Okay guys, this part is so bromantic you wouldn't believe it. It's also chock full of the 'c' part of 'h/c', with some discussion of non consensual mind melds and the surrounding issues. As I previously stated, this short does take place in the same verse as my longer stories and this part references those more than previous chapters. That being said, you can probably get the gist of Spock's issues just by remembering that Jim is Jim: magnet to all things sharp, pointy and psychotic.

Hope you enjoyed this little play around in the TOS sandbox. Xxx

"-last time, I swear to god. I want a transfer. Someplace quiet and peaceful with no homicidal Vulcans, no blasted spaceships and no stupid, reckless morons named Jim Kirk and don't think I don't know you're awake you horrible brat."

Jim opened his eyes with a groan and almost immediately closed them again. "Ow."

"I'll give you 'ow' you little bastard." McCoy's furious face was only a few inches away from his own and Jim sunk back into the thin pillows on the biobed to try and avoid his ire. "Open your damn eyes Jim. You see these gray hairs? These lines marring my otherwise boyish and handsome face? You are the cause of every single one of them"

"Hi Bones." Jim grimaced in pain as he spoke, his throat feeling swollen and tender.

Despite his blustering, Bones helped him sit up and patiently fed him ice chips to suck on. It never failed to amaze Jim how Bones could go from volcanic levels of rage to gruff but tender concern in just a fraction of a second. "Easy kid. That better?"

Jim nodded and let his head rest of McCoy's shoulder. "What happened?" His voice sounded as though he'd swallowed a whole gallon of Scotty's special brew, or maybe just a couple of razor blades.

"You, in your infinite wisdom, decided to snuggle – half naked I might add – with the intended bondmate of a hyper aggressive, hyper hormonal Vulcan. In front of said Vulcan, no less." McCoy sounded utterly unimpressed.

"How was I supposed to know that was a bad thing?" Jim protested in his own defense.

He couldn't quite see Bones's face, but then he didn't need to. His expressions were always predictable. "When a man - and especially when that man is Spock- tells you he needs to commit to a lifelong bond else he'll fall into a psychotic rage and kill anything that crosses his path, it's never a good idea to canoodle with the object of said man's affections."

"We weren't canoodling." Jim grumbled. "She was happy; I gave her a hug. Then Spock tried to kill me. Holy shit, Spock tried to kill me. Is he okay, what happened? Where is he?"

Jim blamed what he could only imagine were some pretty impressive drugs for his delayed reaction. The last thing he could remember was Spock's presence suddenly invading his thoughts and feelings, pulling at all the dark, painful places inside of Jim until he lost his grip on consciousness.

"You died Jim. That's what happened." McCoy had managed to loop an arm around Jim's shoulders and squeezed him tightly. "You gotta stop doing that, kid. I can't take it."

"I'm sorry." Jim whispered. "I really didn't mean to."

"I know." Bones sighed.

"What happened? How did you stop him?"

"Didn't have to." Bones shrugged. "Uhura called me damn near screaming bloody murder, called security as well, not that it made the slightest bit of difference. A tank couldn't have moved Spock and stunning him wouldn't have done a damn bit of good. I got to your quarters the same time they did. You'd stopped breathing and that seemed to be enough to break Spock out of the blood rage. Apparently he took your compromising position with Uhura as a sign that she was challenging his claim on her. Women can do that on Vulcan, I don't really know. Either way it triggered something in his head that said he had to kill you. Once he'd done the job he regained his sanity. As much as he ever had, anyway."

"So you pulled another miracle out of your ass, huh?" Jim smiled fondly at his friend, purposely not thinking about the way Spock's fingers had closed so tightly around his throat.

McCoy snorted. "I had to perform an emergency tracheotomy." He said. Jim reached up to feel at his throat, fingers brushing the slowly fading scar tissue left over from his encounter with the Klingons and eventually finding the small circular incision.

"That bad?"

"Your larynx was a mess." McCoy sighed. "I've repaired the damage and you're healing well, but go easy on it okay? You need to tell me straight away if you feel light headed or short of breath."

Jim got the sense that McCoy was deadly serious. "Okay Bones." He promised. "But what about Spock and Uhura? Are they okay? They didn't have to finish the whole bonding thing did they?" Jim didn't even want to imagine how terrifying that would have been for Uhura when Spock was that out of control.

"Way I understand it, they needed to bond so Spock wouldn't die or go crazy when the blood fever set in. Since he did go crazy, only your death or his could end it."

"Lucky me, huh?"

"I hate you sometimes, Jim, I really do." McCoy sighed miserably.

Jim's head still rested on his friend's shoulder. "I know you do."

McCoy didn't comment on that. "I gave Uhura a sedative to sleep off the shock – she was lucky, just a few bumps and bruises. Could have been a lot worse. I had to reset your nose and fix up both your zygomatic arches. Can't be messing up that pretty face of yours, can we?"

"Damn right." Jim said tiredly. "And Spock?"

"Well he tried to arrest himself, freaked out in true Vulcan fashion, and has locked himself in his quarters ever since." Jim lifted his head to ask a question but McCoy pre-empted him. "Three days. I had to perform multiple surgeries, Jim."

"I'm sorry Bones." Jim said genuinely.

McCoy ruffled his hair affectionately and eased himself off the bed. "I know you are, kid."

"So," Jim sighed, settling back against the pillow, "crazy Vulcan sex rituals, huh?"

Bones rolled his eyes. "Not so crazy really. All mammals have some kind of instinct when it comes to reproduction and survival of the species, Vulcans just tend to be more Vulcan with it but they are no means the worst. The Antechinus Stuartii will literally fuck until it dies."

"Isn't that a mouse?" Jim frowned. "Wow, Bones. I could have done without that image in my head. Thank you."

"You're welcome." McCoy smirked. "Now be a good boy and go to sleep. I'll be back in a few hours with pudding."

"Caramel?" Jim said hopefully.

"You'll eat what you're damn well given." McCoy huffed, heading for his office.

Jim didn't bother to hide a grin. He knew he'd get the caramel. Bones was such a soft touch.

Jim woke up some hours after Bones had decided to take Jim at his word and brought him six cups of caramel pudding, and made him eat all of them. Sickbay lights were dim, but not so much that it obscured the layout of the room, or hid the tall, lanky figure that sat besides Jim's bed.

"Hey," he grinned, pleased to see Spock looking stiff and uncomfortable and utterly like the First Officer he knew so well, "how are you feeling?"

"You should not speak," Spock said quietly. "Your throat-"

"Is fine." Jim assured him. "Just a little swollen. Bones says it will be fine in a few days." He tried to look authoritative and in control, which was hard when tucked under several layers of blankets, but he thought he managed a reasonable display. "Glad to see you did not check yourself into the brig."

"I did attempt to." Spock said flatly. "Doctor McCoy however deemed it more appropriate to put me to use here in his stead. I am not sure I trust his professional integrity when he deems it fit too leave an injured man with the monster who caused his injuries in the first place."

"You're not a monster, Spock." Jim said in shock.

"Am I not?" Spock shook his head. "I killed you, Jim. I nearly tore apart your mind."

"Okay," Jim said, "so that's worse than beating the crap outta me?" He was pretty sure he looked as puzzled as he felt, because whatever Spock might have done while poking around in his brain was a whole lot less painful than the crushed larynx.

Spock did not look so forgiving of his own actions. "Jim, you understand that what I did to you is considered the most repugnant crime among my people?"

"That?" Jim frowned. "Really? Maybe you guys should get out more."

Spock stared at him in disbelief. "Jim, I violated your mind."

"You poked around a bit. Probably more traumatic for you than me."

"I attempted to break you psychologically. I would have done so had my physical attack on you not been so violent." The troubled, guilty look on Spock's face was more than Jim could stand.

"You're making far too big a deal of this." Jim tried to reassure him.

"And I do not believe you are taking this as seriously as it is."

"I'm fine."

"A stroke of fortune, nothing more." Spock said seriously. "For what I did there can be no forgiveness."

"Oh really?" Jim said, leaning back and crossing his arms over his chest. "Is that so?"

"It is." Spock looked utterly miserable.

Jim was not okay with that. It had taken him a very long time to get there, but Jim had learned to be pragmatic, and that meant moving on from things that did not need dwelling upon. "Funny," he said, "seems like I should maybe get some choice in that at least." Okay, so he wasn't above playing dirty. He needed some weight in his corner! Especially with Spock looking so completely wretched and being content to just make Jim's choices for him.

Spock recoiled and Jim forced himself to be more considerate. By the looks of things he'd get over what happened far more quickly than Spock. When he thought about it, all the things that Spock seemed most upset about – the meld, the lack of consent – were things that he himself had been able to exercise no control over. With that in mind, Jim resolved to be more gentle in his approach.

"Spock," he said softly, "I don't blame you for any of this. It was not your fault, you understand me?" Spock was probably the most brilliant man Jim had ever met, but clearly the words Jim spoke to him were utterly abstract to his mind. "I forgive you, if that's what you need to hear me say, but really. This isn't going to keep me up at night."

Perhaps that was a lie. Jim's unconscious mind was a contrary devil and it had no rhyme or reason for why it did what it did. He probably would dream of the blank, inhuman look in Spock's eyes as he tried choking the life out of Jim, but that was certainly not a fact he needed to share.

"You are too quick to forgive those who do you harm." Spock shook his head hopelessly.

Jim shrugged. "That's my choice. You did your weird voodoo-" damnit, McCoy had him picking up that highly inappropriate and judgemental phraseology of his, "and I didn't have a choice in that: I'm forgiving you for it and you don't have a choice in that. Now we can continue what is probably going to be the most ridiculous pissing contest in history, or we can accept that shit happened, neither of us to blame and we both lived to tell the tale. In my book that's a win. A pretty huge one."

"A win." Spock echoed faintly.

"We should have cake and celebrate." Jim nodded, his voice firm.

Spock eventually sighed. "I appreciate your position on the matter Jim, I truly do. However I ask that you take a moment to look at it from my perspective." Jim frowned, but nodded, encouraging Spock to continue. "After our first, less than auspicious meeting, I will admit you perplexed me, often to the point of madness. I found you a puzzle that I wished to understand, and yet I did not truly get to know you, not as I should have, until I lost you." His voice was low and sad, his dark eyes fixed on Jim's. "I watched you die, Jim. I witnessed the light fade from your eyes and was helpless to save you."

"But you did save me." Jim whispered gently. "You and Bones. You brought me back."

"This is true." Spock nodded. "We brought you back and almost immediately you were tortured, kidnapped, and subject to an ordeal I would not wish on my most loathed enemies."

Jim couldn't help but shiver at the reminder of his time spent with Kodos. See, how could he possibly get upset about a bit of brain poking and blood with Spock when Kodos alone had done so much to leave his soul marred?

"I do not bring this up to cause you more pain, Jim." Spock said with quiet earnest. "Never has that been my intention. I merely seek to convey my own position of conflict to you."

"I understand," Jim said roughly.

"I do not believe you do." Spock was not cruel or judgmental with his words, but they stung none the less. "How can you? Moving on from that encounter, less than a month followed before you sacrificed yourself to prevent a war and we believed you taken from us, this time for good. I understand now why you acted as you did, but Jim, you must understand that losing you again destroyed something in me and I am only just beginning to repair the damage."

"I'm sorry." Jim couldn't help the way his eyes burned. He'd know, going into the situation with the Klingons, that his friends would be hurt by his actions, but never in a million years could he have imagined the levels to which their pain had been elevated. He would never, could never, forgive himself for that. A part of him was sure that they themselves had not forgiven him. He wouldn't blame them.

"Do not be sorry." Spock said calmly. "Just imagine for a moment that it were I, or Leonard, or Joanna, who had suffered as you have suffered. Imagine that you have witnessed their pain time and again, impotent to stop it happening and unable to erase the agony that followed. Now I ask you to imagine that you finally believe you have moved beyond the pain of the past, you believe your dear friend to be safe and well, healing from those wounds, only to threaten all that in a moment of brutal savagery. You break their body and violate their mind, both of which have already been marred with many previous hurts. And then, after believing you have killed them, after having seen their blood on your own hands and lived with the knowledge of how it came to be there, they tell you that it does not matter. How would you feel?"

"Pretty shitty?" Jim choked, having to rub his eyes and pretend it was due to tiredness, not the prick of tears.

Spock inclined his head. "Then perhaps you can appreciate a modicum of my self-disgust at this moment."

"I don't know what to tell you, Spock." Jim admitted helplessly. "I am okay. I don't blame you. And I just wish I knew how to help you."

"You told me once that all wounds grow less painful with time." Spock said. "I believe it may perhaps be the case with us now."

"You…you want me to keep my distance? I mean, when we're not working? Obviously we can't avoid each other on duty but-"

Spock reached over and placed his hand over Jim's, stilling the unconscious tapping of his fingers. Jim didn't flinch at all. He felt no fear at Spock's touch and he wished he could convey as much. "I do not wish for your absence, Jim." Spock said.

"Okay." Jim said, relief leaving him slightly dizzy. "Then what do you want me to do?"

The look on Spock's face was one Jim had seen countless times on the Ambassador, but felt so much more powerful and precious when backed with the knowledge that he was the one to have earned it, not the memory of someone he never could hope to be.

"Be Jim," Spock said warmly. "That is all I require of you."

Jim felt his smile tug at the slightly tender skin of his cheeks, but that did not stop him. "Yeah, okay." He said. "I can do that."