I trust you, Pasha.
The words were still echoing in his head, gnawing at his insides as if they wanted to slowly tear him apart. It had been minutes since the security had taken the doctor away, since the doors had closed again but he was still staring, his eyes glued to the place where the man had stood. Why would he say that? Why would he trust him, if he had just lost every reason to make Pavel like him? Why didn't he continue to try and convince him that he was the good guy who wanted only the best for him? I love you. No matter how hard he tried to remind himself that it was only lies made up to lure him into trusting the doctor, he couldn't help the warmth spreading through his body as he quietly repeated the words again and again. Why couldn't he just believe them? Didn't they make him feel so much better than anything else? What was his freedom if it turned his insides to ice? It was a battle fought between two parts of his own self as he struggled and failed to see what was lie and what was truth.
Irina. The woman had told him to listen to what his gut was telling him, who told him that sometimes analytical thinking and logic wasn't everything he needed to survive on his own. He had only ever lived in a world ruled by formulas and computers, physics and mathematics, but that was only a little part of the outside world, her world. She had told him so much about trust and distrust, about who was worthy of his attention and who wasn't; she had tried to teach him how to decide when to use his mind and when to trust in his feelings, because that was how she had made it in this cruel, friendless wasteland, all on her own. She had told him that in a world like this, trust was the thing with the highest value because trusting someone meant showing weakness and trusting the wrong person was like a death sentence. When Leonard said he trusted him, he wasn't asking for anything, wasn't trying to save himself or his friends, he was telling Pavel to do what he thought was right, because he knew that he would choose correctly...
"Captain, the enemy ship is moving away from us, what should we do?"
"Resume the attack."
The dark voice right next to his ears brought him back to reality with a jolt, and he jerked away from the hands that still rested on his hips. He wasn't a plaything, or a slave. Khan had no right to touch him like this, to claim him as his own. "Ceese fire!" He yelled, leaping forward to grab the phaser he had laid down earlier as he turned around to face the man he had served for over seventeen years now. "If you continue ze attack I vill kill myself. And you vill newer be able to get avay from here!" His hands were trembling and his heart beating like a drum, but his voice was steady, just as before, matching Khan's in its cold. "He slowly made his way over to one of the controls, never looking away from the man and still pressing the phaser against his own temple. "I vill leewe zrough zat door. If you follow me I vill not hesitate to pull ze trigger. And you know zat." He didn't wait for an answer - he didn't want one. Instead, he reached over to the control and entered a few of his own codes.
For a moment nothing happened but then the screen flickered, now showing only black nothingness instead of the Enterprise. Another code and the weapon systems and the shields were down. He could feel the icy glare resting on him, but he didn't look up as he made his way to the doors, slowly, step by step until they had closed behind him. Only then did he start to run. Pavel knew the other wouldn't let himself be fooled like this; he knew he would follow him soon or find another way to get him, there was no way, Khan would let him win this round.
"Vhat are you doing..." he whispered to himself, unable to understand how this one man could affect him like this. He still wasn't sure if he could trust him. There was still doubt, but right now he knew that if Leonard was going to kill him, it wouldn't throw him back into the cold nothingness inside him. Because even if it wasn't true, the declaration of his love and trust had made him feel better than anything else had ever had.
Pavel didn't care if the others were able to track his every movement, since it was pretty obvious where he was heading. "Deck zree!" He slipped into the turbolift, closing his eyes for a little moment as he tightened his grip around the phaser. He was now holding it in front of him, ready to shoot whoever got into his way. It was only good that this ship was run by a very small crew but he also suspected that Khan had already called everyone off already, since he couldn't risk his 'Wunderkind' to get hurt or killed. And for a moment, he believed to know how it felt to have power over someone, to know that he had something Khan needed and he would throw it away if the man made the wrong move, but he also knew he had to be careful. Beating someone in his own game was always something that turned out to be more difficult than expected. He had learned that lesson years ago.
For a moment he hesitated, then quickly hacked into the panel next to the door he was standing in front of, since he needed to find out what brig the other man had been thrown into and he couldn't waste precious time by searching the whole deck. Whirling around, he raised his phaser, sure to have heard steps, but there was nothing, not even the long shadows were moving and he turned back to the door again. His own steps were almost scaring him, so loud on the cold floor with no other sound to hear and he was almost afraid that they had already done something to Leonard. What if Khan had somehow ordered them to kill him right away? What if he knew that this would happen, and he wanted to trick Pavel into believing he was still alive and coming down here to see for himself and seeing that there was no hope of escaping his fate... Clenching his teeth, he pushed the thoughts aside, racing down the hallway until he reached the right cell.
Sighing in relief, he punched the code into the control panel but didn't dare to step inside once the energy field was down. The man simply sat there, eyes closed and a small smile playing around his lips and suddenly Pavel lost all wish to hurry, overcome by a wave of anxiety and insecurity. Had he really done the right thing? "I knew you would come, darlin'." And then the doctor was on his feet again, only needing two steps to cross the cell and pull him into a bone crushing embrace. The teen couldn't move but he didn't have to, instead he buried his nose in the man's shoulder breathing in the familiar scent and enjoying the feelings of safety and warmth that rushed through his body, reaching every last part of him and making him feel alive again. "I knew you wouldn't leave me to die. I knew it!" The words were whispered into his ear and chased away every last bit of doubt he had felt, reassuring him that he had indeed chosen the right way. And he knew there was no time to waste, that he should pull back right now and tell the man to escape, but he didn't. "Say et again. Vhat you haff told me eerlier." He begged, needing to hear it only one more time, while a crazy plan took form inside his head. "Tell me zat you love me."
And the doctor did. He took a step back and gently took Pavel's face in his hands, looking right into his eyes. "I love you, Pasha. I love you and I trust you more than anyone else." The Russian smiled, tears welling up in his eyes, as he nodded, unable to return the words, but he was sure the other knew he felt the same. Then he finally pulled himself together and stepped back, clearing his throat because he didn't trust his voice. "Ve need to get out of here. Ze transporter room is on deck fiwe. You vil just haff to take ze lift to get zere." He wanted to turn around and disappear, but the doctor held him back. "Wait. What's with you? And Jim?" Of course, the doctor couldn't have gotten here on his own, the Russian almost cursed himself for not considering this. Reaching into his pocket he pulled out his PaDD and opened a file. "He has to be somevhere in zis corridor. You find him and enter zis code in ze panel by ze door. If you haff done zis you get to ze transporter room. I still haff to do somezeng but I vill meet you zere. You said you trusted me, right? So trust me now!" Thus he carefully freed himself from the hand that held onto his wrist and turned around, running back to the door.
They had only one chance to do this and he just hoped Leonard would do exactly what he had told him and not attempt to follow him or something. But if his Lyonya meant what he had said and trusted him, then he wouldn't doubt him right now. He couldn't use the lift this time, because Khan would know they had separated if the turbolift was used twice and like this they had maybe the hint of a chance to leave this ship without getting caught. There was only one other thing left for him to do and he had to be fast.
He ran. His feet were hitting the ground in a steady rhythm and for the first time he was really grateful that they had let him run during those long years he had been living in the cold facility in the middle of nowhere in Russia. The teen wasn't even slowing down while rounding the corners, though he almost slipped a few times but he could almost hear his time ticking away. He felt the anxiety and fear bubbling up in his chest, but he wouldn't give up now, not when they had a chance to finally be together again. Not when he was able to leave his past behind once and for all!
He almost smashed into the locked door and then panicked when the voice recognition wasn't working. Pavel tried it again and again, but not even his codes were able to override the lock. "Nononono..." Almost crying out in frustration, he hit the panel with his fist, almost wracking his brains, trying to find another code he had not yet tried. "Pleese, let zis vork." He whispered, entering the last combination of letters and numbers he had found in the back of his head, remembering that it was the first code he had ever used to override a manual lock.
For a few seconds nothing happened, but then the door finally swished open, revealing the small, dark room behind it. But it was not yet over. Hurrying into the room, he needed a little moment to orientate himself in the darkness, having never been here before, but his photographic memory told him the way to the right control. The screen flickered and flared to life under his fingers, a string of numbers dancing across the monitor, but he didn't have the time to admire his own handiwork. Though it was the most secure part of the whole system, it was almost easy to hack, compared to the door, and after a few seconds he finally retreated, a satisfied smile dancing over his lips.
"Self-destruction initiated. 5 minutes until self-destruction."
The smile widened into a grin, even though he knew he had no reason to be happy until he had managed to leave this ship in time, together with Lyonya and his friend. Still, he was flooded with triumph, as he left the room and headed for the transporter room. Every single speaker on the whole ship would be broadcasting the self-destruction process and since he had blocked all doors to the shuttle bay, there was no escaping from this ship other than through beaming off board. And not a single member of this crew was allowed to leave their post without Khan's permission, he was sure of it.
"Lyonya! Ve haff to..." He started as he slipped through the door of the transporter room, only to stop abruptly.
"We have been awaiting you."
It was as if time was standing still, they held each other close, chest to chest, heartbeat to heartbeat and he felt the most wondrous feelings wash over him, like the tide had finally come to clean his mind and heart from the darkness. He didn't force the kid to say the same words he had done, he knew it already. It didn't matter if they were spoken or no, he could clearly see the feelings reflected in those greenish-blue eyes. The fact that he had come after all had been proof enough, and the man was sure that he had never really doubted the other, never even once thought that he would not come to save him. He didn't deserve the happy ending, Leonard knew that all too well, but he still hoped that they would get out of here alive. He wanted to tell the boy to never leave him again, reassure him that they would never have to part ways now, but the kid didn't let him.
The moment Pavel left, Leonard was tempted to follow him, to make sure he was safe. The urge was almost overwhelming, but he had promised the other to trust him and he had to get Jim. Determined not to waste a second, he left his cell, almost laughing as instead of the 'air of freedom' he only smelled the same scent of recycled air, he had found on the Enterprise as well. Not that it surprised him in any way; they were still on a space ship after all. The corridor was lit brightly and finding Jim was maybe the easiest task he had had in the last days. Yet the man wasn't as noisy as he usually was and there wasn't even a trace of the wide grin left on his features. Instead Leonard found lines of worry and fear, a panic he could understand. And he almost admired Jim for staying this calm even though he had no idea if his crew, his family, and his lover were still alive.
"Bones!" The doctor could hear relief and anxiety in his voice and he hurried to copy the code from the tablet in his hand to the panel how Pasha had told him. "Goddamnit Jim, you scared the living hell out of me." He muttered, only because he didn't want to show how glad he was to see the young man alive and breathing. Khan had obviously planned something with them but he didn't even want to know what it could be, probably something that would've had Pasha scarred for life and turned into an obedient slave of his. The very moment the young man was out of his brig, the doctor was pulled into a short, tight hug, hands desperately clinging to his shoulders, as Jim stepped back again, obviously trying to find the answers for his questions in the other's face. "Please tell me..."
"Ship is alright. A bit damaged but not destroyed. Can't tell you a thing about how many injured and dead you'll have to face though." Jim's features softened instantly and he closed his baby blue eyes for a moment, breathing deeply. It was the first time, Len had seen him this emotional, this wrecked and without the cocky demeanour he usually showed. He watched the other straighten himself and the hands disappeared from his shoulders. "What's happened? How did you get them to stop? Did you find the kid?" The question almost hurt him physically and he winced, shaking his head. "Not the time now, Jim, we have to get our asses off his ship!" And without waiting he left, hurried steps leading him down the corridor in the direction the Russian had showed him earlier. Leonard could hear the younger man following him but it surprised him that he didn't say a single word, as they made their way to the lift. He had expected more questions, a whole bunch of questions, but Jim obviously understood how serious the situation was.
He almost flinched as the doors to the lift opened and immediately reached for his phaser, only that he didn't have it anymore. Swearing, he pressed himself against the wall, motioning for the other to do the same. A man stepped out of the lift, heavily armed but they were able to surprise him, both reaching out at the same time, Bones' kick aiming for his legs and Jim's hand grabbing his neck. Only seconds later he was on the floor, not breathing anymore, his head twisted in an unnatural angle. "Still as precise as always, Bones." And he knew they were back in business, back to being best friends and partners. This was the reason why they had worked so well together: they knew how the other would act before he did; they knew the moves to complement one another, both having a register of every move the other made in a fight. It was also the reason why Jim had been the only one he really trusted, until Pasha came along.
Leonard simply nodded and ushered him into the lift, announcing 'Deck Five' like the teen had told him to. As soon as the doors were closed again and the lift moved, he felt another wave of relief wash through him. They had almost made it. He couldn't tell if it was just his imagination, maybe he was just pessimistic, but he felt like there was something else, something they had forgotten about. Should they really be granted a happy end? He didn't deserve it, that was pretty clear, but no fate could be cruel enough to torment a wonderful person like Pasha, right? He frowned, throwing a quick glance at his friend, who had begun to rub the bridge of his nose, something he only did whenever he was really nervous. Something was amiss; it didn't feel right, and the expression on Jim's face told him that the man felt it too.
They both winced as an artificial voice suddenly announced that the ship's self-destruction had been initiated and Leonard knew immediately that it had been Pavel. He felt the questioning glance of his friend, saw the disbelief in his eyes, and nodded.
Five minutes, they had five minutes left to get off this ship, or they would all blow up.
The doors opened and they practically stumbled outside. Running down the corridor they checked the signs on the doors, hoping that the transporter room would at least be labelled correctly. Maybe it was the haste that made him blind and careless, maybe it was the euphoria that they could actually make it, that they had a chance to escape their bad luck and what had almost looked like fate to the doctor, but he didn't realise they were being followed until they reached the transporter room and Jim's shouted warning reached his ears. Yet before he could react, a weapon was pressed against his back and a dark voice whispered into his ear that he had lost the game.
Cold chills ran down his spine and the hope was immediately crushed by resignation. He had been stupid, so very stupid. He could barely force his legs to move, as he was pushed through the door and into the transporter room, Jim right behind them, probably with another phaser pointed at his head as well. Well done, Leonard, well done. The man cursed himself, fists clenched, as he could only wait for a moment of abstraction from the man behind him. But he didn't get a chance to fight, not before he heard a familiar voice call out his name and the slender Russian rushed through the door.
He could almost hear the triumphant smile in Khan's low voice and he saw the kid's face fall, a look of desperation in his eyes that Leonard had wanted to never see there again. It pained him to see his beloved like this; it pained him to know that he wasn't able to save him, to protect him from this man with the cruel eyes.
"We have been awaiting you."
"4 minutes to self-destruction"
And then everything happened too fast for him. The teen threw his weapon away, his features once again cold as steel, as he stepped forward. "I am ze only vone who knows how to deaktiwate ze self-destruction. You vill let zem go or ve all die." Khan seemed to hesitate but he would be a fool to think the boy was bluffing. Pavel was calm, calmer than Leonard had ever seen him - his voice not shaking the tiniest bit, hands handing to his side, seemingly relaxed while his narrowed eyes were focused on the man standing right behind the doctor.
"3 minutes to self-destruction"
The teen took another step towards them, shoving one hand and Leonard could see him slipping one hand into his pocket, without attracting too much attention. "Let. Zem. Go." And the weapon behind him was lowered ever so slightly and Khan stepped back, still aiming at his head but his finger no longer resting on the trigger. It was the first time Pavel looked into his eyes, ever since he had stormed into the room and Len could see the determination and something else, something he didn't want to see. An apology, a promise that Leonard would be alright, but no guarantee that he himself would be. "Step onto ze platform." He ordered and Leonard obeyed. He couldn't move his eyes away, he found no words he could say without making the situation worse. Jim didn't lose a single word but Len could see the admiration in his eyes, something that proved how impressed the Captain was.
The Russian shot Khan another expressionless glance before he stepped onto the platform as well and wrapped his arms around the doctor's neck. Leonard let himself be pulled into a kiss, neither soft nor chaste but desperate and hungry, like the kid knew that they would never see each other again, as if he wanted to savour this taste before he went back to everything he wanted to leave behind. A hand touched his and something was pressed into his palm, slender fingers caressing his wrist, as he took it, suddenly realising why the other was trying so hard to distract everyone in the room with the kiss.
Leonard felt how his heart was torn apart as Pavel stepped back, turning his back on him and walked over to the controls. The last thing the doctor saw was the kid's lips, forming a silent 'I love you' before he felt the same tingling sensation as before and everything disappeared. "Captain!" The hobgoblin's voice was the next thing he heard and instead of the transporter room on board the USS Vengeance. He was on the bridge of the Enterprise again, directly staring at the screen in front of him. Next to him he could feel Jim move, hearing his shaking voice, as he whispered:
"Any time now."
The doctor gripped is own arms, fingernails digging into his skin, as he watched the screen, suddenly understanding what Jim meant. Pavel had lied. Of course he had. The kid had never planned to abort the self-destruction; instead he had bought them time and managed to save Leonard and the Captain. His gaze flickered down to the thing in his hand and he saw that it was a small data chip. The coordinates.
He closed his eyes, unable to look as a bright light engulfed the other ship and it was torn apart from within.
"No..." his voice was weak, broken as he slowly began to realise what had just happened. He saw the smile on Pavel's face, the knowing and gentle smile as his smart fingers had operated the transporter controls.
"No." The doctor resisted the urge to sink to his knees, forcing his weak knees to obey his orders, and yet unable to even make a sound. He didn't accept it; he didn't want to accept that the kid should be gone. He felt a hand on his shoulder but he didn't turn around, he just stared at the screen where the other ship had been, where his little Pasha had been only a few minutes ago. "Pasha." It was nothing but a whisper that fell from his lips. "I'm sorry, Bones." But the doctor shook his head, not even noticing the hot tears on his cheeks. "He saved us." He whispered, unable to tear his gaze away from the wreckages. "He knew he wouldn't survive it, he knew it all along... he lied. He fooled me!"
"He did the only thing he could do, Bones. He's a hero."
But the doctor shook his head, a numb feeling creeping up in his chest, swallowing him whole.
"He's a goddamn bastard for letting me down like this!"
"I did not know you Amerikans call your boyfriend a bastard... Is zis some kind of term of endearment?"
Leonard's eyes widened and he whirled around, staring in shock and surprise at the person standing in the doors of the turbolift. At a complete loss of words he pinched himself, unsure if this was just a dream or if he was having hallucinations.
But he did feel it.