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“I am…so freaking cold…”

Spock had listened to the others complaining of the temperature for the past two hours as they moved through the heavy snow and ice. He tried to drown out their voices by listening to the wind, but it did not help.

“Saying it over and over again isn’t helping, Hikaru.” Chekov was clutching the tricorder in a way that suggested his fingers may have frozen, as he scanned the upcoming acres for signs of Yaxley and Daniels.

“Complaining keeps me warm…” His muttering was barely audible through their bundled clothes, but that did not stop Chekov from retorting.

“Well, it makes me colder, so shut up. And we are supposed to be professional…they need our help. Maybe you should walk in front so you can look ahead…” Chekov said through chattering teeth.

“And what? Get hit with all the wind?!”

Spock thought the entire exchange was very illogical. He knew it was the bitter cold that was leaving them so snippy. It was especially odd when they were two people who were usually very friendly, even to the point where they referred to one another by their first names, even when on duty.

Even though it was illogical, Spock could not help but feel as if he were treading down the same path. The cold bit as his nose and he was very grateful Jim had insisted that they wear the suits that covered their ears with special pads, even if it did mean their weapons were buried under layers. He kept his eyes ahead and mouth closed, in case he too felt like being too short with someone.

He looked over to Tygiel, one of the med staff from Shaw’s ship. She carried a medical kit just in case Yaxley and Daniels were injured. Spock was no expert on human emotion, but there was a worried knit in her brows. Perhaps she thought the worst had happened to her companions. After all, they had yet to receive another reading since they arrived.

“Hey! Hey! I’ve got something! Up ahead!” Chekov called, looking down at the tricorder that whirred loudly.

“Enterprise crew to Yaxley, come in.” Sulu immediately whipped out his comm and tried to contact the other.

“Never mind that.” Chekov looked up and pointed towards the same glacier-like structure they’d been heading towards. “I bet they’re up there in the cave!”

Spock’s limbs were too cold for much exertion, and luckily he was not alone. They moved towards there with a goal now, and Spock counted his breathes that came out in hot puffs as he attempted to think of anything other than how cold he was.

“Yaxley!” Tygiel spoke for the first time, reaching the cave before anyone else. Spock knew the idea of seeing her companions again must have been the perfect motivation.

The wind was cut off in the cave, the crystalline inside sounding eerily silent. Spock put one hand on the inside of the mouth, its sharp edges pressing even through his mittens. He surveyed the dark small space, his Vulcan vision adjusted rapidly.

He spotted two people near the back wall, one crouched over the other. He did not know which one was Yaxley and which one was Daniels, but Tygiel moved to help both of them as Chekov and Sulu followed through.

“Is he alive?” Sulu asked, and Spock came closer.

“He’s fine. Frostbite I think…” He looked at Tygiel and gave a small nod.

“Oh, um…Mister Spock, can you help me. I think there’s something for him in the kit.” She placed the kit on the cave floor.

Spock knew it was logical for them all to take a part so as to get everyone back to the Enterprise as quickly as possible. He turned his back on the other and crouched to help her. As soon as both of his hands touched the kit, it seemed as if several things happened so fast that he could not have foreseen it.

Tygiel went from crouched in front of him to standing, her phaser pointed between his eyes. He felt one of the men behind him grab his arms and pin them back as the tip of Tygiel’s phaser pressed to Spock’s neck.

Spock did not fight back, as his immediate worry and first thoughts went to his companions. The needs of the many outweighed that of the one, though he did feel a twinge of fear for his own life when the man holding his arms barked to the others.

“One move…one move and the Vulcan gets it.”

Spock was pulled by the arms so that his entire body rotated, and he now faced the others. He could see the man that was previously lying hurt was now standing and had a weapon Chekov and Sulu, who both had their hands up.

Sulu’s face did not betray his anger and only the small twitches of his gloved fingers gave away the fact that he’d rather be wringing someone’s neck. Spock was reminded again of the fact that Sulu was very much made for a role of high stress and leadership, even if he did not do well in the cold.

On the other side of the spectrum, Chekov very much showed his age in the way he whole body shook into his boots, as well as his voice.

“W-what the heck?!” He locked eyes with Spock for a second, and Spock actually felt a tug as the most human parts of his conscious empathized with the crew’s youngest member. “So…you do not need our help!?”

They ignored him, and Spock felt the person holding his arms tighten his grip in anger and at an attempt to turn to Tygiel, who still held a weapon to Spock’s neck. Spock thought of his own weapon, buried under layers.

“What the fuck? You said you’d get Shaw out here! That was the plan! Daniels and I have been waiting for two days!”

“It wasn’t up to me, Yaxley.” She said. Spock could feel a millimeter of the skin on her wrist against his neck, and his telepathy gave away her apprehension. “Kirk stepped in Shaw’s place, and then Spock stepped in Kirk’s.”

“Let’s throw the plan.” Daniels said. He lowered his phaser from Chekov and Sulu just slightly as he turned to meet Yaxley’s eyes over Spock’s shoulder. “You said you wanted Shaw, or Kirk if it came down to it…They aren’t worth anything.”

“Wrong.” Yaxley growled near Spock’s ear, and Spock tried to calculate an escape in a way that kept Chekov and Sulu safe. “He’s worth something…an endangered species…”

“Is he, though?” Daniels turned back to Chekov and Sulu, keeping them in line with his weapon. “Isn’t he actually a half-breed, or something like that?”

Spock could not help but growl at his least-favorite way of being described. It seemed to drag up flashes of hearing the same words through the mouths of Vulcan school children. His cheeks burned in spite of the bitter cold.

Everyone else seemed to have notice, as Spock now felt all eyes on him. The phaser pressed again against his neck, and Tygiel chuckled darkly, despite Spock clearly feeling her reluctance. It seemed logical that she was buying time, using any excuse to spare Spock’s life for seconds at a time.

“No, I mean…because of what he’s worth to Kirk.” She said, and Spock felt as if his stomach were dropping. Her intentions didn’t matter to him now. “That was quite a display right before we left…I didn’t believe what everyone was saying about you, since I swore Parducci was flirting with you, but I guess it is true…you’re Kirk’s now.”

“What?!” Yaxley laughed in Spock’s ear, and he felt his skin crawl. “You’re Kirk’s what!? Like his pet!? That’s fucking disgusting!”

Spock growled again, his whole face flushing. He could not risk acting out if it was going to get the others hurt, though he wanted to now more than ever. He locked eyes with Chekov and Sulu for a split second and could actually read sympathy from them now. That made it worse, knowing they were embarrassed for him.

“So…ransom then…” Yaxley mused aloud. “That might work…”

“Come on, Yaxley.” Daniels sighed. “This wasn’t the plan! We were supposed to take out Shaw, you were supposed to be Captain…”

“Because Keller should have picked me!” Yaxley snarled.

“Killing them will not aide your goal.” Spock spoke for the first time. His voice was calm and impassive, yet it drew everyone’s attention. “Let them go.”

“Why? So they can run back to Kirk? Hell no!” Yaxley gripped Spock’s arms harder. “Daniels, kill them.”

Spock’s eyes widened in fear, as did Chekov’s and Sulu’s. Daniels, however, lowered his weapon. “This wasn’t the plan.” He said again. “This was about Shaw. I’m not gonna kill these random people…he’s just a kid!”

Spock knew that Chekov did not like to be reminded of his age, or patronized for it, but now he seemed relieved to use it as an excuse to be let go. Though, whether he was making himself cry for added effect or if they were real tears, Spock did not know.

“He’s right…” Tygiel seemed to jump onto Daniel’s point, only backing down now that she wouldn’t be first to do so. “I said I would help you, but I never agreed on this. Let Spock go…he isn’t worth it. Kirk would land the whole Enterprise on our heads before he let us try and sell Spock back for ransom.” Spock sighed in relief as she lowered her weapon and took a few steps back.

“NO!” Yaxley screamed, and Spock felt his grip loosen slightly as he raged. One hand moved from holding Spock to snatch Tygiel’s phaser, though he fumbled one-handed and did not turn it on Spock. “I should have never trusted you two! You’re weak, like Shaw, who didn’t come herself! Like, Kirk who—“

It would most likely have been a very trivial insult to Jim’s character, yet Spock did not care to hear it. He pulled out of Yaxley’s grip, his Vulcan agility finally catching up to his freezing cold limbs. He turned on the spot and reached out to subdue Yaxley.

Yaxley held up his phaser and fired just as Spock’s fingers closed around the spot on Yaxley’s neck. Yaxley’s entire body went limp, knocking the beam just off center enough to hit Spock in the right side of the chest. The pale moon-colored expanse of cave floor behind him was immediately slashed with dark green.

Spock gasped, his eyes wide as the world seemed to slow down. Somewhere in the background, he heard shouts and more fires. He was unsure if he failed his mission of protecting the others as he crumbled to the floor.

“Oh my god…oh my god! Is he alive!?”

Pain seemed to burn all of his nerve endings. His entire right side seemed to be aflame. Spock could do nothing but squeeze his eyes shut and curl in on himself. Normally, he could suppress this pain, hold something to the wound, and carry on, but something was wrong.

As his hot blood sizzled onto the cold floor, it seemed to drain his body of warmth. He seemed to be becoming one with the ice and snow. It felt worse as hands grabbed him, rolling him onto his back.

Everything else was forgotten, and Spock knew only one thing. He had to get to Jim. He had to tell Jim the truth. He fought through the pain and through the fact that he was freezing.

“Jim… Jim.” He gasped as someone pressed something to his wound. He coughed and tried to breathe.

“Grab the kit Tygiel had!” Sulu sounded so far away. Spock felt himself slipping into a comforting healing trance, though it was a dizzy ride from blood-loss.

“What about them?” Chekov sniffled from cold and tears.

“Not our problem.” Sulu said quickly. “Try to comm the ship. We need to get him to McCoy.”

“Is he alive?” Chekov asked.

“For now. Go!”

“Jim…Jim…” Spock tried again to call out for his mate. He had to tell him the truth.

“You’ll be alright.” Sulu said. “We’ll get you to Jim.”

“Jim…I am sorry…I lied to you…it was a lie…” Spock coughed, feeling as if his lung were filling with blood.

“Hey, just relax.” Sulu pressed something to the wound and Spock felt himself falling. His body begged him to slip under, as it would help him heal, but first he had to tell Jim.

“Jim…I have always loved you. It was never just for show. I have always wanted you…”

“I’ve got Scotty on comm! He’s gonna beam the three of us up!” Chekov sounded so far.

“Thank god…I think he’s delirious. He won’t shut up.”

As Spock’s Vulcan biology finally forced his consciousness to shut down, he desperately tried to draw up warm memories to keep himself from freezing. The feeling of Jim’s skin was cooler, but began to sear with heat when they kissed. He tried to recall that feeling, Jim’s hot mouth, his warm laughter, his body…hard under Spock’s, yet so unlike the same hard ground beneath him now. His beautiful mind, so tactic and yet brash.

“Jim…”

❖ ❖ ❖

“…Spock.” Jim hadn’t moved from being crouched by Spock’s biobed since they’d brought him in. His adrenaline levels had lowered and were slowly replaced by dread, fear, and anger as the time went on. Though he still remembered the initial spike of it when he saw what had happened.

Chekov had come in just as crackly as Yaxley, so no one knew what to expect as Scotty reached for the controls to beam them up. Jim was only feeling relief at seeing Spock safe.

He and Areel had been alone in the transporter room. She wore a stony mask the entire time, only occasionally broken by tears. He’d known her when they were both so young, ambitious and optimistic, so this came as quite a shock.

But when he got her to open up, his hands on her shoulders as she cried, she revealed how she’d begged Keller to reconsider picking her to take his place, but he had not relented. Jim had only ever seen Keller in passing, but he could picture the old man shaking Areel’s hand proudly, despite her protests. Keller had had quite the reputation for being eccentric, but he was something like a secret genius. Even though Jim nodded sympathetically, he actually agreed that Areel was a great captain, even if losing some crew members so soon seemed to have dampened her spirits.

“Relax…I’m sure Spock and the others found your guys no problem.” He smiled at her purposely in the same way as when they were young, and he saw her younger self when she smiled back.

“I think Yaxley resents me…” She said, taking Jim by surprise. “I think he was gunning for Keller to recommend him.”

“That must be…awkward.” Jim took his hands off her shoulders and she straightened in her chair.

“I try to be professional, and Yaxley was my friend…before. But now it’s like that never mattered. He and Daniels –“

“Oi! Captain! I’ve got Chekov on the line!” Scotty called over.

Jim excitedly glanced towards the transporter pad. A second later, his stomach seemed to drop into his feet. The first thing he noticed was that Sulu’s arms were covered in blood. Vulcan blood. Chekov held the crumbled remains of his tricorder, and Spock was unconscious, barely supported between them. There was no sign of Areel’s crew members.

“What happened!?” Areel demanded as Jim practically pushed them aside and took Spock into his arms.

“Yaxley…it was a trap. He was trying to kill you.” Sulu panted, placing his hands on his knees as he no longer had to hold Spock. “He shot Spock.”

“Spock…” Jim tried to tenderly hold the man and keep him from touching the floor. Spock was unconscious, but Jim could feel his heartbeat as he held him close.

“He’s alive.” Sulu assured him, but Jim did not calm down.

Pure hot rage seemed to surge through him. He gritted his teeth as he unwillingly imagined Spock fearing for his life…facing a weapon…feeling anything other than pure happiness and contentment at Jim’s side. How could this happen…how could Jim have let him go down…be put in danger.

“Jim, let us take him.” McCoy was suddenly at his side, gently pulling him back by the elbow.

Jim barely registered the flock of med staff suddenly there, and the stretcher. Jim couldn’t let go…couldn’t let the person he loved be hurt ever again, be anywhere else than in the safety of his arms.

“No…no…” Jim tried to push him away, but then Sulu was there, holding him back as McCoy and the others took Spock away.

“He’ll live.” Sulu said, and Jim clenched his jaw, hating to hear what he didn’t know was absolutely true.

“What happened!?” Areel demanded, her rank showing to the point where Jim would never have believed what she confessed to him earlier.

“It was a trap.” Sulu said again. “They wanted to kill you. Yaxley wanted to hold Spock for ransom.”

“W-was he being serious, d-do you think?” Chekov’s voice shook.

“Who knows.” Sulu began shedding his thermal suit.

“But what would someone want with Spock?” Chekov stepped closer, and Jim could see tear streaks on his face.

“Well…you heard what he said…about him being worth something because he’s…” Sulu dropped his voice, but Jim could still hear it. “An endangered species…”

“Stop! I…” Jim shuddered and shook his head. “I can’t hear anymore…what…what happened to the others?”

“Well, we left them behind when they turned on us.” Sulu said. “Spock did that…thing and made Yaxley pass out. One of the phasers hit the cave wall and it fell in, but as far as I know, the others are all still down there.”

“Should we send someone after them?” Jim asked Areel, mentally checking the brig for room.

She looked past him, her face an impassive mask. Her shoulders were back and in that moment she showed no insecurities. “Leave them.”

Jim paced outside the medbay for almost an hour until McCoy finally let him back to see Spock. In that time, Areel had a meeting with both crews explaining what happened, but Jim couldn’t bear to hear it again. It was bad enough to replay just the thought in his head of Spock getting shot.

He sat at Spock’s bedside, his knees aching in the hard floor, and his upper body laid across Spock. He listened to the bed beep in sync with Spock’s heart. He kept one hand over Spock’s, gently stroking his fingers and trying not to look at the bandage on his chest.

“…Spock.” Jim breathed softly, watching his lovers face. “God…I’m so sorry. I should never have let you go down there. I should never have…lied to you.”

“Jim…” Spock croaked.

“Spock!” Jim sat up, reaching for Spock’s hand with both of his. “Spock…you’re alright…Bones said you’ll be okay.” He still couldn’t believe it. He hadn’t stepped away for a second and risk Spock waking up alone.

“Jim...” Spock tried to sit up, but winced and laid back down.

“Shh…just take it easy.” Jim rubbed his hand over the back of Spock’s. “Spock…I’m sorry. I lied to you…this was never about work. I just wanted an excuse to be with you…”

“Jim…Yaxley…” Spock sighed.

“No, don’t worry. Areel took care of it. Sulu told us everything.” Jim assured him, though he felt a sting of pain at the fact that Spock seemed to not understand his confession.

“No, Jim…Yaxley…he called me yours. He was right.” Spock turned enough to look Jim in the eyes. “I have always…belonged to you. I have felt it. That is why I wanted to be with you. I hoped by being together you would start to feel the same way…”

“Gosh…we’re both so dumb…” Jim chuckled, actually feeling tears prick at his eyes. He held Spock’s hand tighter and laid his head down gently on Spock’s stomach. A moment later, he felt Spock’s fingers softly in his hair.

“Indeed…why did we not simply talk to each other?”

“I don’t know.” Jim laughed. “I mean…we kissed…we slept in the same bed. We really were dating, but we had no idea if the other was even into us.”

“I began to have a suspicious when you mentioned I was a part of your sexual fantasy.” Spock said, and Jim laughed. He really laughed, feeling the weight of it all lift from his shoulders, as well as the love he felt for Spock finally wash over his mind. He turned his head enough to bury his face in Spock’s hospital gown and inhale his scent. It was there, under the masking smell of clinic.

“Does it hurt?” Jim asked it a whisper, almost fearing the answer.

“I feel only contentment…” Spock blinked slowly, reminding Jim of a happy cat. “I am with you.”

They fell into silence, exchanging Vulcan kisses as Jim attempted to climb up and share the bed with Spock. They were comfortable for about three seconds until McCoy walked over and shook his head.

“Jim, get down, you’re messing up the readings.”

“Mmm…make me.” Jim just closed his eyes.

“Dammit. I’ve got a lot of people to take care of, and I have to make sure Spock is getting better. So get—“ He was cut off as the bed was approached by more people.

“Hey, you are alive!” Chekov sounded relieved.

“I am.” Spock said. “However, it was not my own life I feared for. Yaxley was willing to kill both of you.”

“Yeah, but he didn’t.” Sulu said proudly. “Because you got him!”

“That thing was so cool!” Chevok’s eyes widened. “Can you teach me how to do that?!”

“Ah…I cannot.” Spock said, but Jim thought he sounded secretly very pleased at the attention. “Unfortunately, it is something only Vulcans are capable of, as it requires a lot precision.”

“Aw…”

“Okay, okay, everyone get out.” McCoy grumbled, grabbing Sulu and Chekov by the shoulders and pushing them towards the doors. “You next.” He pointed at Jim.

“Fine…” Jim slid off the bed, before reaching back to touch Spock’s hand. “I’ll see you later. I love you.”

“I love you too.” Spock closed his eyes.

When Jim walked past McCoy to leave, he expected some sort of disturbed look at his friends face, instead McCoy just shook his head fondly.

❖ ❖ ❖

The Enterprise left the crew of the Genesis with plenty of supplies for the time being. When Jim hugged Areel goodbye, she was still somewhat stiff, and Jim wondered if she’d ever really get over Yaxley’s betrayal. Personally, he didn’t think he could.

Spock was released from medbay, but only to his quarters, and not to work. Jim crossed and uncrossed his legs in the Captain’s chair all day. He wanted nothing more than to go back to Spock’s quarters and spend time with him, but his duties came first.

As soon as his shift ended, he bolted off the bridge and down the hallway. He entered his quarters and paused only to change into a t-shirt and shorts to face the temperature in Spock’s quarters.

“Hey.” Jim smiled as he looked over at Spock.

“Good evening.” Spock was sitting up in his bed holding his lute. Jim tried to focus on that sight, rather than the bandage that was still over the right side of his chest and showing under his shirt.

“You know, I’ve never heard you play before.” Jim approached the bed. “Actually, that’s a lie. I used to hear you through the walls…back when the mission first started. I guess I should say I’ve never seen you play before. I haven’t actually heard you play in a while. Why’d you stop?”

“The ka'athyra is a very special instrument.” Spock shifted slightly, drawing his legs up so that Jim could sit at the foot of the bed. “Many Vulcans believe it takes absolute precision to play, but they are wrong. It takes…a true understanding of what makes music so special. It takes an…understanding of emotion. That is why I began to play again.”

Jim moved from the end of the bed to lay beside Spock, laying his head down on the pillows and watching Spock through half-lidded eyes. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until now, but he did not want to sleep.

“Let me see you play, then.”

“Recently…I have come to understand emotions more than ever. You stir something in me. You make me understand why certain emotions are logical.”

“Alright, then let’s hear it…” Jim unsuccessfully tried to fight the color from his cheeks as he reached out with one foot to brush it against Spock’s.

Spock began to play and Jim slowly closed his eyes. He felt something new now, like a tiny twinge in his mind that seemed to connect them. Spock assured him that they would grow to understand the link together, but Jim didn’t need any convincing.

As he reached out to place a hand a hand on Spock’s thigh, he was certain that for the first time ever, they were finally on the same page.