Earth.

Nero clenched and unclenched his hands in his lap, nails biting into calloused skin, leaving crescents dimpled into tanned flesh. He ached for his staff, but with Pike currently unconscious and everyone else actually being of use, there were no suitable targets for him to excise some angry energy on.

Ayel stood a body's length away and to the back-right of him, breathing evenly as he saw the glimmering blue-green planet swell on the main viewscreen. He said nothing as his captain stood and stomped down the podium steps towards the screen, teeth bared, eyes wide and furious.

"Vulcan," Nero muttered. "Earth. Where next, to break the precious Federation? Break them again and again..." He trailed off, hissing, before lashing out and burying his fist into a support strut, leaving crimped metal up to his elbow. "All of them," he mumbled to the twisted wreckage. "Every last one, all of them, they will all die and we will return to a safer universe, safe and free..."

Unperturbed by his captain's madness, Ayel discreetly commed the only medical officer aboard and requested a mild sedative. Nothing to knock Nero out, he would never stoop to mutiny, just something to take the edge off. Something to ease the gaping pit that lay in Nero's mind, ever hungry and never satisfied, if only for a few hours. Long enough to carry out the plan with no insanity making poor decisions.

"Ayel!" Nero barked. The Romulan snapped to attention, stepping forward.

"Sir?"

"Prepare another capsule. When we break orbit, I will extend the drill immediately. If there is any delay between reaching the core and launching..."

The threat was left hanging in the air. Ayel acknowledged the fact, nodded his assent, and strode off towards the lift to the hangar bay, where the Jellyfish and the Red Matter resided. For if he did not... well. As soon as the core was breached, it would be he that was falling toward his doom, followed shortly - perhaps inevitably - by the residents of Earth.

His fate resigned, Ayel said nothing. Nero did not notice, nor did he care.

The time had come. Kirk had escaped his fate by combination of sheer luck and stupidity. He would not escape again. As soon as Earth was destroyed, the Enterprise would follow.

Nero smiled a killer's smile, and returned to his chair to watch his plan unfold in all its genocidal glory.


Jim sat back in his chair, hands curled around the armrests, the overhead light shining just right to illuminate the horrendous bruise marring his eye and cheek. He bit back a heated response, trying for a calmer approach.

"I told him I'd rescue him when everything was said and done," Jim said through gritted teeth. "So I will. I'm going on the Narada."

"Regulation dictates no captain and first officer should ever beam into a known hostile situation where both have a statistically probable chance of being killed," Spock shot back, his own hands folded in his lap. Jim could see the nail marks on his knuckles, though, and wasn't fooled. "I also share ancestry with the Romulan race. It is only logical I go, due to my familiarity with Vulcan spacecraft, as theirs will be similar in layout."

"Screw regulations, and screw your ancestry. I'll be fine by myself." Jim glared and stood, shoving the chair back and stalking to the door. Spock joined him, light and silent on his feet like some overgrown cat, exiting the ready room just slightly ahead of his captain, giving him a measured glance over his shoulder as the door slid shut behind them.

Jim's cheeks flooded, and he resisted the urge to giggle like some insipid schoolgirl as he pinged for a lift.

Still, Spock remained silent, even as they both entered the turbolift and Jim called out for the nearest transporter room.

"Please," Spock said finally, a petulant note creeping in. "You are injured, and should go to the medical facilities. Preferably to stay for the remainder of this mission." His fingers twitched, Jim noted, and after a moment's hesitation Spock stepped closer, brushing shoulders with Jim.

Injured, he was. Ribs cracked, burns, and his black eye were all the big ones, not to mention whatever side effects lingered out of sight from his medical journey to get to the Enterprise in the first place.

Jim smirked, lightly punching Spock on the arm. "If you're going, I have to go," he said softly. His eyes slid from Spock's face to his boots, scuffed and covered in Vulcan dust. "I wouldn't trust anyone to watch your ass other than myself, especially if I want you back in one piece."

This time, when Jim sought eye contact, it was Spock who blushed, green darkening in the tips of his ears until Jim thought they would just plain explode from all the extraneous blood flow. Jim grinned, pleased, and since no one was around, he saw no need to restrain himself as he wrapped one arm around Spock's shoulder, hugging him gently.

The doors beeped insistently, and Jim let go of Spock with a sigh. "Duty calls," he said lazily. "You coming?"

Spock nodded, resolute, and Jim resumed his walking, hearing Spock's measured steps click on the floor just behind him.

Damn, he hadn't felt this great in years. He'd take on the whole Romulan race if he had to, and throw in some angry Klingons just for kicks! All he needed was Spock to look at him that certain way, that smile twinkling in his dark brown eyes, the way his nostrils flared as he silently released an exasperated snort, all for Jim and Jim alone.

Jim stepped through another door, slapping his newest crew member on the back heartily. "Scott! What's our plan?"

The Scotsman huffed, adjusting the red uniform jacket and straightening the comm set in his ear. "Since we're in Titan's atmosphere, Ah'm goin' ter drop yeh down in th' cargo bay," he said, returning his attention to the console in front of him. "Haven't seen somethin' this nice since th' Academy," he muttered, running his fingers lightly up and down the screen.

Jim stepped up onto the transporter pad, watching as Spock did the same, and was struck by a sudden thought. Acutely aware of the heavy brown gaze from next to him, Jim called up Sulu on the comm.

"Sulu here."

"It's Kirk. Sulu, I have some orders for you, and you have to promise you'll follow them." Spock tilted his head, before half-closing his eyes. Jim knew he understood.

"Uh, go on, sir. I promise."

Jim slouched, his voice going quiet. "If you see a chance - I don't care if Pike, Spock, or myself is still aboard, if you see a chance to stop the Narada, you take it without hesitation. Do you understand?"

Of course, Jim would do everything in his power to see Spock and Pike off the ship first, at the expense of himself if need be. In fact, he promised himself - even if Pike was dead, Spock would live. He would make sure of it.

Silence, for a long second, and Kirk said sharply, "Do you understand, Mister Sulu?"

Another beat, and finally, a very quiet, "Yes, captain."

"Good." He canceled the communication, returning his attention to Scott, and was just about to give the order to energize when the doors slid open again with a near-silent hiss.

Uhura stepped through, her chin high and eyes flashing. She walked forward, tossed her ponytail over her shoulder, planted her hands on her hips, and snapped to Jim, "If either of you die, I'm going to personally bring you back and kill you myself."

Jim gaped, but his surprise (and amusement) were sharply curtailed by the minute shaking of her shoulders and the glimmer of wetness in her eyes. He gave her one of his trademark grins and winked. "No worries," he said confidently. "Nyota." Her lips twisted into a grimace as she glared at her captain.

Good. He'd gotten her mind off of the seriousness of the situation and back to being pissed at him. Jim could live with that.

He also supposed he could live with Uhura giving Spock a lightning-quick hug and kiss to the cheek, but just the once, and if she ever tried again he was going to beam her onto Delta Vega. Spock must've felt Jim's metaphorical hackles rising, because he murmured something into her ear and she shot a glance over her shoulder at Jim, eyes widening, before blushing hard and mumbling an apology. A moment later, the doors were nipping at the heels of her boots.

"I apologize," Spock said quietly to Jim. "I will explain at the next opportunity."

"Fair enough," Jim agreed. He looked over to Scott, who had been silent and ceiling-gazing during the last few minutes, and said, bemused, "Ready, Scotty?"

The man jumped, blinking, before coming back to himself and nodding ferociously. "Ah course! Let's get th' show on th' road, boys!" He cracked his knuckles, making Jim wince, and set his fingertips lightly on the touch-sensitive pad before him. "Cargo bay, here yeh go," he said stoutly.

"Energize!"

As the energy began to whip around him in blazing trails of light, Jim caught and held Spock's gaze, smiling softly. He wouldn't want anyone else at his back right now, and he was grateful Spock hadn't tried harder to force him to stay behind.

Darkness engulfed him, and the pair disappeared.


Spock came back into being at the exact moment Jim did, but he was the first to recognize and react to the threat. Well, more accurately, threats.

"Aah!"

Jim's yelp came not from taking a phaser shot to the chest, as Spock initially feared, but from being abruptly tackled and thrown to the grimy floor. The air above the prone pair crackled, stinking of ozone, making the fine hairs on the back of Spock's neck rise from the discharge. Jim huffed, drawing his own phaser.

"Sorry, Jim," Spock said softly, taking in Jim's wheezing pants as he placed one hand gingerly on his abused ribs.

"'S alright."

Spock drew his weapon, firing precisely and stunning three mystified Romulans before they had realized where Jim had disappeared to. Faint patters alerted Spock to the inevitable result of their beaming suddenly into an enemy vessel.

So much for the cargo bay, Spock thought, ducking another burst of energy that would have chewed through his spine and left him immobile but bleeding out on the ground. He glanced over his shoulder, seeing a flicker of movement, and realizing his precarious position - half-crouched next to Jim's slowly moving form - he'd hardly blinked before the charging Romulan was down, a burst of deadly fire catching him directly in the chest.

Jim whistled softly, bring Spock's eyes back to the man's face, where sweat was clearing trails on the dirty face, teeth bared and eyes narrowed. Danger out of immediate reach, Jim visibly stilled, bringing his rage under control, before flashing Spock a cheerful grin and bringing himself to his feet.

"So much for the cargo bay, eh, Spock?" Jim muttered, an eerie echo of Spock's earlier thoughts, crouch-walking until he'd taken sufficient cover behind some alien piece of machinery. "So, Mister I'm-Related-To-The-Crazy-People, where are we?"

"This is not an appropriate time for humor, Jim," Spock said through gritted teeth, fighting his own black hatred down at the thought of sharing any kind of blood with the murderer of his people. A short pause later, Spock admitted, "I am not sure where we are."

Jim nodded to the nearest unconscious body. "Maybe he'd know where Pike is. Meld with him while I try and comm Scotty."

Spock agreed, creeping towards the unmoving lump of flesh and clothing, not bothering to stow his phaser as he placed the pads of his fingers on the locus points of the Romulan. He didn't try to move deeper than basic knowledge; Spock had no wish to learn the life story of one accompanying genocide. He gleaned the knowledge of Pike's location before another piece of information caught his attention.

He broke contact abruptly, hissing a curse between clenched teeth, and stalked over to Jim, who was trying - failing - to make contact with the Enterprise.

"It is of no use, Jim," Spock said, wrapping thin fingers around Jim's wrist, bringing the communicator away from his cracked and bloody lips. "Nero has already begun to drill. We are stranded, and Earth is in danger."

Panic clawed his insides, but Spock bent his iron will to the task and refused to let any emotion show on his face. "I know where Pike is, and the location of the device that - that destroyed Vulcan." If his voice broke, Jim did not pay it any mind, allowing Spock a further moment of peace that came with loving someone who was intimately familiar with your mental state.

"Follow me." Spock stood, helping Jim to his feet a second later, quietly told him Pike's location, and took off at a loping jog for the nearest goal: that of the mysterious Red Matter, somehow able to artificially induce black holes, lately in the middle of inhabited planets.

The Romulan he had melded with knew the fastest path to the hangar bay, leading Jim and Spock on a myriad of catwalks and through pipes. Jim muttered angrily behind him about stupid aliens and their inability to use hallways, bringing an unseen smile briefly to Spock's lips before he smoothed his face into impassivity once more.

The narrow tube they had been crawling through opened suddenly into a cavernous space, the ceiling extending hundreds of meters into the air and nearing black in color. Spock did not gape at the size, as Jim did; instead, he focused on the lone object in this hangar, moving towards it quickly.

It was a ship. Spock took a quick run-around, taking in the size, make, and materials used before slowly moving up the extended docking ramp, Jim hot on his heels.

The inside was crisp and clean, flooded with light and crammed full of consoles. Spock moved to the lone chair near the viewport, brushing one of the many touchscreens nearby.

"Welcome, Spock," a mechanical voice said out of nowhere, making Spock twitch violently and Jim jump a half-foot into the air, slamming his elbow into a corner. As he hopped about, grabbing his arm and cursing, Spock spun in a tight circle.

"Computer," he said, "state date of production and construction benefactors."

"The Jellyfish was officially launched on Stardate 2387, commissioned, funded, and constructed by the Vulcan Science Academy."

"Purpose?"

"The safe and fast transport of Red Matter."

Spock whirled in place to see the color drain from Jim's face, as his too-blue eyes sought Spock's.

"I assume you understand why this ship is here?" Spock said shortly. Jim held up his hands, as if to ward off a physical blow.

"I can explain, when we have a sec. Please." Jim stepped forward, hand coming up to thread through Spock's short hair and bring their foreheads to touch. "I know you can put the pieces together anyway," he said quietly. "But right now, we have a lot of people depending on us, and I'm sorry that you have to wait."

Jim pressed a brief, chaste kiss to Spock's lips, winked, and darted out of the little ship's interior before the shock had worn off, leaving Spock blinking.

"That man," Spock said into the silence, "will inevitably be the death of me."

With that, he sat in the command chair, mind whirling with possibilities and design schematics.


Everything hurt. He ached in more places than he'd ever thought he could, which was really saying something considering his effed up childhood. But the worst was the near-physical clenching in his chest as he left Spock behind, knowing with all his heart that he might not see Spock ever again.

At least he'd finally accepted the truth that had been staring him in the face since he'd fled Vulcan all those years ago. He loved Spock, and if it wasn't as natural as breathing, Jim would gladly go find the nearest amphibious planet and call it home.

Spock's whispered directions came to mind, then, as Jim ducked beneath a low-hanging tube of some sort, and only in that moment did he realize exactly how wickedly awful his luck was, because he stupidly had stowed his phaser not a moment earlier and was now horizontal, head drumming with pain and stars exploding behind his lids.

Nero's face loomed over him, grabbing the collar of his shirt and hauling him up with no grunt of effort, leaving his toes just brushing the ground as he scrabbled to find purchase and fight back.

"James Kirk," Nero growled, shaking him.

Jim was not going to admit he was terrified, but the catwalks were so narrow and another Romulan had appeared from nowhere to remove the phaser from his holster and was tossing it into the black bowels, where he was sure to follow in mere moments-

"I remember your face," Nero whispered, his voice gravel, eyes sunken into his head and gleaming like stars in velvet night. "I remember hearing praises sung to you from all races across the galaxy. James T. Kirk, captain of the Enterprise and beloved by the Federation." Nero took a step closer to the edge, and Jim's toes were no longer brushing metal, only air.

"I deprived your father of the life history claimed him to have," Nero said simply. "And now I will do the same to you. Good bye."

In desperation, Jim lashed out, catching Nero in the ribs with the tip of his boot. Wheezing, Nero folded inward, bringing Jim away from the precarious edge, allowing him just enough leeway to twist and slip out of the Romulan's grip. He followed up quickly with an axe kick, hoping to knock Nero unconscious, or break his neck.

The other Romulan - and damn Jim for losing track! - caught his heel and flung Jim away, sending the man sprawling onto an adjacent metal platform, gasping. Jim scrambled to his feet, panic pounding adrenaline through his system, and as he finally steadied himself the other Romulan was there, a fist aimed square at his face.

Jim traded blows with the alien as Nero watched, something like amusement stretching his face into an unfamiliar grin. Jim could feel the fatigue beginning to take its toll as he ducked the blow a second to slow and it clipped his already-injured eye, sending white-hot sparks of pain across his face and instinctively curling his hands up to protect from further injury.

And before he could blink, he was pinned to the ground, Nero's face inches from his own, as his air supply began to dwindle and the painful pressure around his throat began to grow. Black spots swarmed in his vision, and Jim was so painfully sure that he was going to die seeing this mockery of a grin when the ground beneath him rumbled and a voice called out, panicked, "Captain! The drill's been destroyed! It's Spock, he's taken the Jellyfish!"

Nero's face slackened. A moment later, it was twisted in rage as he climbed off of Jim, howling, "Spock!" He gestured to the other Romulan, barking orders in his native tongue before leaping an impressive ten meters to the parallel catwalk and taking off at a dead sprint.

Oxygen flooded Jim's lungs, but he'd barely gathered enough in for a breath before the other Romulan was there, hands locked around his throat, but this was the combination of his worst nightmares, as Jim was again lifted off his feet and left dangling over the open void below. Terror beat heavy wings within his chest, making his heart pound; worse yet, he was choking, again.

"Humans are so weak," the Romulan hissed. His markings were different, Jim noted uselessly, but there was one detail he'd overlooked. Jim croaked a meaningless word, one hand locked on a pair of wrists as the other inched towards his last possible hope.

Jim struggled some more, ignoring the burning bands around his lungs that pleaded for air, even trying to kick the Romulan as he had Nero, but the element of surprise and underestimation was gone, and the Romulan simply bore the weak blow. Jim gurgled again.

"You can't even speak, now, can you?" the being said humorlessly. "Pathetic." Just an inch away, he could barely brush it-

-a gift from some divine figure, as the Romulan drew him in closer, loosening the deadly pressure on his windpipe. "Try again," he hissed.

Jim smirked, locked his grip around the Romulan's phaser, and said nastily, "I got your gun." A smooth yank, his finger pulled the trigger almost before he'd gotten it out of the holster, but the Romulan went down with a smoking hole in his gut, falling backwards and down, body still and cooling on the bronze metal bridge.

His legs collapsed from underneath him, Jim was thankful he hadn't landed on the edge, because surely he'd be toast by now, given what little strength his body felt like it had left. Groaning, Jim took one moment to breathe, thankful for his continuing life and continued chance to protect the people he loved - one in particular - before forcing himself to his feet and taking off in the direction of Pike, stolen phaser still in hand.

Meeting the captain who'd ordered him dead when he was nothing more than a child must've run out his bad luck for the century, Jim decided as he limped towards where Spock had said Pike was, because he saw no more Romulans en route, and he was ever thankful for that, because he was about as much a threat to one of them as a bug was to himself.

Jim noticed the water, first. It seemed strange to have a depression in the middle of a ship, even worse to let the condensation collect, but the smell that hit his nose moments after was enough to make him retch. He wiped the tears from his eyes, covered his nose with his collar, and pressed forward, hoping it wouldn't be as bad as he thought it was.

So much for that, Jim decided, running his fingers over the catches in the straps and easing them from swollen flesh. Pike's uniform was in tatters, ripped and bloody, and the man himself was barely conscious, eyes flickering under half-closed lids and lips cracked and beading with blood.

"Captain Pike, it's alright," Jim whispered, smoothing sweaty hair from the man's forehead. "I'm just following orders, I came to get you, we're going right back to the Enterprise and we'll get you all fixed up-"

Trembling fingers snatched the phaser from his hand and fired two shots over his shoulder; Jim swallowed, looking at the suddenly alert man, who stowed the deadly device in Jim's holster after a dull thud was heard.

"You were distracted, Kirk," Pike said wearily. "Don't be so again."

"Yes, sir," Jim said warmly. "Up you go. We should be fine to beam out." Jim heaved Pike into his arms, refusing to think about how disturbingly light the man was, and fished his communicator out of his pocket, somehow managing to juggle it up near his face.

"Scotty?!" Jim half-shouted as another explosion nearly forced him off his feet. Pike winced in his arms, gritting his teeth.

It was fuzzy, but there was a response, which meant the drill really was down, though by Nero's ferocity at the news he wondered how he'd doubted it.

"Aye, Captain!"

"Beam us out, now!"

Jim could see flashes of movement around him, streaks of light from sweaty bald brows reflecting in the darkness outside Pike's torture chamber. Jim almost buckled as another explosion rocked the Narada to its depths, nearly dropping Pike, who just groaned in pain as Jim clutched him tighter, aggravating fresh wounds.

Faint sputters were beginning to circle him, but the Romulans had found him, and his time was rapidly running out. Jim closed his eyes, calm tamping down the panic of moments before, as he fixed an image of Spock in his mind. If he truly was going to die now, than he could and would die content in the mistake he had rectified only hours before.

The sound of harsh energy discharging rang in Jim's ears. He heard the buzzing of the transporter beam fire in the same moment.

In the next, Jim Kirk knew no more.


Earlier

Everything was bright. Bright and harsh and Jim had kissed him again and he was in this ship that came from the future, which held ten thousand implications he couldn't even begin to think about, because he had to escape and save a planet.

If Spock were any less capable of handling stress, he'd have curled into a ball in the command chair and wept. As it was, he steeled himself, made a silent promise that he would not count that kiss as his last from Jim, and said coolly, "Computer, activate ignition sequence."

The ship practically purred beneath him, responding to his feather-light touches almost before he made them. Letting a breath snake out between his teeth, Spock eased back the controls, reaching out to wind up the docking ramp in the same fluid motion. This ship was unlike any he'd ever seen before, but once he'd figured out the pattern, he was confident in his abilities to pilot it successfully.

A crackle of energy registered on one of the aft shields; Spock flipped the ship on its axis to face the source, finding a lone Romulan and powering his phaser banks in warning. The being dropped its gun, fleeing into the darkness of the corridor, and Spock allowed himself a brief flash of grim satisfaction before he again tamped it down in favor of performing his duty.

He could barely feel the rotation of the ship as he pressed down on the thrusters, which amazed him. He wanted to sit and tinker with everything in front of him, and then he wanted to take it all apart and study it further. More than anything, he wanted Jim with him, where Spock could see him, and keep him safe.

Brows furrowed, he fired into the empty space inside the massive ship, seeing sparks flare and explosions dislodge equipment from various precarious positions. Spock coaxed more speed from the little vessel, cutting himself a path through machinery until he burst through the hull into space.

Spock did not stop to look in wonder at the blue-green, cloud-marbled planet beneath him, nor did tears spring to his eyes at the thought of never seeing his home from this view again. Instead, he tightened his grip on the controls and brought the Jellyfish into a looping dive that broke through the thick atmosphere of Earth.

Accelerating, hearing the whine of the charged phaser banks and the rumble of engines beneath his feet, he glanced to his side to locate his target.

There, on the telescoping screen, was the drill that had confused the Enterprise long enough to drill straight to the core of Vulcan. Huge bouts of steam were rising from the plasma pouring into the waters of the bay. Spock swung low, coming around to approach from the angle that would result in the least amount of damage for bystanders, and poured phaser-fire at the spindly device.

He had to remind himself that the first shots always missed, given that the computer had yet to rectify their forward and angular momentum with their approach vector. He remembered that fact, and did not clench his hands on the control unit, did not trap air in his lungs as he waited to make contact.

Finally, it did. Blue streaks tore through the metal, plasma sputtering and dying as the drilling unit was separated from its power source and sent spinning into the waters below. Spock allowed himself to be prideful for a moment before pulling up, blasting out of the atmosphere and aiming for the mass of the Naradastill hovering in orbit.

His comm crackled. On the screen to his left, Nero's face appeared, twisted with rage.

"I should have killed you when I had the chance," he whispered. "I should have ordered him to kill you that day, and Kirk as well."

His words were low and ugly, something Spock paid no heed to. "I order you to surrender yourself and your vessel to the United Federation of Planets," Spock forced through clenched teeth. "I have taken the Jellyfish into custody. If you refuse, I will use force."

Nero seemed oblivious to his words; he had neglected to turn off the comm, but still shouted orders to his crew. "Kill him! Launch everything, kill Spock! NOW!"

With one hand, Spock entered a set of coordinates for the nearest section of open space with no planets in the sector. He closed his eyes, and punched the warp drive to life, feeling the microscopic whiplash as he was transported near-instantly to his place of choice.

Spock cracked his eyes open as warning sirens shrieked around him, turning his stately blue cockpit the color of human blood. He glanced at the warning screen and bit back a curse.

Missiles. Too many for him to outrun, and too many to maneuver around. Even one making contact would tear the ship apart, and worse yet, release the Red Matter into open space.

No. That wouldn't do. The plan fell neatly into place, as if it had always been there, pieces fitting together in Spock's mind to form a whole puzzle, solved.

He whipped the little ship in an about-face, spinning around the first burst of fire, reflexes screaming as he narrowly dodged the second set-

-only to see the third destroyed some distance away, and a massive white battleship ping into being on his radar. Spock nearly could have cried at his fortune, because with the Enterprise at his back, he felt invincible. He had destroyed the drill and drew the Narada away from Earth, Jim's home, and Jim was undoubtedly aboard with Pike safely in the medical facilities.

Spock pondered his curious mental reaction - indeed, he felt as though Nero was defeated already, though they had done nothing more than disarm his greatest weapon - for a split second before realigning his ship on its intended course.

"Collision course detected, Spock. Breach of the Red Matter containment unit will result in catastrophic singularity formation."

He could feel Jim's panic beat a staccato rhythm just above his left ear, where he always felt Jim at his most emotional.

"Yes, computer, understood."

He pulled power from the phaser banks and poured it into the thrusters of the little craft. His ship - for it was his ship, or rather, his future self's ship - screamed as it blasted through open space, heading for the heart of the spiny monstrosity.

"Collision in ten seconds."

"Come in, Enterprise," Spock commed, "prepare to beam me aboard."

He could see his planet, being pulled into a lightning storm, he could hear the billions of voices cry out in agony and then cut silent, as if he were aboard the bridge once more, witnessing the destruction of Vulcan anew. He could see his mother's face as she dropped off the ledge and the fear that sank poison fangs into his heart as he waited on the transporter pad for Jim and Amanda to return, alive, despite the dire circumstances.

He could see Jim's trusting face, open, with the love Spock himself had felt since he was a teenager shining from the depths of his blue eyes, feel the graze of chapped lips on his own as he let Jim leave, knowing he might not be seen alive again.

"Collision in two seconds."

Spock closed his eyes, feeling the energy around him, and disappeared.


Jim was there the moment Spock was beamed back aboard, and he was also not watching the results of Spock's suicide run, because utter terror had seized him when the alert had come up from the bridge, and damn his captain duties, Spock was trying to kill himself.

Collision course detected...

But Spock was there, eyes shut, face calm, and Jim nearly tackled the man off the pad in his exuberance.

"You're alive," Jim breathed. "Oh, you're alive."

Spock glanced down at the man currently trying to split him in two, if he were to judge by the amount of force put in the hug. Spock settled for a restrained pat on Jim's back, given the company of the rogue Jim had acquired from Delta Vega (standing there gaping, how human).

"Of course. I had no intention of being onboard when the Jellyfish made contact."

Neither mentioned how, exactly, Spock would have gone about that, had Jim not brought an entire ship with him in a desperate gambit to secure Spock's continued existence. There was no need to, because they were there, alive, and they still had a very large problem to deal with.

"If I understand the Red Matter correctly," Spock said, pushing Jim gently away and stepping off the transporter pad, "it will be forming a singularity large enough to engulf the Narada as we speak."

Jim nodded briskly, running a hand through his hair and nodding his gratitude to the still-gaping Scott as they took off for the bridge. They said nothing as they jogged through hallways and found the nearest lift, the only silence broken as Jim spoke their destination to the computer.

Spock stared at Jim. Jim reciprocated. In the quiet of battles past and more yet to come, they relished the other's presence, thankful beyond words neither were seriously injured.

The doors slid open, spilling the pair onto the bridge, where controlled chaos reigned. Navigation were furiously calculating the reach of the developing black hole, as others not as currently busy stared, open-mouthed, at the growing patch of lightning-swathed darkness chewing through the Narada.

"Uhura," Jim called, tugging his shirt down a bit and moving to the center of the expansive bridge, turned to the viewscreen. "Send out a comm to the Narada. Alert me when we're connected."

"Aye." A moment passed, no more than a brief time for a breath, before she said, "On screen, Captain."

This, Jim thought with vindictive pleasure, was the moment he had dreamed of since Vulcan was destroyed. No, even before he knew who Nero was; the day his family was murdered in their beds, one cool night when he was only ten. Behind him, Spock reached out and brushed his palm with two fingers, a silent gesture of support they both knew he needed.

The Narada was doomed. The Red Matter was destroyed, all used in the formation of the singularity, and the futuristic Jellyfish along with it. Here stood Spock and James Kirk, survivors of Nero's murderous rampage, having accomplished everything Nero had set for them to fail. They defied the future he tried to craft, and now it was time to make him pay.

"James T. Kirk and Spock," Nero spat.

Jim smirked.

"Hello, Nero..."


A/N: This story is not abandoned. That being said, I have no clue when the next chapter will be. Hopefully not two years from now.

Credit to KaiiDee23 for inspiring me after a long time of not writing. Thanks. :)

Peace.