The Bohin Conclave had been causing trouble in Sector 183 for months. All previous attempts at diplomacy by the Federation had fallen on deaf ears. The Enterprise command team had been tasked with a different method of diplomacy, their orders handed down from Starfleet Command despite the protests of some of the Federation diplomats.
Jim and Spock walked through the busy marketplace in plainclothes, nothing on their persons distinguishing them as Starfleet officers.
“Should be coming up to the meeting place just here,” Jim remarked casually to Spock as they turned the corner off the busy thoroughfare. They were met by three human males, all probably in their thirties, who walked them to an adjacent side street.
There was a woman waiting for them. She was tall and strong looking, her hair covered and twisted in an ornate scarf of dark green, her long overcoat a matching shade.
“Gentlemen, welcome,” she said, eyeing Jim up and down but sparing only the barest of glances for Spock.
“Afternoon,” Jim smiled back, feigning a nonchalance he did not quite feel. He could tell something was off.
Before he was able to consider it much further, several things happened in quick succession.
One of their entourage grabbed his phaser, tossing it in an easy lob to the woman.
Spock was not similarly disarmed.
Before he could react, Jim was forcibly restrained by the other two men, arms pulled taught behind his back as the third punched him quickly in the abdomen and on his cheekbone to keep him from calling out. Jim was held so tightly he couldn’t even bend over a little to lessen the pain radiating just below his rib cage.
Spock was left unharmed.
His assailant continued to put his fists to Jim’s sensitive inner organs and skull. Jim struggled as much as he could against the hold, but these men were strong and well-coordinated. Even stomping his boot into their feet didn’t make them loosen his arms.
Spock moved closer to the woman.
In the midst of his struggles, while trying to keep an eye on Spock and yet still pull air into his lungs enough to think, Jim could feel his wrists being tied. He fisted his hands even tighter, keeping his wrists as far apart as possible.
Jim tried to call out to Spock again, but was hit again, the pain of the blow taking longer to lesson as he coughed. His fists were forced open with an electric shock to the backs of his hands. The goons pulled the rope tight around his wrists, now touching, as Jim’s palms are placed flush against each other. The rope cuts into his skin, biting and itchy.
The woman held out her hand to Spock and he shakes it without hesitation.
The backs of Jim’s knees are kicked roughly, forcing him to his knees on the hard stone street below. He knows what’s happening now. There can be no doubt, despite it being utterly impossible.
Jim knows there is no point in calling out to Spock and he does not attempt it again. He doesn’t know what the hell Spock is doing, but it doesn’t matter. He’s already made up his mind. And Jim knows there’s nothing he can do to prevent him from going through with it. Spock is handed a chip by the woman, pocketing it.
There was the sting and hiss of a hypospray connecting with the sensitive flesh of Jim’s neck. And his resolve settled like a stone in his stomach, hard and icy, a desire to hurt as he’s been hurt, to make Spock pay for what he’s done. The woman faced Jim again, as Spock turned to leave.
“Let’s go somewhere a bit more quiet, hmm?” She cooed at Jim, sickly sweet and utterly pleased with herself at her fine catch. Spock walked away toward the busy marketplace.
Jim keept his mouth shut. He needs to be smart about this. Needs information on where they’re going, who this woman is, needs to plan his escape. His mission brief from the Admiralty was paltry at best and an absolute joke at worst. They didn’t know what they were sending Jim and Spock into at all. Jim’s vision begins to cloud, his head feeling fuzzy.
The woman chuckles, “Time to go to sleep now.”
Jim feels the haze deepen, a bubble of panic expanding in his chest. He glances to where Spock was leaving, breath catching in his throat as their eyes meet. Spock’s face is as blank as Jim has ever seen it. As blank as when they hated each other back when they were fighting for their lives after the loss of Vulcan. But his eyes, oh, his eyes. They shone with a sorrow that Jim has only recently seen. When Spock feels melancholy and misses his mother, his eyes shine with that same sorrow. A bone-deep sadness that Jim wants to make go away, so he sits by Spock in the mess, invites him to play chess in his quarters, brings Spock’s preferred tea to the rec room. Jim knows he can never get rid of it entirely, that it’s Spock’s grief to carry and work through how he deems right. But he hopes he can show Spock how he’s still loved, even by his Captain, his friend.
Right in this moment, however, Jim doesn’t know how to interpret the look in Spock’s eyes and the haze overtakes him, the woman’s laughter echoing through his mind.
Jim woke in the brig of a ship moving at warp. The subtle thrum that surrounded him a different pitch than that of the Enterprise. His head throbbed from the hits he took, and his mouth and throat were painfully dry. Worse than that, his abdomen was tight, the muscles there strained and cramping. Jim sat up gingerly, looking around the sparce area and wondering if he had any hope of rescue.
Or if Spock’s betrayal was absolute.
If he meant for Jim to be bought and sold or sent to labor in a mine on some far-flung planet. Never to be returned to his ship, his crew, his family.
There wasn’t much for Jim to go on from what he could see in the brig. No other beings were in the cells. It was clean, but dimly lit. The warp engines hummed along without any obvious malfunctions. There were no distinguishing marks or materials that he could make out from his cell.
So, he laid back on the cot and closed his eyes and seethed.
Jim woke to yells and metal clanging, a silent alarm blinking its yellow light from the panel in the wall of the brig.
The sound of phaser fire reached his ears and Jim cautiously rose to his feet. He couldn’t see the main door but he heard the tell-tale swish as it opened.
A pair of black-clad figures marched up to him, opening the cell. One stepped in saying, “James Kirk, we’re to return you to the Enterprise.”
“Who are you?”
“Section Thirty-One, Captain,” the one in the cell said, attaching a small transporter enhancer to Jim’s arm, sinching it tight around his bicep.
The other one posted at the cell door added, “We appreciate your assistance in mapping the Bohin Conclave’s transport routes.”
Jim stared, eyes moving from one to the other. “What?” was all he could manage in response. He felt like his grasp on reality had shifted to the left by about three centimeters, leaving him slow and stupid.
The one nearest to him tapped the transporter enhancer, causing a light to flicker on and pulse. They saluted him, a crisp and efficient maneuver and turned to leave when the transporter lock took hold of Jim, his view of the brig fading quickly.
He rematerialized on the Enterprise, with Scotty behind the controls and Bones immediately crowding into his personal space, tricorder buzzing and beeping. Jim waved him away, about to ask Scotty where they hell he just pulled him from when he noticed a third figure in the room.
Standing with his back straight as a plumb line, Spock stood near the door with his hands clasped behind him, his face and eyes cautiously blank.
Jim saw red.
He could hear Bones talking now, when he was silent before, but he shouldered his way past him and strode up to Spock. Spock, who was looking at Jim as though nothing was wrong.
Jim’s fist connected with Spock’s nose with a sickening crunch.
His hand felt like he maybe fractured something, the sharp pain of a thrown punch not fading, but staying bone-deep and aching. Jim watched in satisfaction as a slow drip of green blood leaked from Spock’s nose. And yet Spock himself did not react.
Hands grabbed his arms, and he struggled against them, pressing into Spock’s personal space as much as he was able. His breaths came heavy and shallow, pulse pounding in his veins. “The fuck was that, Spock?” Jim spat.
Spock blinked in response, eyes going cold and distant.
“You’re off this ship, you bastard.” Jim struggled against the hands holding him back once more, needing Spock to hurt, wanting those eyes to look away.
A sharp pinch at his back and Jim’s vision went dark, coordination leaving him as he sagged against those holding him back. “Off this ship…” he slurred sleepily.
Jim woke in his own quarters, under the covers of his bed. The lights were low but not off and Jim took a minute to run his hands over his face, his abdomen, his knuckles. Checking for the lasting hurts inflicted there not long ago. But Bones or someone from Medical must have seen to the scrapes and bruises, giving his body a healing head start. He felt groggy from whatever he was dosed with in the transporter room, acid rising in his throat as much as from the lingering fingers of vertigo as the memories of what Spock did came to the forefront of his mind.
He sat up slowly and swung his legs over the edge of the mattress, noticing his PADD on the nightstand blinking its amber light.
“No rest for the wicked,” he muttered to himself. If he was honest, in that moment, Jim wanted a distraction. Anything to ease the unseen hurt that wouldn’t show up on scans, that was eating away at him, at odds with everything he knew and respected about his second in command. Someone who, until recently, he considered a friend.
When Jim opened the document sent to his PADD, however, it was not the routine ship’s business he had expected.
It was a mission brief from Section Thirty-One direct to Commander Spock marked with a security clearance that Jim had never even heard of. It outlined Spock’s objectives, as they were, and hinted at some larger plot in play.
Spock was to pick one additional crewmember. They were to dress in plainclothes outfitted with nanoscopic tracking devices supplied by Section Thirty-One. They were to approach Marianal Toussardi, a high-ranking operative in the Bohin Conclave. The additional crewman would be traded. Section Thirty-One would handle their extraction and return following the completion of other, non-disclosed objectives.
The additional crewman must not be aware of these mission parameters. It was suspected the Bohin Conclave employed beings with medically enhanced psionic abilities, including telepathy.
Even through his haze of still-simmering anger, Jim could reason why Spock was chosen for this particular mission. His Vulcan telepathic abilities naturally required him to have some shielding capabilities. The location of the Enterprise in this quadrant for other Starfleet duties recommended him as the closest capable officer for the time-sensitive opportunity Section Thirty-One created for the meeting to take place.
He suspected Spock chose him to play the part of the “additional crewman” because…well. Perhaps his anger at the whole sorry affair was still too close to the surface to afford him any clear thinking on that point. Yet, his wildly pounding heart settled a bit as he re-read the mission objectives a second and then a third time. The missing pieces beginning to truly settle into his memory of what happened.
The door to Jim’s quarters chimed.
“Computer, who is it?”
“Commander Spock,” was the swift reply.
Jim’s hands on his PADD tightened unconsciously. All sense of understanding he gained from the message Spock sent to him vanished at the very real presence of that same Vulcan on the other side of his door. He took a deep breath, his ribs protesting slightly as he held it in as long as he could before letting it woosh out of his lungs, his eyes closed.
The door swished open and the measured steps of Spock brought him into Jim’s sleeping alcove, his boots just in view as Jim kept his eyes on the mission brief in his hands.
“Captain, I wished to ascertain your recovery was progressing satisfactorily.” Spock spoke in the quiet tones one uses to calm a distressed animal.
Jim was not calmed. He looked sharply up, meeting Spock’s eyes with a glare fueled by the fire that has reignited in his belly.
Jim furrowed his brow in mock confusion, shrugging his shoulders slightly and bit out, “Well?”
Spock looked just a touch alarmed, but made no effort to answer, his gaze shifting away from Jim’s eyes and back.
“You can see I’m fine.”
“Indeed, Captain,” Spock began in that same tone as before.
“And while the mission brief you were sent explains some of your actions, it doesn’t explain them all,” Jim continued, cutting off whatever else Spock had to say, and held up his PADD, giving it a little shake.
Spock’s brow furrowed slightly in unvoiced question.
“You had your pick of the crew and you chose me. Why?”
“Out of everyone in the senior crew, I had predicted you to be the most accepting of the mission parameters as set forth by Starfleet and Section Thirty-One.”
Jim scoffed and muttered, “Sorry to be such a disappointment.”
Spock continued as though he had not spoken, “You have also shown throughout our time together, a remarkable ability to adapt and react to changing circumstances, resulting in favorable outcomes.”
“So you threw me to the wolves, screw keeping me in the loop, because I’m adaptable,” Jim scoffed, keeping his glare fixed on Spock.
“The mission parameters –”
“Were shoddy at best!” Jim yelled. “They suspected telepathy and I find it hard to believe you accepted that as certainty!”
Spock looked more alarmed now, but couldn’t seem to find the words he wanted, staying silent while his eyes pleaded with Jim to understand that which he couldn’t explain.
“You thought I would just accept this?” Jim motioned to the PADD in his hand again.
Spock’s head gave a little shake, a crease forming between his eyebrows. He opened his mouth to speak.
But Jim filled the pause first, his voice a disapproving murmur, “I thought we moved passed all that stuff that happened with the Narada. I thought we were friends. That we looked out for each other, had each other’s backs. But, Spock…if you don’t trust me…” he trailed off, a shrug encapsulating his helplessness at the whole situation.
Spock stood still and unblinking, his open mouth now showcasing his inability to explain the rationale behind his actions. But his eyes, his eyes told a different story. One that Jim was too angry and hurt to pay attention to.
Still sitting on the edge of his bed, face heated with a flush, Jim stared up at his First Officer with an expectant look, waiting for a response.
“I did not anticipate this to be your reaction,” Spock spoke quietly.
Jim sighed heavily, looking down and rubbing his eyes with his hand, at a loss for words.
He completely missed the small abortive movement of Spock’s right hand as his fingers twitched, reaching out for a moment toward Jim’s sandy-haired head. He missed the flash of sadness and desperation that crossed Spock’s face as his miscalculations become too much to keep in check. He didn’t see the hungry look in Spock’s eyes that ached of a desire to fix this broken situation that he himself created.
When Jim looked up at Spock again, he sees the slightly concerned expression he’s seen on his face many times over on the bridge as the Enterprise delt with new and terrible dangers. And he notices for the first time the slight bruise on Spock’s nose and wishes they could be better to each other.
“I will endeavor to be worthy of your trust once again, Jim” Spock whispers, low. And in the next moment he’s gone from Jim’s quarters, leaving him alone once more.