The survey of the planet Nibiru was conclusive. And James Kirk knew that something had to be done. Sending Spock down into the volcano was not his first choice. His lover was the only one capable of detonating the device, however, and the only one completely willing. The natives were in desperate need of evacuation as well. Spock's argument that the captain of the vessel (and he left out T'hy'la, although that was spoken silently) should not risk himself for the indigenous lifeforms. Jim had other ideas, though.

Sneaking in had been easy. Getting out, on the other hand, especially with the scroll he stole, was another matter entirely. His nerves were frayed and his body tense as he ran through the forest of red and while, trees blurring by. His phaser was in hand, and when something large reared up in front of him, Jim didn't hesitate to shoot.

"Dammit man, that was our ride!" came Bones' dulcet tones. "You just stunned our ride!"

The realization dawned slowly on Jim and he could only cringe. "Ah great." His reflection didn't last long as the sound of pursuit came from behind him. Blue eyes traveled to where the doctor stood and Jim gave a grimace. "Run."

Together they were practically flying through the vegetation. Jim found himself leaping over low branches and bushes, trying to gain some form of lead on those following him. Bones' comments broke into his concentration after only a few metres.

"What the hell did you take?"

A deep breath and Kirk was answering. "I have no idea, but they were bowing to it!" He kept running, activating his comm device that was shoved into his pocket. "Kirk to shuttle one! Locals are out of the kill zone!" He was forced to take another deep breath before he could continue. "You're clear! Repeat, Spock, get in there and neutralize the volcano and let's get out of here."

The response rang in his ear as Spock asked the all important question. "Captain, did the indigenous life forms see you?"

"No, Mister Spock, they did not," Jim answered, using a more formal title since Spock was captaining him at the moment. Which meant he had to respect official channels of communication.

"The prime directive clearly states there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilization."

Even over the comm unit Jim couldn't help but take a moment to appreciate Spock's cool and calm assessment of the situation. Or his recitation of regulations for his often forgetful and rule breaking captain. "I know what it says," Jim answered quickly, trying to focus on where his feet were landing. "Which is why I'm running through the jungle wearing a disguise. Now drop off your super ice cube and let's go. Kirk out."

With that said, Jim dropped his communications, his entire attention on not tripping and being captured. The moment the first spear went flying by, he ducked and Bones yelled.

"They're trying to kill us! They're trying to kill us Jim!"

He bit his tongue to keep from responding with the obvious. Bones wasn't a fan of running for his life. Not that Jim was either. The natives were shouting behind them and Jim almost turned to look but kept his focus on his footing. It wouldn't do to break an ankle out here while they were being chased.

"Captain," came Sulu's voice over the comm. "I'm ditching the shuttle. You'll have to make it to the Enterprise on your own."

Jim answered with a simple "Understood."

He couldn't think about his crew as his own life was in danger. Bones was running next to him again as they passed a particularly thick section of trees. The doctor gestured towards the direction they came from.

"Jim! The beach is that way."

A little smile formed on Jim's face as he glanced sideways at Bones. "We're not going to the beach."

Jim let out a tiny laugh as he slowed just enough to hang the scroll from a tree. He heard it unroll behind him as they ran. He didn't miss the moment realization dawned on his companion's face. "Oh no nono! I hate this!"

"I know you do." The cliff was coming up fast, and Jim put on an extra burst of speed. He knew they had to clear the rocks at the bottom. Bones knew as well and he redoubled his efforts to keep up. Just as the cliff came up, Jim planted his foot at the edge and leapt.

The ocean water was cold, the shock causing Jim to lose his breath. A quick movement had the rebreather pressed to his lips and he shed the disguise, leaving the brown cloth floating in the ocean as he dove down towards his ship. This contingency plan had been Spock's and not for the first time Jim was glad that his lover was much more intelligent than he was. Otherwise they would be left floating in the ocean hoping that Chekov would be able to pick them up.

Swimming to the ship was difficult enough and Jim slid through the opening to the airlock, feeling heavy as gravity took over and the water was replaced with fresh flowing air. The rebreather was spat out as the door opened to reveal his chief engineer, who was looking particularly disturbed.

"Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is to hide a starship on the bottom of the ocean? We've been down here since last night! The salt water's going to ruin the-"

Scotty's diversion tactic didn't go unnoticed. Jim was quick to cut him off. "Scotty, where's Spock?"

If the Vulcan was there, he would have been the first to greet him. It was obvious, at least to Jim, that something was wrong and Scotty's face told him before his words did that it was serious.

"Still in the volcano, sir."

There was no immediate reaction from Jim. He stood there for a split second before taking off down the hall. The towel held out to him by a crew member went ignored, as did the offer of a warm robe. His one goal was to get to the bridge and contact Spock. That Bones was right behind him was missed as well.

The lift ride seemed to take forever, precious seconds lost that Spock could be in danger. Jim tried his best to open up the link they had when Spock bonded them together, but at this distance, his limited senses couldn't pick up anything definite. He was impatient and his legs carried him quickly to the bridge.

"Captain on ze bridge," came Chekov's unnecessary proclamation since everyone was engaged in some form of activity. Jim bypassed him right to Uhura's station. She was still dripping a bit but had an earpiece in already.

"Lieutenant, do you have an open channel to Mister Spock?"

He didn't like the face she pulled at the question. "The heat's frying his comms but we still have contact."

That was all Jim needed to straighten. He knew that Uhura would automatically patch Spock's comm to the main unit on the bridge. "Spock?" Jim asked hopefully, standing next to his chair as he waited for a reply. A reply that came almost instantly.

"I have activated the device, captain." Jim let out a breath. "When the countdown is complete the reaction should render the volcano inert."

Jim would have relaxed if not for the doctor's words. "Yeah, but that's going to render him inert."

He felt his heart stopping. Looking towards his resident beaming expert, Jim tried to remain impassive, just as Spock would have in this situation. "Can we at least use the transporters."

"Negative, sir," Sulu answered from behind at the same time Chekov answered as well.

"Not vith zese magnetic fields."

That wasn't the answer Jim wanted and he made it clear to both men. "I need to beam Spock back to the ship!" he said, losing his patience. Every one of them understood their captain's insistence even if there was nothing to be done. "Give me one way to do it."

Young Chekov was the first to answer. "Maybe if ve had a direct line of sight-"

"Hang on wee man," Scotty interrupted. "You're talking about an active volcano!" The engineer looked at Jim, shaking his head. "Sir, if that thing erupts, I canna guarentee we can withstand the heat."

"I don't know whether we could maintain that kind of altitude," Sulu added.

Whether Spock knew what Jim was already planning or sensed what Jim was thinking, his response nearly broke Jim's facade. "Our shuttle was concealed by the ash cloud but the Enterprise is too large. If you utilize a rescue effort you will be revealed to the indigenous species."

Even with Spock's proclamation, Jim was undeterred. "Spock, nobody knows the rules better than you, but there has got to be an exception."

"None," Spock replied, his voice bouncing around the bridge. "Such action violates the prime directive."

Jim's heart was splintering. Even Bones, who disapproved of the relationship, noticed and stepped forward. "Shut up Spock. We're trying to save you dammit."

"Doctor, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

That finally fractured Jim's cool face. He couldn't lose his bondmate. "Spock, we're talking about your life!"

Crackling to life one last time, Spock's response made Jim blink with disbelief. "The rule cannot be broken under any circumstances." His comm died just as he finished the sentence.

"Spock?!" Jim cried, knowing that he was already lost. He turned to Uhura, determination in his eyes. "Try to get him back online!"

"Ninety seconds to detonation," Chekov voiced, breaking through Jim's single mindedness. The captain blinked and moved next to the doctor, letting his voice drop so only Bones would hear his question.

"If Spock were here and I were there..." He looked over at his friend. "What would he do?"

Whether Leonard was attempting to distract him or prove a point, his response sat heavily on Jim's mind. "He'd let you die."

The instant denial brought Jim's next words up faster than he even knew. "Sulu, bring us up. We need to get in sight of Spock."

"Seventy seconds to detonation, sir," Chekov said, glancing at Jim to make certain the captain understood.

"Get us there, Sulu!" Jim looked at the comm unit sitting on his chair a moment before punching it. "Transporter, get ready to receive Commander Spock." He didn't even wait for an affirmative before taking off down the hall towards the transporter room, Bones hot on his heels, a fact that Jim was immensely grateful for. They both knew that there was a good chance that Spock would need medical attention. Spock would have given them the exact numbers were he there. That sent a pang through Jim again until he caught the flare of the bonding and he sped up until he was rounding into the transporter room.

"Spock! You alright?"

There was smoke rolling off Spock's suit and he looked at Jim with confusion in his eyes. " let them see our ship."

Jim wanted to laugh, but held it in. Bones' comment made up for his silence. "Oh he's fine." The doctor shook his head, rolling his eyes. Jim wanted to check on Spock himself but the comm unit on the transporter went off.

"Bridge to Captain Kirk."

Jim nodded at the engineer sitting at the control unit to patch them through to Uhura. "Yes Lieutenant?"

"Is Commander Spock on board sir?

The relief was audible in Jim's voice as he looked at his lover once more. "Safely and soundly."

"Please notify him that his device has successfully detonated."

Even in the craziness of saving him, Spock managed to do what Jim didn't think altogether possible. He smiled at the Vulcan and nodded. "You hear that? Congratulations, Spock. You just saved a world."

He expected words of denial. Words of love. Anything other than what he heard. "You violated the prime directive."

Jim didn't know what to say in response. His heart fluttered slightly behind his ribs as he looked at his bondmate. "Ah, come on Spock, they saw us. Big deal."

Spock's nonanswer worried Jim as the Vulcan stepped off the platform, finally able to shed his helmet without risking burns. It was clear to Jim that this wasn't going to be dropped, and the human worried about Spock's willingness to sacrifice himself. The severed bond, as he was informed, would cause him immeasurable pain. The thought crossed his mind that Spock was willing to do so because he no longer wanted the pain of a human bondmate. Jim watched as Spock left the transporter room, his heart breaking a little with each step the Vulcan took.