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I Will Always Come For You

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McCoy walked into sickbay and was going to head straight into his office when he saw a familiar figure sitting on one of the medical examination tables.

“Sammy?  What are you doing in sickbay?” McCoy asked, concerned.

“I feel ill,” the young boy said simply.  McCoy picked up a medical tricorder and started scanning.

“What seems to be the problem?” McCoy asked, watching normal after normal reading pop up on the screen.

“I have a fever, stomach cramps, a mild headache, and infrequent chills,” Sammy reported clinically.  “I am certain I am contagious and unfit to return to the general population.”

McCoy shook his head.  “Everything looks normal here, kiddo,” he said.

“But I am certain,” Sammy insisted.  “Is your tricorder is calibrated correctly?”

McCoy took a calming breath, reminding himself that the kid’s attitude was hereditary and possibly incurable.  “Yes, I am certain that all the medical equipment in my sickbay is working at optimal capacity.  You.  Are.  Not.  Sick.”

Sammy only seemed to become more determined.  “Could not one be ill with some sickness that does not register on your medical equipment?”

McCoy bent down a little to be eye-level with the seven year old.  “Why don’t you want to go back out there?  Really?”

“Because,” the boy said, blue eyes steady, “I have a fever, stomach cramps a mild headache--”

“And infrequent chills,” McCoy finished for him and sighed.  “Okay, Sammy, here’s the deal.  If you are sick, you have to lay down here and not get up until you are well.  No PADDs, no games, nothing until you are better.”  He was hoping the sheer boredom would possibly change the kid’s mind.  Sammy merely nodded and settled down on the examination table, eyes to the ceiling.  McCoy walked to his office and kept an eye on the surveillance screen incase anything changed.  Something was up, and Sammy would just need time to work up to telling McCoy what it was.

---

Two hours later, Sammy was restlessly turning on the table, boredom getting the better of him, although he would never admit to it.  McCoy peaked his head in the door.

“Feeling any better?” McCoy asked.

“No,” the little boy replied sullenly.

“Well, I have some free time,” McCoy said, “and I brought something with me.”

Sammy perked up a little at that, looking at the object in the doctor’s hands.  “What is it?” the boy asked, a little dubious of the value of the object.

“It’s called a book, they were invented before the PADD,” he said, taking a seat next to the examination table.   “It’s a book that my father read to me when I was sick, and I read it to my daughter when she was sick, and now I’m going to read it to you.”

Sammy’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion.  “I am capable of reading independently.”

McCoy nodded, opening the cover and thumbing to the first page.  “Yes, but listening to a story read aloud has wonderful curative powers for many species.  This just might be just what you need for your mystery illness.”

Sammy raised one eyebrow in an eerie mirror of someone else McCoy knew, but did not comment.  McCoy cleared his voice and began.  "The Princess Bride, by S. Morgenstern, Chapter One.  Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the country of Florin."

“Where is Florin?” Sammy asked immediately.

“It’s an imaginary place.”

“What is the purpose of oral or written traditions of fictional settings?”

“It’s called imagination,” McCoy replied.  “Humans use it to tell stories with important messages.”

“It is illogical,” Sammy countered.  McCoy sighed, but as a parent, he knew when to pick his battles.

“Fine.  Buttercup was raised on a small farm in the state of Iowa.  Which you know is real place, correct?”  Sammy nodded.

Her favorite pastimes were riding her horse and tormenting-”

“Buttercup is a girl?” Sammy asked, horrified.

McCoy looked up from the page.  “Yes.  Some stories are about girls.  Since when do you have a problem with that?”

“I do not want to hear a story about girls.  Girls are gross.”  McCoy sighed again.  This was an annoying stage that the kid may or may not mature out of quickly.  Judging by his parentage, he had a 50/50 shot.

“Any other requests I can fulfill, so I can butcher this story beyond recognition?”

“I would prefer it to be set in space,” Sammy said, missing the doctor’s sarcasm.

McCoy rolled his eyes.  “As you wish.  Right.  So, our character....”

“He should be the captain of a starship,” Sammy added.

“Let me guess,” McCoy said dryly.  “His name should be James?  And maybe we should add a First Officer in there, he should be Spock?”

Sammy nodded, leaning back on the examination table, folding his hands over his stomach, expectant.

------

James enjoyed captaining the USS Enterprise and tormenting his First Officer.  His name was Spock, he was a Commander and a Science Officer, but James always called him Spock.  Nothing gave James as much pleasure as ignoring ‘Fleet regulations and Spock’s logical suggestions.

“Spock, I am going to beam down to the hostile planet.  Don’t bother sending security down with me.”

“Captain, I must remind you that Starfleet regulations--”

“Lighten up, Spock, it’ll be fine!”

“Then I must insist on coming with you, Captain.”

And Spock only ever called James “Captain.”

“Spock, you have to get out of here and return to the ship.  That’s an order, damn it.”

“I cannot do that, Captain.  I will remain here until the rescue party arrives.”

And that day, James was amazed to discover that when Spock was saying “Captain,” what he was really saying was t’hy’la: a friend, brother, and lover.  And even more amazing was the day James realized returned the full feelings of every aspect of that relationship.  When he confronted Spock with his feelings, the Vulcan was overwhelmed with loving emotion.

“Captain, it would be most illogical to pursue a relationship that is romantic in nature, when we are serving on the same ship in the same chain of command,” Spock said, looking at a flushed James and trying to ignore the burning sensation that lingered on his own lips from the kiss the Human had given him.

“But I love you,” James said, gripping Spock’s arms.  “And life is too short to not take our chance now, Spock.  Do you love me?”

The Vulcan did not answer for a moment, torn.  “Yes,” Spock finally whispered, and reached for Jim, cupping his head in his hands and bringing Jim forward to--

---

“Is this a kissing book?” Sammy asked gravely.

McCoy’ eyebrows shot up.  “Excuse me?”

“Will this story include material that is unsuitable for my young ears?” the boy clarified.

“No, this is not going to have any explicit content.  Now be quiet, you are resting.”  Bones continued....

Spock needed the permission of his great house to bond with James, so he obtained a shuttlecraft and set a course for Vulcan.  It was a very emotional time for James.”

----

“Hurry back,” James whispered, locked in an embrace with his lover in the shuttlebay.

“We will rendezvous at Starbase Sigma at the appointed time,” Spock murmured, linking his fingers with his captain’s.

“It feels like I will never see you again,” James admitted.

“Illogical,” Spock said.  “Hear this now:  I will always come for you.”

“But how can you be sure?” James asked.

“You are my t’hyla,” Spock said firmly.  “You think this happens every day?”

That got a grin out of James, and he leaned in to kiss Spock one last time before he walked into the shuttlecraft.

Spock reached Vulcan, but the planet was attacked by the war criminal Nero, obliterated by some unknown technology.  After Nero’s ship disappeared, never to be seen again.  When James learned of Vulcan’s destruction, he locked himself in the ready room and didn’t sleep or eat for days.

“I will never love again,” he said softly, staring at a holo of his t’hy’la, his one true love.

--------   

Five years later, Starfleet Headquarters was filled as never before to hear the announcement of the great Commander in Chief Marcus’s appointment of the next Admiral.  All of the federation was excited to see James Tiberius Kirk, the youngest captain in the history of the ‘Fleet and GQ’s Sexiest Humanoid Bachelor five times running, appointed as the youngest Admiral.  James was tempted to refuse the commission, as his heart wasn’t in his job like it had been, but couldn't find a good reason to.

James was traveling on the Enterprise to headquarters on Earth when Klingon ship appeared on their sensors and hailed them.

“Open a channel,” James ordered, and turned to the screen.  “I am Captain Kirk of the Federation Starship Enterprise.  To whom are we speaking?”

“Captain Kirk, you said?” a voice replied, but no visual appeared on the screen.

“Yes,” James said.  “Klingon warship, you are in Federation space, I demand that you--”

“You are in no position for demands, Captain Kirk of the Enterprise,” the voice said, and the next thing he knew, his vision was fading and he experienced the dizzying sensation of being beamed fro his ship.

When James looked around, he was no longer on the bridge of his ship, but in a holding cell of a Klingon bird of prey.  “We’ve got him,” a female voice said.

“Engage the cloaking device and get us the hell out of here,” another voice said.  James could hear the hum of a cloaking device and a warp core going online, and then steps down a corridor heading his way.  Jim took a defensive stance, ready to face his kidnappers.

A portly mustached man appeared, dressed in swags of cloth and jewelry.  He was smiling in a genial manner, as if he did not just commit seventeen different crimes against the Federation and locked its darling celebrity captain in a brig.    “My name is Harry Mudd,” the oily man said.  “You will be our guest for a while, until we reach the neutral zone near Qo’noS.”

“Why did you abduct me?” James asked, hoping to keep Harry Mudd talking.  He seemed like the type to monologue.

“As your crew will report, I did not abduct you.  The Klingons did.  And when the Federation discovers your body on the Klingon boarder, the Federation will have no choice but to start a war.  Which is what I’ve been hired to do.  Start a war, that is.  It’s not my usual line of work, I am usually a tradesman, a procurer of fine things.”

“And killing me, you’ve been hired for that too?”

“Wait,” a thickly accented voice said from behind Mudd’s portly frame.  “No one said anything about killing a Starfleet officer.  I cannae do that.”

Mudd turned around, his face dark.  “You were hired to start a war,” he bellowed.  “You were not hired to think, you dimwitted Scottish baboon.”

“I have to agree with Scotty,” the woman’s voice said.

“Luckily, this is not a democracy,” Mudd snapped.  “Do I have to remind you where I found you two, forgotten, stranded on Delta Vega?  Now get back to the helm.”  Mudd turned back to James.  “Make yourself comfortable in there, and don’t cause any trouble.”

Mudd left, and James paced his cell, not finding much in the way to aid his rescue.  He found that if he sat in just the right place, he could look down the corridor and see his three kidnappers working at the helm.

“Why are you doing that?” Mudd said suddenly.

“I’m trying to disguise our warp signature,” the Scottish man, Scotty, said.  “Just making sure no one is following us.”

“That would be inconceivable,” Mudd said.

“Are you sure?” the woman said, long jett hair drawn up in a severe plait down her back.

“Despite what you think, you will be caught. And when you are, Starfleet will have you on a rehabilitation colony faster than you can say warp speed,” Jim called out, hoping to ruffle the two that seemed to be hesitant to end his life.  “It’s not a pretty place, on those penal colonies in the backwaters of the galaxy.  Harsh winters... food rations.”

“Shut up, or I’ll kill you now,” Mudd hollered.  “Inconceivable. We are in a cloaked vessel, no Klingon knows what we’ve done, and no Starfleet ship can detect us.  Why do you ask?”

“There is an unmarked ship bearing 1 3 4 mark 9, a few light years behind us.”

Mudd made a dismissive gesture.  “Just a trading vessel.”

“Following our course into the neutral zone?”

“Then evade him,” Mudd barked.  “Go to these coordinates, we will lose them in the asteroid belt.”

“You cannae be serious,” Scotty objected.  “The shields won’t take it, we’ll be pummeled to dust before we make it out.

“Into the asteroid belt,” Mudd bellowed, smacking Scotty upside the head.  James braced for impact, and sure enough the ship rocked once, then twice with the force of asteroid hitting the ship.  The lights flickered and a plasma relay exploded outside the holding cell.  “Shields are at 34 percent,” the woman called.  “Aft thursters are out.”

“I’m getting out of this,” Scotty yelled, “your war be damned.  Prepare for emergency landing.”

Just as he said that, another asteroid hit their port side, sending Jim crashing into the wall.  He didn’t need to be told their shields were down to nothing and life support was about to go offline.

----

“They make it out alive,” McCoy said suddenly.

Sammy blinked.  “What?”

“You looked nervous, I wanted you to know they made it out alive.”

“I would not worry about lives fictional characters,” Sammy said primly.  “I am merely interested in the outcome of their ill advised kidnapping venture.”

“We can stop if you want, let you rest,” Bones suggested.

“Unnecessary,” the boy said.  “Continue.  Please.”

“Okay then,” McCoy said knowingly.  “Where were we?”

The Klingon vessel was about to make an emergency landing.”

---

They landed on the uninhabited class M planet of Fezzik III.  While all aboard were relatively unharmed, their vessel was beyond repair.  The three kidnappers grabbed supplies and phasers and let James out of his holding cell, phasers pointed at him.

“We are in luck,” Mudd said.  “I am familiar with this planet, and I know there to be illegal transports hidden on the other side of that plateau.  We will climb the cliffs and make our way there.  And if you try to flee, Captain,” Mudd said, waving his phaser around, “well, I didn’t have any instructions about delivering you in one piece.”

James followed his captors to the cliffs and was made to climb them.  As they were a quarter of the way up, a ship appeared and landed near the vicinity of the damaged ship.

“It’s the ship that was following us,” the woman said.  “I think he’ll spot us soon.”

“Inconceivable.  Keep climbing,” the winded Mudd barked.

Minutes passed, and Scotty called out, “I think he’s found us.  And he’s gaining on us.”

“Inconceivable.  KEEP CLIMBING,” Mudd bellowed, sweat pouring down his face.

James peaked down the face of the cliff and saw a man dressed in black, a wide mask covering his eyes and face.  The man in black had indeed started climbing the cliff wall and was certainly gaining on them.  When James and his kidnappers had reached the top of the cliff and Mudd caught his breath, he turned to the woman.

“You,” he weezed.  “You will stay behind and make sure he dies one way or another.  If he doesn’t fall, then shoot him.”

The woman narrowed her eyes.  “That would be unsporting,” she said.

Mudd gaped at her.  “Then challenge him to an honorable duel for all I care,” he yelled, grabbing James’s arm.  “The captain and the Scottish dumbo are coming with me.  Catch up with us when you’ve killed him.”

----

“I said I didn’t want a story about girls,” Sammy stated, just on the edge of it being a whine.

“She’s not a girl,” McCoy said.  “Nyota Uhura is a woman.”

This seemed to appease the seven year old’s grasp of the world, and he layed back, waiting for the rest of the story.

---

When Mudd, Scotty, and Jim left, Nyota Uhura leaned over the cliff to look down at the Figure in Black.

“Your disguise does nothing to hide your heritage,” she called down in perfect Vulcan.

The Vulcan stopped and looked up.  “Perhaps it has another intended use,” he replied in Romulan.

“You speak Romulan,” she replied in Standard.

“How do you know that I am not Romulan, myself?” he replied, this time in Tellarite.

She shrugged, knowing the Figure in Black probably couldn’t see it.  “Wasn’t sure, I think it was a good guess,” she said in Trxian, enjoying the linguistic exchange.  There weren’t many intelligent people to converse with on Delta Vega.  “Am I distracting you?”

“Negative,” he replied, achieving his next foothold.  “I am able to ascend this cliff and converse with ease.”

“You must be Vulcan,” she said sagely.  “It’s a shame Mudd wants me to kill you.  There are so few Vulcans left.”

“A most regrettable circumstance,” the Vulcan in Black agreed.  “You have studied xenolinguistics?”

Uhura nodded.  “Until some asshole with a British accent stole my thesis, claimed I plagiarized it, and got me kicked out of Starfleet.  I was sent to Delta Vega for the quadrant's worst project for the Universal Translator division.  There isn’t even sentient life on Delta Vega!  I spent five years listening to snow.”

“A horrible waste of your talents,” he said.  Uhura nodded, relieved that someone in the universe finally understood.

“I have decided to give you a sporting chance,” Uhura said.  “I promise not to kill you until you’ve reached the top.”

“It would be most illogical not to accept,” the Vulcan admitted, almost to the top.  Uhura watched him reach the top and stand.

“Would you like to rest?” she asked, intrigued by the tall figure.  The Vulcan in Black shook his head, reaching for his phaser.  Uhura raised her hand.

“I suggest we do this civilly,” she said.  “We count ten paces, turn and fire.”

The Vulcan considered a moment.  “Crude, but acceptable.”

Uhura and the Vulcan stood face to face.  “Now we turn, count off to ten, and then fire.”  He nodded his understanding, and she looked into her opponents eyes, suddenly suspicious.

“You look familiar,” she said slowly.  “Who are you?”

“No one of consequence,” he replied.

“No, really,” Uhura said, the voice was so familiar.  “I must know.”

“Then I suggest you become accustomed to the emotions associated with disappointment.”

Uhura shrugged and then took her phaser in hand.  The turned in unison, but before Uhura could count aloud to one, she felt a hand at her neck and her world went dark.

“It would be most illogical to destroy a mind as bright as yours,” the figure said softly, laying Nyota Uhura gently on the ground.  “But it would also be illogical to allow you to follow me.  Please understand I hold you in the highest respect.”

Chapter Text

“Inconceivable!” Mudd shouted as he spied the Figure in Black running across the plateau.  He turned to Scotty and James.  “Give him to me, and catch up with us.”

Scotty frowned.  “What do you expect me to do?”

“Finish him your way!” Mudd yelled, keeping his phaser trained on James.

“My way?” Scotty said, upset.  “You know, I’m an engineer, not a killer for hire.  I dinnae sign up for this.”

“Just hide behind one of those rocks with your phaser,” Mudd growled.  “In a few minutes he will come running by, and then SHOOT HIM!”  And with that, he grabbed James by the arm and took off running.

“My way is not very sportsmanlike,” Scotty muttered to himself, crouching behind one of the boulders.  When the Figure in Black ran by, Scotty aimed for a spot just above the Figure’s head.  The Vulcan stopped.

“I would like to point out here,” Scotty said, when the figure turned to him, “that I am an excellent shot and I didnae need to miss.”

The Figure in Black nodded.  “I believe that statement is correct.  I inquire as to what will happen next.”

“We face each other as God intended,” Scotty said.  “No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.”

“I must warn you, I have the superior biology, and you will be bested,” the Vulcan warned.  “Hand to hand combat with me would be most illogical.”

Scotty raised his phaser again.  “I could just kill ye now, if that would suit ye.”

The Figure in Black merely shook his head.  “I accept your terms.”

The each took their stances and slowly circled around each other.

“I infer you are skilled in Terran wrestling,” the Figure in Black commented.

“Yeah,” Scotty said.  “Did a little while at the Academy, before I became part of Delta Vega’s research post rejects.  They didnae have much in the way of competitive sports, so this is a real treat.”

“You were also stationed in Delta Vega?”

“Stationed?  No.  Marooned, yes.  Apparently one can be a genius engineer, the toast of transwarp theororists, but if ye misplace a beagle, ye are sent packing to the freezing armpit of the universe,” Scotty grumbled.

“How illogical,” the Figure in Black said, making Scotty grin and step out a little from his defensive stance.

“Why are you wearing a mask?” Scotty asked, neither one making a move to attack yet.  “Is it a fashion statement, or were you burned by acid or something?”

“Negative,” the figure said, and did not elaborate.

“I think I could look good in a mask,” Scotty mused, leaning to his left a little.  The figure adjusted his stance.  “I imagine I would look dashing and mysterious.”

“Negative,” other said again, and lunged.

It was a brief fight.  The Figure in Black was not exaggerating when he claimed the superior biology.  Scotty was able to land one swift blow onto the other’s chest, but it was ineffective.  The last thing the Engineer felt was a hand at his neck, and the world went dark.

----

Commander in Chief Alexander Marcus was alone in his office when he received a message from his most trusted soldier.

“A Klingon warbird has abducted Captain Kirk,” a silky voice said.  “An encoded distress signal from the vessel was detected was on a planet in Federation space.”

“A distress signal?”

“Do you think this could be a trap?” the other man asked.

“I always think everything could be a trap... which is why I am still alive.  Marcus out.”

He stood up from his desk and sent word that we would be arriving on the Vengeance shortly.

--

“INCONCEIVABLE” Mudd exclaimed yet again, watching the Figure in Black emerge from the boulders and take off at a sprint in their direction.

“You know, I don’t think that word means what you think it means,” James taunted, trying not to be too obvious about watching the phaser trained on him.

“You, sit,” Mudd barked, gesturing to a rock with said phaser and handing James a strip of fabric from the medkit in his pack.  “Here, wrap this around your eyes.  Move from that rock, and I will shoot you.”

James took the makeshift blindfold and did as he was told.

The Figure in Black approached, and Mudd pointed the phaser at James.  “If you don't wish him dead, you will stand back.  I infer you wish to kidnap what I have rightfully stolen.”

“You infer correctly,” the Figure in Black said.  “Could an arrangement be made?”

“No,” Mudd huffed.  “Take another step, and I will vaporize every cell in his body.”

“It appears we are at an impasse.”

“I’m afraid so.  I am no opponent for a physical battle,” Mudd stated, “but you are no match for my wits.”

The Figure in Black tilted his head slightly.  “Would you be amenable to a battle of the minds?”

Mudd narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.  “To the death?  For the Captain?”  The figure nodded.  “I accept,” Mudd replied and set his phaser on the ground and the Figure in Black did the same.  Mudd took a seat on a small boulder and the other took a seat on a log, facing the kidnapper.

“I have two vials,” The Figure in Black said, pulling two glass tubes from his belt.  “One contains a deadly poison to all humanoids, native to Fereginar.  The other is merely a nutritive supplement.  They look identical in every way.”  He gestured for Mudd to hand him medkit supplies used to blindfold James and took out two hyposprays.  The Figure in Black turned away from Mudd, and then turned back, handing his opponent one of the hyposprays.

“Your test is to determine which of us has the hypospray of poison.  It ends when you decide and we both inject ourselves.  We will find out who is right... and who is dead.”

Mudd chucked.  “But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of you:  are you the sort of man who would put the poison into his own hypospray or his enemy's? Now, a clever man would put the poison into his own hypospray, because he would know that only a great fool would reach for what he was given. I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of you. But you must have known I was not a great fool, you would have counted on it, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of me.”

The Figure in Black merely nodded.  “So you have made your decision?”

“Not remotely! Because this poison comes from Ferenginar, you must have visited that planet, and as everyone knows, and Ferengi value treachery for monetary gain and are used to having people not trust them, as you are not trusted by me, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of you.

“Your logic is most astounding,” the figure said dryly.

“Wait until I get going!” Mudd roared, pleased with himself.  “Where was I?”

“Ferenginar,” James supplied, still sitting quietly two paces away, blindfolded.

“Yes, Ferenginar. You informed me of the origin of this poison, and must have known I am a well traveled man and have traded with the Ferengi, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of me.  You’ve demonstrated superior strength and stamina, so you could've put the poison in your own hypospray, trusting on your strength to save you, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of you. But, I suspect by your biology you are of one of the Vulanoid species, who are all spacefaring and learned, and in studying you must have discovered all humanoids mortal, so you would have put the poison as far from yourself as possible, so I can clearly not choose the hypospray in front of me.”

“If this is an attempt to elicit an emotional response, I must inform you that you will not succeed,” the Figure in Black said.

“But it HAS worked!” Mudd declared in a manic voice.  “You’ve given everything away!  I know where the poison is!”

“Then make your choice,” the figure prompted.

“I will, and I choose-- What do you think you are doing?”

And before Figure in Black could turn around, a beam of light pierced Mudd in his solar plexus, sending him to the ground.

“I hope your phaser was set on stun,” James said, ripping the blindfold off his eyes.  “I am not sure how much Starfleet paperwork is involved if I were to kill my kidnapper.”

The Figure in Black stared at the Captain, surprised.  “You shot him while blindfolded.”

“Yeah,” James said, picking up Mudd’s phaser and stuffing the med kit back into the pack.  “He just blindfolded me, he didn’t shackle me in a pit.  I thought that’s why you left your phaser so close to me, for me to shoot him.  What, did you want to risk get poisoned?”

“I would not have suffered any ill effects,” the Figure in Black said, accepting his own phaser.  “I have spent the last few years becoming immune to all Ferengi poisons.”

With a swift move that James couldn’t track, the Figure in Black deftly relieved James of his own phaser, leaving him without a weapon.  “I mean you no harm, but do not trust you to not use that weapon against me,” the Figure in Black said evenly.

“Who are you?” James asked suspiciously.

“I am no one to be trifled with.  That is all you ever need know.  I ask that you follow me to safety.”

Not having much of a choice, stranded on an unknown planet with no means to contact Starfleet at the moment, Jim kept pace next to the mysterious Figure in Black.

----

Admiral Marcus stared at the viewscreen, centered on the M class planet.  One of the bridge crew brought up an enhanced image of the wreckage of the Klingon vessel.

“Captain Kirk and his kidnappers were alive when he left,” Marcus mused aloud. “If Kirk is otherwise when I find him, I shall be very put out.”

-----

The Figure in Black slowed down is grueling pace, and then halted near a ledge overlooking a ravine, allowing James to catch his breath.  Jim leaned against a tree, panting and staring at his new companion.  “How do I know that you are leading me to safety and not just another kidnapper hoping to cash in on Mudd’s original job?”

“You do not know,” the Figure in Black said shortly, unwilling or unable to give assurance.

“You are carrying a comm?” James asked.  The other nodded.  “And you are not using it because...”  The figure did not answer, and leaving James to infer the worst.

“If you could just contact Starfleet, whatever ransom you ask, you’ll get it.  You have my word.”

“I cannot think of any organization I can trust less than Starfleet,” the Figure in Black replied, distaste somehow evident is his neutral tone.

“So you hate Starfleet.  You are Romulan, aren’t you?”  No answer came. “Mudd was right, you are Vulcanoid, at least.  Well, I gave you a chance.  The Federation has friends in every corner of this quadrant.  They will track that Klingon warbird, find me, and find you.”

“It is a possibility.  However, I captain a ship that is highly advanced.  When we rendezvous with my vessel, I doubt Starfleet will be able to track your whereabouts.”

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” James muttered.  The Figure in Black gave him a quizzical look, much like-- and James immediately cut that thought off.  Too painful.

“What does the Romulan Empire want with a Starfleet captain?” Jim asked.

“I do not speak for the Romulan Empire,” the Figure in Black said.  “We stand apart.”

We stand apart.

James knew exactly where he had heard that line before.

You,” he gasped, as if he has the wind knocked out of him by a physical blow.  “You captain the Narada.”

The Figure in Black- Nero- nodded solemnly, as if honored by the recognition.  Before James realized what he was doing, his wrists were held tight, preventing the captain from attacking.

“You will not win in a physical altercation with me,” Nero murmured, hot breath on James’s face.  James stared into his eyes of Nero and saw Spock’s eyes.  It always hurt to imagine them in the eyes of strangers, it hurt more to see them in the eyes of Spock’s murderer.

“You killed him,” he growled, still struggling, his hands still held in Nero’s viselike grip.  He felt like a petulant child, but he was stuck in his blind rage.

“The Narada is responsible for the deaths of many beings,” Nero said calmly.  “I do not know of whom you speak.”

“He was mine."  Mine forever.  He was coming for me.  We were to bond.  We were going to discover the universe together, side by side.  Forever.  All of this unsaid, because it was too precious, too special for the ears of this criminal.

“You are Human,” Nero said.  “If you have lost one lover, it stands to reason you have found another.”

“You know nothing of the pain you’ve caused.  The pain I will visit upon you,” he spat, fire burning in his veins.

“To seek vengeance for someone long gone is illogical, it will do nothing to aid your current situation,” Nero replied, unmoved or uncaring of Jim’s impotent rage.

“Let’s find out,” James hissed, leaning back, forcing Nero’s balance to shift.  A split second later James delivered a flying kick to Nero’s chest, sending him stumbling backwards toward the ravine.  Nero had a half a foothold on the ledge, arms trying to grasp at air.  He looked at James, a moment of panic in his eyes.

“Captain!”

Chapter Text

“Commander Marcus, I am picking up life signs scattered a few clicks from the Klingon vessel,” one of the crew said. “They seem to be kilometers apart, as if they have been separated.”

Marcus nodded, contemplating the readings on the screen.  “Perhaps Kirk has bested his captors or may still be in their company.  But if I am wrong, and I am never wrong, they are headed into the fire swamp.”

---

When James heard that voice, that word, “Captain,” those eyes behind the mask, the expression, he knew.  His whole body knew and responded.

“Spock!” he cried, and ran to the ledge, launched himself down the side of the ravine, landing in an undignified heap next to the Vulcan.

“Ow,” he moaned, face in the dirt.

“Can you move at all?” a soft voice said, his hand gently at James’s back.  James pushed up from from the ground to look at Spock.

“Move?  You’re alive!  If you want I can fly,” he said and grabbed Spock by the shoulders and buried his head the Vulcan’s neck, inhaling his scent, reveling in the warmth.  He thought he would never have this again.  “Where the hell have you been?”

“I told you I would always come for you,” Spock said, wrapping his arms around James.

“You were dead.”

“No, not dead,” Spock replied.  “Merely delayed.”

James huffed a laugh.  “I should have remembered that Vulcans never lie.  I won’t doubt you again.”

Spock’s eyes were soft, and he reached to caress James’s face.  “There will never be a need, t’hyla.”  He drew the man nearer and pressed--

-----

“This is not apropriate.”

McCoy let out an exasperated sigh.  “What is the matter now?”

“They’re kissing again," Sammy accused, as if the doctor had betrayed him.  "I do not believe that this is conducive to my physical well being or developing mind.  I request that you eliminate such parts from your oral retelling.”

“Someday, you might not mind so much.”  Sammy’s face held a mixture of horror and disbelief.

“I wish to hear more about the fire swamp.”

“Fine,” McCoy grouched.  “I’ll humor you, but only because you are sick.”

------

After determining that James was not severely injured, merely bruised in a few places, Spock gave James his phaser, and led them along the bottom ravine.

“Where are we going, and why aren’t we trying to contact Starfleet?” James asked.

“Twenty more meters and we will be safe within the fire swamp,” Spock replied, seeming to ignore James’s question.  “The mineral deposits found therein will shield us from any ship’s scanners.

“Fire swamp?”

“An anomaly of this planet, characterized by highly unstable terrain, unpredictable flame spurts, and unusual native creatures,” Spock explained.  

“We’ll never make it out alive!” James exclaimed.

Spock paused, considering the statement.  “I would calculate our likelihood of survival as less than--”

“Spock, please.  No.  Just don’t,” James said, pained.  Vulcans did not do pep talks.

----

“Fascinating,” Spock said, examining a flowering tree in the swamp.

“We can come back later and take as many samples as you’d like,” James muttered beside the Vulcan.  “We can build a summer home here, it could have a beautiful view of all these--”

Four loud thumps approaching James and a hissing sound underneath his left boot was all the warning they were given before a flame spurt erupted.  Spock grabbed him and physically moved him out of the way.  “Are you injured?” he inquired, eyes raking up and down his captain’s form.

“Nope,” James said, inspecting his barely charred boot.  “I forgot how strong you were.”  

Spock nodded, his eyes averted, as though embarrassed by the reminder of their years apart.  “Another kilometer and we will be within range to hail the Narada.”

James’s eyes widened.  “So you weren’t lying?  You are the captain of the Narada?”  Spock raised an eyebrow, For the millionth time, Vulcans do not lie was left unsaid.  “How--”

“I was leaving Vulcan when the Narada attacked,” Spock quietly recounted.  “I made a tactical error, trying to return to evacuate.  By the time I returned, Vulcan was gone and the Narada had locked onto my shuttle.  I was beamed aboard, surrounded by Romulans.  Nero was about to execute me when...”

“Yes?” James asked, his heart in his throat.

“I begged for my life,” Spock replied.  A most un-Vulcan response.  “Nero was most intrigued by my reasons, my desire to return to you, seeing it as the illogical pleas of a broken Vulcan mind.  I believe it amused him.  He spared my life, keeping me as a captive crewmember, always warning me that he would kill me in the morning.”  Jim’s heart ached.  “Three years passed thus, and I became quite familiar with the crew and their ship.  Every night Nero would threaten the possibility of killing me the next morning.  After four years, I became captain.”

“What, Nero just gave you the ship and retired?” Jim asked.

Spock blinked, confused by Jim’s illogical conclusion.  “No, I killed him.  It was very apparent that Nero was planning another attack, this time on Earth.  It was the only logical recourse available.”

“The crew just went along with that?”

Spock nodded.  “The criminal mind is loyal to that which will supply what they desire.  I believe the former Narada crew did not see any gain in Nero’s plans of genocide, and were content to be settled on Risa with ample latinum.  I spent the last year obtaining my new crew and finding my way back to the Alpha Quadrant.”

“And now that you’ve found me?” James asked, reaching for Spock’s hand.

Spock took the offered hand, and raised it to his lips, brushing a kiss against the knuckles.  “My wishes have not changed, James.  I still desire to bond with you.”  Spock’s eyes darkened with anger.  “James, we must first track down those that planned to kidnap you. I have intercepted many communications, and I suspect it is someone within Starfleet.”

James jerked his hand back in surprise, taking a step back.  “Starfleet?  Why would someone use me--”

Spock never got to hear the end of that sentence, for one instant he was looking into the puzzled blue eyes of his love, and then next was empty air.  Spock looked around wildly, finally noticing the patch of white sand that must have swallowed James.  Thinking fast, he grabbed a vine from one of the trees and jumped in after his t’hyla.

A long minute passed before Spock and James emerged from the lightning sand pit, James wheezing and spitting out sand.

“I think this swamp has it in for me,” James gasped, prone on the ground, trying to get the grit out of his mouth.

Spock now figured James was looking for some type of reassurance.  “As we have determined how to listen for impending flame spurts and now know what the lightning sand looks like, we can avoid both, thus increasing our chances of survival considerably.”  Spock offered James his hand to stand up.

James patted Spock’s arm affectionately after he got his balance back.  “My hero,” he said, then furrowed his eyebrows.  “There were three dangerous things about this place.  What are we missing?”  Spock started to lead them again through the swamp at a brisk pace.

“They are referred to as T.O.U.S’s,” Spock said.  At James’s puzzled look, he elaborated.  “Tribbles of Unusual Size.  As they have never been documented, I doubt their existence.”

As soon as the words left Spock’s mouth, a purring sound came from the right and rolled up to Spock, bumping him in the leg.  James stopped and looked.  “It’s so cute!” he exclaimed.

Apparently, the Vulcan could not classify a furry beachball as “cute.”  Spock ignored the creature and kept walking.

“So they do exist,” James said smugly.  Spock said nothing.  “Oh, look!  There’s more!”

Three more furry beach balls were waiting along the path.  “Fascinating,” Spock commented, but kept his pace.

“This would be a great place to return,” James commented, now seeing at least six more, these even bigger, moving toward them from a hill.  “It would be interesting to learn how they got so big.”

“Or how an environment such as this could support a tribble infestation,” Spock added, warily looking at another small purring herd of tribbles following behind them.  “I do believe they are following us.”

Indeed they were.  Tribbles ranging from the size of watermelons up to one orange tribble that would reached Spock’s waist.  The hoard of tribbles were purring in unison, the sound unnerving James.

“You don’t think they are dangerous?” he asked.  “I thought tribbles were herbivores.”

Spock shook his head.  “I am unfamiliar with how a tribble would grow to such enormous sizes.  I find it troublesome, however, that I have observed no other living creatures in our time here.  I remind you that tribbles are known for their voracious appetites.”

James’s gaze darted around.  There had to be at least fifty mutant tribbles now, all headed in their direction.  “Do we run?”

Spock nodded and that was all the affirmation James needed to take off, Spock beside him.  The tribbles were following, keeping pace a few meters behind, the purring getting louder and louder.  They could see the brighter light filtering between the trees ahead, signally the edge of the swamp.

As soon as they made it into a bright field, the purring sound dissipated.  “We made it,” James exclaimed, grinning.

Before Spock could respond, they both felt the unsettling feeling of being beamed.

Chapter Text

When they materalized upon the Vengence, Commander Marcus was waiting for them.  “Captain Kirk,” he greeted and turned to the other in surprise.  “And Commander Spock.  What a surprise.”

“Where are we?” James asked, looking around the bridge.

“Oh, this girl?” Marcus asked, grandly gesturing around  him.  “A prototype we’ve been playing with.”

“A dreadnaught class ship,” Spock supplied, surprising James and Marcus.

“For being dead for five years, you look surprisingly well, Mr. Spock,” Marcus said, staring at the Vulcan.  "And are suprisingly well informed."  Spock ignored the unasked question.

“Under article 35 section 18, and article 41, section 4, I demand that you be relieved of duty and and be held in the brig pending trial,” Spock said.

James turned, confused.  “Spock, what are you--”

“For the kidnapping and attempted murder of a Starfleet officer, Captain James Kirk,” Spock continued, eyes never leaving Marcus’ face.

James turned back to Commander Marcus, the most senior officer in all of Starfleet and watched in dawning horror as Marcus gave a brief nod and the crewmembers on the bridge all raised phasers to the pair.  Marcus sighed, as if exhausted.

“You have it all wrong, Mr. Spock.  I don’t see how we could gain anything by losing our most celebrated captain.  We are here to rescue him.”

“But this is a warship,” James said, noticing the expansive controls devoted to tactical stations.  “You do want a war with the Klingons.”

“I need to be prepared for that eventuality, Kirk,” Marcus snapped.  “What I do not need is a Vulcan, obviously mentally unstable and on a powertrip, trying to plant seeds of doubt and derail our careful defensive measures.  You deserted your post, Spock.  It is you that will have to report to the brig.”

“I will not,” Spock said, stepping in front of James.  “You are responsible for these actions, and I have evidence to prove it.”

“Are you threatening me?” Marcus asked.

“I am merely conveying facts,” Spock said evenly, but James could hear the anger in his voice.  “I will present them to those that will listen and see your preparation and plans for what they are: treason.”

“You will surrender your weapons and be escorted to the brig, or so help me, I will order you shot on this bridge,” Marcus yelled, his face red.

“I will not--”

“Do you promise not to hurt him?” James asked suddenly.  Spock and Marcus turned to look at him.

“What was that?” Marcus barked.

Captain, I do not understand--” Spock’s eyes wide with possible alarm or hurt.

“If I return with you and help you start your war, will you promise not to hurt him?”

“Why would you promise such a thing?” Spock whispered, and James felt a sympathetic ache in his chest.

“Yes, Kirk, why would you?”  Marcus’s beady eyes were considering James in a new light.

“This 'eventuality' comes with no guarantees,” James said.  “You need me, as your admiral, more than you realize, I think.  Me in your pocket, his safety as my payment, you know my record.  You are going to want me on your side when this goes down.”

Marcus pondered this a moment, and then nodded slowly.

“I want you to beam him back down to his shuttle,” James said, refusing to look at Spock.  “He can’t cause any trouble alone.”

Marcus nodded.  “I thought we had lost you, Kirk.  It would’ve been a hell of a loss for Starfleet.  I could use a mind like yours on my side.  Fine.  You have my word.”

James finally glanced at Spock, unable to voice the words.  I’ve lost you once, I can’t live if you died again.  Forgive me.  Forgive me, t’hy’la.  Spock’s eyes were bright, disbelieving.

“This way, Mr. Spock,” Marcus said, gesturing to the turbolift, and Marcus and another crewmember followed the Vulcan inside.

When the doors closed, Spock spoke evenly.  “Although I am untrained in delivering deceit, I find myself aware of it.  Lies do not become us.”

“Well spoken, sir,” the other crewman said smoothly in accented Standard.

“You have studied xenolinguistics,” Spock commented in Vulcan.  The crewmember nodded, a little puzzled, but it confirmed Spock’s suspicions.

Without warning, Marcus raised his phaser and shot Spock, allowing the Vulcan to crumple in a heap on the floor.

----

Spock awoke, unsure of how much time had passed.  He was in a brightly lit science lab, strapped to a table, electrodes on his head and chest.  The crewmember from the turbolift was standing above him, adjusting some medical equipment.

“Where am I?” Spock inquired calmly.

“I call this the Pit of Despair,” he said, amused by his own joke.  “Don’t even think about trying to escape.  You are restrained with the best restraints Federation science has to offer.  And don’t dream of being rescued, either.  the only way in is secret, and only I and Commander Marcus know how to get in and out.”

“I infer that I am here until I die?”

“Until we kill you, yes.”

“I fail to see why I am alive,” Spock admitted.  “It seems illogical, unless there is some other purpose.  Am I to be tortured?”  The crewmember nodded, a wicked smile blooming on his face.  “Vulcans do not respond to torture as other humanoids.”  The smile became wider.

“You may have survived the fire swamp,” he said, his dark voice lowering to a purr.  “But nobody withstands The Machine.”  He ran a finger across Spock’s cheek, savoring the flinch he elicited.  “You will see.”

-----

A week later, Starfleet appointed James as admiral in a ground ceremony, and the day after that, the Federation declared war on the Klingons.  Marcus addressed the televids, Admiral Kirk at his side and--

-----

“Wait!” Sammy exclaimed, sitting up from the examination table.  “You read that wrong.”

“How can I read it wrong, we are so far out of the book, it’s not even the same story anymore!” McCoy said, waving the book that hadn’t been opened in hours.

“James would not allow Starfleet to start a unprovoked war on the Klingon Empire.  He wouldn’t abandon Spock,” the boy insisted.  “It’s not logical!”

“Life,” McCoy said solemnly, “is not logical.”

“The story is incorrect.”

“Do you want me to go on?”  Sammy nodded.  “Then no more interruptions!  The next day, Admiral Kirk boarded the Enterprise to meet the armada waiting near the Neutral Zone.

------

James exited the turbolift and took his seat in the captain’s chair.

“Mr. Sulu, take her out.”

“No,” Sulu said.

“Excuse me?” he asked.

“No, Admiral, I will not,” Sulu said, not turning around.

“That’s an order, Mr. Sulu,” James said, a bite in his voice.

“I will not follow the orders of a man who is a disgrace to the uniform,” Sulu said, turning in his seat.  James looked around, every other crewmember was impassive, as if unsurprised by Sulu’s act of mutiny.  “Your true love lives!  He would have died to save you, save all of us, and you treated that like garbage.  The rest of you can follow orders, for the admiral of filth, of slime, the admiral of putrescence!  Boo!”  Sulu yelled.  “Boo!  Boo!  Boo!

James bolted upright in bed, gasping.  It was just a dream.  The appointment hadn’t happened yet, no war declared.  It did nothing to ease his heart.  It was a week until his promotion ceremony, and his nightmares were growing worse.

----

“See?” Sammy said smugly.  “I told you it was wrong.”

“Yes, you’re very smart, now shut up.”

------

The Vengence and the Enterprise were both docked at Space Station 2.  James walked into the Marcus’s office without warning.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he started, not realizing that one of the Vengeance crew was in the office.  He glanced at the other man, and recognized him as the one who followed Spock into the turbolift.  “I am resigning, effective immediately.  I need to find Spock.”

Marcus tilted his head.  “So this is about him.  You understand Mr. Spock is probably halfway to the Gamma quadrant by now.”

James nodded.  “It doesn’t matter.  I’m less than useless here, I can’t even think in a straight line right now.”

Marcus considered a moment.  “I can’t have an admiral with his heart against this commission,” he admitted.  “How about this?  I can send a few ships from the fleet to scout, see if any of the deep space stations have seen Mr. Spock’s shuttle, and bring him back here.  I doubt he will want to return.”  James stared warily.  “After the destruction of Vulcan, a great many descended into madness.  His gibberish about kidnapping and murder, a sure sign of it.  However, if Spock wishes to return, you have my blessing.  But if he does not, would you consider remaining?”

James paused, then nodded.  “Then we have a deal,” Marcus said pleasantly.  “You are dismissed.”

When James left, the crewmate spoke up.

“Kirk is quite an engaging creature,” the man said, a finger at his chin.  “The charisma, the animal instincts are quite irresistible.”

“The entire Federation is in love with him,” Marcus agreed.  “You know, Khan, when I hired Mudd to kill him, I thought I was clever.  It will be that much more moving when he’s murdered during his appointment ceremony.  When we blame a Klingon assassin, they’ll demand we go to war.”

Marcus brought up a video feed on his computer console.  Spock was layed out on an examination table, restrained and eyes closed.

“As you see, he’s a perfect living specimen,” Khan said silkily, waving his hand in Spock’s direction.  “His hybrid genetics may give us some very interesting data we can use when we move on to Klingon specimens.  Would you like to observe?”

“I love watching you work, but I have a space station to tour, a fleet to inspect, an admiral to murder, and the Klingon Empire to frame for it.  I’m swamped!”

Khan made a tsking sound.  “Get some rest, Commander.  If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.”

-----

Khan stalked down an abandoned corridor to a sealed keypoint, and then another after that, until he was in a the converted shuttlecraft that served as a makeshift laboratory.  Spock was splayed on the table, his dark Human eyes watching the man walk around the table, observing him like prey.  Khan stopped infront of a machine and caressed the side of it lovingly.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he murmured.  “Took me years to invent it.  I’m sure you’ve discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain.  At present, I’m writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how The Machine makes you feel.  This being your first time, we will use the lowest setting.”  Khan selected a button, and the machine made a low humming sound.

Pain, described as excruciating, burning, like bones being broken all at once, was coursing through Spock.  Or should have been.  Khan glared at the silent Vulcan.

“What?  Nothing?”  Spock was silent.  “Why aren’t you responding?” Khan yelled.

“Vulcans possess the ability to compartmentalize physical pain,” Spock replied honestly.

Khan silently fumed and pressed another button.  “I see.  Let’s try another, shall we?”

Chapter Text

Marcus strolled alone into the security station of the space station.  “Lieutenant,” he said as the Chief of Security appeared.  “A word, if you please.”

Lieutenant Rand stopped her work and looked up.  “Commander Marcus!” she cried, snapping to attention.

“I have confidential information from Starfleet intelligence,” he said.  “I will need to close all docking bays and for the next two days.  We suspect that Klingons are planning an attack during Captain Kirk’s ceremony.”

“Klingons?!” Rand asked, alarmed.  “I have heard no such reports.”

“Hence confidential,” Marcus said, rolling his eyes.  “Not a single ship is allowed to dock here, and I want full sweeps of every deck, understood?”

“But Commander, I don’t have enough--”

“Recruit from other departments if you need to.  But mark my words, if a single ship docks--”

“Except for vessel carrying Spock,” a voice interrupted.  Marcus turned around to find James standing in the doorway, face dark.  “The scouting ship you sent to find Spock, surely that one can dock here?”

“Yes, of course,” Marcus said, belatedly remembering his deal with the captain.

“You never sent those ships,” James accused.  “Not that it matters, Spock will come for me.”

“You are a fool, Kirk,” Marcus said darkly, ignoring the startled Rand.

“I’m a fool for thinking you were anything but a coward with a heart full of fear,” James said.  

“You are being insubordinate,” Marcus warned darkly.

“Why not?  You can’t hurt me,” James taunted.  “Spock and I are joined by the bonds of t’hy’la. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand vessels. And you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords. And when I say you are a coward, that is only because you are the slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth.”  He turned on his heel, and called out over his shoulder: “Spock will come for me.”

No one noticed the Scottish engineer in the corner, fixing the plasma conductor.

-----

Marcus burst into Khan’s laboratory, interrupting Khan’s careful recalibration of the machine.

“You are t’hy’la and so you might have been truly happy,” Marcus hissed at Spock.  “Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the storybooks say.  So I think so man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.”  Marcus pushed Khan away from the control panel and smashed his fist again the buttons.  Khan stared at the screen, agast.

“Not to fifty!” he yelled, but it was too late.

----

“I tell ye, they were yelling about Klingons planning to assassinate Kirk,” Scotty said, trying to keep up with Nyota Uhura on their way to the messhall.  “And then Captain Kirk threatened to resign and going on about someone named Spock.  Then he was saying the Commander in Chief was a slimey weakling.  Who says that?”  Scotty laughed weakly.  “You should have been there!  I wasnae convinced when you suggested taking a job here, but this station is exciting!”

Uhura stopped suddenly, Scotty almost crashing into her.  “Did you say Spock?”

“Aye,” Scotty said, confused.

“And Klingons?” Uhura asked, turning to grab Scotty’s arms, anxiously looking into Scotty’s face.

“Aye,” Scotty repeated, not seeing the connection.

“How could I be so stupid?” Uhura mused to herself.  “How did we not see it?”  She took off running, leaving a confused Scotty to catch up with her.

“What are ye talking about?” Scotty asked.

“Klingons aren’t going to assassinate Kirk,” Uhura hissed, ducking into vacant room and grabbing Scotty by the shoulders.  “Marcus is going to murder him and frame the empire.  Spock was trying to save him,” she said urgently.

“Who is Spock?” Scotty asked, not following Uhura’s logic, but giving up.

“The Figure in Black, and my Vulcan linguistics professor at the Academy, and Kirk’s former First Officer on the Enterprise, and his true love,” Uhura said, exasperated that Scotty hadn’t caught up.  “We need him, he’s the only one who can stop this.”

“Spock?  How are we going to find him?  He could be anywhere!”

“Shhh!” she hissed, holding up a hand.  “Do you hear that?”

Scotty strained to listen.  “No.”

“That is the sound of a Vulcan screaming,” she said definitively.

“How the hell do you know that?”

“Five years of my life, learning how to pick out the sound of individual snowflakes falling on Delta Vega.  I can hear anything.”

Scotty nodded, impressed.  “Where is it coming from?”

Uhura pulled up a station plan on one of the console screens.  “Here,” she said, indicating a shuttlecraft docked along a secure bay.  “But we can’t get it.”

“Pfff,” Scotty scoffed, “child’s play.  Ye weren’t the only one who learned a few tricks on that icy hellhole.”

After hacking into the station computers and determining that two people, Commander Marcus and a Crewman Harrison, both left the shuttle craft and Scotty programed an emergency transport.

“We will have forty seconds to beam in and beam out,” he warned.  “This is a one time trick, understood?”

Uhura nodded and Scotty hit the button to energize.

When they transported, they were alarmed to find themselves in a laboratory, with Spock left lifeless on a gurney.  Scotty approached him, reaching for a pulse.

“He’s dead,” Scotty said, unbelieving.

Uhura’s shoulder sagged.  “It’s just not fair.”

-----

“Wait!” Sammy yelled, hands locked tightly together.  “What did Scotty mean by ‘He’s dead.’  Spock is not dead.  He is being deceptive, correct?”

“Do you want me to tell this story?” McCoy asked.

Tears started to form in Sammy’s eyes.  “Spock cannot be dead,” he whispered.

Oh crap, McCoy thought, that one hit too close to home.  “Now Sammy, this is just a story and you know that your father--”

“Who kills Commander Marcus?” Sammy asked, trying to covertly wipe his eyes.

“What?”

“Surely someone exacts revenge on Commander Marcus,” Sammy said, his lip still trembling.  “If not Spock, then Uhura?  Who?”

“No one,” McCoy said.  “Commander Marcus lives.”

“He cannot win!  That is unjust!” Sammy cried.  “Human imagination is illogical and unhealthy.  I fail to see the important message that you claim--”

“Sammy, calm down,” McCoy said firmly.  “You’ve been very sick, and you’re taking this story very seriously.  I think we better stop now.”

Sammy’s eyes widened.  “No, please!” he begged, jumping from exam table into McCoy’s lap, arms around his neck.  Sammy hadn’t allowed so much emotion and physical contact in years, McCoy reflected.  Something was definitely bothering the young boy.  “I’m fine, please continue.”

“Okay, alright,” McCoy soothed, wrapping his arms around the boy, setting the kid on his knee, like when he was a toddler.  “So, Scotty and Uhura were in the Pit of Dispair...”

----

Scotty looked at the communicator.  “We have twenty seconds left until we are beamed out, what do we do?”

Uhura looked down on the prone figure.  “We take him.  I’m not giving up that easily.”

Scotty placed the comm on Spock’s chest, and the three were beamed back into the deserted room.  “What do we do now?  We cannae be seen with a dead Vulcan.”

“Scotty, how much liquor do you have?  The good stuff?”

“A few bottles,” Scotty said, suspicious.

Uhura nodded.  “I just hope it’s enough for a miracle.”

---

Laden with a deceased Vulcan carried between them (who was much heavier than he looked) and three bottles of liquor, they were able to pass as happy partiers on their way back to the quarters after an evening at the station’s bar.  They were able to take a turbo lift and quietly make their way to to deck four to find an old friend.

When they entered sickbay, a voice called out, “Sorry, office is closed, no more visitors!”

“It’s me, Bones,” Uhura said, dumping the dead Vulcan on an examination table.  “I need a favor.”

Bones sauntered out, a dark and devilishly hansome figure that--

----

“It’s you, isn’t it?” Sammy asked.  “You are embellishing your attributes?”

McCoy frowned down at the boy.  “Last chance.  Shut up.”

---

“You again!” Bones shouted, pointing a finger at Scotty.  “I told you, the next time someone asks me for a hangover hypo afterhours, I was going to kill them.”

“This one is already dead, Bones,” Uhura said, gesturing to the corpse on the table.

Bones stared at Spock.  “Why the hell did you bring me a dead Vulcan?” he yelled, walking around the table and grabbing a tricorder.

“We need a miracle, it’s very important,” Uhura said.

“Dammit, I’m a doctor, not a miracle worker,” he snapped, and then glanced at the readings.  “But as far as dead goes, I’ve worked with worse.”

“We are in a wee bit of a hurry,” Scotty said, and at Bones’s fierce look he held up some bottles.  “Payment for service?”

“I’ve never worked for so little,” the doctor grumbled, taking the bottles to inspect.  “Except for once, and that was a very noble cause.”

“Aye, this is a noble cause!  His wife is... crippled.  The children are on the brink of starvation!”

“You are a rotten liar,” Bones accused.

“We need him to stop a murder and a war with the Klingon Empire,” Uhura said desperately.

Bones scoffed.  “His lie was better.  Doesn’t matter, I’ll get the truth from him.”  Bones reached for a cortical stimulator and placed it on Spock’s forehead.

“He cannae talk, he’s dead,” Scotty objected.

“Just who is the doctor here?  You friend is only mostly dead.  There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead,” he said, turning to a computer and typing in a few codes.  “Mostly dead is slightly alive.  Now, all dead... well, there is usually only one thing you can do.”

“What?” Uhura asked.

“Go through his pockets and look for loose latinum,” Bones joked.  Neither smiled.  “Whatever.  Hey!” Bones called, leaning into the dead Vulcan’s ear.  “Hello in there!”

“Facinating,” a blank voice from the computer said.  “What a most remarkable sensation.”

Scotty and Uhura were dumbstruck.  “Is that him?  He can hear us?”

“Affirmative,” the computer/Spock said.  “I seem to have lost control of my body, but some residual nerve endings and brain function are intact.”

“Like I told you, mostly dead,” Bones said, exceptionally pleased with himself.  “So, what’s so important that you are hanging on?  What have you got worth living for?”

“My t’hy’la,” the computer/Spock replied.  “I must save him.”

“See?” Uhura cried, her eyes bright.  “A most sacred and cherished bond of Vulcan culture.  Surely there is no more noble cause.”

“Hobgoblin Vulcan voodoo nonsense,” Bones grumbled.

“Please, you have to believe us, a man’s life is in danger!”  Uhura pleaded.

“James?” the computer/Spock asked.  “Is my Captain in danger?”

“Aye, and we need ye help to save him,” Scotty said.

“James?” Bones repeated thoughtfully.  “Jim Kirk?”

“Yes,” Uhura said urgently.  “This is the t’hy’la of Captain James Kirk.”

“Why didn’t you say so in the first place?” Bones hollered, reaching for a hypo and a hyperspanner.  “Cheeky bastard owes me twenty credits and an apology for letting me leave his ship to take this commission.  Nothing but hungover crewmen on shore leave and space sickness every day on this damn station.  I’m a doctor, not a nursemaid.”

Bones worked at a frantic pace, grabbing equipment and ignoring the pair, who watched on in facination.  It was twenty minutes before he spoke again.

“Well, I’m done,” the doctor announced, stepping away from the Vulcan.

Uhura and Scotty stared, uncomprehending.  “He still looks... dead,” Uhura said tentatively.  

“Patience!  You have to wait a few minutes for him to reconnect with his body.  And he shouldn’t go swimming for at an hour,” Bones warned.  “At least an hour.”

“We should get moving now,” Uhura said to Scotty, who was busy looking at one of the computers.

“They’ve sequestered James in a secure part of the station,” Scotty said, eyes scanning the screen frantically.  “They’ve moved the promotion ceremony up to 1900 hours.  Today!”

“But it’s 1800 now!” Uhura exclaimed.  “We need to get out of here!”  The pair rushed to life lift Spock upon their shoulder again.

“Well, have fun storming the space station!” Bones called out after them.  He picked up a bottle the pair had left and opened it, taking a swig, making a face as it went down.  “It’s gonna take a damn miracle.”

Chapter Text

“Nyota, there have to got to be at least twenty crew outside that door,” Scotty hissed.  “I cannae beam us beyond there again, t’was a one time trick.  Has Spock woken yet?”

Uhura glanced back at the prone form of Spock, still in a heap on the floor.  “Nope.”

“It’s been fifteen minutes!  We cannae wait much longer, the ceremony is in less than an hour.  Maybe we should just pretend like we need to do some repairs in there.”

“Illogical,” a voice said from the ground.  “That passage requires a level five security clearance.”

“Spock!” Uhura exclaimed, falling to her knees, dragging the Vulcan to a sitting position.  “You’re awake!”

“Awake, but with limited gross and fine motor skills,” he admitted, head lolling onto his chest.

“Well, ye’ve been mostly dead for a wee bit,” Scotty said, helping Uhura steady Spock so he could look around properly.

“I infer you are the former kidnappers of Captain Kirk, who have seen the error of your ways and will assist me in rescuing him and preventing a war with the Klingon Empire.”

“This guy is good!” Scotty said enthusiastically.  Spock ignored the comment.  “And hey, you wiggled your finger already!  That’s great, that is.”

“A benefit of my superior Vulcan physiology, I am sure,” Spock replied dryly.  “What are our liabilities?”

“One encrypted lock panel and twenty armed security personnel outside,” Uhura reported.

“And our assets?”

“Your brains, my ears, Scotty’s ingenuity.”

“Then the chances of us succeeding are highly improbable.  I calculate our success to be less than .05%”

“I donae think I can live with that,” Scotty admitted.  Spock looked over at the engineer and quirked his eyebrow. “Hey, you moved your head!  Doesn’t that make you happy?”

“Vulcans do not feel happiness,” the Vucan replied.  “Our odds of success would be greatly improved if we could procure a station badge.”  Uhura and Scotty both pointed to their ‘Fleet issued badges for their temp work aboard the station.  “That improves our chances considerably.  However, we do not have any way in which to incapacitate the security.”

“Oh, you mean like tranquilizers?” Scotty asked, reaching into his pocket and drawing out a couple.

“Scotty, you idiot, where did you get those?” Uhura asked.

“I’ve been having a wee bit of a problem sleeping, the doc sent me home with some,” Scotty said frowning.  “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, Mr. Spock?”

“If you are thinking that we need to rig those hyposprays into a non-lethal weapon to incapacitate the security, then, yes,” Spock replied.  “I will also need a phaser.”

“Why?” Uhura asked.  “You can’t even lift one.”

“Yes, but that is hardly common knowledge,” Spock pointed out.

Scotty was silent a moment, pondering.  “Nyota?”

“Yes?”

“I hope we win.”

------

James was pacing in the ready room, knowing full well that it wasn’t meant to keep anyone out, it was to keep him in.  As best as he could tell, Marcus’ plan was to go through with the admiral appointment ceremony, and before James could make much trouble, have him assassinated in front of the entire Federation.  Given what Spock had said, this seemed to be the only way.

He was having a hell of a time trying to find a win to this scenario.

“Captain Kirk,” a voice said across an intercom.  “Getting jitters already?”

Of course Marcus would have this room bugged with surveillance.  “Marcus, I’m not going through with the ceremony.  Spock will come for me.”

Marcus chuckled.  “Still holding out for an eleventh hour rescue?  How quintessentially Kirk.  A security detail will will be here momentarily to escort you to the main hall.  Marcus out.”

As soon as the feed cut out, the doors to the room hissed open, revealing two beefy men and a spritely teenager.

“Ensign Chekov,” the boy said.  “Hewe to escowt you.”

Jim nodded and followed the teen, the two hulking men walking a pace behind.

“You know, I didn’t think this was how it was all going to end,” James mused aloud, uncaring if the ensign knew what he was talking about.  “But there are things in life that are worth dying for, and what I have with Spock, it goes beyond friendship and , it’s... it’s...”

“Wov,” Ensign supplied, nodding sagely.  “Twue Wov.”

“Yeah,” Jim nodded.  “True Love.  I just feel like we should have done more together while we still had the time.  I don’t know why we waited so long to bond.  We’ve wasted so much time.”

“You wished to be mawwied?”

“Excuse me?”

“Mawwige,” Chekov repeated.  “A bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam?”

“What’s a mawwige?”

“MA-WWIGE,” Chekov enuciated, annoyed.

“Mawwige?  Marriage!  Yes, yes, that.”  James sighed.  “I’ll never have that.  He’s really not coming, is he?”

Chekov patted his arm awkwardly before they entered a small room just off the hall where the reporters and dignitaries were waiting to record the ceremony.

“Thank you Ensign, for listening.  I’m sorry that I won’t be seeing you ever again, since I’m killing myself before I go on that stage.”

Chekov frowned, “I don’t get the joke, Keptin.”

James sighed.  “Nevermind.”  Chekov turned and left, the big beefy guards following him.  James looked around the empty room, the last place he would ever see.  He sat down and sighed.  “I’m sorry, my t’hyla.”  He reached into a concealed pocket and withdrew a phaser.

----

(Fifteen minutes earlier)

After a little fiddling with the hyposprays, and the corridor’s alarm system,  Scotty was able to rig an effective sleeping bomb and set it off, effectively knocking out the security team.  Uhura was able hack into a communications channel to direct them to Captain Kirk.

“He’s down this corridor, but I see a team has orders to move him.”

“Which room?” Spock asked.

“I’m trying to--”

Suddenly the door hissed open, revealing Khan.

“What do we have here?” he said in his silkiest voice.  Uhura stiffened.

“You...” Uhura gasped, pointing her phaser at him.  Scotty did the same.  Spock was still on the floor, head on his chest, unable to see what was going on.

“Me?” Khan replied, glancing at the two phasers pointed at him.  “I should ask who you are.”

“Hello.  My name is Nyota Uhura,” she growled.  “You killed my career.  Prepare to die.”

All parties were frozen in that moment, and the spell was suddenly broken when Khan leapt backward and secured the door behind him.

“Scotty, help me open this door,” Uhura shouted.

“Shouldn’t we find the Captain?” he asked, glancing down at Spock, still helpless on the floor.

“Help me open this door, then you take Spock to Kirk,” she ordered, typing frantically on the access panel.  “I think he’s the assassin.”  Scotty and Uhura worked frantically at the panel, a moment later the doors opened and Uhura took off.

“Sorry about this,” Scotty mumbled, hoisting Spock’s arms around his neck and dragging the Vulcan up.

“Exactly how long do you expect us to go undetected?” Scotty wheezed, straining under the weight of carrying Spock alone.

“No more than five minutes,” Spock replied.  A moment passed and Spock spoke again.  “I would suggest you increase your speed.”

“Why?”

“I believe we are being followed.”

Sure enough, two beefy men were following them an brisk pace.  “Sod that!” Scotty muttered.  He veered into another corridor, knocking over a ensign climbing down a jeffries tube, spilling an armful of equipment, resulting in a plume of smoke.  Scotty jogged a dozen more meters and stopped at a door.

“Why have we stopped?” Spock asked, now able to lift his head and scan about the corridor.  The men were no longer following them.

“Because that next door is the entrance to the main hall where the ceremony is being held,” Scotty hissed.  “I cannae take ye in there and I cannae drag you any further.  Sorry, Mr. Spock, but I have to leave you here.”

“I understand,” Spock said.  Even Scotty could detect the note of hopeless emotion in his voice.

Scotty keyed into the room, finding it thankfully empty.   He set Spock in a chair in a recessed corner.  “There, not obvious, but not suspicious.  I’ll find Kirk and I’ll come back for ye.  I promise.”  With that, Scotty turned and ran down the corridor to Kirk’s last known location.

----

(Present time)

“I’m sorry, my t’hy’la.”  He reached into a concealed pocket and withdrew a phaser.  He lifted it to his head and closed his eyes and--

“There are so few perfect minds in this word.  It would be a pity to damage yours,” a familiar voice said.

“Spock?  Oh my god, Spock!” James cried, running to the Vulcan.  He pulled him up to him by his collar and embraced him.  “You think my mind is perfect?  You sweet talker!”  James kissed the Vulcan ardently.

“Gently,” Spock murmured.

“That’s all you have to say at a time like this?  Gently?”  James released Spock’s shirt and watched him fall back into the chair like a rag doll.

"Gently," Spock wheezed.

----

Khan ran into a turbo lift, triumphant in his escape.  “Deck Three,” he commanded.

Hello,” the cheery voice of the computer replied.  “My name is Nyota Uhura.  You killed my career.  Prepare to die.

“No,” he whispered.  “Computer, Deck Three.”

Hello.  My name is Nyota Uhura.  You killed my career.  Prepare to die.

He heard a hissing sound and a warning bell, indicating the life support in the turbolift had been compromised.  Khan’s blood ran cold.  He pulled out his comm and found it was dead.  “Computer, open turbo lift doors!”

Hello.  My name is Nyota Uhura.  You killed my career.  Prepare to die.

“What do you want?!” Khan yelled into the empty turbo lift.

Offer me money,” the computer said.

“Yes!”

And power.

“Yes!  Anything!”

Offer me everything I ask for.

"Yes, anything you want, you can have it.  Let me out!"

“I want five years of my life back, you son of a bitch.”

And with that, Khan’s world went black.

----

“Spock, I thought you were dead!” Jim exclaimed, ignorant of Spock’s incapacitated state.

“An hour ago, you would have been correct,” Spock replied.

“A technicality that will shortly be remedied,” a venomous voice hissed.

Jim whirled around to see Commander Marcus, phaser in hand.  Spock, too, had his phaser trained on Marcus.

“To the death?” Marcus asked.

“No,” Spock said, steel in his voice.  “To the pain.”

“I don't think I'm quite familiar with that phrase.”

“Then I shall explain in small words that may be understood by one of your intellect, you warthog-faced buffoon.  To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists, next your nose.”

Marcus rolled his eyes.  “And then my tongue, I suppose. I killed you too quickly the last time, a mistake I don't mean to duplicate tonight.”

“I was not finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye, followed by your right.”

“And then my ears, I understand, let's get on with it.”

“That would be illogical.  Your ears you keep, So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out "Dear God, what is that thing?" will echo in your perfect ears. That is what "to the pain" means.  It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in misery forever.”

“You are bluffing.”

“Possibly--”

“But I’m not,” James said, his phaser fire hit Marcus, and he fell to the ground.

Spock turned to James, surprised.  “I am curious why you waited so long to fire this time.”

James opened his mouth once, then twice.  “Well, I’m curious why were you monologuing!  You know that’s a horrible habit.  And where the hell did you get such twisted torture ideas.  And calling him warthog-faced buffoon?”  James seemed appalled.  “Who are you?”

Spock's ears turned a little green in embarrassment.  “I would remind you that I have lived four years among Romulan pirates.  I may have learned some colorful language used for intimidation.”

James nodded thoughtfully.  “Well, don’t do it again.  It's just not you.”

The door opened again, this time Uhura ran inside and stopped short when she saw James’s phaser pointed between her eyes.

“She is a friend, this time,” Spock said, shakily standing on his own feet.  James immediately lowered the weapon and shrugged in apology.

“Don’t mind the body on the floor,” James said, “he’s just stunned.”

“Yeah, I’ve got my own stunned maniac in a cryotube.  Where is Scotty?” Uhura asked, looking around the room.

“I do not know,” Spock said.

“Nyota!” a voice called from Uhura’s comm.  “Nyota, do you read me?”

Uhura grinned, reaching for her comm.  “Scotty, is that you?  We found the captain, everyone is fine.”

“You’ll never believe where I am,” Scotty said, delighted.  “I made a wrong turn, ended up on a shuttle, and now I’m on one of the ‘Fleet ships.  This is fantastic!”  Uhura looked alarmed.

“Scotty, what are you doing there?!  We’re stuck here!”

“I can beam ye aboard,” Scotty said.  “Thought maybe we’d all better get off the station when the shit hit the fan, as they say.”

“Mr. Scott, that is an eminently logical suggestion,” Spock said.

“Don’t worry,” Scotty said smugly.  “I won’t let it get to my head.”

Uhura smiled.  “Three to beam up, Scotty.”

When they rematerialized, James was elated to point out that Scotty had somehow managed to stow away onto his Enterprise.  The captain turned to his former kidnappers-now rescuers and grinned.  “Still feel up to one last mission?”  The pair nodded and followed James and Spock.

“I don’t know what we are going to do when this is over,” Uhura said to Scotty.  “That temp job on the station is probably over now, and I’m not returning to Delta Vega.”  Scotty winced in sympathy.

“Have you ever considered Starfleet?” James asked.  The pair snorted derisively.

“Perhaps if Starfleet will not reinstate your commissions after such heroic service,” Spock said, “I have another ship that is in need of a captain and first officer.”

James blinked up at the Vulcan.  “The Narada?  But where are you going?”

“With you,” Spock replied simply.  “It is the only logical choice.”

The ship was mostly empty, save for a few befuddled crew, surprised to see their Captain dragging a Vulcan down the corridors to the bridge, two strangers following behind him.

“James?” Spock asked, when they entered the empty bridge.  “What are you doing?”

James turned to Uhura.  “Can you open a channel to the space station, broadcasting my message to the hall with all those newsvid reporters?”

Uhura nodded, taking a seat at the communication station.  James turned to Spock.  “I have to tell them, tell them everything.  Then we’ll go.”

“Go where?” Spock asked, his eyes drinking in the vibrant light that was James Kirk.

“Anywhere, my t’hy’la.  Anywhere with you.”

On the bridge, on a ship among the stars, they knew they were safe.  A wave of love swept over them, and as they reached for each other--

-------

“Well, what?” Sammy asked.  “What happened?”

“Naw, it’s kissing again,” McCoy said.  “It wouldn’t be ethical for me to expose you to that, what with its negative side effects to your emotional well being, and all.”

Sammy considered the doctor’s logic for a moment.  “I believe, in this instance, it would be permissible.”

“Are you certain?” McCoy asked dubiously.  Sammy nodded.

----

… and as they reached for each other, Spock swept James’s hand into his own, rubbing his two fingers against his mate’s, and their lips met soft and warm.  Joy and passion and love sparked between them.

Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure.  This one left them all behind.

------

“The end.  Now, I think that you need to--”

The door to the sickbay hissed open, revealing a worried looking Vulcan, still in a climate suit from his away mission.  His gaze landed on the small boy sitting on McCoy’s lap.  “Father!” the boy shouted, jumping off McCoy and throwing his small arms around the man’s waist.  "You are alive!"

“Yes, I am perfectly well.  Samek, are you ill?” Spock asked.  He bent down on one knee to examine the boy more closely.

“No, Father,” the boy said honestly.  McCoy rolled his eyes and stood up.

“Take him before I get a mind to smack some sense into your kid,” McCoy grouched.  Spock frowned, his hands on his son’s shoulders, as if checking for injury.

The door hissed again, this time Jim walked in.  “Spock, I told you kids get sick all the time, there’s nothing to... Sammy!  How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine, Dad,” Sammy said.

‘Fine’ has variable definitions,” Spock said.  “Why were you in sickbay?”

McCoy stared at Sammy, and decided to rescue him.  “Sammy came in, he wanted to hear a story,” he said.  At Spock’s quizzical look, McCoy grumbled more.  “It’s no trouble.”

James gave the boy a firm look.  “Samek, you were supposed to be in school.  Did something happen?”

Sammy looked down, shoulders slumped.  “Alyrie did not wish to play with me,” he whispered, face flushing green.  “I attempted your suggested social overtures, Father, but she did not respond.”

Suddenly everything clicked.  Dear lord, was Sammy taking playground romance advice from Spock?

“Alright, all parents need to leave,” McCoy ordered, gesturing for Spock and Jim to step out.  “I have a patient to see.”

“Bones, I think we can handle--”

“Nope!”  McCoy barked.  “Kindly step out, I’ll send him to you in a minute.”

Jim shrugged, dragging Spock out by the arm.  McCoy gestured for Sammy to sit back on the examination table.  He crossed his arms and observed Sammy thoughtfully.

“So.  Girl problems?” he asked.  Sammy nodded miserably.

“There’s a trick about girls,” McCoy shared knowingly.  “Well, about anyone, really.  If you know someone is worth it, let them know they are special, and fight for them with everything you’ve got.  If they’re worth your love, they’ll want to be with you, no matter what.”

“Like in the story?” Sammy asked, face brightening.

McCoy nodded.  “Exactly like in the story.  I think if you stick with that principle, you can’t fail.  With Alyrie or anyone.”  Sammy nodded.  “And no kissing!  At least not until you’re at least thirty!”  The boy’s eyes widened as if he hadn’t thought of the possibility, too stunned to speak.

“Uncle Bones?”  Sammy looked at the abandoned book on the chair.  “Perhaps I could visit another time and you could read me the story.  The real one.”

McCoy smiled fondly.  “Who said that one wasn’t real?”

----

EPILOGUE

----

Jim walked into his quarters to find Spock sitting in “his” chair, PADD in hand.  He walked behind his bondmate, extending two fingers to him in a Vulcan kiss.

“Your son has a guest with him,” Spock said without looking up, his own to fingers raised absently to reciprocate the affectionate gesture.  Jim’s eyebrows furrowed.

“You only call Samek my son when he’s in trouble.  Where is he?”

Oh Spockley, take me with you!” a voice squealed from another room.

No, Butterkirk, you must stay here and captain the Enterprise,” another voice, Sammy, answered.  “I will come back for you.

No, Spockley, I should come with you.  I can’t be without you, my love.

“Samek and Alyrie are in his bedroom.  They have been reenacting scenes from a Terran story I am unfamiliar with,” Spock said, his voice deceptively even.

“Alyrie is here?” Jim whispered, trying to get a glimpse of the two children through the door, which was open.  Alyrie and their son were sitting on the floor with Sammy’s ‘Fleet action figures, the picture of innocence.  “She’s in his bedroom?  Is that allowed-- I mean, should we make rules about that?”

You are doing it wrong!  Butterkirk can’t come with Spockley, Spockley has to be captured by the evil Commander,” Sammy said angrily.

Fine!” Alyrie shouted.  “Then you be Butterkirk and I’ll be Spockley.”

Jim listened to the exchange with a growing sense of trepidation.  “Who is Spockley?”

“The bondmate of Butterkirk, captain of the Enterprise,” the Vulcan answered.

“Butterkirk?” he replied, straining to hear their voices.  “This Spockley guy sounds rather heroic.”

Spock looked up at Jim, pretending to consider the statement.  “Indeed.”

“And Butterkirk, I bet he’s pretty awesome too.”

Spock shook his head.  “I would not know.  So far, Butterkirk has been kidnapped, tied up, and just now rescued.”

Jim felt irrationally annoyed.  “Why don’t you go get dinner started, and I’ll see if I can convince those two lovebirds to move to the living room.”

“As you wish,” Spock said, brushing his lips against Jim’s in a chaste kiss.  Jim looked into his bondmate’s eyes, twinkling with amusement. “...Captain Butterkirk.”

-----

THE END <3

------