Jim walked into the ice covered cave more than a little lost. Icicles dripped from the archway of the cave, their jagged ends pointed ominously toward him as he passed through.
“Great, another snow planet,” he mumbled out loud. At least he was dressed for it. He was bundled up in a heavy coat with thick fur, he had no idea if it was real or synthetic—and wasn’t that weird—and a hood covering much of his head. His feet were encased in knee high boots.
Strange how he couldn’t really remember how he got there. Landing party? But then where was the rest of his party? Had he got separated? But what planet was this? And where the hell was his communicator?
“Hello?” he called out as he walked farther into the cave. Damn it was freezing.
Jim wondered how far into the cave he should go. If Spock and the crew were searching for him he shouldn’t go in too deep or they might not be able to lock onto his coordinates.
One more corner, he decided. He’d go around one more corner and if he found nothing, he’d go back the way he came. But even as he did it, he felt warmer. And then he spotted the flickering glow of a fire.
Jim stopped when he came upon a man, knelt next to a fire. His back was to Jim. “Hey.”
The man stood and turned around. He smiled. “Well. Jim Kirk, right?”
Jim blinked. “How did—wait—you’re—”
“Jim Kirk. Yes.”
He stepped closer to the man. There were similarities between them, yeah, but this man—this Kirk—had hazel eyes. “How is this possible? Aren’t you—?”
“Long dead?” Kirk smiled. “Yeah. Sort of. I’m from another time. Another universe.”
“The one with the other Spock? The one I met on Delta Vega?” Jim frowned, looked around. “Wait. This is Delta Vega.”
Kirk nodded. “Yes. Your Delta Vega. The one I knew was nothing like this. You met my Spock?”
“Yeah. I think so. After Vulcan was destroyed.”
He frowned. “Destroyed? Spock must be devastated.”
“He was. Is.” Jim bit his lip. “I’m getting a headache.”
“I’m getting a headache,” Kirk said at the same time. Then he laughed. “In some ways we’re a lot alike. In other ways, no.”
“I always wondered how alike we were. Spock told me you knew your father.”
“I did. You don’t?”
Jim shook his head. “Killed as I was being born.”
“I envy you knowing your dad.”
“Perhaps. Why don’t you sit? You might be here awhile and the fire’s warm.”
Jim sat next to Kirk. It was weird sitting next to a version of yourself. He had no idea how it was even possible.
“Other things I don’t envy you over.”
Kirk gazed at Jim. “Such as?”
Jim licked his lips. “When I met your Spock he melded with me to show me your time, your universe. He said it was the easiest way to know why he had come from the future.”
“There were a lot of images, but I remember.” Jim hesitated.
“I saw you lose your son.”
Kirk exhaled. “I did. I did lose David. I’d barely begun to know him and then he was taken from me.”
“I can’t imagine that.”
“I hope you won’t have to face it,” Kirk said. “You’ve been with Carol?”
Jim blinked. “Carol? Carol Marcus?”
Kirk smiled a little. “Yes.”
“No.” Jim frowned. “She’s a member of my crew but—”
“A member of your crew? This universe is different.”
Jim laughed. He couldn’t help it. This was too weird.
“There were a lot of things I regret,” Kirk said, staring into the fire. “A lot of enemies I’ve faced.”
“You faced Khan, right?”
He looked up sharply. “What do you know of him?”
“We faced him, too. He destroyed the Enterprise.”
“The warp core,” Kirk said matter-of-factly.
He looked a little haunted. “Did Spock…did your Spock…fix it?”
Jim shook his head, feeling his stomach flip at the memory of the burning pain as his body gave out to radiation poisoning. “No, not Spock. I did.”
Kirk blinked. “How is that possible?”
“Bones used Khan’s blood to revive me,” Jim explained.
“Khan’s blood?” Kirk frowned. “You faced him when you were far younger than Spock and me.”
“Your Spock died?” Jim asked. “He wasn’t revived with Khan’s blood?”
“No. It was different. More…complicated than that.”
They lapsed into silence. “Do you want to see him?” Jim asked after a while.
“Spock?” Kirk smiled wistfully. “It’s not possible.”
“But if you’re here…somehow…and he’s here, why couldn’t you?”
“I wish that I could, young one. But what of your Spock? Where is he?”
Jim shrugged. “I guess looking for me. I’m not sure how I ended back on Delta Vega. I have no recollection.”
“How did you get here before?”
“Spock marooned me.”
Jim smiled. “A long story. Anyway, we’re friends now.”
“Friends?” Kirk frowned. “You aren’t bonded yet?”
“Bonded?” Jim laughed. “Me and Spock? He’s with Uhura.”
“Uhura? Spock?” Kirk shook his head. “That’s…strange.”
Jim stared at Kirk. “Wait, does that mean you and your Spock are?”
Kirk nodded. “Yes. We were older than you are now, though, so maybe you just haven’t gotten to that point yet.”
“But, so you were—”
“T’hy’la,” Kirk supplied for him. “Friends, brothers…lovers.”
Jim swallowed. “Lovers?”
Kirk nodded again. “Yes. I am surprised you did not learn it since you melded with Spock.”
“Wow. I never—I mean yeah I have but—”
“You want him,” Kirk said.
Jim blew out a breath. “Yeah, I do. But I never thought anything would happen between us.”
“Maybe you have to make it happen.”
“I don’t know,” Jim admitted. “If you were bonded, how come you don’t want to see Spock?”
Kirk gave his wistful smile. “I want to, believe me. It’s just not possible, Jim.”
“We’re not really here, you and I.”
Jim frowned. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m in your dreams,” Kirk said softly.
“Wake up, Jim. You have to wake up. Or you never will.”
“Never?” Jim felt panic tighten his chest.
“Yes. Wake up.”
Jim shook his head. “I don’t want to.”
“I want to talk to you. Did you take the Kobayashi Maru?”
“Yes, I reprogrammed the test to win.”
“I want to stay. I want to talk to you. I want to be in a world where Vulcan hasn’t been destroyed and I’m bonded with Spock.”
“No, Jim,” Kirk insisted. “That is not your destiny.”
“Please? I don’t want to wake up.”
“You have to. They’re counting on you.”
“Who? Nobody counts on me.”
“They do, Jim. Your friends, your crew. They are your family. They need you.”
“No.” He felt tears prick his eyes.
“Spock needs you.”
“Wake up, Jim. Please.”
Jim frowned. That didn’t sound like Kirk. That sounded like…
He gasped awake, his eyes opening wide as air filled his lungs.
Spock hovered over him, his hands on Jim’s face. Instantly his brown eyes filled with relief. His hand cupped Jim’s face.
“Doctor?” Spock called. “Doctor? The captain is awake.”
“Yes, Jim. You are safe. I am here.”
Bones suddenly appeared and pushed Spock away. Jim cried out at the loss. “Easy, easy, Jim.” He shined a light in Jim’s eyes and then started messing with other instruments on the biobed.
Jim frowned, said thickly, “Medbay?”
“Yeah.” Bones met his gaze. “You went into cardiac arrest twice. Then you’ve been in a coma for a week.”
“Yeah,” Bones said with a small smile. “You’re Captain Kirk.”
Jim shook his head. “No. The other one. I saw him. Delta Vega.”
“You’re probably still out of it. But things look good. You’re gonna be okay, kid.” Bones squeezed his hand.
Spock appeared in his vision again while Bones disappeared. “Here, Captain.” And then Spock grabbed Jim’s hand and ran two of his fingers along two of Jim’s.
“Hey, isn’t that—”
“A Vulcan kiss?” Spock nodded.
“Oh.” Jim’s eyes widened. “Oh.”
“I apologize if—”
“No.” Jim licked his dry lips. “Don’t. I don’t want you to apologize. I want…”
Spock’s eyes were shining. “T’hy’la. Rest now. I will be here when you wake.”
Jim smiled, closed his eyes. Maybe Jim was glad he woke up in his own universe after all.
Bones had released Jim to his quarters but Jim was restless. He paced his room, unable to stop thinking about seeing his counterpart on Delta Vega. It had seemed so real. Like he could touch the other Kirk and feel Kirk’s flesh beneath his fingers.
“Spock to Captain Kirk.”
With a frown, he hit the comm on his desk. “Kirk here.”
“Dr. McCoy has released you from the medbay?”
Jim smiled a little “He didn’t want to, but I insisted.”
“Is that wise?”
“I don’t know, Spock, but I hated being there. I can convalesce here in my quarters.”
“When my shift is over, I will come.”
“Good.” Spock had been by to see him every day. Their relationship had definitely changed. Jim just wasn’t sure what it entailed. So far they’d exchanged several Vulcan kisses, but it didn’t go beyond that and only when no one else was looking. “See you then. Kirk out.”
Jim sat behind his desk and stared at the terminal. Finally he hit his comm. “Kirk to Ensign Phillips.”
Phillips was a junior communications officer who often took over for Uhura when she was off duty. He didn’t feel like he could bother Uhura right now. He didn’t know exactly how she felt about the changed relationship between him and Spock. Whatever it was.
“Can you open a channel to New Vulcan, please?” He gave the information to Phillips and waited. He got up for tea and then when he came back to his chair, he waited another five minutes.
Finally he appeared.
Jim smiled. “Now I am, yeah.”
Spock looked amused. “I did tell you.”
“You did. How are you, Spock?”
“I am old and worn out but otherwise I am acceptable,” the old Spock said. “You look remarkably well for someone who has died.”
“I could say the same to you.”
Spock tilted his head just as his own Spock often did. “How did you come by that information?”
Jim licked his lips and picked up his teacup. “Actually that’s what I wanted to speak about. I’m just out of the medbay—”
Spock nodded. “I am aware.”
“How’d you know?”
The old Vulcan hesitated. “I am not at liberty to say.”
“Is it because of the bond?”
“You know about the bond? You and Spock—”
“Not yet, no. I don’t think so anyway. We’re…I think we might be getting there.” Jim exhaled. “You were though with your Kirk. Does that somehow affect you and me?”
“To an extent, yes. I am aware when you have been harmed. I…feel pain.”
Jim’s breath caught in his throat. “When I died—”
“Yes,” Spock said softly. “I was gratified when your Dr. McCoy was able to restore you to life.”
“I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
“You could not have. I had vowed not to give you that information. The path for you and Spock must be one you achieve yourselves. But how did you come by the information about me and my captain?”
“He told me.”
Jim shook his head. “No.”
“Maybe I’m going crazy, but it was Kirk. Your Kirk.”
“My Kirk?” Spock asked sharply.
“Yeah. When I was in the coma, he…visited with me. We had this whole conversation, Spock, and he told me you were bonded. T’hy’la.” Jim sighed. “I know it’s hard to believe.”
“Jim, if you say it happened, I believe you.”
“You do?” Jim asked hopefully.
“He-he misses you. I don’t know how it’s possible but I swear it was him. And he misses you.”
“And I…him. It has been many years since I have seen him.”
“I wish we could meld right now. Maybe you could see him somehow?” Jim shook his head. “I know that’s probably not possible and I don’t want to get your hopes up. I just…if I can arrange to get to New Vulcan, would you want to?”
Spock looked wistful. “You should check with your own Spock before you offer.”
Jim frowned. “It’s my choice not his.”
“He may not see it that way.”
“Well, too bad. Do you want to?”
“It may be nothing. I may not see anything.”
“I know.” Jim asked again, “Do you want to?”
“Then I will make it happen, Spock. I don’t know what it means, if it means anything, but I will make it happen. Whatever the outcome.”
“I am certain you will. Just do not allow it to harm your own relationship with Spock.”
“I won’t. I don’t want you to get your hopes up. I might be crazy.”
“I do not believe that.”
Jim nodded. "Neither do I. I’ll be in touch soon. Kirk out.”
He was still at his desk when his door chimed. “Enter.”
Spock walked in. His Spock.
Jim’s heart started pounding and he rose from behind his desk. “Hey.”
He held out his two fingers as he came around his desk and he expected Spock to do the same as he had done ever since Jim woke from his coma.
Instead, Spock grasped the back of Jim’s neck and brought their lips together for a human kiss.
Jim moaned into the kiss, molding himself into Spock’s, locking his own arms around Spock’s waist as Spock’s tongue swept inside his mouth.
Okay, Vulcan kissing was nice. He didn’t want to say otherwise. But it had nothing on this, nothing on Spock’s tongue grazing over Jim’s teeth.
And damn his cock liked this kind of kissing too because it was at full attention in less than thirty seconds.
Spock stopped the kiss, leaning his forehead against Jim’s. He was panting heavily. “We cannot.”
“You were seriously injured and are only just out of medbay,” Spock said, his voice low. “We will wait.”
“I don’t wanna wait,” Jim protested, trying to ignore the whine in his own voice.
“We will wait.” His thumb brushed the bristle of Jim’s jaw. “We have waited this long, ashaya, we can wait a while longer.”
Spock suddenly looked amused. “There is no need to pout, Jim. I assure you that I am as eager as you.”
“Apparently not.” He sighed. “Fine. We need to talk though.”
The amusement disappeared from Spock’s eyes and he released Jim to step back. “About?”
“A lot of things, really. I guess the first thing is, I am guessing you have…I mean, are you and Uhura—”
“Yes, of course, Jim. I ended my relationship with Nyota.”
He blew out a breath. “Is she…I mean she must be upset.”
“She was not pleased,” Spock acknowledged. “But she was not surprised given my emotional state while you were gone.”
Jim froze as he was just about to go the replicator. He turned around and gaped at Spock. “Wait, what?”
The line between Spock’s brows furrowed. “You were abducted on the planet, Masq 5, Captain. You were missing from the Enterprise for twenty-eight days.”
“Twenty-eight? Twenty-eight days? Days?” Jim thought he might be sick. His heart started beating hard and fast. “Why? Why didn’t anyone tell me that? Why-why didn’t you?”
“I did assume you recalled the details of your captivity at first. Only later did I realize you perhaps did not.”
“No.” Jim shook his head frantically. “I don’t. I…Bones said I went into cardiac arrest twice?”
Spock winced. It was the only way to describe it. “Yes. After Lieutenant Giotto, Lieutenant Sulu, and myself rescued you from Masq 5. You had severe injuries. You had been tortured.”
Jim suddenly felt like he needed to sit down. “I don’t remember. I…I remember Delta Vega.”
“What does your time on Delta Vega have to do with now?”
“I was on Delta Vega again.” Jim shook his head. “With someone else.”
Spock knelt beside him and took his hands. “Who?”
“Jim, that was only a dream.”
“I thought so. Maybe. He said so. But, Spock, I swear there was more to it than that. I could have touched him just like I’m touching you.”
“Dreams can feel like reality.”
“Not like this. Not this vivid. I could feel the cold. The feel of the material I wore on my skin. I can’t stop thinking about it.” Jim took a deep breath. “I’m going to New Vulcan.”
“For what purpose?”
“To see your counterpart.”
“I contacted him, Spock. About seeing his captain.”
“Surely he told you it was just a dream. His captain died before he ever came to our timeline.”
“I know,” Jim said impatiently. “I know all that. I just…it was him. He told me things I wouldn’t have known.”
“You got them from your meld with my counterpart.”
“I don’t think so. But that’s why I’m going to New Vulcan. Spock…the other Spock…has agreed to meld with me again.”
“For what purpose?” Spock asked again, sharply.
“So he can see what I saw, so he can see his captain…I don’t know, Spock. So he can help me. God, I’m missing twenty-eight days.”
Spock stared at him, his brown eyes turbulent. “I can meld with you.”
“I know that too. And we will. You can meld with me all you want. I just need to do this. I need to meld with him first.”
“I see.” Spock’s words were stiff, his voice distant.
Jim closed his eyes. “I can tell you don’t. I’m sorry, Spock. I’m not trying to make things difficult between us.”
“I know,” Spock said quietly. “Logically I should not feel jealousy over my counterpart.”
Jim opened his eyes. “But you do.”
“I do not like the idea of you having something so intimate with someone other than myself,” Spock admitted. “Given the new status of our relationship, it is…bothersome.”
“You’re the one I want, Spock. It’s always been you. I don’t know how you don’t know that. It’s so obvious to me.”
Spock wrapped his arms around Jim’s middle and held him. “If you feel that melding with my counterpart will help you understand your dreams, then so it will be. But I worry that you have forgotten twenty-eight days. They may have done something to your mind.”
“Yeah, me too. And I may have forgotten because I don’t want to know.”
"I would advise you to speak to Dr. McCoy as well."
"Bones will freak."
"I am aware. He cares about you, Jim. And he is your doctor."
“Yeah.” Jim leaned against Spock. “Thank you for rescuing me.”
“I could do nothing else. I had to have you back.”
“Thank you for that also. Will you stay with me? Tonight? I know we can’t do anything sexually. Which irritates me, by the way. But can you stay?”
“There is nowhere else I would rather be than with you. I will stay as I do not want to leave your side.”
“Okay, let me get this straight,” Bones said, standing in Jim’s quarters, glaring at him. Jim sat on the edge of the bed, dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt. Spock stood very close to where he sat, hands clenched behind his back. “You don’t remember any of the twenty-eight days of your captivity?”
Jim glanced at Spock, then back to Bones. “That’s essentially correct.”
“Essentially correct? Spock’s been your—your whatever he is— for barely twenty-four hours and you’re already talking like him.”
“I don’t remember being taken prisoner, Bones, or any of the torture, I guess, that put me in the coma when Spock found me. But there are parts of those days I do remember.”
Jim hesitated. How did he tell his best friend without Bones thinking he’d split a few branches from his tree? “I was on Delta Vega.”
“You were remembering your time on Delta Vega?” Bones asked, frowning.
“No. I was there again. With…with Kirk.”
“You’re Kirk,” Bones said gently as if Jim has gone demented.
“Not me. Him. The other one.”
“I know what you’re gonna say, Bones. It’s what everyone says.” Except Spock. Older Spock. But maybe he wanted to believe it as much as Jim wanted it to be true. “It was him. I was there.” Jim frowned. “And there’s more.”
He licked his lips. “There was a woman. Blonde. Really beautiful.”
Spock’s eyebrow rose.
Jim gave him a sheepish smile. “I’d never seen her before. I just have images of her, really. Nothing concrete. Just flashes.”
“All right, so I’ll give you that the girl could have been one of your captors, but Captain Kirk from the other timeline? Universe? Whatever. Sorry, Jim. But I have to go with hallucination.”
“Bones.” Jim closed his eyes and sighed. When he opened them he saw Spock gazing at him intently. “Spock?”
Spock inclined his head. “Doctor, I cannot agree. In my experience with the captain I have not known him to have hallucinations or give into histrionics. Furthermore, he has already managed to convince my counterpart there is some merit to what he says.”
“Oh, great, two Spocks against me now.”
“Bones, please.” Jim shook his head wearily. “I know it sounds crazy but the truth is you don’t know yourself what happened to me in those twenty-eight days. Nobody was there but me.”
Bones grimaced. “That’s true enough. But I still insist on a full psych exam. I should insist on it anyway given you just came back from being a prisoner.”
Jim nodded. “What were my injuries?”
This time Bones hesitated when he glanced at Spock. They exchanged looks.
“What? I wasn’t…raped, was I?”
“No, Jim. Dr. McCoy found no evidence of physical rape.” Spock sat next to him on the edge of the bed and stroked his fingers over the back of Jim’s hand.
He exhaled very slowly. “Meaning?”
“There was some indication that they may have probed your mind, Jim,” Bones said gently. “That’s one of the reasons I’m especially concerned with your memory loss and dreams.”
“Okay. And the physical injuries?”
“Broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken leg, broken and fixed and then re-broken it appears, three broken fingers on your left hand, bruising, lacerations, and you had an infection and fever.”
Jim winced. “Glad I was out for all that.”
Bones nodded. “Like I said, you went into cardiac arrest twice. Thought we were gonna lose you. The hobgoblin here was losing his shit.”
“Hardly,” Spock said primly.
Bones rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, Spock.”
“We’re going to New Vulcan,” Jim said. “I’m gonna clear it with the brass and then I’ll have a course set. I need to see the other Spock.”
“Fine, but I want you in the medbay for your psych exam and you’re off duty until we reach New Vulcan.” Bones glanced at Spock. “I know that means extra duty for you, Spock, but Jim needs time to recover.”
“You do not have to convince me, doctor, I am in full agreement.”
Bones stepped over to Jim and injected his neck with a hypospray.
“Fuck. You enjoy that far too much,” Jim grumbled.
“Eat something and get more rest.” Bones headed for the door of Jim’s quarters. “Medbay tomorrow, Jim.”
“Yeah, okay.” When Bones had left, Jim glanced at Spock. “I’m sorry.”
“For what are you expressing regret?” Spock entwined their fingers.
“Putting all this burden on you. First when I was held captive and now.”
“The only burden I felt was not knowing if you were safe, if I would ever have you back, if I would ever be able to tell you that you are everything to me.” Spock said softly.
Jim smiled, the tightness in his chest he hadn’t even really thought about loosening. “Yeah?”
“I regret waiting until you nearly died again to tell you of my affections. I suspected you returned them and yet I did not act. It was almost too late.”
Jim shook his head. “I didn’t tell you either. What’s important is that we know now. We won’t waste any more time.”
Spock nodded and squeezed Jim’s hand. “When we go to New Vulcan I would like to speak to my father and the members of the council about bonding us in the Vulcan way.”
He searched Spock’s gaze. “Are you certain? So soon?”
“It is not soon. We have known each other, you and I. In other universes also, is that not true?”
“Yes.” Jim smiled.
“You are my t’hy’la, the one meant for me. The beginnings of a bond are already in place between us. It is only formally bonding us that I speak of.” Spock hesitated. “Unless you have doubts?”
“None,” Jim assured him. “There is no one else I want to be with, Spock. But I’m an illogical human—”
Spock stopped Jim’s words with two fingers against his lips. “You are my illogical human.” He human kissed Jim softly and then stood. “I will secure you a meal and then I must report to the bridge.”
Jim smiled wistfully. “Yeah, okay. Wish you could stay with me.”
“That would be agreeable but not possible.” Spock’s dark eyes were warm with affection. “Now come to the desk so you can eat.”
Jim sighed. “Not hungry.”
“You will still eat.”
“Okay, okay. You are worse than Bones.”
“Do not think to insult me to get me to leave. I will see that you will eat first.”
Jim laughed and went to do as his first officer bid.