A/N: I finally got arsed to write another multichaptered story. This one's actually been in development for about three months, I only recently got around to actually write it. The first three chapters are just about done, and there are about 6-7 chapters after that completely planned out, so I'm gonna try to keep a weekly schedule. It shouldn't be too hard, considering that every chapter's only going to be about 1-2000 words.
Right, so I hope you enjoy and please review, if only to tell me what's wrong with this chapter. Feedback is important, especially to works in progress:D
Life's dearest bands untwining
O why should Fate sic pleasure have,
Life's dearest bands untwining?
Or why sae sweet a flower as love
Depend on Fortune's shining?
- Robert Burns, 1793
To be completely honest, Kirk had been waiting for something like this to happen. Maybe not exactly this but something that would screw everything up. His life was just too good for it to last.
First off, there was the whole becoming Captain and getting his own ship. And not just any ship, but the freaking Enterprise, a ship he'd been having borderline wet-dreams about for years, ever since they first started building her in the Riverside shipyard.
Of course it hadn't been easy at first. He was completely inexperienced and he had a long way to go to earn the respect of all his crew members, let alone the rest of the Federation. But by the end of the first five year mission not only did he have that, he had the most loyal, most talented crew in the fleet in his service. He had friends.
He had a family.
Bones, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov…
Kirk still had a hard time believing it. After six years of an admittedly stormy friendship, after four years of being in the first committed relationship of his life, after nearly ten months of being bonded, he still couldn't believe that out of all the people in the universe, Spock had gone and fallen in love with him.
The past six years had been the happiest of Kirk's life. And even though his life wasn't perfect (he and Spock did still argue about the stupidest things and he still wasn't on comfortable terms with his mother or Sam) it was as close as Kirk could ever have asked for.
And now it was all going to be torn away from him.
All because of one stupid mission.
Kirk lay by himself in the bed in their quarters, his face buried in Spock's pillow, and it was all he could do not to break down. His bondmate was in surgery, fighting for his life. Even if he did survive (and that was a pretty big if), their lives and their relationship had been irrevocably changed.
Captain's Log, Stardate 2712.4
Having just received orders from Starfleet headquarters, we are on our way to Decos Vau, a planet near the edge of Federation space devoid of sentient life. We are to examine it and determine whether it is a viable location for a Federation base. The away team will consist of myself, Mr. Spock, and Lieutenants Fredericks and Hahnemann.
Spock was ignoring him.
Not that Kirk could really blame him. This was a purely scientific mission, no need for the Captain to be included, but he had insisted on joining them anyway. Spock didn't much like it when he waved regulations like this, especially not when it came to away missions. He worried, Kirk knew, even though he wouldn't show it.
But it had been almost two months since he was last needed on an away mission and if Kirk had to stay cooped up on that ship much longer he would go mad. Not that he didn't love his lady, but there was a limit to how much time a man was willing to spend stuck on board a spaceship (aside from Scotty, who would probably never leave the engine room if given the opportunity).
And it wasn't as if it was a particularly dangerous away mission. There were no animals on this planet, nor anything else that might harm them, so Spock was completely overreacting.
Kirk didn't want to tell him that though.
Instead of pushing his luck with his irritated bondmate, Kirk wandered over to where Lieutenant Fredericks was taking some geological scans.
"Everything in order, Lieutenant?" He asked, just for the sake of having something to say. He didn't expect it not to be, the whole mission was mostly a formality anyway.
Fredericks barely glanced up from his tricorder. "Yes sir. Nothing unexpected has turned up, I should be able to wrap this up in the next five minutes. This looks like stable enough ground to build a base on."
He had no sooner finished speaking, than a suspicious, loud crack sounded from under them and small gaps began to appear in the earth.
"You were saying?" Kirk said wryly.
Fredericks frowned and squinted at his tricorder. "I don't understand it. My scanner's read a solid ground below us, going down at least 400 meters-"
"Well, then the scanner is wrong," Kirk cut in. "We can finish the examination later. Mr. Spock, Lieutenant Hahnemann!" He called. "We're beaming out of here."
He grabbed his communicator, careful not to make any big movements. He felt more than saw Spock walk up to him and another crack formed on the ground. Hahnemann appeared over the hill and Kirk held up his arm to stop him from coming closer. Scotty could pick his signal up from there, Kirk didn't think the ground could take any more weight.
"Kirk to Enterprise."
Kirk frowned. "Kirk to Enterprise, four to beam up."
"There's no connection, sir," Fredericks pointed out needlessly. Kirk swore.
"We should move to a more solid ground," Spock suggested as more cracks formed underneath them. "Carefully."
"Right," Kirk said grimly. He took a cautious step forward, only to nearly fall down as the earth literally collapsed from underneath him. Only Spock's hand on his arm kept him standing. "What now?"
"Jack!" Fredericks shouted and Kirk looked up just in time to see Lieutenant Hahnemann disappear into the earth. The ground rumbled forebodingly.
"Stay where you are, Lieutenant," Kirk commanded shakily, but Fredericks paid him no mind. The young man sprinted forward, and in the next moment he fell into the ground after his coworker with an almost comical yell.
"Jim," Spock said quietly. "Hold onto me."
The earth rumbled again and suddenly Kirk was in freefall, plunging into the darkness below. He reached for Spock, who grabbed tightly onto him and turned so he was below Kirk.
"No! What are you-"
He was cut short as his whole body lurched painfully. They had landed, Spock having strategically placed himself underneath his Captain to soften his landing.
"Spock?" Kirk whispered, the wind momentarily knocked from his lungs. "Spock, are you okay?"
He clumsily rolled off of his bondmate, his entire body aching. He did a quick assessment of his injuries in his mind, concluding that at most he had a couple of broken ribs (definitely at least one, judging by the painful flares in his chest every time he drew a breath). Spock had to be worse off though, he had after all been the one to take most of the impact.
Kirk fumbled for his palm beacon, while feeling for a heart beat with his other hand. His hand met something wet and warm, and Kirk had to stop moving momentarily as a wave of nausea overtook him. He could never stand to see Spock bleed, the Vulcan always seemed so indestructible and Kirk hated to be reminded that he could be hurt too.
He finally found the beacon almost at the same time as he detected a faint pulse, going fast for a human heart but slow for a Vulcan one. His skin was also alarmingly cold but that was supposed to be natural for Vulcans Kirk reminded himself.
Turning on the light, Kirk did his best to go over Spock's injuries in a detached manner. The blood, as it turned out, was from a head injury but the cut seemed shallow. His right leg was also bent at an odd angle but Kirk couldn't see any bones jutting out so he counted that as a win too. There was no telling the internal damage, though, and judging by the weakening pulse, there had to be some. A quick glance upwards revealed that they had fallen down at least ten meters.
"Spock, wake up," Kirk said and slapped the Vulcan softly on the face. No reaction. He swallowed and forced down his sneaking feeling of dread, turning the palm beacon away from Spock's unconscious body to search for his other crewmembers.
He cringed when he spotted the two lieutenants some meters away, both their bodies crushed by stray boulders. He allowed himself a moment of sorrow, before turning back to Spock. There would be time to grieve later, when no one's life was in danger.
He whipped up his communicator again and tried in vain to contact the Enterprise. Then he felt for Spock's pulse again, still fading. His breathing was slowing too, soon he would be completely still in Kirk's arms.
Kirk had never felt so helpless in his life. Of all the ways he'd imagined it would end (and he had imagined it, over and over, in a sort of self-punishment he was all too used to) this was by far what he had feared most. Spock was fading fast and for once in his life, Kirk had no backup plan, no last-minute miracle up his sleeve. He was well and truly powerless.
He held Spock closer to him and focused on the bond in his mind, flickering away slowly. He took a shaky breath, not even trying to hold back the tears anymore.
"It seems we were unsuccessful."
Kirk froze and looked up, unable to believe his eyes. Two tall humanoids stood before him, calm, disdainful expressions on their faces. Their skin and eyes were pale, almost translucent and they glowed oddly in the dark but otherwise they looked almost human.
Wasn't this planet supposed to be devoid of sentient life?
"Indeed," said the one to the left. "These two live. But not for much longer."
Kirk gaped. "What? You- you caused this?"
The one on the right inclined his head. "We did. We are not fond of parasites invading our planet."
"We didn't know," Kirk whispered. "We thought the planet was uninhabited."
"Then you thought wrong. It is not our fault."
"You could have laid some sort of claim to the planet," Kirk argued. "Contacted the Federation, or put some sort of sign up. You didn't need to- you didn't need to kill my crew to get the message across."
"You regret their deaths?" The one on the left asked.
"Of course I do!" Kirk exclaimed.
"And the Vulcan?" The one on the right prodded. "If he were to die, you would regret his death too?"
Kirk's heart clenched at the thought. "Yes, I would."
The two beings shared a short glance. "Interesting. We were made to believe that humans are selfish creatures."
Kirk shrugged weakly. "We can be. Sometimes. But we care about our comrades."
"Interesting," the one on the left repeated.
They looked at each other for a long time, and Kirk got the feeling they were communicating. Finally, the one on the right looked back at him.
"We will let you live," he told Kirk. "As long as you leave our planet, and never come back."
"We promise," Kirk said hurriedly, relief flooding his body.
The one on the left nodded. "We will be expecting payment, of course."
"Payment?" Kirk said dumbly. After killing two of my men and grievously injuring another, he wanted to add but refrained. Spock's life was at their mercy.
"You have treaded upon our land," the one on the right said. "We demand compensation."
"Sure," Kirk agreed through gritted teeth. He couldn't believe their audacity. "Whatever you want."
"You have nothing we could want," the one on the left said disdainfully. "Your Vulcan crewmate on the other hand…" He trailed off meaningfully.
"What do you want from him?"
"Vulcans have an intriguing sort of telepathy," the one on the right said. "If we had it as well, we could certainly utilize it."
Kirk bit his lip. They might just as well have asked for Spock's eyes, or his ears. "Is there anything else you'd take instead?"
The two beings shared a look again.
"He is telsu," the one on the right stated.
"He is," Kirk confirmed. "You want his bond?"
The one on the left shook his head. "We want what drives it. We want his love for his bondmate."
Kirk swallowed heavily.
"Such emotion as we feel from him, even unconscious, is rare indeed," the being continued. "While most species' feelings are fickle and weak, human emotions included, Vulcans are unique. Their emotions, though hidden and controlled, are powerful, beautiful once distorted into visible form. We have only had the pleasure of glancing at such beauty before but to be in possession of it… that would be the greatest honor of all."
"So, you either want his telepathy," Kirk said slowly, "or his love for his bondmate."
The one on the right nodded. "Neither of you has anything else we desire."
Kirk couldn't even pretend that it was a difficult decision. He had always had a habit of putting others before himself, especially the people he loved. McCoy hated it. While taking away Spock's telepathy would be akin to taking away his eyesight, taking away his love for Kirk wouldn't really hurt him. Spock would hardly miss Kirk once all trace of his love for him was gone.
His decision made, Kirk nodded. "You can have it. His love for his bondmate. Just please, let him live."
The one on the left raised his arm, but the other one grabbed it. "It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Once removed, his love will never return. He will never again feel affection, nor compassion, nor desire for his bondmate. Most likely, they will never be able to become friends again."
Kirk got the impression the alien realized who the bondmate was, but he didn't comment on it. "I don't care. Help him, before he dies."
The one on the left raised his arm again and waved it grandly, and instantly Kirk could feel the familiar tingle of the transporter as his surroundings fainted into white light.
"You have one week, before we collect our debt," the aliens called after them and then, Kirk and Spock were back onboard the Enterprise. Sickbay, more specifically. McCoy, who seemed to have been pacing around the room, froze as soon as he spotted them.
"Good God," he exclaimed.
"Help him," Kirk commanded, pushing everything out of his mind except Spock's safety.
"M'Benga, get your ass in here," McCoy shouted as he rushed to Spock's side. "Coffee break's over."
Soon the room was swarmed with medical personnel. Spock was heaved onto a gurney and into operation, while two nurses carefully led Kirk to a bed for a medical examination. He silently did as told, the events of the past hour running through his mind on a constant loop. The away mission had been a disaster. He'd lost two crewmembers, Spock had been critically injured trying to save him and he'd sold away Spock's emotions in exchange for his life.
He felt like he should probably be more upset than he was, but all he could muster was a numb, distant kind of sadness. Shock, McCoy would say. It wasn't until hours later, when Kirk was lying in the bed in their shared quarters, his face buried in Spock's pillow, that it finally hit him.
His bondmate was in surgery, fighting for his life. Even if he did survive (and that was a pretty big if), their lives and their relationship had been irrevocably changed.