It was surprisingly not awkward when Jim finally woke up to find that he was still in bed with Spock and Nyota. What they had done while in his mind had removed what barriers there might be and he found himself surprisingly comfortable with both of his lovers. Then they spent a day and a half recreating their encounter with more control on his part and adding many more new and interesting possibilities for sex. Jim particularly liked the one where he got to watch Nyota take Spock apart and he took control and put Spock back together again.
The pure pleasure in Spock when he let go was something to behold.
There was also the time Spock screwed him so long and so hard he couldn't remember his own name; that was fantastic.
In fact Jim had to admit when they finally managed to keep their hands off each other that he'd never had sex like it, ever, and he'd had a lot of sex. He was beginning to see some of the advantages that Kris and Adam promised were there. When he just thought about Spock and by association Nyota, Jim had to admit he was happy, but of course outside his quarters there were complications.
Adam and Kris had a long sit down talk with all of them and then took Jim, Spock and Nyota to visit some of their experts in the field of submissive bonding as soon as Jim declared himself fit for duty and dared Bones to deny him. The first contact continued and everything seemed to slip back to something resembling normality, but of course Jim knew it couldn't last for long.
Orders from Starfleet came in all too soon that the Enterprise was needed to ship some medical supplies to Ranar VII, where a plague had just broken out. Being one of the fastest ships in the fleet and in the area, Enterprise was the only vessel for the job. Jim was still waiting for his superiors to digest the reports about his new situation, but until they said something he had his duty to perform.
It was only fair that he deliver the news to Adam and Kris in person, so he went to their quarters as soon as the orders came in.
"Come in," Kris greeted when the door opened.
"Look, I'm sorry," he said, stepping into the room, "but I don't have much time. The Enterprise had been ordered away from Sonara on an emergency mission; a diplomatic party will be arriving to continue negotiations for the Federation. I know it's short notice, but you'll have to pack and return to the surface."
Kris looked at Adam who smiled faintly.
"We can't do that," Kris said simply.
"But we have to leave," Jim insisted.
"And we have to come with you," Kris replied.
Jim totally hadn't expected that.
"But we don't know when we'll be back, if ever," he pointed out.
Kris walked up to him and placed a gentle hand on his arm.
"That doesn't matter," his friend told him. "We are your guides, we cannot abandon you. When you finally have no more need of us we will find our own way home if necessary. Until then, we will stay with you."
"You'd do that for me, leave your home?" he asked, taken aback by the calm pronouncement.
"Of course," Adam said and smiled at him.
It was not an option Jim had considered and it might, possibly, have made him a little emotional, not that he was ever going to admit it.
"Well, thank you," he said, not really sure how to respond properly, Kris and Adam had already done so much for him and Spock. "In that case we'll be leaving as soon as we have all our people off the surface. If you want to pick anything up, now is the time to do it."
"We already have everything we need," Kris said, at which point it occurred to Jim that his friends had known this was going to happen and had planned accordingly.
"Oh good," he said, doing his best not to look like a complete idiot, "than I guess I'll see you later then."
After which he left as quickly as possible so he could avoid Adam and Kris until he had had a chance to adjust to this whole new development. His early life hadn't exactly prepared him for such sudden and complete demonstrations of care.
The medical supply run was totally routine, although when they arrived at Ranar VII the population were more than grateful. As long as Jim spent time with Spock and Nyota during his down time he found that life went on pretty much as normal. They shared his quarters every night because they were the largest, but still each had their own should they need to retreat to them for any reason.
It was not all sweetness and light. He and Nyota did have one huge argument two days into the mission, but it had no effect on their work and when he apologised for being an ass with chocolates and flowers he managed to smooth everything over. The makeup sex had also been so good that he seriously considered staging small arguments every now and then just because it seemed to bring them even closer together.
He did find himself listening to Spock a little more closely, but when he made decisions he couldn't say he felt any different than he had before.
The crew all knew what had happened, but they were professional enough not to mention it. The Enterprise offered medical aid to the colony as well as the supplies and everything went without a hitch. In fact everything was running so well and they were almost ready to leave that when the chime to his quarters went and he found a grim looking Bones standing on the other side of the door, he didn't immediately assume his friend was there about him.
"Come in," he said, since Nyota and Spock were still on shift, "can I get you a brandy?"
"Sorry, Jim," Bones replied, "this isn't exactly a social call."
That stopped him in his tracks.
"What is it?" he asked.
"Starfleet sent me a priority message," Bones told him; "they wanted more details about you and Spock."
Jim sat down.
"That's it then," he said and Bones just looked at him; they both knew what it meant.
The orders came in the following morning; the Enterprise was to report to Starbase 3 where there would be a hearing to judge the status of her captain. The Starbase was well within the confines of the Federation, just right for a ship that was going to be changing captain. The fact that it was three days away at maximum warp was the only good thing about the whole situation.
Jim stood outside the guest quarters where Kris and Adam were staying and went to announce himself, but stopped. He was almost sure he could hear singing. The voice was faint, but it sounded powerful and strong and Jim suspected he knew where it was coming from. With a shake of his head he leant over and touched the panel on the wall to announce his presence. The singing stopped and the door opened to reveal a smiling Adam.
"Hey, Jim," Adam greeted, "come on in, what can I do for you?"
Jim stepped into the room as Adam moved out of the way.
"Were you singing?" he asked, unable to avoid his curiosity.
"Yes," Adam said, eyes alight with delight. "I was investigating your recordings and you have some amazing music. If you used it more I am sure your society would have had less wars. I couldn't help singing along."
"I thought Kris was the singer, being an attaché?"
Adam grinned at that.
"Kris is a song maker, he was born to create music, but he always says I was born to sing his songs" Adam explained. "Kris says it's hard to shut me up."
That Jim could believe. Adam talked a lot.
"Are you okay," Adam asked, "you didn't have another argument did you?"
Jim shook his head.
"I have new orders," he said and sat down; "I'm to take the Enterprise and report to Starbase 3 where there will be a hearing about my new status."
"Oh," Adam said and sat down as well.
"Yeah," he acknowledged.
"You don't believe they'll understand," Adam said gently.
"I know they won't," he replied. "This is cut and dried as far as they will see it. I am fundamentally compromised."
"But you're not."
"They won't see it that way; they don't understand."
"Then we'll make them understand," Adam told him and placed a hand on his in a move of complete solidarity.
"I'm not sure it's possible," he admitted; even he wasn't quite sure if his relationship with Spock would pose a problem.
Adam stood up and walked towards the other side of the room, clearly thinking.
"When is this hearing?" Adam asked.
Adam thought some more.
"We will ask to speak," Adam decided. "Don't worry, if anyone can explain it will be Kris. No matter how close minded they are, his words will reach them."
Adam looked so sure that Jim almost believed him. He gave his friend a smile for trying, but he was almost sure in three days his career would be over.
"I bring this hearing to order," Admiral Pike said and Jim couldn't help thinking it was a death nell to his career in Starfleet.
That Pike had been there to greet the Enterprise when she arrived had said everything to Jim. Pike was his rock in Starfleet and Pike being involved meant that, once again, the Admiral had gone to the wall for him. He doubted there would have been any hearing at all without Pike.
In Starfleet's eyes he was unfit to command, it was as simple as that and the whole hearing was likely more of a formality than anything else. If Starfleet hadn't been so short of senior officers he was pretty sure he would already have been officially relieved of duty, Pike or no Pike. The one thing he had to be glad about was that the hearing was specifically about him, not Spock, and Nyota hadn't been mentioned in any of the official reports, so she was uninvolved.
"We are gathered to hear the case for and against whether Captain James T. Kirk should be relieved of his command of the USS Enterprise on grounds of being emotionally and physically compromised," Pike said, glancing at him only once. "This Board of Inquiry will hear all aspects of the situation and then render a decision."
"Captain Kirk is irrevocably bonded to his first officer, of course he's compromised," Admiral Trivala said from her screen in a thoroughly unimpressed tone, "the medical tests prove it. This is a waste of time and resources."
"With all due respect, Admiral," Pike said before anyone else could speak up, "there is no dispute that a bond exists, what this Board of Inquiry needs to establish is whether it presents a risk to command."
Trivala did not appear anymore impressed by that.
"If the bench is ready, I believe it is in the interest of this investigation to understand the nature of the bond in question," Pike said. "Attaché Allen, you have requested the right to speak as an expert in this subject."
Kris stood up.
"Yes, Admiral, thank you, but I would request that my bonded, Protector Lambert, present our evidence."
"Why can't you give us your own report, Attaché Allen?" Admiral Bonnet asked in a reasonable tone.
"Because, with all due respect, Admirals, we believe the only way to convey the truth is to do it in the manner of our people," Kris replied, "and while I am capable of presenting my own composition, we feel this is of such importance that Adam's voice must be heard."
"The Sonarian people use bards for all important negotiations," Pike explained to the other two Admirals.
"You wish to sing?" Trivala asked as if it was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.
"If I may, Admirals," Spock put in politely. "The Sorarians have had no war on their planet for fifteen centuries thanks to their use of song. It would be most illogical to dismiss their methods simply because they are not ours."
"Thank you, Mr Spock," Pike said with a nod of his head. "If we are all in agreement I suggest we proceed."
Jim was actually quite shocked when no one protested as Adam stood up. When Adam had assured him that Kris would make sure everyone understood, he had had no idea his two friends would go this far. The pair had to have been working non-stop since the call came in to report to the starbase. Jim knew for a fact that big presentations often took weeks to prepare for on the couple's home planet. There had been plenty of welcoming songs when the Enterprise had arrived on Sonara, but he was pretty sure those had been standard greetings. This was an entirely different matter.
Adam moved to the centre of the room and closed his eyes. For a moment there was complete silence and then Adam opened his mouth and hit a note that was low and deep. It reverberated through the chamber and Jim realised that Adam had instinctively picked the perfect place in the room for the acoustics. The standard starbase conference room wasn't exactly built with music in mind, but that didn't actually seem to make a lot of difference.
The sound was so beautiful that it took Jim a couple of seconds to realise Adam was singing actual words. It was at that point he made himself concentrate and take in what Adam was trying to convey.
The song was like no report Jim had ever heard. The words conveyed their meaning clearly, but they were so beautifully put together and the music that went with them made it impossible not to listen. Everything Kris and Adam had ever taught him about the bond was there: its significance in Sonarian society; the sacred nature of the connection; the joy it could bring; the strength it gave. Nothing was skipped or missed and the emotion that came through was breathtaking.
Adam's voice moved from the depths and soared to the heights and it took everyone in the room with it, imparting information with every note and word.
When, finally, Adam came to a stop, there was barely the sound of breathing in the room, let alone anything else and it held for several long seconds.
"Yes, well," Pike said, recovering first, "thank you Protector Lambert, that was a ... a most eye opening experience."
Jim could only agree and he'd known most of the information before.
"Agreed," Admiral Trivala said and she seemed to actually mean it.
Adam gave a small bow and returned to his seat. Jim did his best to convey his thanks as he met his friend's eye.
"It appears that to a Sonarian there is no doubt this bond is a wonderful thing," Admiral Bonnet said from his seat, "however, I feel I must point out that Captain Kirk is not Sonarian, no matter how his DNA may have been altered. Neither is he resident on Sonara; he is a Starfleet captain and it is to those ideals he must be held."
That brought Jim right back to reality with a thud.
"May I speak please, Admirals?" he asked, since this was his hearing.
"The board recognises Captain Kirk," Pike said before anyone could disagree.
"I am emotionally attached to Mr Spock," he said, because there was no denying it, "however, it will not interfere with my duties. Now that the initial bonding period is over, Mr Spock and myself are quite capable of going about our separate tasks with no ill effects. We have been for the past nine days before this board of inquiry was convened."
"But you have not been in any combat or stressful situations during that time," Admiral Trivala pointed out. "What would happen if Mr Spock were directly threatened in a life or death situation, can you honestly say you would put your ship and crew above him?"
Jim didn't reply, because, honestly, he didn't know.
"The Captain's silence speaks far louder than..." Bonnet started to say.
"Perhaps what we need is a demonstration," Pike said before Bonnet could conclude anything completely damning.
"What are you suggesting, Admiral Pike?" Trivala asked.
"We test our cadets with simulations," Pike replied and Jim couldn't help wondering if the admiral had had this idea up his sleeve the entire time. "We could retest Captain Kirk and Commander Spock and pending the outcome of the test, delay our verdict."
It actually sounded like a workable plan. If Jim was honest, he wanted to know what he would do as well.
"I'm sorry, Admirals," Kris said before the conversation could continue, "any simulation will be flawed."
"Would you care to explain, Attaché Allen?" Admiral Pike asked, sounding disappointed.
"We are dealing with instinctive reactions here, Sir," Kris replied and Jim listened expectantly, since he wanted to know why as well, "if Captain Kirk and Mr Spock are aware the situation is not real they will react to that not the situation as it is simulated. Any results would not be a true reflection of reality. All studies on my world have shown that reactions in real situations and lab experiments are radically different."
That rather shut that door completely and Jim didn't bother protesting, because he had given up doubting anything Kris or Adam had to say about the situation. He could not think of any other options; there seemed to be no way to tell if he was a danger to his ship without there actually being a combat situation. In fact he might never know unless Spock somehow managed to put himself right in the middle of something.
He was pretty sure the board were at least about to suspend him from duty when Spock slowly stood.
"If I may," Spock requested and Pike simply nodded. "Admirals," Spock said, the epitome of logical calm, "I would respectfully like to remind you that Captain Kirk is a formidable captain, his insight is outstanding, his tactical abilities without question and his leadership skills are unorthodox, but effective, however, I am sure you will agree he is also unpredictable, often rash and has a worrying tendency to believe he is immortal."
Jim wasn't sure if Spock was doing such a great job of helping his case with that last part as the admirals nodded.
"I therefore put it to you, sirs, that the current state of affairs does not impair, but enhances the Captain's abilities. The Captain is quite capable of being his usual, impetuous, stubborn self, but is more likely to accept good advice when he is given it."
"But Commander Spock," Admiral Bonnet countered, "we have to consider what would happen if you were compromised. Surely you have to agree there is the possibility that that would compromise Captain Kirk as well and hence the Enterprise?"
"I do not believe so, Admirals," Spock said simply. "I am Vulcan, I believe the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Captain Kirk knows this and would hence act as a captain should no matter the danger to myself. I will reiterate, I believe the captain's current condition, far from being detrimental, is in fact the opposite."
"Thank you, Mr Spock," Admiral Pike said and Spock sat down.
Bones spoke next, going over the medical evidence and the reports on Jim's seizures. His friend did his best to point out that there had been no incidents since Spock and he had commenced a physical relationship, but Jim wasn't sure the message had got through.
It became clear his crew had been questioned, because several reports about their latest mission were read into the record, but, really, it all seemed much of a muchness to Jim. The critical points had already been covered and everything else was so much window-dressing.
"Admirals, if I may be permitted to add one more item," Spock said before the session could be concluded.
"Yes, Mr Spock," Admiral Trivala acknowledged with a nod.
"If you find it impossible to allow both the captain and myself to remain in our current positions, I would request that I be the officer reassigned. There is a position in..."
"Spock, I can't let you do that," Jim said, on his feet instantly.
There was no way he was letting Spock make such a sacrifice for him.
"Captain, it is only logical," Spock replied.
The look that Spock gave him stopped him in his tracks and the loud protest he had been about to make died. It didn't take the feelings with it, but it did make him pause.
"It's not logical to me," he said instead.
"Since the battle for Vulcan, Starfleet has been short of experienced captains," Spock explained in his annoyingly logical tone. "To lose a combat veteran captain in favour of a science officer would be illogical and I would also be unable to remain on the Enterprise if you were to be replaced. We must serve in the same place and for you to remain on the Enterprise should you be relieved of the captaincy would be impossible."
Jim wanted to argue, he really did, but he knew as well as anyone else the chaos the whole Romulan incident had caused.
"Hell, I hate it when you're right," he said and sat down, crossing his arms over his chest in resignation.
"Thank you, Mr Spock," Admiral Pike said in a terse tone, "we will take that under advisement. We will adjourn until tomorrow."
Jim was just pulling on his dress uniform for what he expected to be his last day as a Starfleet captain when red alert sounded. He barely hesitated, merely sending a glance at Nyota where she was coming out of the bathroom, and then he was out of the door and jogging towards the turbo lift. Ignoring the fact that his jacket was hanging open, he set his sights on the bridge and then hit the comm panel.
"Kirk to the Bridge," he said efficiently, "report."
"Station security have found a device attached to Deep Space 5's secondary reactor," Spock's even voice came back all but instantly. "We are awaiting details."
"I'll be there in twenty seconds," he replied and then shut down the connection.
As he walked onto the bridge everyone was at their stations, including Spock who was in his dress uniform just like Jim. His lover had left their quarters early that morning to catch up on some of the work they had missed because of their situation. Now Jim was beginning to wish he had asked Spock to stay in bed for possibly their last morning together as things were.
"The device appears to be Romulan," Spock reported immediately, "and is turning the reactor into an explosive mechanism. It is protected by what appears to be a new style neutrino energy field."
A chill went down Jim's spine.
"They are requesting engineering assistance and evacuation of personnel," Spock finished the report.
Of course they were requesting assistance, neutrino fields were cutting edge and Jim knew of only a few people in Starfleet who knew anything about them. Two of them happened to be on his ship.
"I would like to remind the Captain that I have studied neutrino fields extensively," Spock said.
"Yes, Spock, I know," he snapped back, that was his dilemma.
He was torn. Of course he knew what he should do, it was obvious, but he was loathed to send Spock into such danger. For a moment he was frozen in indecision as his conflicting thoughts fought with each other. He could send Philips, the woman was qualified to do the job, but Spock was far superior with his Vulcan intellect. This was exactly why Starfleet wanted to relieve him of command. In the end all he could focus on was what Spock had said in the hearing; his bondmate did believe in the needs of the many and he knew exactly what Spock would say. He also knew his duty.
"Mr Spock, head the away team, take whomever you deem necessary," he said succinctly. "Mr Scott, I want full power to the transporters, get as many people over here as you can, but be ready to switch to shields if we need it."
"Aye, Captain," came back instantly and Spock was already on the way to the door.
"Just make sure you come back, Spock," he said, unable to help himself as his lover and first officer walked into the turbo lift.
Spock simply nodded once and that was it. Jim shared a glance with Nyota as she slipped into her duty station and then turned back to the situation at hand.
"Mr Checkov, I want immediate updates if anything over there changes," he said and tried to keep his mind on the job rather than the danger Spock was in.
A terrorist attack this far into Federation space was not completely unheard of, but it had to have been a huge risk for whoever had planted the device.
"Mr Sulu, plot us the fastest course out of here in case we need to leave in a hurry," he instructed. "Mr Rogers, find me anything unusual in the system, anything from space junk to an ion trail. If the perpetrators are still anywhere nearby I want to know."
It was a long shot, but at least it gave him something to think about.
"Enterprise to Mr Spock," he said after ten minutes of looking for indications he was pretty sure weren't there.
"Spock here," came the reply.
"Anything to report?" he asked, more than a little relieved to hear Spock's voice.
"We have rendered one field safe, Captain," Spock told him, "and we are about to proceed into the reactor room."
"Be careful," he said, knowing he was just being a distraction now.
"Of course, Captain, Spock out."
As he looked down he realised his fingers were going white on the arm rest of his chair and he made a conscious effort to release them. If he was ever going to retain his captaincy he had to handle this situation perfectly, but right about then all he really wanted was Spock back beside him.
"Breathe," a gentle voice said from beside him and he twisted to find that Adam was standing just to his left.
He had noted when the two Sonarians walked onto his bridge, but he hadn't realised Adam was so close.
"I'm trying," he said with a tight smile.
Before Adam could give him any sage advice, the comm. system suddenly screamed and the lights dimmed, before coming back up to full brilliance.
"Report," he said, focusing completely back on the job at hand.
"That was," Checkov began to report and then stumbled over his words, "that was a neutrino explosion, Captain, Sir."
Jim did his best to not panic and hit the communicator button on the arm of his chair.
"Enterprise to Mr Spock," he said, hoping that he sounded steadier than he felt.
There was no response.
"Enterprise to Mr Spock," he repeated.
"Enterprise to Mr Spock," he tried a third time.
"Enterprise, oh god, Enterprise, this is Ensign Avari," a crackling answer finally came back. "There was ... there was a booby trap. Mr Spock walked right into it. There's ... I don't know ... there's nothing left."
Jim felt like his heart was being ripped from his chest; he literally felt physical pain as he tried to process what he had just heard. The only way he managed to even make his mind react was to focus on the practical.
"And the bomb, Ensign?" he asked, voice distant in his ears.
"Still active, Sir," the young man's voice came back, stronger now as if reacting to his authority.
It was a nightmare, but he had to do his job.
"Philips," he just about managed to force through his lips, "report to transporter room 1. Medical, get a team down there now."
Spock was gone; he just couldn't deal with it. His mind shrieked in agony and he had to claw on to what was left of his sanity. There were other lives at stake; he could not abandon them.
"Mr Scott, report, how many people have we evacuated?" All he could do was focus on what he needed to do. He could crumple later.
"Two hundred and fifty nine so far, Captain," came the efficient response. "The interference is increasing, we're not going to be able to transport many more."
"Get as many as you can," he replied, ignoring the fact that his vision was trying to tunnel down as he struggled.
"Aye, Sir," Scott came back.
"Mr Checkov, do your best to counter the interference, you should be able to use the sensor array," he said, forcing his mind to operate on a purely logical level.
Spock would have been proud.
"Yes, Sir," Checkov replied.
'Dead', his mind screamed the word at him even as he refused to acknowledge it. He could feel Adam hovering very close to him, but he prayed the other man would not touch or speak to him, because he was pretty sure that would break him. If he held the thought away and concentrated on his duty he might be able to get his crew and a large percentage of the station personnel to safety, if he didn't he knew he was finished.
He began to throw orders out left and right; anything to get the Enterprise through the crisis and his mind away from the reality trying to crush him.
"Philips to Enterprise," a message finally came through from the Ensign, but it was breaking up.
"Go ahead, Ensign," he replied, voice so calm it was probably terrifying his crew.
"Mr Spock had neutralised most of the defences, Sir," Phillips reported over the crackling connection, "we should be able to disarm the device in a few minutes. All ships will have to evacuate the area when we do."
"Understood, Ensign," he said; "let us know when you are ready. Until then we will continue the evacuation."
"Yes, Sir, Philips out."
It was almost over and that kind of terrified Jim. Once the danger to his ship and his people was gone he had no idea what he would do. Standing, he waited for Philips to give them the go, but it never came.
The alarms all stopped at once and Jim was left standing there wondering what the hell was going on.
"Checkov, report," he demanded.
The vid screen went from a picture of the station to Admiral Pike and Jim's mind refused to catch up.
"This simulation is over," Pike said and Jim felt his thoughts trying to stall.
"Simulation?" he asked as his mind spiralled.
"After Mr Allen's report yesterday we realised we could not test your situation with your knowledge, Captain," Pike said, smiling at him in a pleased manner, "so we set up this simulation over night. Congratulations, on the results we have seen this enquiry is concluded and you have been cleared for duty. Keep up the good work."
"Yes, Admiral," he replied, more out of habit than anything else.
It was a simulation, a game. No one was dead. Spock was alive.
The screen switched back to the view of the station and Jim heard himself give a slightly hysterical laugh. The clamp on his heart released and it was all a bit too much. Totally unable to do anything about it, he simply passed out.
Adam didn't remotely try to get in Kris' way as his partner stormed to the nearest communications station. They had just come from sickbay where Jim was still unconscious and Kris was furious. Adam didn't blame him either, he was pretty angry himself.
"Admiral Pike," Kris said after punching buttons.
It took a little while, but then Pike popped onto the screen.
"Attaché Allen," Pike said politely, "what can I do for you?"
"What the hell did you think you were doing?" Kris didn't bother to regulate his volume or tone and Adam was impressed by the look that caused on Pike's face.
Usually Kris was polite, happy and laid back, but Adam was well aware his lover had his moments.
"I would appreciate it if you would calm yourself, Mr Allen," Pike said, face hardening. "This was an internal Starfleet matter and was handled as such."
"And you didn't think to check before you did something so incredibly stupid?" Kris demanded.
"We were acting on your recommendations," Pike pointed out, clearly holding onto his anger.
"I made no such recommendation," Kris said, glaring.
Adam had seen more powerful men than Pike cave under that stare before.
"Your report indicated that a simulation ..."
"I know what I said," Kris all but yelled back. "That does not mean I condone this idiotic course of action."
"This was a necessary test of Captain Kirk and ..."
"You could have killed him."
That shut up Pike and Adam mentally scored a point for Kris.
"What?" the Admiral asked and to his credit, the man looked shocked.
"You made Jim think Spock was dead," Kris said, finally regulating his tone. "Their bond is new and Jim has already been through more stress than any being should in such a short time. The shock could have killed him."
For a moment Pike looked stricken.
"We had no idea," Pike admitted. "I must speak with Jim."
"He's in sickbay," Adam stepped in as Kris calmed himself down, "unconscious. He collapsed after your message. He's recovering now that Spock has returned to the ship, but Dr McCoy has sedated him to make sure he rests."
"Jim collapsed?" Pike's tone changed at that information.
"The moment his duty was done, Admiral," Kris said, voice hardening again. "Do not make the mistake of seeing this as a weakness. You cannot conceive of the strength it took for Jim to keep going when you simulated Spock's death."
Kris didn't give Pike a chance to respond and just cut the connection, at which point Adam reached for his bondmate. Kris sagged into his arms and he held on.
"Can you imagine..?" Kris asked, voice soft and distressed.
"No," Adam replied before Kris could go on, "I don't want to. They don't understand, they never will be able to, now we just have to worry about Jim, Spock and Nyota."
Kris nodded, turning and face planting right into his chest. It was a request for comfort and Adam just gave all he could. What Starfleet had done to Jim was a crime as heinous as attempted murder on their home planet; it was beyond his comprehension.
The fact that Jim had a three minute apology from Pike on his personal messaging log and a request to talk to him privately didn't change the fact he was still reeling from the simulation. It didn't escape him that the Enterprise was being given special access to the Starbase's facilities either as all of his crew were extended shore leave. Pike clearly realised Starfleet had screwed up royally, but Jim was just glad he had a few days to get over the incident before they were being sent off to god knew where.
Since Bones had released him from sickbay, he had returned to his quarters with Spock and had buried himself in reports. Bones had banned him from the bridge until at least the next day, but he could still find something else to focus on. Spock had taken to sitting quietly in the corner doing something similar.
"Jim," Spock's voice finally caught his attention, at which point he realised he had been staring at the wall.
Spock was standing right next to him and he hadn't even noticed.
"You do not look well."
"I'm fine," he said, but there was a catch in his voice.
"I feel I must point out, you are not fine."
It was said so logically, but Spock placed a hand on his arm at the same time and that was not so logical at all. Jim felt his breathing shudder as he was once again reminded of what he had thought he had lost.
"I am perfectly all right," he tried to say, but this time his voice broke completely and he had trouble blinking back the wetness in his eyes.
He did not cry; he hadn't cried since he was a child and he was not about to start now. Only, the problem was, he didn't seem to be able to stop. The sob that was wrenched from his chest would not die and all his carefully constructed mental strength crumbled. He had faced death on more than one occasion, but what he had felt when facing Spock's had torn him apart. All he could do was sob his pain into his hands.
If Spock had been human Jim probably would have found himself enveloped in a hug, but Spock was not human and instead knelt down next to his chair. What Jim wanted to do was hide his shame at his tears, but his mate would not let him. Spock placed fingers under his chin and lifted his face so that he had to look into the Vulcan's eyes.
"I am alive," Spock told him in a very straightforward tone. "I would never have been deceived by such a primitive trap as was presented in the simulation. There is only a one in one hundred probability that we will encounter any entity or situation that will cause either of us to die before the other."
Jim hiccupped as that fired the logical centres of his brain.
"That can't be right," he said, or at least managed enough of a facsimile of what he wanted to say for Spock to understand.
"I did not include any entity or situation which might cause us to die together," Spock said without so much as batting an eye.
Jim laughed. It wasn't controlled, was definitely still on the hysterical side of any reaction he could have given and he was still crying, but it was a laugh. No sentiment or human comfort could have cut through what he was feeling, but Spock had seemed to know exactly what to say. The pain was still right there, but, at least for a moment Jim had a little distance to it.
"Die together?" he said as he tried to catch his breath.
"That would be the only logical course of action," Spock replied and very carefully placed his fingers on the side of Jim's face. "If I may," he said, "I believe this may help."
"Yes," Jim said, voice still unsteady.
"My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thought," Spock said and then they were flowing into each other without form or boundaries and it was exactly what Jim needed.
It was intimate and binding and Jim let his being be wrapped in the comfort and warmth of proof that his bondmate had not been taken from him, but was right there in mind and body. He could not say it was enough, he wasn't sure when his battered psyche would settle, but it was enough for then.
The Enterprise had a new mission; a diplomat needed dropping off at one of the outer colonies and then the crew were back into unknown territory. Adam was enjoying exploring the way the ship ran and all its systems and he had been talking to security hoping he might be useful.
As it was, the ship had one evening of shore leave left and he and Kris had volunteered to help give the Enterprise a good send off. They were staging a concert on the starbase with several musicians from the Enterprise and Adam was looking forward to it like nothing else. The one thing he really missed was the music of Sonara.
Kris nudged him as he was checking the settings for one of the instruments and nodded towards the right side.
Adam looked over and was just in time to see Jim reach out, grab Nyota and pull her into his lap. She said something, slapped him and he almost fell of the seat laughing. It made Adam smile.
He hadn't seen Jim laugh or even smile much since Starfleet had almost destroyed him and seeing the other man joking about was the best result he could have hoped for. There were still dark patches under Jim's eyes and Adam could tell his friend was keeping an eye on where Spock was, but it was clear things were improving.
"Their bond is settling again," Kris whispered to him quietly.
"Humans are resilient," Adam replied, "Vulcans too."
"They are better matched than I ever could have imagined," Kris agreed.
Spock looked up at them and shared a look, at which point Adam realised the sharp eared Vulcan had to have been able to hear them. He smiled and nodded at Spock in acknowledgement and then turned back to Kris.
It didn't take long to finish the set up as the other musicians took their places, then the lights went down. Adam moved to the centre of the stage with Kris just behind him and to the side before taking a deep breath. Kris played a single note and Adam opened his mouth and hit one over an octave higher in a perfect harmony. The crowd cheered and the concert was underway.
There was nothing that Adam loved more than music, nothing that could make his heart and soul soar in quite the same way. As he looked around at the faces, some he knew, some he didn't, he was glad he could bring this joy to others. He had never really expected to leave Sonara, his people weren't exactly explorers, but he did not regret that he had.
Jim, Spock and Nyota would need help and their friends and colleagues would need to continue to adjust, but the worst was behind. What lay ahead was simply adventure.