Title: The Missing Piece
Author: heeroluva
Fandom: Star Trek TOS (or at least my bastardized version)
Pairing: Spock/Jim pre-slash, Bones, Amanda, Sarek
Warnings: non-graphic mental and physical torture, Bones' dirty mouth, some violence, and plot driven OOC-ness
Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just like to play with them.
Summary: After Spock is severely tortured will Jim and Bones be able to put the pieces back together?
Notes: Thanks to the awesome xlcatloveress for the beta. This is written in response to lemonrocket's art entry at trekreversebang. Also a big thanks to the mods for putting this on and being so understanding. All mistakes are mine. Feel free to let me know if you see any. As always feedback is appreciated.

The art this was based on can be found here (remove space): zephyrafriday. livejournal. com / 647. html

A panicked call from Amanda asking if Jim knew the cause of Spock's delayed arrival made his heart skip a beat. He hadn't seen Spock for over three days since they had dropped him off at Ret Wurzel V, a Vulcan research space station. From there, his First Officer had planned on catching a small transport vessel to Vulcan in order to visit his mother for some much deserved shore leave, but if Jim was honest, something had felt off since the moment they had dropped Spock off. Jim had merely brushed it off as a case of heart burn instead of admitting that he was missing his friend and was, at the same time, worried about his safety.

To see the normally tranquil and reserved woman so wide-eyed with alarm was more than enough to increase Jim's worries. He quickly promised her that he would look into it and would let her know as soon as he learned anything. Ordering Sulu to alter course back to the space station was met with a protest about their current mission. Jim didn't mean to snap, but stated sharply that he'd take care of it, and was met with startled silence as the crew was not used to seeing the captain act in such a manner.

Admiral Komack was not pleased with the change of direction because the planet they had been on course for was important to the Federation both due to its location and the large deposits of dilithium that were found there. But Jim was never above stretching the truth to meet his needs, and once Kirk informed the Admiral that they'd picked up an emergency signal from Ret Wurzel V, and that they were the only ship nearby, Komack grudgingly okayed the change but ordered them to return to their previous course when Ret was taken care of.

All the while his gut feeling told Jim that something had gone terribly wrong for Spock to not have checked in with either his mother or the Enterprise for pick up if his travel plans had changed. Troubled by his concerns, the journey back to Ret seemed to stretch endlessly. Food didn't hold much appeal and Jim's sleep was plagued by old nightmares twisted with all the new gruesome possibilities that his mind could conjure up. He ignored Bones' admonitions to eat and get some sleep and took to pacing the halls during the long hours of Gamma shift instead.

When they finally reached the base, it was quickly ascertained that Spock had indeed gotten on the departing transport ship, but that Ret had lost contact with it less than a day out. Following the warp trail the Enterprise found the remains of the ship, but Jim wasn't going to write his best friend off so easily and instead, ordered what many would deem quite literally a shot in the dark, a scan for any possible nearby ion trails.

The relief that Jim felt when they found one was unparalleled. There was still a chance, and Jim had always been a gambling man. Ordering pursuit at maximum warp and a deep space scan as to find out what they were dealing with before they overtook the vessel they were tracking, Jim busied himself with paperwork, not allowing himself to think of the horrifying possibilities or the grim what ifs.

It was two days later before they finally picked up readings of a Klingon Bird of Prey, and another day before they were close enough to implement his plan. Ordering Sulu to match the other ship's warp, he called Scotty to meet him in the transporter room. He wasn't really surprised to see Bones waiting for him as well.

"Mr. Scott, did you do as I asked?"

"Aye, Captain, all done. But, sir, what you're wanting to do, 'tis very dangerous. The margin of error is astronomical."

Jim just grinned, but it was wild, not happy. "I have faith in you."

The reason for McCoy's presence was made clear as he suddenly began to shout, "Dammit, Jim. You not only lied to an Admiral, but this foolhardy scheme you've dreamt up breaks at least a dozen regulations. Don't make me list them for you. You're in no state to be doing this, and you don't even know what you'll encounter once you get there. "

Jim's mouth stretched into a rictus grin at the doctor's words. "No need to list anything. I know them all and it's closer to two dozen. I have to do this Bones."

"The crew is just as worried as you are, but they worry about Spock andyou, damnit."

"There's nothing wrong with me, and I'm not putting the crew in danger. This is not up for debate."

"If there is nothing wrong with you, I'll eat my hat. You're as pale as can be and I'm betting the only reason you're on your feet is your dammed pride."

"Captain, if you're going to do this, it needs to be soon. The more time that passes the less stable it becomes."

"Well, Doctor. It looks like that's my cue. I'll be seeing you." With that, Jim turned and stepped onto the transporter platform, not missing the mock-salute the doctor snapped off in his direction irritably. The last thing he saw before Scotty flipped the control switch was the angry frown on Bones' face dissolving into one of worry, then the world turned black around him.

It seemed like both an eternity and an instant and was unlike anything he'd ever experienced before. For one moment he was afraid that something had gone wrong and that he was rematerializing inside a wall, but the feeling quickly passed and he found himself in the bowels of a ship. He quietly breathed out a sigh of relief, not believing it had actually worked, that it had been that easy.

He thumbed off the safety on his phaser and set it to stun while hesitantly walking forward, drawn by some invisible force. Coming to an intersection, Jim didn't even have to see into the cell to know that Spock was in it. He just knew. The odd sixth sense that he'd always had when it came to his First Officer was responsible and he had never been more thankful for it.

Without conscious thought, he ran around the corner, phaser forgotten as adrenaline surged. The Klingon guard didn't even have a chance to shout before Jim's hands were clenched around his neck. Even with the Klingon's superior strength, he wasn't able to budge Kirk's hormonally fueled rage and quickly dropped.

Letting the body fall heavily to the floor, Jim searched the pockets for the key card to open the door. Finding it, he turned, lowering the force field, and got his first real look at Spock. Suddenly, he venomously wished that he had killed the Klingon.

Spock's bare back was turned towards him, but Jim knew it was him. He didn't realize he was in shock and hadn't even moved yet, but his world had shrunk to include just Spock and the oh so startlingly green blood that was splattered all across the room. It was like a scene out of an old twentieth century slasher film. It looked so fake because there was no way that someone could lose so much blood and still be alive.

And then Jim's heart skipped another beat as the full implication of that thought hit him, and he finally found himself in control of his body again, rushing forward, franticly checking for a pulse. The panic that raced through him made his hand shake and his fingers slipped across the sticky blood, unable to find enough purchase to allow a true assessment of Spock's state. Cursing in frustration he placed his hand over Spock's mouth and nose, and almost passed out in relief when he felt a hot puff of air.

Later he would not remember ordering Scotty to beam them up, to have the Klingon crew beamed to the brig for later interrogation, or shouting at Bones to save Spock. All he could see were the injuries: the arm twisted at an odd angle behind Spock's back, the lashes on his back, some fresh and bleeding and some bone deep over others that had obviously been hurriedly and improperly healed, and the deep cuts in his wrist where he had been shackled to the wall.

And then the lack of proper food and sleep for days finally caught up with Jim as the adrenaline suddenly left him and he was lost in that sea of green.

Jim sighed in annoyance when he opened his eyes and realized where he was. Waking up in sickbay was never a good thing. Stretching out stiff muscles, he turned his head and froze at the sight of Spock occupying a nearby bed, causing the events of the previous days to come back to him. For a moment, he rigidly held his position, frozen in place, ignoring the way his muscles spasmed in protest. It was odd to see Spock so pale and still. Jim realized he'd never seen his first officer asleep before and suddenly wished it was due to different circumstances because this obviously wasn't a natural sleep; he was too still.

It wasn't until the door slid open that he realized that they were in one of the private rooms normally meant for a long term stay. Immediately, Jim became worried. Bones wasn't one to play favorites and put them in here just because of their rank.

When Bones came in, the doctor ignored him and went straight to Spock, checking the readings on his monitors and scribbling something on his PADD. Only when he was done, he turned towards Jim, not surprised to see him awake. His face was grave, and Jim had to quickly swallow as his stomach rose to his throat.

Bones' bright eyes locked with his. "Jim, I'm going to be straight with you. It doesn't look good. He's been in a coma since he was brought here, and hasn't yet entered a healing trance. The longer this goes on the worse his chance are." He suddenly looked away. "I'm sorry, Jim"

"How long was I out?"

"Three days. You slept two naturally because you were exhausted, and I sedated you the third because your electrolytes were still dangerously low."

Jim focused on Spock. "Is there nothing else you can do?"

Bones sighed and dragged his hand across his face, suddenly looking so much older than he was. "I've done as much as I can physically. I don't know how much you remember but they tortured him extensively. The only reason that he's still alive is because they treated the worst of his injuries between sessions, but whoever did it was a novice. I had to reset dozens of bones that were healing wrong. "

It was then that Jim realized that Spock had been naked underneath all of the dirt and blood, and he drew in a sharp breath, interrupting Bones. "Was he…?" Jim couldn't even bring himself to say it.

Bones didn't have to ask what Jim meant. "No, I didn't find any signs of that, thank god, but that's just a minor blessing. I've repaired the physical damage, Jim, but I can't repair his mind. I think they tortured him mentally too. His readings are so far off his baseline that I don't even know where to begin. I'm afraid that any drug I'd give him to try and correct one thing would make another thing worse and would potentially prove to be fatal. I'm not willing to risk that. I'm at an impasse, Jim. I'd recommend we get him to a Vulcan mind healer as soon as possible."

Jim sighed as he sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. "You know that's going to be easier said than done. Komack might not approve of another course change so soon. What are the chances of getting one to come to us?"

"'That might be faster, and easier to accommodate. They are a highly private people, so I am not sure. I've been waiting to get in touch with them because I haven't contacted his mother yet."

"She has to be worried sick by now. Always leaving the tough part to me, aren't you?"

"Well you're the Captain and that's your job. I'm a Doctor, not a diplomat. You know what seeing a lady in tears does to me."

Jim couldn't help but crack a small smile, remembering that. "Yes I know. So am I free to go?"

McCoy looked him over. "Only if you promise to eat when I tell you and get some more rest. If you don't follow those instructions I promise you, you'll end up back here sedated for as long as I think it'll take to get the message through your thick skull."

Jim laughed, and mock saluted, "Understood, Doctor."

After making his way back to his quarters he took a much needed sonic shower, wishing that it was water more now than ever, and mentally prepared himself for the conversation with Amanda. He knew it wasn't going to be easy.

Slipping into a clean uniform, he sat down at the comm and asked Uhura to put him through to Amanda. It took several minutes as it was currently late night on that part of Vulcan so when Amanda showed up on his screen she looked as tired and worn as he felt.

She inclined her head in greeting, always proper even in the face of uncertainty and grief. "Jim, I trust you have news."

Jim inclined his head in turn. "Yes, both good and bad. He is alive…"

At his hesitation Amanda prompted, "but…"

"Amanda, pardon me for being blunt, but he's been tortured." He forced himself to continue despite her gasp. "We have healed his physical wounds, but he is in a coma and has not entered a healing trance yet. His mental wounds are not healing, and we believe the only hope to be a Vulcan mind healer."

"Can you bring him to Vulcan?"

"That's unlikely. We're weeks away now and the Admiral is unlikely to approve it without some extreme, time-intensive maneuvering on my part. I'm going to be on very thin ice anyway when they find out that I lied about the reason for the ship's little detour. Could you inquire about any healers that are near our coordinates and if they would be able to meet up?"

"Yes of course. I must inform Sarek. He would probably have more luck than I. Please keep me informed." Amanda raised her hand and spread her fingers in typical Vulcan fashion. "Live long and prosper."

Jim mirrored the gesture. "And you."

The screen went blank and Jim rubbed his eyes, suddenly tired. He hated to admit that he still wasn't feeling all that great and decided that maybe it was a good idea to take a little nap.

What he didn't expect was to wake up back in sickbay with Bones leaning over him. Clearing his dry throat, he asked, "What happened?"

"I never should have let you go yet. I tried to page you earlier, and when you did not respond, I had to use the medical override. When I saw you lying on your bed I feared the worst, but you had merely passed out from exhaustion. It was just too much too soon." Bones just shook his head.

Jim hated seeing his friend so haggard and felt guilty that it was probably mostly his fault. "I'm sorry, Bones," he said with a sigh, then cocked his head inquisitively. "What did you want?"

Bones visibly brightened and turned to face the room's other occupant. "Right after you left his readings started to drop and I feared we were losing him. But it was the damndest thing. Not minutes after you were brought back in, his vitals began to return to normal and not an hour ago he entered a healing trace. Now, I don't know about you, but that seems awfully too convenient to be considered a coincidence. And I don't usually believe in such weird hoodoo, but I figure it can't hurt to keep you guys together. The matter of the mind healer isn't as pressing now, but I'd still like one to examine Spock when he wakes up."

Jim's eyebrow rose at the odd observation, but he felt relieved that Spock was doing better. "That's great news, but now that we're on the road to recovery, you aren't looking so hot yourself. Why don't you get some sleep? I promise I won't run off while you are gone."

Bones opened his mouth to protest.

"No, that's an order. The rest of your staff will be fine without you for a few hours, and if anything changes with Spock I can yell. Amanda said she'd look into the matter of a mind healer, but I need to let her know about the improvement in Spock's condition. Can I use the comm in your office?"

"Fine, fine, but that better be as far as you go from this bed and for no more than ten minutes. If I hear you did otherwise I'll shackle you to this bed for a week."

Jim just grinned but nodded in agreement, knowing that Bones was serious. Moving to stand up, he had to brace himself against the bed when he found that his legs didn't want to support his weight. A wheelchair appeared at his side and Jim went to protest but one look at Bones wearing his 'you get in that god damn chair or you aren't going anywhere' look had him sinking meekly into it without a word of protest.

He didprotest though as the doctor began to wheel him out the door and to the office. "Humor an old man Jim."

Hearing the wariness in McCoy's voice caused another twinge of guilt, and he abruptly shut up. Yep, Bones was great at that. A minute later Jim was alone and asking to be patched through to Amanda. It wasn't Uhura who answered his request and he suddenly realized he didn't know what time it was, let alone what day.

It was a day full of surprises as instead of Amanda, it was Sarek who appeared on the screen in front of him. Jim had to fight a sudden urge to sink deeper into the chair. For unknown reasons the man had always made him feel like a little kid about to be scolded.

"Captain Kirk, Amanda is not in presently. She has informed me of my son's status and we did not expect to hear from you again so soon. Do you have news?"

Jim nodded. "Yes Sarek, Spock has finally entered a healing trance on his own. Doctor McCoy feels that due to the experience he should still be examined by a mind healer, but that the situation is no longer dire and there is no immediate need for one to come out."

Sarek's face did not change at the news. "The nearest healer I was able to locate is several hundred light years from you on Ret Wurzel VIII, but they have been experiencing problems with their communications system. As such, I have been unable to contact them. It would be best for you to seek them out. I'm sending you the coordinates now." He paused a moment, as if pondering his words. "Have Spock contact his mother and I when he awakes." He raised his hand, fingers spread in farewell. "Live long and prosper, Captain."

Jim raised his hand as well, but only tilted his head in acknowledgement. As the screen went black, he finally allowed the scowl that he had been suppressing since Sarek's face had appeared on his screen to settle over his face. He should have known better than to expect a Vulcan, particularly thatVulcan, to express concern. But it was pointless to allow himself to remain angry when there was nothing he could do to change Sarek.

Moving to check his mail, he found himself unable to open it as a message from Bones popped up on the screen. 'I knew you wouldn't do as told. Get back into bed before I follow through with my promise.'

Jim just grinned and flicked the monitor off. McCoy had him there. Wheeling himself out of the door, he made his way back to the shared room and stopped next to Spock's bed. Braking the chair, he stood on shaky legs to take in the still form of his best friend. He wasn't sure how it had happened, and if anyone had told him even five years ago that one day, he'd be best friends with a Vulcan, he would have laughed his ass off and called them crazy.

How things had changed. He couldn't imagine running the ship without this man. There was no one else he'd rather have at his side. And as he'd just shown, he'd go to drastic measures to save him. Bones hadn't told him, but he knew that if he'd been much later, he would have been too late and that thought was like a boulder weighing down on his chest, a possibility that physically hurt to consider.

But he wasn't blind enough to think that they were out of the woods yet. There was no way of knowing exactly how long the Klingons had had Spock or what they'd done. The physical was obvious, but it was the mental damage that was the most worrisome. Jim had seen multiple times what the outcome of such torture could be, and it was rarely good. The people were lucky if they remembered much of anything, let alone functioned even remotely normal ever again. But he'd never heard of it happening to a Vulcan, and hoped that their minds, that this mind in particular, could withstand such torture.

He didn't realize that he'd grabbed Spock's hand until it had tightened around his own. He looked down at it, shocked to see Spock's fingers intertwined with his own. When his gaze traveled back up to Spock's face, Jim saw that the Vulcan hadn't shifted, was still deep in his trance but must have sensed him near and sought out his touch. He knew the Vulcan would not have welcomed such a touch if he had been conscious, would possibly be both embarrassed and offended, but Jim had no shame, and wasn't above taking advantage of the situation as long as he was able.

Jim's legs chose that moment to buckle and he sat inelegantly in the chair, pretending that he'd meant to do that even though the only audience he had was deeply unconsciously and probably unaware of his weakness. The hand in his own twitched, and Jim felt an odd sense of amusement, and thought wryly 'or maybe not '.

He must have drifted off because when he came to, he had a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Cracking his gritty eyes open, he found a much more refreshed Bones fiddling with Spock's monitors.

Noticing that Jim was awake, McCoy immediately began lecturing him. "When I said you needed more sleep I meant in that bed. I'm betting you have a hell of a crick in your neck from sleeping like that."

Jim tried to straighten. Oh yeah he did.

"Well, too bad. Next time, maybe you'll get it through that daft head of yours that I make my orders to help you. But no, what do you do? Go and do your own crazy thing and make matters worse."


"If you ever listened—"


"—you might not—"



"How's Spock?"

Bones' face softened in understanding. "His readings are still way above borderline, but they are better than they were before. Only slightly better, but better is better. At this rate it could still be weeks before he comes out of his trance naturally, assuming he doesn't do something so foolish as to pull himself out of it early."

Jim nodded, "Better is good. We can deal with that. Now, I've been neglecting my duties for far too long. What's our mission status? Where are we at?"

McCoy just laughed. "Jim, the mission's been over since the first time you were unconscious. The Federation will have their dilithium, and we're still waiting on our new orders. Last time I checked, we were in the Beta Quadrant not far from Rigel."

"Good, good. Star Fleet shouldn't mind a little detour to help a Vulcan space station having problems with their communication. Am I cleared for duty?"

"Let's see you stand first."

Jim mentally cringed but did so, forcing his still wobbly legs to hold his weight. He waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, but finally he had to give in and sit back down.

Bones grinned. "Ha, that's what I thought. I know all your tricks you know. I'm going to be watching you like a hawk."

Jim sighed because he knew the doctor meant it.

"But you can use my office, though when I say you're done, you're done and I don't want to hear one word of argument from you."

Jim nodded in agreement, "As you wish, master," and snickered.

"Real mature, Jim. Now get out of here before you make me regret being so nice."

Jim made to move, but realized he was still holding Spock's hand and was oddly reluctant to let go.

"What's the holdup?"

Jim suddenly let go as if burned and Spock's monitors beeped in protest. Jim soothed his hand down Spock's leg. "I won't be far." After a moment the readings leveled out again and only then did Jim turn to wheel himself out the door.

Bones looked between Spock's prone figure and the now closed door before whispering, "Well I'll be damned."

Sitting at Bones' desk, Jim called up the bridge and ordered navigations to alter their course to the coordinates he was sending. After that was done, he opened his overflowing mailbox, not understanding how he got so much junk, and settled down to do some overdue paperwork.

More time must have passed than he realized as Bones came in, carrying a tray of food, and ordered in his no-arguing voice, "You will eat all of this, then get some more rest."

It wasn't until then that he noticed that he was quite so hungry, and he dug in with so much gusto that McCoy told him to "Slow down before you choke on it."

That caused him to laugh, and he really did choke. When he finally caught his breath, Bones was giving him the you're-an-idiot look. But he'd learned his lesson and went back to eat at a much slower pace. He didclear his plates though. He even considered licking them clean, but thought twice about it as McCoy shot him a knowing look full of reprimand.

He suddenly remembered the Klingons. "Have the Klingons been dealt with?

Something dark flashed across Bones' face before an almost sinister smile spread across it, making Jim suddenly almost fearful of his longtime friend and glad that they were on the same side. "They've been taken care of and are awaiting transport to a prison planet. They wanted security codes to attack us without warning, but Spock wouldn't give them away." The grin suddenly dropped away. "They dug through his mind, Jim. The damage that was done has to be catastrophic. You must prepare yourself for the possibility that the man we knew may not be there anymore."

Jim abruptly stood, needing to get out of there, not wanting to hear this. He cursed himself as his legs rebelled, and he swayed before he could take even one step. Always the doctor, Bones was there before his stumble could turn into a fall, lowering him back into the chair. "Jim, I know it hurts to even consider and that you don't want to hear it, but this is a very real possibility."

Jim sighed, and nodded in agreement before burying his face in his hand and rubbing his temples. He really couldn't imagine his ship without Spock. If the worst did happen, the future he saw was bleak. But he wasn't going to give up hope and if it came to it, he would do anythingto help his friend.

Bones just watched his captain sadly. He knew that losing Spock would destroy the man. Resting his hand on Jim's shoulder, he gently reminded, "It's been a long day. It's time for you to get some more rest."

Jim raised his head, and tilted it in concurrence, suddenly exhausted and excited by the prospect of sleep even though that seemed to be all he'd been doing lately. He took a quick sonic, sitting down. McCoy threatened to come in with him if he tried to take it standing. Finally resting in his bed, he turned to face Spock, still so motionless that it was eerie. Spock just had to be alright. Taking comfort in the steady beep of the heart monitor, Jim drifted off to sleep.

The next day he was finally cleared for duty with strict orders to "take it easy, Jim, and that's mydefinition of easy not yours." It was good to be back on the bridge again, good to feel like he was getting stuff done, and a good way to keep his mind busy and not think about Spock lying so still and pale in the medlab.

Three days later they were finally nearing the disabled Vulcan space station.

"Status, Sulu."

"Sir, we are two hours out from Ret Wurzel VIII."


"I've been hailing them, sir, but there is no response. If they are having problems with their communications system, it is likely we will not receive one."

"Expand to all channels. They should have us on their scanner by now, and it's possible that they are able to receive transmissions but not send them. We do not want to be seen as hostile."

"Yes, sir."

Time seemed to pass by extremely slowly, but when the Enterprise finally reached the station, they were able to hook up and communicate through hardwires. The Vulcans were if not grateful then at least pleased to have assistance in fixing their communication system, and when informed of the gravity of the situation were more than willing to send their healer over to attempt and help Spock.

The healer Satar was beamed directly to sickbay and he, along with Jim and McCoy, entered Spock's room. Jim stood with his back against the wall, so tense he ached as Satar reached towards Spock. He had not so much as touched Spock's face before he yelled out and was suddenly flung against the wall to crumble into an unconscious heap on the floor. The door slid open as doctors and nurses streamed in to see what the commotion was about, before rushing towards the unconscious man on the floor, and the now wide awake and screaming Spock.

Jim had never heard such a sound from him before and hoped he never would again. Spock was backed up as closely as he could manage to the headboard with his long limbs curled in tight and clutching his head in obvious pain.

Satar was quickly removed from the room, and Bones hurriedly ushered everyone out before locking the door behind them and rushing to Spock's side. As McCoy got near him, the Vulcan flinched away, not allowing him to run the scan.

Jim, previously frozen in place, practically ran to the other side of the bed and grabbed Spock's hands, placing his own between them and Spock's face were he'd begun to draw blood with the pressure he had exerted. Spock instantly stilled, and the screaming stopped to be replaced by a shrill keening that was possibly worse. Gripping Jim's hands so tightly that Jim feared he'd have broken bones when this was done with, Spock left Jim no choice but to sit on the bed leaning against the Vulcan in order to avoid falling and sprawling on top of him. Jim didn't think such an action would have been welcomed.

Spock's eye's were clenched tightly shut, and his teeth gritted so hard that Jim could hear them grinding. His chest heaved as if he'd run a marathon, and for all the bragging that Vulcans didn't sweat, Spock was dripping with it. Little by little his breathing slowed, and the keening decreased steadily in volume until it was barely discernable. Jim wasn't sure how much time had passed before Spock sagged bonelessly against him, obviously exhausted by the ordeal.

Jim had all but forgotten that Bones was in the room until the doctor moved towards them, and Spock practically shoved Jim off the edge of the bed in his scramble to get away. Jim would have tried to rub his back or something similar to try soothe him if Spock hadn't suddenly tightened his grip on Jim's hands so hard that Jim had to grit his teeth in pain and blink against the sudden tears. As if realizing he was hurting Jim, Spock lessened the grip as quickly as he had clasped it.

"Bones, get rid of the scanner. I think that's part of what set him off. It could resemble what did this to him. Can you do it any other way?"

Bones shook his head, "Not the same thing no, but there are some things I want to check. I'll have to touch him. Spock, are you okay with me touching you?"

Spock didn't respond, so Bones looked toward Jim who nodded. "Just go slowly, and be prepared to move back quickly if needed."

Bones nodded and moved hesitantly forward as though Spock was a wild animal that could turn vicious and pounce at any instant. Gently he tilted Spock's head up and held one eye open with his thumb. Bringing a small light towards Spock's eye, he suddenly found his wrist grasped tightly, both eyes wide open and focused on him. "It's just a light Spock. I need to check and see if you're in shock."

Some higher processes must have still been functional because Spock dropped his death grip around McCoy's wrist. Taking that as permission, Bones hesitantly shone the light into Spock's eyes and was not pleased to note that they neither dilated nor did the second eyelid fall into place. As if to prove that the doctor's assessment was right, Spock suddenly began to shiver violently. He was definitely in shock. It was much too soon for Spock to be out of his healing trance, and he wouldn't have the energy to return to it on his own.

The only one capable of helping with this now was Satar, but Bones didn't know what kind of condition the Vulcan healer was even in, if he'd agree to help again, or if Spock would let the man near him without reacting the same way as he had done previously.

Setting the temperature to forty degrees Celsius, he pulled his uniform shirt over his head and threw it in the corner to deal with later.

Bones glanced over at a pale Jim, obviously shaken by the state of his First Officer, and said, "If you plan on staying in here I'd recommend you lose some clothes. I'll bring you some water shortly."

Turning his back to order some hot blankets from the replicator, he heard a brief protest from Spock and then, a rustling of clothes. When he turned back around, he found Jim in just his boxers and undershirt and Jim had also managed to raise the top of the bed. Both men were propped up against it, and Spock again had a death grip on Jim's hands. He made a mental note to scan them later. Holding the blanket up threateningly, McCoy told Jim, "Scoot over so I don't have to treat you for heat stroke."

Jim did so as much as their joined hands and the bed would allow, and Bones tucked the blankets securely around the still shivering Vulcan. He was slightly amused to note that as soon as he was done Spock slid back toward Jim, filling up the small space that was between them. Well that was interesting. "I'll be back in a minute. Don't go anywhere."

As the door closed behind Bones, Jim turned to face the still trembling Spock. But he was pleased to note that the tremors seemed to have lessened slightly. "Do you know where you are?"

Spock turned his head and met his eyes, and Jim couldn't help but think that his eyes seemed huge with their pupils dilated the way they were. He opened his mouth to speak, but had to pause, and swallowed roughly before replying in a rasp. Jim kicked himself because of course he'd be parched. "I believe this is the sickbay of the Enterprise since Dr. McCoy was just in here."

"Yes that is correct. Now I have to ask. Do you remember the events that brought you here?"

Spock visibly tensed against his side. "I remember the events that took place on the Klingon ship but do not remember the events that brought me here, Captain. I promise you I did not reveal anything to them. I did not betray you."

Jim could have wept because the way Spock said "you" was directed solely towards Jim and not Star Fleet. "I know you didn't, and I wouldn't care if you had as long as you were safe. I'm still glad you didn't though, because they probably would have killed you as soon as they had their information. You wouldn't remember being brought back onboard as you were unconscious at the time. And how many times do I have to tell you to call me Jim when we're alone?"

Jim had to grin at Spock's next words because they proved that he was still Spock, if just a little broken. "That would be illogical Cap—".

Jim shot him a look.

"Jim. If I betrayed Star Fleet I would not be safe, nor would you or anyone else. I could not do such a thing. I would die first."

"No, no dying. No more almost dying. No more putting yourself in dangerous situations."

Spock's eyebrows rose, "And how will I accomplish that as the First Officer of a starship? If I was expected to follow such irrational demands, wouldn't the captain himself be expected to do the same?" There was an odd gleam of amusement which spoke of Spock's knowledge that such a thing would never happen.

Jim couldn't help crack a grin, knowing that he'd been had. And then the rollercoaster of emotions and the oddness of his current situation, sitting half dressed pressed up against his first officer, caught up with him and the dam broke. Suddenly, he started laughing hysterically, shaking the bed, and when the tears came as the laughter faded, uncontrollable sobs continued to shake him, and he could do nothing to stop the wild tide. He rolled himself off the side of the bed, concerned that he was being selfish because he wasn't the one who had been tortured multiple times to the point of death only to be brought back, concerned also that his emotions would overwhelm Spock.

But as soon as Jim stopped touching him Spock curled back up again, fingers digging at his face once more. Jim instantly returned to his side and shouted "Bones!"

The door sprang open and both Dr. McCoy and Satar rushed in, but Spock was already calming back down, though he began shivering again.

"What happened?" Bones demanded.

"I don't know. I was freaking out, so I moved away, and he curled up again, then when I touched him again he calmed back down."

"Fascinating," stated Satar. "I've never seen anything like this outside of a deeply bonded pair."

"Seen what?" Jim asked.

"Spock should not be awake much less coherent. The damage to his mind is the worst I have ever seen. The fact that he is awake and not locked into a healing trance shows the immense strength of his mind. Captain Kirk, he is using you to ground himself. That is why he reacted negatively when you were no longer touching."

At those words Spock again tensed up and tried to pull away, but Jim refused to let him.

Bones spoke up. "Is it dangerous?"

"If they were bonded the danger would be minimal, but in this situation there is a high potential for the connection to become dangerous. Spock is simply mimicking the Captain's brain patterns because his own are so damaged. It is a temporary fix for the short term, but for the long term it can lead to an addiction on the captain's part for telepathic contact and would ultimately result in a bond. A short term side effect is that Spock would be more emotional as he models himself after Captain Kirk. But Spock would have time to relearn his own patterns, rebuild his mind and shields. For the first week at least you would have to be in contact at all times. The need would slowly lessen over time as Spock strengthens. It would be many months before you could do without completely and if Spock got separated from Jim during the recovery process there could be grave consequences on both sides. "

"No, Jim. You cannot."

"Spock, do not argue with me right now. What's the alternative?" Jim demanded.

"I can place him back into a healing trance with directions on how to rebuild his mind, but it could take many weeks, if it does work at all. His mind has already latched on to yours, and it could have undone any healing he had on his own. You would be unable to touch him or he would be pulled out of the trance."

Jim nodded thoughtfully and motioned towards Satar and Bones, "Can you give us a moment to discuss this?"

Satar nodded and left without comment. Bones however could not let it go that easily. "Jim, don't do anything without thinking please." Then he too took his leave.

"Jim, I cannot—"

"Don't, Spock. I can't leave you like that. You don't know what it was like seeing you that way. I'm sorry I broke down in such a manner. It was unprofessional."

Spock grinned slightly at that, and at least Jim did know the reasons behind Spock's sudden display of emotions. "What are a few tears between friends? Listen to my proposal first. Do not interrupt. Let Satar put me back into the trance for a month. If there is no significant improvement and you still want to go ahead with this, then you may. But only after a month. You must think very carefully about the consequences. You know what a bond would mean. Could you accept that?"

Jim opened his mouth to answer, but Spock silenced him.

"Do not answer now. Answer in a month's time if I do not wake up on my own." Raising his voice, Spock called, "Doctors, I have made my decision. I am going to reenter the healing trance. In a month's time, if I am not improved, Jim is to wake me up and we will go from there."

Satar and Bones looked towards Jim who swallowed thickly past the knot in his throat and nodded in agreement. It was silent for a few moments before Jim realized that they were waiting for him to move. Scrambling out of bed in embarrassment, Jim was loathed to let go of Spock. "See you in a month." Spock nodded, and Jim dropped his hand.

Bones was immediately behind him, holding his arms to his side, having read his need to reach out to Spock as the Vulcan began to fall apart again. The fingers of both Satar's hands settled onto the meld points on Spock's face, and he immediately relaxed and quieted.

Bones' grip slackened, and Jim instinctively moved forward but was stopped as the doctor grabbed his wrist, turning him around. "No Jim, you can't."

"I know. I know. No touching. I got that. I just need to see that he's okay." Bones stared into the Captain's eyes for a long moment and must have liked what he found because he let Jim go. When he turned around, Satar was already done.

"I have done all I can for him. The rest is up to him." With that, the Vulcan healer took his leave.

"Well he's just a cheery fellow."

"Don't be rude Jim. Do I need to bar you from the sickbay or do I have your word that you will not touch him?"

"I already gave my word. One month. Not one day more or less."

"I'll hold you to it."

The month passed with excruciating slowness. It was not uncommon to find the Captain sitting with Spock when he was off shift. He practically set up his own office in the room. Every day Bones would check on him, and every day the results were the same. There was only very minor improvement. By the time the month was up, Spock had only improved as much as he had before he'd awoken previously, so with Bones' okay and the stipulation that they were to be monitored round the clock for the first week and at least once daily afterwards and that there were to be no off-ship missions until he approved it, Jim finally took Spock's hand in his own.

It was refreshing to see Spock's eyes blink open even if the slow grin that spread across his face was a shock. "I take it the healing trance did not work then and that you have given this serious thought?"

Jim just laughed with happiness. "Your parents are waiting to talk to you, and are happy with your choice."

At Spock's comically wide eyes, Jim burst out laughing again.

After that it was not uncommon to see Captain and First Mate walking down the halls hand and hand. When it became known that they shared a room the rumors flew, but disappeared just as quickly. Whatever was going on between them didn't affect the ship negatively. If anything, it increased morale and productivity. In the month during which Spock had been in his healing trance, the Captain had become a ghost of his former self and the crew was happy now to see him filled with energy and smiles once more.

At the end of a shift, they were walking towards the elevator when Spock got a message on his PADD.

With a raised brow Spock requested, "Captain, please tell me you did not beam from one ship in warp to another ship in warp through a subspace teleporter aloneto rescue me."

Jim raucous laughter and Spock's response of "I do not find any humor in—"was cut off as the lift closed behind them. The crew just grinned at each other. It was good for things to be back to normal, or as normal as things could ever be on the Enterprise.