Ch. 11: The Narada Returns
Inside the meld, Spock found himself thrust into a strange world of bright colors, sounds, and smells. When his vision cleared, he found himself surrounded by a dark forest. In the distance, a swirling, bright light was beckoning him closer, drawing him towards the warmth. When he approached the golden vortex, he found a log cabin in the center. Mustering up his courage, the Vulcan walked up the front steps and opened the door.
What Spock saw within the cabin amazed him. A roaring fire crackled in the large fireplace, the sharp piney scent catching his attention. In the dining area, a table made of the finest cherry wood was set for two. Soft harp music played in the background, soothing his aching soul. He vaguely wondered on whose romantic dinner he was intruding.
Then the Vulcan heard sounds coming from the back of the cabin, so he ventured toward them. Spock discovered a large kitchen, with young Kirk behind the counter, slicing up vegetables and checking the temperature of the salmon he was cooking.
"Jim," Spock stated with certainty. "Your mind is most comfortable." And it was. There was no other place where Spock of Vulcan had ever felt so safe and wanted, other than perhaps in his mother's arms as a child.
Kirk stopped what he was he was doing and turned to address his friend.
"Good. Please, come on in." Kirk smiled at him. "Mi casa es su casa." The Vulcan couldn't help but notice that Kirk was wearing a stained apron with the words 'KISS THE COOK' embroidered across the chest.
"I was not aware that you were proficient in the art of preparing food," the Vulcan commented.
"Yep. It's a hobby of mine, but don't tell Bones or Sulu – I'd never hear the end of it," Kirk admitted with a wry grin. "So, what can I make you? A Vulcan dish perhaps?"
Spock shook his head.
"As generous as your offer is, I must decline as I am here to look at your blueprints of the Narada."
"Ah, business as usual." Kirk gently patted him on the back as he hung up his apron. "Let's get to it then. Try the third door on the left."
The Vulcan approached the door in question, and was greeted with a myriad of maps, charts, and diagrams. Some were organized, some were not. Mentally sighing at Kirk's lack of mental organization, Spock began to sift through the charts, hoping to stumble upon the one that he needed. It didn't take long until the commander found exactly what he was looking for.
"Cadet Kirk, I believe I have found the blueprints to the Narada," the Vulcan announced after a couple minutes of searching. "Jim?"
Kirk was nowhere to be found. Suppressing a twinge of irritation, Spock began to study the charts. He became so engrossed in the inner workings of the future Romulan mining vessel that he didn't hear Kirk's approach.
"You can't hide how you feel from me," Jim said softly, coming up behind him and molding his body around Spock's. "Not here." As he turned around and caressed Spock's cheek, the Vulcan leaned into the touch.
"Jim…" Spock whined, helplessly drawn into Kirk's blue eyes.
"I'm yours if you want me," his friend breathed. "Spock, what I feel for you, it's more than just a fling. Much more." The Vulcan closed his eyes, shuddering at the temptation.
"We cannot indulge our desires," he flatly stated. "We have responsibilities at the moment."
"The mission, I know." Kirk sighed, resting his forehead against his friend's. "But before you break the meld, you have to promise me that we'll discuss what just happened between us when this is all over."
"Affirmative." Spock's eyes sparkled with the gleam of hope, hope for their future. "Jim, it is good to come home. I am gratified that we have found each other."
Without warning, the Vulcan broke the mental contact.
As Spock's warm presence slipped away, Kirk fell hard, gasping as he struggled to remain standing. Gradually, he regained his bearings. He and Spock hadn't moved from their original positions – they were still on the Kelvin, in the midst of a discussion on how to best divert the incoming Romulan ship. Captain Robau, his parents and Spock's were staring at him in concern. (Well, all of them except Sarek. Jim had a suspicion that a meteor could hit the ship and that guy still wouldn't show emotion.)
"Are you okay, Jim?" Winona fretted, as she watched her son's breathing slowly return to normal.
"Yeah, I'm good," Kirk blinked, waiting for his vision to clear. "Just a little dizzy." His eyes finally settled on Spock, who looked away. Jim meant to head towards the Vulcan, but his father approached him before he could do so.
"What happened to you?" A curious George wanted to know. When Kirk was unusually mum on the subject, Amanda decided to intervene.
"Sometimes unintentional emotional transference happens during a mind meld. Your son is probably experiencing my son's feelings." Mr. and Mrs. Kirk, who weren't stupid, had a feeling there was more to it than that, but found that explanation to be satisfactory at the moment.
On the other end of the briefing room, the two Vulcans were talking quietly together. Spock's guilty expression was equivalent to that of a human boy who had just been caught masturbating by his father. He wished he'd had better control over his emotional transference in the meld, so that Jim wouldn't have been outwardly affected, but it couldn't be helped now.
"Did you find what you needed?" Sarek asked his son, who had gone stiff as a board.
"Affirmative." It was Spock's standard answer.
"Will the two of you be able to breach the ship's defenses?" The Vulcan Ambassador wished to know.
"Based on the information I have just gathered, I believe there is a good 77.7% chance that we can infiltrate the Romulan ship undetected," Spock predicted. "However, the difficulty is in staying undetected while on board an enemy vessel."
"We need to create a diversion," Jim spoke up. "Too bad you couldn't just dress up and pretend to be Surak," the human joked. "But the Romulans wouldn't be impressed by a sudden appearance by the father of logic."
"No, however they might be intrigued if Sarek was to impersonate Romek," Spock suggested, exchanging a knowing nod with his father."
"Romek?" Kirk stared blankly at the two Vulcans.
"Cadet Kirk, you have not heard of him?" Sarek asked.
Jim shook his head.
"Should I have?"
"He was the founder of the anti-Surak movement on Vulcan," Spock explained. "He and his faction of followers did not wish to embrace a society based on logic – they wanted to continue living in the pre-reform lifestyle, full of violence and anarchy. They did not want to suppress their emotions, and believed the followers of Surak to be delusional. So Romek and his followers left in several of our high warp ships. They settled on a distant planet, and named it Romulus after their leader."
"Romek it is," Jim grinned. "Ambassador Sarek, are you sure you don't mind taking on this role?"
"Nonsense," said Sarek. "It is only logical to assist the one who is-" But a blushing Spock quickly interrupted, taking Jim off to the side.
"What is it?" Jim asked in alarm. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Spock admitted. "I'm just surprised that my father would participate in such a degrading charade.
"I don't care how degrading it is for Vulcans to impersonate Romulans as long as your dad is willing to go through with it," Jim said, with a roll of his eyes. "But Spock, are you sure your dad can impersonate this guy? He doesn't strike me as the emotional type."
"I assure you Mr. Kirk, I am quite capable of impersonating Romek," Sarek answered from across the room. Spock raised an eyebrow, and Kirk mentally kicked himself for forgetting the ambassador's excellent hearing.
"But sir, what if they ask you to fight one of them, to prove that you are Romek?" George Kirk asked.
"I am well trained in the Vulcan martial art discipline of Suss Mahn," Spock's father reassured him. "If necessary, I am capable of defending myself against most enemies."
"Please be careful, Sarek," Amanda cautioned. "These Romulans sound like they mean to kill anyone who gets in their way."
"I shall endeavor to do so," Sarek promised. "I will return to you, my wife." They touched forefingers again in a Vulcan kiss.
"Spock." Amanda extended his arms to her son. "Embrace what you have found. Do not be afraid to love – it can bring you the greatest joy."
Instead of allowing a hug, Spock brought up his hand and kissed his mother with his palm. For Amanda, it was enough.
"We don't have much time – the Romulan ship is due to arrive in fifteen minutes," Jim reminded him.
"Good luck, Jim, Spock." Captain Robau bid them farewell. "We are counting on your success."
Spock and Jim turned to leave.
"Jim." George reached out to stop his son from leaving without saying goodbye.
"Yeah, Dad?" Jim turned around, surprise.
George gave him the famous Kirk grin. "Against all odds, I was able to see what my son would be like when he grew up. I'm honored to have met you."
"You feel honored to have met me?" Jim gaped at his father in disbelief. "I think it should be the other way around."
"I love you, son. Don't ever doubt it You have what it takes to make Starfleet history."
Jim swallowed, his throat dry.
"Thanks." Father and son shared a man-hug, which involved a lot of hearty back patting.
"Be safe, Jimmy," Winona chimed in. "Take care of yourself and Mr. Spock."
"I will," the cadet promised, taking Spock's hand in his. The Vulcan's eyebrow twitched and Sarek exchanged a knowing glance with Amanda.
"Go make me proud, Jim," was George Kirk's final sendoff.
His father's words ringing in his ears, a glowing Jim followed Spock onto the transporter, and beamed over to the enemy ship.
Once the pair materialized on the Narada transporter, Spock quickly took out the Romulan sentry with a swift pinch to the neck before he could sound the alarm. Jim helped him drag the unconscious guard behind a stash of broken mining equipment. With his phaser at the ready, the young cadet stood watch while the Vulcan melded with their captive.
"Did you find out what the code was?" Kirk whispered after Spock came back to himself. The Vulcan nodded, and directed them towards the nearest computer terminal. They sprinted down dimly lit corridors, luckily not running in to any more trouble.
"You may proceed to illegally infiltrate the system," Spock ordered.
"I never thought I'd see the day when you ordered me to put my criminal skills to good use." Kirk teased as his fingers flew over the buttons and keys.
"There is a first time for everything, as my mother says," Spock quipped.
"Damn right there is," Kirk's voice dropped an octave. "Spock, I…" His hands snaked up around the Vulcan's warm shoulders.
"Not here," Spock insisted, his voice terse. "We must complete our task at hand." Kirk was disappointed when his friend pulled away, but not surprised. Vulcans were notorious for their distaste of PDA.
"Promise me when this is all over we'll talk about what just happened in the meld."
"Very well," Spock relented. "But that discussion shall be held in private."
"I knew you were gonna say that." Jim brushed past him in order to access another station, and Spock shuddered, even at the minute amount of contact.
"A shuttle just left – looks like they bought you dad's charade," Kirk informed him.
"While I am pleased to hear that, I am at a loss to understand how my father could impersonate a Romulan," Spock admitted. "He does not display emotion freely."
"I guess we'll just have to trust that he can do it. Okay, what's the code?" Kirk asked, his fingers posed over the keyboard. Spock gave it to him, and after he typed it in, they were given complete access to the Narada's computer mainframe.
"We did it!" Kirk crowed. "We're in!"
"That is obvious," was Spock's mild reply, but Jim took it in stride.
"Now all we have to do is give the ship the order to return to the black hole," Kirk muttered. But before he could continue that thought, Spock broke in.
"Jim, I just had a most disturbing idea."
"When we return the ship to the black hole, Nero and his companions will still be on that shuttle with my father."
"It'll be fine," Kirk assured him. "Captain Robau and my dad will lock in on the shuttles with the tractor beam and have them aboard the Kelvin before anything unpleasant can happen."
"We shall be changing history by allowing Nero and his minions to live among us in this time," the Vulcan reminded him. "They could be dangerous."
"It can't be helped now," Kirk shrugged. "Now we just need to figure out how to…" He trailed off, just as a Romulan sentry burst out from behind a pillar, his phaser aimed straight at Spock's heart.
"Spock, look out!" Jim cried, pushing the Vulcan out of the way. But he wasn't fast enough to avoid the beam himself, which pierced his chest, sending globs of crimson liquid gushing from his wound. In an instant, Spock had shot the assailant with his phaser, and had rushed to the young cadet's side. The Vulcan placed his hands over the human's wound and applied pressure, but it did little to stop the blood flow.
"Jim, you must hold on," Spock pleaded, his voice as frightened as Jim had ever heard it. How ironic, Kirk thought to himself. He was dying and that was the time he finally got to see his Vulcan show emotion. "Grab a hold of my life force." But Jim pushed Spock's hand away from his meld points.
"Spock, I'm dead already," he croaked. He wasn't about to steal the Vulcan's life essence in a feeble attempt to save himself.
"I will not lose you, t'hy'la," the Vulcan pleaded, taking Jim's hand and holding it in his own.
"You won't lose me if... you send the ship… into the black hole!" Kirk gasped. "Please, Spock, you have to trust me."
"There is no scientific guarantee that traveling through time will save your life."
"No, but there is a guarantee that I'll die here in this time," Jim reminded his friend. As Jim's logic was sound, Spock made up his mind.
"How do I accomplish setting in a reverse course?" the Vulcan asked.
"You'll have to finish my hacking job for me." Kirk chuckled weakly. "I hope I'm not asking you too much..."
"Violating my personal principles is an acceptable course of action if it will save the life of my intended."
Spock found it wasn't too difficult to hack the navigation system – he always had been proficient in computer science and he could've done it before, only his personal ethics had held him back. Calculating the trajectory in his head, the Vulcan input the new course which would take the Romulan ship directly into the black hole.
He authorized the change in course, and felt the lurch of the ship as the engines reversed. The Vulcan rushed back to Jim, who was struggling for breath.
"Light meld… need you," the human gasped out. Spock couldn't resist the dying human's plea to feel their essence joined one last time. As the Vulcan's hands found Jim's meld points, they fell into each other's minds, becoming one as the Narada disappeared into the blackness of space…
In perfect unison, Kirk and Spock were spat out of the Guardian of Forever, much to the astonishment of Cupcake and his two cronies.
"You are alive," Spock breathed. He traced his fingers over the human's chest, as if to reassure himself that Jim was still intact, and not the victim of a beam set to kill.
"Alive and kickin'," Jim grinned, enjoying the attention he was receiving from Spock. "How bout you? You okay, Spock?"
"Everything seems to be in working order," the Vulcan replied. "Are you satisfactory?"
"I'm fine." Spock's posture seemed to relax just a tad at that admission.
"Hold on, what the fuck just happened? " Cupcake growled as he watched the pair steady each other. "I just came back out five seconds ago. Did you two go back and change what I did?" But Kirk and Spock ignored the burly cadet. They only had eyes for each other.
"Uh, Spock, I have a question." Jim sounded sheepish.
"Yes?" The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. "You have never needed my permission to ask a question before." Kirk let that one go.
"Uh, I can feel you in the back of my head. Is that normal?"
Spock stared at his friend in disbelief, because he just realized that he too could feel Jim's presence in his head. It must be a complication from the meld, he thought. It was the only logical explanation. Unless… He had to be sure.
/Can you hear me?/ Spock tried, not really expecting an answer.
/Uh yeah. Why?/ Jim replied.
The Vulcan's eyes grew wide. A non-telepath should not be able to speak using his mind. There was only one explanation for this new development.
"In a moment of weakness, I seem to have bonded us," Spock recited. "This is a terrible grievance I have committed upon you. I hope you will be able to forgive my hasty action."
And then he fainted into an astonished Kirk's arms.
End Ch. 11
A/N: Look for the epilogue in a week!