Spock’s comm pings. He immediately retrieves it from his desk drawer.
Spock hasn’t seen Jim in over three months. The length of time is unprecedented. After allowing “The Captain” to reclaim two of his crew members. Spock has been temporarily assigned to desk work. He knows it cannot last long. He is one of the Tax Authority’s best Peace Advisors and they can’t keep him here for long. Shortly after he was grounded, Jim had snuck into his apartment and they had had ill-advised sex that made Spock’s heart break when he woke up to find Jim gone again. Not that he should have expected anything else.
That had only been a month into his temporary reassignment. It has been nearly four since then. Spock is not prone to panic but if he were human, he would panic. A week ago, Spock had sent a discrete message from the comm Jim had given him to contact him during emergencies.
The response reads: JT captured.
Followed by a string of coordinates that Spock recognizes.
Peace Master Kingston walks up to his desk and kicks the back of it. “Why so glum, greenie?” He laughs. “Then again, you always look glum.”
Spock knows he does not have ill intentions behind his words because as his assistant, Spock has seen PM Kingston interact with many individuals in much the same manner. His conversation partners usually express mirth. Spock does not.
“At this moment, your assessment is not incorrect. I have recently discovered that a childhood friend has become ill. With permission, I would like to return to Vulcan.”
The PM makes a face but not a displeased one. “Damn Spock, I thought you’d never ask for a vacation. Though I guess this isn’t really a vacation if you’re going to be next to a hospital bed. Since you’re grounded I don’t want you taking any work with you but consider you request ok’ed. How long do you need?”
“I do not know as I am unsure of the nature of the illness only that he has been hospitalized.”
“Well, not to be the bad guy but I’m compelled to remind you that any leave over 20 days must be taken unpaid but does not require approval.”
Spock nods his head curtly. “I will complete my work today and book transport for this evening. Thank you, commander.”
“Good luck, Spock,” he says before returning to his office.
Spock immediately discards his work and messages the unknown sender on the comm.
ETA 72 hours
Jim spits blood onto the floor of his cell. “Isn’t torture illogical?”
Servok laughs, such an eerie sound coming from a Vulcan. “I do not value logic. I am not that sort of Vulcan.”
“What sort of Vulcan are you?” Jim says pulling himself up by the magnetic shackles so he’s standing again. It might be a pathetic sort of standing but it’s better than nothing.
Servok reaches out and caresses Jim’s face. Jim tries to jerk away but Servok grips his chin to force Jim to look him in the eye. “I am the kind of Vulcan who does not abide theft. Once something is mine, I keep it.”
Jim doesn’t like the look in Servok’s eye but he’s been assaulted enough times in this line of work that he has some tricks up his sleeve.
A soft pathetic cry from the hallway draws Servok’s attention and he releases Jim. He smirks, yet another expression Jim is loathe to see on a Vulcan. “What is it you Terrans say? Saved by the bell?” he says before gliding out into the hallway in that insufferable way of his.
When Jim had been caught hacking into Servok’s home treasury (Can you imagine the gall of it? A room filled with gold here AND a bank account filled with credits? It makes Jim sick.) Servok and his guards had dragged him beneath his house and tossed him in what Jim can only call a dungeon. Except the dungeon is well-kept. Some cells are decorated in comfortable furniture and foreign looking tapestries. A quick assessment of the room made Jim think more of a zoo than a dungeon. Maybe Servok collected more than gold.
He hears murmured comforts from the cell across from his and leans his head back against the wall. He wonders how long it took Servok to break whoever lives there to the point where they cry out to him for comfort. He would die before that happened. He’d make sure of it.
Spock lands on Vulcan and realizes he had forgotten how much he loves his homeworld. After years touring the galaxy, meeting countless Federation species, nothing has compared to the organized structure and logic of the Vulcan society. He would feel soothed if his entire focus was not on one James T Kirk.
Once he leaves the shipyard, he messages the unknown number. Meeting time and place? he sends. He hopes the messages are encrypted by the sort of technical wizardry that only Jim is capable of.
The comm pings almost immediately. Tonight. 10PM. Then another string of coordinates not far from Spock’s home. He wonders if it is a coincidence.
His mother is overjoyed at his sudden return home. He deflects her questions by simply crediting his trip to required leave. She does not press him for answers and Spock is thankful for he does not believe he could deceive her.
After sun down, Spock approaches the coordinates sent to him. Once he arrives, he feels the familiar tingling of a transport beam take him. He rematerializes on a transporter pad. It takes a moment for him to reorient himself. It seems that being beamed anywhere by surprise is rather discombobulating. Once he gains his footing, he sees a young man behind the transporter controls, grinning at him.
“So you’re the famous Spock, huh?” he says, a slight brogue to his words that Spock recognizes as originating from the Earth country Scotland.
“I am,” Spock says stepping off the transporter.
“Jim talks about you all the time. You’d think you hung the moon by the way he goes on.”
Spock feels a heat in his cheeks betraying the sudden outburst of joyful emotions inside of him. Jim never speaks of his feelings for Spock. At least not to him.
The man smirks at him. “Let me take you to Uhura. She’s Jim’s second in command.”
They exit the transporter room and as they fall into step together, Spock realizes the man is missing a finger on his right hand when he runs a hand through his hair. “I’m Scotty by the way. Well, Montgomery Scott but that sounds so stuffy don’t you think?”
Spock does not answer as he is too busy taking in the ship around him. It’s not the largest vessel by his measure but it is not small. And pieces of it look right out of a federation ship yard -suddenly, he remembers the upheaval after a ship was stolen from the Riverside shipyard. He cannot believe he never put that information together. Of course it was Jim.
“This is a well kept vessel,” Spock remarks as they come close to where he knows the bridge to be. Even if this ship is small, nearly all Federation ships are laid out the same.
The man - Scotty- puffs up in pride. “Oh aye, I’ve made quite some modifications. I wouldn’t ever let my girl down.”
Spock has never understood the illogical habit of humans ascribing gender to inanimate objects but he doesn’t question Scotty’s obvious passion.
The door to the bridges swooshes open and the woman in the captain’s chair swivels to face him. She stands and approaches him. Spock cannot help but be impressed by her. Dressed in knee high boots pulled tight over slim pants with a shirt to match, a phaser at her hip and her hair pulled back tight, she cuts an intimidating figure. Spock wonders how much of that is for show. Then she opens her mouth and realizes there is nothing showy about it.
“Are you Spock?” she says, her words sharp, and her eyes glinting with suspicion.
“I am,” Spock confirms again.
“Good. Jim’s been taken by someone on Vulcan. We were in the middle of an operation when the guy caught us. Jim ordered Scotty to beam the team out and we lost contact. We believe he is still alive but we cannot gain access to the building as our target as doubled his security,” Uhura says and then she murmurs under her breath something that sounds distinctly like “Fucking rich people.”
“While I am grateful to have been kept abreast of Jim’s whereabouts, I am unsure as to why you have brought me aboard. I am an employee of the Federation.”
Uhura rolls her eyes and her hand goes to her gun reflexively as if any mention of the Federation incites defensiveness. She seems to realize it and relaxes her arm again. “Yeah yeah yeah. But when have you ever chosen the Federation over Jim?”
Spock is embarrassed that she’s pointed out his weakness so quickly. Not that he’s done a particularly good job of hiding it from Jim. Which Jim has probably told them.
“Besides, we need a Vulcan to get in to Servok’s mansion. And we needed a high ranking one. You’re T’Pau’s grandson, right?”
“That is correct.” Spock somehow feels small under the intensity of Uhura’s gaze.
“And you’d be able to figure out a reason to visit a rich dude who lives in your hometown, right?”
When Spock doesn’t immediately reply, Uhura loses some of the tension in her shoulders and sighs. “Look, I’ll be straight with you. We bungled our reconnaissance and didn’t do enough research on this Servok guy. Turns out he’s some sort of ‘collector.’ From everything we’ve dug up since Jim was taken, it sounds like he purchases people and creatures from across the galaxy and keeps them. So there’s a good chance Jim is alive if Servok has decided to add him to his collection.”
Spock is hit with a sudden memory. He is 10 years old and walking with his mother down the street. He sees a beautiful house and wanders to look at the garden, he sees the family name on the gate. His mother pulls him back. ‘Don’t go near that house, Spock,’ she says. He never does.
“I have heard of Servok,” he says to Uhura who nods. “I believe he has a certain reputation.”
“So do you think you could get in?”
“While I could use my status in society to gain an audience, I believe I have a better plan. ”
Servok has taken off his shackles for today and given him a pallet to sleep on. He even gives him a bucket of water to clean up with. Jim decides that cleaning can wait. He’s too goddamn thirsty. The split in his lip protests when he tries to drink but he knows he is dehydrated so he pushes through it. His ribs are still sore from the initial beating he took from Servok’s guards and from the subsequent torture Servok tried to impart on him which never really let them heal.
Jim doesn’t know how long he’s been in this cell, he thinks it might be close to a month or more. He wonders if his crew has been trying to get him or they’ve assumed his dead. On bad days, he indulges himself in thinking the latter is true, but he knows it’s unlikely. They’d never leave him if they thought there even the remotest chance that he was alive. After all, he would do the same for them.
When things get really bad, usually after Servok comes and stares at him for long periods of time while petting his body like he’s an exotic pet, he closes his eyes and thinks about Spock. How much he wants to see him. His stupid bowl cut. His deep brown eyes. That little almost smile he has when he sees Jim for the first time in a long time. Jim tries to not think about the sexy stuff but sometimes it wanders in.
He hears the door to the stairwell open. He groans internally. Servok is coming back.. As his newest acquisition, Servok spends most of his time with Jim. He says it takes a while to break even the strongest beast. Jim fucking hates him.
He hears Servok’s voice go in and out as he walks through the hallways with all his ‘treasures.’ But instead of greetings, it sounds like he’s giving a tour. He strains his ears but can’t make out the words.
Servok appears in the doorway to his cell.
“Ah yes, and this, this is my newest pet. He is quite beautiful. I caught him trying to steal from me. Once he’s broken, I believe he will be my favorite. Come here, little pet. We have a visitor.”
Jim doesn’t feel like sleeping in shackles that night so he obeys, standing from his sleeping pallet and approaching the door.
Servok purses his lips. “I see you did not follow my instructions to get clean. I am very disappointed in you.”
Once he is in full view of Servok, he can see the person standing behind him. It takes all the willpower he has left in his exhausted state not to cry out.
What the fuck is Spock doing here?
Spock convinces Uhura to let him return home to prepare for meeting Servok. She had liked his plan enough that she sent him on his way with a phaser, a special communicator attuned to their ship so they could beam him out no matter where he is and instructions to not do anything “fucking stupid.”
He spends the night in fitful sleep until he gives up trying to rest and simply meditates. It clears his mind the way he hopes it will.
When he rises, he waits for his parents to leave for work and then dresses himself in his pressed Peace Advisor uniform. He is absurdly thankful that he had thought to pack it.
While Vulcans are not good at deception, Spock thinks he can do this if he’s doing it for Jim.
He approaches Servok’s house at mid-morning. He’s holding his tax acquisition padd as he knocks on the door.
A servan opens the door. “Hello, I am Spock. I am here as a Peace Advisor from the Federation Tax Authority. I must speak with the master of the house.”
The servant nods their head and scuttles off into the house after welcoming Spock into the foyer. Spock catalogs the various objects in the part of the house he can. Everything looks neat and in its place.
A Vulcan man approaches with arms wide in welcome. His traditional robe drags along the tile of the foyer. He has the sharp features of a Vulcan with a wide mouth and brown hair. “Spock! I have heard much of you. You’re the famous Vulcan who left us for the Starfleet Tax Authority. How can I help you?”
“You have recently been flagged for wealth assessment so I must review your home and assets to determine if you remain in your current tax bracket for the coming year.”
“Ah yes, of course. Please come in. Where would you like to begin your review?”
Spock reads the questions he knows by heart from his padd. “Do you have any wealth held in your home or property which has not been accounted for by the Galactic Bank?”
“I do have around 1000 gold in my home but I reported that to the Galactic Bank the moment it came into my possession so they could catalog it for their records. I do know how important taxes are to the peace of the federation.”
Spock nods briskly and lowers his padd. “I heard that you also had a formidable collection of art. Have those been assessed?”
Servok leads him to a gallery in the second floor of his home. “I believe these have all been reported to the Tax Authority but feel free to compare them to your list.”
Spock wanders the gallery looking at his padd every once in a while for the appearance of veracity. Servok watches him from the doorway, his eyes sharp.
“I heard once from a Starbase that you were a man with peculiar taste,” Spock says lightly, standing next to a painting of a young Vulcan girl climbing Mt Seleya. He glances at Servok who has stepped into the room.
“What kind of taste?”
“That you liked unique things. From what I see here, that comment must be unfounded.”
Servok laughs. Spock finds it unnerving. Vulcans do not laugh.
“You would not find it unfounded if you knew me better.”
“If that is the case, perhaps you may be interested to know that I have many friends with peculiar tastes. Some of whom are in the market for new acquisitions. I’d be happy to tell them of your collection if you are interested in...trade.”
Something in Servok lights up but he doesn’t draw closer. “What do you know about me?”
“I only know what I’ve heard. And I’ve heard you collect.”
“You aren’t really a peace advisor are you?”
“I am. I simply share my friends’ peculiar tastes.”
“Do you not find it difficult? As a public servant?”
“I find that traveling has afforded me unique opportunities to indulge my interests. Have you been to the Slaver’s Pit on Risa? It is one of my favorite destinations.”
Servok looks smug. “Then I believe I have something you would like.”
Servok leads him to the back of the house and opens a door to a stairwell. It smells humid and stale but Spock follows him down feigning extreme interest in the proceedings. Servok leads him between cages set into the wall of the basement. There are a myriad of creatures held captive. Spock sees an Orion, an unknown humanoid lizard species, a humanoid with pure white eyes, and finally, Servok brings him to a cage, calling out for what he has called “his favorite.” Dread pools in Spock’s stomach when Jim appears in the door to the cage. His blue eyes are dull and his bare torso is so thin that Spock is brought back to that day when Jim clambered into his bedroom, terrified of the world and anyone who wanted to help him.
His eyes flash with recognition but there is no other indication that he knows Spock.
Spock reaches up and slams the butt of his phaser into Servok’s head.
Jim watches Spock lift his phaser and almost calls out for him to stop but before he can, Servok has dropped to the ground. Spock turns the phaser to stun and shoots him for good measure. His body twitches and lies still.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” Jim demands as Spock opens the cell.
“I am here to rescue you.”
Jim slaps Spock in the shoulder. “Duh. I meant how did you know I was here?”
Jim starts to haul Servok into his cell and Spock leans down instinctively to help. As they drop him on the ground Spock says, “Your crew contacted me as they believed that I was in a better position to help you than they were. Apparently, Servok’s security system is now quite advanced.”
They finish locking Servok into his cell and Jim turns to him to say, “What should we do with everything else down here?”
“I will notify the Federation that during my most recent visit to my home world I made an unsavory discovery about one of my Vulcan peers. There are enough rumors about Servok that it will not cast doubt upon me when they do make an arrest. Leaving these beings is the best way to ensure a strict sentencing.”
Jim huffs and says, “I know you’re right but it sucks.”
“It is practical,” Spock corrects.
As they pass by the cages, Jim stops to whisper assurances to each captured creature. Some of them do not understand Standard, and others cower in the corner of their cages as he walks past. He feels terrible but he knows Spock is right.
Spock nearly has to drag him up the stairs and Jim is amazed at how clean air can be. He takes several deep breaths, relishing the sensation of it. He looks at Spock who has flipped open a communicator that looks eerily exactly like the one’s used by his crew. “Spock to Enterprise. I have Jim. Requesting beam out.”
“Triangulating your position. I detect two lifesigns. Beaming out.” The sound of Scotty’s voice is music to Jim’s ears.
The transporter beam engulfs him and Jim couldn’t be happier to be back aboard his ship. He sees Spock next to him on the transporter pad and it all feels real in a way it didn’t when he was still in the dim and stale cage. He’s too busy admiring Spock to notice when Uhura hurls herself at him and engulfs him in a giant hug.
She pulls back and says, “Don’t fucking do anything stupid like that again.” Then she punches his arm hard enough that it actually hurts.
He grips where she hit him and winces dramatically. “Ow! Don’t punch the victim!”
Spock steps forward. “Do you have a physician aboard? I believe Jim is suffering from contusions and malnutrition.”
Uhura rolls her eyes at Jim and focuses on Spock. “Of course we have a physician. Scotty! Call Bones!”
Spock raises his eyebrow when she says ‘Bones.’
Jim breaks into a grin and starts laughing hysterically. “God, Spock, I missed you.”
Before Spock can reply an angry looking man bursts into the transporter room. “Goddammit Jim, what did you get yourself into? Stop being a fucking hero, You look terrible.”
“Thanks Bones. I love the way you whisper sweet nothings to your favorite patient.”
Bones frowns deeper and says, “Sit down man. You look like you’re dead on your feet.”
Jim waves his hand dismissively. “C’mon Bones, it’s just some light torture.”
“Light torture, my ass,” Bones grumbles before moving to support Jim as he walks. “C’mon, I’m taking you to sickbay.”
“Will you give me a lollipop when we get there?”
Bones shakes his head in poorly disguised amusement. Before they exit the transporter room, Jim turns back to Spock, “Don’t leave before we get to talk.”
The door closes before Spock can reply.
Uhura shows him the way to Jim’s quarters and says, “Have fun, big guy,” before tossing him a wink as she leaves.
Spock has never been in Jim’s quarters before. There is a small desk that looks like it doesn’t get much use, a small uncomfortable looking chair and shelves all along the wall above the bed. He approaches them and sees that Jim’s obsession with antique books has not been lost in the intervening years. There are many that he does not recognize but on one shelf he sees the copy of Tale of Two Cities that he had given Jim for his birthday the year before he left for Tarsus. As he turns to look on it, his eyes drop to one of the lower shelfs and he sees an old holo. He sees Jim’s young face grinning widely with his arm thrown around Spock who looks distinctly uncomfortable. Spock remembers when Jim took the picture.
They had been 11 and Jim had convinced him to explore one of the cornfields next to their homes. He’d laughed as he pulled Spock behind him in his excitement. They ended up having a picnic beneath the stalks as bees buzzed above them in the sky. Jim had pulled him and declared it was the best day ever and they needed to commemorate it since Spock was leaving at the end of summer to return to Vulcan.
Spock had never seen a copy of the picture. He had assumed Jim never printed it.
The door opens abruptly and Jim walks in looking tired but significantly less injured. “Good, you’re still here.”
He walks to the storage unit on the wall and pulls out a deep grey shirt that he pulls over his head. “God it’s so nice not to have your ribs hurt.”
Jim spins around and notices that Spock has not responded. “Spock, what’s up?”
Spock turns around and holds out the holo. “Where did you get this?”
Jim looks away awkwardly. “I don’t know. I’ve had it for ages.”
“And you sleep next to it?” Spock questions. He feels drunk, hopeful.
“So what of it?” Jim asks defensively.
Spock places the holo on the bed before approaching Jim. “You miss me when I am gone.”
He grips Jim hips and pulls him closer. Jim sighs and says, “Of course I miss you. You’re my best friend.”
Spock almost drops his hands from Jim’s body but Jim doesn't let him go. “I also miss this,” Jim says before pulling him into a kiss.
It is filled with the heat of three months of missing each other and Spock tries to forget the disappointment he felt at Jim’s dismissal of something that feels important.
He allows himself to forget and get lost in Jim’s kiss.
Before Spock leaves the ship, Jim tries to cajole Spock as always into leaving his job and joining his crew. As always, Spock declines. It’s like a game between them. Jim hopes one day he will win.
He pulls Spock into a hug before he climbs on the transporter padd. The Vulcan gives him the ta’al which Jim returns with a grin. Spock looks away from him and before Jim can ask what’s wrong, he disappears into the transporter beam
Jim turns back to Scotty in confusion. “What the fuck just happened?”
“That young man is in love with you,” Scotty replies.
“Yeah, I love him too,” Jim replies, perplexed.
“Does he know that?”