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Jim Kirk looked around the Enterprise’s new brig. He hadn’t had a chance to inspect it before, but now he was a prisoner in it, along with McCoy and Spock, all of them locked up by this crazy-ass Vulcan (and WTF was up with that????), Sybok, who was apparently planning to hijack the Enterprise and go find God.

 

“Hasn’t he ever heard of Dial-a-Prayer?” Jim muttered angrily, pacing around the brig and looking for a way out. Spock stood quietly against one wall, his hands folded behind his back, his face grave but calm, as it nearly always was. McCoy, slumped on a bench and nursing his bruises from that shuttle ‘landing’ they’d just experienced, looked around the brig, his craggy, tired face displaying weary patience as he realized he was once again up to his ass in alligators with Jim and Spock.

 

“I’ve got to hand it to you, Jim,” Bones said. “If there’s one psychotic crack-pot left in the universe, you’ll find him—or he’ll find you.”

 

“Fuck.” Jim sank down on another bench. “I’m too damned old for this shit.”

 

“Captain,” Spock said quietly, “Are you all right?” (Jim, t’hy’la, are you hurt?).

 

Jim glared up at his First Officer and bond mate. Even after all these years, after all they’d been through together, Spock was still quite circumspect about their relationship, even in front of McCoy, who, not more than four days previous, had seen them sharing a sleeping bag. Bones caught the absurdity as well.

 

“Oh, Jesus, Spock; how much of a dumb hillbilly do you think I am?” Bones snapped. “I know about you two; I’ve known for years. I had your katra riding around in my head, remember, and it kept trying to get me to jump my captain. I was afraid for a while there I was losing my touch with the ladies! And Jim wasn’t sneaking into your sleeping bag the other night because you were cold, and I never, ever want a single detail of what happened after the zipper went up; you hear me?.” He glanced at Jim, humor warring with concern. “Are you okay, Jim?”

 

“Oh, I’m delightful, thanks for asking.” He turned his scorching gaze back to Spock. “I gave you a direct order,” he said, quietly but with an undertone that made Bones wish there was a handy rock he could crawl under. Age had done nothing to dilute Jim Kirk’s powers of command. “I ordered you to shoot that crazy son-of-a-bitch, and you didn’t. You let him capture us; you let him take over the ship. I could have you busted down to a mop boy for this, Spock, and don’t think I’m not considering it.” He rose, taking two steps forward, until he and Spock were sharing each other’s space. “You betrayed every man on this ship.”

 

Spock looked deep into those golden eyes, his pain visible to Jim, even if the beloved features stayed calm. “Worse,” he replied softly. “I betrayed you.” (Forgive me, t’hy’la. I could not kill him).

 

(Why the Hell not?). But Jim wouldn’t ask that question. He knew, he’d always known, that during their years of service, Spock had been forced to compromise his ideals more than once, to wound and even to kill in order to honor his oath to Starfleet and his personal vows to the man he loved. Jim could only assume that this time, Spock could not make himself bloody his hands, not on another Vulcan.

 

“I am sorry.” Spock’s shoulders hunched as he fought his guilt over failing this man he loved so dearly. “I could not shoot my brother.”

 

“Oh, for Christ sake, Spock; I know he’s a fellow Vulcan, but that doesn’t…”

 

“No,” Spock interrupted. “I was speaking literally. Sybok is my brother.”

 

For a moment, you could have heard a tribble drop. Then Jim shook his head. “That’s bullshit, Spock. You don’t have a brother. I’ve met your whole clan, remember—more than once. Sybok was never introduced over the potato salad.”

 

Vulcans have potato salad? Bones thought.

 

Spock drew a deep breath. “Technically, you are right,” he agreed. “Sybok is not my brother—he is my half-brother.” There was a sad, almost tender look in those dark eyes. “His mother was a Vulcan princess and my father’s first wife. She died—or went away; I am not sure which, and we were never encouraged to discuss it. Sybok and I were raised as brothers.” Spock sighed. “However, he was exiled. I have not seen him in many years.”

 

Oh, just great. What a time for a fucking family reunion. Jim fought to control himself, still pissed enough to put his fist right through the nearest bulkhead. “That still doesn’t excuse…”

 

“Oh, stop it, Jim,” Bones snapped, seeing the pain in Spock’s eyes. “Just stop it. Spock could no more shoot his brother than he could shoot you.” He locked eyes with Jim until his captain sighed and dropped his gaze. Bones put his hand lightly on Spock’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Spock,” he said quietly. “This can’t be easy.” You poor bastard. Caught between your brother and your captain—and your mate.

 

“Thank you—Bones,” Spock said, very softly. For a moment, their eyes met, and the bond that they shared, so different than the one Spock shared with Jim, but every bit as real—and as treasured—was acknowledged by them both. Then Spock turned back to Jim.

 

“Captain,” he said formally. “I believe we need to formulate a strategy.”

 

“Ya think?” But there was no heat in Jim’s tone. Much to Bones’ amazement, he understood that Jim and Spock had already silently apologized, accepted said apology, and moved on. It was only one of the many aspects of their relationship that had made them the most formidable command team in Starfleet for decades. Bones re-seated himself.

 

“Well,” he said, “if I have to be stuck in an escape-proof brig, there’s no better company than you two.”

 

“Gee, I’m flattered—I think,” Jim said wryly. He looked around and then up at the ceiling tiles. “Step one is to get the fuck out of here—Spock, boost me up.”

 

“Jim…”

 

“Shut up and start boosting.” With a nearly silent sigh, Spock did as he was told, hoisting Jim up until the human was standing on his shoulders, removing the ceiling panels and yanking on the support bars. “Jim, that is futile; there is no…”

 

There was a crackle, a startled cry from Jim, and the human slipped from Spock’s shoulders and onto the floor, rolling as he hit, absorbing the shock.

 

“Fuck!”

 

Jim sat up, blowing on his slightly singed fingers, glaring at both Bones and Spock, daring either of them to say one word about his tumble.

 

“I am sorry, Captain,” Spock said regretfully. “This is a new brig; it is escape-proof.”

 

Jim scowled. “There’s no such thing.”

 

Spock’s eyebrow arched. “I assure you, sir; the designers tested it most thoroughly, using the most intelligent, resourceful being they could find.” He paused for just a beat as McCoy grinned; he knew damned well who Spock was talking about. “He was unable to find a method of escape.”

 

Jim scowled again, but there was no heat in his frown. “This intelligent, resourceful individual—did he have pointed ears and a tendency to get his friends into trouble?”

 

Spock walked over and extended a hand to Jim, who was still sitting on the floor. “He had pointed ears,” Spock replied, very gently. Jim reached out and took the hand, grinning slightly as he allowed Spock to pull him to his feet. For just one moment, they stood hand-clasped, looking into each others’ eyes. Bones didn’t just feel like a fifth wheel; he felt like the whole damned cart. But then the two of them turned to him again, and the pair became a trio.

 

“Okay,” Jim said. “Now what do we do?”

 

Just then, there was a series of taps on the wall. Mr. Scott was on the job.

 

 

 

 

 

Jim sighed as he walked through the Enterprise’s nearly deserted corridors. It was over. The hostages were safe (good); “God” or whatever that being was, had been defeated (very good); the Klingons had been spanked and sent back to their hidey-holes (fucking awesome). But Sybok was dead. (That was bad). Spock was holed up in his cabin, avoiding Jim (that was terrible). This whole mission had put a strain on their relationship that Jim was worried about. It hadn’t helped that Jim had almost hugged Spock in front of an entire Klingon Bridge crew—what the fuck had he been thinking? Jim swallowed hard. He knew what he’d been thinking.

 

I was going to die out there, alone; I was sure of it. Jim Kirk, like many of his breed, had always been a fatalist; when your time was up, your ticket got punched. But in the last few years, events had conspired to change his attitude. Losing Spock, even temporarily, had been a blow that had almost cracked Jim in two. Getting him back had healed the wound—or so Jim had thought, but the events of the past week or so had shown Jim jut how many fissures still remained. He didn’t know for sure how to cope with all this; he just knew he needed Spock, needed to be with him, needed to try to mend their relationship yet again, because it was the glue that held James T. Kirk, Super Admiral, together.

 

I’m getting too damned old for this. Jim arrived at Spock’s door. It wasn’t locked; it never was. He stepped inside, the heat instantly reaching out to wrap itself around him. The lights were dim, no surprise there. The older Spock got, the more standard lights bothered his eyes. Jim blinked for a moment and then spotted his mate sitting in a chair, elbows on his knees, face buried in his hands. Jim crossed the room as quickly as his arthritic knee would let him and knelt down by Spock’s chair, his arms going around his mate in an instinctive gesture. He felt Spock shudder, felt the Vulcan’s head drop wearily onto his shoulder as if it were too heavy to hold upright.

 

“Love, I’m so sorry,” he whispered into a pointed ear, holding on tightly, breathing in Spock’s scent with gratitude and love. He felt the body stiffen in his arms, and he drew back slightly as Spock raised his head.

 

“You are…sorry?” Spock’s voice was faint and uncertain.

 

“Yes,” Jim replied, bewildered. “I’m so sorry about Sybok, sorry you lost him after finding him again. I…” Jim broke off as Spock slid out of the chair and onto his knees, catching Jim in a fierce embrace.

 

“Oh, t’hy’la,” Spock breathed, “It is I who am sorry. Sybok almost got you killed; I nearly lost you…” He covered Jim’s neck and jaw with frantic, repentant kisses, his breath choked as he tried wordlessly to convey his remorse.

 

“Hey.” Jim gently smoothed his hair, knowing how his touch always soothed his Vulcan. “It’s all right, ashaya. Sybok saved me; he sacrificed himself for me. And you saved me from that being, whatever that thing was.” Even as he felt for Spock’s obvious pain, Jim could not help but chuckle. “Jesus, Spock; you basically hijacked a Klingon battle cruiser. I think you scared all of them out of ten years’ growth.” He hugged Spock closer, his hands rubbing up and down his love’s back. “I couldn’t hug you then,” he whispered, “but I’m damned well going to now.” They knelt together, Jim feeling Spock’s love and pain running through their bond, Jim responding with all the reassuring affection he held for this magnificent individual. At last, Jim shifted slightly.

 

“Love, could we find a softer surface?” he murmured. “This knee isn’t 30 years-old any more, and it’s letting me know….oooph!” Jim gasped as Spock simply pulled Jim into his arms and stood in a single smooth motion, carrying him over to Spock’s bunk and laying him down gently, never letting go of him as Spock slid onto the mattress with him, burying his face in Jim’s neck.

 

“I love you,” Spock whispered. “I would have hijacked a fleet for you.”

 

“I know,” Jim murmured, pressing his lips against Spock’s psi point, feeling the flare of love and security arc through them both. “I’ll hold you to that, the very next time we get in trouble.” He nestled into Spock’s arms, feeling the strain of the last days catch up with him. “Wake me…when they need a course change…” he murmured. They fell asleep in each others’ arms, each dreaming of his mate.

 

 

 

“Well, you done good, Jim.” Bones sipped his drink. It was the last night before they reached Space Dock, and there was a small reception in the Observation Lounge. Jim noticed with some amusement that that John Talbot, the human envoy to Nimbus III, was getting quite…cozy with Caithlan Dar, the Romulan envoy. Talk about interstellar diplomacy, he thought. Well whatever works, and it’s not the strangest pairing in history. He glanced at Spock, who was still being very quiet, even for him. He took a step closer to his bond mate.

 

“Are you all right?” he said softly. He felt Bones move up close to him as well.

 

“Yeah, you look pretty worn out,” McCoy noted. “I’m sorry about Sybok, Spock. I haven’t had the chance to tell you that, but I wish we could have saved him.”

 

Spock inclined his head. “Thank you, doctor.” He looked at Jim. “It is…hard to lose a brother.” Jim knew that Spock understood exactly what he was saying. He felt Bones press his shoulder for just a second.

 

“Yeah, it is.” Jim looked out of the observation port, thinking of Sam. “I lost a brother once, as you know.” He turned back to his mate and his friend. “But I gained another,” he said softly. (You know that, t’hy’la). He glanced at McCoy. “In fact, I gained two.”

 

Bones gave him an eyebrow that was almost Spockian in its arch. Damn. Ever since they shared space in Bones’ head, he’s been able to do shit like that. “I’ll be your friend, Jim, but I don’t know about this brother thing.” He gave Spock a wink. “I don’t want to cut in on anything. besides, Jim needs a keeper too badly for me to take on the job.” He drained his glass. “I think I’ll see if there’s any more whiskey on the sideboard.” He wandered off, and Jim and Spock turned back to the port. They stood close, their hands just brushing, their thoughts intertwining.

 

Friend.

 

Brother.

 

Lover.

 

T’hy’la.

 

Jim sighed with contentment as he watched the stars, the man he loved by his side. Sometimes, life turned out the way it should.

 

 

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