A/N Yes the title is gently "borrowed" from The Princess Bride, my best friend's most favorite movie. Just FYI. I promise to return it when I'm done with it.
He couldn't believe the words that the Admiral had just said to him. Spock was being temporarily transferred off Enterprise. How was that possible? What was he supposed to do without his First Officer? His best friend? His sounding board, the rudder to his ship, the one he could always count on to tell him the unvarnished truth? How did those Starfleet idiots think it was acceptable to inform him that Spock's presence was required on the USS Arizona? For six freakin' months? It was ridiculous. There were plenty of capable science officers they could assign to Arizona. They didn't need to take his.
"Captain?" Spock said as he entered Jim's quarters.
"It's bullshit, Spock. Complete and utter bullshit."
"What is, sir?" Spock asked, looking at Jim in patience.
"Starfleet. Ordering you to Arizona for 6 fucking months."
"Sir?" Spock asked in his version of surprise, his eyes wide and showing an inordinate amount of uncertainty. "I'm being transferred?"
"Temporarily," Jim spit out. "Arizona is going on some kind of science expedition on the other side of omega galaxy. You are to report to Arizona next week when we arrive at the Starbase."
"I do not understand," Spock said quietly, sitting in the chair facing Jim.
"I don't either. They said we are subject to their orders, the needs of the fleet. I think it's to punish me for the Orleans incident," Jim said, making no attempt to disguise his considerable anger.
"I am to serve on Arizona for six months," Spock repeated, trying to understand what Jim had said. There had to be some kind of mistake, a misunderstanding.
When Spock left his quarters, Jim lay his head on his folded hands, wondering how he would survive Spock being gone for six fucking months. He wasn't sure he would.
"Man up," Bones said with a distinct lack of sympathy. "It's just a flesh wound."
"It's not a flesh wound. My whole hand is going to fall off," Jim complained from where he sat on the biobed, which he had actually climbed onto voluntarily, making Dr. McCoy extremely suspicious.
"Your hand is not going to fall off, Captain. Why were you teasing Yeoman Simms cat, again?"
Jim just shrugged innocently, looking at the scratch all the way across the inside of his wrist.
"Tell me what's really wrong," Bones suggested, his arms crossed over his chest as he studied Jim with all knowing eyes.
Jim took a deep breath, still looking down at his wrist that wasn't even bleeding, contradicting his claim that he was going to loose his hand. "Is it my fault those security officers died?" he asked barely above a whisper.
"No. You know there was nothing to be done, Jim," Bones assured him. "We're very lucky you weren't killed too."
"I thought I was going to die," Jim admitted. The "peace conference" had turned into a blood bath, the Federation completely wrong about the intentions of the Barasanties. The three security officers that had died were the first hit by their blasters, the rest of the away team barely able to escape before they were caught in the transporter beam. "I know any one of us could be killed at any time. We've accepted that, but…."
"Yeah, I know," Bones assured him, reaching over for the disinfectant spray. "Spock will be released tomorrow. That will help."
"Maybe that's the worst of it," Jim decided as Bones coated his scratch, numbing the slight burning sensation. "He almost died protecting me. That's huge by anybody's standards."
"Comes with being the Captain," Bones told him gently. "Any of us would die to protect you. And that's partly about who you are, not just the job that you have."
Jim nodded, finally looking up at Bones. "Thanks."
"No charge. Now go talk to Spock and get out of my way so I can see to less important patients."
"You don't love any of them the way you love me, do you?" Jim teased as he left the biobed.
"There's no way I could," Bones assured him, watching Jim walk away with lighter steps, glad he was able to help, a little at least.
"Captain," Spock said, an edge of urgency in his voice. "Jim."
"Wha's up, Ssspkk?" Jim responded, his eyes unfocused, his breathing labored.
"Stay with me, Jim," Spock insisted, holding tightly to Jim's hand.
"Not goin anywhere," Jim whispered, licking his lips.
"The ship will beam us up in five minutes. I am going to mind meld with you," Spock said, reaching for the meld points.
"'kay. Like on Deldavega," Jim said.
"I was not on Delta Vega," Spock said, placing his fingers in the correct position.
"Sright. Other sssppkk," Jim said, closing his eyes and waiting, for what he wasn't sure.
Spock entered the swirling images of Jim's thoughts, wondering if Jim was always so mentally active and vividly colored. There was a rain shower not of water but of the M&M candies Jim so enjoyed to eat. There were red ones and green ones and blue ones and orange ones. Every color imaginable was present, the M&Ms falling gently, some coming to rest on the green grass beneath his feet, some disappearing before landing anywhere at all. Spock had the impression that the ones that disappeared were ideas that Jim spent no real time considering, ephemeral thoughts which were conceived and abandoned before he fully formed them.
Spock followed a trail of candies to a pile of red M&Ms, Jim's mental image of himself squatting next to it, watching more red M&Ms fall to add to the growing mound.
"Hey," Jim said to Spock without looking over at him.
"Jim," Spock responded, squatting next to him. "Did you know that your thoughts look like candy?"
"Not until the mind meld on Delta Vega," Jim said. "He…or uhm…you showed me."
"Do you know what has happened?" Spock asked gently.
"Yeah. Chances are pretty good I'm going to die," Jim told him calmly. "I'm sorry."
"You are not going to die," Spock corrected, reaching out to take Jim's image by the hand. "Hold onto me."
"I don't think it will help," Jim said with a shrug. "Tell Bones that I love him. And take good care of my ship."
"He knows, Jim. As do I. And you will be able to take care of your own ship."
Jim shook his head, turning to look at Spock, tears in his eyes. "I do love you. And I'm sorry I'm leaving you."
"I love you as well. Which is why you cannot die. There are too many things we've left unsaid."
Jim smiled a very sad smile, holding more tightly to Spock's hand. "I at least got to hear the words. Thank you for that."
"Jim," Spock started before he felt the tingling of the transporter catch them both. When they solidified on the transporter pad, Spock withdrew slightly, holding on to the mental image of Jim's hand but not communicating with him.
Three days after Jim had nearly died this time, he regained consciousness, looking for Spock, certain he'd be close by. "Hey."
"Jim," Spock said, his relief obvious.
"Did you mean it? What you said on the planet?" Jim asked, trying not to be too hopeful, not wanting to push Spock somewhere he didn't want to go.
"I did. I trust you did as well," Spock said with his almost smile. He reached out for Jim's hand, using the physical touch to transmit his love, his relief that Jim had not died, his happiness that they had finally admitted how they felt for each other.
"Yeah," Jim said, smiling at him with love and gratitude in his eyes. "Thanks for saving my life."
"Please do not make it a habit," Spock requested, content to merely sit and study his Captain who had finally become even more.
Dr. McCoy made a mental note to be sure and research the effects of a Vulcan bond on a human. Because he sure wasn't ready for Jim being so sick because Spock was. The fever that had laid Spock out wasn't especially serious. Not to Spock. It was a common ailment for Vulcans and one easily treated with rest, plenty of fluids, and the Vulcan healing trance. In Humans, or at least in Jim, it raised his temperature to 40.5, causing convulsions, hallucinations, and dehydration. At least Jim had the sense to contact the doctor as soon as he started feeling the first symptoms. Except that was just another sign of how serious it really was. The minute Jim arrived in medbay, Bones couldn't believe how awful he looked – his eyes bloodshot, his nose a bright red, his cheeks an even brighter red.
Jim's fever was finally down but Bones could make Spock no promises about any permanent damage. Not until Jim was coherent enough so that they could determine if the fever had burnt out any of his mental connectors.
"I wouldn't recommend mind melding yet," Bones cautioned. "You could end up with the fever again."
"I cannot contract it by making mental contact," Spock insisted.
Bones shook his head. "No. But he may not know you. Give it another day."
Spock reluctantly agreed, staying by Jim's bed as he slept fitfully over the next 24 hours.
When Jim opened his eyes, he squinted over to watch Spock sleep, looking uncomfortable but undeniably adorable curled up in the chair. "Spock."
"Jim," Spock responded, instantly awake. He stood to kiss Jim on the forehead, relieved that it was only slightly warm. "How are you feeling?"
"Not great. What happened?" Jim asked. Spock explained, Jim nodding in understanding. "Are you okay now?" Jim asked, studying him.
"I am. Dr. McCoy is concerned that the fever could have caused brain damage," Spock said reluctantly.
"I'm pretty sure it hasn't," Jim said with a small smile. "I am James T. Kirk. Captain of the Enterprise. And you are my first officer. And my t'hy'la."
Jim told him exactly, accounting even for the days he had been unconscious. "And I'm really thirsty."
"Yes. I need to alert Dr. McCoy and then we will get you something to drink."
"Pepsi?" Jim requested.
"Yes," Spock agreed, kissing his forehead before walking away to find the doctor, barely able to hide his happiness that Jim had returned to him.
"You don't need to hold them," Jim said to the very tall Bozyords who were most displeased that anyone had come to their planet. As soon as the away team had solidified, they had been captured and bound together before being marched to the tremendous palace that was the seat of their government. The lord high priest was sitting in his throne, looking down his regal nose at the six humans who were dirtying his palace with their mere presence. "I will remain and they will leave orbit."
"What guarantee to I have?" the lord high priest demanded, looking at the Captain with a mix of disgust and contempt.
"Once they are safely back aboard, I will order them away. They are obedient and will do as I say," Jim assured him.
The lord high priest motioned that one of his attendants step closer and they had a very quiet conversation, the humans sneaking peeks at them as they waited.
"You are willing to sacrifice yourself for the safety of your crew," the lord high priest finally said, a subtle change to his voice that increased their collective anxiety.
"My life is insignificant compared to that of my crew, my lord," Jim said. "My death will not be in vain if it saves my people."
"You five," the lord high priest ordered, pointing to the other members of the away team. "Contact your vessel. Return to it."
The five officers nodded reluctantly, standing to back away, wishing there was something they could do. But Jim had made his decision and they would not dishonor it by trying to change his mind.
As soon as the other members of the away team had transported out, Jim relaxed a fraction, knowing that they and all those still aboard his ship were safe. He regretted leaving Spock and Bones but his death would ensure their safety and it was more than a fair trade.
"Human," the lord high priest said, commanded.
"Yes my lord," Jim said, looking up at him.
"Are you common among your kind?"
"I do not understand, my lord," Jim responded, trying to figure out what he was really asking.
"You give no thought to your own death in order to save those who serve you," the lord high priest explained, making it clear the words were given reluctantly.
"They don't serve me as much as serve with me," Jim said. "And they are my responsibility. My family. I will die knowing that I have served them."
"And this is how humans act toward your own kind?"
"Mostly. We have our bad seeds just like any race. But a willingness to protect our friends is part of almost all of us," Jim decided.
The lord high priest nodded, whispering with his attendant once more. "This is not what we have been told."
"By whom, if I may be so bold, my lord?"
"We were visited by those who called themselves Klinnons," the ruler said, stepping down from his throne. "They informed us that humans are not to be trusted. That your race is known for your selfishness, your barbarianism, your dishonor."
"There is no love between humans and Klingons, my lord," Jim admitted. "We often find ourselves in competition for the same resources."
"They warned us that you may come and take that which you want, by force, with no consideration for our population or destroying our way of life."
"I'm sorry they told you those lies, my lord. We do not conquer worlds. We explore, we invite worlds to join us, we negotiate for that which we need."
"Stand," the lord high priest ordered, looking down at him even as he complied. "It is time for us to eat. You will join us."
"Will I be the main course?" Jim asked as he looked up at the very tall Bozyord. To his immense relief, the lord high priest laughed.
"We have misjudged you," the Bozyord decided. "We will eat. You will return to your vessel. Tomorrow you and yours will return and we will talk."
"Thank you, my lord," Jim agreed, moving his arms to reestablish the circulation to his hands when they were finally cut free. "With your permission, may I contact my ship and let them know I am alright?"
The lord high priest nodded to one of his attendants who handed Jim his communicator, which he used to briefly explain the circumstances and assuring them he would be back aboard after he had dinner with his hosts. He could almost feel the relief from the entire crew as Spock acknowledged and signed off.
And The 1 Time He Was Sure He Wasn't Going Die, Thanks to Spock
Spock was sitting in the observation lounge, looking out at nothing in particular. He did not turn as the door opened to allow Jim to enter.
"Hey," Jim said, sitting pressed close to his bondmate on the risers that faced the windows. He absorbed Spock's warmth, his presence comforting and reassuring in ways Jim had never anticipated.
"T'hy'la," Spock said, kissing his head before returning his attention to those same windows.
"Why are you keeping me out?" Jim asked, mostly curious, not especially worried about the unusual barriers Spock had put up between them.
"I rarely indulge in imagining what life might have held, had things been different," Spock said, his voice soft and heavy with possibility.
"I know that, love. What's on your mind?"
"I was trying to imagine what my life would be like had you and I never met," Spock said. "It is not possible."
"That's because we are meant to be together. There was only one possibility of how our lives could have turned out." Jim felt Spock's acceptance and acknowledgment of those words, filling his Vulcan with a sense of security. "You don't regret it, do you?" he asked, knowing for sure the answer.
"Only if I am willing to regret finding true happiness. Finding my soulmate. Becoming whole because of you," Spock said. "Will you marry me?"
"Well, yeah," Jim said, laughing in pure delight. "Although it's not really necessary."
"It is to me. We should be affirmed by Human standards just as we are by Vulcan standards."
"That's fine with me. When? And where?"
"As soon as arrangements can be made. And on our ship so that our family may rejoice with us," Spock said with another kiss.
"Sounds good. Can we return to our quarters and start our honeymoon?" Jim whispered seductively in Spock's beautiful ear.
"You are not angry about my…speculation?" Spock had to ask.
"Of course not. It's only…oh. Well, I was going to say it's only Human to have doubts but I don't want you to think I'm insulting you," Jim said.
"You would never intentionally say anything intended to hurt me."
"Never," Jim agreed. "Any time I try to imagine my life without you, it is impossible. I would cease to exist if I didn't have you."
"That will never happen," Spock promised, standing and reaching down a hand to help Jim stand. He did not relinquish his hold as they made their way to their quarters to celebrate the love that they were going to publically declare, the one that kept them whole and made life worth living in more ways than either of them could count.