We Bleed The Same

"How much time does he have down there?" Captain Kirk yelled. His hands clung to the arms of his chair to stop them from shaking. Was it anger or fear? He wasn't sure, but he had had a bad feeling about this whole mission and when things did start to go awry, he cursed his own intuition.

Chekov turned from his station and the look in his eyes was not what Kirk wanted to see. "Captain, iv all goes vell...less than tventy seconds. But zee material is unstable...I--I ...I'm not quite sure."

Gnashing his teeth at the Russian's ineptitude, he forced himself up and started pacing the bridge of the Enterprise. This was not the time for his wunderkind to be unsure about things. Not when his best friend was down there using his goddamned logic against a completely illogical force. He knew he never should have let Spock down there on his own. He should have gone with him.

A comforting hand came to rest on his forearm. As if McCoy could read his mind, his voice sounded near Kirk's ear. "I'm sure the pointy-eared bastard will manage. Now's not the time to lose your cool, Jim. The crew depends on you."

"You're right, Bones, but I sure as hell won't let that idiot die on my watch. Lieutenant Uhura! Can he hear us down there?" Kirk pushed past McCoy and ran over to where Uhura was seated at her station.

"Yes, Captain." Uhura answered. Her eyes were dark pools of worry. Lowering her voice so only Kirk could hear, she said, "But he's running out of time."

Kirk nodded grimly. "Only ten seconds or less by Chekov's count." Taking long strides over to the communicator, he punched the button and could only hear loud static. "Spock, come in. Can you hear me?"

"By my reckoning, Captain, another minute and I'll have the threat under complete control." The sound of Spock's voice over the communicator, so calm and collected it was almost inhuman, gave Kirk only minor relief before he processed what actually was said.

He slammed his fist onto the desktop and screamed into the communicator. "Damnit Spock, you don't have a minute! Get out of there NOW!"

"I appreciate your concern, Captain, but according to my data everything is under control."

Kirk could hear Spock's steady, controlled breathing for a moment before he spoke again. "I can do this, Jim."

Kirk wanted to believe him. He wanted to tell him that he was right and that he would complete the mission successfully. He wanted more than anything to reassure Spock that he had his back through thick and thin. But he couldn't do any of this because for once in his life, Spock was wrong. If he didn't abandon his mission right then and there, he would die.

"Five seconds." Chekov chimed.

Five seconds, Kirk thought, memories began flashing before his eyes. Five seconds and Spock would no longer be his First Officer. Five seconds and he would no longer be his best friend. He wouldn't lose him, not after all they had been through to finally arrive at their mismatched friendship. Unfulfilled possibilities flickered across his consciousness, friendship and yet something more. With newfound determination, the Captain turned to Scotty.

"That's it. I want him out of there, Scotty. Beam him up."

"Yes, sir. Right away." Scotty's fingers whizzed over the controls at an incredible speed and yet for Kirk it still wasn't fast enough.

"Two seconds."

"Scotty!" Kirk ground out through clenched teeth. His dug his fingernails into his palms to keep himself in the moment, to keep his thoughts from Spock's impending demise.

From space, a blinding white light lit up the bridge of the Enterprise as it was jolted from the explosion. Most of the crew shielded their eyes from the searing brightness, while others clung to their seats, jostled by the blast. Only Kirk stood firm, eyes staring rebelliously into the brilliant light, wanting to touch the other side of the brightness. But it was too late. Spock was gone. If only he would have listened! If only he would have gotten out while he had the chance. The weight of Kirk's guilt crushed against his chest. This was his fault for letting Spock go it alone. With eyes burning, Kirk blinked back tears of fury and sorrow. He would not show his crew weakness, no matter how much the loss of his First Officer terrified him. Finally, he closed his eyes against the traitorous light and counted to ten, steadying his haggard breathing.

"Captain...captain?" Scotty's voice finally caused Kirk to turn and face his crew. Kirk did not say anything, but merely gave Scotty his full attention. "Captain, my readings show that we were successful. Mr. Spock is on the ship."

"Is he alive?" Kirk asked, but then impulsively decided to find out for himself. He had to be the first to know. He bolted towards the lift and took it to the transporter deck, pounding on the cold steel walls with impatience.

The doors of the lift opened with a hiss and Kirk saw him. Spock was crouched on the floor of the transporter deck, assessing his wounds. The only indication that Spock felt pain was a tight clenching of his jaw that only the most trained human would notice. Kirk noticed. He also noted the tears in Spock's uniform, revealing bits of chest and forearm. A gash on his cheek oozed green and ugly. Rushing relief turned to outright anger and Kirk stormed at him with a loud growl.

"Stupid fucking Vulcan!" Kirk yelled, punching Spock in the face with boiling rage. In Kirk's mind, this was how problems were solved and how emotions were shown. He wanted Spock to feel how worried he was. "Fucking logical idiot!" He didn't stop pummeling Spock until his knuckles were red and raw.

Finally, Spock broke his silence and held Kirk away with one firm hand against the Captain's chest. "Jim. Stop. Look. I'm fine...though after that impressive display of childish anger my injuries remain debatable, but I am otherwise intact. "

Kirk's glare clearly showed that Spock's reaction was not desirable, but that was why Spock responded so. Spock knew of Kirk's internal conflict and confused feelings for him, but he also knew that the Captain wasn't truly aware of what it meant yet. Clearly, Spock thought to himself, the pain in his jaw still very real. And so he remained cold and resigned, allowing Kirk to figure it out on his own.

Straightening up and cracking his knuckles, Kirk looked down at Spock with disbelief. "A goddamned mental case is what you are, Spock. Fuck this," he spat and started back to the lift, leaving his First Officer on the floor. He turned back only once. "Welcome back. Get yourself cleaned up before you report back to the bridge."

Spock raised an eyebrow in amusement, watching as Kirk stood with his back to him, two fingers pounding on the button for the lift which was almost comically slow in arriving. If it was in his nature, Spock would have laughed. The lift opened and Kirk went in. Only when the doors were a within a fraction of closing did Kirk turn around and stare at Spock with one of his most searing glares. But then he was gone and Spock was left alone.

He touched his swiftly swelling cheek and his fingers brought away blood, both his and Kirk's. Crimson and green comingled on his fingertips, almost prettily. A slight upturn of his lips, a secret smile for no one but himself. Kirk would stew, that he knew, but the anger would pass and then, just then, he might understand what his anger towards Spock really meant. Shaking his head, Spock got to his feet and limped towards the sickbay.