatively affect your health.”

 

“I –…”

 

“Kirk.” The cutting edge of Sarek’s voice stops her before she could protest. “You have given me your word, do not prove yourself perfidious by not honoring it.” 

 

Jim winces. He’s right, she had promised that she would take better care of herself from now on. Then she had reiterated that promise last night, in his bed, by assuring him that there would be no more crazy stunts on her part.

 

With the unnerving sensation that her muscles are made of lead, Jim reluctantly reaches for the bowl and brings it on her lap. She wasn’t lying when she said she wasn’t hungry. Still, under Sarek’s watchful scrutiny, she forces herself to eat half the content in the bowl, throwing a few glances towards the Vulcan from time to time and adverting her gaze just as quickly before they could make eye contact.

 

This man is the father of her unborn child.

 

And she’s going to have to tell him. Soon. She’ll have to watch as the news wash over him, plaster on a fake smile when faced with his rising joy as he realizes that they’ve created a life together.

 

Sarek will be quietly ecstatic.

 

And Jim … Jim will never be free.

 

A helpless, childlike wail starts deep in her chest and she struggles to swallow it back, blindly pushing the bowl into Sarek’s hands. Her eyes sting and she quickly lies back down on the bed, hiding her face in the covers.

 

“Listen, I’m really tired.” And she is, never mind that she apparently slept for eight hours straight.

 

Her long slumber had been far from restful. In fact, it felt more like her body had simply shut down after too many hits taken which, in retrospect, isn’t so far from the truth.

 

Jim wishes she could go back to sleep and never wake up again.

 

Her voice comes out raspy. “You don’t have to worry about me. This is just a migraine, it’ll be gone by tomorrow.”

 

There is no response to that at first, then Jim hears the sound of the bowl being placed carefully back onto the bedside table, Sarek’s weight lifting from the bed as he gets up. “Alright.” he sounds disappointed, but also strangely accepting, like he’s now used to Jim’s constant rejections and doesn’t actually expect anything else from her and Jim –…

  

Curled up in her bed, Jim finally accepts defeat.

 

She stops him just as his footsteps reach the door. “You can –…” she starts, forcing the words out. “You can stay here, if you want. I don’t mind.”

 

Jim doesn’t turn to see Sarek’s reaction to her unexpected proposition, just presses her face into her pillow, twisting the sheets in her hands.

 

Eventually, she hears him approaching again and Jim miserably waits for him to get into bed with her. The blankets shift, the mattress moves under the additional weight of a body joining her, and Jim digs her nails into her palms hard enough to draw blood when a hand tentatively rubs her bare shoulder, breath caught and choking in her tight throat.

 

Sarek kisses the nape of her neck. Once. Twice. His voice is earnest and soothing. “I cannot help if you refuse to confide in me, James.”

 

You’ve done enough, some ugly and unfair part of Jim wails silently.

 

This isn’t Sarek’s fault.

 

Perhaps, one day, Jim will even manage to convince herself that it’s not her fault either.

 

“James?” Sarek insists.

 

Shaking her head, Jim rolls over and presses her face against his chest, shivering when her companion immediately wraps his arms around her, their hold on her body secure and strong, a silent reminder that as long as she allows him to, he'll never let go. Jim's not sure if she's comforted by the thought or not, but it occurs to her that between the thick blankets and Sarek’s alien body heat, it shouldn’t be possible to feel this cold.

 

That night, she dreams of a beautiful link made of golden threads snapping in half.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Jim wakes up to an empty bed, the sheets crumpled and cold by her side. Her head still hurts a little, but it’s now nothing more than a simple discomfort, easily manageable.

 

She feels… not apathetic, not exactly, but somehow numb to everything around her, like the day before has only served to flush out the poison of loss from her veins, leaving her drained and emotionally tired.

 

Still, in a strange, extremely bizarre way, Jim also feels better.

 

Tentatively, she puts an hand on her lower stomach.

 

The thought of being pregnant isn’t as agonizing today as it was yesterday. It’s not easier, far from it, but Jim has always been a pragmatic person and in some ways, her condition is no different. Many would disagree, given her little penchant for breaking the rules, but it’s the truth. Jim knows how to fight for what she believes in, how to find a path when none seem available at first glance, how to create the tools she needs to win. Thinking outside the box is her specialty. That’s what convinced Pike to take a chance on her all these years ago. That’s what made her such a good Captain.

 

But she also knows how to accept defeat when it’s time to do so. That particular lesson is one she’s learned a long time ago, something that was carved into her bones when she was a child and followed her well into adulthood.

 

At some point, even Jim Kirk has to face reality.

 

She tried to fix the situation and it didn’t work. Had an entire day to scream and cry, which she did to her heart’s content. Now, she’s out of tears and all she’s got left is acceptance. The fact is, Sybok clearly has no intention of helping her and she’s not going to kill herself to get rid of this baby.

 

A baby. Hers. And Sarek’s.

 

God, Sarek.

 

Jim has to tell him. Whether she likes it or not, he has a right to know and, truly, there’s no point in hiding the news any longer.

 

But it doesn’t mean she has to do it right now, does it?

 

Bathroom first. Then I’ll go find him. Maybe.

 

After spending so long lying down in bed, getting up proves to be more difficult than she would have imagined. Her legs appear to be made out of jello and seem to have forgotten entirely how to support her weight. She grimaces when a tingling sensation hits her limbs, grabbing the edges of the dresser to avoid falling as she waits for it to pass.

 

It eventually does and Jim can finally get out of her room for the first time since the revelation.

 

She takes a desperately needed shower first, lets the hot water rain down upon her and wash away the last remnants of yesterday’s chaos still clinging to her mind and muscles. Wash away her previous identity and allow a new one to bloom at last under the warm torrent.

 

Because that’s one of the many consequences of her unexpected condition, isn’t it? Even if Sybok lets them out sooner rather than later, Jim won’t be able to go back to Starfleet. At least not right away anyway, not with an infant depending on her.

 

Or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that she could, but she won’t.

 

There’s no doubt in her mind that Sarek could take care of this baby on his own and give Jim her freedom, if she so wishes. She wouldn’t have to be a present parent, but she could still be included in their child’s life. Sarek’s a good man, a good father, and he can more than handle the responsibility. Giving up everything she’s worked so hard for is merely one option amongst others.

 

Still, it’s not one Jim is ready to even consider. She won’t. She can’t, not when she knows perfectly well what it’s like to grow up without a mother.

 

She will not allow any child of hers to go through that same ordeal.

 

It’s surprisingly easy to accept this newfound realization that even if she doesn’t leave Starfleet, Jim won’t ever go back to the Enterprise. A few months ago, the thought of someone else captaining her ship was enough to make her sick in the stomach. But now, as she dries her hair and puts on a dressing gown, she finds that she can close this chapter of her life with a somehow serene mind.

 

It’s not exactly a bad feeling.

 


 

Jim finds her Vulcan companion in the common room, sitting on a couch with a leather bound book opened on his knees. He doesn’t notice her presence and Jim takes a moment to observe him quietly.

 

Sarek of Vulcan is an enigma that she’s yet to solve entirely, but she’s getting there, step by step. He’s a politician whose entire life has been dedicated to helping his people. The member of an endangered species who survived an incommensurable tragedy. A father who deeply regrets the way he’s treated both of his sons and secretly prays for another chance with them. A husband who profoundly loved his wife and is still reeling from her brutal death.

 

Not a perfect man, not even close, but still a good one. There’s no doubt that the Vulcan is as incompatible with Jim as a potential romantic partner can be, two opposite forces that simply refuse to merge together as one but found a way to coexist with one another. They don’t balance each other out, she and Sarek, but there’s an understanding between them that allowed the mere tolerance they once felt towards each other to turn into a connection that brought them comfort. That still brings them comfort.

 

No, Sarek is not the man Jim would have chosen for herself. Nor is he the man she would have wanted to start a family with.

 

But he is the person who got her through all these hellish months in one piece. Her partner in this never ending nightmare.  And he loves her. Sarek deeply, truly, sincerely loves her. Jim also cares about him in her own selfish, imperfect way.

 

Maybe… Maybe that can be enough.

 

There are worse men to share a lifelong connection with, after all.

 

“James.” Sarek’s voice jostles her out of her thoughts. “You are awake.”

 

“Hey,” she greets him with a small smile, walking further into the room and sitting cautiously next to him, tilting her head to catch a glimpse of the book’s cover. “Virchan? I never would have pegged you for the poetry type.”

 

Sarek’s eyes flash with a hint of pleasant surprise. “You are familiar with her work?”

 

Jim shrugs her shoulders. “Not really,” she says simply. “But my Mom had a shelf full of this stuff back at home and I know that there was a particular poem from her that she appreciated more than the others. Something about the life of a star, I think?”

 

Sarek nods. “ ‘Stellar Chrysalis ’ .” He closes the book and delicately puts it on his lap. “Formless gas coalescing, to fusion furnace bright, collapsing into a grave of formless void.” He recites easily, tracing the cover with the tips of his fingers.

 

There’s something incredibly soft and riveting in the way he pronounces the words, his voice taking a low, strangely entrancing tone that has Jim leaning closer without truly meaning to.

 

She clears her throat, feeling her cheeks flush for some reason. “Yeah, that one.” Thankfully, her voice is steadier than the rest of her is right now.

 

Sarek turns to look at her. “The poet was human, and yet the manner in which she effortlessly managed to combine logic and lyric poetry with one another is nothing short of fascinating. It earned her the esteem of T’Pau, as well as mine.”

 

Jim’s eyes widen in surprise. “Wow. That’s impressive.”

 

“Indeed. Virchan had chosen to settle on Vulcan and, through her work, wished to improve the tolerance and understanding between our two people. Her corpus is structured on a mathematical pattern that allows a more—… Is something the matter?” Sarek asks suddenly.

 

Jim blinks, startled out of her quiet contemplation of her companion’s face, surprised that she was even contemplating his features in the first place and absolutely mortified at the thought of being caught on the act.

 

Brows furrowed, Sarek looks at her with piqued interest which, of course, only makes her blush gain in intensity.

 

Jeez, Kirk, get a grip.

 

Shaking her head, she forces an awkward laugh out of her throat. “Nothing, I just—… I never thought I would hear you speak with such passion over art, of all subjects.”

 

That comment earns her a lifted eyebrow disappearing behind his thick bangs. “You of all people should know, James. Many biases existing about Vulcans are erroneous and to mistake our tight control with a distinct lack of emotions is—…”

 

“I know, I know,” Jim cuts him off quickly, wincing in embarrassment. “I just wish more people could know it too, that’s all.”

 

Thing is, Jim grew up in a rural town in Iowa, right next to a Starfleet Shipyard. Between the constant flow of arrivals and departures of the engineers responsible for the Enterprise plans, the numerous construction teams under their orders and the Starfleet cadets sent to training facilities from that embarkation point, the zone always used to buzz with sheer activity, human and alien both. The people of Riverside eventually learned to live with it, but small town mentality does not change overnight and xenophobia was still very much an issue that few ever found the need to protest against because “It is what it is, Jimbo, pretty girls like you shouldn’t worry about this nonsense.”

 

And Jim knows Vulcans can be just as xenophobic and cruel. She’s heard stories about Spock’s childhood, how hard it was for him to fit in despite being a perfect Vulcan in every way that mattered, the manner in which his peers rejected him, sometimes even violently, because of his Human mother who was seen as a disadvantage he had to live with and eventually overcome.

 

Spock had loved and cherished Amanda, but the scars of the bullying he had been subjected to never really disappeared and Jim… Jim doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her kid.

 

The urge to press a hand against her stomach is strong and, in the back of her mind, she realizes how absurd it is to already feel so protective over a life that’s not even fully formed yet, especially when the pregnancy is unwanted. Perhaps even resented a little.

 

Jim snorts, she can’t help it. “How fucking ironic,” she mumbles under her breath.

 

Her less than stellar vocabulary earns her a second lifted eyebrow. “James?”

 

Jim shakes her head, puts a hand on his knee and takes a deep breath.

 

She has to tell him. Now. Before she loses her nerve and the decision is taken out of her hands. This isn’t something she can hide and now that the outcome is inevitable, well, better to just come out and say it. Sarek has the right to know, she chides herself once more.

 

But her mouth’s dry and the words simply won’t come out.

 

Sarek shifts a little next to her, brushing his hand across the crook of her elbow in an encouraging gesture that only serves to make her discomfort grow even more.

 

“Captain,” he says in that stern voice of his that holds just the right amount of gentleness for Jim to know that he’s trying to cajole her into confiding in him. “I am not so indifferent that I failed to discern the distraught state of mind you have demonstrated these past few days. I did not wish to press you into talking openly with me, however, it now appears that it was a mistake on my part.”

 

“It wasn’t a mistake,” Jim murmurs uneasily. “I needed that time to myself.”

 

“Be as it may, I no longer consider this course of action as an acceptable solution. You wish to speak to me, that much is apparent. There is no logical reason for you to keep quiet when your silence only serves to distress you further.”

 

“I’m not distressed.”

 

“You are not at peace, either,” Sarek challenges back, pining her under his dark gaze that seems to look right through her.

 

“I—…” she tries pitifully, swallowing hard as she tries to breathe through her growing anxiety. “I just –…”

 

Tell him!

 

Jim opens her mouth, ready to just get this over with, only to hear herself say something completely different instead.

 

“I wanted to thank you,” she croaks out.

 

Sarek blinks, any of his previous intensity gone in an instant and looking a little too much flabbergasted for Jim’s tastes. Honestly, is it that surprising?

 

“I do not understand,” he says plainly.

 

Now that the excuse is out there, Jim hastily grabs onto it with near desperate relief. “I know I haven’t been … acting my usual self, lately. I’ve been unfair to you, took your support for granted more than once, not to mention that my attitude towards our complicated—…” Relationship. “— situation has been... confusing, to say the least. I realize that. And you have been so good to me, Sarek. You’ve been… exactly what I needed. So thank you, for your patience and understanding. It meant the world to me, even if I really suck at showing it.”

 

Sarek looks at her for a long moment without saying anything. Then, finally. “You gratitude, while appreciated, is unnecessary.”

 

Jim frowns. If she didn’t know any better, she’d say that Sarek sounds… frustrated. In fact, she can’t shake the feeling that she’s disappointed him, somehow.

 

“Hey”, she nudges him gently. “I’m not lying, you know. This isn’t another attempt at manipulation, I promise.”

 

The former Ambassador lets out a small sigh and gives a nod.

 

“I apologize. It was not my intention to question the sincerity of your words.”

 

“It’s okay,” Jim says with a small laugh, guilt tearing at her insides, because while she’s not lying, she’s certainly not being truthful either. “I haven’t exactly given you many reasons to trust me lately. I understand. But, just so you know, I really did mean every word.”

 

“In that case, know that the sentiment is equally shared, James,” he says. “Your companionship has become a much valued comfort I shall not do without.”

 

The sudden surge of affection she feels for this man takes Jim by surprise. “Look at you, being all poetic again.”

 

Sarek lets out a noise that may have been an amused snort in another life but still manages to sound dignified coming from this eminent Vulcan Ambassador. Jim’s gaze drops to his lips.

 

It’s like her body moves of its own volition. She doesn’t think, doesn’t allow herself the time to think before she presses her mouth to Sarek’s and cuts off his retort.

 

It takes barely a second for the Vulcan to kiss her back.

 

Jim’s never done this before. Never initiated a kiss with Sarek that didn’t immediately lead to sex or wasn’t meant to appease him the only way she knew how. She’s never taken the time to really revel in the contact before, to let it be a mark of affection for him and nothing more. She’s never done this just because. Because she can. Because she wants to. Because she wishes to enjoy an intimate moment with her companion that doesn’t necessarily lead to them fucking each other’s brains out.

 

In many ways, this could be considered as their first kiss, and Sarek must know it too because his mouth seems as just hesitant as hers as their lips slide together slowly, unsure despite having done this so many times before, the two of them simultaneously careful and curious about this new dynamic.

 

It still doesn’t feel entirely right, or natural, and Jim can’t quite get past the ball of uneasiness settling in the pit of her belly. But the warmth swirling in her chest as Sarek starts to press his mouth more firmly against hers is just as real and maybe… well, she can work with that. Eventually, she’ll learn to appreciate these moments without letting them be hindered by guilt and regret. This might actually work, if she puts some efforts into it.

 

Jim hadn’t been raised by her parents and while intellectually speaking, she realizes that there’s no way her child would ever have to go through the same thing, she can’t help but think that she owes it a chance to be born into a united and loving family.  

 

There’s no harm in trying after all, so maybe she can just… test the waters, so to speak, and see if this can lead anywhere.

 

Ashayam,” Sarek breathes against her lips.

 

Jim gently pulls away with a sigh, just enough to look at the Vulcan. The features of his face barely express anything, but his black eyes shining with something that looks very much like hope give him away. This is yet another line they’re about to cross and they’re both very well aware of that.

 

Heart in her throat, Jim casts her eyes down and slowly takes hold of Sarek’s hand, purposefully stroking the tip of his fingers with her own in an unmistakable Vulcan kiss.

 

Next to her, Sarek goes entirely still.

 

“You once told me that you wanted to set up an orchard in your home,” Jim says quietly. “I’d like to see it, one day.”

 

This feels just as life changing as a pregnancy announcement.

 

It hits her like a powerful and ruthless wave, what she’s just done, and the mere discomfort she’s felt a few minutes ago abruptly turns into full blown panic that nearly makes her choke.

 

Jim had been so convinced that this was the right thing to do. But is it? Is it really?

 

Get a hold of yourself, Kirk, this was your idea.

 

Then why does she feel so afraid now?

 

Sarek grips her hand tightly. “You will come to New Vulcan with me.” It’s not a question.

 

Fear gripping her lungs, Jim gulps nervously and nods.

 

With his free hand, Sarek threads his fingers into her damp hair, gazing upon her face with barely concealed amazement.

 

James.” There’s awe in the Vulcan’s voice.

 

Jim swallows hard and wraps a hand around the nape of Sarek’s neck, bringing his head down to hers once more. The kiss is a little bit more energetic this time, enough that Jim can taste unrestrained joy on Sarek’s tongue, and she deliberately crushes any sort of regrets before they can take root inside of her, hoping to god that she’s not making a terrible mistake.

 

The long forgotten book falls on the floor with a thump. Neither of them feels the need to grab it back.

 

 

Chapter Text

Nothing really changes after that. Jim wakes up by Sarek’s side, spends a long, boring, predictable day in the Vulcan’s company before they both retire in what has now officially become their bed, falling asleep in each other’s arms.

 

Rinse, repeat. 

 

For all intent and purposes, their relationship remains the same, only now Jim’s willing to call it just that, a relationship. She’s also a little more open to Sarek than she used to be, meaning that she now makes an actual effort to be receptive to his subtle marks of affection instead of trying to elude them like she’s been doing for months.

 

More often than not, it makes her wonder why she was so against this in the first place. Jim had been so sure, so entirely certain that giving a chance to Sarek was nothing less than a life altering decision that she would ultimately come to regret later, something that would have no choice but to profoundly change her. Turns out all the boundaries she had imposed on them both seemed to exist in her head only.

 

It’s a troubling realization, to say the least.

 

Even more troubling is the fact that she still hasn’t told Sarek anything about his impending fatherhood.

 

Jim’s tried, she really did. More than once she’s found herself on the edge of revealing the truth to Sarek, the words right on the tip of her tongue, ready to be let out at last, but every tentative ends up with her throat inevitably closing up in panic and rendering her mute.

 

So Jim says nothing, smiles when Sarek looks at her curiously and curses herself for being such a coward.

 

It can’t go on, she realizes that. Though she’s lucky enough that she’s not displaying the most obvious symptoms of a pregnancy at the moment, she’s under no illusion that it’s going to stay that way for long. If anything, she’ll unavoidably start showing soon and considering how intimate she is with Sarek, he’ll probably figure it out himself sooner than she thinks.

 

Today, Jim thinks decisively as she brushes her teeth with a little too much energy. I’ll tell him everything today.

 

That’s when it happens.

 

It starts with a mere flicker of lights. Something that doesn’t really catch Jim’s attention at first, not only because she’s still half asleep, but also because she’s half convinced that she’s hallucinating. Still, her brain quickly kicks back on when the occurrence doesn’t stop.

 

Jim only has time to frown in surprise before the room is abruptly plunged into total darkness.

 

All at once, the blood in her veins turns to ice.

 

Swallowed by this sudden black hole that has rendered her blind, Jim forgets that she even has the ability to move, let alone breathe, as waves after waves of terrifying excitement crash upon her mercilessly. In the space of a few moments that last forever, there’s nothing but a black void and the sounds of her pounding heart echoing in it.

 

She’s on the verge of screaming for Sarek when the lights come back on, illuminating the room once more and leaving Jim staring at her reflection in the mirror.

 

An incredulous expression stares right back at her.

 

Dropping her toothbrush in the sink, Jim runs out of the bathroom and nearly crashes into Sarek just as he walks out of their bedroom at a more measured pace, the uncertainty in his eyes reflecting her own.

 

Heart in her throat, Jim’s eyes flicker to the ceiling. “Do you think…” She can’t finish that sentence.

 

Sarek’s already shaking his head in negation. “A mere malfunction of the power circuit is the most probable hypothesis regarding this… defect.” he says, prudent and cautious, hands coming to rest on Jim’s shoulders in an appeasing gesture. “It is unwise to think of this as anything more.”

 

Translation : don’t get your hopes up again.

 

Well, Jim can’t blame him for being much more measured than she is. Already, she’s experiencing that same building exhilaration she’s felt so many times before and ultimately amounted to nothing. Swallowing hard, she nods her compliance, leaning into Sarek when he pulls her to him and trying to tame her racing heart. He’s right, of course. It’s probably nothing. Short power shortages could be due to anything. Hell, Jim wouldn’t be surprised if this was just another way for their captors to mess with their heads. She can easily picture Pig pressing on a button just to see how she would react and laughing his repulsive head off when she tore out of the bathroom like her ass was on fire.

 

God, she really hopes the bastard’s dead.

 

In any case, she’s been burned too many times to give into hope again. So she won’t. It’s much more pleasant to bury herself into Sarek’s warm embrace as he wraps his arms more fully around her, inhaling a now familiar scent that she’s come to connect with comfort and safety.

 

Not home, not quite, but close.

 

And when three days later, they receive their delivery right on time as usual, Jim praises herself for not falling for such an obvious trap.

 

Her eyes are wet as she quietly sorts through the supplies, but that’s irrelevant.

 


 

It happens while Jim’s observing Sarek prepare their dinner, like he always seems to do lately.

 

Not that she’s complaining.

 

Leaning against the kitchen counter and absentmindedly dropping a few pieces of fresh cut gespar in her mouth to calm her grumbling stomach, Jim’s nearly entranced by the smooth movements of Sarek’s hands as they work, the soothing sound of the knife cutting through various vegetables echoing in the comfortable silence surrounding them.

 

It feels nice. Peaceful, even.

 

But something keeps pushing at the edges of that serene vision, something that won’t let Jim enjoy the moment fully, that still keeps her a little bit on her toes, something—…

 

“Could you pass me the pepper?” Sarek asks.

 

A smile tugs at the corners of Jim’s lips. “Sure.” She does just that, tilting her head in amusement. “I kind of feel bad, you know. You’ve improved so much in the culinary arts that I can’t even remember the last time I used the kitchen.”

 

“Is that a complaint?” There’s a teasing glint in Sarek’s eyes.

 

Jim’s smile grows wider and it hits her just as she’s about to answer his teasing with her own.

 

Jokes put aside, she really cannot remember the last time she used the kitchen simply because she hasn’t prepared their dinner in weeks.

 

Which is not necessarily a bad thing, Sarek’s truly gotten better and his cooking is now far better than hers, but it speaks of a more general picture that she’s failed to notice up until now.

 

It’s not just about cooking. Jim hasn’t been doing anything around the bunker, lately. The sharing of domestic tasks used to be somehow equal between the two of them, only now the balance is clearly tilted in her favor due to Sarek seemingly sweeping in out of nowhere every time Jim tries to pull her weight around here.

 

Their previous training sessions, the kind that always used to leave her aching and sweating all over, also came to a sudden halt. The Vulcan’s still helping her through her pitiful attempts at meditation, but that’s all he ever does now. And Jim hasn’t really thought much about it because it seemed natural for her to stop – she can’t exactly treat her body the same way in light of her recent condition after all – but there was no way for Sarek to know that. Shouldn’t he have been surprised by this sudden change of routine?

 

Why hasn’t he questioned it? Why is he suddenly so intent on taking care of her and treat her like she’s made of glass?

 

Jim’s gaze hesitantly drops to the plate of gespar innocently sitting on the counter between them, courtesy of Sarek who knows that the alien fruit has become a favorite snack of hers.

 

The answer comes to her easily and her eyes widen in stupefaction. “You know,” she rasps disbelievingly.

 

The sound of the cutting knife stops at once.

 

Sarek turns his attention sharply to her and Jim meets his stare without flinching. The illusion of peace breaks into pieces that cut into her ruthlessly as she tries to push past the sour taste of betrayal rising within her.

 

He knows.

 

“How long—…” She croaks out, unable to finish.

 

A look of unease crosses through Sarek’s features, just for a second, before his face settles back into an impassible mask, something that betrays him more than any show of emotion ever would. He quietly puts the knife away and goes to wash his hands, deliberately ignoring the horror that no doubt paints Jim’s expression.

 

He takes a hold of her elbow just as she starts backing away.

 

“Come sit with me,” Sarek says.

 

Still reeling from the revelation, Jim doesn’t protest. She follows Sarek obediently as he walks them towards the couch and makes them sit next to each other.  

 

“I did not know for certain,” Sarek admits carefully after a time. “However, you have been displaying certain signs that inevitably caught my attention, as I remember Amanda experiencing very similar symptoms in the course of the first trimester of her pregnancy. She, too, had been prone to fatigue, migraines, as well as abrupt change of humors. Moreover, I also noticed that your breasts have become more sensitive to the touch.”

 

Jim chokes on her saliva, fighting against the blush that is threatening to appear. Mood swings and boobs? He figured it out because she’s been having mood swings and he’s been paying extra attention to her now huge boobs?

 

She doesn’t think she’s ever felt more hurt, guilty and mortified in her life. The mix of contradictory emotions swirling around her head is dizzying, to say the least.

 

Sarek easily ignores her reaction, his eyes flickering to her stomach. “I do not suspect that you are very far along.”

 

“No,” Jim finds herself admitting quietly, still feeling extremely embarrassed. “A little more than 10 weeks.”

 

Sarek lifts an eyebrow. “That is a strangely precise time frame.”

 

Jim looks away, shame gnawing at her insides. “I asked Sybok to provide me with a pregnancy test.” She deliberately does not mention the second part of her request. “It was sent with one of our supplies delivery. So. 10 weeks.”

 

“I see.” Sarek’s face stays carefully blank. “May I enquire as to the reason of your silence?”

 

Still not meeting his gaze, Jim pulls her arm out of Sarek’s hold and backs away a little to put some much needed distance between them.

 

“I—…” She starts. “I just didn’t know how to tell you. This is huge, Sarek. How could I tell you something that I haven’t even accepted yet?”

 

“Be as it may, as the father, you should have come to me first. I certainly deserved to be notified of your condition before you tried to contact my son.”

 

Jim flinches, remembering all too well the reason she hadn’t told Sarek anything. “You’re right,” she says uneasily, finally turning her attention back to him. “I got scared. I’m sorry.”

 

I’m sorry your sociopathic son put me in a position where I’m now forced to tell you.

 

She swallows back the wave of bitterness surging up her throat. At least Sarek looks somehow placated by her pitiful explanation. He nods as if accepting her apology and the total lack of negative reaction on his part suddenly makes Jim feel really tired. Shoulders slumping, she leans forward with her elbows on her knees and rubs her faces wearily.

 

Her voice is barely above a whisper. “How could we be so careless?”

 

“The chances of two members of different species conceiving naturally are—…”

 

“Next to none, I know,” Jim interrupts him with an exasperated groan.

 

“… Indeed. Conception resulting of us engaging in unprotected intercourse is not a possibility I had thought to consider.”

 

Jim snorts. “You and me both.” She feels Sarek hesitantly putting a hand on her back, rubbing it in a gesture meant to comfort. A sigh escapes her. “What are we going to do?”

 

Sarek hums thoughtfully. “Our current situation is less than ideal, but not unmanageable.”

 

At this, Jim bristles. “Not un—… I’m pregnant and we’re stuck in cozy prison with no access to medical facilities or equipment whatsoever. There’s nothing manageable about that!”

 

Sarek says nothing and, all of a sudden, Jim gets it.

 

“You still think Sybok’s going to let us out soon,” she breathes out disbelievingly. “Sarek, for god’s sake—…”

 

“In your current condition, he will have no choice but to free us,” Sarek insists and the conviction and certainty in his voice makes her want to scream. “He would not wish to harm his sibling by denying you the treatments and medical expertise you might soon need.”

 

“Okay, but what if he doesn’t care?” Jim snaps in frustration. “Have you ever thought about that? Maybe he just doesn’t give a damn about what happens to us. Maybe he’s finding this whole fucked up situation absolutely hilarious. Maybe he’ll keep us here just to see how we’ll deal with the addition of another innocent life in this charming environment.” She grips Sarek’s robes, shakes him a little, wants him to just stop being so overconfident already. “They can drug us anytime they want, Sarek, and I know that they have a medic on their team. So maybe they’ll just run the necessary tests while we’re sleeping and completely unable to defend ourselves. Maybe they’ve already started doing it and that’s how they’ll keep monitoring me until the end of this pregnancy. Maybe Sybok never had any intention of letting us go in the first place and this hell is the only home our baby will ever know and maybe—…”

 

“James!” Sarek cuts her off abruptly. Only then does Jim realize that she’s hyperventilating, close to a panic attack. “Breathe, James.”

 

It’s hard. It’s so hard to force the much needed air back into her lungs with long steady breaths, even harder to keep the treacherous tears at bay even when they blur her sight.

 

God, I’m such a mess.

 

“Sorry,” Jim breathes out shakily. “I’m sorry.”

 

They say nothing for a while, Jim quietly trying to regain her composure while Sarek appears to be lost in his thoughts.

 

“I realize that he has done nothing to earn the benefit of the doubt from you,” Sarek eventually breaks the uncomfortable silence between them with a soft voice. “But my son is not a monster.”

 

“Please don’t take this the wrong way,” Jim starts to say very carefully. “But I think that, considering the circumstances, you can understand why Sybok will never be anything else for me.”

 

There’s no answer at first. Then Sarek lets out a long and defeated sigh.

 

“Yes,” he ends up answering with a sadness marring his tone that even he can’t entirely hide. “I suppose I can.”

 

Jim hesitantly looks at him. The Vulcan’s reaction is such a sharp contrast to hers when she first found out. She had felt like what was left of her world came crashing down around her, burying her alive. The Vulcan just looks more intrigued than panicked at the news of her condition.

 

“How are you not even a little upset by this news?” she says a little harshly. “How can you be so calm?”

 

Sarek tilts his head, looking at her curiously. “Why would I not be? As a member of an endangered species, I can only approve of this pregnancy. Now more than ever, it is imperative to preserve the younger generation in order to protect the future of our people. You are not unaware, of course, that too few younglings have managed to escape the destruction of Vulcan as it is.” His hands grab hers and pull them onto his lap. “As a man… Jim, your condition does not make me upset. Far from it. You are the woman that I cherish and, as such, I could not be more content that you are now carrying the precious life of our child.” He kisses Jim’s fingers with reverence. “I realize that you may not share a similar sentiment, but it is my belief that your mindset will change with time and you will come to see this pregnancy as I do.”

 

A grimace twists her features. “Sarek—…”

 

“I once told you of my desires regarding the future of our partnership.”

 

Jim abruptly feels cold all over, hit by what may as well have been a bucket of ice cold water. Shaking her head, she tries to pull her hands from Sarek’s hold. It only makes his grip tighten even more. “Okay, wait a minute—…”

 

“They have remained the same,” the Vulcan insists strongly. “However, in the hypothesis that I am interpreting your recent behavior correctly, I believe that your stance on the subject may be different now than it was then.” The intensity of his gaze makes her swallow nervously. “Jim, am I incorrect in my assumptions?”

 

She tells the truth. She has nothing else to offer.

 

Her answer leaves her in a breath. “I don’t know.”

 

The light in Sarek’s eyes dim a little. “I see.”

 

Letting out a quiet curse, Jim brusquely gets up, pushing a frustrating hand through her hair and pacing the room like a caged animal, unable to stay still.

 

“Sarek, I… I don’t want to lead you on. I’m still not comfortable with the idea of being your mate in any official capacity. You’re Vulcan. Eventually, you will need to bond and that’s something I’m not sure I will ever be able to give you.”

 

Sarek opens his mouth to object and Jim quickly cuts him off with a gesture of her hand. If she stops now, she’ll never be able to get this all out.

 

“But I can’t—… I can’t pretend that this,” she points at her stomach. “doesn’t change everything. You know my story. I’ve told you about my childhood. When I was a kid, I would have given anything to have both my parents with me, instead I had an abusing stepfather who was kicked out of my life far too late. And I realize that this situation is entirely different, I do, but I just…” Jim trails off, cursing her shaking voice that gives too much away.

 

“Jim—…”

 

“I don’t want this baby to be alone,” Jim finally admits out loud. “I don’t want my child to grow up the way I did.”

 

Sarek quickly gets up too, reaching out to grab her face between his hands, stroking her skin soothingly, perhaps even lovingly, in an attempt to appease her.

 

He loves me, Jim is reminded once more. The fool is truly and deeply in love with me.

 

“A situation which, fortunately, can be easily avoided,” Sarek says, still as confident as ever. “We are compatible, Kirk. Intellectually. Sexually. I remain convinced that a match between the two of us would be a successful one, should you let it be so.”

 

Jim looks at him sadly. “Compatibility is not synonymous with happiness.”

 

“Perhaps not, but it certainly is a necessity required in all fulfilling relationships, is it not?” His tone takes a more pleading edge. “James, why do you fight me still?”

 

Jim pulls his hand away. It takes every bit of her self-control to stay resolute and firm. “Because if I’m going to do this, then I need you to know what you’re getting into.”

 

Sarek’s breath hitches in his throat. “Clarify.”

 

This is her chance to backtrack, Jim knows. As of yet, she’s said nothing she can’t explain away, nothing that would commit her to a more serious relationship she’s not ready to enter yet. There’s still time for her to keep her mouth shut and think this through once more.

 

But Jim’s tired of overthinking everything.

 

She takes a deep breath and takes the plunge. “I’m saying that I don’t love you, Sarek.” The statement hits him like a slap, she can see it in the way he recoils, but before the hurt can really settle, Jim seals her fate and adds. “But I want to.”

 

Sarek goes still.

 

Jim looks down, swallowing hard. “I want to try. I want to make this work. I want to give it a fair chance, because this baby is real now, whether I like it or not, and if there’s even a chance that the three of us can form a real family, then I owe it to myself to give it a shot. This isn’t a promise and I don’t want you to treat it as one,” Jim quickly rushes to point out. “But I won’t run away anymore. I won’t hide from you. I will really and truly try, Sarek, and I just—… I hope that can be enough, for now.”

 

Utter and complete silence follows her confession. It puts her even more on edge than she is already and, stuck in the eerie impression of being trapped in a bad dream, Jim hesitantly looks up.

 

Sarek’s eyes are glowing with triumph.

 

 

Chapter Text

Her long, golden hair falls in a curtain around their faces.

 

Sarek can’t seem to stop kissing her and Jim indulges him gladly, stretched out on top of him with her fingers curled around his shoulder, angling her head just so to deepen the kiss even more. The hands on her back wander accross her bare skin greedily, mapping her by touch and pulling her even closer, if possible, to the point of crushing her breasts against his chest. Jim groans into Sarek’s mouth, pain and pleasure shooting up her spine. The arousal swirling in her lower belly grows sharper as her Vulcan lover pushes his hips up, grinding into her once but hard and nearly throwing her off with the force of his thrust.

 

With a heavy exhale, Jim abandons Sarek’s lips to mouth at his throat, teasing his Adam’s apple with the tip of her tongue, tasting the salt of his sweat off his skin with an avidity that surprises even her.

 

Sarek lets out a languid sigh, threading his fingers into her blonde locks. “James.”

 

Jim hums in response, leaves a trail of soft kisses across his shoulder, his upper chest, desire twisting her insides as she finally allows herself to discover this man fully, to appreciate his sculpted body that’s nothing but firmness and muscles under her hands, to draw out the pleasure in a way she’s never done before.

 

There’s no one but them this time. It’s just her and Sarek and the pleasure they’re effortlessly giving to one another, the guilt that has followed Jim for months thankfully nowhere to be found for now.

 

As if in a daze, she drags her mouth further down, the dark hair on Sarek’s chest tickling her nose and chin, filling her senses with his musky, masculine scent, with the light fragrance of incense and spices that she’s come to connect with him only. It makes her lightheaded and, without thinking, Jim takes the skin of his underbelly between her teeth and gently bites.

 

It tears a quiet moan out of Sarek. Wordlessly, he tugs her down even more. Jim quickly gets the message.

 

For the first time, she hesitates. Even after all their… sexual experimentations, she’s never given Sarek a blowjob and he’s never asked for one either. It’s not that Jim lacks the experience or the knowledge but, and as ridiculous as it sounds considering everything else they’ve done together, she could never bring herself to perform this intimate act on him.

 

Jim clutches the Vulcan’s thighs, nervously licking her lips. The sight of the thick, greenish erection intimidates her more than she would like and, before she can change her mind, she forges ahead and takes the head of that alien cock into her mouth.

 

Sarek lets out a sound she’s never heard from him before, a long throaty moan that has her digging her nails into his skin and sucking harder. It’s strange, surreal even, to feel his hot length stretching her lips wide, the weight of it on her tongue, all of it.

 

“You are exquisite,” Sarek hisses lowly with an appreciative touch to the side of her face.

 

Jim closes her eyes and breathes heavily through her nose, wrapping a hand around the base of Sarek’s cock and trying to take him deeper into her mouth, inch by inch, slowly adjusting to his girth. She thinks she hears Sarek crying out her name, but it’s hard to register anything past the sound of her heart going wild in her ears and the taste of the alien precum bursting across her palate.

 

The hold on her hair turns painful and Jim gasps around Sarek’s throbbing shaft, entirely unprepared for the way he suddenly buckles his hips and thrusts into her mouth. Her gag reflex kicks in and Jim hastily pulls away, the warm erection slipping from her sore lips with a lewd sound, leaving her panting and a little queasy. Sarek doesn’t give her enough time to catch her breath, just pulls her abruptly to him and rolls them over, so quickly that it leaves her dizzy.

 

Absentmindedly, Jim puts her hands on his shoulders, entirely pressed to the mattress by the weight of his body. “Sarek, what –…”

 

A sudden pressure on her clit cuts her off and Jim tosses her head back on the pillows, lips parted in a silent cry. Sarek drops a kiss on her gaping jaw, breathing heavily against her skin as Jim sinks her teeth into her bottom lip, trying to keep quiet, slowly driven to the brink of insanity by the firm and long drags of Sarek’s calluses over her sensitive bud.

 

“Please, please, please—…” Her body moves of its own volition and she starts writhing languidly under Sarek, eyes fluttering shut as euphoria takes over her senses.

 

Sarek keeps his mouth against her ear, whispering things that Jim has no way of understanding. Still, she hears his confession, loud and clear, and it makes her rack her nails across his back, keeping him close to her, her hold on him strong and firm as he lightly rocks his cock against her thigh, leaving wet trails across her bare skin.

 

Sarek.” Jim’s far too gone to care about the no doubt embarrassing noises escaping her freely now. “Sarek, please.”

 

The boiling pressure building within her is as excruciating as it’s blissful and, eventually, something in Jim snaps.

 

The rush of orgasm overtakes her all at once, an unstoppable and powerful surge that leaves her body wrecked with tremors and has her arching her spine off the bed with a long, broken cry, right into Sarek’s scorching warmth.

 

She collapses back onto the mattress, out of breath and still holding the Vulcan with trembling arms now devoid of strength. Sarek’s fingers are wet as they touch her sore lips, tracing the dents left by her teeth. Jim nips at them playfully, blinking her eyes opened and slowly coming down from peak of ecstasy.

 

The dark pupils of Sarek’s eyes are wide with barely restrained desire, hungry for something only she can provide, and Jim feels more naked under his heated gaze now than she ever did during any of their previous sexual trysts. Probably because they didn’t mean anything to her, back then. Sex with Sarek was always supposed to be meaningless, after all. But now?

 

Now, Jim pulls off the armor and lets him all the way in.

 

Wordlessly, she parts her legs and hitches them right over Sarek’s hips, cradling him close to her in a clear and unmistakable invitation.

 

“Come here,” she encourages him softly.

 

Sarek’s strong hands slide down her thighs, under her knees, the tip of his cock nudging her entrance teasingly.

 

It’s like the air’s been punched out of her lungs when he finally pushes into her.

 

Shit,” Jim gasps breathlessly, adjusting to his girth.

 

T'nash-veh katelau, ” he moans against her skin as she tries to catch her breath, mouthing his way to her parted lips and delving his tongue into the wet cavern of her mouth. “Taluhk nash-veh k'dular.

 

With shaky hands, Jim hesitantly strokes the back of the Vulcan’s neck, her sigh muffled by his lips. She kisses him back keenly, passionately, answering his hunger with her own and curling her tongue fervently around his. They’re locked so tightly together, nothing more than a messy tangle of limbs, so much that Jim doesn’t know where she ends and where Sarek starts. But for once, she relishes in the connection of their bodies instead of dreading it.

 

“Move,” she urges him quietly, clenching deliberately around him.

 

Sarek lightly bites her lower lip and obeys the order, rolling his hips in slow, firm circles, setting up a languid pace that has Jim humming blissfully and closing her eyes at the onslaughts of pleasure hitting her with each steady thrust, Sarek’s hot erection moving inside of her just right.

 

Koon-ut so'lik.” There’s something strangely suppliant in Sarek’s tone. “Sanu, kun-ut so'lik.”

 

Unable to see anything past the thick cloak of ecstasy clouding her thoughts, Jim just nods with a helpless whimper. “Anything, anything you want, just please—…”

 

Sarek cuts her off with a nearly animalistic growl, crushing his lips to hers once more. Whatever it is Jim just agreed to, it makes her lover want to possess her through that kiss as surely as he’s claiming her with his cock. Right now, she’s okay with that.

 

Jim tries to remember a time where this man wasn’t such a fundamental part of her life, where his touch still felt strange and alien to her, where the thought of welcoming him into the deepest part of her intimacy was so entirely unfathomable. She tries but she can’t and that realization, more than anything, is enough to comfort her in her decision.

 

This is her life now. They won’t be trapped here forever, she won’t accept it, but she and Sarek are always going to be connected through their unborn child. They’re going to be parents and no amount of running away or denial is going to change that.

 

The thought hurts, but is no longer torturing.

 

They break apart with a gasp and Sarek instantly dips his head down, pressing open mouthed kisses down her throat, one hand sliding against her lower back and forcing her to arch into him.

 

Jim throws her head back and moans loudly, burying her fingers into his hair. “I’m here,” she promises breathlessly. “I’m with you.”

 

She rolls her hips in deliberate motions, whimpering at the feeling of that burning length rubbing inside of her deliciously. Sarek palms her buttocks with greedy fingers and Jim buries her face into the crook of his neck, moving quicker, bringing her hips down a little harder after every withdrawal and searching for the wet contact of balls slapping bare skin, for the jolts of electricity that course through her every time Sarek pushes in just right, for the long drag of his cock sliding in and out, and it’s just… right now, it’s perfect. Exactly what she needs.

 

Jim crosses her ankles against his lower back, too far gone in the pleasure to care about the fact that she’s encouraging him with nonsensical pleadings.

 

“Don’t stop, just like that, you—… Yes, yes, yes—…Harder, come on—…”

 

The headboard starts hitting the wall as they both get more energetic, their bodies rocking together in perfect unison. Jim blinks in daze at the ceiling, lost in the haze of pleasure and rendered entirely helpless as the Vulcan pounds into her, hard, relentless, but still in control, still holding back just enough not to hurt her. His stamina and discipline are impressive, because he doesn’t let himself reach his orgasm until she does.

 

Ah!” Jim cries out, spasms wracking her entire body and leaving her shaking from head to toe. Sarek follows her over the edge barely a few seconds later, letting out a quiet gasp when she clenches around his pulsing cock. Maybe for the first time, Jim relishes in the now familiar sensation of her lover’s warm seed filling her in long waves as he rides out his orgasm, clinging to him and digging her fingers into the sweat slick skin of his back.

 

After one last, deep thrust of his hips that tears a groan out of Jim, Sarek finally goes still. He doesn’t immediately pull out, keeping his head buried in her shoulder as he tries to catch his breath, elbows put on either side of Jim’s face to avoid putting too much weight on her.

 

She’s panting just as harshly, running her fingers lazily through his hair, feeling deliciously sore and sated and, dares she say, content.

 

“James,” Sarek breathes out, sliding his fingers alongside her jawline. “Thank you.”

 

Jim snorts. “My pleasure,” she says playfully.

 

She feels his lips curve into a small smile across her skin, hidden but still there. Jim can’t help but smile too, fondness and affection swirling in her chest, and because she doesn’t want Sarek to think that she misunderstood the real meaning behind his gratitude, she gently pulls his head up and drops a soft, tender kiss onto his lips.

 

Sarek’s hand finds her stomach and rests there. “There is much we still need to discuss,” he says.

 

Jim licks her damp lips. “I know,” she sighs, rubbing her foot lazily up and down his calf. “Does it have to be right now, though?

 

A kind look settles across Sarek’s features. “No, it does not.” Her stomach grumbles and he smirks. “Especially since you seem to be in need of nutriments at the moment.”

 

Jim blushes. “Sorry.”

 

“Nonsense. Intercourse is a strenuous activity that demands—“

 

Jim quickly puts her hand against his mouth to stop the surge of embarrassing words, groaning in a mix of amusement and frustration. “You can add afterglow in the list of things we need to talk about.”

 

Sarek’s kisses her palm, quiet joy dancing in his gaze. “Shall I bring you a collation?”

 

“Please.”

 

“Very well.”

 

A wave of coldness hits her when he finally rolls off her, goosebumps breaking across her skin. Jim suppresses a shiver, feeling strangely bereft without the weight of Sarek’s body on hers, and watches as he puts his robes back before leaving the room.

 

Stretching her limbs pleasantly and rolling over Sarek’s side of the bed, Jim buries her face in his pillow, a sigh escaping her. The Vulcan’s right, they’re going to have to talk about the future at some point. For one, Jim has no idea what to expect with a half vulcan, half human baby growing inside of her. Would that change the progress of the pregnancy? Would this child have specific needs that she should be made aware of now?

 

Jim’s completely blind here, advancing in the dark, so to speak. But she’s got Sarek and, at the end of the day, that’s enough.

 

Maybe this really can work, after all.

 

That’s when she hears it. The familiar sound of the transporter’s beams coming from outside the room.

 

Immediately on alert, Jim sits up quickly, pulling the sheets to cover her bare chest more out of reflex than real care about her nude state. Frowning, she calls out. “Sarek?”

 

No answers.

                                         

They’re not supposed to receive any more supplies for at least another week and while it wouldn’t be the first time Sybok beams them a little something down in an attempt to mock them, Jim can’t help the uneasiness crawling up her spine.

 

“Sarek?” she calls out again, louder this time.

 

The echo of her voice bouncing in the too silent bunker is her only response.

 

Biting back a frustrated curse, Jim leaves the bed and grabs her pants and tank top from the floor, putting them back on hastily.

 

It’s probably nothing. Hell, the simple fact that she’s still awake should be proof enough that everything’s fine. Jim’s just being a paranoid idiot because that’s what this place turned her into. Soon, Sarek will be back with her snack and what will also probably be yet another bottle of Romulan ale, courtesy of Sybok. Or maybe it’ll be something else this time, considering her condition. No matter. Jim will smash it, whatever it is, like she did with most of the other provocating gifts.

 

Still, she’ll feel better once she actually sees her Vulcan companion with her own two eyes.    

 

Leaving the bedroom on the tip of her toes and silently making her way to the common area, Jim deliberately ignores the dread growing in the pit of her stomach and slowly gnawing at her insides. She’s being ridiculous. Everything’s fine. Perfectly fine.

 

Keep telling yourself that. Maybe that’ll turn out to be true.

 

She wraps her arms around herself, suddenly feeling cold all over. When she finally reaches the end of the corridor, her nervousness has turned into frustration.

 

“Sarek, I swear to—…”

 

Jim stops dead in her tracks.

 

Sarek is there, standing right in the middle of the beaming spot.

 

He turns to look at her, but Jim only has eyes for the apparition that is currently standing next to him. Tall, lean, wearing a black combination that is strangely reminiscent to the one he wore on that suicide mission aboard Nero’s ship, Spock looks exactly the same as in her memories.

 

She thinks she hears Sarek calling her name but Jim is honestly incapable of answering, let alone tear her gaze away from the ghost. How is this possible? Spock’s only ever appeared to her in her dreams, so why is she seeing him now? Is this some sort of punishment? Is he going to haunt her even more now that she’s accepted to be Sarek’s partner?

 

God, how can he look so real?

 

A wave of dizziness hits her. I’m losing my mind.

 

It’s when the apparition opens his mouth to speak and his voice – real and terribly familiar, terribly missed— resonates in the room that Jim’s heart truly and painfully stops beating.

 

“Jim?”

 

Her knees very nearly give out under her.

 

Head turning and catching herself just in time against the wall, Jim finally risks a panicked glance towards Sarek, eyes widening a little more when he only gives a stunned nod back and puts an hesitant hand on Spock’s shoulder, something he’s only able to do because he’s real and tangible, a being capable of being touched and—

 

It’s him.

 

It’s really him.

 

A strangled sob escapes Jim, nothing more than a broken noise that makes her sound like a wounded animal.

 

The next moment, a blur of black rushes towards her and she’s lifted off her feet, crushed against a body she thought she would never feel under her hands again.

 

“Tell me it’s you,” Jim begs with fear choking her voice. “Tell me.”

 

And because Spock’s never disobeyed her orders before, he does just that. Her name sounds like a deliverance on his lips. “Jim.”

 

Life flows across her limbs once more and Jim finds herself returning Spock’s hug with near desperation, arms thrown around his shoulders, wonder and amazement and all-encompassing terror tearing her chest apart. She feels his hair between her fingers, can touch the skin of the back of his neck, can feel his warm breath against her ear –… For it can only be his, because Sarek is still standing in the middle of the beaming spot and if he’s there, it means that she’s currently clinging to someone else right now and—…

 

He’s here, I’m not dreaming.

 

Please, let this not be a dream.

 

More than once during all these months spent in captivity, Jim had wondered if, maybe, she had somehow romanticized her memory of Spock, if not idealized their entire relationship. In her lonely mind, she remembered him as the steady presence that kept her centered. The rock that kept her going. The shoulder to lean on when she needed it. The arms that would always catch her before she fell. And wasn’t that too much of a burden for a single man to bear?

 

But she hasn’t idealized any of it. Spock’s still all of that and more. He’s still hers. And he came for her. It’s been nearly a year and he still came for her.

 

“You’re here,” Jim whispers shakily. She doesn’t recognize that voice. This weak, vulnerable and trembling little thing that she's suddenly become.

 

God, she’s shaking like a leaf under the force of it all and Spock—… Spock’s just as shaken as she is.

 

A whine of protest escapes her when he abruptly pulls away, but then he’s immediately back, grabbing her face and looking at her with a strange mix of fear and wonderment, like he’s afraid she’s going to disappear if he so much as blinks. Jim understands the feeling and she too feels the need to cup his cheeks, gazing upon him as if she’s never seen anything so beautiful.

 

She truly hasn’t.

 

They’re so close that Jim can feel Spock’s warm breath on her lips, her nose inadvertently nudging his. Spock’s thumbs can’t seem to stop stroking her skin, but that’s fine, she doesn’t mind. In fact, she’s pretty sure she might actually die if Spock ever stops touching her.

 

Everything’s so clear now and Jim is such an idiot. How could she ever doubt? How could she have forgotten how intense and right it felt when they were together? How could she—… she’s been gone for a year and anyone else would have given up on her by now. But not Spock. He still fought for her and searched for her and she doesn’t understand why she ever allowed herself to believe that he would do any differently.

 

Of course Spock loves her. Of course he does. It’s written all over his face, painted on his features with care. And he’s smiling. God, he’s smiling a real, big, toothy smile that Jim can’t help but trace in awe with the tips of her fingers, letting out a little joyful sob when Spock kisses them gently.

 

“You’re late,” she jokes weakly, vision blurring with tears.

 

“I apologize,” Spock says a little roughly, and it’s reassuring to know that she’s not the only one who’s lost control here. “It appears that some people were determined to keep your location a secret.”

 

“Tell me you kicked their asses.”

 

Foreheads pressed together now, Jim feels Spock’s smirk more than she sees it. “I believe you would have approved.” Then something else. “Commander Kirk certainly did.”

 

Jim blinks back her tears incredulously. “Comman—… My mom? She’s here?!”

 

“Of course. She is currently waiting for my signal. Jim.” His thumb strokes Jim’s jaw lovingly. “You are free.”

 

She lets out a wet laugh, leaning into his touch, when something catches her attention from the corner of her eyes.

 

Her blood runs cold.

 

Sarek’s looking right at them and the joy that has warmed Jim’s heart so abruptly turns into crackling fear so fast that it makes her dizzy. This time, her knees do give out under her but fortunately, Spock’s arms are there keep her steady.

 

“Jim?” He asks and the worry in his voice makes her want to scream.

 

She doesn’t answer, just grips him more tightly to her, fisting his black shirt to the point of nearly tearing the fabric. Horror twists her insides mercilessly as Sarek just keeps staring at them, saying nothing and too much at the same time. There’s anger in that gaze, a touch of jealousy, a little bit of pity too. Jim shakes her head in denial, tearing her eyes away and pulling Spock with her as she turns them until her back’s pressed against the wall of the corridor, effectively trapping her.

 

Bile rises up her throat at the feel of a sudden pressure against her stomach.

 

Spock calls her name once more in concern, but doesn’t push for more when Jim buries her face into the crook of his neck. That’s all she needs right now; Spock’s weight on her, his arms around her, his comforting scent filling her senses. And somehow. Jim doesn’t feel on the edge of having a break down anymore.

 

It helps, until she can no longer ignore the ache between her legs, the sticky mess of fluids spread across her inner thighs, and realizes that she’s still sweaty from her earlier activities. God, she must be reeking of sex and Spock isn’t in the right state of mind to notice any of these details right now, but he will, of course he will, and when that happens, Jim will inevitably lose him forever.

 

For now, the Vulcan’s hand cradles the back of her head, stroking her hair gently. “It is alright, Jim,” he says soothingly. “I am here.”

 

He’s going to leave, Jim thinks hysterically. This isn’t fair, I just got him back, I need more time, please—…

 

“Jim.”

 

What I have done, what have I done, what have I done—…

 

“Jim, please.” This time, Spock sounds truly afraid.

 

“Spock,” Jim sobs, pulling and pulling in a desperate effort to have him even closer. I’m sorry. “I—…” God, I’m so sorry.

 

Choking on her tears, Jim risks a glance to the side.

 

Sarek’s still watching them from afar.