He is burning.
He cannot think, can barely breathe. The fire rushes through his veins, has for days, and he cannot stand it any longer. He is rejected by his would-be bride, and he is certain he will die on the sands of the ceremonial grounds.
And then they put a weapon in his hands, and he fights.
The man he fights is strong, but not strong enough. It is not long before he bests him, his ahn-woon tightening around his neck, and then suddenly the bloodlust recedes as he recognizes the dying face.
His captain's face. Jim's beloved face.
Jim woke with a gasp, shivering in the freezing recycled air of his cabin. "Computer, identify malfunction in the environmental system."
"There is no malfunction."
"Then why is it so damned cold?"
"There is no malfunction."
"Some big help you are," he grumbled. "Computer, raise temperature by five degrees Celsius." He sighed happily when the air circulators whooshed into life and the warm air reached his bunk. "Thank you."
The computer didn't respond, but he didn't expect it to. He rolled over to look at the chronometer, groaning when he saw the time. Not long enough for him to really get back to sleep before he had to get up for his shift. Figured.
Jim rolled out of bed, wincing when his bare feet made contact with the cold floor. He had to talk to Scotty about the environmentals, he decided as he went into the equally cold bathroom, stripped, and turned on the sonics. There was definitely something off.
But there was nothing off with the environmental systems, Scotty assured him three hours later, over breakfast in the officers' mess. "But I'll take a look if you like, Captain."
"Thanks." Jim got himself more coffee, using the cup to warm his chilly hands. He considered going to check with Bones to see if he was coming down with something, but decided it wouldn't be worth the hassle of the poking and prodding that would entail. If he didn't feel better tomorrow, he swore, he would go then.
He didn't feel better tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. If anything, he felt worse. He found himself increasing the temperature in his cabin when he woke each morning, from dreams of swirling red sand and hazel eyes. He couldn't remember any other details.
He started wearing the thermal undershirts Spock and other desert-dwelling species wore under their uniforms, but even that wasn't enough after a week or so. The only time he felt comfortable was in Spock's quarters, when he went there for their usual chess night. He was finally warm, if only for a little while.
He also found himself getting irritated at the littlest things: Chekov's habit of whistling while he did calculations, the noise the yeomen made as they moved around the bridge, even Spock's often too-detailed answers. He spent more and more time in his ready room, where he could turn up the temperature, and he knew he couldn't snap at anyone.
He'd always known he'd had an attractive crew, but he suddenly found he couldn't stop staring. He kept a tight rein on it, didn't say or do anything stupid. Still, while he was always one to think about sex a lot, he never thought about it quite this much.
He stopped eating after a while, uninterested in food and queasy if he thought about consuming any. And he was sleeping less and less. But he kept working, and he hoped no one noticed.
"Captain, are you unwell?" Spock asked, over their next chess match. It was in Jim's quarters, and while he'd turned up the temperature so it would match Spock's preferences, Jim was still shivering.
"Fine, I'm fine," he said, waving one hand. "Just a little chilly."
"It is approximately double the temperature you normally keep your quarters," Spock said.
"Approximately?" Jim said, grinning. "No exact numbers for me today, Mr. Spock?"
Spock raised one eyebrow slightly. "You have seemed...displeased with my accuracy of late." Spock looked down at the board and moved one of his pawns. "But you did not answer my question. Are you ill?"
Jim was saved from having to answer by the arrival of his yeoman, bearing bowls of soup. "I had observed you have not been eating with regularity," Spock said, mild as milk, as he gently moved the tri-d chessboard to make room for the food.
"Here you go, Mr. Spock," the yeoman--Barnes, he thought her name was-- said, obviously flirting with the Vulcan.
Jim saw red. "He's not yours," he all-but-yelled, swiping the bowls off the table. He barely registered the sound of them hitting the ground, or the gasp as the yeoman was splashed with the hot soup. "Get out of here. Now!" The woman ran out of the room, and Jim found himself breathing hard, unsure why he’d reacted so strongly. He couldn’t explain it, but he was furious.
“Captain?” Spock asked, tone mild, but eyebrows raised in concern.
“It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers,” Jim heard himself say. The words were familiar, like he’d heard them before, but he didn’t know where.
Spock’s expression turned pensive, and then his eyes widened, the most obvious expression he’d had in months. “Captain, you will go to sickbay immediately, or I will take you there myself.”
“Is that an order?” Jim tried to joke, but it came out harsh and angry.
“It is a request, as a friend.”
Jim deflated, all anger gone, a warmth growing in his chest. “Alright, then,” he said, standing. “Um, have someone come and clean this up, will you?” Spock nodded.
Sickbay was empty when Jim arrived, but as he’d expected Bones was in his office. “Good, you actually came,” Bones said when Jim tapped on the door frame. “Spock warned me you might be...recalcitrant.”
Jim shook his head ruefully. “I’m fine, Bones, just a little moody,” he said. “But if it’ll get you and Spock off my back, feel free to examine me.” He hopped up onto a table.
Three hours later, Jim had been examined not only by Bones, but also by M’Benga, Chapel, and their Betazoid counselor, who had taken one look at him and all but run out of sickbay, pleading a headache. They were gathered around PADDs with his file on them when Spock reappeared. Jim was starting to get bored.
Then Spock arrived, sweeping through the sickbay doors in that way he had, and Jim perked up. “Come to spring me, Spock?”
“On the contrary,” Spock said. “I have come to inquire after Dr. McCoy’s findings.”
“Well, I don’t know what I’m looking at here,” Bones said unhappily. “There's a growing imbalance of body functions, mostly adrenalin and testosterone. Now, I can't trace the cause down in my biocomps. I don’t know what it is. But if it isn't stopped somehow, the physical and emotional pressures will simply kill him.”
Spock paled slightly. “Doctor, we must change course immediately.”
“To where?” Jim asked.
“We must go to New Vulcan.”
"I have a theory only, which Ambassador Selek will be able to confirm."
Spock was able to convince Admiral Pike of the necessity of their detour to New Vulcan without having to reveal too much information, either about the captain's condition or its cause. Once they were on their way to the colony--only two point four six days away at warp three--Spock retired to the captain's ready room and put a call in to communications. "Lieutenant Uhura, please connect me to my father's residence on New Vulcan," he said, when her face appeared on the screen. She looked worried, but did not question him. They were still friends despite their break-up three years prior, and she knew Spock would explain it to her later if he deemed it appropriate.
"Spock," Sarek said when they were connected. "I did not expect a communication from you."
"There is a...complication aboard the Enterprise," Spock said. "I must speak to Ambassador Selek immediately, but I do not know how to contact him. I believe you are in communication with him?"
"I am," Sarek said. "May I inquire as to the nature of the difficulties you are having?"
"I cannot answer at this time, Father," Spock said. "I have a theory only, which Ambassador Selek will be able to confirm."
Sarek nodded once, sharply. "Ambassador Selek may be unavailable at this time, but I will attempt to contact him. Live long and prosper, my son," he said. He tapped the console in front of him, and Spock's screen went dark, the Starfleet logo appearing.
A few minutes later, Ambassador Selek's face appeared on the screen. He seemed worn. "Spock," he said, with an unVulcan-like warmth in his voice. "Your timing is fortuitous. I would not have been available a few days ago. How can I help you?"
"Captain Kirk is ill," Spock said, without preamble. He always found talking to his counterpart...uncomfortable, though the older Vulcan seemed perfectly at ease. "I believe it is related to his relationship with you."
"Relationship?" Selek asked mildly. "Jim and I speak only rarely."
This caused a surprising warmth to rush through Spock's body, but he ignored it. “Were you bonded to the Jim Kirk of your timeline?”
“Yes,” Selek said, a sadness passing over his eyes. “Until his death, much too young. What is the purpose of this query?”
"I know that this is something that Vulcans do not speak of, even among themselves, but the captain's life may depend on it." Spock took a breath. "Are you undergoing Pon Farr at this time?"
Selek did not bother to hide his surprise. "Why do you ask this?"
"C--Jim is currently experiencing symptoms I would identify as the onset of Pon Farr, if he were a Vulcan. He is not Vulcan, and he has had limited contact with our species. I had hoped that I would be spared the indignities of Pon Farr," Spock added, "but I can only assume that the captain's contact with you is causing this to happen. So, I ask again, are you experiencing Pon Farr?"
"I was," Selek said, and Spock raised one eyebrow. “At my advanced age and experience, it is possible for me to deal with the effects through meditation. I did so as soon as they began to manifest some weeks ago.”
“Then why is the captain still experiencing symptoms?” Spock said.
“Perhaps because there is not an actual bond between him and myself,” Selek said. “A healer would be able to remove the incomplete bond, which should end his symptoms. How far are you from the colony?” Spock told him. "Good," Selek said. "I will arrange for a healer to meet you when you arrive."
The next two point three days seemed infinitely longer to Spock, and impossibility but an accurate observation nonetheless. The crew did not ask questions--they were well-trained, and knew that orders were to be obeyed--but it was clear they were curious. Dr. McCoy, however, was not so courteous. "Spock, I'm his doctor, damn it. Why won't you tell me what's going on? Why are we going to New Vulcan?"
"It's a private affair, between the captain and an acquaintance of his that planet," Spock said finally, when the doctor's constant badgering was beginning to wear on even Spock's impressive control. "We will be in orbit around New Vulcan in a matter of hours. You, the captain, and I will do down to the surface to meet with a Vulcan healer, who will be able to cure the captain of his ailment. Then we will return to our original course. Is this acceptable?"
"No," McCoy grumbled, but he subsided in his harassment.
Three point five hours before they were scheduled to arrive at New Vulcan, Spock went to visit the captain, who had been placed in his quarters under partial medical quarantine at Spock's suggestion. He tapped in his override code and entered the dark, hot recesses of the captain's quarters. It was even hotter than Spock was comfortable with, and in the dim light Spock could not tell where the captain was.
Suddenly, there was a presence behind him, and then an arm around his throat. Spock could feel the captain's roiling emotions, the fire running through him. It called to something deep in Spock's soul, but he pushed it down. "Spock," the captain said, his voice hoarse. "You've got to get out of here. I...it's really hard to control my actions right now." He pressed himself to Spock's back and side, his erection against Spock' thigh, his face in Spock’s neck.
"I understand," Spock said. His father had once given him a book that contained an explanation of Pon Farr, a dry affair outlining the biological processes and the rituals his people had shrouded them in in the hope of giving themselves some sense of control over the situation. But Spock intimately understood losing control, and he was just Human enough to admit that it terrified him. "This ordeal will be over soon, this I promise."
"I don't understand," Jim said plaintively. “What’s happening to me?”
"It is not for me to explain," Spock said, and he knew it was unfair to his captain, his friend, someone he...cared for very much, but he could not bring himself to say the words. "The healer or Ambassador Selek will explain when we beam down to New Vulcan, if they deem it appropriate."
Jim pulled away, stalking to the far side of the front room of his cabin. He wrapped his arms around himself, shivering. "Old Spock? I thought he said you couldn't know about him."
"He told me that he allowed you to conclude that," Spock said. "I have limited contact with him, but his participation is necessary at this time." Spock backed toward the door. "I am needed on the bridge, and must prepare for us to beam down. I will return in three point one hours." Jim nodded, and Spock fled.
He stood outside in the corridor for two point eight six minutes, glad that there was no one to see him shaking slightly. That had been...unwise.
"Come on, Jimmyboy, it's almost over."
Jim could hardly think when they finally came to get him. Someone gave him a hypospray, and then he recognized Bones kneeling at his side, Spock standing a meter or so behind him. "Come on, Jimmyboy," Bones said, pulling him up from where he'd been crouched in a corner, rocking slightly to keep himself from springing up and attacking them. "It's almost over."
The frigid corridors were empty, and only Scotty was waiting for them in the transporter room, his face unreadable as he manned the controls. The surface of New Vulcan was delightfully hot when they beamed down, still too cool but at least it was better. They walked a short distance, Spock holding one of his arms, Bones the other, and then they were inside. Jim didn't take in any of his surroundings, focusing instead on keeping calm. He wanted--no, he needed to fight, to fuck, to do something; walking down the hall, even at the hurried pace Spock was setting, wasn't enough to keep him from exploding. He tightened his hands into fists at his sides, feeling the joints creak under the strain.
One corridor lead to another, then another, and then they were in a smaller room. Jim could feel the walls pressing in on him. This was wrong, all wrong. He heard people talking, but he only understood snippets--
"--incomplete bond must be broken if he is to survive--"
"--impossible for a Human to experience the effects of--"
"Clearly, that is not the case, if you will observe--"
"--must be recorded for the VSA data banks--"
"How can you even think about databases at a time like this!"
"--priority is the captain's life--"
Then weathered hands touched his face, and there was a presence in his mind, foreign and uncomfortable. This person was not his mate, why were they present? Jim pushed, mentally and physically, throwing the person out of his mind and back a few feet.
"Commander Spock, if I cannot access his mind, I will be unable to remove the bond."
There was pain against his neck, and then his mind cleared somewhat again. The unknown person was an older Vulcan, a healer from the robes he wore.
"Then bring Ambassador Selek," Spock said. "He can meld with the captain and break the bond."
"If the bond is due to previous contact with the ambassador's mind, then further contact will only complicate matters."
"Then I will do it," Spock said. He stood, if possible, even stiffer and straighter than usual.
"Is that safe?" Bones was still at Jim's side, a spent hypospray in his hand.
"That is irrelevant," Spock said. "If I can help the captain, I will do so."
"It would be the same," the healer said. "You are unbonded, and your mind is similar enough to the ambassador's that the captain's will seek to complete the bond with you. Then you will be drawn into Pon Farr with him."
"Wait, what?" Bones began, but Spock spoke over him.
"That is acceptable."
"Spock, what's going on?" Jim said, hating the fear and confusion in his voice.
"Leave us," Spock said to Bones and the healer. "I would speak to the captain alone." Two figures filed out of the room, and then Spock was kneeling in front of Jim. "Captain. Jim. Give me your hands." Spock took his hands and his cheeks went a delicate olive green, but Jim's head cleared, more than with the drugs. "There is much I must tell you."
And then he explained it all, the incomplete bond with Old Spock and Pon Farr and what would happen if Jim didn't bond or let the healer into his mind. He was dying, drowning in his own hormones and neurotransmitters, and by Spock's estimate there wasn't much time.
“It is a thing no out-worlder may know except those very few who have been involved,” he heard Spock say, in his ears and in his mind. “A Vulcan understands, but even we do not speak of it among ourselves. It is a deeply personal thing. We shield it with ritual and customs shrouded in antiquity. You humans have no conception. It strips our minds from us. It brings a madness which rips away our veneer of civilization.”
"You can't let yourself get dragged into this," Jim heard himself saying. And it was the right thing to say, even though part of him--most of him--wanted to throw Spock down on the floor and worship his body until he screamed. The feeling wasn't new, but now Jim really thought he might do it if Spock didn't move away soon. The lack of control he was feeling was terrifying in its intensity. "I don't want you tying yourself to me out of some sense of obligation or--"
"Jim," Spock interrupted, freeing one hand to press cool fingers to Jim's mouth. "If you do not want this, you must say so now. But I would not do this out of a sense of obligation, nor would it be merely to save your life. You are a dear friend, and would be an exemplary partner. Bonding with you might end your Pon Farr, or it might inflame us both, but it would not be something I would regret, no matter the outcome."
Jim didn't know what to say to that. But the control Spock lent him was failing, and he could feel the fires rising. "I can't hold on much longer," he said raggedly. "What do we need to do."
“It is quite simple, if you accept my offer.” Jim nodded. Cool hands moved from his fists to his face, cradling his jaw. "My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts..." Jim, he heard in his mind, parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched.
Parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched, Jim echoed.
“Ashayam,” Spock breathed, bringing his mouth to Jim’s.
And then they were falling. Jim was still burning, but he let the fires rage.
The heat rushed into his mind, burning like a star.
Spock felt when Jim’s strength failed, when the walls came tumbling down. The heat rushed into his mind, burning like a star, though he knew what he was feeling paled in comparison to what Jim was experiencing. He felt the bond between them form and take hold, a ribbon of bright light connecting their minds, and lowered his hands from Jim’s face.
Jim made a low, growling sound in his throat, and wrapped his arms tightly around Spock, kissing him back. The kiss was harsh and bruising, but Spock gave in to it easily. They broke apart only when they needed air, but Jim buried his face in the crook of Spock’s neck, sniffing him. Spock found the motion oddly erotic.
Spock had expected Jim to be rough. The few times Pon Farr had been discussed during his childhood, it had always been implied that the sexual act would be harsh, even violent. Spock did not know if it was because Jim was Human, but Jim had gentle, running his hands over Spock's like it was something precious. Jim growled slightly when Spock reached up to try to touch back, and Spock subsided. He let Jim strip him out of his uniform shirts, gasping softly when Jim's feverish fingers danced over his bare skin. Jim had brought Spock to orgasm twice before he had even penetrated him, and even that was slow and deep, not the frantic rutting Spock had feared. And when Jim had orgasmed, it had exploded over Spock's mind, like the fireworks he had once seen on a visit to Earth, enchantingly beautiful.
When Jim rested, Spock reached for the pile of their discarded clothes, retrieving his communicator. "Engineer Scott," he said, once he had connected to the transporter room. "Two to beam directly to the captain's quarters. Please also contact Doctor McCoy and notify him that he may return to the ship at any time."
Spock pulled their clothes to him as the slip-slide ice water feeling of beaming shivered along his skin. The materialized on the floor in the office portion of the captain's cabin. Jim snuffled and curled tighter into Spock's side, and Spock found himself wrapping his arm tighter around the Human. The captain's Pon Farr was over, but it would still be some time until his system regained homeostasis. Spock would care for him until then...and after, if he was given the option.
Spock allowed their clothes and gear to fall to the deck, and then stood, lifting Jim in his arms. He carried him to the rear of the cabin, placing him on the bunk. He looked down at the curled figure, space-pale and still so young, and then slid into the bed beside him.
It would not do to abandon his new bondmate at this time, even if the bed was too small for two fully-grown men. This situation would need to be remedied.
Spock did not realize he had fallen asleep until he was awoken by a slight ticklish sensation against his side, over his heart. He opened his eyes, immediately meeting Jim's guilty gaze. "Didn't mean to wake you," Jim said, pulling away from Spock as if he had been burned.
"There is no need to apologize," Spock said. "All that I am is yours. That is the meaning of the bond we now share."
Jim blushed and looked away. "About that," he said, and Spock started to reach for him but stopped with Jim flinched. "I'm sorry about that. All of it. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
"No, Jim," Spock said. If he were prone to emotions--which he was not--he would have been concerned. "On the contrary, it was very pleasurable, moreso than I had been lead to believe."
Jim smiled wryly. "I'm glad." But then the smile slid from his face, and Spock could not read the emotion on his face. He considered using the bond to determine what Jim was feeling, but he decided that would be an intrusion at this early stage. "This bond...thing," Jim said. "Can it be broken?"
"Yes," Spock said slowly. "With the assistance from a healer, now that both our minds are stabilized, the bond could be broken. As you are psi null, you would have no lingering effects."
"I would return to my unbonded state," Spock said simply. Jim did not need to know how agonizing that would be. Having had a taste of what it would be to have Jim in his mind, Spock did not think he could let it go. "For what reason do you ask?"
"Oh, I just wanted to know if you had an out," Jim said. "I really appreciate what you did for me, but you don't need to stay tied to me now that this is over and all fixed."
"Jim, look at me," Spock said. "Jim," he added more firmly when Jim did not move. Finally, Spock took Jim's shoulders and turned him so he was facing Spock, then cupped Jim's jaw and lifted his chin so their eyes met. Jim's eyes were very blue, a fact Spock was already aware of, but that he still noticed every time. "I do not know what words will convince you that I wanted this."
Jim still looked unconvinced. Spock breathed an almost inaudible sigh, and closed his eyes, focusing on the bond between them. It was still light, but firmly rooted in both their minds. Mentally preparing himself, Spock threw open the metaphoric doors of his mind, letting all his thoughts flow down the bond to Jim. His pride in Jim's stellar intellect. The friendship he cherished, and his wish for something more. His fear that he was going to lose Jim to the curse of Vulcan biology, and the fear that he would lose him again to misunderstanding between them. His hope that Jim would understand, would reciprocate even a fraction of his esteem, his...love.
"Wow," Jim said softly, and then they were kissing, deep and slow, and Spock felt his toes curl in response to the sensation of Jim's lips against his own. "I wanted you forever," Jim said he pulled away to breathe. "You're so amazing, I never thought--"
"Never doubt, ashayam," Spock said, brushing his fingers over Jim's meld points, pleased when Jim shivered. "Parted from me and never parted."
"Touching and touched," Jim whispered. He wrapped his arms around Spock, pulling him down to the bed.