Dark Side of the Universe

Pairing: James T. Kirk/Spock
Category: AU - canon divergence, conspiracy
Summary: Fifteen months into their first mission an unscheduled return to Earth for repairs prompt trouble for the Enterprise's captain. Trouble that Spock has to figure out what is as he and McCoy set out to find a missing Captain Kirk.
Notes: This story has been in my GDocs for years - literally YEARS. It was written between the 2009 reboot and the follow up, Into Darkness. I think with Into Darkness I lost interest in writing in the fandom as well as it negated a few things in this fic. So why now? Well, I felt the story should be posted so it's getting posted, as I root out the worst typos and edit the chapters. It's all done, just getting the last polishing varnish. Also, I'm gearing up for a trek-fusion for one of my X-men fics, so I felt I should get back into the feel of deep space shenanigans ;)
And the X-men/Star Trek Fusion did end up happening and can be found here: Stars Beyond the Horizon
I am well aware that in TOS, the Klingon Bird of Prey is the first of the Klingon ships to use a cloaking device. That it's the third class of ships that was introduced and not up until the Search for Spock. Go with the flow, peeps, let's just say that the Klingons have come a lot further with their technology in the reboot universe because Nero posed a threat, decimated a large part of the Klingon fleet and that generally, the Klingon war with the Romulan empire may very well have pushed forward a few inventions in the time between the destruction of the Kelvin and the battle with Nero. However, there was also a Klingon Bird of Prey in Enterprise, so screw Trek continuity XD - Same goes for choice of Federation president. While there are official/unofficial lists, the year in question does not have a specific name or species.


The Enterprise was quiet, it was late and only a skeleton crew tended to her, making sure that she was prepped for her scheduled overhaul the following day, an overhaul that would take her out of commission for at least a month, probably two.

She was safely ensconced in spacedock and her Captain could have left her already, but he'd wanted to finish a few last minute things before he headed off for first, a final dinner with Spock, then a week's rest in Iowa. He'd be returning to Starfleet HQ for courses and a few seminars before he'd be back in the Captain's seat of the Enterprise.

He stood to switch off his monitor for the last time in a long while, when it beeped at him. An incoming message. Not only marked as high priority, but very heavily encrypted as well.

Frowning, Jim sat back down at his desk and fought with the cipher for a few minutes. It was not a standard fleet encryption and it was harder to crack than most of the ones he'd encountered before. Finally it yielded to him and Pike's face appeared on the screen. It was a recording and one that had Jim reeling.

He sat completely still for a moment after the transmission had finished playing, staring unseeingly at the monitor. As still as one of the statues in front of the academy. Something clicked and Jim moved again, furiously typing on his keypad to delete the transmission, to hide he'd ever received it, to execute several small subroutines in the ship's computer, making sure they spilled over into the fleet-wide database, knowing he'd made them well enough, that they'd do so flawlessly without being traceable back to him. Every and any trace of the transmission would disappear.

He grabbed his bag and dumped a few of his books back out of it, keeping only the most necessary. The rest he gave a last lingering look after depositing them on a shelf. He'd be back. Too bad about missing that dinner with Spock.

Shutting off the last of the light, he let the door to his home slide shut with one last lingering look.

He would be back. There was no room for doubts. He was not leaving his ship and crew forever.

Chapter 1

After having stored his nondescript duffle bag under the bed, Spock sat down on the hard floor, meditation long overdue. While he could go for a long time without it, the past week and a half, spent looking for a missing James T. Kirk, had been taxing and he had not had the time he would normally set aside for it.

Focusing on his task, Spock let his mind work meticulously through the leads he had gathered up till this point. There had been more than one dead end through the last forty-six hours. It should not come as a surprise to him that following his Captain's trail, when said man did not want to be found, would be difficult.

If Spock had been prone to worrying, he would be worried about Jim Kirk's behavior, but as it were, the only thing on his mind was the man's safety. No matter what Starfleet command insinuated he may or may not be involved in, Spock would reserve judgment for when he had all the facts.

Anything less, would be unprofessional, not to mention, highly illogical.

It had been fifteen months and ten days since they had set out on their first scheduled five-year-mission. Normally, they would not have returned to Earth as they had after such short time, but the Enterprise had taken a few rather hard hits during a neutrino storm and their getting too close to an unstable asteroid belt.

It had not improved the ship's state that they had encountered two Romulan warbirds on their way back to the nearest base. After those skirmishes, they had been in need of spare parts and repairs that could not be carried out in deep space.

No matter how well Chief Engineer Scott did his job and however creative he was, he could not make the necessary parts appear from nothing. So they had returned to Earth and Spock had looked forward to turning his attention to working through some of the data they had collected and to spend time teaching classes on deep space telemetry and astronomy.

Knowing Jim Kirk, of course Spock should have 'expected the unexpected', as Doctor McCoy would have phrased it.

Speaking of the doctor, Spock was expecting him to catch up before his current transport left port. He was rather counting on it. Since he had left Earth, using a non-existent family situation as an excuse, he fully expected McCoy to see right through said prevarications – and would Kirk not approve of such subterfuge? Of course Spock did not seek Kirk's approval, but... since they had set out on their mission, the Captain had become almost as important as family to him.

A chime at the door and Spock let it pull him out of his meditation. Rising to his feet, he took a stance in the middle of the cabin. It was small, not leaving much room for him, but he stayed where he was, between the two bunks lining the walls.

"Enter," he said, clasping his hands behind his back.

The door slid open and Spock was not surprised to see the scowling man on the other side.

"You are one hard, green-blooded bastard to find," McCoy growled, stalking into the room, throwing his bag onto one of the beds.

Spock refrained from answering, as he had long since learned that the doctor needed no prompting to speak his mind.

"I asked you, when Demmings was done grilling us both about Jim's whereabouts, what we were going to do about it and you said, and I quote: 'The Captain is a grown man, and I am sure he will be cleared of these charges in time.' And then you walked out on me!"

Spock raised an eyebrow. As was often the case, the doctor was suffering from selective memory. "It is true that I said the Captain would be cleared in time, but at no point did I claim I would not aid him."

McCoy sputtered. "Damn it, man, lying by omission is still lying."

"I had made no decision as to which action to pursue," Spock replied, "therefore I could not have made you aware of my, at the time, non-existing plans."

McCoy glared at him and sat down on the bed, obviously running out of steam. "Splitting hairs as always," he mumbled, rubbing tired eyes.

Spock understood his frustration. While he could keep his own at bay, he was not above acknowledging it. Trying to follow Jim, when he did not want them to, trying to find out what was going on at the same time and whether or not there was anything behind the actual, vague accusations that Captain Demmings of Starfleet Security had made... It was a frustrating endeavor. Spock could have imagined an easier situation to be in, but he knew his Captain and was not about to simply give up.

Not now that he had a lead that he was sure was ninety-two percent correct.

"While impulsiveness is not in my nature," Spock said quietly as he sat down opposite McCoy to avoid looming over him, "I was aware that the situation for Captain Kirk may be more dire than we first thought."

"Isn't it enough that the fleet thinks he's aiding a criminal?" McCoy asked, leaning back against the bulkhead.

"I attempted to gain information from Admiral Pike," Spock explained, letting his mind replay the short conversation he had been subjected to.

"What did Pike have to say?"

"Very little," Spock admitted, "although I had the impression that he was hiding something, that he was trying to protect Kirk."

"I'm not surprised," McCoy said. At Spock's questioning eyebrow, he continued. "The Admiral was always interested in Jim's progress at the Academy, and we both know that he wanted him to have the Enterprise. I'm sure Jim's and your rescue of him from the Narada didn't hurt the cause."

"Indeed, the Admiral does favor Captain Kirk, but even so, he is loyal to Starfleet. If he is trying to cover for Kirk, I am sure he believes him to be innocent. As it is," Spock continued, "I am not willing to consider him guilty until faced with solid proof of such."

"Like I would do any different," McCoy drawled. "And you don't seem to be surprised by my showing up here, either."

Spock raised an eyebrow and kept his face neutral. "You have a tenacious personality, Doctor, and you would no more turn your back on James Kirk than I would," he paused and watched McCoy curiously gazing back. "Also, there is a sixty-six percent chance that you will be of use at a later point, knowing Jim's habit for finding trouble."

"Thanks," McCoy said with a glare. "More like trouble finding him."

"Thanking me for making an observation is illogical, Doctor," Spock said quietly, not because he didn't know this was a purely human thing to do, but because he knew it would rile the doctor up and thus make him worry less about Jim for a while, there was no reason for him not to indulge.

"Your ears are illogical!" McCoy sputtered.

Spock refrained from commenting. There was riling the doctor up and then there was, as Jim would put it, 'poking a rabid badger with a stick'.

McCoy watched him for a moment and Spock would have, if he were human, been feeling wary.

"You gonna tell me why you're here? And don't give me that loyalty schtick," McCoy rumbled.

"I owe Jim this," Spock admitted readily. The closer he was to the truth, the easier it was to convince McCoy that that was all it was. The easier it would be to cling to that reason.

"Owe him? And I think this is the first time I've heard you calling him anything but Captain,"

"We are not on duty and Jim is now considered AWOL. It does not hurt our search and Jim's case to avoid drawing attention by using his full name in public." Spock paused for a moment. "We are looking for 'Jim', not the renowned Captain Kirk."

"I expected you to claim it was out of loyalty to your Captain and superior officer," McCoy said, eyes never leaving Spock's.

"I am doing this out of loyalty," Spock replied, sitting back on the bed, folding his hands in his lap. "Loyalty to a man who forgave me my transgressions upon his person."

"As a friend then. I didn't think Vulcans did friends," McCoy replied.

Spock had no trouble recognizing his own words, spoken early on, after the first month of their five-year-mission. "Indeed." It had been Kirk who had dragged a reluctant Spock into his circle of close friends and Kirk who had proven his words wrong.

"I hate you," McCoy muttered, but there was no negative emotion to his words.

"If I were prone to displays of emotion, I believe I would claim 'the feeling's mutual'," Spock replied, keeping his tone as even as always.

McCoy stared at him and then threw his head back, laughing loudly. Only, his momentum was so he whacked the back of his head against the bulkhead. "Ow!"

"Please be careful, Doctor. It would be illogical for you to harm yourself. You may yet be needed for your medical skills when we find Jim."

McCoy snorted. "Indeed," he said with a grin.

Spock did not miss the visible decrease of tension in the man's body and considered his goal reached successfully.

14 Months Earlier

Captain Kirk came around his desk and leaned back to sit on it. He kept his gaze on Spock's, never for a moment wavering.

"We didn't so much get off on the wrong foot as we've stomped all over each other's feet," he said by way of greeting.

Spock stayed where he was, a few feet away, hands clasped behind his back. He was still getting used to his Captain's way of dealing with situations, not to mention his crew.

Jim grinned. "What I mean is that ... we're supposed to be working together and I know we won't operate like perfectly oiled machinery this early on, but..." Kirk trailed off, watching Spock with a yearning that should have frightened him.

He did, however, understand it. He had spoken with his counterpart before making his decision to stay with Starfleet. Still, he had taken on the part of Kirk's voice of reason already. "Forcing it to work may have a detrimental effect."

Jim sighed explosively. "I know! But I'm an illogical human being, I wantthis, and I want it yesterday."

Spock raised an eyebrow, letting his opinion on Kirk's choice of words shine through clearly.

Kirk rolled his eyes. "Don't give me a lecture on the impossibility of time travel. You know what I meant."

"On the contrary. I am sure time travel will prove to be possible in the future at some point. It is merely an equation waiting to be discovered."

Kirk's gaze softened visibly. "I adore your nerdy love affair with science," he said with a small laugh.

Spock fought down an unfamiliar flutter in his chest. "I do not even know where to begin with a reply to your illogical choice of words."

"Don't bother, Spock," Kirk said, still grinning as he smacked Spock on the shoulder.

Spock was unsure how he felt about this habit of Kirk's, even more so, how he was supposed to react to it. Part of him balked at the familiarity of such a touch, yet part of him welcomed this openness that Kirk showed him. It would never be what he had witnessed so far between Dr. McCoy and Kirk, but he knew his own limitations well enough to admit that he would not be comfortable with their level of interaction.

" Take it as a compliment. You like your science and I like the way you go at it," Kirk continued, leaning back on his hands. "Tenacious."

His position showed off his fitness and the ease with which he inhabited his own body. A skill that Spock was illogically jealous of.

Spock raised his eyebrow. "I could choose to describe the way you act, using the very same word."

"See, we are alike in some ways," Jim replied with glee.

"May Surak pray for our katras," Spock said drily. He was finding it harder not to play along the more time he spent in the Captain's company.

Kirk's eyes widened comically. "Was that a joke?" he asked in disbelief. "It was a joke!"

Spock kept his face expressionless, but he had to admit to himself that he quite enjoyed being the cause of his Captain's mirth. "Vulcans do not joke, Captain."

Kirk raised an eyebrow at him. "Nor do they pray to their gods since the Time of Awakening," he replied drily, "and it's Jim, Spock, we're off duty at the moment."

Spock didn't answer, but he could read the challenge in Kirk's eye and he knew this would not be the last time they would have this conversation.

Chapter 2

Doctor McCoy had allowed Spock to rest the previous evening without asking too many question, which Spock greatly appreciated. Of course, it was borrowed time, which he had known from the start. As they made their way quickly and easily through security at their next transport (thanks to a few well placed subroutines planted in the system a few hours earlier by spock) Spock knew there would be no putting it off for much longer.

"You were smart enough to have Uhura help you track Jim, I was smart enough to know you'd be working with her help."

"Nyota will keep our search secret," Spock said, gesturing for McCoy to follow him.

"I'll give you this one," McCoy said quietly when he caught up with Spock, "you seem to have thought this through."

"On the contrary, Doctor, I am, as the Captain would say, 'winging it'."

McCoy's laughter was low and warm, the kind of laugh that Spock had only ever heard Jim cause in the past.

They stayed quiet while they found their two-person cabin that Spock had booked them. Sitting on their bunks, he watched McCoy fidget. "Ask your questions, Doctor," he said quietly. "If it will make you feel better."

"Emotional advice from a Vulcan," McCoy grinned, "now there's a thing I never thought I'd hear."

"There really is no need for insults," Spock replied evenly. He found McCoy's banter illogically comforting.

"Okay, point taken," McCoy agreed. "Now tell me, what do you have planned? And don't give me that winging shit, because you're too much of a thinker to pull such a stunt. That's more Jim's MO."

Spock watched him for a moment, then nodded. According to his calculations, the Doctor's presence would not decrease his chances of finding Jim, even if the odds were that it would be more difficult to stay hidden from Starfleet intelligence. The pros outweighed the cons.

"Knowing our Captain, he will be covering his trail quite well. It was not easy following him this far and it is unlikely that this will change," Spock admitted.

"How well have you read his file?" McCoy asked, sitting back on his bunk.

"Only what has been in his Starfleet file," Spock admitted. "I have never felt the need to search out information that was none of my business."

"Well, Jim's little stunt with your test at the academy was pretty vanilla compared to what he's capable of," McCoy said. "Some of his past record, I'm sure Pike wiped out or hid, because Jim would've never gotten into command track at the academy otherwise. He's always been good at covering his tracks, at least when he's cared about it and considering how well he's covered up this time, I'd say he cares a lot."

Spock nodded slowly. "This does decrease the likelihood of finding the Captain," he admitted.

"Not that that'll keep us from trying," McCoy finished for him, watching him with a small smile.

"Of course not. However, it may take time we do not have."

"Well, I know for a fact that the others will buy us as much time as they can," McCoy said with a shrewd grin.

"I know that Nyota will relay any information she can," Spock agreed. She'd said as much to him when she'd found out what he was going to do. He also knew that she would feed Starfleet as much inaccurate information as she could without putting herself in a position where she would be suspected of such.

"And Chekov and Sulu will do what they can as well," McCoy grinned, "although I don't know what, possibly plant false information, but I guess as long as we don't know what they'll get up to, we won't be worrying too much."

"Vulcan's do not worry," Spock said quietly, but he was doing his calculations in his head, adjusting to this new information.

"Speak for yourself, hob-goblin," McCoy said with a snort, but without any of the usual annoyance. "They'll do what they can and I'll worry for the both of us. Not to mention, Scotty will delay the repairs of the Enterprise as much as he can without calling any undue attention to it. Said something about over-thinking the plumbing would make it easier to stop up the drain." McCoy shot him a grin. "Scotty will find enough stuff for them to work on to delay however long we'll need."

"So none of us will be called back before the ship is ready," Spock finished for him. He did not waste time on explaining to McCoy that he had understood the vernacular.

"I'm not teaching this time around," McCoy agreed, "so Starfleet isn't expecting me back any time soon." He gave Spock a searching look. "Now, I'd asked for time off, but how the hell did you get a green light for taking leave when you were signed up for teaching?"

Spock folded his hands in his lap. "My father relayed a message to Starfleet, requesting I leave for New Vulcan."

"Well, I'll be," McCoy said with laugh and Spock was caught for a moment by the fine lines at the corners of his eyes, where the skin crinkled. "You had your dad call to give you an excuse to get out?"

"Time was of the essence and my father, while not completely in agreement with the need for covering up my search, agreed to do so nonetheless," Spock said stiffly.

"I'm not arguing against a plan that worked!" McCoy said, gesturing with his hand. "I'm just glad you could pull those strings when it was needed."

Spock inclined his head in agreement. Indeed, his father had professed to not understand Spock's reasons, but he had been more than willing to aid Spock -- after telling him how illogical his request had been.

"So, we're in this together, because we both... I'd say worry about Jim, but I'll never get you to admit that," McCoy said with a laugh as he lay back on his bunk. "I could say care, but while we both know that's the right term, I'll never get you to admit to that either."

"But I do care, Doctor McCoy," Spock said evenly, letting the teasing words slide off. "I care about the future of our ship, and what might be transpiring in the midst of Starfleet." Spock knew it wasn't wrong to say that he cared about Jim, but he was not going to let McCoy find out about it. He would, as Jim would say, never hear the end of it.

He sat down on the floor, readying himself for meditation, letting McCoy's chuckles follow him into his place of calm.

6 Months Earlier

Spock leaned his head against the cool tiles of the shower cabin. His body was aching, though not from the exercise it had been subjected to. Although Jim was a capable fighter and rarely ever followed basic rules, he was no match for Spock when they sparred.

No, his whole being was aching from holding back. Physically as well as mentally. He was at loss to explain how Jim could repeatedly get through his defenses and why he almost welcomed the intrusion.

It was wrong of him to glean such pleasure from close proximity without Jim's knowledge. It was also distracting at the most inopportune times. Illogically, when he should have fallen back to his quarters to meditate, he had agreed to a game of chess in the Captain's quarters.

What an illogical fool he was.

Spock willed his body to return under his control. He had agreed as Jim had laughingly admitted that he'd never best Spock in a fight, but he'd take a rematch with the chessboard after they'd showered.

A glutton for punishment, Spock realized, was the best description of his own need to seek temptation where and when he should not.

Chapter 3

McCoy turned out to be a surprisingly adequate travel companion. Spock had always wondered about the easiness of the friendship Kirk had with the ship's CMO. Although the doctor was good at his job, his personality had been the root of much ...discontent to Spock.

To some extent, Kirk seemed to understand that as a Vulcan, Spock did have emotions but would not act upon them. It was an insight Spock suspected his future self had shared in some way. McCoy, however, seemed to buy into the reputation of Vulcans being heartless unemotional creatures. Spock knew, that on occasion, simply to rile up the man, he had been strengthening that impression as well. However, while Spock had expected McCoy to grate on his nerves, in the end, they found a mutual silence agreeable. Most of the time.

"I fail to see why you keep making this sound," Spock eventually said. Not complaining, of course, but McCoy had a strange habit of humming under his breath and to sensitive Vulcan hearing it was beginning to... Spock refused to name it a nuisance yet, but it was fast becoming one.

"Huh?" McCoy looked up from where was packing the last of his clothes as they were to depart the ship. This was the fourth one they had boarded and although Spock was certain they were still on Kirk's trail, there were times where he had been more than a little impressed with the way the young human's mind worked, always one step ahead of them with plenty of false leads to delay them.

The four weeks Spock had shared space with McCoy, while not as bad as he would have thought, still brought some strain to his routine. It was possible, that by the time they did catch up with Kirk, he would take that out on their Captain. Seemed only fitting as it was his fault that they were on this trip

The Captain would understand, Spock was sure of it. He would make sure of it.

"You seem to find it necessary to... hum," Spock clarified. "It may be a minor sound to the human ear, but to my superior hearing it is grating."

"Huh, finally found something that you find 'grating', have I?" McCoy said with a soft laugh.

Spock fully expected him to continue, to make himself even more of a problem to Spock. Merely because McCoy enjoyed riling Spock almost as much as Spock enjoyed riling the doctor.

"It's not half as much fun without Jim acting as a buffer," McCoy said with a sigh as he dumped his bag on the floor and sat down on the bed opposite Spock's.

"An interesting way to view the Captain," Spock replied, folding his hands and relaxing. At least physically. McCoy was at his most dangerous when he was calm and level headed.

"He is, you know," McCoy continued, watching Spock with a strange look on his face. "It's not half as much fun being a duo as a trio." With those strange words, McCoy stood, took his bag and left the room, heading for the airlock where they would be departing the ship in approximately 8.5 minutes.

Spock took a deep breath, centering himself. It seemed that, to some extent, McCoy was capable of unsettling Spock as only Kirk normally could. Perhaps he should take a leaf out of Jim's book and consider if the doctor wasn't worth more effort than a mere acquaintance and fellow officer.

He knew his father would call it illogical to pursue ...friendships like the one he had been developing with Kirk over the past two years. Kirk perplexed him, hardly ever did as Spock expected, he was frequently the cause of quite a lot of unease and trouble, not to mention he drove Spock to distraction.

Taking another deep breath before he stood, Spock banished those last unbidden thoughts from his mind. If indeed they brought Kirk back and the whole situation was cleared and they would find their way back to the bridge of the Enterprise, there was no room for whatever Spock wanted, because duty and ship came first.

Starbase 352 was nothing out of the ordinary, though because it was on the outskirts of Federation space, it was frequented by a lot of species that never set foot anywhere near where Spock had been with the Enterprise. Quite frankly, Spock had never, in one place encountered quite so many Klingons.

McCoy had grumbled as he always did, but Spock did not have to trust in his telepathic abilities to read the doctor. He was nervous and with good reason. While they had not as such had any violent run-ins with the Klingon Empire, the status quo between them and the Federation was tedious at best, violently unstable at worst.

And it would be here, of all places, that they finally tracked down Jim.

A long hallway, people coming and going and Spock caught the flash of recognition. Hair, back of the head, shoulders, arms and then he was gone. This was by far the closest they had managed since they'd left Earth and it was more than possible that the brief glimpse that Spock had caught was not in fact Jim, just someone who looked like him.

Still, he tapped McCoy on the arm and sped up as much as he could, making his way through the other visitors of the space station. He caught another glimpse of the man (it was Jim, it had to be), as he left the main hallway and disappeared off into one of the connecting tubes.

Spock kept going, and he did not even try to force his pace and breathing into a more normal one. For that little moment, he realized that the disappearance of his friend may have had a greater impact on him than he had first calculated.

Winding his way down through increasingly narrow hallways, barely acknowledging other people now, Spock eventually stopped, narrowly avoiding McCoy running into him.

Looking around, Spock knew they had lost Jim again.

"'Nother wild goose chase, huh?" McCoy asked, panting as he had been running to keep up with Spock.

"Negative," Spock replied, turning around and looking down the deserted corridor in the direction they had just come. "It was him. He is still on the base."

"How can you be sure? Did you see him?" McCoy's face lit up.

"I believe so. There is a ninety five point eight percent possibility that it was he."

"So, not a hundred percent," McCoy argued, leaning against the wall, breathing deeply.

"Few things are ever a hundred percent, Doctor, but I am sure it was the Captain."

"Well, if it was, we lost him," McCoy agreed, making a face.

"Indeed." Spock turned around again, adjusting the strap of the duffle bag he was carrying. He did not normally listen to what Jim would call intuition, but something was tugging at him, as if he had knowledge he did not know how to access.

"We lost?" McCoy asked, obviously mistaking Spock's indecision.

"No, I believe we should go this way," Spock said, finally letting go and letting his senses lead him on. What did they have to lose?

McCoy opened his mouth as if to argue when ahead, Spock caught the sound of commotion, there was shouting and before he knew it, he was off again, heading, not away from the sound, but toward it. He did not miss McCoy's grumbled curses involving Spock's ancestry, color of his blood as well as the shape of his ears.

He could care less at that moment. Exiting one of the tube-like hallways, he entered a larger one and the sight that met him instantly forced him to react. He smoothly intervened as a Deltan male lashed out at Jim, who stood over an unconscious Klingon. He could smell the blood of the wounded warrior but all he could focus on was at that very moment, Jim was in the line of danger again. The Deltan leveled a crude looking phaser at him, but never managed to shoot before Spock knocked his hand up and as the Deltan shouted in surprise, Spock grabbed his arm, forced it around his back and put enough pressure on his wrist to make him drop the weapon.

With a low growl that Spock would later find the time to feel embarrassed about, he grabbed the Deltan's neck and found the right nerves, dropping him into unconsciousness.

It all took less than ten seconds and when he looked up he found Jim staring at him, lips slightly parted with an unreadable look on his face. For a moment they stood like that, Jim watching Spock who stood stock still above the incapacitated Deltan.

"Fancy meeting you guys here," Kirk said, his face splitting into a grin, though Spock caught the flash of something else at first. Something unfamiliar.

Spock stepped forward, to his own surprise, he wanted to get closer to Jim, check that he was unharmed. Aborting the move, he stepped around the Captain, though close enough to feel the heat of his body. He focused on McCoy who was kneeling on the floor next to the Klingon.

"Bones?" Kirk queried, turning to stand next to Spock and Spock was almost thankful for his move, because he was unwilling to leave his side at any point soon.

"Nothing that can't be saved," McCoy muttered, pulling a small regenerator from his bag. "Although it'd probably be a really good idea to get her to a sickbay somewhere, because all I can do right here and now with what I've got, will be temporary measures at most."

"I know her captain," Kirk said, pulling out a communicator that Spock immediately recognized as Klingon technology. "Don't ask," he said to Spock when he turned to him for a moment and Spock inclined his head.

Hopefully there would be time for questions and answers later.

"James to Sutai Gord," Kirk said, waiting for the reply.

"nuqneH?" came the guttural reply.

"There's been a slight problem," Jim said, "tai Ve'tau has been attacked and is in need of medical help. A friend of mine is a doctor and has done what he can, but we need to get aboard the ship to save her."

"Ghuy'cha'!" was all that could be heard among the growled words. "Stand by for transport."

Spock could hear the sound of shouting in the distance and as far as he could tell, those were station security officers. "Security is on its way."

Kirk winced. "We so don't need this, but if we simply disappear they might try too hard to find us."

"I could speak with the authorities," Spock offered, going through the options in his mind, "but I do not know what happened here."

"Just tell them you came across a Deltan trying to kill a Klingon and intervened," Jim said slowly, "they won't ask too much, they'll be too busy worrying about a possible Klingon retaliation."

Spock inclined his head. This would, strictly speaking, not be lying.

Jim pulled a small padd from his pocket, he gave Spock a quick look. "You bring one?"

Spock nodded. "It is on my usual frequency and password code," he agreed.

"I'll let you know when and how you can join us on the Klingon ship," Jim promised him.

Spock didn't even bother raising an eyebrow. Things were getting stranger by the minute but he should know by now that it was standard procedure in Kirk's wake. He wanted to... Spock straightened.

"I won't disappear," Kirk promised him and he could tell from the look on his face that he was speaking the truth.

"I won't let him," McCoy grumbled from where he was kneeling by the Klingon.

Spock handed McCoy his duffle bag and stepped back to stay out of the range of the transporter and Jim barked into the communicator for two humans and one Klingon to be beamed aboard. The air sparked and then they were gone. Centering himself, Spock turned around to face the security personnel.

It went... surprisingly well. Considering it was against base regulations to beam to and from parts of the station not specifically designated for transport and there was blood on the flooring of one of the hallways, security let Spock out after only a few hours of what Kirk would refer to as bureaucratic bullshit. They were sufficiently far from the main routes of the Federation to avoid an actual investigation and the head of security seemed to almost lose interest when it turned out the victim was a. Klingon, b. not dead. And possibly, the most important fact c. the Klingon Captain was not going to take his anger out on the station.

Quite the opposite, as Spock had just received a message from Kirk, telling him that they were in the main bar, celebrating that tai Ve'tau had survived. It was more than possible that this was merely an excuse for the Klingons to drink and intimidate everyone else. Spock knew perfectly well that Jim would be in the thick of it, enjoying himself too much for his own good.

Spock paged him and waited outside the bar, wishing to avoid inflicting the noise on his sensitive ears. And quite frankly, he wanted to have a word with his Captain.

"Spock, you should come in and join us," Jim said, grinning widely as he exited the noisy establishment.

Spock didn't miss the tiredness and wariness in his eyes though. "I must speak with you, Captain."

"Not... Spock, I'm not your Captain out here. I'm not even Kirk." Kirk sighed deeply and led Spock inside, weaving between the people who were coming and going from the club. They found a fairly quiet corner and Jim leaned close to keep their conversation between them. "I go by Jim Samuel," he admitted, his lips quirking a little. "A bit of a tribute to my brother that one and close enough for me to not make mistakes."

"But why the subterfuge?" Spock asked.

"I'm... I can't...," Kirk trailed off. "I can't talk of this here, not in public. There's some pretty odd shit going down at the moment and I've gotten myself caught in the middle of it." He chuckled without humor. "Nothing new about that, huh?"

"Cap...," Spock paused, then altered his choice of words. "Jim... you are not on your own."

"I know, I've got you and Bones on a normal day, but this isn't normal, I'm sorry."

"Come back with us, Jim," Spock asked, though he knew how stubborn his Captain was.

"I can't, not yet," Jim said with a shake of the head. "I have to clear my name, get to the bottom of this before I can go back." Jim shook his head. "Come celebrate with us tonight, Spock. Tomorrow we go our separate ways. What you don't know they can't force you to reveal."

"And who would 'they' be?" Spock asked.

"I don't know, Spock. Until I do, I can't go back." Kirk stared at him for a long moment, expression unreadable.

Although Spock couldn't read him, he could not help but wonder if Jim was pleading for him to, if not understand, then accept.

And it unsettled Spock to find that he had trouble doing so, that he could not find the right words to argue, but neither did he want to let Jim go without a fight. That more than anything caused him to stay silent a beat too long and he was startled back to the now as Jim patted his arm and gave him a look of regret before turning around and leaving Spock to his own thoughts.

Spock made his way over to the bar as he was reluctant to leave and thus let Jim out of his sight. The bartender, a scowling looking human, thankfully didn't raise an eyebrow when Spock requested orange juice.

The Klingon to his left, however, was giving him the eye and Spock ignored him, focused on his glass, while constantly aware of Jim's whereabouts.

He felt and smelled the Klingon's breath, the male musk of arousal, before any words were uttered.

"No." Spock took a sip of his juice.

"I'm T'keuth, I like a challenge," T'keuth rumbled.

"I do not care," Spock replied. "Your attention is unwanted."

"I hear Vulcan's are frigid," T'keuth said with a loud bark of a laugh, "but in my experience the more control any species displays, the more fun when they lose it."

Spock turned his head and met the leering gaze of T'keuth. "A Vulcan would never allow him or herself to be baited into losing control by a Klingon."

"Ah, but you're saying someone not Klingon could? I find that even more of a challenge, then."

Spock saw the movement of the Klingon's hand before it even twitched in his direction and a quick move had T'keuth slumped against the bar, head impacting on the counter top. As he turned his attention back to his glass, he noticed McCoy at the other side of the oval bar, watching him while doing his best not to laugh out loud.

Spock refused to award the man's mirth with more than a raised eyebrow.

Their attention was drawn to the main floor a moment later, when a crash echoed through the room.

Turning around, Spock bit back a very un-Vulcan sigh. In the thick of it was, of course, Jim, even though he should be keeping a low profile.

Spock was on his feet and on the floor before the thought even formed in his mind. The Klingon Jim had shoved, shoved him back, hard, and when Jim stumbled, Spock was there to catch him, steady him and on one fluid movement, he pinched the Klingon and two of his friends who were moving into the fight was well.

The bar went nearly dead quiet and for seconds, no one moved, all eyes on the three unconscious Klingons on the floor.

"Aw, Fuck, "Jim muttered, grabbing Spock by the arm and dragging him toward the exit, past Gord who was, surprisingly, roaring with laughter.

Jim didn't stop once they were outside, but kept going down the narrower hallway off to the side of the bar. At a deserted viewport, Jim pulled hard on Spock's hand.

Spock did not relish pointing out to Jim that he was having trouble shielding against Jim's touch, but all he was getting was pure annoyance and lust, the latter making Spock's skin tingle.

Attempting to pull his hand free, Spock only managed to pull Jim right up against him and for a split second, Spock reeled from the heat. Before he managed to get himself under control.

"I know you normally do what you can to keep me safe, Spock, but that was uncalled for," Jim hissed, his breath bursting against Spock's face.

"I made the assumption that you did not know that such an altercation with a Klingon," Spock began.

"There's an old saying of 'if you assume, you make an ass out of you and me'" Jim snarled.

"I beg your pardon?" Spock held his ground, but Jim's ire was palpable.

"An altercation as you put it, with Klingons, in the way that I was in, in the bar, yeah, it's like a good round of foreplay, I know that."

Spock knew logically that time went ahead at a specific rate, yet while his gaze was caught by Jim's, while they were standing so close that their chests brushed with each breath and Spock could see flecks of darker blue in Jim's eyes... it felt as an eternity passed.

It was almost as if Jim was waiting for something, expecting Spock to do something, but although Spock felt drawn to Jim, knew that his instincts called for him to mark the man as his own, he would do no such thing. It would not be fair to Jim to bind him to him, permanently. Jim would not thank him for it, would possibly even, eventually, loathe Spock for it.

It was not a chance Spock was about to take. Not while they were still out here, trying to help Jim.

Whatever it was Jim was waiting for, he didn't get it and he looked almost disappointed. "Spock, my sex life is mine to deal with, unless..." he trailed off, then shook his head, an almost defeated air to him. "Just, stay out of it, okay?"

Without waiting for an answer from Spock, Jim stepped back and left him. The hallway where they were was eerily quiet and Spock closed his eyes for a moment, listening to nothing but the lack of sound. In his attempt to defend Jim, he had made a grave mistake. He had assumed that Jim needed his protection and thusly exercised a proprietary right he did not have.

The Day of Kirk's disappearance.

Spock shut down the vidlink, his father's words reverberating in his mind.

Humans, most species, to be truthful, found Vulcans very straight forward, but Spock found this a ludicrous statement. In truth, Vulcans in general were very circumspect with their choices of words, and his father was a master at it.

Still, today, Sarek's words had been ill veiled and no matter how Spock looked at them the outcome was the same.

His father had, with each communication, pressed Spock to find someone to bond with, someone to create a lifelong connection with - for the sake of his own mental wellbeing. However, for this once, his father had implied, though not asking outright, but far more requesting information about James Kirk. And more importantly, Spock spending time with him off duty.

There was a ninety two point six five percent chance that his father believed that Spock was in a relationship, although he knew that Spock had terminated his romantic connection with Uhura at the beginning of their five year mission. Quite frankly, it seemed his father believed that Spock was involved with his Captain.

Reviewing his words of their previous communiqués Spock searched for any slips on his part. None. He could think of none. He was so very careful about showing anything but a professional interest in Jim Kirk when he spoke to outsiders. He was just as careful when he spent time with Kirk alone, because he was, for his boisterous behavior, a very observant man.

Sarek had also mentioned that he had spoken with Spock's counterpart and... that quite frankly, should unsettle most sane people. All the while as the elder Spock had lobbied for Spock to stay in Starfleet, Spock had not missed the hints that it was more important to his future counterpart that he stay with Jim Kirk.

Spock was torn from his thoughts as another message came in. A rather strange order for him to come to Captain Demmings' office, ASAP. Spock raised an eyebrow, wondering what might have happened. However, if it were ship's business, Jim would be there as well, but if not, he would be on the safe side and send Jim a message to let him know that he would be delayed for their evening dinner.

Chapter 4

Spock steeled himself as he reentered the bar. As much as he was loathe to watch Jim flirt and probably engage in questionable sexual conduct with a Klingon, he was reluctant to let the man out of his sight for too long. Although Jim had said that they would be parting ways the following day, Spock knew that he could count on McCoy to be as tenacious as ever and Spock would not let Jim go without a fight either.

Casting his eyes around, Spock realized that he could not see Jim anywhere, and a moment later, Gord caught him and slapped him on the shoulder, laughing loudly.

"Did you solve your tension problem with our friend?" he boomed.

Spock fought the urge to nerve pinch Gord as well, if for no other reason than to shut him up.

"Where's Jim?" McCoy's voice was only just loud enough to make it above the noise.

Spock winced as the smell of alcohol hit his olfactory senses. "He was ahead of me, he must be in here," Spock replied, feeling the heavy weight of dread in the pit of his stomach.

"Jim didn't come back," McCoy said and when Spock met his eyes, he could tell how worried the man was.

Spock initiated a call from his PADD to Jim's communicator, but there was no reply.

Gord had obviously paid attention. "I'll have my people conduct a search and we'll return to the ship and see what we can find from a scan."

"The port authorities will not condone...," Spock began.

"The port authorities will bend to my will," Gord said with a nasty, toothy grin.

Spock was beginning to see why Jim kept this sort of company.

"It may not be necessary at the moment," Spock said, turning his attention back to his PADD. He had the registry number of Jim's comm. unit from earlier and with a little tweaking of the subroutines...

"Remind me to never get on your bad side," McCoy said, his voice full of respect.

"I was unaware of one side being better than the other," Spock muttered, as he swung around, heading back out the door, following the signal. He was aware of McCoy and Gord following him, but he was fully focused on finding Jim.

He also fought the illogical ...feeling that he had somehow caused Jim grievance and that this had interfered with Jim returning to the bar.

Which in itself was even more illogical. Jim was a free human being, he could do as he pleased. And whatever he pleased, Spock realized, caused a tightening feeling in his chest.

Moving between people, Spock followed the signal and ended up in a narrow and deserted hallway, much like the one Jim and he had had their little talk in.

A glimmer of metal caught Spock's attention, and if he had ever felt the urge to swear in a situation before, this would be it. On the floor lay Jim's communicator, chirping with the pending call from Spock's unit.

"Fuck," McCoy breathed as he caught up with Spock. They both stared at the communicator and when Gord caught up with them, he muttered a similar sentiment.

Gord was gearing up for his station wide search, but Spock held up his hand as he surveyed the passage. If he wasn't much mistaken...

"There are cameras," he said quietly, "it stands to reason that somewhere, there is a recording of what has happened here."

"Then let's go get it," McCoy said impatiently.

"This is not a Starfleet base, Doctor," Spock said with a small frown. "They will not allow us to view said footage merely because we wish to."

"Can't you just hack the system?" McCoy asked curiously.

"If we had the time, yes," Spock admitted, not even feeling remotely guilty about considering it.

"Leave the footage to me," Gord said, a dangerous gleam to his eyes. "Go back to the the bar and return with the crew to the Vo' quv, I'll join you in a short while, with the surveillance footage."

"I'm not even going to ask," McCoy said, "the less I know, the better."

"Exactly, Doctor," Gord grinned, "we wouldn't want to cause you any lasting psychological damage."

"Jim's already seen to that," McCoy snorted, but he gave Gord a nod.

"Mr. Spock?" Gord turned his attention to him.

"For the sake of expedience, I believe you are right, Captain Gord," he admitted. It didn't sit well with him not to do all he could to find Jim again, but he also knew that in a place as the one they were now, subtlety would not help them when what they needed was knowledge as soon as possible.

The swiftness with which Gord gained access to the surveillance did not come as a surprise to Spock. He was already understanding that the Klingon Captain was best kept on their side, because he would pose a formidable adversary.

The grin on the Klingon's face when he entered the bridge where Spock and McCoy were waiting, along with the rest of Gord's bridge crew, told Spock that Gord had been successful in his endeavor.

Gord gestured at the main screen and ordered communications officer K'laug to run the acquired surveillance feed.

The footage was a little grainy, but Spock could see that Jim seemed burdened by something and he could not help but wonder what in their conversation could cause the look on his face. It wasn't quite defeat, but there was something there that nagged at Spock.

Someone walked up to Jim, his back to the camera and Spock found himself mildly annoyed that the hallway was too insignificant to the base security to be given two cameras so that they could pan around and see the man who was approaching Jim.

Jim, however, looked shocked, almost as if he'd seen a ghost. Right before his expression bloomed into a wide grin.

Spock felt how his heart almost seemed to stutter for a moment and put aside this knowledge for the time being. He would have to study this reaction later. Although he may admit to himself that he was fond of Jim, this reaction to someone else bringing Jim joy was... peculiar.

There was no sound on the recording, but they all watched in silence as Jim and the stranger embraced.

Words were exchanged and a moment later Jim nodded, following the stranger from the place and Spock saw as Jim dropped the communicator.

On purpose.

"God damned fool," McCoy hissed as he obviously hadn't missed the move either.

"Can we track him through the base using the surveillance?" Spock stepped forward. If Gord had only managed to gain access to the video from this hallway...

Gord nodded. "T'keuth will help you with the console." Gord gestured to a young male Klingon who stepped back from his station. Spock recognized him as the one who had made a pass on him in the bar.

"I will work faster on my own," Spock said. "Klingon is taught at Starfleet Academy, but I would not be adverse to your help in connecting my PADD to the system."

T'keuth looked to Gord for orders and Gord nodded. "Give the Vulcan the help he needs. Consider it atonement for your own trespasses." Gord's last words were accompanied by a deep booming laugh.

T'keuth didn't look terribly upset. "I regret my clumsy attempts earlier," he said to Spock as he tapped into the system to get Spock the codes he needed, "we do not often encounter Vulcans."

Spock raised an eyebrow at him. "And I apologize for reacting the way I did." He was, sorry that was, any other Vulcan would have firmly dissuaded such attention, but Spock had been so focused on Jim that he had had no room for patience. That was of course no excuse and a lapse in control that Spock knew he would have to work on.

Working his way single-mindedly through the footage, Spock felt his spirit sink as it seemed the man who was with Jim seemed to know where the cameras were, and thus managed to keep his face hidden at all times. He did, however, manage to find a gate number.

"Gate 3A at 2346," Spock conveyed to T'keuth, who went into the starbase database to search for whichever ship might have been moored there.

While he worked, Spock went back over the footage and at one point he realized he may not need a shot straight at the man's face to get an image. Right before the gate, there was a glass wall and if he could just enhance the footage enough and let the software do the rest...

"Shit, that's Gary Mitchell."

Spock would have jumped at the voice in his ear if he hadn't had the amount of self control that he did. "Doctor?"

"You know, Demmings was asking if we knew Gary Mitchell and that he's the one they suspect Jim is involved with and that it's him they really want for treason?"

"I know, Doctor, but even so, the image is a little unclear..."

McCoy shook his head. "It's Mitchell. I remember him and Jim being friends during the first two years at the Academy. Hardly ever saw one without the other. The amount of shit I'd have to get them out off sometimes. But yeah, that's definitely Mitchell."

"I can't just access the database and search for him," Spock mused and felt a pang of regret. "If he is wanted, they will have flagged any entry regarding him."

T'keuth and McCoy watched him expectantly.

"Find out which transport they are taking," Spock told them. "I'll try to access information about Mitchell."

"Don't do anything stupid," McCoy said.

Spock did not give him an answer, merely raised an eyebrow at him. The doctor should know better by now.

"Yeah, yeah, I didn't forget it's you I'm talking to," McCoy rumbled. "But I know how single-minded you and Jim get when the other's in trouble, so don't give me the eyebrow for asking you to be careful."

"Very well, doctor McCoy," Spock agreed. And McCoy was right. Spock's duty lay with his Captain and the ship and it seemed Jim's loyalty lay with his crew. There was precedence warranting such a warning from McCoy after all.

"I'll check on my patient and then I expect to hear good news," McCoy said grumpily, breaking the tension between them.

Gord watched Spock intensely and Spock nodded. He would get to his information gathering. "Captain, are you familiar with Gary Mitchell?" he asked, turning the PADD over to allow the Klingon to get a good look.

Gord frowned. "That wasn't his name when we came across him, but it's beginning to make sense this whole business."

"What do you mean?" Spock inquired as he sat about writing the subroutines he'd need to get into Starfleet's databases undetected.

"There has been talk of splinter cells within the Klingon army that conduct experiments that, as warriors, the rest of the Empire cannot condone."

"Experiments?" Spock paused in his coding, looking over at the Captain.

"Little is known, but the few test subjects that have escaped were not of a sound mind," Gord said with a dark look.

Finishing the subroutine, Spock initiated it and let it run its course before entering his search string into the database.

"What was the nature of the experiments?" Spock asked, as he scrolled through the information he could access about Gary Mitchell. He had graduated the year before Jim's class, had been a skilled student in many areas, but also marked up as being a troublemaker, though this did no surprise Spock if he and Jim had been friends and the hints McCoy had left were anything to go by.

Spock paused as he broke one of the restrictions on the personnel file. He wasn't surprised to see that there was a warrant for the man's arrest, but there was a number that made him raise his eyebrows.

Psi-level: 10+

This was... very high, especially for a human.

"There are rumors that they are trying to create the perfect telepath," Gord said in a low voice as he stepped closer.

Spock turned the padd over again and pointed at the psi information.

"There is also a rumor that they are working with other species," Gord added as he studied the information.

"Starfleet may very well be involved as well," Spock admitted, remembering Demmings and his insistence they help him find Jim - and Jim's missing friend who was obviously Gary Mitchell. "Ethically unsound, not to mention it breaks so many rules it would take too long to list them," Spock said, "time we do not have."

Gord nodded. "It is not the way of the warrior to conduct such experiments. Other species have psi powers, Klingons do not. We have strength and a strong sense of honor instead. As well as our spirits and will to survive and conquer."

Spock didn't mention that he could match a Klingon in strength as well as having psi abilities.

Gord grinned. "The Klingon Empire is thankful that the Vulcan people turned to pacifism during the age of Surak," he said with a wink. "You would have been a formidable opponent."

"I choose to take that as a compliment, Captain," Spock said, allowing his mirth to show enough for Gord to see.

The Klingon laughed loudly.

"Captain!" T'keuth called from his station. "The two men we're looking for boarded a Tellarite cargo ship and we have their current trajectory."

Gord nodded. "Set a course to catch the ship, and when we're clear of the station and out of range of their scanners..." Gord gave Spock a strange look before continuing. "When we're clear, cloak the ship."

Gord wasn't the only one looking at Spock, but they all followed orders and Spock was more than a little surprised that the Captain would risk revealing a weaponry advantage for the sake of this mission.

"Before you ask," Gord said quietly, "not only did I agree to help Kirk, I was sanctioned by the Empire to get to the bottom of this and as Kirk seems to have an in, I use whatever resources I have at my disposal."

"A logical action," Spock agreed.

Gord grinned toothily at him before turning back to sit in his seat and bark orders at his crew.

Spock kept combing the database, but nothing new turned up. Mitchell had served aboard the USS Potemkin as navigator until shortly before the destruction of Vulcan where he had been ...Spock slowed his reading and took in all the words. He had been drafted by Starfleet intelligence, a subdivision that Spock could not find listed anywhere.

It was indeed shaping up in an unpredictable manner, this case.

Chapter 5

It only took three hours to catch up with the freighter, but it felt like a lot more to Spock, which in itself was illogical. Time passed as time passed. Like clockwork, to use a human term.

It didn't help that McCoy returned to the bridge every so often to ask if there was any news. He dug into Mitchell's records, just to familiarize himself with the man they were chasing.

Gord gave the order to decloak and they stayed out of sight behind a small moon.

T'keuth shook his head when he scanned the Tellarite ship. "There are no human life signs aboard, only Tellarite."

"It may have been a decoy, then," McCoy sneered.

"Calm yourself, Doctor," Spock told him, walking over to T'keuth to study the readings. "Show me the flight pattern of the ship from the station to this point." He had a feeling that they were indeed no longer aboard the Tellarite freighter.

Jim would call it a hunch and Spock would deny it.

There were very few places they could have departed from the ship and it hadn't stopped at any point... but it had slowed down. Spock called up the information of a planet they had passed earlier.

"This is a class-M planet," he said quietly, "the freighter dropped out of warp for sixty-seven seconds. More than enough time to initiate a beaming sequence."

Gord was watching him, quietly.

"T'keuth," Spock said as he turned to the young Klingon, "you are absolutely sure that there are no humans aboard the freighter at the present time?"

T'keuth nodded eagerly.

"Mr. Spock?" Gord stood and came over the science station.

Spock initiated his own little subroutines again and searched the Starfleet database. "The class-M planet is the only one on the ship's route that has a viable atmosphere. There is also a very old abandoned survey station on it."

"Abandoned?" Gord watched over Spock's shoulder, reading along.

"The planet has strong seismic and volcanic activity. It was deemed uninhabitable after several researchers were killed during the eruptions and planet quakes. It was used for researching the seismic activities, but once the mission was over, the place was left unmanned," Spock replied.

"And it's the only viable place?"

Spock nodded.

"Logical as a Vulcan should be," Gord said with a satisfied nod. "Set course for the planet."

"ETA twenty three minutes," the navigator replied.

"Cloak the ship," Gord demanded before sitting back down in his seat.

"Jim's a big boy," McCoy said quietly to Spock. "He's good at taking care of himself and he's got more lives than a cat."

Spock didn't answer. He could have taken that sentence apart, but to what end? It was obvious that McCoy was trying to comfort himself, not Spock and for once Spock understood why humans would do this in times of trouble.

He felt the worry fill his mind, however un-Vulcan it may seem, but he did worry about Jim, missed him, his presence... Spock shook his head a little. His father would have many a thing to say to Spock, if he found out how Spock truly felt about his own Captain.

So very un-Vulcan, yes, but perhaps par for the course for a man of the House of Surak.

Like father like son, which was probably how McCoy would have phrased it. Not that Spock was telling him any of this. It would be illogical to provide the man with too much ammunition.

"I take it you want to beam down when we get there," Gord called over to Spock.

"Affirmative," Spock replied.

"I'm going too," McCoy growled. "God knows what kind of shit Jim's gotten himself into."

Gord laughed. "I did guess as much, gentlemen. You'll beam down with K'fren. He's my chief of security and I trust him to protect you from any danger."

Spock nodded and gestured for McCoy to be quiet. As much as he suspected that McCoy wanted them to do this on their own, they needed Gord's help and they needed to stay on good terms with him.

Again, the minutes till they beamed down felt like an eternity. Spock could do nothing but hope that Jim was alright, that he was still alive.

Spock begged off the weapon K'fren offered him. "It's more than possible that Mitchell could turn any weapon we may have with us, against us." The information on Mitchell's file still didn't sit well with him. The man's psi rating had been worryingly high.

McCoy watched him for a moment, silently. "Frightening thought," he agreed and shook his head when he was offered a weapon as well.

When the Klingon complained to Gord, the Captain merely laughed. "Are you surprised, K'fren? The Vulcan is right. However, who knows if Mitchell and Kirk are on their own down there, and that's why I'm sending you down there with them. It's a risk, but I'm not letting you down there without protection."

K'fren muttered something unflattering under his breath and Spock fought a twitch of his lips. Spock was perfectly capable of taking care of himself and he knew that weapons would not aid him against Mitchell.

And he did right in worrying. The moment they set foot in the old research facility, Mitchell launched a mental attack on them. K'fren sank unconsciously to the ground and McCoy ran off in one direction babbling about giant alligators while Spock was rooted to the ground, his feet refusing to move.

Taking a deep breath, Spock secured his shields and fought off the insane urge to stay where he was. His head was pounding as he fought the suggestions Mitchell was planting in his mind. Just when he thought he was going to pass out, the pressure let up.

It could be a trap, Spock mused to himself as he wondered for a moment if he should find McCoy. K'Fren was still breathing and merely seemed to be unconscious. Their communicators seemed to be inoperable. Spock pocketed the one K'fren had given him before they had beamed down.

Suddenly Spock knew where Jim was and realized that it was most definitely a trap. There was no doubt that Mitchell had inserted the knowledge in his mind. However, Spock couldn't make himself resist the directions. Jim was there, and it was imperative that he find him and assess his condition.

'Please be well,' Spock thought to himself.

He found the stairs leading up into the structure. There had been elevators originally, but most of the technology had been ruined by continuous seismic activity. Spock spared a moment to consider the integrity of the building and judged it to be sound enough for the time being.

Most of the rooms were full of rubble and gutted out computers, wires sticking out of the walls. Spock's eyesight allowed him to see well enough to avoid obstacles, moving quietly through the dark hallways, up another set of stairs, and up here the walls were lined with cracks.

Stopping for a moment, Spock felt the tremble of a minor planet quake, at least one where the seismic center was far enough away to not endanger them.

Up ahead was a room, where light was spilling into the hallway. Daylight, and Spock could feel a draft of cool, fresh air. He knew, without a doubt, that Jim was there. Stopping a few feet from the doorway, Spock took a deep breath.

"Come on in, Commander. The more the merrier."

Spock did not recognize the voice, but he knew, before entering, that Mitchell was waiting for him. The question was, what state was Jim in?

"He's just unconscious," Mitchell told him as he entered the room.

Spock stopped dead and stared at the still form of his Captain, slumped against the cracked wall, next to a gaping hole where once a window had been.

"Why did you take Jim?" Spock asked, staring intently at Mitchell. He was still fighting to keep his shields up, even though he had a feeling that he was no match for Mitchell.

"Oh..." Mitchell looked at Jim for a moment, a tormented look on his face. He was sweating quite a lot, and his pupils were far too large for a normal human being. "I was trying to persuade him to go back. This is something I'm involved in, not him." Mitchell laughed hysterically.

"They contacted me and offered me to be part of something new, something big," Mitchell went on, his eyes distant, almost cloudy looking. "Said I would be an asset, invaluable to the cause. Only, only…." Mitchell drifted off for a moment, then shook his head again. "I was nothing but a glorified lab rat," he spat out.

Spock could feel the waves of anger and regret coming off Mitchell.

"I envy you Vulcans your ethics when it comes to telepathy," Mitchell said, his voice quieter. "What these people did, what they used my abilities for… they… tried to bottle what I could do, enhance it, amplify it and then force me to become a stronger telepath," Mitchell shook for a moment, then stilled. "Only… for all their precautions, I could read their minds, their intentions, their dark agendas and greedy, disgusting thoughts."

Mitchell drew a deep breath. "When I saw Jim again, touched his mind..."

Spock bristled. He did not relish the idea of anyone touching Jim's mind without the man's consent and Jim wouldn't...

"We used to do it," Mitchell went on, a faraway look on his face. "But I knew we had to be careful. It's just..." Mitchell rubbed his face, leaving streaks of dirt. He looked up, eyes piercing through Spock.

"Jim is very special, his mind is very special." Mitchell turned to look at Jim again. "His file always said he was psi-null, but it's not quite true."

Spock took a step forward. Maybe he could overpower....

"Don't you get it?" Mitchell whirled around, facing Spock. His eyes were wide, his pupils blown and he was perspiring profusely. "Jim's not just psi-null. He's like... like a vessel. An empty vessel that is begging to be filled."

Spock kept a wary eye on the man as he tried to gauge his Captain's condition. He could tell Jim was still breathing, but apart from that, there was no telling if he was of sound mind.

"Don't tell me you can't feel it, don't tell me you don't have the urge to fill him up, to possess him, to bind him to you."

Spock did not wince, but it came close. Was that it? Was this why he felt this attraction to Jim that wasn't wholly physical, an attraction that had so far kept him from a mind meld, a deep seated fear that he would not be able to leave such an intriguing mind behind without tying it to his own?

Mitchell trembled, stumbled, catching himself at the last moment. He staggered toward Spock, almost tripping over his own feet.

"I... my brain, it won't survive the massive psionic build-up for much longer," Mitchell gasped. "I... I've placed the information I had about all this in a safe place," he whispered, swaying on his feet.

Spock might have missed the quick tilt of his head toward Jim, but he was watching Mitchell like a hawk.

"Jim... Jim will know how to get it," Mitchell continued. "All that I've learned, all the people I know are involved, all the knowledge...." Mitchell cried out in pain, falling to his knees.

"Mr. Mitchell," Spock said quietly, fighting to not let his worry and despair for Jim bleed into his voice.

"Please, Mr. Spock," Mitchell gasped, "you have to promise me... pro-promise me you'll protect him when they come."

Spock made his way around Mitchell slowly, watching the curled up figure, expecting him to attack, but Mitchell stayed where he was, his heavy, raspy breathing the only sound in the room, only broken by the occasional whimper of pain.

Much to his relief, and yes, Spock had no trouble admitting this to himself, he found Jim breathing steadily, he even roused a little when Spock knelt by him, pulling him against his chest.

"Sp-Spock?" Jim's voice was barely audible, but Spock's hearing was above human and he had been impatiently keeping his attention out for any sign of consciousness.

"Hush, Jim." Spock cradled his head, quietly searching for any wounds.

"'m good, just... really, really tired," Jim muttered.

"I must bring you to McCoy," Spock said quietly.

"I'm good," Jim repeated, this time a little stronger.

He did not make any moves to leave Spock's embrace, something that made Spock's traitorous heart beat even faster.

"G-Gary?" Jim asked, trying to sit up to look around the room.

It stung Spock a little, though he forced it down hard and fast. Gary Mitchell was an old friend of Jim's and it was only logical, knowing Jim's loyalty once he considered someone his friend. A loyalty that Spock had found turned toward himself from early on and something he was unwilling to live without.

"It is as he himself feared," Spock said quietly, allowing enough lapse on his side to run his fingers comfortingly through Jim's hair. "His mind is burning itself up and there is nothing we can do."

Jim closed his eyes and nodded under Spock's hand. "Knew that," he admitted weakly. "Knew he'd do the right thing."

"He said you'd know how got get the evidence," Spock said quietly, "but it's not important right now. We need to get you medical help."

"Is too important," Jim muttered, "Gary ga-gave his life for it."

Spock looked up and over at Gary Mitchell's crumbled form. He was not going to tell Jim that the man was still breathing, but that his heart was beating with such speed that Spock knew he would not live for much longer.

Jim stirred and tried to sit up.

"Jim, please..." Spock began, but a hand on his arm stopped him.

"I'm feeling better, already, Spock," Jim assured him. "My head's not so fuzzy anymore."

Spock opened his mouth to reply when his attention was drawn by Mitchell, who was breathing harder, his body convulsing. At the same time, something seemed to cause a growing pressure right behind Spock's eyes, as if something was building right outside his carefully erected shields.

Something that blew hard and brightly, washing waves of pain over him, causing his consciousness to slip.

Chapter 6

"Come on, you green blooded idiot," someone muttered off in the distance.

Spock frowned, but it felt like too much of an effort to even try to open his eyes. There was a scent of medication in the air.

However, it was not that which had woken him up. It was a warm presence that seemed to be all around him, anchored to his right hand, that was held in a firm grip, skin to skin. Something that would normally have caused Spock to move his hand away, but not now. The familiar hum of Jim's mind was all around him, and he could no more move away from it than cut off his hand.

He knew he shouldn't revel in it, knew he should question his current inability to ask Jim to let go of him, to let go himself, to block Jim out of his mind. This was when he realized that unlike a mindmeld, Jim was not inside his mind, but seemed to be all around him, acting more as a shield to him, which in turn made Spock realized that his own shields were completely gone, and trying to raise them must have made his vitals go up, because he could hear Doctor McCoy swearing in the background.

"Don't," Jim said quietly and Spock almost felt like turning in his direction.

"Don't try to shield, don't try to open your eyes. Bones says you'll have some trouble with bright light for a couple of hours, and you'll probably be fighting a hell of a headache if you try to raise your shields."

"I didn't mention his damned shields," McCoy muttered nearby. "You said his shields were down, you said he should take it easy and you said you could help him."

"And I can," Jim mumbled. "Don't ask me how, but Gary left a lot of information in my head - you're not the only one with a headache," he continued.

Spock cleared his throat and a moment later, a straw was placed against his lips and he could draw a few sips of blessedly cool water.

"I think when Mitchell died, a wave of psychic energy was unleashed," McCoy commented somewhere off to his left.

"I," Spock said in a weak voice, trying to regain control of his body, "I believe you are right, Doctor McCoy," he managed. "I felt an energy build in him a moment before I lost consciousness, and it did coincide with his last breath."

"Poor Gary," Jim said quietly, squeezing Spock's hand lightly.

Spock did not have the heart to tell Jim off for it. As much as it would normally have brought him a rush of pleasure, it merely sparked a little way up his arm. And he knew that Jim was drawing a quiet strength from the touch. He was not going to take that away from him.

"The information?" Spock asked, feeling the strength of his voice returning.

"Yeah, you've been out for a few hours," Jim admitted, "and of all things, Gary hid the information on a crystal which he hid in my pocket while I was out. As well as dropping how to access it straight into my head."

"Where are we?"

"Aboard the Vo' quv," Jim explained, "en route to the Vulcan colony."

Spock raised an eyebrow and it seemed Jim was more than a little in tune with him. Even more so than usual.

"We're cloaked and let me tell you, Spock, I'm still annoyed with Gord that he won't let me have a look at the generator for this baby."

"I had heard of the Romulans experimenting with such a thing," Spock admitted, "and Gord was willing to use the cloaking device while we were following you and Gary Mitchell - I believe that is the extent of what the Klingons are willing to share."

"Yeah, but it seems the Klingons stole a working prototype from the Romulans and kept developing it. And that means Starfleet is falling behind in the tech race," Jim said with a mock pout.

"That is true, Captain Kirk," Gord rumbled in the background and Spock wanted so much to open his eyes because as much as Jim, and perhaps McCoy to some extent, trusted the Klingon Captain, Spock preferred to meet things head on. No eyesight meant a disadvantage.

"However," Gord continued, "Starfleet has you and your crew, and don't for a moment think that we haven't heard the stories about you and the Enterprise."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Captain," Jim said with a laugh and a small surge of joy and respect made it through the wall that Jim had built around Spock's mind.

Gord laughed. "We are less than an hour and a half from New Vulcan," he explained. "We have to drop out of cloak to send a message there and I do hope for your sake that your connections run high or we will be shot out of the sky the moment we get there."

"Yeah, pretty high up," Jim said with a small laugh. "Don't worry Gord, and while we're at it, where's your sense of adventure?"

"I have had adventure enough for the rest of the year just these last few days with you around."

"Hah," McCoy said with a snort, "welcome to my world."

"Aw, Bones, come on, admit it," Jim needled, "you wouldn't miss it for the world.

The silence in itself was telling and combined with his knowledge of the doctor as well as the roaring laughter of Gord, Spock could very well imagine the look on McCoy's face.

"Thanks for the update, Captain," Jim finally said, his voice respectful, but not without mirth.

A moment later, Jim rubbed his thumb over Spock's knuckles and Spock did not quite manage to suppress a shiver.

"You cold?" Jim asked.

Spock realized that while he could occasionally glean the echo of an emotion from Jim, Jim either could not do it the other way around or he chose to shield from it. Which was only good, because as much as he wanted Jim, he still was not sure if what he felt was true or as Gary Mitchell had mentioned, a natural attraction of a telepath towards whatever it was that Jim was. A vessel as he'd been described, though to Spock, he was still sure it was more than that.

"No, Jim, I am merely tired."

"And you're basically without your shields if I let go of you," Jim said apologetically.

"It does seem to be the case."

"I'm so sorry about that, but the only thing I could think of doing was to hang onto you and build shields like crazy, like they taught us at the Academy."

"I do not object to you saving my mind and my sanity," Spock replied quietly, once again lamenting the fact that he could not see Jim's expression.

"That's good," Jim said, smile evident in his voice. "Now rest, Spock, get some sleep."

When Spock woke again, Jim was still cradling his hand, still cocooning Spock's conscience and if Spock had had the energy for it, he may possibly have felt embarrassed at how good it felt, how guilty it also made him feel.

Mitchell's words reverberated through his mind and they made Spock even more aware of Jim's presence in his own mind. The urge to, as Mitchell had put it, 'fill up the vessel', did not sit well with him. If anything, Spock felt as if he wanted Jim to fill every corner of his mind and body with his presence.

Possibly, this should fill him with mortification, but...

"You're awake," Jim said, hand tightening around Spock's.

Spock had to try and open his eyes, to see Jim, but he shut them with a huff of annoyance, as they still watered, the light still stung and Jim was nothing but a dark blur against that light.

The tight grip once again sent a frisson of want through Spock. If Jim felt anything, however, he did not let on, there was no change in the presence in his mind.

"We've been in contact with your father and the other... you," Jim said, his voice back to its usual professional cadence. "We've got coordinates not too far from the main settlement. Not too many prying eyes there." He loosened his grip on Spock's hand but did not let go. There'll be a healer there for you as well. Your father is worried about you."

Spock wanted to contradict him, tell him that Vulcans did not worry, but he knew better, and more importantly, he knew that Jim knew better. He could also feel Jim's unvoiced worry for him, his unspoken words of caring.

Spock blinked his eyes open again, but with the same result as before. He wanted to see Jim, wanted to match the calm around his mind with whatever look might be on Jim's face.

"It'll get better," Jim said, still a blurry outline off to his side. "Bones says you'll have your eyesight back in a day or so, but you might be a little light sensitive for a while yet.

Chapter 7

Unlike most larger Starfleet vessels, the Klingon cruiser was well equipped to land on a planet.

Spock would have preferred to meet his counterpart and even more so, his father with a clear mind and fully in control of his mind. And not holding the hand of his Captain. However, a brief test on his side had proven almost disastrous aboard the ship. He had gently, but insistently broken their handhold and had promptly lost consciousness for almost ten minutes.

He'd woken up to McCoy swearing at him, but even worse, to Jim's disappointment. A feeling that Jim had quickly covered up, but Spock had noticed and it hit him almost as hard as the unshielded moment had. And that had been on a ship with a limited number of passengers. A populated Vulcan settlement could prove not only embarrassing but also far more dangerous to him.

This meant he walked down the ramp of the Vo' quv, hand in hand, in perfectly synchronized step, with Jim.

Unfortunately, Spock's eyesight was almost back to normal and he did not miss the mildly disapproving look Sarek shot their hands. His future counterpart, however, merely raised an eyebrow, his gaze softening. Spock caught himself, not for the first time, wondering if he'd ever be as expressive as this Spock when he grew older.

Spock was illogically relieved that his and Jim's fingers were no longer entwined as they had been most of the time since Spock had woken the first time. The hold was now less intimate, although in the eyes of a Vulcan beholder, no less suitable for public appearance.

"We received Captain Kirk's message," Sarek said quietly. "Spock," he turned to look at Spock and Spock fought hard not to squirm under his scrutiny, "we have an adept waiting for you at the house, to aid you in re-establishing your shielding."

The elder Spock, Selek, he went by the name of their late cousin, Spock recalled, stepped over to him. "I shall bring you to her when we get there and Captains Kirk and Gord will have time to brief Ambassador Sarek - before anything is brought before the council."

Spock hesitated. If he let go of Jim, he would once again lose his safe haven.

As if he knew what Spock was thinking, his counterpart held out his arm, sleeve pulled back to allow Spock to put his hand on bare skin. "I shall provide you with my own shields for the time being, until the adept can help you."

Aware that all eyes were on him, Spock forced himself to reach for Selek, for a moment holding onto both he and Jim, feeling the softest whisper of Jim's mind brushing against his, like a thin veil sliding off skin and then Jim let go of him, but refrained from stepping away from him.

The mind and shielding of Selek was so achingly familiar, like coming home, but he missed Jim's presences in there as well, and for a moment, there was an echo of the same familiarity of Jim's mind, but it could not be. They were no longer touching and Selek was shielding him.

Looking over at Jim, Spock found him watching him with lingering curiosity as well as... Spock was unsure what to call it, while he had lived with humans for a long time, he still had a lot to learn when it came to deciphering facial expressions. Jim was a mercurial personality which did not make it any easier.

They waited as Gord told his crew to stay where they were and cloak the ship while he was gone. The ship flickered out of view and they all walked to the small shuttle waiting for them.

No one spoke as they settled in, but to Spock's growing worry, his counterpart maneuvered them inside so that Spock was seated between he and Jim. He did wonder what Selek thought was going on, but there were no traces of thoughts or emotions coming from Selek, so Spock could not even begin to guess. So, an almost guilty pleasure to Spock, his side was pressed against Jim's and he could feel the warmth and solidity of the human body next to him, so wonderfully stable and there.

"I haven't gotten all that much from the crystal yet," Jim started to explain as the shuttle took them closer to the new home of Spock's family. "But what I have gotten from it isn't exactly pleasant stuff."

Sarek lifted an eyebrow, a request for Jim to carry on. He either did not notice or did not want to bring attention to the fact that Spock was beginning to lean towards Jim. Spock took a deep breath, settling himself upright, hand still on Selek's arm.

"Gord here was asked to investigate this by the Klingon Imperial court, and coupled with the data on the crystal, there's really no way around it," Jim said quietly, his voice void of emotion, but Spock could tell he was upset.

"Your message was unfortunately not a surprise," Selek said. "There have been rumors circulating that some factions of Starfleet have been recruiting telepaths and empaths for research. I'm afraid not all rumors suggest the recruitment was consensual."

Jim nodded. "If we can crack the whole information on the crystal, I think we may have enough to end this operation once and for all."

Sarek nodded. "You will have whatever aid you will need to do so. According to my son and Selek here, you are quite proficient with ...data retrieval."

Jim laughed out loud, the tension in his shoulders obviously lessening a great deal. "That, Ambassador Sarek, is the most diplomatic way I have ever been called a hacker."

"I did not mean to insult you," Sarek replied.

"Oh, coming from you, Ambassador," Jim said with an outrageous wink, "it's a compliment."

Spock stared in wonder as his father's demeanor seemed to soften somewhat.

"As you are close to my son and we shall be working close together for this, Captain, please, feel free to call me Sarek," Sarek said with a curt nod.

Spock felt his chest tighten. What did his father believe he knew? Without thinking about it, he tightened his grip on Selek's arm. A moment later, Selek put his free hand on Spock's and squeezed it lightly.

Forcing himself to keep in control, Spock loosened his grip, though he wasn't foolish enough to let go. It was possible that he was sheltered enough sitting between Jim and Selek and possibly, this had been the older Vulcan's intention all along.

"Well, with the pleasantries over," Gord said, "I can tell you I have been told to aid you in whichever way necessary."

"Enough to let me have ten minutes with your cloaking device?" Jim asked cheekily.

Spock could feel the amusement rolling off him and obviously Jim got the answer he'd been expecting because he merely laughed when Gord answered him.

"Captain Kirk, you are a tenacious bastard on a good day," the Klingon boomed, "but I'd let you get your hands on my daughter before I'd let you get your hands on our technology - and I'd never let my daughter within a light year of your location," he added before Jim could say anything.

Jim merely grinned and winked at the big warrior.

The flight to the house was thankfully short, though Spock lamented the fact that when they arrived, he was split from Jim's side, led away by Selek, who walked him through the cool stone hallways. The new settlement was making good use of existing mountains and hills, building directly into the rock face. While he knew the necessity in splitting up, he had to force down the urge to turn tail and run back to Jim's side.

"I am gratified to find that you and Jim have grown so close."

The words drew Spock back from his contemplations. "Our... friendship has proved an asset to our achievements as a command team," he replied carefully.

Selek raised an eyebrow. "I was referring to your non working relationship."

"Jim has an interesting personality and insists we cultivate a friendship..."

Selek slowed down, putting a hand on Spock's where it was gripping Selek's lower arm a little too tightly. "I was referring to a relationship closer than friendship," he explained.

Spock forced his grip to loosen. "I do not know of what you are speaking," he replied, his voice carefully void of any knowledge that he was perfectly well aware what Selek was speaking of.

Selek stopped, bringing Spock to a halt as well. They are in front of a closed door and Spock knew the adept would be waiting for him inside.

"Spock, I urge you to think long and hard about your relationship with Jim once you feel you are fully in control again." Cocking his head, he scrutinized his younger counterpart. "However, I further urge you to set aside logic when doing so."

"And do what feels right?" Spock couldn't help but throw those words back at Selek. Those words had prompted him to take a chance and go with Jim instead of joining the Vulcan colony.

"With Jim Kirk, I have found that is often the best way," Selek said, a twinkle to his eyes.

Before Spock could stop himself, he managed to ask, "Did you do that?" He was curious. He did not believe that merely because one version of himself and Jim Kirk were more than friends, that he and his Jim would go down that very same road. However, it would be illogical to rule out the possibility. Spock wondered, for a moment, if he was indulging in what his mother would have referred to as 'wishful thinking'.

"I am unsure if it would be wise to share such information with you," Selek replied quietly.

Spock barely kept a snort at bay. "You have already interfered by requesting I rethink my choice to help rebuild the Vulcan society. You stated that I should find a friendship with Jim Kirk that would shape the both of us."

Selek took a deep breath, held it, then let it out slowly. A very human action, but for once not something Spock saw as a thing that made him dread becoming as human as his counterpart.

"Jim and I... my Jim and I, were more than friends and brothers in arms," is all Selek seemed willing to share with him.

Selek reached for the door, and just for a split second Spock heard the echo of a vaguely familiar word. 'T'hyla'. A very old world, but he promptly pushed it into a small compartment in his mind to deal with later, because although there was only the adept in the room, pain sliced through his mind the moment Selek let go of him.

Then T'shei's shields enfolded him and Spock could breathe easily again. She was a good two heads shorter than he was, twice his age, and as severe as most other adepts Spock had ever met, but he knew she would provide him with the help he needed.

The time he spent in meditation with T'shei, rebuilding his shields felt almost like being inside a void. T'shei barely spoke apart from a few points here and there. She did not comment on anything she came across in his mind, not even the memories of Jim. Which were illogical at best. He pushed his worries about Jim to the back of his mind, into the same little space that the revelation from Selek had been put.

He would soon enough be back at Jim's side. As soon as he could keep his shields stable.

Four days before Jim Kirk's disappearance

Spock watched Jim quietly, the structure of the chessgame's three levels between them. It was late, but Spock did not want to leave, to go back to his cabin alone. While the room was infinitely cooler than Spock's own, Kirk's cabin always felt so very welcoming

"I had a call from Pike today," Jim said, idly playing with one of Spock's rooks that he'd taken earlier. He contemplated his move and then pushed his queen into position.

"I assume it was off the record," Spock replied. Normally he would get a notification if a message from Starfleet came through official channels.

"Just... I'm not even sure it was a warning," Jim said, chewing on his lower lip waiting for Spock to complete his move. "More of a... piece of information."

Spock watched Kirk curiously. His Captain was worried about something, quite possibly a little nervous as well.

"He commended that we have become a well-oiled machine since we set out on the mission," Jim said quietly, not quite meeting Spock's gaze. "That he's looking forward to seeing us when we get to Earth in a couple of days."

Staying quiet, Spock waited. While he was interested in what Jim wanted to say, he also knew it could not be rushed.

"He mentioned... something that's occurred to me as well," Jim admitted with a shrug. Finally looking up, he defiantly met Spock's eyes. "That perhaps we're a little too close to be professional, that possibly there are those who think we're together in more ways than one."

Spock frowned. "Together..." he began, wanting clarification, because Jim was treading on thin ice. And just below were all Spock's confused thoughts, his desires and his wants.

Jim shook his head. "I told him we're not, but we're friends and possibly that goes against protocol in some ways, but it's what makes us work so well."

Spock opened his mouth again, to say that perhaps they should try to act a little more professionally. Hearing this having come from Admiral Pike, it felt like an echo of all the allusions that had come from his own father.

"I don't know about you," Kirk said, "but I wouldn't mind..."

"Captain... Jim," Spock interrupted, almost frantically. If he let Jim speak the words they would have to deal with it, this thing growing between them, but he was not ready, was not in a frame of mind where he could deal with Jim's emotions when he scarcely understood his own.


"It could do more damage than good to our working relationship," Spock interrupted. "No matter how we see each other, what we want, we should not lay more obstacles in our path. I... I am ill equipped to having such a talk," Spock admitted. "And you are... you are my friend, and in this regard, I am walking on unknown ground, adapting as we go along, please, Jim...."

Jim nodded quietly and did not press the matter, making his move on the chessboard only.

Chapter 8

Spock wandered through the quiet hallways of his father's home. It was different from the one in which he grew up in. The walls were a different type of rocks from Vulcan's and there was less of his mother there as well.

Though more than he'd expected. Here and there he did recognize a few of his mother's belongings. So little had survived the destruction of Vulcan, save a few things that had been at the embassy on Earth. Things his father had cared enough about to have brought to the colony.

Sentimental, not very Vulcan, but Spock could find no fault with it. If anything, he felt closer to his father than he had in years, simply because of this show of love.

It helped him feel even more calm, the long meditation session had helped him restore his shields, even if he still felt a little sore. He also felt as if he should find Jim, stay close to him. Now, however, as Selek had spoken of his Jim... of their relationship, Spock had begun wondering if he was fighting against it for all the wrong reasons.

Taking a deep breath, Spock focused on where he was going, to his surprise, feeling the presence of Jim's mind in the next room he came to. He couldn't read him, but he could feel him there, recognize the pattern of his mind.

"Spock!" Jim's voice rang through the room that his father was obviously using as his office. At the current time, though, the sole occupants were Jim and McCoy.

Spock fought against the smile that tugged at his lips. Jim looked tired, but relaxed as he walked to meet him in the middle of the room. Spock did not miss the aborted lift of Jim's hand as Jim caught himself before reaching out for him.

As a small concession Spock made the move for him, reaching out and putting a hand on his shoulder. It warmed him all the way through when Jim's surprise morphed into a wide grin and he lifted his own hand and put it on top of Spock's on his shoulder

The heat of the touch spread through Spock's whole body and he fought down a shiver of pleasure.

"It's good to see you back on your feet," Jim said quietly, letting go of Spock's hand and Spock, in return, let go of his shoulder, but they did not move away from each other.

"It is good to be sufficiently shielded again," Spock admitted.

"No having to settle for my shielding," Jim said with a wink.

"On the contrary, Jim," Spock said quietly, not for a moment breaking eye contact and deciding that now was not the time to hold back. Even with McCoy in the room. "You were more than adequate and I do not believe I would have survived had it not been for your quick thinking."

Jim flushed but his smile widened and Spock knew Jim had taken the compliment for what it was. The truth.

"Now, please inform me what we have learned so far," Spock requested, gesturing toward the low couches that occupied the corner of the office.

"It's worse than we expected," Jim said as he sat down, next to Spock, close, but not close enough that they were touching. "The information that we managed to get out of the crystal was only the tip of the iceberg."

"Without being able to check what was done to Mitchell's mind, we would've been without the proof we needed, but because of the data crystal, we have more than that, we have names as well," McCoy supplied.

"So there is indeed a plot going on to create powerful telepaths?" Spock asked. To wish for a negative answer was illogical. All the proof pointed in that direction.

"And they don't exactly care about the health of their lab rats," McCoy snorted.

Even with his shields fully functioning, Spock could tell how angry he was. Both he and Jim looked haggard, but then again, Spock was sure he did not look much better. At least he had had time to meditate with the adept, allowing him to feel more focused.

"I have a little surprise for the two of you," Jim said quietly. "One of the names in the files is Demmings'."

McCoy's head snapped up. "That rat bastard," he swore. "He was up in arms about us making sure we turned you in if we heard from you."

"I'm aware of that," Jim said, not taking his eyes from Spock's. "I'm in debt to the both of you, but I'm also pissed off at you for risking your careers by following me."

Spock knew that Jim had seen more than he'd expected when they had been linked. Possibly a lot more had made it across and they would have to have a long overdue conversation. He could not take his eyes from Jim's, watching the darkening of his eyes. So human and expressive and in some ways, so very frightening, not to mention alluring. Illogically so, yet Spock found he cared little about that.

McCoy turned his head from one to the other and back again, clearing his throat. "I've got two things to say to that," he rumbled, a smirk on his face. "One: suck it up, we're your friends and we care, and two: I'm going to catch a breath of fresh air." With that, he stood and walked quickly out the door, Jim glaring after him.

There was no missing the look McCoy gave Spock just before he left them. Part encouragement and part exasperation.

Spock turned his attention back to Jim, who was now lounging against the back of the couch, looking part worried and part on the cusp of sleep. The heat was still there, but for the moment banked.

"I think we have a few things to talk about before your father and Selek return," Jim said quietly, blue eyes pinning Spock to his seat.

Spock took a deep breath and settled back on the couch. Had Jim insisted on this before Spock had had time to speak with his future self, he would have told Jim not to bother, that there could never be anything between them but friendship. Now the echo of what had been said filled his mind and Spock knew he wanted to try for more, attempt to make it work between them. If Jim still wanted to.

"I know we've talked about this, well tried to, anyway," Jim said quietly.

Spock was torn between stopping Jim's words and letting him say what he had to say. To tell Jim that he had been the one who'd been wrong back then, that a relationship could perhaps be cultivated with great success.

"I've thought about what you said back then," Jim continued, not meeting Spock's eyes anymore, far too focused on his own hands. "You said that it could do more damage than good no matter how we saw each other, no matter what we wanted. That by being my friend you were already behaving un-Vulcanly, and that it was unknown territory to you."

Spock merely nodded, deciding that he would present Jim with his own arguments of the contrary, once he was done.

Jim leaned toward him, possibly without realizing it. "I... look, Spock, I caught enough in your mind to know that you respect me and that you do carry some sort of brotherly love for me." Jim swallowed hard then continued. "I saw how protective you are of me, what you were willing to risk in order to follow me and help me. I can see now that I shouldn't have asked you to be more to me than you feel comfortable with being." His shoulders sagged and a small mirthless laugh escaped him. "Besides, I can tell from our little adventure that if you and I were indeed in a relationship, physically as well, we would be bringing so much trouble on our heads as well as the fact that we would do stupid things that a commanding officer and his XO just shouldn’t. That we'd rule with our hearts instead of our brains."

Spock opened his mouth to interject, but Jim just kept going.

"I hope you can live with me feeling this way about you and I don't expect you to reciprocate in any way, and I promise you, it won't interfere..." Jim stopped when Spock finally had enough and put his hand on Jim's.

He could feel the buzz of Jim's mind against his shields and Mitchell had been right, he had never come across such a dynamic presence before.

"There are two things I ask of you, my friend," Spock said quietly, not moving his hand away, not breaking eye contact with Jim. "One, please forgive me for not having been entirely truthful with you and two, please hear me out,"

"You say that we would be too close to make the right decisions, however, I believe we are already too close for such an argument to be valid." Spock squeezed his hand and watched Jim watching him with the utmost attention.

"On missions we already fight each others' battles, we guard each others' backs and we refuse to leave the other behind," Spock clarified.

"But Spock," Jim began, turning his hand under Spock's.

Spock's attention returned to their hands, his own pale one over Jim's, palm to palm, trapping body heat between them. The rush of pleasure the move gave Spock, had him swallowing hard, but otherwise he kept calm.

"I know you would have felt the doubt in my mind when you were trying to shield me," Spock continued and Jim fell silent. "I must confess that before Mr. Mitchell revealed how he saw you and most of all, your mind, I had already decided that when we found you, I would once again have this conversation with you."

Jim stilled completely. "How did he see me?"

"He said that your mind called out to him as a telepath and that it was, like a vessel, one he longed to fill up. He spoke of this and..."

"You were afraid that what you ...felt, was the same thing," Jim continued.

"I must admit," Spock said quietly, "it made me rethink my..."

"Oh," Jim said softly.

Spock could feel the discomfort and disappointment through their touch, and when Jim made to pull his hand away, Spock tightened his grip on it. "However, I also spoke with Selek and his choice of words made me reevaluate my situation." Spock paused. "It allowed me to consider other explanations, ones I had not dared consider."

"Which would be?" Jim's voice was even, but Spock could feel his worry and hope, only strengthened through their hands.

Spock turned in his seat and reached up with his free hand. He ran two fingers down the side of Jim's head, marveling at how such a simple touch could feel. "A Vulcan mind can be compatible with another being's, to a lesser or greater degree. I believe that our minds are very compatible. However, I may not have all the right answers, but if we were to wait for those, I fear we would grow old and grey alone... apart."

"So you're saying it's better," Jim's breath hitched, "it's better to take the chance now and deal with the fallout later."

"Essentially," Spock replied, allowing himself a small smile.

"Why, Mr. Spock," Jim said, closing his eyes and leaning into the touch as Spock cupped the side of his face, "I do believe that's normally my MO."

"I believe you have taught me a thing or two," Spock admitted, feeling his own breath shortening. Jim's mind called out to his, his emotions beckoned for him to follow, tried to curl around Spock and drag him in. Most of all, though, right that very moment, Jim's body invited him close, and Spock could do nothing but follow.

Seconds later, Spock found himself stretched out with Jim on top, flat on his father's couch and not caring one bit about Vulcan propriety. Jim's hands seemed to be everywhere and his body was welcome weight on top of Spock's. With a whimper, Jim found his mouth and Spock lost focus of any thoughts he might have had a moment earlier. All he could think of was Jim, all he could focus on was Jim and Jim's mouth on his, Jim's hands under his shirt and Jim's mind sinking into his.

It was an overwhelming experience. It should not have been possible, it should not be happening without an actual mindmeld, but nevertheless, it was.

Spock could barely even find it within himself to fight it, question it. "Jim," he whispered, or thought he did.

"Wantthisneedthisburn for... burn for it," Jim's voice finally evened out, but Spock could hear it as an echo in the real world, the true power of it reverberating within his mind.

"All our doubts, all our reservations, Jim, we cannot do this, it will bond us, it will..." Spock gasped, wrenching his mind away from Jim's, or tried to. "Jim, we can't, you'll be bound to me for the rest of your life," he managed to get out.

'I want it, if you do,' Jim whispered in his mind. 'Want you, need you so much, say yesyesyes,' Jim's voice rose to a crescendo and Spock could do nothing but let himself be torn away from the last vestiges of self control, let Jim sweep him away.

Spock could feel Jim's mind mixing with his own, fusing and shattering and reforming on the other side, like a raging storm suddenly coming to an end, absolute quiet in its wake. With one difference - he could feel the way he was still connected to Jim, and he knew, even if he physically put distance between them it would still feel as if he was being cradled in Jim's embrace.

"Don't you dare move," Jim whispered, combing his fingers through Spock's hair and Spock could not help but close his eyes and lie back.

"Jim, I fear in the weakened state my shields were in, we have..., I couldn't..."

"Hush," Jim said with a small laugh. "I told you I wanted it too, and who is to say it wouldn't have happened anyway?"

"Eventually, perhaps," Spock agreed, finally feeling the weight of the days of searching for Jim and their trials since catching up with him. He shifted and realized that their joining had not only climaxed in their minds, but from the distinctive wet feeling in his pants, he could tell it had carried over.

"Our stuff is in one of the rooms," Jim said with a yawn. "I thought we might need a shower and a change of clothes anyway." He grinned down at Spock. "I just didn't expect it to be because of this."

"Then perhaps we should do just that," Spock suggested, but he made no move to urge Jim to stand.

Jim reluctantly pulled away, stood up and offered Spock a hand.

Spock let himself be pulled up, and right against Jim's body. Jim's arms slipping around his waist to hold him loosely.

This would be something for Spock to get used to. He lost any train of thought as Jim kissed him again, humming lightly against his lips. It would take some work, but he knew it would be one of the numerous things he would cherish about Jim.

Spock let Jim lead him out of the office, down the hallway and along one of the narrower paths. They came to a door that opened as Jim stepped forward. Inside was a typically simply decorated guestroom and Spock found both his and Jim's duffels on the large bed.

"I think your dad knows more about our relationship than we do," Jim said with a laugh, drawing Spock in for another kiss.

"Possibly," Spock mumbled against Jim's lips, taking his hand and running two fingers against Jim's.

"Whoa!" Jim gripped Spock's hip with his other hand hard enough to bruise. "What was that?" He stared wide-eyed at Spock.

"It is an intimate touch for a Vulcan, how we kiss." He drew a deep breath himself as he repeated the move. "It is amplified by our newly formed bond, which..."

"Hush," Jim said, reaching up and putting two fingers against Spock's lips. "Don't say that you're sorry." He frowned, then took a deep breath. "Unless of course you don't want to be bonded to me."

"Always, Jim," Spock said, not raising his voice, but making sure that his intense pleasure of being bonded to Jim came across. "I merely wasn't sure that you would want the bond, as it was formed unintentionally."

"Does it make it any less valid?" Jim asked, stepping back, but only to pull his shirt up over his head, turning towards the bathroom.

"No, on the contrary," Spock admitted, watching Jim with keen interest. He had on occasion seen Jim without his shirt on - more times that he could recall at that moment, but having a moment like this, where he was allowed, even encouraged to enjoy the view...

The smile Jim gave him indicated that his appreciation had not gone unnoticed.

"Too bad it's a sonic shower and not an old fashioned water one, "Jim said with a grin as he stepped into the bathroom.

Spock was lost in the display of naked skin for a moment, then shook himself. "Water was an rare luxury on Vulcan, and just as much so here."

"I know," Jim said with a wink, "but I would have loved to stand under the spray with you, for a nice, long make-out session."

Spock could not help but see images in his mind of such a situation and he could not tell for sure if they were from Jim's imagination or his own.

Nor did he care, because if the situation ever presented itself, they would be reenacting just that.

Jim stepped back into the bedroom and plastered himself against Spock's front.

Spock let his hands slip down to cup Jim's naked behind. A light squeeze and Jim moaned against his neck, pushing against him.

"We shouldn't be wearing ourselves out," he muttered, yawning deeply, "I'll hit the shower, you hit the shower and then you meditate - because now I can actually tell how much you need it."

"Do not concern yourself, Jim," Spock muttered, enjoying simply holding Jim close.

"It's my prerogative as your bondmate," Jim said with a softness to his voice that Spock had never before witnessed.

Taking a deep breath, Spock nodded. Jim was right, in all ways. Yes, it was his prerogative as Spock's bondmate and yes, Spock did need to meditate more. Especially following their accidental bonding. "I would prefer to have you here for meditation," Spock said quietly.

"Make you a deal, because I don't think we have more than an hour or so before your dad returns," Jim said, reluctantly stepping back from Spock, once again heading for the bathroom. This time he did manage to head into the sonic shower. "You and I get cleaned up, changed and we go back to your dad's office and meditate there until the others come back."

Spock went to stand in the open door of the bathroom, watching Jim with a strange swelling feeling in his chest. "That is sound logic, Jim."

Jim's laughter told him exactly how funny Jim thought it was being referred to as being logic by a Vulcan.

Chapter 9

Spock had never experienced a joining of minds the way he had with Jim, and the meditation was a whole new experience for him. In theory, it should be confusing having Jim's conscious seeping through his own, but as it were, it was a welcome, constant awareness of each other.

He felt Jim resurfacing from the meditation before he did so himself. At Jim's urging, he stayed in the quiet state for a little while longer, allowing him to come out from it at a much slower rate, one that told him his mind was healing rapidly. Possibly accelerated by Jim's constant presence.

"I'm still saying that we may very well have trouble reaching Starfleet headquarters, and color me stupid, but I'd like to have Gord with us considering the things we found out from Mitchell's crystal. The Klingons need to be part of this too."

Jim's voice was the first to fully make it through to Spock's wakening mind. Which did not surprise Spock, even if he still marveled at the newly formed bond, cared for it with the utmost love and adoration. The pre-marriage bond he'd had with T'Pring, prior to her death, had been a faint, mocking echo of this.

He did not miss the wave of fondness from Jim.

"As I should very much like to be part of it," Gord's gruff voice agreed.

Spock opened his eyes and found the office now filled with Captain Gord, Dr. McCoy and Jim. Not to mention his father and Selek, the former watching Spock with a softer look than usual.

Slowly, Spock rose, feeling for his shields, feeling for Jim and finding everything in perfect order. He also found Jim at his side a moment later, a hand on his elbow and a soft mental enquiry. He turned his head, met Jim's eyes and gave him a quick reassuring nod.

"You feel better," Jim stated, not letting go of him.

"I... do," Spock admitted. "I feel far stronger than I have in a long time."

"I congratulate you on your bonding, my son," Sarek said, from where he was sitting behind his desk. "We must speak of it later, as we have more important business at the moment."

"That's a matter of opinion what business is the more important," Jim said with a grin. "But we do have urgent stuff that needs taken care of."

Spock did not quite know what to say, so he settled for giving his father a nod in agreement and thank you.

"I do agree, Captain Kirk, but do not make the mistake of thinking this conversation is over and done with," Sarek said, a warning tone to his voice.

Spock noticed that Jim still had not let go of him, and he was unsure how his father conceived this, while he did not fail to notice the smirk on doctor McCoy's face. His counterpart, at least, had the presence of mind to keep his face neutral.

"I wouldn't dream of it, Ambassador," Jim replied.

"Well, I offer my congratulations on your up-coming marriage," Gord said with a laugh, "however, let's get back to what to do about this information you have obtained."

"According to the information on the crystal, not only have a small splinter cell of Starfleet intelligence been dabbling with this, they've worked together with a similar organization on Qo'noS and a few other planets. Nothing that has been sanctioned by any of our governments, at least not as far as we've been able to discern." Jim took a deep breath. "Gord?"

"I have a high enough clearance to be told such. The council on Qo'noS were not particularly pleased to learn of this, but they have given me orders to make sure that you receive whatever aid you could wish for," Gord replied, clearly looking forward to any and all future confrontations.

"As has the Vulcan High council," Sarek added. "A Vulcan ship would not make it through undetected, but with the Klingon cloaking technology, a Bird of Prey could."

"But we'd have to know whom to contact when we get there," Jim said. "I mean, I know that Admiral Pike is on our side, but we can't run any subspace communications with him without Starfleet picking it up."

"Unless we were close enough for it to be a surprise to whoever is listening," Sarek said.

"Ambassador Sarek has offered to return with you, and he will have access to communications channels that are covered by his diplomatic immunity. He will also be able to speak on your behalf when you do make it back to Earth," Selek replied. "I shall make sure that the right information reaches the right people, but you may have to buy me time. It has been many years since I have had to use such subterfuge in relations to Starfleet's communications system and security, but I have faith that my memories will aid me in my task."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I am sure you shall do your best and your best shall be more than adequate."

Selek inclined his head.

"Doctor McCoy," Sarek turned his attention to McCoy. "I shall need you to put together a report on what this experimentation has done to people, from whatever you can find in the files. Please use your more ...human emphasis. I should like it to be quite clear exactly what atrocious acts these people have been involved in."

"My pleasure, Ambassador," McCoy replied with ill concealed glee. Considering the look on Selek's face, Spock could tell he was not the only one who knew the outcome would be medically and factually perfect, but also laced with McCoy's not inconsiderable human emotions and ire.

The preparations were done with Vulcan precision and speed and although Spock knew that his father was keeping it as much a secret as possible, it did not seem to delay their plans in any way. Not that he had expected it to, he was well acquainted with his father's efficiency.

Spock divided his time between aiding the mission and spending time wondering what this new relationship with Jim would entail. He could feel Jim at the back of his mind, but his Captain kept his mind shielded in ways that Spock hadn't expected and their bond was still so new that it had not yet settled completely. Still, Spock would have liked very much to sit down again, meditate and explore the bond, as it was stronger than he had expected it to be. The fact that his father wanted this conversation at some point as well, did little to ease Spock's mind.

Quite possibly, while of course he wanted to delve into the bond between he and Jim, he also knew that the urge was partly to escape his father.

He had barely had any time with Jim before they were aboard the Vo' quv. And it was draining him, so very much. The fledgling bond was growing thinner with each passing hour.

He avoided his father, he avoided Selek, he avoided any and everyone and hid away in the small sleeping quarters the Klingon vessel held.

Meditation should have solved his problem, it should have allowed him to trace the bond he had with Jim, but it was too weak, too...

"Oh for fuck's sake," Jim's voice broke through his fevered attempts at meditation, and when he looked up, he found Jim standing over him, a look of pure anguish on his face. "I thought you would be okay, how could I be so stupid, how..."

Spock reached up and pulled him down, not even thinking about it for a moment. There in front of him, then in his arms, was Jim and Jim's mind was like a beacon, beckoning for him to follow it. A hand on either side of Jim's face and he held him in place. Jim was more or less sitting in his lap, hanging on to Spock's shoulders.

Staring into Jim's eyes, Spock felt himself being pulled inside Jim's mind. Felt the vortex pulling him down and through infinite layers of emotion. Jim's as well as his own.

Coming back to the surface to a litany of "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," from Jim, his lips pressed against Spock's neck, breath tickling his skin.

"You could not have known," Spock said, voice barely audible. "I did not realize-"

"Possibly, but I should have felt it, should have known not to leave you on your own so soon..." Jim's fingers dug into Spock's upper arms, just this side of painful.

"A newly formed Vulcan mating bond requires close contact, but it is knowledge that is rarely shared with outsiders." Spock paused, breathed in the scent of Jim, holding him impossibly closer. "I should have shared this knowledge with you, if I had this would not have happened."

"I think we're both to blame for that," Jim admitted, his voice shaking a little. "I'm not used to sharing my mind and conscience with anyone else, and I was already worrying about you while trying to get ready for the trip back to Earth. If I'd left the connection open, I would have been distracted constantly. All I could have thought about would be dragging you off somewhere to hide you, protect you, hold you, fuck you," the last was gasped out as the very last remnants of barriers crashed between them.

Spock did not even think about it. For all that Vulcans spent their lives honing their self control, the one time, outside of Pon Farr, where they had little control was during the settling of a bond. He pushed Jim down on the hard metal floor and held him there, staring down into Jim's eyes.

Jim lifted his hand, his fingers finding the psi points at Spock's temple, a barely perceptible shake to them.

Spock did not manage to quell a moan as the howling storm of their joined minds quieted, a heated and welcoming calm settling over them both.

Jim closed his eyes, a softness to his features that Spock had never witnessed before. "Beautiful," he muttered, his voice an echo of the one inside Spock's mind.

Spock stared down at Jim, wholeheartedly agreeing. He was seeing the double vision of Jim's relaxed face as well as the calm presence inside their minds. So much at odds with the Jim he was day to day, the one who threw himself off a drill high above Vulcan for the sake of a friend, the one who would risk his life over and over for the sake of loyalty.

"And love," Jim whispered, finally opening his eyes again.

"Always," Spock replied, leaning down to give Jim a slow kiss, their minds meshing in all the ways that counted.

"We have a transmission from Selek," Spock told Jim, turning from his place at one of the communications screens on the bridge. His Captain stood next to the hulking Captain Gord, and while he made Jim look significantly smaller, Spock found it fascinating that it also seemed to enhance Jim's presence.

Jim caught his gaze and winked. "What's he saying?"

"That even de-cloaked, none of the relays near us will react to the ship and that we should make haste in contacting Admiral Pike, as the block may not hold for that long."

Jim nodded. "Ambassador Sarek?" he asked, turning to Spock's father who was standing off to the side.

Sarek nodded and made his way over to Spock's side, working quietly next to him, inputting codes and subroutines that would allow him to access secure diplomatic channels.

Spock thought idly that if not for Jim's constant presence in the back of his mind, he may be worried about whatever his father could say about their bonding. However, Sarek had seemed interested in Jim well before Spock had admitted to himself that his interests were well beyond that of friendship.

All in all, as Jim would say, they would cross that bridge when they came to it.

The slightly bigger screen off to the side flickered and Spock found that he was almost holding his breath. With a slightly annoyed huff, he let it out.

Admiral Pike's face appeared on the screen and the slightly puzzled look on his face turned downright surprised as he watched them all in silence.

"Hope you don't mind us intruding, sir," Jim said with a grin, stepping forward.

"Jim... what the..., no, don't say anything, just tell me you're not currently off somewhere on a Klingon ship." Pike glared at him.

"What can I say?" Jim said nonchalantly. "I'm good at making friends."

"Not to mention enemies," Pike said with a shake of his head.

Jim shrugged nonchalantly. "I don't do middle of the road, sir, you that," he replied with a grin. "And by the way, Chris, thanks for the well-timed warning. I only just made it out by the skin of my teeth."

"You're welcome, Jim, what are friends for?" Pike's gruff demeanor softened visibly. "The whole thing smelled fishy and I knew you'd have a better fighting chance if you could stay one step ahead of Demmings and whomever is behind him."

Jim nodded. "When you're right, you're right."

"I'm always right," Pike shot back with a smirk.

Spock watched him curiously. Jim had not shared with them how he had known to disappear at the right moment, but perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that Admiral Pike put doing what he considered right above regulations.

Much like Jim did.

And while Spock had known that Jim and the Admiral knew each other beforehand, he had never truly witnessed the easy back and forth between them and this was exactly what he was treated to. However, initial banter soon gave way to explanations.

"You're going to have to come before the Federation president," Pike said quietly when they were done recounting what had happened so far. "Preferably as a whole unit instead of singularly." He watched them in silence for a moment, then nodded. "Best case scenario, I can get you in with the president, without Demmings knowing, and I would like it to be all of you, Ambassador Sarek, and Captain Gord along with James, McCoy and Spock."

"It's not going to be easy for us to arrive unnoticed at Starfleet HQ, let alone get close to Earth without setting off a hell of a lot of alarms," Jim said.

"Leave that to me, gentlemen, I'll get back in touch with you on this same channel as soon as possible."

With that, the monitor went dark and they all stood there for a moment.

"I guess that means we have a little time to kill," Jim said, eyeing Spock with small smile.

Spock praised his self control because he was sure the only reaction escaping him was a slight widening of the eyes. Where he had thought, at this very point in their bonding process, he would be the insatiable one due to his Vulcan blood, Jim had proven to be more than a match for him.

Gord, having caught the exchange, laughed out loud and slapped Jim on the shoulder, making him stagger a little. "Ah, the joys of young lust," he said with an outrageous wink.

Jim just made show of brushing imaginary dirt off his shoulder although Spock could tell he was amused. "I was referring to chess, if we can find a game of intellect on this ship of low brow humor," he sniffed.

This of course only made Gord laugh even louder. "We do not have human board games, my friend, so you will have to fill your time some other way."

Jim opened his mouth to retort, but Spock saw the moment he met Sarek's gaze and his mouth snapped shut. "Just let us know when and where we're supposed to be," he said evenly, walking past Spock to leave the bridge.

Spock on the other hand gave the rest of them a nod, not meeting McCoy's amused gaze and most definitely not fleeing the room to avoid his own father.

He caught up with Jim just as the man entered the cabin they had occupied since they had left Vulcan. Spock reached for Jim, needing to touch him, but Jim turned around, putting a hand on Spock's chest to hold him in place as the door shut behind him.

"I'm sorry, I went over the line," Jim said quietly. "I didn't mean to sound lewd in front of your father and I don't want you to think I'm only in it for the physical aspect."

Spock stopped in his tracks, then, for the first time in ages, he felt like smiling, felt like allowing it and he noticed the widening of Jim's eyes as he did so. "Do not concern yourself, Jim. If you allow the bond to flow freely, you'll know that while I could have done without the, as you put it, lewd comments in front of my father, I am not upset, displeased or in any way annoyed with you."

Jim closed his eyes and Spock felt the nudge of their connection.

"You're not," Jim stated with a look of surprise on his face.

Raising an eyebrow, Spock allowed his amusement to shine through. While he did value his father's opinion greatly, he was more interested in Jim's and Jim did love the banter, he knew that and that he did so with Spock without conscious thought was almost humbling. No one had ever treated Spock with humor the way Jim did. Of course, to most people, Spock radiated the typical Vulcan reserve, so it was no wonder, really.

Spock put his hand on Jim's chest, mirroring the position of Jim's hand. He slowly curled his fingers into Jim's shirt. Letting his intentions flow through their bond, Spock tugged hard and Jim came forward, body hard and hot against Spock's.

This way of passing the time did appeal far more than chess or a conversation about proper Vulcan behavior with his father.

Chapter 10

Standing on the transportation pad of the Vo' quv, Spock felt far more at ease than he had in months. They were beaming aboard a small ship sent by Admiral Pike to bring them in close enough to beam directly into a meeting with the Federation President.

Spock was not sure that he wanted to know just how Admiral Pike had secured the codes necessary to allow such a circumvention of Earth's tight Planetary Security System. The rush of admiration and amusement he gleaned from his bond with Jim only strengthened this belief.

The small vessel, barely bigger than a standard shuttle, received them and they took their seats, waiting for it to take them to Earth.

Spock used the time to submerge himself partly in meditation, while he was aware of Jim having a quiet conversation with Gord across from him. To his right, McCoy was equally engrossed in a conversation with Sarek. About what, Spock was not sure, nor was he sure he wanted to know.

Their pilot stepped out into the cabin, obviously having set the vessel onto autopilot, as the size of vessel did not normally need a co-pilot.

"Sulu!" Jim's joy broke through Spock's meditative state and he opened his eyes to see Jim struggling to undo his belt and nearly falling over himself to get to the pilot of the Enterprise.

"Damn it, Kirk, I am so glad to see you guys again!" Sulu exclaimed, laughing as Jim threw his arms around him, hugging him while simultaneously trying to slap his shoulder.

The joy rushing through the bond almost made Spock light headed.

The apology following it, however, merely made his lips twitch. While there was a time and place, he did not wish to ever curb Jim's joy upon seeing one of their friends.

"Just wanted to make sure you were all okay back here," Sulu said, "we'll be in position to beam you down in twenty minutes."

"Can we make it close enough to beam unnoticed?" Spock asked.

Sulu turned to him, now that Jim had let go of him, to sit back down in his seat. He visibly straightened as he addressed Spock, which once again made Jim's amusement trickle through.

"Admiral Pike has made sure we'll get through, Commander," he said. "You are to beam directly into the hearing instead of the President's office. The moment we are in orbit, the people standing accused will be brought in by Starfleet security."

Spock nodded. "A sound and logical plan."

"Won't give them time to escape," Jim agreed, eliciting a deep and dark chuckle from Gord.

Sulu turned to him before heading back to the cockpit. "That's the general idea. For all Demmings and his minions know, they are called in front of the board for a report. They don't know the President will be there."

"And even more importantly, they are unaware of our presence," Sarek finished for him. "A simple subterfuge is often the most efficient, even if not quite honorable."

"Corner them like tribbles," Gord rumbled, from his seat. "They don't deserve honorable treatment."

Sarek inclined his head, much to Spock's surprise. No one asked what a tribble was, but judging from Gord almost spitting out the word, it couldn't be anything pleasant.

"Well, we're in the best of hands for the trip there," Jim said with a small smile. "Get some rest, everyone. Somehow I don't think they'll go down without a fight and we need to keep our heads clear for this."

"You just keep your head clear, Jim," McCoy grunted, the roll of his eyes as familiar as the grin Jim shot him.

"I'm always clear headed," Jim said with a wink.

Spock allowed his mind to drift once again, the control of meditation offering more than enough rest for him. He felt the contentment mixed with the excitement of what they would face when they beamed down that flowed from Jim like the gentle lapping of water on a beach.

"This is ...preposterous!" Demmings stood, red faced in front of the board, consisting of the President and several Admirals.

President Fairlane sat back in his seat, not answering, while Admiral Komack, in his usual calm way took over.

"Accusations have been brought forward, Captain Demmings," Komack said, glancing at the pad in front of him. "These are serious allegations and they are backed up by actual evidence."

"I am sorry, sir," Demmings ground out, glaring sideways at the little group Spock sat with. "I do not comprehend why we are here and why the fugitive James T. Kirk is not in custody. He's been stripped of his rank and should be standing where I am now."

Jim went completely still next to Spock.

Spock could tell that while Jim had known about the loss of his rank, it cut him deeply to hear it spoken out in the open.

Demmings continued, gesturing at Gord, "Nor do I understand why there is a Klingon here?"

"Captain Demmings, please calm yourself," Admiral Pike spoke up, his voice carrying easily through the room. "If you will stay quiet for a moment, the accusations will be brought forward. As for Mr. Kirk and the rest of his group, their presence is linked directly to aforementioned accusations."

Demmings drew a deep breath, but he was clearly still fuming.

'He's gonna blow a gasket,' Jim pushed across their link.

Spock hid a quirk of his lips. In the short time it had taken them to get to Earth, Jim had figured out how to push his thoughts at Spock, making him hear the actual words. Spock wondered if he would ever find any quiet in his mind again.

'You know I'll stop if you ask me to,' Jim replied cautiously.

'Your presence in my mind is always welcome, Jim, Spock replied. 'And you are quite right, while I doubt he will blow a 'gasket', as you put it, he does seem quite upset.'

'Well, considering the evidence we brought back, he and a few others have a lot to answer for.' Jim managed perfectly well to sound gleeful in his mind. 'Not to mention all the information that will be brought back to the Klingon Empire. It'll either create a shit storm of epic proportions or it might actually strengthen diplomacy between the Federation and the Qo'noS.' The latter was added with more than a little excitement.

'I thought you abhorred diplomatic missions,' Spock teased him gently. He had witnessed enough rants to support such a conviction.

'Yeah, but Spock, if we could get to see Qo'noS!' Jim's excitement almost bubbled over and Spock wrapped his attention around Jim, keeping him from literally bouncing in his seat. He was beginning to understand the exasperation Jim seemed to cause in McCoy on most days.

Speaking of the good doctor, Spock turned his attention back to the hearing. Demmings still looked as if he was going to fall apart any moment, but he still held his own, still answered any question with answers that managed to evade much.

"The board calls Doctor Leonard McCoy to provide medical explanations for much of the material that has been brought to our attention," Admiral Komack commanded.

Spock watched the board as McCoy took his place and began listing one horror after another. Genetic experimentation, brain surgery that left the subjects in a vegetative state, one they never came out of, but constantly kept alive to study their brains and brain waves.

He could feel his own nausea coupled with Jim's and he did not have to spend any energy on keeping Jim quiet at his side. Jim sat deadly still, anger and disgust quite evident.

One of the Admirals, Cartwright, caught Spock's attention. At first he was not sure why, but then he realized that the man seemed less surprised at the evidence than the rest of the board. It could of course be that he had phenomenal self control, but Spock was unsure if that was the case.

Jim's attention swung to the same man, and his thoughts mirrored Spock's quite well.

McCoy was still listing the evidence and Spock felt a burst of pride for his fellow Enterprise officer. It was part his own, but also Jim's pride in a friend. He knew how much Jim loved McCoy, but experiencing it through their bond he could see Jim's connection to the doctor was different from what he shared with Spock. In some ways it was similar, the respect, the friendship, but it stilled the more possessive part of Spock's nature that Jim felt no sexual attraction towards McCoy. He had never experienced brotherly love quite the way that Jim felt for the doctor, apart from his own feelings for Jim that had grown into something more, something deeper. As it were, the emotions he was feeling through Jim were beautiful to behold.

'I'm telling Bones that,' Jim projected at him, gleefully.

'You shall do no such thing,' Spock pushed back, 'especially if you wish to have any physical interaction with me in the near future. '

There was a moment of silence, then Jim's surprise and amusement burst through. 'Did you just threaten to withhold sex if I tell Bones you're proud of him?'

' I believe that is what I said.' Spock tried to keep his tone even, but he could tell from Jim's mirth that he was not succeeding too well. The banter wasn't new, but it should possibly have been a little unsettling how easily Jim seemed to drag him into the proverbial gutter and just how little it really bothered Spock. Even with Uhura, he had never achieved this level of ease. However, he was thankful that she had introduced him to many human colloquialisms and double entendres.

The hearing went on, Gord was called forth, and at it seemed to be the only moment, Demmings shrank back. Apparently he was not stupid enough to be openly hostile towards the Klingon Captain, the opening argument as to his presence during the hearing, notwithstanding.

Sarek stood as well, and relayed what the Vulcan council had conveyed, that they would support any and all inquiries made into this case.

Then it was Jim's turn and as he stood to change places with Sarek, Spock sensed a change in the room. Nothing specific and to the end of his life, he would claim it was not intuition, because that would be very un-Vulcan. But even so, he was moving before he could even think about it.

Demmings was pulling something concealed from his uniform, a small weapon of some sort. Spock threw himself at Jim, whose back was to Demmings and therefore was unaware of the attack. Tackling Jim to the ground, he felt the heat of the phaser through the layers of clothes, scorching his shoulder.

"Spock!" Jim held onto him as they hit the floor, frantically trying to find out if Spock was hit. Off to the side, Spock caught McCoy sprinting towards Demmings, his fist connecting with the man's face with a satisfying sound of flesh against flesh.

Jim was still fighting him, but Spock was thrumming with adrenaline, the urge to protect a mate and he did not let up until he saw Sarek reaching for Demmings, fingers in the position to apply the nerve pinch.

Standing, he gave Jim a hand up, only to be punched in his uninjured shoulder. "Damn it, Spock! Don't pull shit like that."

Spock still held onto Jim, staring into his eyes. "I shall make no such promise to you until you award me the same consideration."

Jim just stared at him for a moment, then he laughed out loud. "You know I can't do that."

Spock merely inclined his head in agreement.

"You alright, though?" Jim asked, reaching out but not quite touching the scorched material of Spock's shirt.

"I'll have a look," McCoy interrupted before Spock could tell Jim that all was right.

Knowing better than to argue with the ship doctor, Spock endured the examination as well as the time it took for McCoy to run his ever present regenerator over the wound, leaving behind nothing but slightly irritated skin.

"This is a farce," Cartwright yelled, standing up and Spock wondered if it may not be an overreaction, but then again...

"He's in on it," Jim whispered to him.

"How do you know?" Spock inquired.

"Intuition," Jim replied with a wink. "Is there any way we can get Demmings back on his feet after your father's rather impressive Vulcan death grip?"

"There is no such thing as a Vulcan death grip," Spock answered automatically, then refrained from rolling his eyes at Jim's mirth. Nodding to his father, Spock watched Sarek kneel by the unconscious Demmings.

"Keep calm, Cartwright," Komack demanded. "And I would like to know how the hell Demmings could enter this room without anyone searching him and finding the weapon."

Gord stepped over to Sarek and glared menacingly down at Demmings who was slowly coming back to consciousness.

"Throw Captain Demmings in the brig for now," Cartwright demanded. "Postpone this hearing..."

"Oh shut up, Cartwright," Demmings growled, still sitting on the floor, looking mildly dazed. "If I'm going down then so are you."

Cartwright opened his mouth to argue, but two men, clad in Federation security uniforms, stepped up behind his seat.

"Seems we got more than we bargained for," Pike said, nodding his approval at them. "Mr. Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, you have done Starfleet a great service. Captain Gord, likewise and any aid you may need, any information you may require to take back to your government to find the guilty parties there, I think it's safe to say, you have it." He nodded at Sarek. "Ambassador, always a joy seeing you in action."

Sarek inclined his head, and from the look of mild amusement on his face, Spock suddenly realized his father may have met Admiral Pike before. He was unsure which was more unsettling, the amusement or the knowledge of prior acquaintance.

"I'd say that Pike and your dad would make a kick ass team," Jim said, his voice full of laughter.

Spock was inclined to agree with him. "Indeed."

President Fairlane stood. "I agree entirely with Admiral Pike," he said, "and above this, I believe we should reinstate the good Captain Kirk and his cohorts - before sending them with Captain Gord to Qo'noS." Looking first to one side of the board, then the other, he received nods from all sides.


Spock fought to keep his breathing even. They were two hours from leaving spacedock, the Enterprise ready to head for Qo'noS, the Vo'quv waiting for them in orbit. It would be the opening mission for them, a precursor to an extended five year mission as their first year and a half had been so very successful. The last forty-two hours since they had returned to Earth had been packed with much preparation, especially after the board hearing, calling the crew back to the ship as well as last minute repairs to the Enterprise. While Engineer Scott had delayed a few things, he was more than skilled enough to get everything back in order within barely any time at all.

Of course, Jim considered two hours plenty of time and had demanded a celebration. And by celebration, he meant applying himself to orally stimulating Spock. Currently he was on his knees in front of Spock, who was pressed up against the wall of Jim's quarters, uniform pants down around his ankles.

Finally, partly because Jim was flooding his mind with the joy he felt sucking Spock off, and partly because Spock had only so much self control, he dug his fingers into Jim's shoulders, ejaculating with a soft moan as Jim held his hips in place, sucking until Spock whimpered at the overstimulation.

Jim let his softening penis go with a quick lick and caught Spock when he sank to the floor, welcoming him with a soft and satisfied grin. He was only dressed in a black t-shirt and a pair of boxers that were very evidently spattered with semen.

"It's what you do to me, it's what blowing you does to me," Jim whispered in his ear.

Spock shivered and it wasn't because the temperature in the room was too low.

Jim shut him up before he could say anything, his mouth unerringly finding Spock's and for a while Spock's whole world narrowed down to Jim and Jim's lips and Jim's body and...

"We are due to depart for Qo'noS in one hour, forty-six minutes, Captain," Spock finally whispered against the crook of Jim's neck, hands sliding against the expanse of skin of Jim's back, under his shirt.

"Yeah," Jim sighed contentedly, equally running his hands over any part of Spock he could reach. "And then it's off to New Vulcan afterwards," he muttered, happiness trickling through their link.

"I still find it hard to believe that Starfleet sanctioned and accepted our bonding ceremony, allowing us to stay together."

Jim laughed, his hold on Spock tightening. "Wasn't much they could do, was there? According to your father, we're as good a married and Vulcan marriage is accepted by Starfleet and the Federation." He pulled back a little and looked into Spock's eyes, his gaze softer and more serious than Spock was used to. "Not to mention, the clause of not breaking up bonded couples."

"Yet, our relationship is that of a command team," Spock said quietly. "Which is frowned upon, discouraged even."

"But not illegal," Jim said, "besides, we're all too close for Starfleet's taste - on the Enterprise. But we've proven for more than a year and a half that that is part of what makes us such a damned fine crew." He kissed Spock slowly before pulling back again. "It's what makes people want to be assigned to the Enterprise."

"I believe you'll find that you are part of their reason as well," Spock said, dragging him in for another kiss.

"I know I'm a popular Captain, if young," Jim admitted, "but we're dynamic in ways that many crews just aren't. We fight for each other; we fight to find a way out of a situation where others would tell us there is none."

"You are, as you would say, preaching to the choir," Spock said, his voice low, silencing Jim with another kiss, this one much longer and much deeper.

"Hold up a second," Jim gasped, suddenly pulling back.

Spock stared at the bruised, red lips, licking his own.

"We have an official bonding ceremony, right?" Jim asked, looking mildly panicked.

"Yes," Spock replied, not seeing why Jim would ask a question to which he already knew the answer.

"Shit, that means I still have to have a conversation with Sarek," he blurted out.

"Of course. I fail to see what the problem is," Spock said leaning in to nip at Jim's lips again.

"Your dad's scary, Spock," Jim said with a self conscious shrug, tongue flickering out to touch his lip where Spock's teeth had just been.

"You have faced down numerous dangers, stood against Nero, defeated him. We are heading to Qo'noS, where few humans have ever set foot voluntarily." Spock stared at him in disbelief. "Yet you are frightened of my father?"

"I wasn't marrying Nero's son, Spock. I'm marrying Sarek's!" Jim's eyes widened.

"A most illogical fear, Jim. Completely unnecessary as well," he added. "My father has the greatest respect for you."

Jim made a small noise in his throat and kissed Spock, evidently to shut him up, to shut the both of them up and Spock happily let him. There was plenty of time before they were expected on the bridge.


Note: Vo' quv = Blade of Honor

Klingon information

The End