DISCLAIMER: I Don't Own Star Trek. And I'm not making any money from this.

After the Narada: Jim has Spock in his mind, literally, and is trying to rebuild a friendship that hasn't yet existed. Spock and Nyota are still not officially bonded -- but want to be. Meanwhile, the crew of the Enterprise and the galaxy is coming face to face with unforeseen consequences of the destruction of Vulcan. Non-Slash. Established S/U. May be rated M later for very mature themes...but if you want an instant rush of smut, read "Once Bitten" or "Vulcan Kissing".

LN324-Delta : Part 1

Things were as they should be. Walking down the hall of the ship that was his ship, in this and any other time line, with Spock, his friend, his best friend, everything just felt right to Jim.

"...we'll be at LN324 in a few hours," Jim said. "You know, one of my other buddies from the Academy is stationed there, Doug...oh God, I can't remember his last name. Doug Hsu...Yeah, brilliant guy. Can drink like a fish too.

"According to Doug LN324 is phenomenal...Its rare to find a gas giant that supports life in its clouds."

Spock turned his head and looked at him. "Indeed, as I expressed earlier, I have been quite interested in visiting LN324 for some time."

Jim smiled, "Yeah, you'll like it. You'll like Doug too."

Spock raised an eyebrow. Jim was getting good at reading Spock's eyebrows. This eyebrow was up in disbelief.

"Ha. Trust me. Drinks like a fish, but mad about everything relating to LN324. You'll be able to talk cloud surfing organisms, atmospheric gas ratios, planet core composition, the natural subspace signals generated by the planet and its white dwarf star, anything...I'm sure you'll find him fascinating."

They came to Spock's quarters. The half Vulcan turned and nodded at him before entering the door. "I will trust you on this, Jim. But right now, I have had a long day, and I would like to take advantage of the few hours before we reach LN234 to meditate."

Saying this Spock turned and waved his hand over the doors controls. The pneumatic door opened with a hiss. Not stopping to look back Spock entered his quarters. Without thinking Jim followed right behind him...purely out of habit.

...a habit from another life.

Lieutenant Uhura was just coming out of the bathroom. She was clothed. Barely. She wore a man's black button down shirt that looked vaguely familiar -- actually, Jim remembered seeing it on Spock...

Open to the navel, it just barely reached the tops of her thighs. It did cover her breasts...well -- mostly. For a heartbeat Jim and Spock regarded her, and she regarded both of them.

Sometimes Jim wasn't in full control of his mouth. "Meditating, huh? So that's what you call it." In another life it might have cut the tension...in this one...

Spock turned on his heels and faced him with a gaze that was painfully familiar. Very painfully familiar. Jim swallowed. He forced himself to look Spock directly in the eyes.

"Captain, if you do not mind, please...get...out."

"Ummm...yeah...I'll see you on the bridge as soon as we reach LN324."

Spock said nothing but tilted his head. Jim noticed the half Vulcan's nostrils were flaring. Right. Time to go.

Not taking his eyes off Spock he backed out of the door. "Sorry about that, Spock," he nodded in Spock's direction. "Uhura," he was about to nod in her direction too, then thought better of it and just nodded again at Spock.

He needed a drink.

x x x x

The only thing that was keeping Nyota from fuming was the fact that Spock was fuming. Someone had to keep their head.

If just about any other crew member had been in Spock's quarters at that moment they would not have been aware of Spock's frame of mind.

He did not yell. He did not show physical signs of anger -- or what would be interpreted as such by human standards. Standing with his head bowed, hands clasped behind his back he might look like he was simply in contemplation.

But if one looked really closely they might notice Spock was breathing too regularly. Carefully inhaling deeply through his nose Spock held each breath for a count of fourteen seconds. Then he slowly exhaled for a full count of twenty one seconds through his mouth. He was trying to regain control of his emotions.

She sighed. Kirk was a good captain, and generally respected boundaries. He hadn't flirted with her since that day when he'd seen Spock kiss her in the transporter room -- well, he hadn't seriously flirted with her. Jim's brain was permanently wired to flirt, to him it was just friendly. But nothing beyond the odd innuendo. No proposals. And certainly no physical contact.

Being in a position of authority, had not made Kirk more arrogant and cocksure, it had done the exact opposite. He'd become a little more humble in the past few months. And while obviously still out to be the top dog and lay down the law he respected his crew, their opinions...their time...their personal space.

The only person whose personal space Kirk did not respect was Spock. Walking into Spock's quarters was just the latest incident. Kirk would sit down in the mess with Spock without asking, was constantly slapping Spock on the shoulder, running to catch Spock in the hall when they were off duty...and in general just being just a little too close.

It was as if Spock scrambled Kirk's brain somehow. A few days ago Kirk had said to Spock, "Are we still on for chess tonight?" Even though Spock and Kirk had never made plans...and to the best of Nyota's knowledge Kirk didn't even play chess.

It was weird. Actually, she found it really weird. But he was the captain now. And in all other respects a good one.

Apparently, Spock's 'other self' had told Spock that he and Kirk were destined to do great things together. And so for his part, Spock gave Kirk some leeway. Perhaps that had not been wise. Perhaps if Spock had been a little more forceful about establishing boundaries the incident this evening would not have happened.

Nyota took a moment to take stock of the situation. Vulcans, despite their outward cool were intensely emotional -- and in particular, extremely territorial. Not only had Kirk just violated Spock's private space, he'd also seen her, his mate, in a state of semi-undress. His natural instinct, buried deep under thousands of years of Surak's logical teachings, would be very, well, violent. Now Spock appeared mostly calm, but she knew inside he was fuming. A fuming Vulcan was not a good thing...especially one that apparently needed to be on the bridge with her in less than two hours. The trouble was, how to diffuse the anger?

Now would be a great time to have an established telepathic link between them. But the last time they had tried a mind meld there had been...complications. Spock and Nyota both desperately wanted an experienced healer to be present for the next attempt. Especially since it was barely four months since the destruction of Spock's home world and his emotional control was still fragile.

She would just have to improvise. Walking up to her beloved she gently whispered, "Perhaps I should have shown a little more skin?"

Taking a sharp breath Spock lifted his head in surprise.

Nyota gently pulled back the collar of the shirt she was wearing to reveal the large red welt on her shoulder...the one he'd made with his teeth, the one that marked her definitely as his.

Her half-Vulcan lowered his head to gently kiss the welt. The sound of purring tickled Nyota's ears.

x x x x

"Approaching LN324, Captain," Uhura said.

"On screen," commanded Jim.

The image of a small white disc of a space station suspended above slowly swirling blue and purple clouds appeared. There was a collective intake of breath from the crew. It was beautiful. Of course, after a few months in space, anything that was not blackness and emptiness took on a certain poignant beauty.

Uhura was distracted for only a moment. "The signal for medical assistance is still being broadcast...but no one is answering our hail, sir."

Spock had worked an earlier shift, but he was here on the bridge at Jim's invitation. He was standing behind Uhura, but now went to look over the shoulder of the current acting science officer.

Sitting in the command chair Jim brought a hand to his chin. There could be a hundred reasons for an unanswered hail. Jim didn't allow his mind to ponder over negative scenarios that may have befallen the crew of the station and his former drinking buddy. He focused on getting to the bottom of what was actually going on. "Okay, Chekov, fill the bridge in on the situation."

"Approximately eight hours ago a Doctor Zenak, a member of the Vulcan Science Academy hailed Star Fleet for medical assistance from deep space station LN324 - Delta." Chekov said, "Other than the doctor, LN324 is currently manned by four members of Star Fleet: Commander Robert Gomez, Lieutenant Commander Susan Lee, Lieutenant Doug Hsu, and Lieutenant David Perez."

"Are we close enough to scan for life signs?" Jim asked.

"Coming up soon, Keptin," said Chekov. The Ensign's hands danced across the console. "Keptin...I'm not getting any readings."

Jim heard Spock whisper something to the acting science officer. There were a few beeps and then Spock said, "Captain, there is an energy reading around the living quarters. It appears some sort of force field has been established. It is possible this force field is blocking our scans and our hails."

"What's wrong? Is there a radiation leak in the station? A hull breach?" Jim asked.

The acting science officer responded, "Negative sir. Radiation levels are normal, and life support is optimal."

Jim shifted in his chair. "Well, looks like we'll be beaming in a team to have a look." Jim knew everyone on the bridge understood he was going to be one of the members of that team.

x x x x x

Scotty beamed Jim, Bones, Spock, Cupcake and two more members of security just outside the entrance to the station's living quarters.

The hallway was dim, lit only by emergency lights. Jim barely had a chance to register this before he took his first breath...and had to physically restrain himself from vomiting. As a former farm boy Jim recognized the smell of decay immediately.

Just outside the entrance to the living area where three bodies haphazardly strewn across the floor.

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