A/N: A long time ago, someone requested a prequel to "First Contact" based on the idea that Spock must have melded with Kirk to show him where Captain Pike was being held.

Sorry for the epic delay, but I now bring you this long oneshot.

Also, this series will soon be turned into podfic/audiofic. They were requested at the ks_audiofic community on LiveJournal, and I've lined up a reader. If you'd like a copy, either join the comm or message me and I'll link you when they've been recorded.

xxxxx

For the first time in years, Nero felt satisfied.

It had all gone according to plan.

Vulcan was gone: a distant memory, annihilated by its own technology and Nero's sadistic vengeance. Certainly, Ambassador Spock was similarly imploding under the weight of his own emotions on Delta Vega. And Earth would soon follow in Vulcan's footsteps.

"We have hit the mantle," reported Hanaj. "Outer core penetration in approximately fifteen minutes."

Nero nodded. He had chosen to drill off the coast of California, near Starfleet Academy. Just as he wanted Spock to see the destruction of his planet, he wanted every last cadet to witness the end of Earth.

Hanaj's voice cut through Nero's thoughts. "Captain. We have Starfleet officers aboard the ship. One of them is Vulcan."

Nero peered down at the screen in front of him. Two forms were visible through the dirty glass, dressed in blue and gold. "No," he whispered.

From below, Ayel shot a worried look at the grizzled Romulan. He knew that Nero regretted not killing Spock—the younger Spock—when he had the chance. Now, Ayel reasoned, Spock must have returned to avenge the destruction of his planet. What other Vulcan would board the ship?

"Ayel!" hollered Nero, and he snapped into action as the captain raced in another direction.

xx

Meanwhile, Kirk and Spock had beamed into a nest of phaser-wielding Romulans, which was very different from the cargo bay Scotty had promised. As Spock cut down Romulans with frightening precision, Kirk watched in awe; he'd never imagined Spock would have so much skill in combat. Then again, he thought, why wouldn't he have this skill, too? Infuriatingly—and impressively—the Vulcan seemed to be good at everything.

Spock crouched, glancing over at an unconscious Romulan.

"I'll cover you," Kirk whispered, knowing Spock's intent.

He considered this. "Are you certain?"

"Yeah. I got you."

With sharp grace, he sprinted to the Romulan's side and pressed the pads of his fingertips to his face. As his eyes fluttered and he slipped into the unconscious man's mind, one of his Romulan comrades aimed at Spock; before he could fire, Kirk shot him.

Phaser still at the ready, he knelt near Spock. "Do you know where it is? The black hole device?"

Spock's eyelids fluttered for a couple more moments before he opened them. "And Captain Pike."

They rose. "Tell me where Pike is," Kirk demanded.

"It will be easier to show you."

"Show me," repeated Kirk. "You mean, with that mind-link thing."

Spock tilted his head. "How—"

"Never mind." Kirk remembered his promise not to incite a universe-ending paradox. "Just do it."

For the briefest of moments, Spock seemed to hesitate, then touched his warm fingers to Kirk's comparatively cool skin.

Kirk, for some reason, couldn't think of anything but the only other time Spock had made contact with him; the pressure around his neck, loss of air—the absence of fear, the presence of something unidentifiable.

Concentrate. Spock's urgency cut through the confusion, and images filled Kirk's mind. A long corridor, water splashing at feet. The stench of mechanics and rubber. Captain Pike, strapped down—

Something in Kirk's stomach turned. "I've got it," he said, pulling away from the meld. "I'll see you back on the Enterprise."

"First, accompany me to the ship," Spock said. "I may need your assistance."

"All right. Lead the way."

They ducked down long tunnels and dark corridors in silence. Soon, they came to a cavernous dock. A ship, small in comparison to most spacecraft, towered before them. Spock gazed up in apparent awe.

"C'mon," Kirk urged. He jogged toward the ramp.

They ascended into the ship, taking in the sleek interior, a testament to future engineering.

"I foresee a complication," Spock announced, glancing around. "The design of this ship is far more advanced than I anticipated."

"Voice print and facial recognition analysis enabled," came a calm female voice. "Welcome back, Ambassador Spock."

"Huh." Kirk walked past him. "That's weird."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "Computer. What is your manufacturing origin?"

"Stardate 2387. Commissioned by the Vulcan Science Academy."

"It appears that you have been keeping important information from me." An accusatory tone inflamed Spock's otherwise calm voice.

Kirk ignored this. "You're going to be able to fly this thing, right?"

"Something tells me I already have."

He lingered there, staring at the Vulcan. "Good luck," he finally told him, and turned to leave.

"Jim," Spock called, and the use of his first name stopped Kirk in his tracks.

He turned back.

"The statistical likelihood that our plan will succeed is less than 4.3 percent."

"It'll work," Kirk maintained, annoyed.

"In the event that I do not return, please tell Lieutenant Uhura—"

"Spock." Kirk cut him off right there, not wishing to hear what he'd tell Lieutenant Uhura. "It'll work." With that, he was gone.

The Vulcan's eyes followed him for a moment longer than necessary; suddenly, he seemed to understand.

As Kirk exited the ship, he glanced back up. Spock sat, perfectly calm and rational, in the pilot's chair. It'll work, he repeated to himself, and re-entered the tunnel system.

Water lapped at Kirk's feet; deep grooves textured the curved metal walls, and he knew he was close to Pike. As he came out into the open, he spotted Nero standing on a ledge.

"Nero," Kirk began, his phaser aimed directly at the Romulan's head, "order your men to disable the drill, or I will—"

The breath was taken out of him as Ayel sent a dizzying blow to his head. Kirk hit the ground, and his phaser skidded off the side. He heard it bounce off of the thick metal platforms below. Shit.

Nero came running. The dark innards of the ship spiraled in Kirk's eyes. Get up, he thought. Focus.

"I know your face," Nero began. "From Earth's history." He threw him across the ledge; Kirk hit the ground hard, knocking the wind out of him. "James T. Kirk was considered to be a great man. Went on to captain the U.S.S. Enterprise. But that was another life."

A hand closed around his throat; with the world still spinning, Kirk briefly thought the hand belonged to a Vulcan, and fuzzy logic told him there had to be a reason, always a reason with Spock, this would end well—

"A life I will deprive you of," came Nero's voice, and Kirk glared up at him. "Just like I did your father."

The hand tightened, and Kirk's eyes bulged. He couldn't fight the Romulan strength.

Hanaj's voice filled the ship. "Captain Nero. The Vulcan ship has been taken. The drill has been destroyed."

Nero's calculating eyes rested on Kirk. "Well. This changes things," he said, his voice grating.

You're going to let me live?

"I'm still going to kill you," Nero told him, reading the question in his eyes. "But not yet."

What? Kirk blinked back at Nero as he relaxed his grip.

He opened his mouth to ask a question, then the world went black.

xx

When Kirk regained consciousness, the first thing he saw was Captain Pike.

"Captain," he said. "I'm going to get you out of here."

Pike stared back at him. "And how are you going to do that?"

For the first time, Kirk saw that he was securely strapped to a thick slab of iron. He couldn't move. His shirt was missing.

"Jim," came another familiar voice, this one softer.

It took a great deal of effort, but Kirk lifted his head. Directly across from him stood a very calm Spock. As his eyes focused, he saw the reason why the Vulcan was not moving; thick iron shackles, attached right to the wall, circled his wrists and ankles. A thick, curved band of metal held his head in place.

"Spock. What the hell happened? Are you all right?"

"I am uninjured."

"What happened to the ship?" asked Kirk.

"It is intact," came the reply. "Their tractor beam was unusually strong. I could not reach warp speed in time to escape."

"At least you destroyed the drill."

"Indeed."

Nero appeared then, Ayel at his side. The Romulan captain hefted a load of tools into his subordinate's arms.

"Well, well." His condescension toward the young Vulcan was almost tangible. "At last I have you, Spock."

"I am afraid I still do not understand the reason for your grudge against me," Spock articulated carefully, giving no indication that he was shackled to the wall. "Please enlighten me."

"It is not what you are now," Nero droned. He paced back and forth in front of Spock. "But what you become in the future."

"I—"

"You tortured me!" shouted Nero. "You tortured me by making me watch my planet shatter into pieces while you did nothing. I got my revenge on the other you. Now I'm going to get revenge on you, Spock. I'm going to hurt you so badly you won't be able to function."

Kirk saw the gleam of a sharp instrument and shuddered. Instinctively, he tried to break free, hoping to save Spock from whatever awful fate Nero was about to deliver.

But the captain of the Narada turned to Kirk instead.

xxxxx

xxxxx

Ayel set the tools down on a table between Kirk and Pike.

"Go tell Hanaj to lower the ship and extend the smaller drill," Nero commanded; Ayel nodded and left.

Pike glared up at Nero. "You got your revenge," he spat, voice cracking. "Vulcan's gone. You're about to annihilate Earth. Let them go."

Nero met his stare with equal contempt. "You haven't lost a wife and child. Don't tell me what my revenge should be."

"I lost a father," Kirk interjected. "You killed my father and tried to kill both me and my mother. What should my revenge be?"

"Do you want to kill me for that, James Kirk?" Nero regarded him with amusement.

He remained silent.

"Well, I'm going to take you apart. And he's going to watch."

As Nero spoke, Pike slowly worked his right hand out of the thick straps. The table sat impossibly close to his fingers—if he could just get his hand free, he might be able to reach the knife at the edge—

"This dispute is between you and me," Spock reasoned, eyeing the pile with discomfort. "If you wish to cause me harm, inflict pain upon me. It is illogical to harm him."

A smile flickered across Nero's lips as he turned back to the Vulcan. "That's right. You're young." An abbreviated chuckle. "You might not even have made the admission yet."

Spock raised an eyebrow.

"No, Spock, this is more than logical. This is the best way to hurt you." He selected a short, thick metal rod from the pile; the top glowed bright blue.

Kirk swallowed hard as the Romulan advanced on him.

"It's primitive," said Nero. "But effective."

With one last tug, Pike's hand broke free. Slowly, carefully, he reached for the knife.

Spock's eyes, cold and black, bored into Nero with icy anger. "Release him," he demanded.

He laughed out loud. "You are in no position to give that order." He extended his arm and touched the rod to Kirk's upper arm; he screamed out in pain, a terrible, inhuman sound.

Pike broke the first strap.

Spock's hands clenched into fists.

"One thousand volts," Nero reported.

Behind them, with his arms almost free, Pike struggled to undo the other straps.

"Captain Nero." Spock's voice shook the slightest bit; though Kirk still reeled from the shock, he noticed the change. "I assure you, applying the electrical shock to me would cause more pain."

Kirk, for a moment, locked eyes with the Vulcan; he was visibly shaken. The words of the older Spock floated through his brain:

So you do feel?

Yes.

There was a weight to that affirmation that Kirk hadn't understood until this moment. But before he could fully wrap his head around it, Nero had touched the wand to his skin again.

Two thousand volts this time, the screams impossibly louder, Spock's teeth grinding—

—then, a knife in Nero's side.

He fell to the floor, an expression of utter surprise on his face. Behind him stood a wavering Christopher Pike. For a moment he stood over Nero, triumphant, then collapsed.

Spock and Kirk exchanged a look.

"Captain," called Kirk. "You've got to get me out of this."

With great effort, Pike yanked the knife out of Nero's side and pulled himself over to Kirk. "My legs," he grunted. "They—I can't walk." He reached up, straining, and managed to slice through two of the straps. From there, Kirk was able to free himself, and immediately went to Spock.

"There is no lock," Spock reported. "They have placed—"

"I got it." Kirk pulled long pins from the wall; his fingers brushed Spock's warm hand. The Vulcan trembled at the unexpected touch.

Spock fixed his gaze on Kirk. "Are you injured?"

"Nah, I'm fine."

Worry lined his face. "Upon returning to the ship, I strongly suggest you visit Dr. McCoy."

"Spock. I'm all right. Let's just get out of here." He grabbed his communicator.

"Take Captain Pike and return to the Enterprise," replied Spock, his lips set in a firm line.

Kirk shook his head. "No. You're coming with us. That's an order."

"I must rid our universe of the Narada," Spock replied. Without waiting for a response, he left.

"Disobeying a direct order," mused Pike, as Kirk contacted the Enterprise. "Not like Spock at all."

xxxxx

xxxxx

The crew of the Enterprise let out a collective sigh of relief.

Spock had flown the Jellyfish directly into the Narada, igniting the red matter, and escaped death thanks to a well-timed transport. The Romulans from the future would never be seen again, and they were safely—albeit slowly—returning home.

Back at his station, Spock felt overwhelmed. He'd mastered his emotions in every other situation like a true Vulcan, but this had proven to be too much. Sneaking a glance at Kirk, he wondered how humans coped with such events; they were much more susceptible to emotion. Perhaps he is able to hide emotions as well as I can, mused Spock, observing the glib smile Kirk wore. Fascinating.

When the shift ended, Spock hastily entered the turbolift and disappeared, not wishing to talk to anyone. He needed time alone, and some quiet meditation, in order to sort out the onslaught of emotion.

He lit the solitary pillar candle, one of the few personal touches in the otherwise utilitarian room, and settled down. Closed his eyes. And, in true Vulcan fashion, he made a mental list of the emotions he was experiencing.

Anger, he began. He put this aside; after sending Nero into oblivion, the thirst for revenge had been sated. There was no one left alive to be angry with.

Grief. His mother was gone—never again would he hear the comforting human words. You will always have a proud mother.

Human words—

And now, a roadblock. What he could not sort out were the strange feelings that tore at him, all swirling around a central figure: James T. Kirk.

He concentrated on his breathing. In, out. In, out.

Images of Kirk's contorted, screaming face haunted his mind. He pushed them away, choosing instead to think of the stir in his stomach when Kirk's human fingers brushed his own Vulcan hand.

And what had Nero said? You're young. You might not even have made the admission yet.

In, out. In, out. What admission?

There was only one logical conclusion; ironically, Spock thought, this conclusion was devoid of any logic whatsoever.

A soft knock on his door interrupted him; reluctantly, he rose to answer.

Uhura stood outside, twisting her hands.

"Nyota," he said cordially.

She threw her arms around him. "Are you all right?"

"That has variable definitions," Spock found himself saying.

With a sigh, she took a step back.

"Is something the matter?"

She hesitated. "No. I'm just glad you're all right."

Carefully, he watched her face. "Nyota, I am quite proficient at reading emotions. Your facial expression tells me that you are upset."

A tear blossomed in the corner of her eye. "It's nice to know you care."

Spock paused before voicing the thought on both of their minds. "My reluctance to express emotion… hurts you."

As she gazed back at him, she began to cry. "It's just… it's hard. I didn't mean to sound sarcastic. But when you never show me how you feel... when I ask if you're all right, I know it has different definitions… but you know what I mean! Can't you just say yes or no?" She flung herself into a chair.

Spock sat across from her. "I apologize for causing you distress."

Uhura said nothing.

"Would you care to join me for a game of chess?"

She clenched her jaw. "I hate chess. You know that."

Feeling uncharacteristically awkward, Spock averted his eyes for a moment. After a moment, he turned back. "What would you like?"

She met his eyes. "Spock, I don't…" She sighed, looked away, tried again. "This shouldn't be so hard to say to you. You're logical." She laughed, a short, brusque sound.

"You wish to terminate our relationship."

"It's not working," Uhura blurted out. "I don't—it's not that—I just need someone who can be emotional. That's the only problem."

Spock's expression never changed. "It is logical that you wish to find a partner who can better meet your needs."

She reached out to place her hand on his, but withdrew before making contact, remembering what the touch of fingers meant to Vulcans. "I want to stay friends."

"Of course, Lieutenant."

Lieutenant.

Uhura got up and left.

And just like that, it was over.

xx

Twenty minutes later, Spock extinguished his candle and sat in the semi-darkness, staring at the blackened wick.

With a certain amount of guilt, he recalled the mind meld with Kirk. Inexplicably, the human had been thinking about their altercation aboard the Enterprise, but neither hate nor anger dominated the memory. It was something else; something Kirk hadn't realized yet.

But Spock knew.

Kirk was craving more contact. The buzz of Spock's fingers against his skin had awakened something within the human, and it would only be a matter of time before he realized it.

For a moment, he let his mind follow an illogical flight of fancy; that Nero's words really had referred to an admission of romantic feelings for James Kirk. That their futures were intertwined, glued together with late-night analysis of data, stolen kisses in the turbolift, and the right to stare at those blue eyes without the need to be stealthy—

And I want someone to play chess with, he thought petulantly.

He felt glad he was no longer Captain; he was emotionally compromised in every way possible.

xxx

URL to "First Contact," if you're new to this series:

www (dot) fanfiction (dot) net/s/5075235/1/First_Contact