The sky spit down at the city, layering everything in sight with a fine coat of drizzle. The hidden shining sun turned the omnipresent clouds white, as if the sky had been bled of color. Hundreds of people scurried along sidewalks and monorail stations, subway platforms and asphalt roads, some in the drab grey uniform of Starfleet and others in scrubs, a few in suits befitting lawyers, bedecked with briefcases and Starbucks cups. Jim's fingers absently trace the Starfleet insignia on his black shirt as he shrugs his jacket tighter around him, charting a route among this white-collar crowd. He wonders, the thought numb with shame, how many Federation regulations he's so far in the past week. The number probably couldn't intimidate his standing record- two-hundred and seven- but the pressure of his guilt wasn't in the least bit less heavy.
London was as tall as it was wide, a sprawling, living mass made out of steel and glass panes. Skyscrapers eclipsed the sun, low-flying shuttled darting about like engorged birds of prey overhead. Transport cars ran along thin monorail lines that laced the sky. And somewhere in this thriving pool of people- Human, Vulcan, Orion, Deltan, Xannon, Andorian, K'Normian...
The intrinsically unique, induplicable, genetically superior Khan. The Khan who hadn't killed him yet. The Khan who looked at him like prey, but also like Tellar Prime's second moon. Fascinated but imperious.
Bookshops and cafes opened their doors, turning on their lights. Neon 'open' signs flickered to life, a hint of color in this drab, monochromatic Tetris-like world. People filed into the subway station, down a flight of stairs into the subterranean transport that opened up on the sidewalk like a cavernous dark mouth. Jim Kirk carried a duffel, and a bit of blind hope. Street signs directed him on where to go, and stoplights told him how fast, and all the while he was just another figure in the background, like the guard in Aida, just another component to this massive machine. It was an odd feeling, unsettling, he thought. Jim was used to being a fixed point, a crucial part of Starfleet, the flagship's captain, the person who made calls that could save or end hundreds of people's lives on a daily basis.
So this is how he does it, Jim realizes. Khan instills terror from behind the scenes, wielding his pretty words better than any phaser, targeting the people who were just part of the backdrop, a piece of the scenery, run-of-the-mill, untouched by greatness.
The London Eye loomed a few miles off, herded in by the waterfront to its left. Apartment complexes helixed upward, as if trying to uproot their foundations and take off into the sky.
Kirk started, every cell within him telling him not to turn around and look that voice in the eye. He held completely still, even though he was in the middle of the sidewalk, parked in front of one of the said towering complexes to his right, its shadow thrown over him in the early morning light.
Rush-hour commuters streamed down the sidewalks to the shuttle stations. Every single one of them hadn't yet reached their destination, wouldn't until late morning, still had their destinations in mind. But Jim was suddenly at his destination, and slowly turned to meet him.
Khan's eyes found the duffel with lightning speed, and locked onto it like a starship's photon cannon targeting system. They then slowly trickled back up to Kirk's face, which he's trying to keep an unreadable mask. He was almost successful, too, in his mimicry of Spock, but Jim was not so much an open book as an audio narration of one; all you had to do was look and his emotions would tell themselves to you in plain English.
People pushed passed them and their utterly silent exchange, but seemed to part around Khan in a way that they didn't around Jim. Like Earth's magnetic field deflects solar radiation, it seemed as though an invisible hand was gently guiding foreign bodies away from his form, giving him a halo of empty space in which he stood alone, in the same black Starfleet uniform Jim had met him in eight years ago. The sight of the chevron-like sigil of Jim's home pinned to Khan's chest unfurled an icy anger within him, one that would like nothing better than to reach out and take the damn thing away. He didn't deserve to wear anything that affiliated him with Starfleet, the same establishment that he'd tried to tear down brick by interstellar brick.
"Khan." Jim returns smoothly, adjusting the bag slung around his shoulder, its strap pressing reassuringly against his clavicle.
The augment cocks his head as an inquisitive puppy might, mulling something over in his mind, but there was nothing so innocent in his expression.
"How interesting," he finally says, as if Jim's actions had spoken volumes, "You are so committed to self-preservation that it transcends your ridiculous sense of honor. I would've thought your pride to be indominable, but I have been wrong about you before. Shall we go inside?"
Khan gestures to the looming tower they stand in the titanic shadow of; a construct of flawless, glittering silver, as if it had been made of liquid mercury, windows in rose-gold frames, the steps rising from the sidewalk to the entrance cobbled marble. Jim's eyebrows go up at once.
'221 Baker street', the plaque next to the door says when they get close enough to see it clearly. This was where Khan had set up their rendezvous, then, Jim remembers seeing the address on his pager the night before, but why this place he had no idea. This was probably the most conspicuous place imaginable. Kirk frowns when Khan holds the door open for him. None of this felt right, like a jigsaw that was missing its edge pieces. His nerves began to pique.
"Probably not the least noticeable place you could've chosen." Kirk mutters as they cross the spacious first floor- little more than a reception area decorated with plush loveseats arranged around a hovertable and a desk against the back wall manned by a uniformed Andorian. A few suit-and-tie Deltans ticked away on their laptops around the hovertable, oblivious to the unlikely duo's entrance. In fact, no one payed them a spare glance at all, as though they were shadows against this elegant backdrop. They slipped into an elevator at the far side of the reception floor without being acknowledged by any of the building's occupants. Khan was utterly relaxed through this whole exchange, like it was an everyday occurrence he had long since learned to accept. Kirk, on the other hand, became increasingly anxious about the odd transaction.
Khan finally cocks an eyebrow in his direction.
"I expected more curiosity out of you."
"Yeah, well, you expect a lot of things out of me, but not all of them pan out," Kirk replies cryptically, with more than just a dash of snark in his tone, annoyed by his lax (though still flawless) posture and abject inability to grasp how dangerous their circumstance was. Without that BMT chip regulating his doubtlessly psychotic genius, the contents of Jim's bag could be a nuke in the making. But Kirk wasn't sure if he was willing to put Khan's comparable docility completely to the neurotherapeutic device.
"But I guess I'll give; where exactly are we?"
Khan smiles, a tiny and pitiful excuse of one, but genuine nonetheless.
"Oh, how oblivious you are, Kirk. It's fascinating how your intellect limits even rudimentary observations."
"Don't say that," Jim snaps abruptly, eyes fixed o the flickering display of the elevator's singular screen, numbers of the floors churning by, "'Fascinating'. Don't."
Khan's gaze could melt tungsten, Jim is sure of it, his wryness clearer than plexiglass and twice as strong.
"We're in my apartment building," the augment at last relents, "approved of and monitored by the Federation. My own personal prison, given it's infinitely more comfortable than my previous experiences." Khan makes a lazy gesture toward the gold-plated guardrail framing the inside of the elevator.
Jim's nerves go to Warp Factor 9, a strangling rush of anxiety and fear overcoming him.
"No, not happening," Kirk declares, thumbing a button on the panel. The elevator glides to a comfortable stop. Khan regards him with detached interest, as if he was reading a book that had suddenly taken a turn for the unexpected.
"Like I trust a tiny metal disc to stop you from snapping my neck and tearing me in half."
Khan frowns, "That seems redundant."
Jim levels a tried-and-true-I'm-a-Federation-flagship-captain glare at him. The augment relents.
"I have no intent to kill you, as I believe we've established. Nor do I possess the capacity. This 'tiny metal disc' is potent enough to render any violent ideas I have null. As I've told you." His tone suggests an adult chastising a child. He nods to Jim's bag, which he's holding the strap of with a white-knuckled death grip.
"Your paranoia is prudent, but there is no secret motive of mine that you have to uncover. There is no grand scheme, no double meaning to what I tell you. My only concern now is finding an impossible cure."
"But why?" Jim insists. The elevator is small, and Khan is standing closer to Jim than he would have preferred, his preference being at least ten feet. His shoulders burn in that familiar way he's come to resent, the skin of his biceps, the lengths of his forearms, his very veins calling out, longing for Khan's ambrosiac blood. It was a deep-seeded, terrifying hunger.
The elevator's frosted glass mirrored walls reflect their distorted figures back at them, taut and still, one regal and beautiful and the other trying to pry away knowledge that did not want to be spoken. Khan smirks at him pityingly. His reflections copy the movement, poor mimicries of the original Khan.
"Every lie you pass as a truth, every request you ask of me to save your life, these things are integral to your nature. You would sooner become the monster you once looked at with hatred than die the hero of your story. You and I are more alike than you yet realize, and that's why I will save your life. So that you can live with the guilt of your lies, and realize that a villain is a victim who chose simply to live."
Jim is on him faster than words can express, moving with a speed born of untempered hatred, like glowing white-hot steel from the forge. He braces his arm against Khan's neck, pressing against his windpipe, the sound of the augment's body hitting the wall behind him a metallic crunch and the quiet sound of glass cracking. Khan's eyes are bright with anger, but he makes no move to fight back; he doesn't have to. Jim's expression is penance enough.
"I died, eight years ago, to save my damn crew from you. Don't tell me I wouldn't die the hero. I already have."
Khan has the mettle to smile at Kirk's disgust, his astonishment at his own ballistic strength.
"But now you won't, and it has made you stronger." Khan finishes for him, still trapped between the fissured glass and Jim's stoic form.
Kirk eyes the fuzzy reflection of himself in the broken mirror behind Khan's shoulder. There was fear there, and rage.
"I am not like you." Jim breathes, vehement, as if uttering a prayer. His blood burns for Khan's in this maddening proximity, intensifying its insatiable need.
"It isn't just my blood you crave anymore, is it?" Khan murmurs back, eyes dripping all over Kirk's face, noticing with triumph the shift in his expression from shock to abject, shattered denial. Jim glowers, moving away. Khan matches his motions down to the centimeter, keeping his eyes level. They burn, white-hot, like Jim's blood.
"I'm not like you," Jim repeats hollowly, shaking with fear and fury, "you made me into this. Into a mon-"
However quick Jim had moved, Khan's speed is at least doubled, his power tripled, his body a hurricane and his execution masterful. Every atom of oxygen flees Jim's body as he's turned around, slammed with zealous intent into the indentation he's just made, only partly catching the black lustful glitter of Khan's pale eyes before everything becomes heat and pressure and a throbbing, starving ache somewhere inside him.
He breathes Khan in because it is the only air he has, and because it is beautiful, addicting, like his blood. A hand is at his hip, painful as it flattens him against the wall, another at his throat, cold, long fingers curled at the junction of his jaw and his windpipe, tilting his head up and Jesus Christthe pain is pure bliss, the crushing force of Khan's lips on his own, the sensation of drowning in his presence, body craving him. Khan keeps him still, and while Kirk's mind demands he tear away, to move, to get as far as possible from this one elevator in this one building in this one city, the rest of him is thoroughly deaf to it. His lips are like glass, caressing even as they bruise him, and Jim can feel his own fingers begin to curl around the thin fabric of Khan's shirt. Kissing him was almost as euphoric as a vial of his blood. It's only as Jim presses back against Khan's domineering hold, their bodies slotting together, tight in anger and tension, that Khan breaks. He steps away, eyes opening languidly, still dark and sparkling, utter and all-consuming desire written in bold ink across his figure.
Air rushes to meet Jim, finally, and he's gasping, not knowing how long he's been without it and not really caring.
"Fuck." He grounds out, hating how wrecked his voice has become, just like the rest of him. He slams a fist against the elevator's control panel trying to breathe while not looking at Khan. If he looks he knows all the air he's recollecting will be knocked out of him again. The elevator glides to the next level and opens to an empty hallway. Kirk shrugs out of the duffel bag and crosses the threshold, away from the ruined lift, trying to remember how to move. He faces away from Khan until the doors close behind him, then curls his fingers through his hair until his head begins to hurt again. His lips are numb and heavy and every part of him wants to crawl into the deepest void imaginable to wait out this revolting feeling, but he makes himself stand still until his lungs remember how to do their jobs. He crosses his arms to suppress the pain in his marrow, a pain so sated by being close to Khan. Being dangerously, passionately close to him.
"fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck..." Jim breathes to work the bruised numbness out of his lips put there by Khan, to get out the tainted air of his breath.
He doesn't remember it ever feeling like this, the after part. Angry kissing was not a stranger to him, male, female, or asexual, but he'd never reacted so viscerally to another person's desire, albeit a conflicted reaction. Jim tips his head back, alone in this anonymous hallway, and tells himself that maybe Khan is right.
Maybe he was actually becoming a monster.
Kirk fights it reverently, drowning in the next glass of liquor he pours for himself- or, almost drowning. His hairline is dewed with fine beads of sweat, the air around him feeling too close, too hot, too real. He downs the whiskey in a single shot, feeling the alcohol spread across his body, warm and slightly bitter, and rests his head on his arms, crossed on the table he sits at.
He'd cranked the A/C up to about negative eight degrees, even though it was mid-November, to drain out this fever under his skin, but so far the only thing that was taking the edge off was copious amounts of liquor, 80-proof bottles of liquified arsenic. He was just drunk enough to be certain of a hangover in the morning- night had already lulled the rest of the city into a stupor- and the anguish of his... his craving to be somewhat tamed.
Jim exhaled, the whisper of his breath amplified in his ears, long and slow until his chest began to ache, a lover without its love.
This was his fourth glass, his vision already careening and banking whenever he tried to focus on something. His blood yearned regardless, for something it couldn't, it shouldn't, have. Jim felt the same manic fear he had eight years ago, after that first visit to McCoy, when the burning had first began its genesis, but there was no sign he'd been anything but healthy. The addiction transcended viscera and bone.
He couldn't get it out of his head, a closed-circuit memory, still as vivid as the moment as it happened. Khan's hands, his lips, God, his body, against Jim's, his natural coldness white-hot where their skin met, but the worst part had been the pressure. Such animalistic desire to move impossibly closer, to simply melt into his body, and finally, mercifully, be released of the pain.
Jim scowled, wolfing down another tall glass of amber whiskey. The taste was sharp against his tongue, almost like... almost like...
"Stop it." Kirk snarls at himself, measuring ever-more liquor into his cup. He'd drink himself stupid, he swore, if that's what it took. Drink until everything vanished and he fell into the partial oblivion of sleep.
The apartment echoed with the echo of sound of a knock at his door, like a distant gunshot.
It was a really bad idea, Jim decided, to get up, as he got up. Standing was more like trying to fight gravity for temporary control of his body. He swore obscenely, using the walls as braces and vaults to push himself off of. His arms still hurt, raw and blushing red from where he'd scratched at them, succumbing to the itch. Absently, he prayed to anyone listening that it wasn't a Federation officer standing outside his door.
Jim wrenched the door open, then stumbled back, hit with a sudden rolling wave of want.
Khan stepped into the room before Jim could recover, moving in tight, strained motions, shutting the door behind him. He frowns, studying theEnterprise's captain as one would a particularly difficult sudoku puzzle.
"You're drunk." He remarks.
"Very," Agrees Kirk, a little wobbly, as he tries to appear at least remotely imposing in front of this war criminal, "Which is why you need to leave. Now."
Khan remains steady, silent, utterly poised as he analyzes Jim with his cryptic blue eyes. His hands, at his sides, curl ever so slightly. Then, with speed unparalleled that only Khan could possess or utilize so artfully, he seizes one of Jim's wrists, flipping it over to reveal the pink blush of his forearm, the thin white indentations running along the skin like ghost cuts. Khan says nothing for a long time, but his skin on Jim's is enough to make the captain's very being howl, thirsty.
"Side-effects." Khan finally murmurs, as though to himself, and releases Jim. His gaze moves back to arrest itself on Kirk's, the palest of blues and yet so dark, almost virulent in its intensity.
"Why did you come here? And how did you get past the front door?" Jim asks, and it's stupid of him to do so, because Khan would never have told him, even sober. The door to the apartment complex was locked, and tenants could only get in by key or by buzzing someone up. Khan, brilliant as he was, was also talented at comically simple electric reruns. All he had to do was electrically stimulated one little circuit to give the door the impression that he'd been buzzed in.
Khan ignores Jim's concerns.
"It's been getting worse, hasn't it?' He says instead, the words low in his chest, a divine baritone that you could drown in. Jim eyes him, silent, but his jaw ripples, his own body betraying him. Khan took a step forward, his liquid grace traveling across every muscle. He exudes power like radiation, but it is a gentle, caressing power full of promise. A persuasive silver-tongued power.
"No. We're not doing this." Jim growls, scrabbling at the dregs of his sobriety, trying to piece them back together, but it was as hopeless as trying to catch smoke with your bare hands. Khan lifts an elegant eyebrow.
"I won't hurt you. It was never my plan."
Jim moves back again, but runs out of space and ends up flush against the wall behind him. Khan's calm was hypnotic. Almost paralytic. His blood cries out, anguished, for this augmented distortion of a man.
"Then what is you plan?" Jim tries instead, momentarily victorious over his own traitorous body. Khan grins wickedly at him, secretive, and his frame is lined up with Kirk's down to the fraction of an inch, but it is only a few steps away from the captain's.
"You are so stubborn." He says. The air around him is far too dense, too warm, his vision is swimming without hope of making it to shore, and everything revolves around this man. Like planets orbiting the sun, like a compass needle invariably pointing north.
"My plan was never to kill you. I wanted to bide my time, wait for the opportune moment, break the modification technology's hold on me, then smuggle my crew to safety. But then I had to put that aside, to save you. What you don't realize, Jim," Khan takes another one of those precious few, lethal steps forward, and all Jim can hear is a high, thin whine in his ears as the want reaches out, trying to take that final step but being denied by the rest of him. He vaguely realizes that Khan is calling him by his first name.
"Is that I will never fail. I will remain, forever, your perfect enemy."
Jim swallows, hard. Khan tilts his head, so close they nearly touch. The augment can smell Kirk's cologne from here, a heady musk coating his skin, can see the conflict waging war inside him- fear, lust, anger, desire, revulsion, hunger. He wore his heart on his sleeve. Khan would make it bleed.
"Stop it." Kirk growls at him. His very presence adds kindling to the fire he was trying to extinguish. Khan leans in, an inch, maybe two, but it's enough for them to be irrevocably close. Close enough to taste the other's breath, see it move through his body, living art.
"You need me," Khan's eyes are supernova bright, and just as breath-taking, recherche cyanosis, set in his expression of dark amusement and lasciviousness.
However little room was left, Kirk could slip away, shove him off. But then again, no, he couldn't. Because however long he stayed like this, deliciously, achingly close, the pain dissipated. The agony cleared, the proximity almost as good as Khan's intoxicating blood.
Khan is looking at him like a wolf might a deer, but somehow Jim isn't terrified as he suspected he should be.
"And I want you." All traces of amusement are gone from him, nothing left but ravenous desire burning within his expression.
They almost touch, bodies brushing together, and the silence is a vice, keeps them in this eternal grey area, this moment that lasts eons, where the decision is made or it is not. The choice is presented and the selection made.
"Say it," Khan whispers into the quiet between them, as if the words had nowhere they'd rather be than hanging between them like a noose, "I want to hear you."
Jim's will snaps like lightning arching through the clouds.
The force is assaulting, it is lacerating, it is the bliss that heaven is made of. Khan's hands are at his jaw, cradling his face, body moving to trap Jim's against the wall. Their hips glance off each other's as atoms do, Jim's fingers winding into Khan's hair, drawing him exceedingly close. They fit together like books on a shelf, lips melding into a ravenous dance of teeth and tongues and lust and complete abandon.
Khan's hands move to grip Jim's hips fingers digging in so deep that the captain whimpers in pain. The augment slams him back, trying not to break him, everything else around them a fury of heat and the want finally, finally, being sated. Kirk bit down, tugging at Khan's hair as he did, but his teeth sliced skin. The metallic flavor of blood seeped into Jim's mouth.
Khan ripped himself away from the passionate embrace, eyes heavy and dark with his not-nearly-full appetite for the captain. He touched his lip, and came away with a red stain gleaming on his fingertips. Kirk was staring, breathing heavily, his face twisted with the force of his own willpower. The blood welled across Khan's lip, crimson and beautiful, and the only thing that entered Jim's mind was 'I need it to be mine'.
Khan lowered his hand, understanding the captain's compromising dilemma.
"Take it." He says, the words falling out with husky urgency. Jim glances at him, tearing his gaze away from the alluring droplets of blood. There was defiance in him now, fear.
"Take it." Khan repeats, his hands finding Kirk's wrists and pinning them to the wall above his head. His cold skin douses the feverish heat in his bones.
Jim grits his teeth, caught somewhere in the standstill between yes and no, trying with desperation not to obey the maelstrom opening itself up within him. He inhales, and the sharp scent of the blood, now smeared across Khan's lips, pushes him over the edge and falling into the yawning black abyss.
He's completely unaware of anything but Khan, contorting his body to meld against his, hands above his head white-knuckles fists. He sucks the offended lip clean, tongue gliding to lick away any remaining drops. His body stops screaming, lips moving with Khan's in a practiced rhythm. He arches his back into the augment, their hips brushing.
Kirk bites down again, and again, until the blood is streaming into his mouth, his tongue swiping away rivulets of the heavenly substance. However good the liquor was, this was exponentially better. Every time Khan opens his mouth to the pain, drinking in Kirk's air as his own, Jim lashes out, creating new wounds to bleed dry. All the while Khan's clever fingers moved across his body, pressing at his waist to move closer, knotting through his hair, slipping down his neck, coursing under his shirt. He traced Kirk like a map, memorizing his every line, every movement, every obscene little noise he made against Khan's mouth. Kirk's hands in turn pinioned him in place, one crushing into his naval with intense strength, the other cradling the crown of his head, drawing him down into Jim's lips.
"God I want you." He murmurs against Khan's skin as the augment sows greedy kisses along Kirk's jaw, down his neck, mapping the line of his collarbone. Khan merely growls in response, and when he nips at Jim's skin, just below his jugular, the captain's head goes back, leaning against the wall, eyes closed, exposing that lovely throat of his.
Khan's lips glide up to the curve of his jaw, then back down, sucking little pinpricks of pleasure at the hard line of his windpipe, the groove of his Adam's apple, the sensitive flesh at the very base of his neck near the clavicle. Jim manages tiny, breathy gasps, clawing at Khan's sides, the pain of his ecstasy exquisite.
"Khan-" Jim hisses as the augment finds his way back up to his mouth, sucking gently, lips still tasting of his own blood. His fingers are roaming, tracing the dip at the small of Jim's back. Kirk presses his palms flat against Khan's chest, feeling the motion of his breath and the glitter of his dark eyes, foreheads touching, every now and then stealing a voracious kiss from the other.
"You, me, bed, now." Jim growls at him, animalistic, and he wonders somewhere in the back of his mind, if this is what Vulcan Pon Farr feels like; wanton madness.
Khan pries himself away with his superhuman strength, bracing his arms on the wall behind Jim, trapping the captain again. His eyes are closed, as if concentrating very hard.
"No. Not while you're drunk."
Jim squirms against him, his touches are pleading, his resolve is gone. But Khan's is not. He presses Jim back against the flat of the wall, moving his own form away as not to be tempted.
"No. Where is the syringe."
Kirk looks at him with his lust-saturated blue eyes, eyes that could cut diamond but instead chose to ravage him. He finally relaxes, leaning his head against Khan's, watching him. He steals a kiss, and then two, until he feels Khan's jaw harden and the augment has to physically lock his muscles in order not to lose control.
"The kitchen, second drawer." Kirk surrenders. Khan is off of him in an instant, and he feels the loss like a cold, empty, cavernous hole. He tips his head back and tries to relearn breathing until he feels the ache of a needle puncturing his skin. Khan, as always, watches Kirk as he comes undone by the intoxicant.
"I will stay, if you want me to." Khan murmurs, brushing his lips and nose against Kirk's ear. Jim's fingers curl around his neck as if it were a piece of territory.
"You really didn't think you were leaving before dawn, did you?"
Khan smiles into Jim's skin coyly, his warmth like a sedative. His teeth graze Kirk's ear, just enough to make him shiver, then harder, so that he digs his fingers into his skin. The pain is pure delight, his hands slipping down the lengths of Jim's inner forearms until they can hold his hips, curling into shapes of caressing tenderness, pulling him in to reconnect with his frame. Soon all Jim can do is melt into the sweet touches, biting his lip to stifle a series of delightful little moans.
But in his mind, over and over, is still running the phrase,
"My perfect enemy."