Rating: NC-17 overall
Word Count: 37, K.
Paring: K/S (Background Uhura/Bones)
Summary: Spock has a… not altogether logical reaction to Captain Kirk's constant disregard for his own safety on away missions.
Note: Some of the formatting went a little wonky when I put it on ffdotnet. You might want to check my lj instead.
EDIT 8/14 for formatting issues.
"This is bullshit, C-c-captain."
Jim snorted, trying not to move too much. Every time he did, a blast of icy air would worm its way under the thin nubby-looking blanket, causing them both to shiver. Even snorting seemed like too much effort. "They'll find us, Lieut'nt." His tongue didn't seem to be working right.
Uhura was silent for a moment. When she spoke, the feel of her lips against his neck felt strangely brittle. Her breath had frozen. Uhura's lips were literally like ice. Even that didn't make him panic. He knew he should be. Jim understood hypothermia, understood all the symptoms. He knew his lethargy was a bad sign. He knew that his body was already beginning to shut down. He'd known that when he'd stopped realizing how cold he was. He still shivered every once in a while, but it wasn't the furious, desperate shaking from before.
"I th-thought you didn't' believe in no-win scenarios, C-captain? Don't you dare give up on me, damnit!"
"'M not givin' up." He wasn't. Jim knew that his crew would be looking for them. Sure, they might have only been knocking about the black together for a little over six months, but he trusted them. They were brilliant and more loyal than anything Jim had ever imagined. They would find them. Well, Uhura, at least. She should be safe. The thought slipped away from him, and Jim didn't much care.
Jim blinked again, shifting. He gritted his teeth against the draft of cold air and moved, so more of his body was on top of Uhura. Her arms were already crossed over her chest; the movement of her body and push of her arms arranged him so that their bodies were more in alignment. Jim pressed with his legs onto hers to try and cover her more. They both avoided looking at each other, the awkwardness of their position having bled away hours ago. Jim hadn't even said anything when she had wormed her arms into his command shirt, sharing her body heat with him.
"You sh-should have more of th-these blankets. You're too cold."
"No. Tha's an order." Fuck. His mouth wasn't working right. It wasn't exactly regulation, but Jim had made her take three of the four blankets they'd had, placing them under the frozen rock so that with him on top, she'd be much warmer. He'd even made a crack about finally being able to be on top of her, but all that had gotten him was a smack on the forehead and a very unamused look.
Uhura was silent for a few minutes. Maybe it was longer. Jim was having a really, really hard time concentrating. "Funny way of enforcing your orders, Captain. Squishing your subordinates must be one of the new techniques. Captain?"
Jim smiled sleepily. He wasn't sure why he'd been complaining before. It was really much, much nicer now. He let his mind drift, feeling sleep just on the horizon.
The last few days had really been beyond shitty. Diplomatic negotiations with the High Chancellor had gone completely to shit, almost from the time they'd beamed down onto the planet. He and Uhura had been separated from the rest of the party and forced to watch while the Klingons had systematically killed the three security team members that had beamed down with them. How Starfleet had had absolutely no intel on how the Klingons had been there first was just a fucking mystery. Jim planned to let Chris know exactly what he thought of this blatant 'Fleet clusterfuckery, but now? Now he didn't care so much.
He and Uhura had been taken to some kind of jail cell while the Klingons argued about how much ransom they could get for their prizes. The jail had been several feet underground, where their communicators didn't work. Ironic, really. That was part of the reason that Starfleet had insisted that they open negotiations. The planet was rich with the minerals needed for part of some of the finer communications devices. Still, the mineral deposits also made it impossible for them to keep in contact with the Enterprise.
They'd been sitting in the jail cell, cooling their heels when the transporter's effects had started. Uhura and he had both acted on blind instinct, joining hands so that where ever they were being transported, they'd be transported together. Jim had had the split-second to feel triumph- he really had the best fucking crew ever- before their molecules reformed to deposit them in the middle of what felt like an ice age. The realization that his crew hadn't saved them had been crushing. It had been complete and utter luck that the blankets had transported with them; otherwise, they'd be dead now.
It felt like they had been there for days. Whatever personal boundaries they'd had had completely disappeared. It was too cold to really converse. Besides, there wasn't all that much to say. Of course, Jim had tried his best to give her a half-hearted leer when her hand had slid down under his trousers to press against his ass, but Uhura had just rolled her eyes.
Man, Uhura's voice had this really naggy quality he just hadn't had a chance to really appreciate before.
Her hands hurt him. A slap, her arms moving briskly on his skin. It felt like she was burning him, and he twitched, moaning.
"Jim, I swear to God I'll flip you over and let your dick freeze off if you don't stay awake!"
Well, that was uncalled for. He winced, finding the strength to rouse himself. Uhura was just mean enough to do it, too. Jim wasn't exactly best friends with his brilliant communications officer, but she'd forgiven a lot of his past shit after he'd saved Spock's life a few times. Outside of duty, they'd developed kind of a comfortable squabbley relationship that seemed to consist mostly of verbal volleys and sarcasm.
"So, if we get out of this, y'gonna let me call you Ny'ta?"
Jim was surprised to see the slight sheen of tears in her eyes. Alarms went off in his head, sending the apathy receding slightly. The squirming, wiggling feeling of failure rose up, choking him. If she cried, she'd freeze. Jim hissed when he felt her tear on his face and was completely astounded when he felt a delicate, burning hand on his cheek, pulling him down for a chaste kiss on the forehead. "Sure, Jim. You stay awake, and you can call me whatever you want." Her lips touched his, briefly.
Jim was confused about the stars bursting behind his eyes until his foggy, confused brain realized that it was a transporter beam.
The heat from the room caused him to cry out in pain. It felt like he'd been dipped in lava, that it was boiling over his body, sending each nerve ending aflame.
Conversation sounded too loud, and Jim felt everything envelop him. Too much sound, too much heat. He'd done it. They were safe.
Jim finally allowed himself to pass out.
Jim heard Bones muttering under his breath, and for a minute, the sound was so familiar he had to squelch the feelings of normalcy that they brought. Hell, if Bones wasn't fussing at him, then shit must be pretty damn dire.
"Bones." Ow. Speaking might have been a little ambitious. His throat felt like someone had melted it with a phaser then sanded it to an even more rough finish.
"Damnit, Jim, I'm getting too old for this shit." Bones shined something unpleasant in his eyes, causing Jim to wince. His whole body felt as though he'd been peeled and the skin put on backward.
"Damn near all of your skin had to be regrown, kid. That's why you're hurting now. You were practically frozen to Uhura. Well, not to her exactly but the moisture on her skin..."
But Jim was lulled to sleep by the rough affection in the voice and fell asleep before Bones could get to his point.
The next time he woke up, it was to Nurse Chapel's perfect, heart-shaped ass.
The perpetual twelve-year-old in him couldn't help the initial smirk. However, it was beaten quickly to death by the guilt of professionalism that he'd struggled so hard to build up from his rather inauspicious beginnings as the Enterprise's captain. Still. He wasn't dead, and lying here on his side, watching while she picked up the equipment that must have been what woke him up, Jim couldn't help the slight veneer of amusement he knew had to be on his face.
"Captain Kirk." Hearing Spock's voice sound so cold shocked Jim out of his staring. Spock stood there as he always seemed to do when Jim had landed in sickbay- managing to convey complete and total disapproval without actually showing any emotion in the stiffness of his body.
Jim jumped and winced when something in his back touched the biobed, sending the damn thing caterwauling as it registered that Jim was in pain. He couldn't help the small, sharp sound he made, his eyes stinging with tears as his back told him that he was a complete and total idiot in no uncertain terms.
He saw Spock stiffen even more as Bones practically pushed him out of the way in his haste to get to Jim. Jim sensed more than actually saw Nurse Chapel to his left, turning off the screeching sound. His back was agony, fire under his skin, burning it from the inside out.
"Nurse! Commander! Steady him before he starts to-dammit!"
Jim felt his nerves all jump to attention at once, and his body couldn't seem to keep up. He began twitching, thrashing on the bed. He was aware of Spock's dry, soft hands burning on his shoulders, of Nurse Chapel trying to hold down his legs. Jim might have imagined the way Spock's brown eyes widened just briefly when Jim's pain-filled gaze met his, but Bones had finally found something that slid against his neck. For once, Jim welcomed the hiss of the hypospray as consciousness dimmed around the edges before he was plunged into blackness.
"I thought you'd never wake up. I think Chekov's been down here at least three times. He looks kind of like you kicked his favorite puppy off the ship." Uhura looked completely comfortable as she set aside the PADD she'd been working on, leaning forward and looking at Jim, who blinked up at her, bemusedly. "Welcome back."
Jim licked at dry lips and tried to smile. He could feel that there was something strapped to his chest, just to the left of his sternum, but knew better than to remove it. He felt a little uncomfortable at the way Uhura blinked rapidly, emotions shifting on her face. He hated this part. Jim was very grateful that they had both survived, but the naked emotion on her face made his guts squirm. Jim looked away for a moment, feeling awkward.
"Ya ujasiri wa simba haina kulinda ni kutoka kwa mkuki ya wawindaji wa. Asante1, Jim"
She handed him a glass of water and helped him steady his hand to drink it. "I know you don't feel like hearing it, but since you can't move until that thing finishes its sequence, you're stuck. "Thank you for my life, Captain." Uhura squeezed his hand once, then coughed, pulling away and back into her on-duty, professional self. "You scared us. What is it with you and needing to be the center of attention?"
Jim took another drink of water slowly. "You said that I could call you 'Nyota.'"
"Yes, I did." Jim's heart gave a funny sort of quiver when he saw the slight half-smile that was on her lips. She reminded him of his mom for a second, the grin she got when she knew he was up to no good.
"Awesome, Nyota. Do you know where Bones is, Nyota? I kind of want to play with my ship again, Nyota, if you think that he'll clear me for duty." Jim had the pleasure of seeing her check her instinctive eye-roll, knowing that she recognized his somewhat lame attempt at diffusing his awkwardness with humor. He was so intent on his annoying teasing that he didn't hear Bones until he was practically on top of him.
"Not a chance, kid. You're off duty for another day or two at least."
"Bo-ones!" Now that his face didn't feel like it was about to flake off, Jim felt perfectly justified in throwing an exaggerated pout towards his friend. Nyota plucked the water out of Jim's hands and sat back, watching with a smirk of amusement as Bones descended, tricorder in hand.
"I swear to God, if your damnfool actions don't get your killed, then your delicate damn immune system will jump in to kick your scrawny ass."
"My ass is not scrawny." Jim blushed a little under the matching withering looks that both Nyota and Bones shot him at hearing his mutter, then grinned, delighted at the way they both rolled their eyes the exact same way. "Wow, you two totally look like you've been practicing that."
"I'm not kidding. You had an allergic reaction to the nerve-regenerator. I didn't even know that was medically possible, Jim. You had a seizure, then a few smaller ones before we could get you calmed down. Then Spock-"
Spock?"Wait; what? What happened to Spock, Bones?" Jim watched the two of them briefly look at each other out of the corner of their eyes and frowned.
"Ah- nothing bad, exactly Jim. You know that Vulcan's are touch-telepaths, right? Well, I think Spock just picked up a little more from touching your bare shoulder than he had counted on. It rattled him a little. I didn't even know that Vulcans could freak out. Damnedest thing I ever saw. Next, it will be Cardassians doing the two-step."
Jim frowned up at the ceiling. He couldn't remember anything, really—just Spock's eyes over him. The feel of his skin against his own, slight as the touch had been. Jim looked at Nyota. "But he's okay, right? I didn't freak him out too badly, or anything, did I?"
"No, Jim. Spock's fine." She shot Bones a look, and Jim was amused to see the way Bones' lips twitched in response. Hmmm. He'd never seen Bones just take a scold like that before. Interesting. Maybe they had been practicing mutual eye-rolling. Well, among other things.
"Okay, so... any word on why we were taken to that planet? How about the Klingons? What about..."
"Jim. You're off-duty. Act like it, before I knock your ass out again."
Jim frowned. "Look, Bones. It's not like this is just some random intel. I need to know what happened, and I need to know now. If you're keeping me off duty, then fine. Whatever. But you're not going to keep me here where I can't find out what happened." Jim's voice had hardened, and he noticed that both Nyota and Bones' posture had changed when they heard the commanding tone implicit in his words.
Bones' eyebrow winged into his bangs. "Right, Jim. Now just calm down. You're not going to overdo it. It's kind of cute that you think you have any authority here, but if you don't get that dose of stubborn outta your ass, you're gonna do yourself an injury and will be confined to sickbay. Now you just cool your heels till I am good and ready to release ya. CMO outranks the Captain on medical issues, Jimmy." Bones smirked. "But I'm sure you know that."
"Alright, gentlemen. I think that's my cue to leave."
"Deserter," Jim muttered under his breath, shooting her a dark look under his eyelashes. He did watch with great interest the way she brushed against Bones on her way out, sending Bones flushing a bright red.
"Baby." Nyota sing-songed back, leaving his medbay with a little wave of her fingers.
Bones did an admirable job completely avoiding Jim's gaze for the next four minutes that he finished examining Jim, unhooking the small regenerator from his chest and scanning him with his tricorder.
"You know I'm going to give you a metric fuckton of shit for this, right Bones?"
"I was kind of hoping that you wouldn't." Bones met his gaze for the first time since Nyota left them alone, his face still ruddy with embarrassment.
"Yeah, do you know me at all?"
Bones sighed, a long and drawn out-breath of air that reminded Jim of when he'd stumble into the clinic at the academy, knuckles and face a mess. He opened his mouth; Jim forestalled him, raising his hand.
"I'm not going to trade on keeping quiet so that I can get out of here a little early."
Bones blinked for a moment. When he smiled, it was slow-building, like his lips had to remember how to stretch that way. "Just for that, you're gonna wear one of these little whirlygigs that tell me if your heart rate goes up. You can putter around the ship, but if you step foot on that Bridge, your ass'll be back here before you can blink twice. We clear?"
"Crystal." Jim couldn't keep the grin off of his face and didn't even bother trying. He checked the chronometer and saw that Alpha was just ending. He wanted a shower and some new clothes. The scrubs Bones'd popped him in reeked of disinfectant. Knowing when to push his luck and when to keep quiet, Jim simply held out his arm for the little heart monitor. It went right under the skin of his arm, much like the universal translator.
"Okay, so, everything okay then?"
"Yeah. You'll tire easily. Try not to push it, kid."
Jim slid off the bed, wincing when the cold floor hit his bare toes. Bones jerked his head towards the uniform that was folded on a counter. He knew Jim hated to be seen looking anything other than professional. Hell. At least it wasn't the medical gown that let his ass hang out the back. The one time he'd worn that back to his quarters, he'd nearly caused a riot.
Well, his ass was definitely worth a stare or two. He just hadn't expected Scotty to trip over his own feet that way. Jim hobbled over to the clothes and tried not to wince when he pulled off the shirt he was wearing.
Bones, no fool, snorted, and collected his instruments. "Jim?"
Jim paused in his struggle with pulling down the black undershirt. He looked over at Bones and raised his eyebrows.
"Thank you for saving her." Bones left, the doors quietly swooping shut behind him.
Jim sighed. He had to find Spock and figure out what the fuck had been going on.
 The bravery of a lion doesn't protect it from the spear of a hunter. Thank you, Jim.
The Observation deck was quiet. It was actually one of Jim's favorite parts of his ship. It was smaller than the main observation decks, and out of the way from most of the foot traffic, given that it wasn't near any of the ship's main areas. Jim liked to see the stars flying by. Maybe it made him sentimental, but whenever he could look out into the black, it just calmed him down. It made him feel connected with his parents in a way that he'd never gotten to experience.
The lights were dim enough that the faint glow from his PADD could be seen in the reflection of the transparent aluminum that separated him from the stars.
Bones had been right. He'd been exhausted from the walk to his quarters. The shower hadn't exactly been pleasant. It had taken him what felt like hours to strip and walk into the head. The shower had called to him. He'd had to forgo the water that he usually used and switch to sonics instead. He'd been ready to drop.
Perversely, he'd refused to do so, knowing that somewhere, Bones would somehow know that he was too tired and pounce on him. His muscles twinged at weird times, and Jim knew it would be smart for him to just go to bed. He should go to bed. He wanted to go to bed. Jim had made it to tossing his towel near the recycler before he made himself stop. It was no use. He couldn't stop worrying over the last mission. It wasn't that he'd never lost a member of his crew before. It wasn't even the fact that he felt like the Klingons had fucked him over without even a kiss hello.
Now, sitting in his favorite chair, PADD resting on his knees, Jim couldn't help but look out, eyes focusing inward as he thought about the last few days. This melancholy introspection wasn't like him at all, but he couldn't seem to snap himself out of it. How was it possible that Starfleet hadn't had any intelligence on Klingon movement in that area? Jim didn't much like feeling like a sitting duck. He and Uhura... no Nyota had been left to twiddle their thumbs, stranded from their ship. Presumably, Spock had kept things running fine on the Enterprise. Obviously. Jim couldn't imagine a situation where Spock wasn't handling things with perfect ease. But why had things gone so wrong? How the hell had they ended up on that frozen iceball of shitfuckery? And what the hell about what happened in Sickbay? Jim sighed, doodling a little on his PADD as he thought. He blinked, staring down at his notes.
There were a lot of goddamn questions and not a lot of goddamn answers. Ugh. Now he was channeling Bones.
If he had known about the Klingons mucking about the area, then things might have gone differently. If Starfleet had fucking given him a glimmer of even the beginning of a hint that things were not quite what they had seemed, then maybe...fuck.That seemed to be a trend of late. The flagship was sent into situation after situation designed to make Starfleet's PR look good. After Nero, Jim and his crew of young, talented, genius (and let's not forget gorgeous) personnel had made Starfleet look damn good.
Jim had known that his job as a captain would force him into playing politics. It went without saying.
But it really, really pissed him the fuck off when that sort of bullshit put his crew in danger.
Jim sighed again, looking down at the list of the deceased. Jim's hand tightened around the stylus so tightly that the bottom of it pressed into his hand. Exhaustion pulled at him, causing his eyes to sting. Ensign James, Lieutenant Harper, and Ensign Geoffries. Good, hardworking people that had died in the line of duty. Uselessly. As a distraction. Because they had been determined as unnecessary.
Jim, two security officers, Nyota, and that young ensign that Nyota had been so proud of. The three of them were dead because Jim had needed them on the away team. Jim made a little note to make sure that he sat down and talked to Nyota. He could tell her until he was blue in the face that Ensign James' death wasn't her fault, but Jim knew she wouldn't take the comfort.
The doors hissed open, and Jim tensed a little, knowing that Spock was the only person who would come to find him. It had become his habit to find Jim after an away mission that went awry. If it had been anyone else, Jim would have thought that they were checking up on him.
"Hey, Spock." Jim straightened in his chair, ignoring the way the large muscles in his back twanged. "Have a seat."
Spock did, sitting stiffly. The couch across from Jim was very comfortable, consisting mostly of fluffy pillows and cushions. Spock managed to look completely unmoved by its comfort. His back was painfully straight, his hands resting at precise angles on his leg, just above his knee. Jim looked at him from under his eyelashes before taking a minute to finish up his note to himself. Whatever Spock had to debrief him with was probably going to take awhile.
"What can I do for you?" Jim watched as Spock's eyebrow raised slightly, the same familiar impassivity on his angular face.
He was silent for a moment, the silence between them stretching to slightly uncomfortable before speaking. "Nyota informed me that she retained few injuries from the away mission and that you acted selflessly in keeping her unharmed."
Jim felt his face flush. Why is it that people constantly felt the need to thank him for things like that? Six months ago, Sulu had been downright embarrassing, thanking him so profusely and extensively that Jim now had a standing invite to eat with Casa de Sulu every Sunday that he was dirtside. He hadn't done anything special. Sure, it'd been awesome and completely badass, but it wasn't like he'd thought about it before he'd jumped off the drill. Same with Nyota. Jim had done it because... well. Because it was the right thing to do. He wouldn't have been able to look at himself if he let her freeze because some bullshit regulation said that his rank was more important to Starfleet than hers. "I think Nyota saved herself. She just tolerated me, really. We kept each other from going batshit crazy."
"I am unaware of any correlation between the guano of the Chiroptera and the Human propensity for psychotic episodes."
It was Jim's turn to blink. He felt his lips twitch in response and watched as Spock's eyebrow hiked even higher. "Bullshit. You can't tell me that you haven't studied idiomatic phrases. You just told a joke. A shitty one, but … wow, Spock!"
"If you say so, Captain. Regardless of your perception of the matter, I... I am gratified by the outcome. However, I have noticed that out of the previous twenty-eight away missions whereupon you beamed down to the planet in question, you have injured yourself on approximately fourteen different instances. Given recuperation time and the strain on our medical resources, up to and including the stress Doctor McCoy then transfers to those around them when you are grievously injured, I am unable to explain satisfactorily how this course of action continues to promote your successful job performance."
Great. So, Spock clearly thought he was a total idiot.
"Ah, you know me, Spock. My first away mission was pretty intense. Surely you don't expect me to change all that much, right?" Jim grinned.
Spock's reaction shocked Jim. He watched as Spock stiffened even more, and in the dim light, it looked as though Spock's complexion paled.
Spock stood up. "I wish to check on the status of one of my experiments. I will be sure to send the debriefing to your PADD at my first opper-"
"Spock, what the hell? What's the matter?" Jim stood up, shifting his weight so that he was just slightly in Spock's personal space. He reached out, trying not to react when Spock flinched away from his touch. Fuck. He didn't know why that bugged him so much. Jim really had to try to remember that Spock had that weird thing about being touched. Jim turned the aborted reach into a gesture of peace, holding his hand up to try to forestall Spock from leaving.
"Captain Kirk. When you were in medical distress, certain truths about the brief time you spent on Delta Vega came to my attention."
Jim blinked. "You mean you read my mind?" He blurted the words before his exhausted brain could fully make his mouth stop speaking.
Spock actually took a step back, tugging sharply on the front of his uniform. "I had not anticipated-"
"Wait. Wait a second." Jesus fuck, every time he opened his mouth around his First, he choked on half his toes. "I'm not upset. I think it's kind of cool, actually. It's not like you just walk in there and root around in my brain on every second Thursday. Calm down a little."
"Calm is an emotion, which as a Vulcan I do not-"
"Spock. Sit down." Jim was kind of proud of the note of command that he managed to sneak in his order. He'd been working on that for what felt like damn near forever. In the mirror. When Spock was on duty and couldn't possibly overhear him.
Even more surprising was that Spock actually sat.
Jim felt dizzy for a second as his vision blurred. He blinked and took his own advice, sitting down somewhat gracelessly. "Look, Spock. I don't know why you're freaking out over this. Are you upset because you had to," he wiggled his fingers in a way that was meant to be vaguely mystical but probably looked more like he had a finger cramp, "do my brain?" Or are you mad at what you saw? I would never inflict what passes for my mind on anyone."
Spock's right eyebrow twitched.
"As captain, when I made the decision to eject you to the planet's surface, it was with the understanding that any of the planet's more carnivorous inhabitants would be hibernating."
Jim cocked his head, staring at Spock, trying to keep the tiny grin off of his face. "You mean, after I pissed you off with all my illogical humanness, you tossed my ass out on Delta Vega because you thought I'd be safe?"
"Indeed. After your mutiny, your pod was programmed to land only scant meters from the Starfleet outpost. I can only hypothesize that the anomaly created after Vulcan's destruction ended the carnivorous creatures' sleep cycle prematurely. I had calculated that there would be little danger. The temperature would make you uncomfortable, perhaps, but otherwise unharmed."
"Oh. Wait, you didn't know about the bear thingy or the mutant lobster thingy?"
"I did not."
"Oh. Well, no harm, really. Just banged up a little bit. I ah. Made my way to the outpost eventually."
"Indeed." Spock cocked his head, directly meeting Jim's gaze for the first time since he sat down. "May I ask a personal query?"
Jim blinked. "Always, Spock."
"You are registered as a psi-null, yet when our minds brushed together, there were parts of your psyche that you have instinctively shielded against outside thought, preventing anyone from discerning your thoughts. Did you do this yourself?"
"Oh, hell no. An er... acquaintance... that I know helped set that up. I guess I was bleeding thoughts all over the place and disturbing him." Having the Ambassador knocking politely on his door in the middle of the night had been one hell of a surprise, to say the least. Jim had greeted him with a toothbrush in his mouth, towel barely keeping him decent, and had fumbled around like a complete dumbass, much to the elder Spock's understated amusement.
Jim coughed, looking down at his PADD. Shit! He was having kind of a shitty day, but he was pretty sure that accidentally causing the end of the universe because he couldn't keep his damn mouth shut about the Ambassador would really make it end on a sour note.
Spock's eyebrow hiked so high that it disappeared into his bangs. He opened his mouth, seemed to think better of it, then closed it with a small snap.
Jim very carefully did not make eye contact and cast about his brain for a subject change. "Ah, so. Any reason that you can't debrief me here? Or we could go get something to eat."
Spock's face shifted slightly, and Jim almost sighed with relief. "We can make use of the replicator here if you wish. I confess that the relative peacefulness of this room is quite appealing."
"Yeah, Okay, so hit me. Wait. Do you want something?"
"I do not require sustenance at this time."
"Right then." Jim stood up and walked over to the replicator, ordering himself a simple bowl of soup and crackers. He smiled at the little leafy garnish that appeared with it. Scotty must have been futzing with the calibration schematics again. "Okay, so... what do you have for me?" He waited for the soup, then paused, thinking. Jim entered a quick sequence and grinned at the large glass of milk that appeared. All he needed was a big, fuzzy blanket, and he'd have all the comforts of home. He carefully made his way back to the small couch and placed his tray on a small table, looking up at Spock expectantly.
"The mission on planet Huxtor Three had several different instances where some not inconsequential aspect of the planned mission failed. Observations indicate that the High Chancellor had several dealings with the Klingons before the Enterprise crew beamed down to the surface. It is only logical that the planet's inhabitants were acting on intelligence provided to them by the Klingons."
"Right. So they got there and told them some bullshit. So why do you think they didn't just call everything off? And why were the Klingons there in the first place? Sure they've been active the past few months, but there's been nothing... nothing that indicated they were making some sort of move." Jim blew on his soup and took a sip, wrinkling his nose at the flat taste. It was a fucking mystery how they could make chicken noodle soup appear out of thin air, have it smell absolutely perfect, but taste like a cross between old socks and dust bunnies steeped in stagnant water.
"Is something amiss?"
"Oh, no. Sorry, Spock. This soup tastes like cardboard."
"I am curious as to when you have ingested that particular substance with the intention of comparing the two."
"Again, with the joking?" Jim didn't even try to hide a grin. He and Spock were doing it again- slipping into this groove that made his blood sing. Sometimes he felt like he and Spock had known each other for years. Of course, the rest of the time, Jim felt like they were more likely to kill each other. Neither one of them were particularly shy when it came to expressing opinions.
"We spent approximately fourteen hours searching for you and Nyota's signal. As suspected, the minerals indigenous to the planet's mantle made it rather difficult." Spock stood and crossed to the replicator. He entered a sequence and waited patiently as the container appeared, walking back to where Jim sat.
"If you are not content with your current choice, Vulcan Plomeek soup carries 87% of the daily nutrients recommended by Doctor McCoy for your metabolic intake."
Jim paused for a second, completely shocked. He blinked up at Spock, touched. "Thanks, Spock. Sure, it smells great." Actually, it didn't really smell like anything, but Jim wasn't about to refuse the gesture. Spock had brought the soup shaped in a large, deep bowl a lot like an old-fashioned coffee mug. Jim pursed his lips, blowing lightly on the soup, before trying a sip. The bright orange color made him think of carrots, but the taste was more like a scallion or onion.
It was delicious.
Jim took a bigger sip, then another, closing his eyes. It was as though his stomach, once he'd tasted the food, had begun jumping up and down with pure bliss. Jim refrained from making appreciative and hugely undignified yummy noises purely by chance and finished most of the soup in one go.
Spock watched him for a moment before his posture relaxed slightly and continued as though their conversation had not been interrupted. "In those fourteen hours, reports indicated that the group that took both you and Nyota were designing a large-scale weapon."
Jim, who had tilted the soup mug to get the last few drops, choked on the liquid, setting the mug down on the tray with a muffled clink of sound.
Spock simply waited while Jim got a hold of himself. When Jim had managed to finish coughing, Spock continued: "We have no explanation as to why you and Nyota were transported to another location. I investigated the method thoroughly with both Mister Scott and Ensign Chekov. Neither could explain to my satisfaction how both of your signals could have been mistransported to an entirely different location."
Oh hell. Chekov already just about pissed himself whenever he had to work with Spock. The teenager was- to say the least- intimidated by Spock's presence. Jim knew that he still felt as though he had let Spock down by not being able to capture Spock's mother's signal when the planet collapsed. Chekov just kind of skirted around Spock, trying not to have too much to do with him either on or off duty. Jim made a mental note to talk to the young navigator. He ignored the way the newly grown skin on his back stretched when he lifted the glass of his milk to his mouth. His arm felt as though it weighed several pounds. His stomach was comfortably full now, and Jim blinked down at his PADD, trying to hide his sleepiness.
"Okay, so what's the official word from Starfleet?"
"Nyota explained that while in the jail cell, one name was mentioned several times: Pegh yuQvam hoH."
" A secret planet? Kill? My Klingon is kinda rusty, but that can't be good."
"Indeed, 'More specifically, they spoke of a hidden world. The term hoH used in that context implies death, not specifies that state. Nyota did not recognize the exact dialect of your jailers. We have not been able to discover which planet they are referring. Communications has been tasked with monitoring all frequencies."
Jim sat back in his chair, rubbing his palms absently on his thighs. "Those guards weren't exactly the brightest, Spock. Nyota is a world-renowned communications expert. They'd know who she is and what she can do. Doesn't it seem a little too perfect that we just happened to overhear that?" Jim tried to stifle a yawn but was unsuccessful if by the way Spock stiffened was any indication.
"Captain. You are clearly fatigued. We will continue our discussion after you have continued resting. Doctor McCoy has informed me of his medical limitations. If you wish, I will send the rest of the information to your PADD for perusal at your leisure."
Jim blinked up at him. It was as though talking about his exhaustion made it even less possible to ignore. He felt as though he'd just been hit by a hovercar. Jim yawned behind his hand. "Sure, Spock. Sounds good." He didn't really have the energy to argue, let alone the inclination.
He was aware that Spock had taken his tray to the recycler and disposed of its contents, but his blinking kept getting longer and longer. Jim stood and swayed on his feet while the stars reflecting from outside whirled and dipped around him. He felt Spock's hand at his elbow and jumped a little, surprised. Spock let go as they began to walk towards Jim's quarters.
Jim couldn't ignore the way Spock seemed like some kind of furnace beside him. He was too tired to hold an actual conversation but was unsurprised when Spock entered his quarters behind him. Jim stripped off the shirt and pants, leaving the underwear on as he crawled under his covers.
God, his bed, had never felt so fucking perfect. Jim sighed and closed his eyes. He could ignore the way the muscles in his back throbbed so hard that he could feel it in his back teeth, could ignore the way his brain had fuzzed-out, could ignore his embarrassment at pretty much collapsing in front of his first officer. What the hell was one more embarrassment stacked up on top of hundreds? Spock had seen him at his worst. Seeing him in his undies wasn't going to kill him.
The small pain in his neck and the familiar hiss of a hypospray made Jim frown slightly. He tried to ignore it, confused as to where Bones had come from. The warm hand that brushed against his forehead, however, must have been a dream Jim leaned into the touch, surprised at the little buzz of ... something he felt. Jim smiled to himself, drifting off to sleep, amused in that sleepy, dream-like way that he would dream of Spock willingly touching him.
Caring for him.
Three days later found Jim in the gym. With Bones still being adamant about Jim not allowed to do work on the Bridge, he'd found himself at loose ends. Jim had signed off on his part of the paperwork from the last mission. He'd called all the loved ones first. Starfleet policy gave him access to all of his crew members' last wishes, along with any religious wishes, but Jim still preferred to talk to the deceased's loved ones. It might not have helped them really understand why their child or brother or lover was dead, but it did make Jim feel less like an asshole. Hell, in some cases, it gave them someone to blame for their loss. Either way, Jim figured it was the least that he could do.
Scotty wouldn't let him near engineering, Chapel chased him out of sickbay whenever he popped his head through the doors, and the one time he'd managed to sneak onto his own damn Bridge, either Chekov or Sulu had ratted him out to Bones.
Sometimes it was really fucking annoying that his crew took his health so damn seriously.
So that left him here, running in place like a hamster on its wheel. He didn't understand how that was okay but sitting on his ass in his chair was a health risk, but he didn't have a medical degree either- let alone the several that Bones had. He'd already stripped off the soaked Starfleet Academy t-shirt and was just running in his shorts, socks, and running shoes. He'd nabbed a treadmill in the back of the gym, behind a beginning combat class. Jim had tuned Cupcake and the rest of the class out, focusing on the grey material of his sweaty shirt where it lay over the controls.
"Computer. Increase incline by 15%."
That was better. It worked different muscles in his legs, and Jim quickly found that he had to work a little harder to keep his previous pace. All he could hear was his heartbeat and the sound of his breathing- a little increased but not out of his normal level.
As usual, the calm, repetitive action let Jim's mind focus. At the academy, when he'd been this twitchy, he'd usually gone bar crawling or looking for a fight. After Bones had patched him up a few times, he'd started to force Jim into running around the campus whenever he needed to calm down his mind so that he could focus on what needed to be focused on.
Bones had been absolutely insufferable at the fact that it worked like a charm.
Now, Jim was able to really think about what had happened to Huxtor III. The first thing that bugged the shit out of him was the fact that things had been arranged so that he took Nytoa down onto the planet with him. Maybe he was too suspicious, but it just seemed to perfect that their jailers just happened to speak in a dialect that Nyota wasn't familiar with, and they just happened to be speaking where she could hear them in the first place.
He was so intent on his work that when one of the younger women in front of him, one who should have been focusing on Cupcake's demonstration, mentioned 'Spock,' it jarred Jim out of his little world. He blinked the sweat out of his eyes, just barely catching himself from falling, and jerked his head, staring over at her.
"Commander Spock called it something. A Loopa."
"Wow. Look at that."
Jim opened his mouth to bark something at the two yeomen about how inappropriate it was to be gawking at another officer when he happened to look up and see Spock wearing tight-fitting black workout clothes, raising his arms to strike at the hologram with the lirpa and immediately forgot what he was going to say. The weapon's weight and the force with which Spock wielded it caused the muscles in his long back and broad shoulders to tighten, the black material defining each and every curve and plane of his body.
Jim's pace slowed down as he watched Spock jump and spin around. Jim blinked, stunned at the gracefulness by which Spock moved. All at once, his heart tightened. His hand swiped out, cutting off the treadmill with a sharp jab. He grabbed his shirt and slung it around his neck. It wasn't fair that Spock was so alone here. He was using a weapon that had been around for eons before Jim's people had figured out where their dicks were. Here Spock fought, graceful and proud, fighting against an imaginary enemy with a weapon that was now as much of an endangered item as its wielder was an endangered species.
Jim walked past the two yeomen, barely acknowledging their blushes, and Oh, Captain! We didn't see you, theres. He absently nodded at Cupcake, clapping him on the shoulder as he passed. There were an Ensign and a Lieutenant from Engineering tumbling on the mats, and what looked like a few crewmen from the galley using something that looked like a cross between a mace and a sword with a nervous-looking woman in science blues standing near them.
Spock was in the far corner of the room. It didn't surprise Jim that he hadn't noticed Spock's entrance. He felt vaguely disappointed in himself for the bolt of pure lust that had gone through him at watching the play of muscle on Spock's back but wrote it off as an abundance of testosterone. He felt amazing, almost buzzing with the endorphins from his run by the time he tossed his sweaty towel into the recycler and drank down a few gulps of water as he watched Spock finish up the sequence that he was working on.
"Hey there! Need a partner?"
Spock must have been extremely focused on his task because he actually jumped a little at Jim's voice. Spock stared at him for so long that Jim began to feel a little awkward. Spock looked slightly rumpled, while Jim stood there half-naked, drenched in sweat.
"I did not know you were familiar with the lirpa."
"I'm not. But we can spar if you want. If you don't want me using that, then we can just practice regular hand-to-hand."
This time he recognized the look Spock gave him. The nursemaid look. The same one he probably learned from Bones and half his bridge crew.
"Oh, come on. It's been three days! I'm fine. I've been asleep by nine and eating all my veggies, just like a good little boy. I can tell whether or not I'm ready for this, Spock."
Spock raised an eyebrow. It was amazing to Jim that just one little muscle in Spock's face could make him look so superior.
That he definitely learned from Bones.
"As a Vulcan, my reflexes are far superior to yours. To use the human colloquialism, it would not be much of a fight."
Jim just laughed.
"Well, maybe we can save the lirpa for next time then. I'm not sure if I should be handling something so important anyway. Oh, come on, Spock. I promise to try to make you work for it a little bit."
Spock's bottom lip twitched just slightly, and the unexpected sight made Jim feel like he'd won some sort of victory. His grin stretched a little wider as he rocked back on his feet.
The only warning Jim had was the slight tensing of the line of Spock's torso before he was twisting and catching Jim in a hold. One foot swept Jim's feet out from under him, and the startled squeak he emitted was not exactly one of his finer moments. He managed to twist so that he landed correctly, using Spock's momentum so that he could roll away. He jumped up in his defensive stance and stood weight just slightly on the front of his feet so that he could move quickly if he needed to.
He definitely needed to. Fucking hell, Spock was fast.
He had Jim on his back, one knee holding his legs to the mat and the other holding one wrist to the floor. His arm was across Jim's chest, forcing their heads close together. From this angle, he could see the different shades of brown in the iris of Spock's eye and for a moment was caught, mind going blessedly blank.
"Do you yield?"
Jim arched, moving sharply so that he came up into Spock's space. The movement brought their pelvises together and was just unexpected enough that Spock loosened his grip on Jim's wrist with a small grunt, allowing Jim to surge forward and use Spock's greater weight against him. Jim's scramble away wasn't exactly dignified, but it did the job.
Spock's natural inclination was to move so that he would not come in contact with bare skin. As Jim moved back to his area of the mat, he had a split second to think of how he could exploit that. It was a small weakness, but it might be the only thing to give him an advantage. Spock was right. Jim was getting his ass kicked, and Spock didn't even look like he was breathing hard.
"Come on, Spock. You ready to take me on?"
"Your taunts are exceedingly juvenile, Jim."
Jim blew a raspberry.
Spock did not anticipate Jim being so aggressive but was able to keep his balance when Jim slammed into him, hanging on to Spock's wrists and trying a quick jab at Spock's knee. Jim twisted the hold on Spock's wrist, tangling their fingers together to try to jerk him off balance. Spock made a strange sound in the back of his throat and jerked his hand away. In the next heartbeat, Jim was completely surprised when he went airborne, landing on his stomach, spread-eagled with a thud, Spock's heavy weight on top of him sending all of his air out of his lungs with a painful whoosh.
Jim's arm was bent behind his back, held carefully so that the arm wouldn't break, but solid enough that Jim couldn't have wiggled an inch if the room was on fire. Spock's breath in his ear caused Jim's eyes to widen.
"Do you yield, Jim?"
The perverse part of Jim pushed his ass up as he tried to bring his legs together, but Spock held him too tightly. Jim felt the grip on his arm tighten slightly enough that he winced.
"I asked you a question, Captain. Do you yield to me?" A tiny droplet of sweat landed on the back of Jim's neck. It was so hot that for a second, Jim could imagine he could feel its path as it trailed down his spine.
And that was about the time that Jim realized he was half hard.
"Yes, damnit. I yield."
Spock's weight was off of him in an instant. Jim would have gotten up but was afraid that the athletic shorts he was wearing wouldn't do much to preserve his captainly image at the moment, should any of his crew see him like this.
"Captain? Jim? Are you injured?"
Jim had a really rude remark on the tip of his tongue but didn't exactly relish the sexual misconduct reprimand he'd get when Spock reported him. "Yeah. I'm good. You're right; that wasn't much of a workout. For you, I mean."
"I found it satisfying."
That made Jim laugh, and he hauled himself up to his knees, doing sort of a pushup bend. It caused the shorts to pull a little at his ass, but it also allowed him a few seconds for his body to calm down. He turned the stretch into a series of stretches, all with his back to Spock and the rest of the crew, refusing to blush at the way his stupid hormones were reacting.
He really needed to get laid.
"Bones, Bones Bones Bones Bones Bones Bones!"
"Jim, you Goddamn infant, sit down, and I'll be with you when I'm ready." Bones' growl made Jim grin. The Ensign sitting on the biobed smiled a little shyly back, blushing a bit at direct attention from her Captain. Jim could practically hear Bones grinding his teeth. He caught an amused glare from Chapel and ducked back towards Bones' office, helping himself to his friend's bourbon. He wouldn't actually drink it, given that he was planning on being on-duty in a few minutes, but it would be worth it to watch Bones' face.
Jim had to keep himself from humming under his breath. Finally, finally, Bones was going to allow him back in the saddle. Between his yeoman and Spock and the hours upon fucking hours of time to get everything organized, he was out of shit to do. He'd not only caught up on his paperwork, but he'd managed to change up the crew shift rotations (even Spock would be pleased at the projected 11.5% increase of efficiency by the new schedules), catch up on his correspondence, and had approved the backlog of ship and crew requisitions. Scotty's alone had taken him almost six hours. Jim had only found eighteen different "hidden" ship and engineering components, which meant that he had to have missed at least twelve things that Scotty had snuck in there. Oh well. Spock could go over those later.
And okay, if some of that was because he didn't want to think about his reaction to being pinned on the gym's mat by Spock, that was just fine. It was normal. It didn't mean anything- well, other than maybe it was really time for them to shuttle another Ambassador somewhere. Shore-leave wasn't for another month or so. First Chapel and now Spock. It wasn't any big deal; just some weird reaction to stress or something.
When Bones entered sometime later, it was to Jim kicked back in his special, ridiculously comfortable chair (Jim should know since he'd signed off the requisition paperwork) with his booted feet up on his desk, Bones' "secret" stash of bourbon in his hand.
He could practically see his friend's blood pressure rise.
"Hey, Bones! Glad to see you can make it!" Jim stood up, indicating his uniformed body with a sweep of his hand. He set the bourbon down with a soft clink."As you can see, I'm totally fine."
"Right, kid. Let me be the judge of that. Get over here and get your damn feet off of my desk." Bones went over to a cabinet and picked up a tricorder, running it over Jim with a small, long-suffering sigh.
Jim knew when not to push his luck and managed to stand still for the full exam.
"Well, Jim. I see some areas that look like they're still gonna be a mite tender. And as far as I'm concerned, you need your damnfool head examined. Don't think I didn't hear about your little asswhuppin by that pointy-eared hobgoblin."
Jim felt his face start to heat. He knew there was no way that Bones could possibly know about his reaction to Spock's body against his, to his voice in Jim's ear, but still. Bones had this annoying habit of being able to read him like a book.
"Yeah, that didn't go how I planned. It's hard to look completely awesome when you have your giftwrapped ass handed to you."
"I told you at the academic hearing that I liked him." Bones' smile was fond. "Anyone that takes down your ego should be treated as a treasured resource."
"I'll recommend that to the Admiralty. So? Am I good to go?"
Bones sucked his teeth, looking at the readout on the tricorder. "To tell the truth, Jim, I'm feelin' a little worried about how often you're getting hurt lately. Spock came in here while you were passed out before. Telling me how often you'd been smashed up."
"Come on, Bones. It's just that I have a dangerous job. You know that." Jim didn't like the way Bones was looking at him. It wasn't his usual grouchy scowl or his self-deprecating smirk. Bones was solemn, his hazel eyes worried.
"That's just the thing, Jim. Statistically, well. You know that one of my jobs is to make sure that you're fit for duty. And if it looks like you're taking on a little too much, or that you're looking for some kind of adrenaline-"
Jim sucked in a shocked breath, feeling like he'd been punched. Bones thought, what? That he was trying to hurt himself? Wait, no. He and Spock had "discussed" him. Discussed how poorly he was doing as a captain. Fuck. It wasn't like Jim was trying to screw everything up. That was happening nicely on its own.
Jim had a strange, squirming feeling in his stomach when he imagined all the other conversations they must have had about him. He ignored what he was feeling and tried to focus on just what it was that Bones was implying. All the southern drawl in the world didn't hide the fact that basically, Bones was accusing him of fucking up.
It wasn't like he didn't have confidence in himself, but somehow it hurt more knowing that Bones and Spock didn't have the same confidence in his abilities.
"Bones, if you have something to say, you better just say it."
Bones raised his eyebrow, looking for a moment eerily like Spock. Betrayal hit Jim hard, making his stomach clench.
Jim took a step away from Bones' desk and forced a smile. It must have looked as brittle as he felt because Bones' wary reaction gave him a fierce sort of satisfaction.
"Look. I don't know what sort of circle jerk you and Spock have going on, but I'm not going to discuss my choices as Captain with you. Report whatever the fuck you need to report up the food chain. I've got to go do my job. Assuming I still have it."
With that, Jim walked around his friend, keeping his face carefully blank. He made his way to the Bridge blindly, going over Bones' words in his head. Did he and Spock think he was incompetent? That somehow infuriated Jim more than anything. He nodded absently to Cupcake as the security officer left the turbo-lift, slumping against the back of the lift as his thoughts raced around his head.
The ride to the Bridge was short enough that Jim had just enough time to stand, assuming what he had adopted as his 'captain stance' before the doors slid open. He took a quick breath and shoved the maelstrom of feelings away, refusing to let them bring him down.
"Keptin! Is wery good to see you back!" Chekov's smile was so bright that Jim couldn't help the answering grin. He strode into the room, loving the buzz of the ship's engines under his boots. His mood lightened immediately as he walked towards his chair. He grinned at Sulu's wave, at the ensign at the secondary science station, nodded at Spock, and gave Nyota his customary leer, to which she responded with her customary eye roll and flip of her ponytail. Spock had been working as acting captain from his science station.
Jim sat down.
"All systems reporting as normal, Captain."
"Awesome, Spock. Glad to see you didn't break her while I was gone." He tried to keep the fact that he was annoyed out of his voice, but Jim wasn't sure his voice was as free from inflection as he had intended.
"Indeed not, Captain."
Jim couldn't help the smirk that he shot over his shoulder but was surprised to see the answering eyebrow. Spock wasn't smiling, but Jim had the feeling that he was amused.
He turned back at a beep on his PADD, and the smile slid off his face when he saw that it was a message from Bones.
'Don't think for one damn minute that we're done with our conversation. Untwist your panties and get your ass down here after your shift.'
Jim frowned down at the small device. Deciding that Bones would just hash his groove, he just closed out of the message without responding, instead of opening up Spock's latest shift report. Spock always tidied up the acting officer's reports from Beta and Gamma, and Jim hadn't had a chance to read it yet. The word 'Klingon' caught his eye; a transmission picked up on Gamma that looked to just be some kind of mining report. He sighed.
"Captain?" Incoming message from Starfleet."
Fantastic. "I'll take it in my ready room. Spock, you're with me. Sulu, you have the con."
"Aye, Sir." Sulu's shoulders straightened.
"Yes, Captain." Spock stood as the secondary science officer moved from their station to Spock's.
Jim made himself not notice the amount of heat that Spock put out. Somehow, in all the times that they'd touched while working together, Jim had never really noticed just how very warm Spock was. He could feel Spock next to him, and it made him swallow uncomfortably. He cleared his throat and crossed to his desk, settling himself with Spock to his left so that he would not be visible to the viewscreen.
Jim entered his sequence, and the subspace communication queued up with a small blip of sound.
"Captain Kirk. You have new orders. Starfleet Intelligence-"
Jim absolutely did not make a rude sound in the back of his throat.
"- has picked up rumors of Klingon aggression. From the reports, we believe that they are working to design a weapon. A powerful weapon, based on the amount of raw materials we suspect they have amassed. Two hours ago, we received a distress call from the colonists on Praxis. You are ordered to investigate and extract the colonists."
Komack paused in the way he did, raising his eyebrows in case Jim had any questions, without actually asking if he had any questions. It was a habit of his that usually drove Jim absolutely bugshit.
"Acknowledged. Komack out."
Jim exhaled, leaning back in his chair and staring sightlessly up at the ceiling. "Captain Kirk to Ensign Chekov. Chekov, at maximum warp, how long will it take us to arrive to the Beta quadrant? Specifically, the moon, Praxis."
There was a moment while Jim licked his lips, still staring up at the ceiling.
"About six hours at maximum warp, sir."
"Plot a course and go, Ensign."
There was a moment of silence as Jim spun around in his chair, finally turning so that he could stare at somewhere over Spock's left shoulder.
"There's something... off about this, Spock."
"Captain, the Admiral's orders were quite specific."
"Mmm. Yeah, I know." Jim was silent again, his eyes unfocused as he thought. After weeks of nothing- not even a hint of movement well, okay not a hint of movement that Jim had heard, - and he kept his ear pretty fucking close to the ground out of necessity's sake- after three days of flailing around with their collective thumbs jammed merrily up their asses while they tried to figure out which direction to go, now there were suddenly clear-cut orders? Orders implicating Klingon aggression even?
"It's just- I don't trust this, Spock. You said that the minerals on Huxtor III were most likely to be used for communications. Now we're being sent to a moon in the middle of fucking nowhere- a fucking nowhere that just happens to be barely in Federation space that's used for mining?"
Jim noticed Spock go very still and watched as the realization caused his intelligent gaze to sharpen even more.
"You are proposing that this is a trap of some sort."
"Spock, I don't know. I just know that whatever the hell is happening on Praxis can't possibly be good."
"So, you gonna tell me what the hell that was about earlier? Hold out your arm. With one thing and another, I forgot to remove the chip." Bones kept his voice low.
Jim raised his arm, a ghost of a smile on his face. He and Bones didn't really do this mushy shit, and somehow confessing to his friend that he had hurt Jim's feelings wasn't going to fly. Bones would probably sprain something vital, mocking him for the rest of his natural life. He shrugged, watching as Bones cut his arm open with a small laser, removing the heart monitor chip with a small instrument. Jim had completely forgotten about it. No wonder Bones had known when Spock was kicking his ass. His heart had probably been beating itself out of his chest.
An image of Spock poised above him, tensed and staring down intensely into Jim's face as he concentrated, popped into Jim's head, and he felt his cheeks redden slightly.
What the fuck was up with him? The last week was like he couldn't stop thinking about Spock. It was damn weird. He didn't usually even go for guys, and Spock was just about the dictionary definition for the most unapproachable booty call, ever. He gave himself a mental shake.
"You said that you thought I was looking for some kind of adrenaline rush. It was fucking insulting, Bones. I just thought that you two knew me better, is all."
Bones rolled his eyes. "For Christ's sake, Jim. It's my job to worry about you. And when you spend most of your damn time here with me patching you up, I think that gives me a cause."
Jim watched as the small regenerator healed the split skin, reknitting it before his eyes, leaving a small pink line. A few seconds later, that too disappeared. He kept himself from speaking, but it was difficult. He didn't want to fight with Bones. When he put it like that, it was hard to take offense. But Godamnit, hadn't he earned the right not to be coddled so much? It was damn annoying, regardless of the reasons behind them.
"Commander Spock to Captain Kirk."
"Good timing. Think about what I said, Jim. You've been impulsive since we met. Hell, your whole career has been built on you, making a damn art out of being impulsive. Just… try to be careful, huh? I'm gettin' too old for this shit."
Jim blinked as his communicator chirped again.
"Your presence is required on the bridge, captain."
"Acknowledged. I'm in Sickbay. Be there in a jiff. Kirk out."
Bones just raised his eyebrow at him and took a step back at Jim's slap on his arm and the familiar cheeky grin. Jim felt the engines drop out of warp as he stood, cracking his knuckles and stretching. "Yeah. I'll try."
Bones snorted. "Right, kid. Now skedaddle."
Jim did so, shaking his head. It was a damn medical miracle that Bones could look like the same Bones he'd known for almost four years, but moonlight as an interfering old woman when it suited his purpose. Jim had to laugh at himself as he jogged a little to the turbollift. Even his inner voice sounded like Bones.
He was so intent on his thoughts that he didn't see the shape looming behind up him until it was too late. Jim caught just the slightest glimpse of red out of the corner of his eye, felt just the tiniest shift in the air currents before a blinding, obliterating pain exploded behind his eyelids.
"C'mon, kid. Open your eyes."
Ow ow, motherfucking ow. Why did his head hurt? Wait, what the fuck? Someone had-! Jim's eyes popped open, only to slam shut as the brightness of the lights. He flinched grimacing. He felt a hand on his shoulder, pushing him back down to the floor, one hand cradling his head.
"Slow down a sec, Jim. You took a pretty rough hit to the head. Give yourself a second, and then I want you to sit up. Slowly, okay? I don't much want you to puke all over me. I just put on this uniform. Spock, dammit, I said I have it under control."
"I would never presume to interfere in a medical issue."
Jim opened his eyes again, slowly this time, confused by the fact that Spock's voice seemed much closer than it should have been. He could see Bones on his left and Spock on his right. A nurse that Jim didn't immediately recognize knelt at his feet, frowning down at a scanner.
"Great. Then why don't you go and figure out who the fuck did this?" Bones sounded absolutely furious.
"I am attempting to do so. I believe a shallow meld with the captain will allow me to see exactly who perpetrated this act upon his person."
Jim, who had been in the process of starting to sit up, flinched away from Spock's hand. His muddy thoughts were filled with guilt, and stupidly the only thing he could think of was that Spock would know that Jim had been hard, had been so incredibly turned on because of him, that he couldn't stop his thoughts from going back to the stoic Vulcan. He didn't think he could stand Spock's disgust on top of everything else.
Jim watched as Spock checked his movement, something flashing in his all-too-human eyes before he gracefully stood, taking a step back from where Jim still lay with Bones crouched over him on his knees, hands clasped tightly behind his back. Jim was distracted by the tricorder in his face, and by the time he was able to pull his scattered thoughts together, Spock had disappeared.
"Just shut up a minute. God, you're bleeding all over the damn place."
Jim put his hand on the back of his head, wincing at the tender feel. He could feel blood against his neck and winced again. "What did they hit me with? The warp core?"
Bones' mouth stretched into a line; his lips clamped so tightly together that they were white. Jim watched, almost fascinated as his nostrils flared before he made his way to his feet. He felt a little dizzy, but not that bad. He'd taken worse beatings in bar fights.
"What in the Sam Hill do you think your fool ass is doing?"
"No time for this, Bones. I know what a concussion feels like, and this isn't it. Fucker just knocked me out." Jim stood for a moment, noticing for the first time that his communicator and insignia were missing. Looking down made his stomach roll unpleasantly. Jim walked over to the wall console, absently wiping the blood from his head onto his uniform pants. "Kirk to Scott."
"Aye, sir. The Commander filled me in. He's on his way. 'M on the transporter m'self. No one will get off the old girl without—Lieutenant! What are you…?" There was a scuffle and a burst of phaser fire. For a second, Jim thought he'd swallowed his tongue. "Scotty! Scotty! Report, damnit!"
The ship-wide klaxon that informed security that a phaser had been discharged on board went off. Jim bit off of his curse, turning and running for the Jefferies tube nearest to him. Who the fuck on his ship would shoot a commanding officer?
"What the fuck—? " Bones was only a step behind him as they ran. The main transporter room was three decks away, but protocol had the ship on lockdown after unauthorized phaser fire. Jim didn't bother answering instead of concentrating his energy on running. His head throbbed with every step. Jim concentrated, his senses sharpening with the familiar adrenaline rush. They moved more quickly, pushing out of the bulkhead with a small thump and running to the transporter room doors. Scotty was slumped to the left of the transporter station, Spock's fingers flying over the keys of the transporter console. Jim noticed that Bones made a beeline for the fallen engineer.
"Lieutenant Commander Scott appears to have been hit at close range by phaser fire, sir. I have entered the lockdown sequence per protocol. Captain, there seems to be an error with the equipment. According to the transporter log, no one has left the Enterprise."
Jim's eyes widened. He whirled again, reaching for his communicator before remembering its absence. "Computer! Are any crew members missing from the ship?"
"Affirmative. Captain James T. Kirk is not currently located on the Enterprise."
"Oh, fuck me. Perfect." Jim cursed under his breath. Someone shot Scotty and left the ship. Whoever it was had covered their tracks pretty fucking well. Jim's hands were pretty well tied by ship's protocol and regulations. The shooter was free to act however they wanted. Unfortunately, Scotty was out of it, and no help to find out who had done this.
Jim entered the code and listened to the ship-wide whistle. "Now hear this. This is the Captain. Medical team one to Transporter room A. All crew members to retinal and cranial scan stations immediately then should report to their designated areas as soon as possible. All Alpha shift bridge crew report to the bridge immediately. We are on a level one priority ship-wide lockdown."
The retinal and cranial scans would tell him who was physically missing off of the ship.
The one flaw with the computer's report was that it relied on the signal from the communicator. A very simple way around being found when you didn't want to be was to remove your insignia. Jim had taken advantage of that more than once while at the Academy. That was par for the course with Starfleet. Amazing technology- that Jim's nephew Peter could logic his way around. Of course, the penalties for being caught without your proper identification were severe, but that certainly didn't help him now.
"Bones, do you need help?"
Jim could see the large red wound under Scotty's uniform shirt. Bones was swearing under his breath as he worked over their fallen friend.
"What I need is the damn med crew to-" The doors whooshed open, and Jim spun, only to find that Spock had already put himself between the doors and his captain. "About time!" Bones rocked back on his heels and stood, allowing the medical team that entered to transfer Scotty from the floor to the hover-stretcher, looking over his shoulder at Jim as he hurried out of the doorway. "You stay with the hobgoblin. I mean it, Jim. No heroics."
Jim could almost hear Spock raising his eyebrow as the Vulcan turned back to the console, killing the klaxon and leaving them in red alert. That had been just about the first thing Jim had done once they were in the black- arrange it so that when they went to red alert, the actual siren only sounded a few times before fading away. The damn thing had startled him out of his thinking one too many times, and he'd stayed up all night one night to program the fucking annoying thing into a silent death. Now the red lights still flashed dully, signifying that the crew needed to remain in a heightened sense of awareness, but the caterwauling sound didn't drive him bugshit.
Bones left with hardly an acknowledgment, already concentrating on his patient. Spock was already standing at the transporter, fingers flying over the keys once again. Jim walked over to enter his own captain code.
"Captain. It is illogical for you to remain in charge while obviously suffering from a head injury."
"Can it, Spock. Let's get to the bridge. The crew should be accounted for soon, and I want to know whose balls I need to remove."
Jim thought Spock looked as though he was about to argue. Jim just raised his eyebrows and tore the bottom of his uniform shirt off, folding it and pressing it to his head, which was still bleeding sluggishly. He hardly noticed the pain but heard Spock give a small sound of disgust. Or perhaps frustration. Who knew with Vulcans?
They jumped into the Jefferies space; Jim muttered under his breath at the way Spock seemed to move so gracefully and then annoyed that he'd noticed Spock moving so gracefully. Jim shook his head when a slight bit of dizziness overwhelmed him for a second. Jim followed Spock's lead, telling himself that he was absolutely not noticing the view. Whatsoever. Well, at least that affirmed that he wasn't dying. Although, if he was, Jim was pretty sure that he'd be okay if the last view that he'd take with him was of Spock's muscular ass in the perfectly fitted black trousers.
It was with quite a bit of relief that they climbed out of the small crawlspace, Jim stumbling a little as his center of gravity shifted as he stood. Spock steadied him with a hand on his elbow, and Jim couldn't help but flinch away again, ashamed at his own thoughts. This time, he could see that his action had bothered Spock. Oh, sure, he didn't throw up his arms and stomp off in a tizzy, but the way his posture straightened, even more, the way his hands came to rest at the small of his back in parade rest spoke volumes.
Today just really wasn't his day.
The door slid open when Spock entered his command code, and Jim was pleased to see his crew ready for action. Sulu and Chekov had both turned slightly so that they could see him as paused on the bridge, still dabbing at his head with his bloody bit of uniform.
"Captain, I have a report from the retinal and cranial scans. It appears that Lieutenant… Giotto is missing from the Enterprise."
"Captain, a representative from Praxis, requests our assistance immediately."
"Captain, scanners adwise that all crew members are in their designated areas."
"Captain, I must insist that you sit down. There is a 39.2 percent chance of your wound becoming a more permanent injury if it is not treated immediately."
Jim breathed deeply in, letting everyone's words roll around him for just a moment. His hands clenched into fists, and then he forced himself to relax, opening his eyes and taking one more deep breath before speaking.
"Sulu. See if you can get me beam-down coordinates. Move us to yellow alert, but advise the crew that only level three ship's tasks are to be completed. All other crew members are confined to their designated areas until we get a better idea of what the fuck is going on. Uhura, give me three minutes and put the representative on screen. Chekov, that's great. Work with Sulu to see if you can help figure out how Cupcake fooled the transporter scanners into thinking that no one beamed down. You'll have to patch it from here until we're sure he was working alone. Spock, thank you for your concern. You and Bones can mother-hen me later. Kinda busy right now. Scan the planet to see if you can give us a head's up to why the mining rep is freaking out."
Jim walked down to his chair and sat, crossing his legs. He tried to hide the way his footing slipped when the dizziness from his head injury made his vision blurry for a moment. Shit. Maybe he was more hurt than he thought. The thought made him jut out his chin. No. No way was he crapping out during an emergency. He could pass out later.
"Okay, so we have a random event of Giotto attacking me then shooting Scotty to beam off of the ship. Why? Why him? Why would he be working against us? And why now…?" Jim trailed off. He had a brief moment of paranoia, wondering if Giotto had been working against him ever since they'd "met" at the bar in Iowa before he trampled it down. That was crazy.
His crew was used to him talking out a problem then lapsing into silence. He steepled his fingers over his face as he stared at the blank viewscreen, one boot jiggling against the chair base.
"Captain. Planet scans show slight seismic activity. Nothing near the mining colony."
"Captain, I have the mining representative onscreen."
"Okay, Lieutenant, thank you. Spock, continue scans." Jim took a deep breath and watched as the frazzled-looking miner appeared on the Enterprise's viewscreen. He was extremely tall and burly looking; the man was clearly some kind of mixed species, with the blue skin of an Andorian and the singular cranial bone structure of a Klingon. He was wearing a green tunic and hat, and for a second, Jim's mind screamed 'tree!' at him until he beat it back down into submission. The tall man seemed to be staring at something out of their range of sight. Whatever it was, it made the man frightened enough to begin sweating. Jim didn't think he'd ever seen a Klingon sweat. Let alone a blue Klingon. "This is Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation Starship Enterprise. Are you in distress?"
"I—yes. I need for you and your first officer to beam down to the planet immediately."
Jim felt his eyebrow raise, stretching almost up to his hairline. He'd practiced that for hours- calling the look his 'Spock wannabe.' "I repeat, Minister. Are you in distress?"
"Yes! Please, you must- he. He has my daugh-" There was a scuffle of sound, and the mining representative looked even more terrified just off the viewer's center.
"Oh, come on, cupcake. You know you like to be the center of attention. You and that pointy-eared freak need to come on down. I have some demands that need to be discussed… in person."
Maybe Jim should have expected it. Maybe he could have anticipated it- if his head hadn't been throbbing. But, seeing Giotto step onto the screen was a shock. Jim was able to keep his face impassive, but it took some effort.
"Starfleet does not comply with ransom demands, as I am sure you are aware, Mr. Giotto." Spock's voice was calm, each word precisely spoken. "I am unsure as to your reasoning behind th—"
Jim could feel his bridge crew's shock, when in response to Spock, Giotto simply shot the mining representative. Uhura made a small sound when the man disappeared; his molecules obliterated to nothingness as the phaser discharged.
"As you can see," Giotto mimicked the inflection of Spock's voice, "This is not a ransom demand. You and your pet Vulcan will beam down here immediately, or I will end the life of each being on this planet. And don't quote fucking Starfleet. Starfleet hasn't done nothin 'for me! I'm not working as a member of Starfleet. Here's the coordinates. I blow this place to kingdom-come in exactly ten minutes. If you want that on your conscious, fine."
The communication ended abruptly.
"Captain, I must advise that—"
"Jim! You can't really be—"
"Captain, McCoy'll kill us if we let—"
Jim held up his hand to forestall their conversations. All four of them, Spock, Nyota, Chekov, and Sulu had turned to look at Jim, each speaking over the other with their protests. "Clear the bridge, please. Command crew, you're with me."
Jim could see Chekov out of the corner of his eye almost vibrating in place while he tried to keep himself quiet, waiting until the few people whose jobs called for them to be in secondary places on the bridge left. He took a deep breath and stood up, needing to move.
The dizziness wasn't nearly as bad this time. He walked until he was up next to the viewscreen, turning to look at the worried faces of his friends. Spock didn't look worried, but Jim could see that he was holding himself so rigidly that he seemed like a statue.
There was a flurry of the expected protests. Jim raised his hand again and spoke. "Chekov. You still have remote control of the transporter. I need you to stand down the lockdown and beam me over. Nyota, you're monitoring me like a sonofabitch. You report everything back to Spock, once we know what the hell is going on here. Spock, you're staying here. Sulu—"
"Captain, I will be accompanying you to the planet, per the request of Giotto."
"The hell you will! You're staying here, on this ship, and that's an order, Mister."
Jim glared as Spock simply walked forward. "You are being illogical. You are wounded and performing at an estimated 66.4% peak efficiency."
"I'm being illogical? You're insubordinate! That is a direct order, Mister Spock. You are in charge of this ship until my return." Jim knew he had to look stupid standing there with his mouth open, but he couldn't believe that Spock, of all people, was refusing a direct order.
"Negative. You may, of course, take whatever disciplinary action that you deem necessary against me upon our return to the Enterprise." Spock's eyes flicked to Jim's shoulder. "Rendering you incapacitated will be of negligible difficulty, should the need arise." He paused for a moment. It was dead silent on the bridge. Jim didn't look away from Spock's carefully blank stare. "I shall meet you in Transporter room A."
Jim shut his mouth with a snap. "Ensign, did my first officer just threaten me?"
"Eh…. Uh… I…"
"Riiiiight. That's what I thought." Jim met Nyota's clear gaze. She looked for a second that she was about to laugh. Her lips twitched, and Jim gave her a confused look. Nyota looked down rather quickly. "I'll be monitoring your frequencies, Captain."
What the fuck is happening here?
"Thank you. Sulu, you'll have the con until Scotty is back." Jim took a deep breath. He had about eight minutes to get to the planet. Maybe there he'd find out what the hell was happening. He was pretty damn sick of being the last to know what the hell was going on on his own damn ship.
Jim was still seething as he made his way back to the transporter room. Spock was moving so stiffly that he seemed almost like a statue. Jim couldn't believe that Spock would violate a direct order. He tried again, his own worry almost choking him as he stopped suddenly, reaching out and grabbing Spock's forearm.
"Please, Spock. It doesn't make any sense for you to go down there too."
"On the contrary, complying with Giotto's wishes might give us answers. If you do not comply, the likelihood that you will not return from the moon's surface is..."
"Come on, Spock. You're the one who I trust to get me out of the crazy shit that I get myself into."
Spock was actually silent for a moment. Jim watched as his facial features softened slightly. "Indeed. That is why I will accompany you down to Praxis. I believe the common Terran colloquialism is, 'The matter is now closed.'"
"So this is what this feels like? Funny, I never noticed how fucking annoying it is before."
"Perhaps because our situations were reversed. I assure you, were I prone to emotional exaggeration, 'fucking annoying' is most assuredly one apt descriptor. Captain, we have approximately four minutes to beam to Giotto's coordinates. It would be wise to move quickly."
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Jim could not stop grinning as Chekov worked the controls from the bridge, transporting them to Giotto's coordinates in a swirl of bright light.
The beam-down coordinates set them on a pillar of stone, in what looked like a rock quarry. There was a low rumble, like a low-grade earthquake that caused both Spock and Jim to shift their center of gravity so that they wouldn't fall.
Spock was interrupted by phaser fire. They both ducked - instinctively moving - as they always seemed to - in almost perfect sync. Jim cried out as his phaser was shot, the immense heat causing him to drop it onto the rock surface before he burned his hand. He didn't recognize the weapon Giotto held. It looked like a cross between a very small phaser and a Klingon disruptor, but the beam was much more controlled.
"Commander, I suggest you drop your weapon if you want your Captain to make it through this."
Jim resisted the urge to roll his eyes. It was a completely inappropriate time, but it never failed to amuse him at the way two-bit psychopaths always seemed like they had the need to provide bad dialogue. Jim felt he was watching a holovid from the early twentieth century.
Figured that he'd be the damn damsel in distress. Bones was never gonna let him live this one down.
"Dropping my weapon would be illogical at this juncture." Spock moved so that his body was angled in front of Jim's, keeping himself between Cupcake's weapon and the captain.
"Come on, man, what the hell?" Jim spoke, unable to keep the disgust from his voice.
Giotto had a definite agenda here. Obviously.
"No, Kirk. You don't get to play Captain here. You're not the one in charge. I am. They promised me my own ship if I could deliver..."
"You betrayed your crewmates for personal gain?"
Poor Spock. He sounded so confused. Or maybe not. One part of his mind noticed that Spock still held his weapon. An unarmed Spock was lethal in the right circumstances. An armed Spock was a completely different level of lethal.
Giotto laughed. "Oh shut up, you sanctimonious piece of shit. Not all of us were handed cake jobs because of a little personal tragedy. I had to work for my rank. Nothing was given to me!"
Jim blinked, trying to equate Giotto's words with the destruction of Spock's entire planet. He opened his mouth and was shocked when Spock deliberately stepped on his foot, keeping him from saying anything. The fingers on Spock's left hand twitched microscopically to the right, and Jim looked. Indeed, two bulky figures were watching the drama from just behind a rock formation.
Aha. There were the Klingons. This really was like a bad holovid.
"Indeed. Your work ethic has shown you to be competent and focused; a lieutenant posted to the flagship of the Federation."
"Yeah. A lieutenant. Everyone else is a bridge officer. I got the shaft! Well, fuck that. Those Klingon bastards promised me a shitton of credits if I could get the Enterprise here, and even more, if I could arrange things, so it looked like Captain Awesome here was losing his shit. It was easy to make him look like the fucking moron he really is."
Fury hit Jim's blood like some twisting poison.
"You're the reason all those away missions went to shit?"
Giotto laughed. Spock shifted again, this time to check Jim's instinctive lunge forward.
"People died on those missions! You're saying you did that on purpose?" Jim thought furiously. Whatever it was that was going on was being recorded. Nyota would be relaying this. At the very least, they could warp out of here without him and Spock, and Sulu would make sure that Pike heard all of this and-
"I don't think I like your little attitude. I'm gonna have to ask you to move away from him, Commander."
Jim could almost hear Spock raising his eyebrow.
"I shall have to decline your request, Mr. Giotto."
The sound of the weapon almost caused Jim's heart to stop. Spock grunted and staggered forward, clutching his forearm. Jim stepped closer to Spock, supporting him with his own weight as Spock staggered, drops of bright green blood sliding down the Vulcan's clenched fingers.
"You will not get another chance. Step away from him. Now." Jim looked up at Giotto, feeling his face pale when he saw the weapon pointed at Spock's head.
Jim cursed and took two steps back. If Spock wouldn't protect and watch out for his own ass, then Jim would just have to watch out for it for him. Then, with desperate, stark clarity, it occurred to him why exactly it was that Giotto had included Spock on this little jaunt. Jim blinked, desperately trying to keep his new knowledge off of his face. He couldn't help the instinctive move when he saw Giotto go for the device on his arm and cursed as Giotto entered something onto the keypad.
Jim felt the familiar, swirling feeling of his molecules being rearranged as he was physically transported. He whirled around, one part of his mind noting that he wasn't actually all that far from where he had started out. He was standing on the top of what looked like a pillar that rose up over the rock quarry. There were about four feet on all sides of Jim to the edge. He took a few cautious steps, peeking down to the bottom.
The mining on Praxis had been going on for years. Whatever else this area was being used for, the miners had cleared out a vast, gaping hole in the moon's surface. Jim didn't know how far down it was, but he quickly realized that if he fell off the rock, he was standing on, it would take a disturbingly long time before his body hit anything.
What the fuck was it with him and quarries, anyway? Jim cursed under his breath and looked around for his first officer. Spock was calmly ripping a strip from his blue shirt and using it to tie off his wounded arm. Giotto was grinning at him, admiring his handiwork, his teeth flashing manically in the sun. Jim actually felt his own stomach cramp with emotion. Another wave of dizziness rolled through him, and for the first time, Jim acknowledged that he might not be feeling as well as he'd blustered to Spock before everything had gone to shit.
"Mister Giotto. What is your goal at this juncture?" Spock's voice did something to him. It calmed Jim, allowing him to breathe more easily, focusing his thoughts.
"My goal?" Giotto actually looked surprised for a second before he went back to gloating.
Jim darted a glance at the two Klingons who were still watching everything unfold, hidden from Giotto's sight. Ignored for the moment, Jim started flexing his muscles, trying to burn off the excess adrenaline-fueled energy that was still singing through his veins.
"Affirmative. Surely you have more planned than just calling us here to outline your, no doubt flawless plan to pirate the flagship of the Federation and mutiny against her Captain."
Despite the seriousness of the situation, Jim hid a smirk at the understated bitchiness of Spock's words. It was kind of nice to hear him use that tone on someone else for a change.
Giotto's eyes narrowed. "I don't think I like your tone of voice. You know, Mister Spock, if I decide to use this little toy on you, then your buddy over there won't even have a body to cry over. You ever heard of a Klingon disruptor? This is a prototype of a new weapon. And they gave it to me."
"Hey!" Jim yelled, needing Giotto's attention off of Spock and onto him. "You must not know much about Klingons, man."
Giotto's attention was caught, despite himself. "What the hell would you know, Kirk?"
Jim shrugged. "Oh, you'd be surprised at the few things that I've picked up over the years."
"Yeah? Like what?" Giotto scoffed, turning his attention away from Spock, presenting his back fully to the two partially-hidden Klingons.
"Oh. A few things. Like, no Klingon would ever want to have anything to do with a lowly Human who had betrayed his ship and crew. Like, no, whatever it is that they promised you, you can bet that they have their own agenda that doesn't involve you."
Giotto's laugh rang out over the surface, echoing strangely over the uneven surfaces, only to turn to a surprised shout when the two Klingons stepped out of their hiding place with a creak of leather.
"Indeed, Captain Kirk." The larger Klingon tilted his head, taking in the wounded Vulcan and Jim stranded several feet away. The sun glinted on the silver of his eye patch, and Jim shuddered to realize that the eye patch the older man was wearing was actually bolted into the bones of his face.
"General Chang!" Giotto's shock was not feigned. The two Klingons barely spared him a glance. Before Jim could react, Chang calmly lifted his own weapon and pointed, shooting Giotto with a slight twitch of his finger.
Giotto's scream sounded agonized, hanging in the air longer than his body did. The body seemed to melt, tissue and bone sliding together in the shape of Giotto's body before flickering and disappearing.
Jim scrambled forward, stopped by the edge of the surface. Jim felt himself trembling, and with a vague sense of horror, realized that it wasn't him that was trembling- but the surface as an earthquake shivered over the ground. Jim fell to his knees, ripping his fingernails to the quick as he regained his balance, instinctively attempting to lower his center of gravity. He carefully moved back to the center of his prison, meeting Spock's sharp gaze with an intense stare of his own.
That was way too fucking close.
"As he was valiant, I honor him. But as he was ambitious, I slew him."
"Julius Caesar. Act Three, Scene Two."
"Very good, Commander Spock. And for you as well, Captain. I admit to a certain... pleasant surprise that you seem to know so much about our culture."
"Great! If everyone's so pleasantly surprised, then maybe you can beam me back over to join the party." Jim's own smile was brittle as he cautiously stood again, preferring to meet whatever was going to happen on his feet rather than on his knees.
Chang raised an eyebrow. "Alas, Captain, brevity is the soul of wit. Your former crewman had the portable transporter device. I am unsure as to his plans at separating you from your comrade, but I'm afraid that our business on this moon has concluded."
"What business is that, General?"
Spock's polite tone of voice could just have easily been discussing the weather. Another tremble of the moon's surface caused the others to stagger around, barely keeping their balance. Jim let out an extremely undignified squawk, this time landing on his ass.
Spock's gaze flicked to Jim once before he tugged down his black shirt, blithely ignoring the way that his wound was still slowly oozing blood from around the makeshift bandage. "One can only assume that it has something to do with the sudden seismic violence. Our scans indicated that there was some activity on the other side of the moon, but nothing that would affect us to this extent."
Chang barked something in Klingon, and with a muffled tone, disappeared in a whirl of the transporter beam.
Spock wasted no time. "Lieutenant Sulu!"
Sulu's voice was garbled as he responded. There was a giant crash as part of the rocks, made unstable by the years of mining, began to crumble as the surface shook with another quake.
"Fuck!" Jim wasn't sure if he was cursing Sulu's report or the way he ended up on his ass again. He scrambled for purchase as the rock formation he'd been placed on began to tilt.
He looked up at Spock again, judging the distance.
Staying here was not going to work. Jim twisted, using the movement as momentum to get to his feet.
He heard a strangled sound from where Spock was standing and jerked his head up to look fully. Spock was staring off at a point behind him. Jim didn't waste time turning; instead, he is backing up as far as he could to get the space he needed to jump. It was going to be close.
Jim didn't want to think about that drop if he missed.
He took a deep breath and blew it out in short staccato bursts of sound, tensing his muscles. He saw Spock moving to the other edge, strangely not making eye contact with Jim, still focused on whatever was happening behind him. Jim didn't have time to think about what that might mean. There was another deafening crash, and Jim began to sprint, his legs and arms pumping as he took off. He felt the flat surface begin to tilt, felt himself start to slide.
It was by the purest luck that the rock happened to fall in the same direction Jim was running; otherwise, he never would have made it. He jumped, seeming to hang in the air for several minutes before he started to fall, madly pinwheeling his arms and legs to try to propel himself even the slightest bit forward.
Jim could only see Spock's all-too-human eyes as they widened before he was crashing into the side of the rocks with enough force that he heard a few of his ribs snap. He slid, scrambling to use his arms, hands, elbows, feet, and legs- anything that would keep him on the side of the cliff face instead of down in the center of the moon's surface. Spock held out his arm, and Jim almost caught it, his hand sliding against Spock's blood-covered wrist so quickly that he had no chance of tightening his fingers in enough time.
Jim had the strangest visual sensation, like an impression of rocks tumbling in on themselves as though sucked in by an enormous vacuum overlayed with almost incapacitating foreboding before he slid out of contact with Spock. He felt like a subspace transmission that had a video feed playing into it. Too much information was in his head, and he knew that they weren't his own thoughts.
A short scream ripped from his lips as he went over before he caught himself on a jutting rock several feet from the edge. He heard his ankle bone snap with the impact, and he lurched, hugging the small face with everything he had, adrenaline and terror and confusion churning inside of him.
Jim froze, his heart hammering in his chest. He shook his head, hard trying to rid himself of the disturbing images that still replayed themselves behind his clenched eyelids. He didn't have time for his mind to start to play tricks on him; God knew when this whole thing was going to crumble into dust.
"Spock! I'm here!"
Jim looked up, noting with one small part of his mind how fierce Spock looked at that moment. It was like his mind was slowly noticing little details:
-Spock's face was like a statue of him at his absolute coldest, frozen into a mask of utter blankness- until Jim chanced a look at his eyes.
- Chekov's voice, babbling in broken Russian like he always did when he was scared, tinny and almost incomprehensible over Spock's communicator.
- The rumbling, crashing, groaning sound of rocks twisting together, the ground a fierce growl as it rumbled with another quake.
- His own heartbeat, thudding so quickly in his throat that he wasn't sure if he would puke or pass out.
"Commander- I will beam you first and-" Chekov's voice was tense, the panic clearly audible but carefully restrained.
"Negative. You will beam the Captain to safety immediately!" Spock's voice cracked on Jim's title, and despite everything, Jim felt the almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. Here he was, ass to the wind, and Spock was still insisting on protocol.
"Spock. Don't be ridiculous. Get the fuck out of here!"
"Negative." Spock cautiously wiggled out another few inches, attempting to reach out to Jim again.
"Spock- come on! They can beam me out after-"
"No, Jim. They cannot. There is too much interference."
"Spock, dammit! Don't you move! The fucking edge is gonna go!" Jim got a face full of sediment, turning slightly to allow the rocks to fall without hitting him full in the face. Spock was balanced precariously; his long, lean body stretched almost impossibly, fingers splayed as he reached for Jim.
Jim could feel it; a hot shameful little ball of panic that choked him. His balls felt like they'd taken permanent residence in his stomach. He was peripherally aware that he was shaking- but couldn't separate his own movement from that of the now desperately denigrating planet. Sweat was cold on his back. He winced away from a large boulder that fell down, almost losing his balance, and scraped what felt like most of the skin off of his fingers as he gripped the surface again, trying to hang on literally with his toes and fingertips.
Jim gritted his teeth and looked up at Spock's face, shocked to see that a line of sweat had beaded up onto the Vulcan's lip. He took a deep breath to center himself.
Did he trust Spock?
No question about it.
Jim raised both of his arms, standing up on his tiptoes. The tips of his fingers brushed just slightly against Spock's, and he had another fleeting image of a woman, wrapped head to toe in a light brown headdress favored by Vulcan women, her large brown eyes widened even further with terror.
"You must jump, Jim."
The quiet intensity of Spock's words caused Jim to catch his breath.
"I- I don't know that I can."
Jim bit his lip, looking up at Spock. There was no time to weigh his options. He knew what would happen if he jumped, and Spock missed him. There was no way that his ankle would support him, and it was doubtful that he would be able to catch his balance again once he landed. He barely had hung on when the boulder had winged his shoulder.
They stared at each other for a few heartbeats.
Jim closed his eyes... and jumped.
This time when Spock's fingers curled around Jim's wrist, they did not let go. He felt the fragile bones in his arm grind against each other as Spock threw his weight backward, pulling him up inch by painful inch. Jim reached up with his other hand and cried out when their hands joined.
-Notagainnotagainnotagain...Not my Jim, no not again-
-The woman with the beautiful eyes turns looks up at Spock, a terrible, final knowledge on her face.-
-Jim sees his own upturned, filthy, bloody face from what has to be Spock's point of view, the same terrible knowledge; accepting his own death-
Jim was overwhelmed with sensation, his mind screaming at him with whatever the fuck was happening, his body bruised and sore as his shoulders took the brunt of his weight as Spock hauled him to safety, moving so quickly and surely that Jim had the surreal sense that he weighed nothing, the oddest feeling that he was falling up, as the whole scene rewound itself.
-The crushing, desperate feeling of loss, of worthlessness as she disappears in front of you. The useless, feeble attempt to reach out and hang on-
He felt a surging wave of blackness when Spock firmed his grip, pulling Jim to his feet and flinging them away from the edge. He couldn't separate his own thoughts from Spock's as the Vulcan's arms crashed around him, holding Jim's body to him as they fell over onto the trembling ground. Jim had a vague understanding that he was between Spock and the surface. Jim fought to stay conscious and had one brief moment to look around him at the way the ground folds in on itself before the transporter's familiar white light surrounds them, whisking them away to safety.
-Safe He's safe nirsh ashayam we're safe t'nash veh worla, worla m'ashayam... -
"Yomayo1! Oh, Hikaru, I can't believe I did it! They're both here!"
Jim wasn't sure if he'd fainted or not. He couldn't really understand the babble of voices around him, or the fleeting, almost out of focus images in his head. He was in pain- that much he knows. He is wrapped in something so tightly that his broken ribs rub together, sending bright sparks of agony behind his closed eyelids.
Jim blinked, trying to force breath into his lungs. All he could see was blue, and for a second, everything was so confusing, so overwhelming that he only wanted to shut off his brain for a minute.
"GODDAMNIT, EVERYONE SHUT THE HELL UP!"
Even as hurt as he was, Jim's lips twisted into a ghost of a smirk. Only Bones.
Bones waited a minute, purposefully, until everyone was silent. When he spoke, his voice was very gentle, as though he were speaking to a broken, hurt thing. "Spock. Come on, Spock. Everything's okay now, but Jim is hurt. I need to examine him."
Jim heard a low, basso growl under his cheek. It slowly began to dawn on him that Spock was holding him; Spock's arms were wrapped around him so tightly that he almost couldn't breathe. The arms tightened further when Bones took a careful step towards them, and Jim couldn't contain a small, hurt sound.
The growl stopped abruptly. Sickening, immense waves of guilt rolled over Jim, so intense that it caused his stomach to heave.
"Spock." Bones crouched down, keeping several inches of space between him and where Jim was sprawled so uncomfortably in Spock's lap. Spock shifted, moving so quickly that Jim didn't even have time to categorize what was hurt and what was not. The arms lessened their hold slightly, and suddenly Jim could breathe. He gasped in a breath, then another, just listening to the silence of the room, the thrum of engines gone to warp.
"The miners? The Klingons?"
"Safe, Keptin. Lieutenant Sulu got us to warp seconds before the moon Praxis exploded. As for the Klingons, no sign of their wessel, sir."
"Now, Jim, don't worry about that. You just calm yourself. Spock, that's great. Now I just need you to-"
Jim's whole world tilted when he was swung up into Spock's arms. He froze for a minute, unsure which was protesting more loudly: his stomach, his head, his ribs, or his ankle.
"Hunnhh. Fine then. Try not to jiggle him too much."
Spock didn't say anything, but Jim got a distinct feeling of disgust.
"Spock, why can I feel you-" His mumble was almost indistinct, but the double emotions cut off with the finality of a door slamming shut.
Jim shivered, feeling suddenly cold and alone in Spock's arms.
1- Translated as "Holy Fuck!" (Yelchin says it in the film. He says it as "Oh Man, but in the comments, someone else says it means Holy Fuck, so yeah. Going with that. /2009/05/08/exclusive-interview-with-anton-yelchin/ I don't speak Russian, so hopefully, it's close!
The first time Jim opened his eyes, it was to a strange sense of surrealness. Darkness. The constant sound of the engines placed him on his ship, but the actual place was unfamiliar. He blinked in the darkness and took stock of his injuries. He'd woken up in sickbay enough times that he knew what that felt like. Wherever he was, he wasn't there. His ankle felt bruised and throbbed dully. His head... actually, his head felt fine. There was no pounding headache behind his eyes. Jim rotated his wrist and winced at the feel of the muscles in his shoulder, pulling slightly. He heard a rustle of something beside him and froze for a second until he felt the straw bump against his dry lips. He drank gratefully and then made a small, discontented sound when the water was pulled away from him too soon. The hand on his forehead settled him back down. Oddly enough, the hand on his forehead made him relax. Jim arched slightly into the touch before he felt the icy cold edge of a hypospray against his neck. There was a hiss as the medicine shot into his bloodstream, and he settled, going back to sleep.
The second time he opened his eyes, it was to a sliding touch against his face. Jim grinned sleepily.
"No. Sorry, Jim."
Nyota. Jim masked his disappointment. He opened his eyes just to see her move back to the side of the bed and realized that it must have been the end of her ponytail that brushed against the side of his face when he awoke. He felt lethargic like he'd slept for far too long.
He stretched before he started to move, feeling each and every muscle in his body from his toes to his fingertips as they brush against the headboard. Some hurt more than others, but overall he felt better than he thought he would.
"Bones'll kick my ass for being in your bed, you know."
A familiar snort. "Bullshit, kid. Who do you think is the one that put you there?"
Jim grinned despite himself. He sat up a little, snorting himself when he saw that he was wearing pajamas in bed. Hell, the last time he actually wore pajamas was when he was probably four or five years old. He was pretty sure these didn't have the little footie things, though, but you really never knew with Bones. Jim rubbed at his eye, grimacing at the gunk that was caught in the corners.
He caught Nyota, making a face at him.
"What? You've both seen me naked. What's a little eye boogers between friends?"
Bones rolled his eyes again and muttered under his breath about Jim being a complete infant.
Jim waited politely for one of them to tell him what the hell was going on. He'd always heard the phrase "ignoring the elephant in the room" but had never really experienced it before, especially when the elephant was actually six feet and two inches of growling Vulcan.
He realized that he kind of had to pee a lot and flipped back the covers to go take care of that. Sulu joked that it was always a good mission if you still had your dick at the end of it, and Jim blinked ruefully down at himself as he pissed for what felt like hours. It didn't take him long to wash his hands and face, but he took the time to straighten the little bath towels that hung near the shower.
Okay, so he might have been stalling a little bit.
"Come on, Jim. There's an officer's meeting in ten minutes. You have just enough time to choke down a sandwich before we sit down. Here. Eat."
Jim eyed the ham and cheese sandwich suspiciously. He sniffed it and took a bite. "So are e'r of you go'a tell me wh' the 'uck." He paused, swallowed. "What the fuck happened?"
He watched them look at each other. Bones looked faintly guilty; Nyota faintly worried.
That couldn't be good.
"Look, Jim, maybe we should just get you fed and to the conference room." Bones' tone was his customary briskness.
Jim wolfed down the rest of the sandwich, realizing dimly that he was actually starving. "I could make it an order, you know."
Nyota tossed some clothes at him, sighing. "Damnit, Jim."
Despite everything, Jim had to grin. "That's actually kind of freaky, you know?"
Bones sighed. "Okay. The short version, but you really need to shift your ass if you're going to make it over there before they start the call. Spock was... shit, Jim. I don't even know what Spock was. He would not let go of you for almost two hours after y'all beamed back. We had to practically jump him with enough tranquilizer to take down a Gorn, and he still wouldn't allow himself to collapse."
Nyota stretched out one hand to Bones' shoulder, calming him without speaking. "Jim. We put you in here because it seemed like a good idea at the time. We didn't know what Spock would do once he woke up. It just seemed like a good idea to have you out of his way. But- well..."
"How long was I out?"
"Jimmy, it's been two days since you two beamed back."
Jim choked on the last bite of his sandwich.
"When Spock woke up from the tranq, he was... well. Normal. Well, normal for the green-blooded-" Bones broke off when they both glared at him. "Vulcan. Fine. I took him off duty just to be safe. Haven't heard from him since. He's eating, and he's been awake, but not exactly rushing out to explain anything."
Jim processed this as he slid into the clothes Nyota had for him. Putting on his uniform caused his mind to slide back into his "captain mode." He didn't have time to worry about his personal shit. He had bigger things to worry about.
Well, this was fucking awkward.
Jim paused for a minute as the doors slid open, waiting for him to enter the staff room. Bones, for once, was quiet, waiting patiently for Jim to walk in ahead of him. Jim fought to keep his face impassive. It was harder than he thought. It took conscious effort to blank his mind of... well. Of everything that happened earlier. But, when the Brass coordinated a conference call, it was really hard to say no. He'd only contemplated asking Bones to knock him out for a few seconds, really.
Nyota smiled tiredly at him. She had been working like crazy to establish the subspace video conference call that Jim had ordered while Bones had been working on him in Sickbay. Even having warped out of the danger zone from when the moon Praxis collapsed in on itself, they were still parsecs from Starfleet HQ. Bones said that Nyota had worked almost nonstop since Jim and Spock had beamed back upon the Enterprise to establish the connection.
Jim kind of wanted to peek out of the window to make sure there wasn't a giant antenna on the back of the saucer.
His gaze next caught Chekov, who was conversing quietly with Sulu. They both broke off their conversation, looking up at him with a nod and a blinding smile. Jim almost returned the grin. It was hard not to. When Chekov smiled, half of the ship grinned automatically back. The other half usually tried to find a way to feed him. Sulu was calm. Jim was rather proud of him, actually. He'd done one hell of a job keeping his shit, and more importantly Jim's ship, together during the crisis.
The chair where Scotty usually sat was empty. Bones had assured him that the Chief Engineer would make a full recovery, but the blast he'd taken to his chest had been a close thing. Jim didn't pretend to understand all the medical mumbo-jumbo that Bones spouted, but the long and short of it was that Bones had had to regrow part of his lungs, and that took a little while. Scotty'd be out of it for another few days at the very least.
Bones brushed by him on his way to his chair, startling Jim out of his thoughts. Bones had been very quiet since they'd beamed back, patching Jim back together with almost no comment. It had been fucking weird, actually. In more ways than one. Like some other doctor was there, impersonally doing his job. Spock had...
Jim's eyes flicked over at him as he made his way to his customary seat. Spock flinched at Jim's slight hiss of pain when he pulled out the chair. Bones had told him that his shoulder was going to take a few days to feel less like a piece of ground meat and more like an actual part of his body. Spock's head was bowed. His body was so rigid that it almost looked like he was in one of his meditative trances.
"Hey, guys. Thanks for coming. Lieutenant, are we about ready?"
"Yes, sir. Admiral Pike wanted to speak to us first."
"Awesome. Anyone have any questions?" Jim looked around at the people he trusted most in the world, noting the shaking heads, and muttered, "no sirs." Spock still wouldn't make eye contact with him. Jim's stomach clenched. He didn't want to force this, but he had to make sure that Spock wasn't going to … react... inappropriately.
"Negative. I have no questions at this juncture." Spock's voice was subdued, but at least he was speaking.
"Thank you. Don't worry, guys. Just explain what happened and answer their questions to the best of your ability. I know normally there would be a debriefing- but... well." Jim's eyes flicked once towards Spock's bent head of their own accord before he caught himself.
"Alright, Lieutenant, I guess we're ready." He cleared his throat and winced as he sat back in his chair.
Nyota entered something, and the Starfleet symbol changed to Christopher Pike's calm face. It was what Jim called his 'Admiral bullshit' face- a mask that was just as calm and unruffled as if he were reading over a lunch menu instead of getting ready to ream Jim into the carpet.
Well, wasn't this cozy.
"Jim, there's no way to get around that this is going to be a shitstorm. You have about ten minutes before the top brass gets their collective asses together and feed into our conversation. I need to know what to tell them, so start talking. I don't need to tell you that it will go much better for you if I know what the fuck happened out there before I speak on your behalf." Chris pinched the bridge of his nose, his shoulders slumping for just a minute. "Now would be the time to overshare."
Jim took a deep breath. It wasn't the first time he'd had to confess some sort of giant fuck-up to Chris, but this was the first time that the other man had been so blunt about working around the system. Plus, usually, he didn't have an audience. Jim leaned forward, ignoring the way the muscles in his back twanged at him. Jim felt a wicked sense of déjà vu and had a crazy memory of swinging in the air, of being jerked into Spock's inhumanly warm embrace before he bit the inside of his cheek to make himself focus.
"I'm almost not sure where to start. I guess it would be on Planet Clusterfuck." Sulu coughed into his hand. "Err. Huxtor III. Lieutenant Uhura and I had beamed to the surface with a small away team. Of course, you are aware that Uhura is unsurpassed in communications, but what you might not know is that she can build the damn things too. The Huxtorites had enough eisilium that we were ordered to start negotiations for rights to mine the mineral."
Pike held up one hand. "Eisilium, Lieutenant?"
Nyota spoke calmly, leaning slightly forward. "As the Captain said, sir. The eisilium is rare enough that we, uh, Lieutenant-Commander Scott and I, were eager to see how we could improve the communications capabilities using the eisilium as a stabilizer instead of the more common mix of materials."
Everyone at the table ignored the small twitch of Pike's lips at the mention of Scotty being "eager" to fiddle with something.
Jim took up the reigns of the debriefing once again. "Unknown to us, the Klingons also had a need for the same mineral. The Lieutenant and I were ambushed and kept in jail for several days, then beamed to another location. It took some time for us to be located and beamed back to the ship. In the interim, we can assume that the Klingons either subverted the Huxtorites or managed to strike their own negations with their council leaders." He was kind of proud of himself, truth be told. The official paperwork would have quite a bit more detail, of course, but Jim thought he was doing fairly well at keeping the burning fury out of his voice. If Starfleet Intelligence had just done their fucking jobs, then none of this would have happened!
"How did the Klingons know of the eisilium? For that matter, how the hell did you two get beamed over somewhere else? Why not just keep you in the holding cell?"
Jim took a deep breath, but before he could speak, Spock's quiet, emotionless voice started relaying the facts.
"Before we beamed down to the moon's surface, the Captain was injured in the act of both mutiny and sabotage. The perpetrator, Lieutenant Giotto from the ship's security, also grievously injured Lieutenant-Commander Scott while escaping to the moon's surface. I can attest that he confessed to acts of sabotage with the intention of undermining the Captain's authority. Giotto was quite forthcoming with information."
Jim noticed Bones' head whipping to stare at him out of the corner of his eye and ignored him. Giotto's offhand confession proved that Jim hadn't fucked up all those missions on purpose, but it hardly did him any good now. People, good people, were still dead because of Giotto's interference. Bones and Spock were still willing to think of him as some kind of... egotistical adrenaline junkie. Jim snorted under his breath. Well, okay. Maybe he was an egotistical adrenaline junkie, but he wouldn't fucking play with the lives of his crew like pawns on a chessboard. Both of them should have known and accepted that—Bones, especially.
"Is something amusing you, Captain?"
"No, sir. Giotto was kind of off his nut down there. He said that he was working with the Klingons, so we can assume that he was doing what he could from the ship to assist him. I'll have conclusive evidence for you as soon as possible on that matter. I've been a... a little distracted... since we found out."
"Distracted, huh? I was going to say, Jimmy, that you do look like shit."
Everyone in the conference room ignored the way Spock straightened, his body like a statue of a Vulcan.
"Captain Kirk is here against medical orders, with all due respect, Admiral. He should be resting. The Commander too. Both of them went through-"
Bones sucked in a breath mid-rant and looked away from the monitor, settling back into his seat with a scowl on his face.
"While on the surface, we experienced-"
There were a few beeps, and the screen split into three different rectangles, showing each of the three 'fleet Admirals that were now monitoring their conversation.
"- violent seismic activity. Spock and I had been separated but were still close enough to observe the events that took place. Giotto was murdered by one of his Klingon conspirators, and then the two of them beamed out. General Chang was the name he called one of the Klingons that was on the surface."
Pike spoke, ignoring the tightened lips of the other two Admirals. They really didn't approve of sharing information. "Kirk, Chang is a big player on the Klingon council. We have intelligence-" He ignored Jim's derisive cough "-that links him to several plots against the life of the Klingon Chancellor, Gorkon. Rumors of designs of a cloaking device that would allow their battle cruisers to fire while cloaked have come to light since your last mission report."
"Captain Kirk." Komack's voice was cool as he interrupted Pike. "The fact remains that you deserted your ship, ordering your subordinate to accompany you and while down there-"
He spoke over Jim's crew's protests, who all remembered that they were flirting with insubordination with a superior officer under the glare Jim leveled at them. With Komack, it was just better to let him speak.
"- your actions resulted in the destruction of an entire moon."
"Yeah, the loss of the lucrative mining operation was a tragedy too. Look. We watched while Giotto killed the one of the miners in front of us. We were trying to find out what was going on. Now, after the fact, it's easy to look back and second guess yourself. You guys didn't give me this ship so that I could fuck around with that bullshit. This crew and this ship is the best in the whole 'Fleet, and if sometimes things don't work out perfectly, then that is on my shoulders, not theirs."
"Why did you order your First Officer to beam down to the surface?" Admiral Bennett's voice was mild, almost patiently inquiring.
"He did not." For the first time, Spock sounded like Spock. Hearing it did funny things to Jim's insides. He had another sensory memory of being held tightly, of Spock almost snarling at Bones, turning Jim so that Spock's body was between the two of them. He swallowed, hard. Not for the first time, Jim thought that it might have been prudent to talk to Spock before they went to this conference, but unfortunately, there had been very little time. Starfleet wasn't known for its patience.
Jim stared at the Admirals. Their faces were a little less impassive. Nyota's gaze crashed into his, widening in alarm.
"In fact, I dis-"
Nyota's elbow came down on the console, and the communication bleeped out.
"Spock! What the hell are you doing?" Jim knew his voice cracked, barely waiting for Nyota's version of cupping her hand around the communicator and making krrrsh krrrrsh krrrshhh noises before turning to Spock and yelling.
"I am telling the truth."
"Spock. I order you to shut the hell up. You can answer their questions but do not volunteer information."
Spock turned to look at him, making eye contact for the first time since they were beamed back onto the ship. "I disobeyed your direct order, Captain. At the very least, I deserve to be ordered to the brig."
"The brig, maybe. But not to commit professional suicide, Spock. Come on. Don't do this."
Jim watched as Spock turned away from him, once again impassively facing the blank viewscreen.
"Jim, they are signaling."
Jim reached out to touch Spock's shoulder and froze when Spock actually flinched away from him. He let his hand drop, feeling stupid. "Come on," he repeated, his voice quiet. "Spock, if you trust me, please. Please don't do this. Let's just get through this comm, okay?" Jim was cursing himself as everyone in the room waited tensely for Spock's reaction. He knew better. At the Vulcan's terse nod, Nyota huffed out a breath.
Spock started speaking as the communication came back on-line.
Jim could see at once that their little trick didn't fool Chris for one minute.
"Apologies, Commander. Could you please repeat your statement?" Kormack looked miffed at the interruption. "There must have been some sort of subspace interference."
Jim's heartbeat sped up so quickly that he was surprised that he didn't pass out from the increased blood flow.
Spock waited a beat before calmly responding. "I distrusted the situation and beamed down with my Captain."
Chekov's shaky question caused everyone to look at him. He blushed under their regard but straightened his shoulders as he spoke. "I told Lieutenant Sulu of a report of a wery odd plasma signature. Once the lockdown was lifted, and I was able to go back down to the transporter, I was able to better monitor the occurrence."
Jim gave Chekov a sharp look. This was the first time he had heard about any of this.
"The moon imploded because of a wast array of explosions deep within the center of its surface. Only, we were able to werify that the moon was actually imploding, collapsing in on itself; I was able to discern another transporter signature. That was why we were unable to immediately beam Keptin Kirk and Kemender Spock to the ship. What we did not know was that the Klingons were beaming out wast quantities of Kellenite, sirs."
There was a shocked silence. Kellenite was a highly unstable mineral. Quantities had been detected in the Narada's composite scans of Praxis.
" I believe that in my single-mindedness to retrieve my commanding officers; I interfered with their transporter signal. I am unsure as to how much of the Kellenite was actually transported to the Klingons, but I will have a complete report sent to you as soon as possible."
Jim's gaze fell on Spock's as though drawn there by a magnet. He could almost see the wheels turning.
"In that case, we will await your reports." Pike's voice was calm, although a slight note of excitement could be heard under his smooth voice. "Get some rest, Jim. You really do look like hell. Continue moving, but stay in touch. Hopefully, no more subspace anomalies will interfere with communications. Pike out."
Jim, despite the seriousness of the situation, hid a smirk. He could practically see Chris make the quotation marks around interfere. He carefully didn't look at Nyota, certain that her cheeks were flushed a bright red.
"Acknowledged," Jim spoke to the blank screen, his mind whirling, his voice a whisper of sound as he spoke. "Okay, guys. I guess that's it. You heard the Admiral. Go and get some shuteye, and I'll see you on shift tomorrow." Jim forced a smile, waiting as everyone stood, talking quietly as they made their way out of the conference room. "Spock. Can you stay for a minute, please?" Jim ignored the concerned look Bones gave him at his question, focusing instead on the rigid set of Spock's shoulders as he paused right in front of the doors. He took a step back so that the doors would slide shut.
He had to fix this.
"I do not know if that is wise, sir."
Jim winced. "Maybe not, Spock. But I need some answers."
Spock was silent for so long that Jim was almost certain that he was going to walk out of the room.
"So, uh." Jim's mind completely blanked. Fuck. He didn't know where to start.
"Apologies are illogical, Captain." Spock's back straightened even further. Jim didn't know that was even possible.
"Jim, Spock. Come on, man. Turn around. Have a seat. Have a beverage. A snack. Something. This is awkward enough without you adding titles to the mix."
Spock reached out and entered the code to lock the doors. Jim thought his heart stopped for a second when Spock turned around. He did not sit, instead of standing there in his customary parade rest, looking at something slightly over and to the left of Jim's shoulder.
Jim's eyes widened. That one syllable was definitely not emotionless. He watched as Spock opened his mouth, then seemed to think better of what he was going to say, shutting his mouth with a small snap.
"Apologies? Do... do I owe you an apology, Spock?" Jim spoke tentatively, unsure at what was so obviously upsetting Spock. This was just so unlike him.
Spock's jaw tightened. "I must ask that you cease speaking. I find this... difficult... to say. The distraction you present is... " Spock trailed off.
Jim nodded, leaning against the table to get his weight off of his ankle. It didn't hurt exactly, but he definitely would be stopping back by sickbay before he hit the hay for the night. Or what was left of the night. He tried to appear patient, but it was difficult as fuck, considering all the questions that were bouncing around his head. Spock was practically stammering in front of him, for God's sake. It was beyond surreal.
He watched as Spock took a deep breath. He watched his nostrils flare for a second. "As I was saying, apologies are illogical, yet I find myself needing to do so for my actions. It is true that I was... compromised emotionally at seeing… that is to say during..."
Jim watched as Spock floundered for a moment, his shoulders slumping as he tried to get his thoughts into some sort of order.
"Of course you were! Jesus, Spock! I can't even imagine what you were thinking down there. It's normal to... er... overreact a little once you get to safety."
Jim was completely shocked at the way Spock's lips twitched slightly. It was so out of place from the tension that was so thick in the room that he just stood there, gaping stupidly.
"You are really quite incapable of remaining silent for any given amount of time."
Jim blinked, dumbfounded at the minuscule yet clearly amused quirk of Spock's lips.
"Who taught you the discipline necessary to block your mind?"
Jim blinked again at Spock's question. The non-sequitur was so far from left field that he was opening his mouth to answer before he'd remembered all the reasons why he couldn't. "Ah, actually, he requested that I not tell anyone."
"He." Spock took a step forward. His eyes were focused directly onto Jim's, narrowed slightly with intensity. The little smile had disappeared. This Spock was more familiar. Angry, instead of amused. "It was most disconcerting to realize that I was projecting my own thoughts onto you without receiving yours in return. It was even more disconcerting to realize the ease at which you received those thoughts. It speaks of... practice."
"Ah, yeah. Well, that's good to know. Um, that it's working, I mean. My teacher will be very... uh, pleased."
"Will he? Vulcans do not ascribe to, pleasure, Jim."
Jim's mind began blaring warnings at him when Spock took another step forward. "Vulcan? Who said anything about-"
"You will tell me who you allowed into your mind." The words were almost a growl. Jim was fascinated by the bright bloom of green high on Spock's cheekbones.
Jim shifted, easing up from the table in order to try to put a little more distance between himself and the Vulcan in front of him. He heard himself almost babbling with nerves. "I can't do that, Spock. Look, I know that you take your First Officer duties extremely seriously. I count on that. I count on you." Jim forced a smile, running his hands through his hair. Jim's skin crawled with the sweat and grit from Praxis' surface, despite the fact that the sonics Bones must have pushed him into. "Don't feel bad about what happened, okay? No one blames you for acting a little... er... odd. You saved my ass again, man. Don't think that I'm going to go out ratting you to the brass for coming down against orders."
Jim ignored the way Spock's eyes narrowed as Jim walked by him, the material of their uniforms bushing together slightly as he made his way to the doors.
He was completely unprepared when Spock reached out and grabbed Jim's forearm, halting his movement. Spock's long fingers tightened on the yellow material.
"You are mistaken, Jim."
The full intensity of Spock's attention was overwhelming from this close. Jim thought for a second that he would lose himself in the heat radiating off of Spock. He felt his brain stutter to a complete halt, his mouth drying up with sudden, shocking desire.
"My reaction to your," he tightened his fingers, "blatant," Shook Jim's arm, "disregard for your own safety was perhaps a trifle overzealous."
Jim blinked. Overzealous? Spock had growled at Bones to keep him away. Hell, Spock was actually so pissed off that he was touching him. Jim was conscious of the way Spock's grip gentled, the thumb stroking under Jim's bicep. The small movement was so far from what he was expecting that Jim completely froze again, not entirely sure that he wasn't dreaming.
"You are aware that my memory is eidetic. It took several hours of meditation for me to be able to... accept your recklessness; to achieve this state of calmness."
This was calm? Jim frowned. Now, wait just a damn minute. "Now wait just a damn minute, here, Mister. You don't get to say what I can or cannot do. I'm the captain here, not you. You don't have any say in..."
He squeaked when Spock jerked him slightly off-balance. Jim's hand brushed against Spock's shoulder to gain his balance, and he jumped back, a little freaked out at exactly when he'd lost control of the situation.
"You are once again mistaken." Spock's breath puffed against Jim's face.
Jim was aware that his own breathing had sped up. It occurred to him, somewhat belatedly, that now he finally had all of Spock's attention focused directly on him.
"Did you think that I would not recognize your... attraction?"
It took a second for those words to seep into Jim's blissfully blank brain, but once they did, he felt himself blushing fiercely, ashamed. There was no chance of him bullshitting his way through this. Jim tried to take another step back, and Spock let go of his arm. Spock had just said that he couldn't read his mind- and was kind of pissed off at that fact. How the fuck did he-
"No. I did not need to read your thoughts in your mind." Spock took another step forward. Jim's back was flush against the wall. "I can smell your arousal, Jim. When we sparred, it was overpowering. Erotic. Addictive. I was not aware that you were attracted to males."
"I'm... not." The protest was pretty damn stupid, but it was practically automatic, falling from Jim's lips without his own conscious decision.
Spock tilted his hips, and Jim went lightheaded at the feel of Spock's own hardness brushing briefly against his own, a kiss of flesh separated by several layers of clothing. The quirk of Spock's eyebrow spoke volumes. Very slowly, allowing Jim time to see him moving and push away, Spock bent down so that his lips were only centimeters from the lobe of Jim's ear. He breathed in quite deliberately, and Jim realized with slight hysteria that Spock was smelling him.
Spock moved so that they were not touching, bracing his arms on either side of Jim's head. Jim was almost hyperventilating; confusion and desire warring within him.
"Tell me who has had your mind, Jim. Grant me this one concession."
Jim shivered at the feel of Spock's lips just inches from his ear. Spock's voice was low, almost the same possessive growl Jim remembered from earlier. He shook his head, their bodies so close that it caused Spock's nose to brush against his cheek. They both jerked slightly away at the jolt of contact and stood staring at each other from way too close, trading each other's breath.
"Why do you care?" Jim's whisper caused Spock's eyes to drift shut. "Look. I think you need to go see Bones. You're not acting-" Jim bit his lip, bringing his hands up to Spock's shoulders with the intention of pushing him slightly away- encouraging Spock to back off seemed like a really good idea.
Instead, Jim's thumbs stroked against the sides of Spock's neck as he brought his hands down, and Spock's eyes popped open, a dark sound emerging from his throat. Spock's hands moved from the wall to cup Jim's face, holding him in place for his lips. The kiss wasn't gentle at all. Spock might not admit to emotion, but it was definitely there in the way his lips met Jim's- frustration and desire, causing their mouths to crash together.
Teeth nipped at Jim's full bottom lip and his mouth opened with a cry, accepting Spock's tongue. Jim tried to keep up with Spock, tightening his hands on Spock's shoulders, sliding the palms of his hands up to mimic the way Spock held him. It was so far removed from kissing a woman that Jim floundered for a moment, unused to someone else being the aggressor. Spock would not let him regain his equilibrium, alternating his kisses with nips and scrapes of teeth against Jim's jawbone, sucking his skin into his mouth to lave at it with his tongue, before releasing it and capturing Jim's lips again with his own.
Jim could taste a slight tang of blood, and that only seemed to make Spock more domineering, stepping into Jim's space so that their bodies were flush against one another, his hands moving down to Jim's hips and holding them in place. Jim's hands also moved, tightening in Spock's hair, yanking it sharply when Spock twisted his hips so that Jim was pinned to the wall between Spock's body, with one hand on Jim's waist, serving as some sort of anchor as he used his mouth to completely overwhelm Jim.
When Spock's other hand cupped Jim's cock, Jim cried out again at the sensation, ripping his mouth away from Spock's so quickly that he banged his head on the wall. His knees buckled at the strong grip, and he surprised himself at how quickly he unbuckled his own trousers, desperate for Spock's naked touch on his swollen, throbbing length.
"You ask me why I care?" Spock's grip on Jim's dick was just what he wanted, hard and tight, one thumb sliding over the slick precome that leaked from his slit. Spock twisted his wrist, and Jim moaned again, sucking in breath only to have it leave his body as he bit his own lips to keep himself quiet. "Because this is mine." The growl was almost indiscernible in its intensity, more of a rumble of breath than actual words- but hearing it caused Jim's whole body to sing. He realized that he was gaping up at Spock stupidly as Spock worked his cock. Spock squeezed, his fingers tightening on just this side of cruel. Jim's hands locked on Spock's biceps, caught up in his own pleasure. Spock jerked his other hand up to Jim's head, the fingers brushing over the meld points. They both moaned at the almost electrical spark of awareness, both of their spines straightening for a moment with arousal. "This is mine." Spock's lips twisted as he forced himself to remove his hand from Jim's face, as though he didn't trust himself to linger there. His fingers splayed over Jim's chest, pressing slightly. "This, Jim. This is mine. That is why I care."
Spock's grip twisted, and Jim was shooting, eyes drifting shut as Spock's mouth crashed down on his again, greedily sucking down Jim's little cries and whimpers as everything exploded behind his eyelids.
Jim came back to himself slowly, still breathing heavily from his orgasm. He opened his eyes, only to shut them again, overwhelmed at seeing his own come streaking Spock's hand. Tentatively he reached down and brought Spock's hand up to his mouth.
The taste of his own come didn't bug him. It was more the shock of seeing it on Spock's usually pristine hands that caused his spent cock to jerk with reaction. The sound Spock made when his tongue flicked out over Spock's thumb gave him a little more confidence. That put him on much more even ground. Jim couldn't even remember the last time that he hadn't felt completely sexually confident. Jim's brain was still blissfully blank as he worked his mouth over Spock's fingers, lapping at his own taste.
Spock's strangled voice caused Jim to jerk his gaze up to Spock's eyes, shocked again at how absolutely debauched Spock looked. His usually warm brown eyes seemed to be all pupil from desire, widened in need. His lips were swollen slightly green, the same green flush on Spock's cheeks. His hair was in complete disarray. Jim watched Spock watching the way his tongue traced over Spock's knuckle, watched the way Jim brought his fingers to his mouth, sucking on the sensitive fingertips. Spock's eyes fluttered shut, and his hips snapped forward, almost rutting against the side of Jim's leg.
A crash sent both of them sliding against the wall. The ship shuddered with the explosion, and Jim swore, dropping Spock's hand, flinging his hand against the conference room wall to try to keep himself from falling. Spock helped him to gain his balance, stepping back. Jim was already jerking his trousers back up over his hips when Nyota's voice came over the inter-ship communications.
"Captain. You better get up here. I think that General Chang guy is pretty pissed that we got to his kellenite before he did." There was a pause while Jim and Spock stared at each other in shock. "Doctor McCoy, report to the Bridge immediately."
Spock simply entered the code to unlock the door and waited for Jim to precede him to the bridge. They had time for one speaking glance before they both began to run for the chaos that awaited them.
When Jim spoke, it was heartfelt as he buttoned himself up, making sure that he didn't forget his zip.
Jim's heart was still pounding, his blood still singing with shock and arousal as he ran down the corridor with Spock at his side. Part of him was absolutely shocked that he had let things go so far with his first officer, and part of him reflected ruefully that he hadn't had all that much choice. Jim could argue that he'd just been a participant, that Spock had overwhelmed and shocked him into such total and complete submission, but...
Well. He'd be lying. Overwhelmed, yes. Shocked? Definitely. But neither of those things were bad.
'This, Jim. This is mine. That is why I care.'
He hit the turbolift at the same dead run, Spock's words still causing him to ache. Jim bit his lip.
"Spock?" Jim ventured a question, fairly certain that he wouldn't have his head ripped off. Spock looked up from where he calmly stood there while the lift rose, blithely wiping Jim's semen off of his hand and onto his black shirt, ignoring the red alert klaxon. Jim's face went nuclear, blushing so deeply and suddenly that he was dizzy for a minute.
Spock cocked his head. "Do you often feel such embarrassment after sexual congress?" He sounded like he was asking for the salt after a particularly boring diplomatic dinner.
Jim sputtered for a few seconds. Why was he all shy maiden all of a sudden? Another shudder rocked his ship, and Jim cursed, losing his balance and crashing into Spock. When they touched, their gazes locked, and Jim knew that whatever it was that Spock was feeling, it was not easy or as calm as he looked.
"You must be more careful, Jim." Spock set him upright and stood back, dropping his hands from Jim's shoulders. "We have much to discuss."
Jim heard the faint chime of the turbolift, signifying that they had arrived on the bridge. He just nodded, turning and stepping away from Spock's heat, ignoring how much he didn't want to.
"Captain on the Bridge!"
"Report!" Jim looked around, taking in all the details he could as quickly as he could. Sulu's console was on fire, and he was busy dragging Chekov away from the flames. One of the backup crew members slid into Chekov's seat, looking determined. Chekov was not moving. Nyota was hanging on to her station, bracing herself so that the next explosion did not dislodge her. Another shudder wracked the ship. Sulu, having moved Chekov to safety, slid back into his seat. Jim staggered, painfully barking him shins on the metal railing before sliding into his own chair.
"'O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do?'" The slightly accented voice of General Chang was loud over the speakers. "Dear Captain, I do regret that our time together was so brief. 'Things without all remedy should be without regard: what's done, is done.'"
Jim rolled his eyes.
This guy was some piece of work. Not only batshit insane but with the added extra special bonus of murdering Shakespeare for his own amusement. It sure as fuck wasn't for anyone on his bridge's.
"Transmitting only, sir. I'll try to put him on screen. On your mark, Captain."
"Great. If he's talking to us, then hopefully, he won't be shooting at us. Talk to me, folks." Jim heard the doors swish open and Bones enter, already barking orders. He went straight for Chekov, and Jim tuned him out, needing to focus on something that he could accomplish.
"I have the specifics from Ensign Chekov's observations from earlier; however, scans show no vessels in the vicinity. Most perplexing."
Despite everything, Jim grinned at Spock's last comment. Only Spock.
"Scans show that there is an enormous amount of neutron radiation, sir."
"Pike said that they were cloaked. Is there a way to get a specific read on the radiation?"
"Negative. Not at this time."
"Right. Okay, you work on that. Okay, Uhura. Showtime."
Jim ignored Bones' swearing, the slightly panicked voices around him (not from his normal bridge crew, but the normal beta shift crew members), the smoke and leftover sparks that still occasionally shot from various consoles. He crossed his legs and straightened his shoulders, waiting patiently.
"Captain." Uhura's voice was calm.
"General Chang. Pleasure to see you again. I would offer you the usual diplomatic bullshit, but I have a feeling that we're moved beyond that."
"Captain Kirk. You have something of mine."
Jim smirked. "Shame you blew up the moon then, isn't it." Jim tsked under his breath, watching as the General's eye narrowed.
"'Tarry a little, there is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood; I shall have my pound of flesh, Kirk.'"
Jim sighed. "Seriously. If you're going to butcher the Bard, please do it in Klingon so I won't have to understand it. The line is 'he words expressly are "a pound of flesh.'" Jim sucked on his teeth, trying to be as abrasive as possible. "You orchestrated things so that this crew would look incompetent, tried to get your hands on my ship, and willingly blew up the main energy production facility for your own people to get the material for your new cloaking device. I have a feeling that when you go home that you won't exactly be Mr. Popularity."
Chang raised his fist, and another explosion rocked the ship.
"Shields at 69%, Captain!" The Ensign that had taken over for Chekov sounded like he was about to crap himself. Jim made a mental note to have more sim training. He didn't want someone to freeze when the whole ship was counting on them.
"How is your command going to take this when they see what you sacrificed? What honor is there in that, General?"
Predictably, Chang fired again. Jim made a slashing motion with his left hand and turned. Uhura nodded, signifying that she'd killed the signal.
"Come on, guys. Give me something. She's out there somewhere. I don't even know what the hell to shoot at!" Jim turned to Spock, only to blink in shock. Chekov was there, looking groggy, bent over his console with Spock. Spock was staring at him in concentration as they worked over Chekov's calculations. Bones was staring at the young ensign, arms crossed over his chest, scowling darkly, clearly overruled. Jim spared a thought for Chekov. When they got out of this, he'd have to remember the Andorian muscle cream. He had a feeling Chekov was gonna need it after refusing Bones' medical orders.
"I can see you, Kirk. Can you see me? Now be honest, Captain, warrior to warrior. How do you expect this to end? Give me what I need. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? I am constant as the Northern Star, Captain."
"Jesus jumped-up Christ, I'd give real money if he'd shut the fuck up." Bones' muttered just loud enough that everyone could hear him. The ship was rocked once again as they took a direct hit.
Jim stood up, barking orders for auxiliary power to be diverted to shields. With Scotty out of commission, he didn't want to swear on their current shield power taking more than three more hits.
Jim thought furiously; what they needed was time. He had to find some way to stall.
"Chekov, you said that you weren't sure where their Kellenite was transported." Jim thought furiously, sickeningly aware that they were down one miracle-out-of-the-ass-pulling Chief Engineer. Their shields were good, but they couldn't take much more of this.
"No, sir. I believe they think we have it."
"You're sure we don't, right."
"Aye, sir. It would have been impossible to get such a wast amount onto our ship without clearing out the cargo hold."
Shit, that was right. They still had those supplies to deliver. "Uhura, give me control down here."
Jim sat back down, leaning over the arm of his chair to check something with the computer. He didn't spare a thought, for he was trying to do, taking a deep breath to center himself. He punched the key that allowed him to be broadcast to the Klingon ship. He took a deep breath and arranged his face to look dejected, as though Chang had won some concession. "General. I have the coordinates of your Kellenite. Warrior to SuvwI', I need your word that my ship will not be harmed."
Chang couldn't control the fierce glare of satisfaction. "Captain, I am sure that you understand why I feel the need for a little more security than that. I can swear to you on the blood of my vav no' that your ship will not be harmed while you accept our hospitality. Your Giotto assured us that your honor was to be trusted."
There wasn't a sound on the bridge. Jim could almost feel the weight of Bones and Spock's gaze as Chang waited for him to either accept or decline his offer.
"General, I accept. Sulu, lower our shields."
"You heard me, Lieutenant."
There was a beat of silence while Sulu gulped and nodded once, entering the sequence. Jim stood up, his heart thudding so hard that he thought for a second it would be visible as it beat in his chest.
He didn't let one spec of his sudden apprehension show in action or in the line of his body, knowing that if he showed any weakness, then his little charade would be up. Jim nodded once to Chang's image, turning to look at his officers. "Spock, you have the c-"
Jim only had time for a quick breath before he felt the familiar swirl of a transporter beam. In the instant that he left, he managed to meet Spock's eyes. Spock stood there as stiffly as normal, a furious heat in his brown gaze as he watched, unblinking as Jim disappeared.
Jim had been in a lot of jails in his time. They were not exactly known for their opulence or splendor, but this was particularly uncomfortable. There was very little space in the brig. Jim hadn't even bothered to test the strength of the security force field. He figured anything that would hold a Klingon would fry him into a pile of ash if he tried to fuck with it. And the smell. Zefram's blessed butthole, it reeked worse than Tellarite stag party after a three-day bender. Jim had tried, quite unsuccessfully, for several hours to only breathe through his nose, but that hadn't worked for long. Now, he was afraid his nasal passages were permanently scarred.
The other annoying thing about jail was that it gave him time to think. Jim made himself as comfortable as he could, stretching out on the cold metal slab that passed for a bunk. The first thing that was going to happen was that Spock was probably going to kill him, with an inventive assist by Bones. Hell, this would probably be the thing that brought them together and allowed the two to realize how much they had in common.
Which was kind of depressing, actually.
He hadn't known what else to do. The shields had been faltering. They didn't know what the hell to shoot at, so they couldn't return fire. Jim had no doubts that Spock and Chekov could figure out anything if they had enough time.
So Jim stalled.
When they'd first beamed him aboard, he had given them the coordinates of a spot near Praxis. It wasn't even a moon, really more like a really large asteroid. The Klingon ship could not move quite as quickly as the Enterprise could, so Jim had quickly estimated that they had approximately two days to figure something out.
Which gave him about five hours left.
Chang had been down to see him once, offering to share a meal together. Jim stretched, crossing one ankle over the other, thinking that if he really was one to give a shit about the metals that Starfleet tended to pin onto its officers, that meal alone should have earned him one. Chang had been almost giddy. The food had been ... squirmy... and Jim had been forced into his charade of not showing any weakness- not letting up even for a moment. Shakespeare was now completely ruined for him.
Dining on barely-subdued barbed insults with a power-hungry dictator of a Klingon while he butchered Richard the Third was its own special brand of Hell.
Somehow he knew that he had gained some modicum of respect by offering himself as a trade.
Giotto had said that they wanted to get their hands on his baby, and Jim had placed it just out of reach. The rest was up to Spock.
Jim felt a jolt of awareness, tightening his body, and sucked in a sharp breath. Even thinking about Spock had that effect on him. In this cell, alone with his thoughts, he could finally admit that he'd been thinking about Spock for quite awhile. It wasn't like he could pinpoint the day. Just one day, Jim had the rather uncomfortable realization that he really meant the flirting.
Not that Spock had realized he was flirting, of course.
Things had been kind of forced into happening by Giotto's sabotage. Spock had finally reacted, and oh God, that loss of control was amazing. Jim licked his lips. Maybe he should be freaking out a little more about the fact that Spock had a dick. Jim could remember back to their rushed time together with almost perfect clarity. He knew that he defiantly didn't feel disgusted by Spock's dick. In fact, he-
"You. Come with me."
Jim blinked for a moment, surprised that the UT wasn't translating. Chang's warriors seemed rather more familiar with Standard than most traditionally standoffish, insular Klingons. Jim sighed, moving so that they could cuff his hands behind his back.
"Move it, round-head!"
"No reason to get insulting." Jim beamed at the guard, mostly because it was guaranteed to piss him off, and stood back from the forcefield so that he wouldn't accidentally burst into flame if he touched it. There was the familiar click of the titanium cuffs clicking onto his wrists, and a few minutes later, Jim was walking down several corridors.
"Ah, Captain. Absence from those we love is self from self - a deadly banishment."
Jim nodded. "True, General. That is... quite apt."
"How delightful." Chang moved to the left, revealing the viewscreen. It was a jolt to see Spock staring at him, his face impassive except for the small twitching muscle in his jaw. Chekov and Sulu were both visible as well, their faces slightly less impassive. "Your First officer wishes to converse with you before we conclude our business."
Jim resisted the urge to wave at him. "Hello, Commander. We about done here?"
"Indeed. We are about to a large supply of the mineral over to General Chang's vessel as soon as you have been returned to the Enterprise."
They were? Huh. Jim fought to keep his surprise off of his face. Either Spock had pulled an obscene amount of a unique mineral out of his ass, or he was bullshitting.
"Enterprise, you will transfer our Kellenite. Immediately." General Chang almost sounded bored. He was fiddling with the same sort of weapon Giotto had bragged about- the prototype cross between a disruptor and a phaser. "We will then beam your captain over to your ship. "
Spock was silent for a moment. He nodded. "Very well."
Jim began to clue into the fact that shit was about to start going down. Spock was never that complacent. He tensed slightly, watching Spock's eyes.
"Excellent!" Chang barked an order in Klingon, and Jim heard a whining sound, indicating that they were decloaking. He didn't have time to react before he heard the familiar chime of the transporter.
Jim's eyes widened, but he couldn't raise his arm to defend himself as Chang cursed, turning and firing.
Jim materialized on the familiar transporter pad, gasping for air.
"I got 'im! Shields damn yer bloody hides!"
Jim staggered off of the transporter when the ship began to shudder, almost seeming to ripple with the force of the explosion. He fell to his knees and just slumped there, gaping rather stupidly up at Scotty as the engineer gripped the transporter console with a grimace, bracing himself through the ship's shudders.
Even with the chaos, Jim felt it when his girl jumped to warp. He sagged with relief, pulling himself up to his feet by rocking back on his heels.
"Well, hi there, Scotty. You're a sight for sore eyes."
"Aye. McCoy fixed me up. Good to see you too, sir. Don't you be worryin' none, sir? I'll have those cuffs off of y'inna jiff. Been on a bit of a vacation?"
"Something like that."
Scotty laughed as the doors wooshed open.
Jim winced, turning to see which one of them was going to kill him first. It was Bones, scowling darkly.
"Uh- I don't suppose it would help to tell you that I'm fine? Other than having to eat some really disgusting tentacled worm things?" Bones' lips were almost bloodless with anger.
"I am confining you to your quarters. You are Off. Duty. For at least-"
"Now, Bones. I can't do that. I'm fine, man. I just need some sleep." Jim eyed the hypospray that Bones clutched, white-knuckled, in his hand with some trepidation.
"Captain. I believe the Commander wanted to see you as well."
Jim turned to look at Scotty when the other man spoke and yelped, slapping his hand to his neck as Bones pounced.
Jim felt the whole room tilt. "That was... damn... sneaky..." He gasped as he tilted forward, blacking out almost immediately.
When Jim woke, it was to an exquisitely wet suction to the tip of his cock. Jim grunted in surprise, opening his eyes wide in the almost complete darkness. He was not in his quarters. A strange, reddish light permeated the room, as though a fireplace was glowing softly just out of eyesight. The mouth on his cock rewarded his surprise my moving down, impossibly slow, before sucking again. Jim tried to bring down his hands to bury themselves in that smooth cap of hair, but his shoulders gave a painful jerk, and Jim realized that he was tied up. He had a horribly confused moment of wondering exactly where he was before reason managed to squeak past the fog that was currently filling his brain.
He could feel a tongue swirling around his length, sliding wetly over his heat, lapping at the precome that had to be dripping from the tip of his cock.
"S-spock Is that... Is that you?"
The mouth left him with a lewd pop of sound, leaving his cock waving indignantly in the warm air of the room.
"You tend to have very perverse dreams, Jim." Spock's voice sounded almost bored, as though he were giving a shift report. Jim shivered, moving his legs so that he could see Spock more clearly. No. He was not dreaming. Spock was really lounging on the bed, fully dressed, his mouth a little swollen from his intimate kisses.
Jim felt himself grow even harder at sight. "Why am I tied up? I never pegged you for the kinky type." It was hard to sound blasé when you felt like your entire soul was about to explode out of your cock.
Spock's eyebrow rising to quite that height should have been as sexy as it was. "I am quite interested in knowing who you were expecting- if not myself." There was a beat of silence. "You are tied up because it is my wish to do so. You leave my presence with alarming regularity, and I wish to be certain that you will not 'wander off' to use the Terran colloquialism." Jim glanced down at his thighs and legs, still encased in his Starfleet sweats. Jim realized that Spock had just arranged things so that he could get to what he wanted and bit his lip, darting a glance up at Spock's face.
"So, on a scale from one to... oh... ten, how pissed are you?"
Spock got up and left him without a word.
"Pretty pissed, then." Jim shook his arms, realizing that he was tied to Spock's bed, in Spock's quarters. He braced his feet on the bed, ignoring the way his cock seemed to be still vying for attention. He absolutely didn't lick his lips at the way he could still see the wetness from Spock's mouth still gleaming on his skin.
He gave his arms an experimental jerk, testing the strength of the bonds. These weren't the Klingon cuffs- but something else, geared more towards play than actual imprisonment. He quickly saw that he could free himself quite easily and realized that Spock was giving him an out. A very easy, non-confrontational out.
It really wasn't much of a decision, to be quite honest.
Still, now that he was awake, he was kind of hungry. As though to confirm this, his stomach gave a little growl. "Computer, private communication with Doctor McCoy, audio-only." It wouldn't do for Bones to see his cock out, still more than half-hard, poking up, still hopeful.
"Negative. Communications have been disabled from Deck 5, room 3F 123 per the directive of CMO McCoy and Commander Spock."
Damn that smug computer. This was just like the cuffs- he could get free if he really desired to. He was the captain. If he really wanted to, he could override the communication lockdown.
Jim found that he had no desire to do so.
He wasn't quite twiddling his thumbs while he waited for Spock to return, but he did cross his ankles and did his best to make himself comfortable. He was mentally recalculating algorithms when he heard the doors swish open. A fine shiver went over his body, and he pushed himself up with his feet so that he was sitting up, with his back against Spock's headboard. This caused his sweats to scootch down over his ass, but at least his body had calmed down. Jim was able to cross his legs as he waited. He kicked the sweats completely off, leaving himself naked.
And waited some more. He could hear Spock typing in his main room, separated from Jim by a very short distance and a thin partition.
"Spock?" He meant for his voice to sound authoritative. Jim was shocked when the one-syllable came out more tentative and unsure than anything else.
"I.. uh.' Jim's mind stalled. He slumped a little on the bed. "Can you fill me in on what happened after I beamed over to the Klingon ship?" Jim didn't hear Spock move, but all of a sudden, he was standing there in the bedroom area, looking completely emotionless.
"Captain, would you say that I am in full command of all my mental faculties?"
This was so not what Jim was expecting to discuss. The slight naughtiness of what he was doing, of the position he woke up in began to bleed to embarrassment. It wasn't the first time that Jim Kirk had tried something a little kinky- but it was the first time he'd lost all his confidence while doing so.
"I. Of course. Of course, you are, Spock. You know that I trust you."
"Indeed." Spock turned on his heel and walked back to the main part of his quarters, continuing to ignore Jim's question. He returned shortly with a small tray of food. Jim blushed when the scents hit his nose, causing his stomach to growl noisily. "Then, I fail to understand why you would once again put yourself in an impossible situation. If you 'trust me' as you claim, then you would trust that the Ensign and I would have worked out a plan before you acted so …" Spock trailed off.
Getting bitched out by a Vulcan was really not at all what it was cracked up to be. Being lectured to in that bland, unemotional voice, with Spock looking at him as though he had done something incredibly stupid... hurt.
"Spock, do you trust me?" The words were blurted out before Jim could stop them. He tried not to cringe as he waited for his answer. His arms felt heavy, and his face burned with mingled shame and the beginnings of anger.
"There is no being in any universe that I trust more, Jim." Spock sat down in the chair across from the bed. "This..." Spock stopped for a moment, and for just one tiny second, his calm façade cracked. Jim's heart lept into his chest at the sight. Fury, Passion, Anger- it didn't matter which emotion Spock was feeling. Jim suddenly began to understand what was going on, and he bit his lip, looking over to where Spock sat, staring down at the foot of the bed. He took a deep breath and began to speak. He didn't have the handy mind whammy stuff that the Vulcan could use. He could only speak as honestly as possible and hope that Spock would understand.
"This is why you're having a hard time. Part of you trusts me. You know I can do this. You know that you chose to be on my ship, under my command."
Spock was staring at him, finally, meeting Jim's earnest gaze. Encouraged, Jim continued. "You hate it when I'm hurt. When I have to do something that puts me in personal danger."
"You surrendered yourself to a hostile enemy."
"And you got me back."
There was a beat of silence. Jim shifted on the bed, trying not to look over at the tray of food. The silence grew heavier as Spock processed this.
"Nyota suggested that if I did not like the situations in which you put yourself that I arrange things so that you would not disappear."
Jim winced, recalling exactly why Spock may have overreacted at seeing him disappear in front of his eyes... especially following what had happened down on Praxis. Well, that explained the restraints. Shame. he was kind of rooting for the sudden onset of kinky Vulcanism.
His stomach growled again. Jim blushed, and Spock's lips twitched. Spock stood and reseated himself closer to Jim. Much like the first one Spock served to him, there was a container of Plomeek soup, several fruits and vegetables cut up into bite-sized pieces, and a small square of chocolate cake. Jim reached for the cake, only to be brought up short by the cuff on his wrist.
Spock moved to release the fastening. Jim forestalled him by tilting his head and kissing Spock lightly on the side of his mouth. He felt Spock's lips tremble slightly, and they just sat like there for a minute, sharing each other's breath.
"You know that I will probably do something stupid again, right? And this caveman routine is sexy as hell..."
"There is no need to be insulting."
Spock's response made Jim snort a laugh. Spock continued to the fastening, and Jim felt the pull as his muscles were released from the bindings. He made quick work of the food and collapsed back onto the bed, comfortably full.
"Bones said something about me being on medical leave for a few days. Then he knocked me out."
"The good doctor has strong opinions about your latest actions."
Jim snorted. That was rich. Bones had strong opinions? What was tying him to the bed, foreplay?
Jim stretched slowly, watching as Spock watched him stretch out of the corner of his eye. He was a little out of his groove with everything happening as it had. As much as he wanted just to jump Spock and take his damn chances, the fact that Spock had been worried about him, that he'd actually tied Jim up so that he wouldn't leave again, made Jim feel less than his usually confident self.
"Hey, Spock, do you mind if I take a shower?"
Spock jumped a little before turning to gather up the empty containers from Jim's dinner. "That would be agreeable."
Jim smirked to himself, walking into the 'fresher and programming it so that he was hit with water- the temperature set so that it was almost too hot. He hissed a little as the water hit his back, rotating his neck and resting his forehead against the tile as the steam began to fill the small room. He quickly lathered himself, washing the lingering stench of the Klingon brig off of him. Jim found the shampoo and had just slicked up his hair, bubbles sliding down his back when he heard the hiss of the doors and froze for a moment, his heart beginning to pound in his chest.
He hadn't been sure. Sure, he'd hoped. Shit, it was probably one of his most reoccurring fantasies. But he hadn't been sure. Since Jim had beamed onto the other ship, Spock had been so aloof. Jim had become better at reading Spock's emotions, but this had gone from one extreme to another so quickly that he found himself struggling to keep up, feeling completely out of his element.
The sound of the shower door sliding open caused Jim to bite his lip to keep the elated grin off of his face. He heard a choked sound that might have been his name and turned blindly, finding Spock's lips with his own. Jim's hands drifted, sliding onto one shoulder, the other pulling them more firmly together as they kissed, his lips moving over Spock's desperate for his taste.
Jim nipped at Spock's lower lip, gasping when Spock reacted by stepping forward, shoving Jim back against the cold tiles of the shower. He yelped at the shock of the cold against his back, the sound changing quickly to a broken moan as Spock's hands slid wetly up onto Jim's face, somehow feeling hotter than the steamy water as they cupped Jim's lower jaw. Jim felt anchored by all of his senses, held by Spock's hands on his face, Spock's lower body slotted to his so perfectly it was as though they were two pieces of the same puzzle, a low, almost purring growl as Spock kissed him, the humidity and heaviness of the water causing Jim to gasp into the hot mouth moving over his. He could faintly taste the bitter Vulcan tea Spock favored. Jim broke away from Spock's mouth, his lungs heaving as he sucked a breath into his starved lungs.
Jim had to close his eyes for a second as he stood there, breathing heavily.
"You look... I."
Spock sounded as dazed as Jim felt. He gave a mental shrug as his hands slid onto Spock's hips, sliding over the wet, slippery skin and cupping Spock's ass, turning him slightly so that the angle changed just enough that Jim could slip his hand in-between their bodies. He didn't exactly have a lot of experience at this particular showering activity, but Jim knew what he liked.
The rest just seemed logical.
Spock raised an eyebrow as though he had heard Jim's thought, looking less dazed and more amused. Jim bent his head up slightly, kissing up the sharp edge of Spock's jaw. Normally there was only an inch or so difference between their heights, but the way Jim was currently slumped against the shower stall, Spock's body holding him in place allowed him to stretch his neck out a little to reach. Jim could feel the barest hint of stubble against his lips as he slid slowly up to Spock's ear. Jim wrapped his fingers around the hard length of Spock's dick as his teeth reached the lobe, nipping slightly harder than what was probably polite.
Of course, when you had your hand wrapped around someone's dick, there probably wasn't exactly a manual of rules to follow.
Jim moved his head back, watching as Spock's eyes widened, his mouth dropping slightly open as Jim worked his fingers over him.
"I thought of this, you know." Jim watched as Spock's gaze, sharpened, focused onto his own. "I thought of all the ways that I could bring you off. My hands. My mouth. Fuck, Spock, I couldn't stop thinking of you."
Spock made a desperate sort of sound as Jim twisted his wrist, tightening his grip enough that he could feel Spock as he grew harder. With his other hand, Jim cupped his palm under the soap dispenser, having to smile a little at the collection of white foam in his hand. "I've done this to myself hundreds of times, but I never thought you'd let me put my hands on you, Spock. On your cock."
"Jim, if you ….continue," Spock gasped a little, "To smirk at the rhyming appellation, I will not be responsible for my ...actions."
"But Spock's co-mmmph!" Spock kissed him again, wrapping his own hand around Jim's throbbing length, his long fingers causing Jim to forget what he was saying, forget what his point was, practically forget his fucking name as they caught and matched a rhythm, stroking each other with a desperate need.
Spock didn't moan or buck. He didn't scream, curse, or pant- none of the things Jim had done whenever he came. Somehow though, the way Spock tensed, his lips trembling almost imperceptibly over Jim's name as he rested his forehead against Jim's was more intense than anything Jim had ever experienced.
Jim shuddered against Spock in turn, biting his own lips to keep himself from saying something stupid.
They didn't move for a moment. Eventually, they moved apart, sharing a small kiss as they rinsed off. Spock turned and shut off the water. Jim felt a little awkward as Spock handed him a towel, wrapping one around his own hips.
Jim dried off his hair first, then slung the towel towards the recycler, letting his body air dry. He scooped up his sweats and slid into them, carefully not meeting Spock's eyes. Usually, after getting off, he wanted nothing more than to get the fuck out of Dodge before things got too awkward.
Now though, he stalled. He... didn't want to leave. Jim found himself cleaning up the few things that were out of place. He blushed a little at the way the restraints still hung from the headboard, his eyes skipping over them a little guiltily at the way his heartbeat sped up a little at seeing them. He brushed some imaginary lint off of his hip and shifted his weight uncomfortably. If he just asked, then Spock would feel obligated to-
Spock's voice made Jim jump a little, startling him out of his thoughts. He turned, meeting Spock's calm gaze. Somehow it was bizarre to see Spock still draped in the towel, calmly watching Jim as he fiddled around his quarters.
"It has been my observation that after coitus, it is traditional for the visiting party to stay the night if there are no pressing engagements. As Doctor McCoy ordered you off duty for another thirty-six-point-three hours, I would like to offer you my bed and the hospitality of my quarters."
"You had me at observation."
"I beg your pardon?"
Jim shook his head. Handjobs in the shower was a pretty big step. It was maybe a little early to work on obscure twentieth-century pop culture references. "Nothing. And yeah, that sounds great." Jim turned towards Spock's bed and flipped down the tightly folded covers, sliding into one side of the bed quickly, before Spock had the opportunity to change his mind.
Spock turned out the light and slid into the bed beside him. Jim yawned, trying to stifle the sound behind his hand.
"You're sure that you're okay with this?" Jim turned, deciding on the spot that Spock was a much more comfortable pillow, nuzzling a little into Spock's heat. There was a silence for quite a while, and just as Jim was on that very edge of sleep, he heard Spock's whisper.
"Yes, Jim. I am sufficiently more than "okay" with... this."
"You seem surprised to see me."
"I- uh. Yeah, you can say that. Sorry about that, Spock. Let me just. Err... find a shirt." It was a little hot in Jim's small dorm room- likely from the shower.
Jim watched as the calm face almost cracked a smile. The elegant eyebrow quirked up in what could only be called amusement.
Jim knew he had to be blushing by the way his face seemed to practically glow in the faint light from his desk lamp. He had been studying, looking over the shift reports from his short stint as Captain. Bones had called him crazy for wanting to finish reading the damn things before his hearing tomorrow. And maybe he was. But it helped him to get a clearer picture of everything that had happened while he'd been on Delta Vega, Vulcan, and Nero's ship. He had been at it for at least seven hours and was seeing the reflection of the words on the PADD when he shut his eyes.
He'd gone to take a shower to wake himself up and had been interrupted by the soft chime of his door, indicating that he had a visitor.
He certainly hadn't expected to see freaking Spock standing there of all people. Especially since the rest of his academic hearing was tomorrow, shit, he was still technically on academic probation. Jim was conscious of every healing mark on his body- and how most of them had gotten there- as he stood there, little rivulets of water sliding down his skin. He hadn't done laundry before he left Earth and had to bend a little to get some casual clothes out of his bottom drawer. He stole a quick glance at the Vulcan, studying his bookshelf with his hands clasped behind his back, his brain screaming at him. This was so weird. What the hell was Spock doing here?
"You know what we shared." Spock's voice still seemed amused. Amused at what, Jim thought. The situation? The fact that he was in Jim's hellaciously disorganized dorm room?
"I ask that you allow me into your mind, Jim."
Hearing Spock call him 'Jim' sent an almost full-body shiver down his spine. Jim's breath caught in his chest. "But, I thought that... that was too, uh. Intimate. That the emotional transference-"
"True. But, Jim. You misjudge the dynamics of your mind. Or possibly, you misjudge the dynamics of my mind. I can hear stray thoughts as you sleep. As you walk about your business. When you dream."
At Spock's simple declaration, all the wetness in Jim's mouth dried up completely. The dreams? Spock saw his... dreams? "Uh.."
"Indeed. I wish to meld with you again, Jim. You will come to no harm. I am skilled enough to show you the proper techniques and disengage myself from your thought processes."
"Wait." After mind-numbing shift reports, this was coming a little fast. "You wanna. Uh. Enter my mind?"
That sounded incredibly dirty.
Jim opened his mouth, noticing that as Spock spoke, he had taken another step closer. His heartbeat increased, his tongue darting out to moisten his lip. It was so hot all of a sudden. He felt as though his whole body had been coated in a fine sheen of sweat.
Spock's mouth crashed down onto his for the briefest of kisses, his fingertips sliding against-
"Captain!" A low growl near his ear.
Jim blinked his eyes open, feeling all at once overheated and sticky from the elevated heat of the room. He shifted, uncomfortable, the sheet slithering off the bed and onto the floor. The room was instantly familiar; the corner's slight reddish light gave him a point of reference. Spock. Spock's room. Spock's bed.
There was a sharp movement to Jim's left, but before he could turn, Spock was pinning him to the mattress with his body, his lips on Jim's almost bruising with the intensity of the movement. Spock slanted his mouth, licking into Jim's with the same focus that he applied to everything else.
Jim, who never was the most coherent when he first woke up, felt overwhelmed by Spock's onslaught. He tried to shift a little so that he could get his arms around Spock, but the slight rocking of his body only caused Spock to make that deep, possessive sound in his throat that until just now, Jim didn't realize that he'd been waiting to hear again. Spock moved so quickly that Jim had no time to react. Within mere seconds, Jim's arms were stretched up above his head, Spock's hands tightening on that fine line of almost too painful, holding him to the mattress, tearing his mouth away to look down at Jim with eyes narrowed in anger.
"Spock?" Jim's lips felt swollen and full, and he licked at them, noticing that Spock briefly followed the movement with his tongue for staring back down into Jim's widened, confused eyes. Spock's deceptively lean frame rested so that Jim could feel the bulge of Spock's dick against his hip, impossibly hot.
For one second, the thought flashed brightly in Jim's mind: What would Spock feel like the inside of him? Jim could feel his own cock start to harden, thickening quickly enough that he felt a little light-headed.
Jim thought Spock wasn't going to speak.
"I have accepted the fact that you will never cease putting yourself into danger." Spock's thumbs stroked over the pulse points in Jim's wrists. "Logically, I accept that this is inevitable." The tightness of his fingers spoke otherwise; the strength of Spock's fingers along the thin, fragile skin of Jim's wrist told him that while the Vulcan side of Spock might 'accept' certain facets of Jim's job, the human side was pretty fucking pissed.
Jim didn't know what to say. He flexed his fingers, as though he couldn't help himself, staring stupidly up at Spock. He opened his dry mouth, his lips still feeling like they were two sizes too big. "Spock? What? What's wrong?"
"Why will you not tell me who it is that you dream of?" Spock's voice sounded so frustrated, so hurt, so human for a second that Jim could only blink at him feeling like he was given a script with missing pages.
"You," Jim blurted. He was shocked at the flash of pain in Spock's eyes. Spock started to shift away from Jim, and he just reacted, knowing that it would turn out badly if Spock shut down now. Jim bucked, bringing his legs up and tightening them around Spock's waist, crossing his bare legs over Spock's ass. Jim sucked in a sharp breath at how good it felt.
"I do not think-"
"Spock. Really. I was dreaming of you. Well, what happened with Old You, but in my dream, I changed it, so it was you there in my room fiddling with my head instead of him and-"
It wasn't often that Jim got to see a classic Does. Not. Compute. Face on Spock's familiar features. Well, okay. He'd never seen evidence of Spock's total confusion. He would have smiled, but Spock chose that moment to transfer his hold on Jim so that Spock could hold both of Jim's wrists in one hand, freeing his right hand to do sort of a push-up so that he could roll off of Jim.
Jim just tightened his thighs, trying to tell his cock to ignore the hot, tight body on top of him and to pay attention to the serious business that was currently going on.
They eyed each other for a moment, both knowing that they could break free if they truly wanted to, both of them too stubborn to be the first to do so.
"Look. Okay. So I'm gonna take it from the lack of explosions that the dire consequences aren't all that dire. Or all that consequential. Other You completely played me!" Jim pouted a little. "So much for Vulcans not being able to lie. Maybe only ancient, timeline-traveling, manipulative Vulcans can lie."
Jim didn't miss the faint look of guilt that flashed in Spock's expressive eyes. He filed it away for later examination. "Right. Well, so, like I said. I guess I was broadcasting everything I was thinking. He just showed up at my door and then asked if he could 'assist me .' Don't look like that. It wasn't nearly as porny as I dreamed it was. It was weird as fuck if you must know." Jim wiggled a little, experimentally, almost smirking when he saw Spock's gaze focus again, sharp and intense on his own. "He had a really logical argument, too. Said that I'd be coming into all sorts of telepathic species in my life. Hell, he proved his point, given that he was the first 'telepathic species' to ever do that whadoyacallit, the meld, with-"
Spock reacted like he Jim had suddenly sat up and slapped him.
"You allowed him to meld with you." There was that voice again. Jim's whole body shivered when Spock's eyes darkened.
Jim licked his lips. "There were some pretty serious extenuating circumstances." He'd meant to sound cocky, but instead, his voice sounded pretty meek. He watched as the fingers on Spock's free hand flex, ghosting over his face before balling into a fist onto the mattress next to where Jim lay. "Spock. You can. It's okay."
"That would be inadvisable at this time. My... control is not … is not what it should be."
Jim understood what it must have cost Spock to confess that. He bit his lip and turned his head, straining his neck a little to brush his temple against Spock's tightened fist. His throat tightened when he saw Spock's eyelids flutter shut for a moment.
"Spock." Jim reached up and kissed Spock softly. The kiss was chaste, gentle. It caused his whole body to thrum like a harpstring tightened too tightly. "It's okay." Still, Spock hesitated. "I know you've melded with-" With a curse, Jim broke off speaking. He dropped his legs, a sudden humiliation causing him almost to feel nauseous as he realized that it wasn't that Spock didn't want the meld.... it was that Spock must not want to meld... with Jim. "Of course. I guess I knew that. I'm sorry. Look, I should probably check in with Bones and-"
Jim turned his face away, not wanting to see the pity on Spock's face. Jim's mind was whirling, thoughts hitting him with a deadly precision. His voice had this horrible grating note of completely false cheerfulness. He hadn't ever felt so stupid before in his life, and that was really saying something.
Spock's fingers shifted, his other hand releasing Jim's wrist as Spock slid his hand down to cup the side of Jim's face.
"Ashayam. You misunderstand."
Jim froze. Ashayam?
"You are truly sure that you wish this? I was not speaking in error. My control has been less than optimal since your return to the Enterprise. I have found myself acting impulsively, illogically. I do not wish for you to be- startled by what you will see in my mind."
Jim just nodded, smiling a little. "Same goes. Don't let me guilt you into doing something that you don't want."
He felt the brush of Spock's fingers on his face, the almost singing bolt of awareness when his fingers slid onto the meld points. He had time for a quick breath, hardly hearing Spock's whispered words over the pounding of his heart and
-he was furious at the first glimpse of seeing Jim on top of Nyota, their bodies connected intimately before being sickened at the realization that they were hurt, then Jim was screaming and Doctor McCoy was pushing him out and he was absolutely floored with the knowledge that he wasn't jealous of Jim being with Nyota, but of Nyota touching Jim.-
-he is kind of freaked out the ancient Vulcan that wears Spock's face. Well, okay Spock's face in like eight hundred years, and is nervous at the way the old man sort of springs at him, babbling something about always being his friend, but that's completely impossible. Spock hates him. Spock stuck him on this fucking ice cube and wouldn't listen- kept ignoring the fact that for once Jim knew, absolutely knew that he was right Goddamnit then everything is rushing towards him and he's conscious of an crushing sadness that is going to kill him, his heart is going to break any second, any minute-
- he would never claim to the hovering that the insulting, unprofessional doctor had accused him of, but nevertheless, there he stood, watching Jim sleep on the medical bed. Dodging both the doctor and Nyota had become quite tedious. Then something was wrong, and he was rushing forward, his only thought to protect, to somehow stop Jim's pain and he touches Jim's skin only to be bombarded by images of Jim running, in grave danger... danger for which he was responsible.-
-he's so fucking turned on. He stops himself from humping the practice mat only by remembering that he's the fucking Captain, and he's in the middle of a busy room. Spock's voice is low in his ear and he's shivering, his cock so hard that he can feel the slippery precome wetting his shorts, his balls drawn up so tightly that just the slightest bit of friction, that he has to say whateverthefuckever so Spock will get up before he finds out just how much he's twisted their friendship-
-he does not notice the rocks that cut into his flesh, conscious only of a desperate need to hang on, that Jim's life is his and he will not give up will not let go will not, notnotNOT then the rush of release as he jerks his arms and Jim is safe and his and safe and safe and-
-he can't quite wrap his head around Spock doing this, Spock kissing him until he can't even think coherently, Spock's hand on his cock as he works him back and forth and fuck, fuck it feels so good that he can't keep his eyes open, can't keep looking at that slightly wild look on Spock's- Spock's!- face as he feels his body start to shudder, helpless and desperate and fucking hell-
- he sees his Jim standing next to Chang and is so furious for a moment that he is afraid that the heat of his gaze is visible to the bridge crew as well as to Jim as he stares blithely back at Spock from Chang's ship. It was always easier for him to feel rage than any other human emotion, and now as he watched Jim watching him it bubbled up over the surface. His gaze shifted slightly to the smug Klingon standing near Jim. This is the man that orchestrated the events that almost, if not for the tenacity and pure stubbornness of Doctor McCoy would have resulted in Jim's death several times over. His gaze narrows on Chang's bright eye. He will pay for his crimes. He will pay for keeping Jim from him-
Jim blinks out of the meld. He would laugh at the sheepish look on Spock's face, except that he was pretty damn sure that the same look was on his own.
Jim blinked, his tongue snaking out to wet his bottom lip. It might have been just a nervous habit, but watching Spock watch his mouth was addictive as hell. Jim leaned forward and kissed the corner of Spock's lips. Spock didn't move, but his whole body relaxed, as though he had been worried.
Jim slid his lips over Spock's cheekbones, then over to Spock's ear. "You know, for someone who claims to have a few emotions," Jim whispered, enjoying the tables being turned for once, "You tend to show me a lot of them."
Spock stiffened, and Jim nipped the top point of the ear. "Quit that. I'm not complaining. It's fucking hot that you really let me see you. Of course, when I first started noticing, it was more the snippy-phaser-up-your-ass attitude when I handed your ass to you during chess, but hey." Jim got distracted by the point of Spock's ear, licking and nibbling, using the way Spock would tense, or suck in a sharp breath, or simple freeze in one spot as a guide.
Jim moved away from Spock's ear, tightening his fingers on Spock's shoulders, sliding so that he was on top of Spock, straddling his pelvis. Spock's hands drifted down onto Jim's hips, moving him to where he wanted him.
Jim approved, his breath shuddering. He bent, his hands sliding down Spock's arms as he maneuvered himself so that he was able to kiss at Spock's chest. He couldn't seem to stop himself, licking and nibbling and over the black shirt that Spock slept in. He felt like he had no secrets. He felt charged, his skin fairly humming from the way that Spock's fingers slid up each side of Jim's back, the slight nails scoring just enough over his skin that Jim couldn't seem to sit still. Spock's cock was trapped under Jim's ass, and each wiggle caused them both to suck in a breath. Jim wanted to be able to taste Spock's skin.
"Take off your shirt?"
Spock's eyebrow quirked, and fuck if it still wasn't the hottest thing he'd ever seen.
Jim just rolled his eyes, sitting back a little. Spock's eyes narrowed as he tightened his stomach muscles, leaning up just far enough that he could pull off the tight-fitting pajama shirt. Jim was on him, shifting off of Spock's cloth-covered cock and down his body, his intent clear. He lipped at the chest hair, pulling slightly, amazed that he would be doing such a thing. Jim could feel Spock's heart thrumming in his side, and he nuzzled his face against it, breathing deeply. Spock didn't sweat, but he still had had a scent that was driving Jim crazy. He nuzzled up to Spock's armpits, biting a little at the skin there, then down his ribs to taste at his navel.
"Funny. I never pictured you with an innie." Jim's soft, amused whisper caused a sound very much like a snort from Spock, and Jim realized that Spock wasn't being vocal at all.
Much like in the shower, Spock was reacting to Jim's touches and kisses, but silently. Jim looked up, meeting Spock's gaze from between Spock's legs. Spock's hands had moved from Jim's back as Jim moved down his body and now rested on top of the mattress. Jim could see that the muscles were tense.
"Spock? Am I.. not doing something right here?"
Spock wasn't able to refuse a direct question. His gaze sharpened as he stared down at Jim with slightly wide eyes. Jim brushed his stubble against the cloth that did nothing to hide the bulge behind them and saw Spock huff out a needy breath. "You are... not."
Spock's breathlessness caused Jim to smirk, feeling more confident. He rubbed again, inhaling again. Spock's scent was musky and so strong that Jim wanted to just bury his face in Spock's groin and taste him.
"Not that talkative type?"
"While the bulkhead of this room has enough material to remain intact to most explosions, it is not rendered soundproof."
Oh. Well, that made sense. "And you don't want people to hear you?"
Jim felt Spock's hands in his hair, his long fingers holding his scalp, tilting his head so Spock could look him directly in the face. "No, Jim. I will not have any passer-by hear the sounds you make in pleasure. They are... not theirs to hear." The 'They are mine' was implied, but what the fuck ever it was completely working for Jim.
"You know that I've been with other people, right?"
Spock's eyes narrowed. Jim ignored this, feeling a little like he was poking a Gorn with a sharp stick, but trusting Spock enough to continue. He mouthed over the bulge of Spock's dick as it jumped a little under the sensation of stubble on his cheek. Jim moved, so his fingers were in the waistband of Spock's sleep pants and darted a quick lookup to Spock's gaze.
"It's not like you didn't know. All those shore leaves, the diplomatic dignitaries. Hell, your room is right next to mine. You probably know exactly just how unsoundproofed the bulkhead really is." Jim imagined himself tossing aside the sharp pointy stick and grabbing something even sharper. Spock's fingers tightened uncomfortably against his scalp, and Jim shivered a little at the strength there, just in his fingers. Jim moved the waistband down enough that Spock's cock sprung free, lying heavily against Spock's stomach. When Jim spoke, his lips had to leave cool little puffs of air against the heat of him.
"But this? I've never done this with anyone, Spock. I've never had someone stronger than me-" Jim paused and winced. "Well, okay. I've never had someone humanoid and without tentacles stronger than me. You said you want to know what I dream about? You, Spock. For months. I dream about touching you. Of you touching me. Of you..." Jim trailed off to lick experimentally at the head of Spock's cock. Spock's whole body was tense; his mouth open just slightly. Jim's words had brought a tint of green to Spock's cheeks, and his eyes were shut, the lashes dark against his pale skin.
This part he remembered from the conference room. And, hey, if Jim's mouth watered a little for Spock's taste, then that was between him and his mouth. Spock's fingers clenched once in Jim's hair before he moved his hold, cradling Jim's head as Jim lapped at the head of his cock. Jim shifted, holding his weight on his elbows as he pulled the pants down further, nosing against the skin there before pulling away and staring down at Spock.
He hadn't been sure what to expect. Some sort of weird alien junk probably wouldn't have put him off, he hoped, but Jim was a little relieved to see that Spock's cock looked a lot like his own. Spock was thicker, not as long maybe, but a good bit... thicker. Jim's mouth dried up as he stared down at him, reaching out to touch. "Fucking me. God, Spock, I've dreamed of this inside me."
He sounded like one of the damn heroines in the illicit romance novels Bones was always sneaking.
Spock opened his mouth as though he was going to speak, then shut it quickly. Jim recognized the strangled sound Spock made as his name and grinned, delighted.
Jim bent down again, holding Spock's cock out so that he could swirl his tongue around the glans, tasting. He grew more brave, going down on Spock's length inch by inch until his mouth felt stretched full. He felt Spock move again and saw that he had done another crunch, his abs tightening as he pushed himself up so that he could look down at Jim's mouth stretching over his cock. All the dryness of his mouth disappeared as Jim worked back and forth over the thick length, strands of saliva connecting his mouth to Spock as he drew off for breath. With his other hand, he brushed his fingertips over Spock's balls, experimenting with the feel and heaviness of them in his palm. Jim could hear Spock's strangled breaths and had to moan when Spock let go of his head to hang onto the mattress, arching the center of his body up further into Jim's mouth. Jim pulled off a little when he couldn't breathe all the way and moved his hand up to tighten around the base of Spock's cock, tightening and starting to stroke. He moved his mouth so that he was jacking Spock off into his mouth but was concentrating so hard that it took him a few seconds to notice that the high-pitched whine wasn't coming from him but from Spock.
Jim had to press his own cock against the bed, afraid that hearing Spock lose control would send him rabbit-humping the sheets.
Jim didn't recognize the Vulcan word, but the tone was familiar. Jim darted another quick lookup to Spock's face and saw him breathing heavily, his lip swollen as though he'd been biting it. Then Spock moved, and Jim's whole world turned as he was pressed against the bed on his stomach, his hands splayed uncomfortably under him as Spock jerked his sweats off, ripping them from his body with a deep, rending rip of sound. He felt Spock's fingers on his ass, pulling his cheeks apart, and before he could even say anything, felt Spock's mouth against him, the humidity of his breath sending him almost jackknifing up as Spock licked around the rim of his hole.
Jim collapsed into the pillows, crying out in shock. Spock didn't let up, in fact pushing deeper into Jim. He could feel Spock's nose smushed up against him, could feel Spock's tongue as he teased him, licking in circles then pressing the flat part of his tongue against him, not letting up until Jim was a moaning, desperate mess under him. He felt wickedly dirty and turned on at the same time, shivers marching up his back, all over his body as he pushed up onto his hands so that he could breathe. That had the added effect of pushing his ass back into Spock's face. Jim could feel him change his grip so that his thumbs were closer to the trembling little circle of nerves, teasing him between the hardness of his fingertips and the wetness of his tongue.
"Spock... come on!"
Jim could practically feel Spock smirk against his ass and groaned again when Spock's mouth left him completely, leaving him trembling and wet.
"I wish to penetrate you now, Ashayam."
Jim thought his eyes were going to cross at hearing Spock's version of dirty talk. If Spock ever said the words "fuck" or "come" during sex, Jim would probably come so hard that he'd shoot against the bulkhead on the other side of the room.
Jim felt pressure against his hole and sucked in his breath, freezing at the feel of Spock's lube-covered fingers tracing the same path his tongue had taken only minutes before. This he had done to himself, and he expected it to feel weird. Having Spock attending to him, though, was something else entirely. Spock didn't fuck around, going slowly but firmly enough that Jim could feel the slight fullness of Spock's finger entering him up to the knuckle. Jim couldn't seem to draw in a proper breath as Spock moved his finger, situated so that he was close enough to watch. The feel of Spock's hot breath against his skin caused his own cock to tighten. Then Jim felt the stretch as another finger joined the first, sliding easily in with the lube that Spock used. Jim tentatively moved, rocking back onto Spock's fingers.
Jim squeaked when Spock bit at his ass, pushing Jim's back so that his butt was further up in the air. He had a second for his brain to bleat at him -no. No way is he gonna- before Spock was, adding his tongue to the two fingers inside of him. Jim wailed, fucking himself back onto the wet, slippery heat of Spock's tongue. Spock moved his fingers carefully, going deeper and deeper with each thrust inside of Jim's hot little hole, taking his time to thoroughly stretch him open. Jim didn't know what the fuck was going on back there but could only react, muffling his cries in the pillow as Spock added another finger, moving his tongue back to lap at the stretched ring of muscle, running the tip over what he could reach.
"Spock, come on. Come on, fuck me, I want you in-in...," he gasped as Spock rotated his fingers, touching something inside of him that caused Jim to feel like one of Archer's damn dogs- quivering on point as his whole body lit up like fireworks in the sky.
Jim turned to look over his shoulder, shocked, pulling off Spock's fingers, feeling heavy and clumsy as he maneuvered around. He pulled off the little bits of his sweats that were still hanging off his waist and bent so that he could reach for Spock's face.
Jim's body felt heavy, his cock covered with precome, and he knew that if he didn't have Spock inside of him soon, then he'd be coming, and this whole morning's events would be completely over with. He bent to kiss Spock, sucking on his tongue and wrapping his fingers around Spock's thick cock. Their mouths were gentle with each other, and some twelve-year-old part of Jim couldn't help being a little grossed out by where Spock's mouth was only a few minutes ago. Still, the rest of his brain quickly came on board, as he lost himself in Spock's kisses and heat, hardly noticing when Spock moved them so that he was sitting on Spock's lap, his hands on Spock's shoulders as Spock rested against the headboard. Spock lifted him, and Jim lined up Spock's dick with his hole- shivering when he bumped against the sensitive, wet flesh.
"Our previous position would afford less chance of you being injured by our... congress."
Jim cocked his head, feeling a giddy mix of punch-drunk and stupid as he paused, drawing this moment out.
"I can't imagine you letting me hurt myself, Spock."
Spock's eyebrow rose again, and fuck if Jim's cock didn't twitch at the sight. That was one hell of a Pavlovian response.
"Can we please stop talking now?"
"The likelihood of you being rendered completely mute is a statistical impossibility, Jim."
Jim gave him a withering look, amazed that Spock still had a sense of humor. He lowered his knees, feeling his ass clench at the thick head off Spock's cock as it slowly breached him. The tingles he'd felt before felt more like a full-body shiver, as nerves he didn't know he possessed began twanging for attention.
"Open your eyes, Ashayam. I will see you take me inside of yourself."
Yeah. That sounded good. He would, in just a moment. Spock slid in another inch, and Jim felt Spock's fingers as they brushed against his face, sliding against his sweat-slick skin like Spock was finally indulging his right to touch. Jim opened his eyes with lids that felt like they were weighed down.
It didn't hurt exactly. Jim's ass just felt full, felt the slide as Spock moved him down onto his cock, slowly feeding him inches until he was fully seated. Spock's hands trembled as they slid down Jim's slick chest, the nails brushing over his pebbled nipples as he waited for Jim to adjust to having a cock inside him for the first time. When Spock's fingers touched Jim's cock, Jim felt a garbled shout leave his throat, and he pitched forward, changing the angle of Spock's dick inside of him again. Jim rose up a little, and then moved back down, wincing a little at the fullness. There was a definite stretch now; an almost burn as Spock's cock split him open.
"Let me have your fingers, Jim."
Jim heard Spock speak, but it took a second for what he said to register. He gave Spock his fingers and whimpered at the sight of them disappearing into Spock's mouth, watching as his tongue slid lewdly around the digits, leaving them slippery and wet. Jim got with the program, thrusting them slightly into Spock's mouth, watching with wide eyes as Spock sucked and licked at him.
Spock's hands tightened on Jim's hips, and Jim bit his lip, dragging his fingers from the hot cavern of Spock's mouth and onto his own cock, fisting himself with a desperate grunt. He felt his ass tighten in reaction and heard Spock's own hiss as he began to lift Jim up, before letting him slide down slowly back down onto his cock. Spock's thick shaft rubbed against the bump of nerves inside of him, causing Jim to cry out at each slick slide of skin.
Jim watched as Spock watched him, sliding his wet fingers around the head of his cock, tightening on the shaft. Jim knew he wasn't going to last, that everything was causing him to tighten up as he felt his orgasm building.
Spock was moving him now, yanking him up and slamming him down, and Jim was unable to look away as the green flush slowly rose from Spock's chest, up his neck to match the blush on his face. Spock was glistening slightly from sweat, and Jim could smell the scent of the two of them together, hot and hard and perfect.
He felt his head loll back onto his shoulders as he began to come, freezing as he shot thick streams of come onto Spock's chest, bubbling up and over his hand as Spock's hand joined him, milking his cock for every last spurt. Jim collapsed a little as Spock lifted him, his hands kissing bruises on the skin of Jim's hips as he came with a moan, Jim's name falling from his lips.
Jim just sprawled there for a moment, feeling the crazy beat of Spock's heart as it slowly began to slow down. Jim roused himself to share a lazy kiss with Spock, as Spock's hands slid up over his back, down to the globes of Jim's ass, and up and around to Jim's spent, sticky cock as it softened against his leg.
"Even now, I find that I wish to feel every part of you, Jim, to possess and keep you here for my own amusement."
Jim's heart gave a funny sort of wiggle. "I thought Vulcans didn't get 'amused.'"
Spock's fingers slid up his chest as he pulled Jim to a more comfortable position, almost petting him now, his fingers tangled in Jim's sweaty hair as they stretched against each other, Jim still listening to Spock's heart in his chest.
"Ah. I am beginning to suspect that you are aware that I am not, in fact, fully Vulcan."
Jim smiled and kissed Spock's shoulder. "Yeah, well, there were some clues."
They were quiet for a minute, fighting sleep. Jim made a discontented sound that he would totally deny was actually his when Spock got up, padding naked to the 'fresher and returning quickly, carrying a wet towel. Jim stretched, feeling muscles he didn't know he had pull and twist as Spock went about the business of cleaning them both up, his fastidious nature not into the idea of falling asleep covered in sweat and come. It felt nice, and Jim just basked for a minute as Spock spent perhaps what was a little more time than was strictly necessary on his ass.
"You used a word a few times. One I didn't recognize. Ashayam?"
Spock started a little, bending to catch up the sheets that they had kicked to the floor. He lay back down, pulling Jim to him, spooning comfortably. The weight of Spock's arm was a little heavy around his stomach, and Jim found himself playing with the hair there as he waited for Spock's response.
"It is a Vulcan endearment. It means beloved."
Jim couldn't have stopped the stupid, goofy smile from stretching his lips if he wanted to.
They were quiet for a few more minutes, listening to the thrum of the ship around them, the slowing sound of their own breathing.
"Yes, Ashayam?" Spock's voice definitely sounded amused, now. Perhaps even a bit smug.
"I've never wanted to belong to someone before." He felt Spock stiffen behind him. "To sort of be someone else's possession made me think that I would.. oh, I don't know. Lose something."
Spock didn't speak, but his arm tightened just the slightest bit around Jim.
"But I guess the best part? The part I didn't really think about?" Jim took a slow, shaky breath. "Was that they would belong to me too."
Jim's grin turned to a slight smirk as Spock's relieved breath whooshed out against his ear. Jim waited until he thought Spock was almost asleep, content to just rest there, feeling the aches on his body, loving the fact that it was Spock that put them there.
"I love you, Spock." Jim's whisper was just the faintest breath of sound. He'd never even said the words before and felt hideously exposed, which, he reflected, was probably completely asinine considering that Spock had been inside both his head and his body.
"I know, Jim. Now go to sleep."
Jim's eyes popped open in the almost darkness, his jaw falling open a little in shock.
"Smug bastard," Jim muttered, completely not under his breath.
He pouted a little when he felt Spock's lips stretch into a tiny smile against his shoulder before they firmed in a minuscule kiss against the skin. Instead of replying, Jim just snuggled against the heat behind him, relaxing bit by bit.
Jim finally drifted off, completely and utterly happy with whatever the rest of the day would bring.
Thank you for putting up with my attempts at a plot. Much of it, of course, comes from the film, but I hope that I managed to get in some of the characters and plot without just ripping it off completely. Thank you as always for reading. =D
As always, thanks for commenting and the concrit, either here or on tumblr!