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Mother finds him on the floor with his head in his hands.

“How do you feel?”

 

The question always seems like a trap, it is a human question. If Spock were to admit to feeling one thing, it would be the same as admitting he feels everything. No one is watching them, no one but his mother would hear, nevertheless Spock can still feel the discerning eyes of his elders, his peers, surely as if they were next sat to him. Ulef kahf they whisper in his mind, half-blood. It is a taunt, and it is also the truth. It is meant to hurt him, to slice past all sense of logic and cut into that which makes Spock Spock. It is a judgement against him, and against his mother who has never been anything but gracious and kind. He balls his fists at his sides, and they look down to see his anger, and know they are right to call him the half-blood.

 

“Oh, Spock,” she sees through to his suffering so easily and reaches to touch his cheek. It is a gesture of concern, affection, and Spock’s mind automatically reaches out to latch itself to the warm channel of comfort. This is the problem. Spock’s failure, the crutch of love to assuage pain that should not exist within him in the first place.

 

Spock jerks his head away before the comfort can touch him.

 

“Let me help,” she urges and reaches for him again. “I can not stand to see you punish yourself.”

 

“You are human. You can not help me.”

 

Hurt flashes across her eyes before she hides it away, “I know,” she says. “Have you considered it is that part of you reaching out?”

Spock does not answer.

“You can not hide from me, I know those eyes. They may be the colour of your father’s, but those eyes stare back at me from the mirror every day. There is something of you that comes from me, denying it does not change it.” She touches his temple and lets her hand slip away, “My son,” she says.

Spock does look not up, embarrassed at his weakness, at hers.

 

****

 

“Would you mind company, commander?” Captain Kirk stands on the other side of Spock’s door, barely a foot from what is in and what is out, but Spock feels the emptiness of every centimetre between them. The Captain shifts at Spock’s hesitance, his face shadowing with worry. “Unless you’d rather be alone, it’s been a busy day.” Busy. An inadequate word for their latest thwarted crisis. Spock’s is still reeling after his brush with the polywater intoxication, still ashamed at his behaviour, his tears, his confessions, his violent outburst against his captain and friend.

 

“You are of course welcome to join me.”

 

“Thank you,” Jim steps past him and they sit across from each other at Spock’s desk. Neither speak for several loaded seconds. It is not the easy silence that will descend between them. Concern is rippling from the captain, directly completely at Spock.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“About what, captain?”

“Spock..” Jim admonishes his attempt to delay the conversation.

“I apologise for striking you,” Spock says quickly and fixes his gaze to the bruise just now beginning to stretch across Jim’s cheek. Red and purple mottle the area, all that blood so close to the surface, held in by such a thin layer of skin. So easily damaged, human flesh.

“Well, I did hit you first,” Jim says, tone light to diffuse Spock’s guilt, but it only makes it worse and Spock must look away. “Hey, don’t… Really, I wouldn’t worry about it,” Jim tilts his head to seek Spock’s eyes. “But if you want absolution, of course you have it. You shouldn’t blame yourself though.” He pauses, then says quietly, “Nothing could make me think less of you.”

 

“I’m not ashamed of you,” Spock’s words are sudden, seizing his tongue and filling his voice with conviction. “What I said, it was not an accurate reflection of how I personally regard our friendship.”

Jim sets a hand on top of Spock’s sleeve. “It’s okay, Spock. I know,” and Spock wants to press their hands together from palm to tips. His fingers twitch with the effort not to thoughtlessly reach out and pour his affection into a touch that would not be understood.

But Kirk must sense something because he does reach out, just a light touch to the top of Spock’s wrist.

Spock barely has time to register the jolt of electricity that wraps like lightening all around him, before it is gone.

----

 

“I thought Vulcans--” Kirk jabs an elbow toward Spock’s ribs and misses “--were pacifists.” Spock crouches and twists in a semi-circle, leg kicking out, and for the third time the captain is incapacitated, eyes blinking at the steel beams above them.

“Ideologically, yes,” Spock is quick to straddle his chest, clamps one hand around both wrists and holds them pinned at an awkward angle so any leverage is lost. He keeps one hand free in case Kirk decides to do something unpredictable and reckless (which is always) in an attempt to win. “Pacifism and the act of self-preservation are largely unrelated.”

“Don’t I know it. Wow, they weren’t kidding about heavy-worlder density, you’re like a sack of bricks.” Kirk huffs, struggles, though it seems only for show. A distraction. He has that curve to his mouth, the one that worries Spock because it means he is thinking of all the ways he could take Spock by surprise.

“Yield?”

“Nah,” and then, “If I ask you a question will you tell me if it’s offensive or not?”

“The fact that you must issue a disclaimer before even asking does not bode well.” He squeezes the wrists a little harder until the delicate protrusions of bone grind together. He wishes Jim would be quick in admitting defeat so Spock could stop touching him. Despite his control, a part of his mind is constantly working to pull his shields down when in Jim’s presence, to reach outward and establish a solid connection. Spock thought it was his own curiosity, but the desire to do so is insistent. Every time Kirk touches Spock’s skin, some part of him gets left behind, weaves straight past his shields and deposits itself behind them like Spock is their home. It is spontaneous and insuppressible, without precedent in a way Spock can not truly examine.

Spock sighs inwardly when the captain continues to stare up at him expectantly from the mat. “Affirmative.”

“How many people have you melded with? Not just a quick jog through the prefrontal cortex.”

“We share our thoughts with our teachers and elders as we are taught to control the ability. Vulcan adolescents may also practice with their parents, possibly their peers.” Spock does not include bondmates as it would lay open an entirely new conversation.

“That doesn’t count.”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Because it’s fascinating.” His legs bend, feet planted flat on the floor. “I like it when you tell me things.”

“Captain, it is a very personal question.” Spock averts his gaze past Kirk’s shoulder, “It is not typically shared with outworlders beyond what is necessary.”

“Who’s been in your head,” Kirk presses, eyes dark and everywhere Spock is.

“Please yield,” Spock whispers, almost managing to keep the flitting edge of anxiety out of his voice.

“Can you feel what I’m thinking, right now?”

“No.”

“Good,” he says and twists away when Spock blinks.

-----

Spock is forced to stay and watch the captain be steadily seduced (or perhaps it is the inverse?) by yet another member of planetary royalty. The negotiations in this instance are critical, the entire species must be relocated before an interstellar planet collides with Xanthosia. The inhabitants, despite their position, are proving exceptionally demanding. Diplomacy at times, is tediously political.

 

One of the trinity of Xanthosian empresses casually draws a glowing yellow finger against the line of Kirk’s jaw. He smirks, tilts his head slightly to allow this. Something in the region of Spock’s stomach twists. He redirects his attention to another empress who seems to be making carnal advances of her own toward Spock. She covets his Vulcan scarcity, is intrigued by his unavailability, and although she is objectively beautiful, her form holds no attraction for Spock.

 

The following morning they step out of their neighbouring quarters at the same time. The captain’s skin contains transferential pigment of a Xanthosian Prima. A mark of claim. Yellow lines and splotches travel up his forearms, his cheeks, flecks of bright abnormal gold trapped in the hazel of his eyes. Spock clenches his fists at his sides, resists the yearning to scrub and scrub and scrub his hands at the stains.

 

“Spock,” Jim smiles, and it is as sunlight. Then quietly, “Shit,” when he looks at his hands.

Doctor McCoy walks past on his way to mess, glances at Spock first, then rolls his eyes at the captain. “You look jaundiced,” he says, “It’ll take hours in the steam room to get that outta your pores,” and continues on his path.

“Good morning captain,” it comes out neutrally and Spock is satisfied. “Should I have a yeoman bring the Empress a meal?”

“She beamed down last night.” Spock nods, begins to walk away but Jim reaches out and seizes him by the elbow and tugs, their eyes levelling. “We didn’t do anything--she--” now that the captain has him here, he appears to be at loss for words. He stops trying, stippled gaze flicking down to Spock’s mouth. Spock wishes the hand on his arm was not impeded by cloth so he could feel the rush of Kirk’s emotions tear into him, allow another burst of light to steal past Spock’s shields. This is how it always is, the space between them padded by Spock’s propriety, his sense of duty and hesitance, the distance made impossibly great.

“Captain.”

“Jim,” he corrects, but Spock does not revisit the statement.

“How you conduct yourself, as long as it is not exacerbating diplomatic tensions, is not my personal concern.” It sounds distant, cold and neutral even to his own ears.

The hand around Spock’s elbows slides slowly away, fingers brushing the length of Spock’s thumb and making his heart race.

----

 

Spock sweeps the cellar of the Twenty-First Street Mission. He stacks boxes against a wall, unpacks them, consolidates rubbish, stacks again. He has nothing else to do. The captain is nine blocks away working at the grocer’s and Spock is stuck idling until they can afford more equipment to build the computer aid. They need to find the doctor and leave this place.

“You miss him when he is away.” Spock looks aside to see Edith Keeler sitting thoughtfully on the fifth stair into the cellar. “You’ve rearranged those boxes twelve times, I would say anyone else would be trying to distract themselves, but you… You seem like a man who has little use for distractions.”

Spock turns away and says nothing.

“I like him very much, you know. He is a good man.”

“I do know, and yes, he is.” Spock tries to keep resentment from creeping into his voice, resentment against her for being everything Spock is not, and resentment against himself for feeling it in the first place.

“I am sorry though,” she says quietly, “I can see that it pains you.”

You can not keep him Spock wants to say, and does not. This is not their world. They do not belong here.

At night Jim breathes softly into Spock’s ear while leaning over his shoulder to observe the aid’s progress, and if Spock were to simply turn his head..

Spock can not go on like this, hiding himself, feeling ever the alien, spending every night crowded into Jim’s space. He can barely breathe from the wanting.

----

 

Telepaths most often mate with their own kind, there is a incomprehensible isolation living among the psi-null. It is always a one way communication. Without proper discipline, a telepath will become a receptacle of mentalities that are not their own, it can eat away at an identity. They might begin to question what thoughts are truly theirs and what has been thrust upon them. If humans understood what is like to be a lightning rod for everyone’s thoughts and emotions, they would not begrudge the Vulcan need for control.

 

His mother did not think Spock understood loneliness for what it is, that he did not understand the way it creeps unbidden into a heart and splits like a wound. She did not think he felt its socketed mouth twisted open and yawning at the heart of him, hungry to be fed. It made Spock feel so ashamed all of his life.

Spock can not quantify how long he has been in love with Jim. His underconsciousness understood it long before Spock realised, and by then it was far too late. Humans lie to themselves so frequently, but it is not in Spock’s nature to do so and therefore not startling when he fully comprehends. With the admission, comes the hollowness of bearing such feelings in hopeless silence. He curls on his side and stares blankly at the bulkhead, pushes the feelings down, tells himself to feel nothing at all.

It is terrible, sometimes. Being alone with the truth.

 

-----

 

Doctor McCoy describes the captain as a “shit magnet.” The imagery of the maxim leaves much to be desired, but somehow it is fitting. Particularly right now, at this very moment, with Jim stranded alone in a cell, embedded behind a super charged ionic force field. It was supposed to be a standard first contact. The citizens were warp capable, and appeared to have already made contact with inhabitants within the quadrant. Scans indicated a large, advanced computer network, and did not indicate inhabitants were engaged in hostilities.

Apparently the scans had neglected to reveal that the hospitable part of the planet was actually an enormous penal colony run by the inhabitants who appeared to act as the interface for the planetary computer network, and all travel to outside populations is only to transport undesirable members of a larger society into the corrective system. ‘Undesirable members’ being, what Spock assumes, is the rest of the quadrant. Perhaps Spock should have known this was coming, he had assumed given other evidence, that the energization block preventing a beam down was in place to keep hostile parties out, as per usual. Not to keep people in.

The landing party had been attacked upon immediately. They had managed to keep the security force at bay while Sulu, Mahajan, and Herrera, retreated back to the shuttle under heavy fire. Spock was helpless to reach the captain before he heard the sound of a weapon, and then Jim crumpled in a heap onto the dirt.

 

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” Doctor McCoy whispers at Spock’s side.

“You volunteered.” Spock corrects. “Your made you concern over the potentiality of finding the captain beyond my understanding of emergency treatment very clear.” A sentinel exits a room and presses his forefinger and thumb to a lock screen. “Move.”

He ignores whatever question is trying to escape McCoy’s mouth and darts toward the officer, quietly incapacitating him. McCoy helps to steady the unconscious body while Spock uses the same fingers to unlock the door again.

McCoy dumps the officer against a wall once inside, and Spock settles in front of a control panel. There are various displays of the interior of the cells they had passed, just not the one Spock wants to see most. His fingers fly over the screen, thankfully everything is in a Standard derivative so the chances of figuring out how to corrupt the system are now 674.98 to 1 instead of 2,365.55 to 1. He has been successful against greater odds, with less incentive.

He is able to bring up another display of cells, closes out of it, then another, and--

“There he is,” McCoy breathes, “Damn it, Jim.” The Captain is sitting backed into a corner of the room, head resting against against the white wall. His shoulder is covered in blood, and he appears to to be experiencing acute respiratory distress. Spock allows a tremor of fear to run down his back, to seize into his gut, and he turns with renewed fervor to the task.

“You must help,” Spock says urgently, “Begin to disable the firewall.” McCoy just stands there looking at Spock like he has spoken in Klingon. “I am accessing the mainframe.”

“I’m a doctor, not Gary-goddamn-Mckinnon! I only took basic comp at the academy, what makes you think I even know how to--”

Spock does not have the time for this.

“I do not have the time for this,” Spock says, allowing frustration to creep into his voice. “Try.”

McCoy continues to curse under his breath, and within minutes he is howling his fury at the blank blue screen of Failure. Spock had hoped to avoid this. Doctor McCoy displays exemplary skill with surgeon’s tools, but the rest of modern technology withers and dies as soon as the doctor reaches out to touch it.

Spock generates several different courses of action at once, and balances the success versus failure ratio of each.

“When the energy field goes down, I estimate a two minute relay before the reserve force is generated. One of us will need to stay here to keep the guard stunned and bring down the generator so that we all may be beamed out from under the transmitter block, and prevent security from reaching us before this plan even occurs. You require access to my technical knowledge, I require access to you medical expertise when I reach the captain.”

“Right, and..?”

Spock glances sideways and looks at the doctor in what he hopes is a meaningful look, McCoy is nearly as adept as the captain in reading Spock’s microexpressions.

‘What?” McCoy’s face screws up for a moment before falling into realization. “You gotta be kidding! You better not be suggesting what I think you’re thinking about suggesting. Because the answer is no way in hell I’m letting you do the hokey pokey in my brain! You’re supposed to be a genius! What kinda harebrained, bats-in-the-belfry, plan--”

“A limited mind meld will provide us with the tools we both require. I will only access functional knowledge, once the connection is established we will be able to operate separately, but as one. I will gladly sever the link once this mission is completed. Do you consent,” Spock eyes don’t shift away from where he works to reroute control.

“Why can’t you stay here and do the computer stuff and I’ll go get Jim?”

“When you encounter the sentinels--and you will encounter at least nine--on the path to the captain’s cell, you are not physically capable of overpowering them. You will either be killed or contained, and I would eventually be located and also be killed or contained, and the captain will die. This plan yields a statistically higher rate of success. Do you consent?”

“Now you just listen here one damn minute, Elrond--”

“Do you consent?” Spock repeats, eyes flicking up to monitor, the captain’s expression is glassy. McCoy follows the line of sight.

“I’m gonna regret this,” he mutters, and begins sliding the strap of his medical kit over Spock’s shoulder. “Okay, before I change my mind.”

Spock turns away from the computer, takes a deep preparative breath, and reaches for McCoy’s psi points.

“Wait, wait, wait,” McCoy yanks his head backward, shakes his shoulders, inhales and exhales a couple steeling breaths. “Are you sure this is logical? And you’re not emotionally compromised?”

“Yes,” Spock says, and feels rather than hears McCoy’s sputter of confusion at the answer as he settles his fingers against tense skin. “My mind to your mind,” the words like muscle memory, he pushes himself into the link.

Immediately McCoy pushes back, his consciousness slamming into Spock with all the gentleness of a photon torpedo. Against all instinct, Spock does not jerk free. Everything spins dizzily, it’s a free fall into the empty space between here and there, one of them is nauseated, Spock is not sure which.

Your resistance will injure us both, please desist.

YOU desist YOU’RE the one who’s driving!

Leonard Spock urges, projects the image of Jim-the captain-Jim-until McCoy stops trying to expel Spock by sheer force of will. Finally their minds become oriented, the link more sustainable, Spock instantly begins knitting the strands together so the channel will remain open between them even after Spock is no longer in physical contact. Thank you, doctor.

This is too damn weird. All the times I wondered what was going on in that Vulcan brain, and now here I am. You need to calm down. Your heart rate is up.

It is within range.

You know it isn’t. Spock is only slightly infuriated that he is right.

Well it’s nothing to get upset about, I’m worried about him too. Spock strengthens his shields. McCoy feels that as well, but only transmits a disquieting impression of realization.

I am going to begin accessing your skillset, then I will link you to mine. Spock reaches mental fingers out. McCoy’s mind, once it is finished trying to batter Spock to death, is surprisingly well-ordered. Scientifically catalogued. His paranoiac tendencies appear to have given way to some human version of natural shielding, Spock is mostly free of the dump of surface thought and emotion, which is more than he could have hoped for given the doctor’s propensity for raging relentlessly through every waking hour.

Gee thanks, McCoy grouses and then don’t go there. There either.

 

---

 

“You’re ready,” McCoy’s fingers hover over the key that will start Spock’s two minute window to locate Jim’s cell and enter it before the energy field reasserts. Their temporary link is tenuous given their incompatibilities, but secure. McCoy’s presence in his mind feels bizarre, the same feeling of two like poles of a magnet being forced together, but it is their best chance at saving the captain. Spock grips his phaser tightly in anticipation.

“That guard will regain consciousness in approximately--”

“Sixty two point seven seconds, I know,” he taps his head in annoyance, “Go.”

----

 

A security droid rips out some of the hair at the nape of Spock’ neck, and he has blood coming from somewhere on his face, but he makes it down the turbo lift, through seven corridors, and into the area with the solitary tanks. McCoy is shouting in his head the entire time, counting and telling Spock Turn here! and shit, we’re gonna die! and go go go only eight seconds left, get the the hell in there Spock!

Spock keys in the unlock code and the door opens on a hiss. He darts inside, narrowly avoiding a broken foot when the reserve force asserts and the door slams closed again.

“S--Spock,” the captain’s voice has a wheezing quality, eyes unfocused, “When’d you get here? S’not safe.”

“Do not speak, captain” Spock urges, “Do not expend any energy,” and he kneels to begin assessing the captain’s condition with the med scanner. Fresh blood flows slowly from where the captain is applying weak pressure against the wound with his hand, his gold skin turned so red. Spock places his hand gently over the captain’s, feels the captain’s growing disorientation, a warm relief under it, worry, and then a flash of pain. It’s enough to make Spock tear his hand away and go charging through McCoy’s knowledge for a pain reliever the captain’s body will not reject.

 

Wait, assess him first.

“No. He is in pain.”

Get it together, man! Let me do my job. McCoy’s tone makes Spock remember his control, and then the link turns blessedly cool and diagnostic. Spock switches his perspective for McCoy’s, begins dismantling the transporter scrambler, blocks off two security details who have caught onto the hack and are beginning to seek them out. They are running out of time.

His axillary artery is nicked, well on his way to a class IV hemorrhage, pulsed v-tach, evidence of projectiles under the skin--oh hell--

“Damn it, Jim! Why do you always have to be allergic!” The force of the doctor’s annoyance finds a place in Spock’s mouth when Spock is distracted by adding yet another item to the list of things Jim Kirk can not come into contact with.

The captain’s face scrunches in confusion, “Spock?”

Spock’s ears feel warm, tinged with embarrassment at the outburst, he loads an epinephrine ampoule into a hypo and injects him, “You are beginning to have a reaction to the metal alloy in the projectiles.” He does not have the sterile field nor the tools to remove them at this time, the doctor’s dismay is enough to tell Spock this detail. Without thinking of it himself, Spock grabs for the regenerator and another hypo ampoule labeled Amiodarone. Spock gives himself over to the sense of second nature, regenerates what he is able to among the damaged nerve endings without sealing off the hemorrhage with the micro-projectiles embedded in the artery.

 

“You’re not licensed for that equipment. Sure you--” he coughs wetly, “--you got it on the right sett--” the captain exhales suddenly and slumps over.

“Captain? Jim,” Spock is over him in an instant, injecting him with this and and that, Spock does not know, but McCoy does and Spock does not question where his hands reach. The captain does not respond.

Doctor.. He is unresponsive.

We’re losing him.

The words slice into him, he pulls up the captain’s shirt and places defibrillator sensors on his chest.

De-fib in 1-2-3…. Spock can feel a flicker of Kirk’s energy pass under his hands, warming something in the back of his mind, before it is again lost. Spock defibrillates again, this time the pulse continues, weak, faltering, but existent. Spock, the sentinels are deploying. I’ve got the transporter block coming down in five minutes, and was able to transmit our coordinates to the Enterprise, but.. Spock. I don’t know if Jim’ll be able to survive the beam up. He’s in hypovolemic shock, the atomic energy required for transport…

McCoy can not lie in the link. He is certain the captain will not survive the stress of the transporter beam. Spock can not hedge those odds when the price is Jim’s life. Spock watches the abnormal rise and fall of the captain’s chest. “Understood,” he says out loud, before shutting his eyes tight and beginning to unravel the threads of his and the doctor’s meld. The nausea hits him, this time he knows it is his own. Without physical touch to direct him, the act of disengaging the link is a bit like disassembling a warp core, in micrograv, with one hand tied behind his back.

Agh--! What the hell are you doing!

No damage will come to you, the risk is my own.

Then why do I feel like I’m gonna vomit!

It is transference and will pass. I will do all I can to ensure his transport survival.

Then why are you unlink-- What do you mean? HEY. Whaddaya mean by that?

A tepul-shan, a transfer of the body’s energy, I can save him. He has never performed the technique, and the danger to the initiator is high as energy is not meant to be harnessed this way, but it will work. Spock will make it work.

Jim would never allow you--

He does not have to, I do so freely. Spock tumbles and finds the final thread.

Listen to me you scrawny tailed, green-oiled, machin--

The connection snaps and leaves Spock retching from the abrupt severing of even this tenuous a link. He allows himself the seven seconds it takes for his vision to clear and the room to stop spinning before he stretches out his hands toward the captain’s face. There is a moment of hesitation before he facilitates the link, not out of fear of his own life which may or may not be forfeit, but because he can feel the hum of Jim’s dwindling lifeforce already in the back of his mind and he has not yet touched him. There have been many times he has wanted to reach out with greedy fingers, to see inside, this is not how he imagined such a joining.

No. This is as it should be.

Even a dying mind will instinctively fight against a meld if it is not desired, but the slide into the link is impossibly smooth, fingers grazing over still water. Jim is everywhere, but the beacon of his aura is so very, very, dim and voiceless. For a moment, panic, but Spock has joined with a mind at the moment of its death, he remembers how the hum of life ceases and the link dissolves like it was never there to begin with.

He must be buried deep.

 

Spock spreads himself out, causes ripples that run in one direction, he knows if he follows them he will find exactly where he ought to be. There is a faint trail here, as there always is with telepathic contact, it leaves a wake. Spock can assume it is from contact with another telepathic entity they have encountered during exploration. He fights both a sense of gratitude that the guide is there to expedite Spock’s wandering, and a baseless jealousy that rears its head at the thought of anyone falling as easily as he did into Jim’s mind.

Captain… Spock calls into the void, words rebounding back at him. More time, more time, he needs more time. Jim!

Spock? The sound is frail, fading in and out, but it is there and Spock is so relieved, he thinks he could cry from it. Spock moves forward in the darkness until he can feel a hint of heat, flashes of golden light sparking around him, nonsensical images flash in and out of existence.

The captain as a child, standing against the backdrop of a cornfield. A pretty woman hanging clothes on a line. White linens snapping in cold wind.

He is older now, on an alien planet, bloodied and crouched in a dark corner against rocks with three other children. Someone is screaming. Someone is always screaming, here.

Spock staring back at him from across a crowded room like Jim is the only one that actually exists.

Then there is the pain, it pours over Spock in waves, prevents the captain from speaking any more, and Spock quickly locks it away behind a wall to keep it from both of their minds. Without the agony choking him, the captain finds his voice.

Spock.

I am here, captain.

I can’t see you, though. The flickering power of his consciousness begins to gather in intensity, brilliant tendrils reaching automatically to latch into Spock. For one thrilling moment Spock thinks to let it happen, simply because he does not know what might happen, but he is certain he would want whatever it turned out to be.

With a thought, he wards it back, and feels the sting of the captain’s disappointment as if it were his own. Now that he has established that Jim is, in fact, alive, Spock begins to retreat from where the concentration of his personality is the strongest.

Wait, stop, where are you going?

I am going to stimulate your hypothalamus.

We gotta work on your pillow talk.

Pardon?

Never mind. The captain projects no and stay and tries closing in around Spock again. You’re warm. You feel amazing. He shapes hazy ideas, and drags them against Spock’s shields in such a way, and surely it is delirium. The twistybrilliantclever of his mind is intoxicating, addictive. Spock is somewhat thankful for the captain’s weakened mental state at the moment, otherwise he is uncertain if he would be able to hold Jim’s natural curiosity at bay. Jim learns with blinding speed, he would hack into Spock’s innermost thoughts the way he does the most complicated problems, and he would be inside without either of them having meant it to happen.

Spock can feel the shields buckle dangerously, but he pushes the captain back again, locks him into that place.

What’s the rush?

You are dying.

Really? Right, I remember now. I don’t feel it. Shouldn’t I feel something like that? His mind reels, rushes about in order to connect Spock’s assertion with some evidence to support it.

I am holding your pain back. Please do not seek it out.

Sorry. The search stops, he does not want to bring Spock pain. So how do you plan on stimulating my hypothalamus?

Spock hesitates, then begins to exert his energy, channeling it through his hands, through the mind meld’s link. Immediately, the captain knows what is happening. They have seconds left, soon the transporter will take them, and Spock can still feel the weak pulse, the threat of hypoxia threatening the careful balance of life..

NO, Spock, I can see what you’re doing and I can’t let you! Spock feels himself becoming weaker, the rapid loss of body heat is making him shake, he can feel the tremors of his physical body and presses his fingers more firmly against Kirk’s face to keep them from slipping before he can finish.

You will die in the beam, it can not be allowed.

Yes it can! Damn it, you can’t just-- not for me. That’s an order, mister.Of course for you, Spock thinks and hopes it stays hidden behind the shield. He would be compelled to save any crew member, all life is valuable, but Spock is able to admit to himself that loyalty and duty are but a part of his incentive when it comes to the captain.

You sure as hell better live through this so I can chew your ass out, you hear me Spock? Fuck! --that hurts-- the door between Kirk’s pain and their minds falls open I’m gonna--

Shut up Spock tells him, all eloquence lost with his ability to form any other thought. Heat leeches away. Greyness flows around him just as something bursts incandescent in the corner of his mind’s eye, opalescent, and hangs there even as Spock retreats from the meld. He feels the transporter beam take them.

“Get the captain to sickbay,” Spock slurs as soon as they materialise onto the pad. He manages to continue to support the captain’s slumped form with an arm. His even breathing sends a faint burst of elation through Spock. “Doctor McCoy?”

“I’m here, Spock,” the whirr of the doctor’s vitals probe sounds far away, “It’s okay, you can let go now. You did it. You can let go.”

The world tilts and Spock hears the doctor shouting as his body falls limp onto the deck.

---

 

“Bones, he’s been like this for a day, something’s wrong.”

The captain’s voice filters like an echo into Spock’s mind, but he is locked away, his body healing, and he can not respond.

“Stop being so damned impatient, let him rest! The only thing here that’s wrong is I’ve got a captain coming off massive blood loss and surgery, and instead of sleeping it off in his own biobed, he’s over here terrorizing unconscious Vulcans!” Then more gently, “Look at these sensors here, he’s getting better by the minute. He’ll be back to his stubborn as nails, logical self in a few hours.”

“He shouldn’t have done that.”

“If I have to listen to any more of your bellyaching I’m gonna-- He’s the reason you’re even alive right now! You really think he could just stand by and watch you die if he could help it? Or, better yet, if the roles were reversed, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t tear heaven apart if it meant saving his life?”

A sigh. A quick brush of warmth over the top of his hand. “One trip through his head and you turn Judas on me.”

“See now, that would imply that I’m usually on your side, but I hate both of you equally. You know how hard it is keeping you two alive? And I’m still nauseous from that damnable mind meld.”

“Really? It wasn’t like that with me.”

“I’ll bet it wasn’t.”

“What does that mean?”

If McCoy answers, Spock can not hear it.

---

 

“I believe the Tholians will remember you for some time.” Jim is already sitting in the debriefing room when Spock enters. “You took quite a big risk today.”

“Some would say too big,” Spock murmurs, exhausted. He wishes the captain would leave so he could go, perhaps, cry in the shower. He has never done that before, but he is beginning to understand the appeal. He has lost Jim, became captain, memorialised Jim, fought dimensional rifts and Tholians and cognitively impaired crewmen, and gotten Jim back from the hands of death, all in the space of four hours, with doctor McCoy questioning every flinch in judgement along the way.

“Why?” Jim asks, meaning why do something so beyond the dictates of logic and regulation. Why be so human, as if Spock had a choice in the matter. He could no sooner give Jim up to the deep, than uproot his own beating heart..

Spock needs to be somewhere else. “I fear my logic is sometimes impaired where you are concerned.”

“You would’ve done the same for anyone.”

“Indeed?” Spock raises a brow, and looks away. Jim believes Spock’s first loyalty is to the Enterprise, but this is only one facet of the truth. The Enterprise and all the souls she carries are an extension of Jim. Jim would die for them, therefore Spock would as well. The Enterprise is the only true home Spock has known, but without Jim, the ship would be a ship. Metal and matter and the bones of technology, and Spock would respect them, sacrifice for them, but he would find no home within.

----

 

He is already dressed down for bed when Spock’s door slides open without his prompting and the captain marches through. His mouth is a stern line, eyes wild. They lost two crewman today when they beamed down to a colony for inspection, only to find it in chaos. The leaders had imposed a communications ban, enslaved the majority of the citizens, and forced them to mine Kizit’thema for trade with Klingons. Many were dead. Ensign Kaczmerak was killed instantly by disruptor blast, but he carried crewman Akimoto five kilometres until she finally succumbed to the poison from a Klingon tajtlq. She had been Spock’s best cytotechnologist.

Spock had put his hand to her face, allowing her to use his mouth to say her final words, but she was already pushed past coherency, and all he could pick up was faint memories, the astringent wash of pain and helplessness, and “You.” She was hallucinating, and thought Spock was a woman she had once loved, then hated, but never truly stopped loving altogether.

Spock looks up from his computer. “Can I help you, captain?”

“How can you do that?” He does not sound angry at Spock, but he does seem ready for a fight. Spock has seen the posture before to know it, though rarely will he engage Spock in the emotional fallout. “You act like you weren’t even there.”

“A display on my behalf would not remedy the situation.” He sits back into his seat. “How is it do you want me to act?”

“I DON’T KNOW!” Jim shouts and clenches his hands at his sides. “I don’t know. The children there..” were horribly traumatized, most of them orphans. Yes. Spock saw them. “I don’t even have a body to send Kaczmerak’s family, and Akimoto was one of yours-”

 

“I know. You think I do not know this? Her dying words are in my mind and I can do nothing about it.” Spock rises and meets the captain’s gaze. “I looked in her mind and saw the memories there.” He closes his eyes and remembers, lets his words be shaped by a warped point of view. “I saw how I hurt her and how I said the wrong things. She became angry that I was not the person she hoped I would be. She loved someone who did not love her back.” Spock shoves the memory deep. “I saw it on her face, and I felt it when she died and took all of that pain and disappointment with her. You think I am not preoccupied by it?”

The captain begins looking at the walls like they are a cage to keep him, “I can’t save everyone.”

“Kaiidth,” Spock says without emotion. “It is not in the nature of the universe. All things come to an end.”

Jim’s eyes fasten on Spock’s face, “Don’t do that, don’t kaiidth me. I hate it when you do that.”

“Then you hate the truth.”

“That’s not the POINT!” the captain shouts, then springs like elastic pulled tight and turned loose.

They are four feet apart, and the next instant cool hands are bracketing Spock’s face and Jim’s mouth is pressed hard against Spock’s mouth. Spock stumbles backward, the ledge of the table digging into the backs of his thighs. A charge of emotion spirals through Spock’s entire body, his own, Jim’s, it incites a chemical reaction, heats up--

The captain wrenches his hands away, his mouth, until they are no longer touching, but he stays in Spock’s space. “That was inappropriate.” His eyes close. “I’m sorry.”

“You are not,” Spock says lowly, still dazed and reeling with it.

At least seven separate emotions that are not necessarily his own are still threading through his body, and regret is not one of them. The anger and grief and self-loathing over the day’s loss is still there, but now need and want and the desire to feel alive are burning as well. Jim’s breathing has become deeper, barely restrained, like somehow being this close to Spock is pulling this sort of reaction from within him.

Spock knows, even as Jim reaches out to him the second time, it will never be enough. He tries to keep still, to control the thing controlling him, but even with that tongue in his mouth and those hands twisted up in his hair, Spock knows wildfire for what it is. He knows the lick and twist of uncontrollable thirst, how it lays waste to all in its path. Spock touches Jim and thinks of the ancient Vulcan balefires, of flames starving for oxygen, stars exploding and leaving nothing at all behind.

“I know you feel this,” a ragged whisper into Spock ear, before Jim drags his mouth back to Spock’s. “Kiss me.”

Spock turns frantic with it, soft lips made rough and unyielding by desperation. He can not stop kissing him, Spock is afraid to stop kissing him. If he lets even the smallest bit of space between their bodies, there might be room for the doubt as well. He leans into Jim, needing to be closer, and having no idea how to ask for it. His fingers are shaking, clumsy things, burning trails of thought and emotion wherever they touch skin. He feels reckless, the way he always feels when when they are together, when in danger or on the verge of a new revelatory discovery. Spock’s hands and mouth are inexperienced, his only similar encounter has been under circumstances where Spock’s ability to give informed consent had been impaired. He believes he might be holding on to Jim too tight, but Jim only hums encouragingly, pets at Spock’s shoulder blades, cups his iliac crests and keeps pulling Spock close.

He presses his teeth into Spock’s bottom lip and Spock makes such a sound.

“Oh my god,” a groan against Spock’s throat and he pushes him back and back until Spock lands on the bed. Jim falls on top him, bites down under his jaw, licks once over the spot and does it again lower. Before Spock can control the compulsion, one arm goes around Jim’s back, the other hand flies up to his face, tips of fingers skittering across meld points. The imperative to create a link is impossibly strong, the temptation greater than anything Spock has ever experienced. The glittering essence that Jim has left behind with each touch over time raises its head, takes notice, and begins to coalesce, spreading outward in search of completion.

“Do it,” Kirk says immediately, “Show me.”

“You do not know what you are asking.”

“I trust you.” Of course he would be careless now, so careless, no idea what he is offering Spock.

“You should not,” Spock whispers, fingers shaking, hovering. The desire is pulling them magnetically together. Jim just projects so much and Spock has been so alone always, and it is--it-

Spock jerks his hand away and slams his shields into place before the link can find purchase. The force of it makes the energy between them shake, and he gasps, “Captain,” in the following daze.

“No, my name,” he pleads against Spock’s ear, nosing the tapered length of it.

“Jim,” Spock says and Jim groans, a shudder running down his spine, it makes him squirm and rock against Spock’s body, it makes Spock fumble to press their hands together. The joining is made nearly impossible by all the places Spock must touch along the way, and Jim’s own hands rub frenetic patterns wherever they land. Spock loops his fingers around Jim’s wrists, slides the tips of them into Jim’s palms, and finally Jim, being wonderful, understands. He lets go of Spock’s hair, the blade of his left shoulder, and knitting their fingers together he presses Spock’s hands down against the bed.

It is no meld, and only half of what Spock truly wants, but the frenzied cocktail of Jim’s emotions augments and begins bleeding into Spock. For a moment: Stunned paralysis, then the glistening surface of passion, so much wanting, urgency. And yes, just there, a sense of possessiveness, but not the ugly thing Spock senses so often among humans. Not to conquer or own. But to hold close and keep safe, a protectiveness that goes bone deep. An aching loneliness underscores it all, a twin to Spock’s own. Spock feels a sharp exhale leave his lungs. He wishes for an instant that Jim too, was burdened with the double edged sword of telepathy, that he could receive Spock’s mirroring emotions through a touch. Maybe then Jim would understand without having to explain, why Spock needs him so badly and he can not make it stop. If he could just take it out, this thing, pry open his heart and allow Jim to carry it awhile then perhaps Spock could breathe again.

Instead it is Jim who is pressing himself so close to Spock’s body like they might merge into oneness this way instead, babbling, “Let me have--I want--I don’t know--you.” Spock can sense a wave of frustration at the words.

He is not sure what he is answering specifically, but Spock says, “Yes,” anyways, or some variation of the word because he can hardly talk and kiss at the same time. This is what they do together, it is how they have learned to operate with such efficiency. His captain follows his irrational gut down whatever path it leads, and Spock, because he trusts him implicitly, follows. Against all logic. Against a lifetime of discipline, and in spite of himself.

“Spock,” Jim calls out between biting kisses, breaks their hands apart to stick his fingers up the front of Spock’s tunic and runs them against the cage of Spock’s ribs. He undoes the clasp of Spock’s uniform trousers and gently pushes his hand inside. Even though he knows the touch is coming, somehow Spock is still surprised by it and his entire body jolts, a keening noise is pulled from his mouth, and his fingers dig into Jim’s back when Jim rubs at his penis through thin cotton briefs.

Spock is thankful to be at a loss for words, otherwise he can not predict what confession might arise, but his voice rings out on every exhale, every bitten off moan, every panting breath against Jim’s lips. Some part of Spock, some stunted piece of him that has never learned warmth, begins to unfurl. The sounds he can not keep inside, each one seems to drive Jim beyond precision or grace and with a frustrated grunt he reaches quickly to undo his own fastenings, pants catch around his thighs when Spock helps to push them away. They fall mindlessly into a rut, Jim’s hips bracketed by the spread of Spock’s legs, Jim presses their foreheads together and Spock chokes on a cry as the imperative stretches out once again, incandescent, and so so so out of control. The cotton is chafing, hands taking what skin they can get and holding on too hard, too perfectly, and Jim’s mouth and fingers are relentless.

“Come on,” Jim urges, “Please,” and Spock does not know why Jim is pleading, but he too feels desperate somehow, and does Jim not know by now that Spock would give him anything he asked for? “Please Spock, Jesus, c’mon.” He takes Spock’s hands once again, quickly pins them to them bed, and uses the leverage to set a new rhythm into his spine.

The chemical reaction inside of Spock has already reached the point of no return, even if Jim were to pull off right now and walk away, it would not make a difference. Every muscle is beginning to spasm, the mix of hormones become unstable, Jim’s teeth press into the spot behind Spock’s ear and everything just tips--

 

The breath punches out of Spock’s body, a hoarse groan of blended vowels, Spock’s entire body goes to shivering. Spock can feel, more than see, Jim’s reaction. A whining noise pierces the air as Jim shoves Spock’s shirt up, exposing him, and begins pulling at himself against the sensitive skin of Spock’s belly. Jim’s pink tongue licks at his bottom lip and Spock follows its movement with his eyes.

Jim presses firmly against him once, twice, and with eyes shut tight he buries his face in Spock’s neck. A sound equal part pleasure and relief, tumbles from his mouth. For one heart-stopping moment Spock can feel everything, can hear everything and does not have time to think about what that could mean before Jim moans and ejaculates against Spock’s skin. The mental feedback of searing pleasure leaves Spock gasping and adrift in its wake

The next several seconds are blissful, sticky and buzzing in their skin. Jim reaches idly and traces the curve of Spock’s ear, his jaw, the line of his clavicle, tender fingertips gentling the severity of Spock’s angles.

Any of the the fight from earlier seems to have melted out of the Jim’s body and he lies sprawled on top of Spock. Soon though, Spock can feel the beginnings of grief stirring once again in the human’s emotions, and surely Jim was not driven to seek him out of a need to dissociate from the pain. Spock is certain he would have felt such an intention.

“I just wanted to be alone,” Jim says.

Rejection. Fear. “Of course, captain,” Spock begins to rise, even though these are his quarters. Even though it was not him that sought this ought.

“No!” Jim’s hands bracket Spock’s forearms and he pushes him back onto the bed. “Please don’t go.” When he seems convinced that Spock will not leave, Jim removes his gold tunic and cleans Spock’s stomach. Spock lies very still, unsure if he should help, but then Jim lies on top of him again, shifts down until his ear is over Spock’s side where his heart beats.

“Oh,” Spock says, bewildered, and carefully touches Jim’s shoulder.

-----

 

“What is this?” Jim asks in the morning, while standing in the head’s doorway, Spock’s toothbrush in hand. Spock does not need extrasensory in order to discern the unease the captain is sending out in waves. Still, Spock must stay his hand from reaching out to touch a temple to find its gnarled roots.

“Fraternization,” Spock deflects.

Jim seems to consider this with a small degree of concern, “Do you feel taken advantage?”

“No,” Spock says immediately, a little more than horrified at the thought that Jim would imagine himself capable of leveraging power in exchange for sexual favour.

“Alright, so we’ll worry about regs another day. My question still stands.”

“I do not know,” Spock says honestly. This is so far beyond his area of experience, it might possibly be humorous were it not for the prickle of Spock’s horrible insecurity. He can not make sense of Jim’s sudden and irrational deviation from a pattern of romantic and sexual behaviour that has never indicated Spock’s inclusion. Spock is a far cry from the extroverted, soft, and supple beings that Jim tends to cultivate in partners. Then again, Jim, while fundamentally impulsive, commits to a course of action based on gut instinct, and sees it through to the bitter end. This is, in part, what makes him such an excellent commander. Sometimes it is difficult to find the balance between Kirk’s formidable energy, and what is actually practical. It is all about exerting enough logic to influence Jim’s natural instincts. When they strike harmony, the captain’s ability to bend circumstance to his will is unparalleled. He commands through the sheer force of unhindered gall and boundless talent, without the hesitancies that are surest destroyer of ingenuity.

It is what drew Spock to Jim in the first place, the way they fit their disparate pieces into a perfect balance.

Jim studies Spock a moment, a smile takes the corner of his mouth. “Tell me when you figure it out. I’m in no rush.”

He does not know how to convey the idea that when they are together, Spock feels so much greater than the sum of his parts.

----

 

The red sand beaches on Pavlidis reminds Spock of the Voroth sea. For a moment he allows the yearning for Vulcan overtake him. Spock does not miss the sense of being constantly watched for every sign of human weakness, but he does at times find himself wishing for the solitude of the deserts, the quiet of the great halls, how his feet fall with solid gravity against the rocks. He misses warmth, actual heat, not the artificial kind that pours from the ventilation. He pushes the thought away, and kneels onto the shore to examine its oxidized composition with his tricorder. He is thankful when it begins to rain and sand becomes damp the way Vulcan’s sand never is.

The captain stands calf deep in a tidal pool. The sea itself is unsafe, strong rip currents are desperate to grab hold and pull a body under to bash against the sapphirine mountains growing out in the deep. He holds up the exoskeleton of what looks similar to an ancient Terran arthropod, except three times larger, and with twelve additional legs. Six legs come attached with pincers. Pavlidis is still in its formative state, the oxygen rich atmosphere enables vegetation and animal life to grow to enormous sizes. Obviously disturbed, the captain grimaces and places it back into the pool before hastily removing himself from the water.

He looks over to Spock, eyes wide as he motions toward the deceased arthropod, “The hell was that,” he says and begins to laugh. “You think I should bring one home to Bones?”

“The doctor’s potential evisceration is fascinating, but let us endeavor not to disturb a live one,” Spock advises.

Kirk makes a humoured noise, his eyes are outlined in red, the skin around them swollen slightly; Jim’s hypersensitive immune system reacting to the high volume of flora in the area. He’ll deny the antihistamines Doctor McCoy insists every member of the away team carry until his respiratory system becomes compromised.

The rain begins to fall in abundance, wind gusts begin breaking at 40.8 miles per hour. “Let’s get our team out of here Mister Spock, we’ll get your regional samples after the storm passes.” His face tips upward to receive the rain, it falls against his lips, dampens blonde eyelashes, a drop clings to his throat and slides downward. Spock wants to smear it away.

The team gathers at the beam up point, and Spock waits for the sudden burst of heat and momentary disorientation that always accompanies being caught in transport. Waves begin pushing past the barrier reefs and smash at their feet.

Spock never liked the ocean, not as his mother did. She took him to the Atlantic seaboard as a child. Terran children played by the rocks, allowed themselves to wade deep into the water and be chased by waves. Spock looked out and saw nothing but sea and sea and sea, a big wet gullet to draw him hence.

Spock stares at Jim, his parted lips, the space he occupies, and looks back out to the mass of water. Nothing, he thinks, should be able to swallow you whole.

----

 

Doctor McCoy’s does not release Spock from the confines of sickbay for forty-eight hours after the incident with the Platonians. The kironide took much longer to take effect in Spock’s blood due to its unusual composition, but once it did, the results were disastrous and long-lasting. It binds to his neurotransmitters and commandeers his telepathic center. Spock can not control the telekinesis at all, its behaviour is tied inexplicably into Spock’s tattered emotional state. They had to sedate him because Spock, in his extreme desire to put as much space as possible between himself and that planet, kept sending the Enterprise into a cold warp.

The doctor quietly leads Spock to his quarters when the telekinesis finally shows signs of weakening, and makes no comment on the state of disorder Spock has left in sickbay. No matter how straight faced and concentrated Spock had sat, the room had become a war zone of bent trays, disassembled hypos, the flotsam jetsam of the Leonard’s lab, all floating mid air, orbiting Spock. A glaring sign of every horrible thing Spock had felt, and been forced to act out, the helplessness and the mental violation left behind. He can still feel the tracks of Parmen and his kin through his psyche.

Jim finds him standing and shaking with the effort to keep the contents of his shelves from hovering. When Spock sees him, Spock’s thoughts focus, and he slams into Jim, corners him against the bulkhead and presses their mouths together. He can not sense Jim at all, it is as if his own genes have been overwritten, it is deeply unsettling. Jim pushes at Spock’s shoulders.

“Talk to me,” he says, mouth red and slick from having been kissed.

Spock shakes his head and a stack of books fly off the shelf behind them. “It does not belong in me, it does not belong to me,” Spock looks at the fallen books and is struck with the urge to cry from frustration. “I only want it to stop.” He feels blind, in a way, cut off from his second line of sight, and something has been taken from him on a level Spock does not quite understand in words. But he feels the loss in a visceral way. Spock leans his head on Jim’s shoulder. “I can not recognize myself.”

Jim kisses his cheek, “It’s okay,” he whispers, “I see you.”

 

Spock wakes in the night, Jim is next to him reading on a PADD, and he reaches for his hand. Immediately Spock feels the shape of Jim’s thoughts, the familiar stretch and hum of his inherent goodness as it reaches toward Spock. The relief is maddening. “Finally,” he gasps, and shoves Jim’s PADD to the floor with a thunk and pulls Jim over on top of him.

“Ahuh,” Jim’s breathes out his surprise but does not pull away at all with Spock’s efforts to smear their bodies together.

Within minutes Jim is sweating, and Spock is desperate and ready and incoherent, and Jim sheaths himself inch by inch until Spock is trembling. Perhaps such an intimate touch is unwise, but Spock wants it. Wants all of it. Jim’s emotions slam into him, pouring through his mind in an open channel. Need. Lust. Devotion. Each of Jim’s emotions chasing Spock’s in a relentless feedback loop.

 

Jim promises beautiful and amazing against Spock’s ear, and Spock resists the craving to reach up and stick his hands all over Jim’s face, to have him inside in every way possible, and pulls at Jim’s hips to bring him closer.

How could this be wrong, Spock thinks, how could he have been taught to divorce himself of this feeling? To be ashamed of it? It is not only love, no, not simply the love, but the sense of rightness, and of Jim looking down at him with that gaze of helpless adoration. And all Spock sees is Jim over him and in him, and there is nothing of the loneliness that existed before Jim. Nothing at all.

 

----

 

“What are you doing,” Spock asks, breathless as Jim plies his flesh with sucking kisses, willing blood to rise and form small bruises, lush and viridian, from capillaries that do not easily yield.

“Marking you up,” Jim tells him and smiles against the base of Spock’s throat. “Caveman impulse. Sorry,” but he does not sound sorry. He grabs Spock’s hand and presses it against his cheek meaningfully. Spock groans and moves it into Jim’s hair instead, tugs him down to ease their lips together.

“Why not?” Jim demands, not angry, but somehow wistful.

“It is not so simple a thing.”

He can feel Jim’s disagreement, “It’s all I can think about.”

“Do you not believe you are already in my mind, constantly?”

“When I was half dead and in that meld with you, it’s the only time in my life where I didn’t feel alone.” Jim stares down at Spock with such raw vulnerability that it hurts Spock to see it. “Even after you had gone, I could feel you for days. Or, more like, I could feel the space you’d left behind. You were there, then you were gone, and I wasn’t whole anymore. Do you understand?”

Spock does not know what to say to that, but he understands the emptiness of which Jim speaks. He understands yearning for completion. He knows what it is to find your own recognition at the hands of another. Spock rolls until he blankets Jim’s smaller frame. He retreats down Jim’s torso, down to where he is straining upward, blood hot and tumescent. Jim smells incredible here, and Spock breathes deeply, licks softly against the fraenulum. He sucks the cockhead past his lips, lets it rest against the cup of his tongue. Jim’s fingernails scrape the skin between Spock’s shoulders, clench into his hair, and Spock does not stop until ecstasy bursts bright, and Spock is swallowing and swallowing and only lets go when it becomes so much that he must take himself in hand. Jim is quick to intervene and pushes his body over Spock’s once more, kissing him sweetly and whispering, “Stop thinking,” against his lips, before descending.

He pulls Spock fully into his mouth, and Spock thinks no more.

---

They are huddled together in a cold cave on Nu Scorpii II, separated from the rest of the landing party. There is a gash in Spock’s palm where he stumbled and caught himself on a razorlike rock in their haste to find shelter. A severe electrical storm had cropped up without warning, scattering them like ants.

“Let me bandage it,” the Captain orders and Spock allows his hand to be tugged away from his chest.

Jim’s worry broadcasts through the touch. “I am certain the rest of the landing party made it to safety. There were ample natural shelters beyond the clearing.”

The Captain grimaces down at the deep gash at the center of Spock’s palm, 8.10 centimetres long, barely clotting over as is sometimes the case with surface lacerations on extremities. Shades of green and yellow mottle the area.

“Wish I had a regenerator. Hell, I’d even take a lidospray and some twine at this point.”

“The doctor would hardly be pleased. He is not an advocate of manual sutures.”

“Sewn up like a Christmas turkey!” Jim imitates McCoy’s southern Georgian speech pattern and laughs. Spock’s lips twitch, conjuring up a history of Leonard’s increasingly bizarre metaphors.

“I am particularly fond of if I wanted to to play with needles and thread, I would’ve joined my Granny’s knitting circle.”

“No, did he really say that?”

“On multiple occasions, in fact.”

“Incredible.”

“Fascinating,” Spock agrees and twitches involuntarily when Jim swabs the wound with one of the antibacterial pads from Spock’s emergency kit.

“It hurts,” Jim freezes, the stained green pad falls to ground, the smell of copper heavy in the air.

“Pain is of the mind,” his fingers flex, “I do not feel it like--”

“But I can feel it. I--” his hand hovers over Spock’s for a moment before he touches each of their fingertips together. It is a simple gesture, the Vulcan equivalent of a kiss on the cheek, but because it is Jim, Spock can not prevent the little huff of air that escapes. Their eyes meet, Jim watches Spock like he is trying to compute something and Spock can feel the silver edge of those racing thoughts. Slowly, Jim slides his fingers down length of Spock’s palm, careful to avoid the laceration, drags the touch across the base of his wrist, then back up to touch the fingertips together again. The touch ignites in a way that has nothing to do with pain, Spock inhales at the caress, and exhales shakily.

“I knew you liked this, but,” Jim repeats the movement and they both shudder. “God, but you do.”

“You are receiving feedback?” Spock asks, confused, then answers his own question, “You are receiving feedback.”

Spock feels something begin to sync in the back of his mind, something just waiting to reach out at the first sign of distraction, the implication arrives the same time as the panic and Spock wrenches his hand from Jim and begins scrambling backward.

“What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” Jim starts toward him.

“Stay back, Jim,” Spock warns, “I am sorry, I did not mean to--”

“So that was you.” Jim looks at Spock like he is some sort of miracle, and no. No, no. He does not understand.

“I did not mean to,” Spock repeats and closes his eyes and tries to explain. “Imagine a door, one can pass freely in and out, and like a door it can be shut and locked. For me, nothing can pass through, not unless I give it permission. Except you do. I try to block it, but each time something gets left behind. I should have known the inverse was equally as true. I thought if I buried it deeply enough..”

“But I’m not a telepath,” Jim inches closer.

“The link does not care. It calls for you all the same. You should not touch me.”

“What would happen?”

Spock closes his eyes and concentrates, without touch to bring the essence into focus, the impression of Jim is hazy, but unmistakable. Spock shapes himself around it. “Do you feel that?”

Jim’s eyes squeeze shut, brow drawn downward, “I don’t know, maybe,” he says, a resigned disappointment in his voice. Spock does not understand it.

“It is a good thing, Jim, it means you are still your own. What I speak of, this link, if it were to find completion, it would bind you to me. Separate, but together. To have created something against your will, without your explicit consent, it is…” Spock searches for the word, “..abomination. A terrible violation of your mind and your trust. I do not wish for this.”

“You don’t want a bond with me,” Jim clarifies, carefully.

Spock looks at the ground, “I did not say that.”

“It scares you.”

Spock wants to the deny the observation out of habit. See to it that Jim would bypass all logical reservations and cut right into the emotional heart of Spock’s insecurity.

“It is a sharing beyond human understanding. Are you certain you would not feel trapped by it? By me? In a year’s time, in five years’ time? A lifetime.”

“Would you?”

Spock feels his brow settle low, and sometimes even Jim can be so inobservant. “By now you must know?” Spock hesitates, not wanting his answer to carry undue influence. “Jim.. you are a part of me always, and I always feel you.” Denying it would be illogical.

“And a bond, it would be forever,” Jim surmises. “No leaving.”

Spock sighs, “I could not leave you. Even now, even if you were to ask it of me, I am not sure I could. I am for you. ”

Jim stays silent for several moments. He creeps across the floor, his hand hovering for a moment over Spock’s cheek before his fingers brush against his temple, and Spock leans hard into that touch. Warmth and love, the glittering wellspring of sunlight that infuses every atom of Jim’s body, floods into place, fills Spock up until the aloneness is far behind and it can no longer touch him.

When Jim does speak it is quiet. “I want it.”

****