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Written for Star Trek Big Bang 2011.

Amazing art: HERE by jactrades
Awesome mix: HERE by vertrauen

Enormous thanks go to ansley15, who whipped this thing into shape and whose advice made me so much happier with it. Thank you to jactrades for the amazing art, and to vertrauen for the awesome mix. Thank you as well to solara1357 for assuring me the story wasn't as bad as I thought it was, and to ladyblahblah, who listened to me talk about it and helped me with some tricky moments.

This story overlaps with canon in several places. There is dialogue from Generations, dialogue and story from STXI, and quite a bit of the dialogue and story from Star Trek: Countdown, the comic prequel to XI (which makes that movie make a lot more sense, by the way).

I started this story because I've read a few "Kirk survives Generations and reunites with Spock" stories, though depressingly few, and I've read several "Kirk Prime and Spock Prime are reunited in XI-verse," but I was unable to find any that did what I most wanted. Namely, the "Kirk survives Generations" fics tended to end with his reunion with Spock, but what I really wanted to see was his life after that -- how did he adapt to life in the future? And he wasn't that old in Generations, so if he survived that movie, he could conceivably have lived long enough to be there for the events of XI. No one seemed to have written that story, though -- so I did it myself. I hope you all like it.




You must know that I do not love you and that I love you,
because everything alive has its two sides;
a word is one wing of silence,
fire has its cold half.

I love you in order to begin to love you,
to start infinity again
and never to stop loving you:
that's why I do not love you yet.

I love you, and I do not love you, as if I held
keys in my hand: to a future of joy—
a wretched, muddled fate—

My love has two lives, in order to love you:
that's why I love you when I do not love you,
and also why I love you when I do.
--Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XLIV

2258 - Reboot Universe


The shaking of the ship drew Jim back to awareness of the physical world -- and the fact that awareness was still possible.

They were alive. Against all odds, and all expectations, they were still alive.

But something was wrong. Different. Off.

"Jim? Are you unharmed?" Spock asked, slowly pulling his hand away from Jim's face. They'd melded when they thought they were about to die, and as glad as he was to still be alive, he still mourned the loss of the absolute closeness of immersion in Spock's mind. He always did, after the end of a meld.

The bond still hummed between them, though, carrying Spock's mental resonance.

"I'm fine," he said, though Spock would already know through their bond. He must have been very shaken if he wanted verbal reassurance. Jim reached out to one of the consoles and pulled himself up, then gave Spock a hand up as well.

"You are disturbed," Spock said, watching Jim closely. He moved to check on the readouts and see what shape the ship was in. Jim automatically looked at the center of the craft, but the red matter still hovered in place, its containment unbreached.

"There's something..."

He'd only felt this sensation a few times. Guinan had told him it was a legacy of the Nexus, explaining she too had a sensitivity to temporal and universal anomalies. They were in one right now, Jim could tell. But what kind of flavor did this one have...?

Ah. The knowledge felt like it snapped into him.

"We've gone back in time," he announced decisively. He didn't know by how much, except it was a significant amount. "So has Nero. And he's altered the timeline." He crossed his arms, leaning against a console.

Spock stepped up to his side. His face and mind were calm, but Jim could see the tension in his frame as he tucked his hands behind his back. "Are you able to determine the extent of the change?"

Jim shook his head. The feelings he got were never so specific. Some things he just knew, without knowing how he knew. "Just that it's affected our lives. The lives of the you and me in this universe. Which means at least we're far back enough to be in my lifetime -- my proper lifetime."

The lifetime he would have lived had the Nexus not interrupted it, and had he not taken it up again when Captain Picard had shown him the way out.

Before Spock could say anything else, though, the ship jerked once again. Spock turned once again to the tactical station, his eyes moving over the readouts before he looked at Jim. "We are caught in a tractor beam," he announced.

Jim turned around to look out the viewscreen, and cursed when he saw the looming ship beside their own.

"They must have been waiting for us," he murmured, staring at the Narada.

"A logical assumption," Spock agreed, "when the course of events has been irrevocably altered. They passed through the singularity first."

"Can you tell how far back we are, or what Nero changed?" Jim asked.

"Unknown," Spock replied. His eyes flicked down to the science console and back again. "This ship is not equipped to provide such information. However, I believe we will discover soon enough.

Jim glanced at the Narada outside their viewscreen, and nodded. He sat down at the helm as Spock checked on the rest of the ship. "I'll see if we can break away..."

Jim first tried to move backward, out of the grasp of the larger ship. The Jellyfish didn't budge back even a meter. Their small ship only continued its crawl into the maw of the Narada.

They started moving faster as they got closer. The Jellyfish glided through dark, jagged tentacles, and Jim made another attempt at shifting the ship out of the tractor beam. He jerked hard on the controls, trying to maneuver them through one of the increasingly smaller gaps between tentacles.

Again, the ship didn't respond.

The shuttle bay doors opened, beyond which Jim could only see further darkness. The Jellyfish flew through them quickly. Only when the bay doors closed behind them did a sickly greenish light come on in the room.

Jim debated for a moment making a fight of it. He could stay on board and refuse to leave. Certainly nothing good would happen to them out there.

The last thing they needed, though, was Nero and his crew trying to force themselves on board. Any stray shot could breach the containment field surrounding the red matter.

Jim tried to take off again. When that didn't work, he attempted to turn the ship. He couldn't. The tractor beam had them tightly locked down, even within the shuttle bay.

"Well, Spock, shall we go greet our hosts?" he suggested after a moment, with a tilt of his head.

"No alternative actions present themselves at this time," he replied, after a glance at the red matter. His thoughts seemed to mirror Jim's. "Unfortunately, I do not think he will prove exceptionally gracious to guests."

"You're probably right," Jim agreed. A glance out of the viewscreen showed over a dozen Romulans standing outside the Jellyfish, waiting, all of them armed. Jim's stomach twisted.

Part of him urged they go out phasers blasting, and not make their capture too easy on Nero. But he had tamed that urge even before he became captain -- he had learned a long time ago to focus on plans with a real chance of working.

They couldn't even use the ship's phaser banks. The Romulans stood out of range, and Jim couldn't turn the Jellyfish around at all.

They were outnumbered, and, as much as he hated to admit it, outmatched. Jim was seventy-six years old, and Spock over twice that now. They had not been involved in any military ventures for over fifteen years. They had no choice but to surrender.

Jim could see the bitter knowledge in Spock's eyes. But before Spock could make a move to exit the ship, Jim moved forward and took his hand.

"We'll find a way out of this," Jim said. He squeezed Spock's hand. "The situation may not look encouraging, but we've made it through a lot."

"Indeed," Spock agreed noncommittally. But while his voice was impassive, his eyes proved his worry.

Jim could also feel the trouble and apprehension coiling in Spock's mind. He cupped Spock's head and pulled it down until they could rest their foreheads against each other. He let himself experience the vibrant pulsing of the bond between them, and the love and apprehension that traveled along it.

"Well," he murmured, opening his eyes and pulling away. "I suppose we should go now."

Nero met them at the end of the ramp, and the others of his crew close in around them. "Ambassador Spock. Dr. Kirk. So good of you to join us," he said. Disquieting calm seemed to radiate from him. He had not been so calm the last time they'd encountered each other.

"Captain Nero," Spock returned. "We appreciate your hospitality, though we had other plans."

"I think you should cancel them. I have made a few plans of my own, and you're the guests of honor."

"Nero," Jim said, stepping forward. "How long have you been here? What have you done?"

"Done?" Nero crossed his arms. "Not as much as I'm going to do, but it should be enough for you, James Kirk. The two of you will come with me, and I will tell you all about it."

He and Spock exchanged glances, but Nero's statement was not an invitation.

And Jim's uneasiness increased. Nero was calm -- too calm. And there was a glitter in his eyes Jim did not like.

Nero led them to the bridge, his second-in-command Ayel's sturdy presence at their backs a watchful reminder not to try anything. Nero sat down in the captain's chair as they arrived, propping his hand up on one fist. Ayel remained behind them.

The stars streamed past. The Narada had already gone to warp.

"Twenty-five years," Nero whispered, facing the stars rather than his prisoners. "It's been twenty-five years since we emerged from that black hole. Doomed to drift back in time rather than die. Over a hundred and fifty years back in time." He turned to face them suddenly, his eyes locking with Jim's, still filled with that disturbing glitter. "It was the first month of 2233, James Kirk, and the very first thing we came across was a Federation ship. You might have heard of it -- it was the U.S.S. Kelvin."

Involuntarily, Jim's eyes widened. That was the ship his parents had been on, when his mother was pregnant with him. The Kelvin had only returned to Earth about a month before he was born. That close call was one reason why his mother had retired from Starfleet.

"You remember it," Nero said. He gave a grin more like a baring of teeth. "I destroyed it."

"I'm dead in this reality, then?" he asked, steadily. He could feel Spock's distress at the idea transmitting across their bond, but he didn't let that affect him.

Nero waved a hand. "You're not, actually," he replied. "I discovered a few months ago your father was left in command, after I killed the captain. Your father ordered its evacuation, just as your mother was giving birth to you. But your father couldn't leave. He stayed on board to try to fight me. And he failed, Dr. Kirk. He sacrificed his life, but I'm still here."

His father, dead. Just as he was being born, from what Nero said.

He couldn't imagine it. His father had been his inspiration for joining Starfleet. He'd been so proud when Jim received his commission for the Enterprise, the youngest captain in Starfleet history. He'd died during Jim's tenure as Starfleet Chief of Operations, and Jim had been able to go to his funeral.

"And the rest of the people on the Kelvin?" Jim asked, when he could think of anything besides his father. "They lived, didn't they? They survived to tell their story. That's how you know all these details. My father sacrificed his life, but not in vain."

Nero's expression didn't change, but his eyes flicked to Ayel behind them. Before Jim could even blink, Ayel shifted around so he could backhand Jim across the face. Jim, unprepared, stumbled and would have fallen if Spock hadn't caught and steadied him. The blow, backed by Romulan strength, had been strong enough for his teeth to cut into his cheek and lip, and he wiped blood away from his face.

"Don't gloat too much, Kirk," Nero said. "It might have been better for young Spock there if they hadn't." Now he turned towards Spock, and a sneer twisted his face.

"Your meaning?" Spock inquired politely but shortly. His eyes darted between Jim's bleeding mouth and Nero's mocking sneer.

"The Kelvin survivors," Nero said, "came back to Federation space to report being attacked by a Romulan ship. And they saw my transmission, Spock. They saw my first officer, decades before the Federation had ever seen Romulans in our own universe. Can you guess what they saw?"

Jim could see Nero's point. The Enterprise under his command had been the first ship to establish visual contact with the Romulans, and the resemblance to Vulcans could not be overlooked. One of his own officers had acted unprofessionally with Spock in response.

"Yes," Nero said, seeing the comprehension in their faces. "The Federation began asking questions about the relationship between Romulans and Vulcans. Relations between Earth and Vulcan grew quite strained. I wonder how young Spock has been taking the tension between his two peoples?"

"Speculation serves no logical purpose," Spock retorted, at his stuffiest. Jim swallowed the urge to grin.

Nero's eyes narrowed and he gave a quick jerk of his head. Ayel stepped forward to hit Jim again, this time punching him in the stomach. Jim doubled over, wheezing in pain, and had to put a hand out on the floor so he wouldn't just fall over. Spock's arms started to close around him, but Nero shouted, "Stand back, Spock! Don't touch him, or I'll just have to hurt him again."

"For what purpose do you subject an old man to physical violence?" Spock shot out. His face was impassive, but he couldn't quite mask the anger and worry in his eyes. "If my response aggravated you, I should have been the focus of your aggression."

"Actions have consequences, Spock," Nero said. Jim struggled for breath. His body still pulsed with pain, but he managed to make himself stand up again. "Your lack of action resulted in the death of my wife. I sat here, on the bridge of this ship, as she died. I was completely helpless. Now you get to know exactly how I felt."

His voice sped up as he spoke, and by the end of his speech he practically spat the words at them.

Jim wanted to point out that the two situations were not at all equivalent. He said nothing, though, sure that speaking up would only earn him another punch.

"Speculate with me, Spock," Nero said, turning back to face him. "I don't care if speculation is illogical. Speculate with me about what might have made a difference in the life of your younger counterpart. If it was the survival of the Kelvin crew that led to the tensions between humans and Vulcans, then logically...?"

After a moment, Spock said, "I presume you mean me to conclude that the deaths of the Kelvin survivors would have meant an easier life for my younger counterpart."

"That's right," Nero agreed, his voice full of savage glee. "Survivors that include the counterpart of your husband here. Isn't it logical to then conclude that the death of James Kirk on the day of his birth would actually have made young Spock's life better?"

Utter rage filled the bond between them at the very suggestion. Jim couldn't help a worried glance at him, but the only indication of his fury was the intent, murderous look in his eyes. Jim pressed mentally against Spock, trying to support him with his presence. Spock seemed to take a deep breath and force himself to calm down.

"Your logic is faulty," Jim said quickly, "based on a flawed premise. You are presuming a causal relationship between the survival of my counterpart and the quality of life for Spock's, when you, in fact, are the root cause of--"

Nero cut off his Spock-imitation by making a slashing motion with his hand. This time Jim was not surprised when the back of Ayel's hand once again slammed into his jaw, hard enough to knock him to the floor. Blood once again filled his mouth, and he spat it out at Nero's feet.

Which was, admittedly, not a good idea, because Ayel started kicking him. His full Romulan strength could have shattered Jim's ribs, but even restrained, the blows were explosively painful. He curled into a ball. In the background he could hear Ayel shouting about disrespect.

Then Ayel's foot disappeared. Jim looked up, gasping, to see Ayel backhanding Spock to the ground as well. Spock had leaped to Jim's defense.

Ayel's chest heaved, though more with anger than with exertion, Jim thought. He looked like he wanted to continue beating them, but he controlled himself with a visible effort. Finally he stepped back, and looked at Nero.

"We could so easily kill you like this," Nero said quietly. He slouched in his chair like the past five minutes were completely routine. "You're both old, and Kirk there is as fragile as every other human. Maybe I could kill you without even bruising myself."

That...was not a reassuring speech, Jim thought, as he uncurled himself and inched towards Spock, who had sat up but not yet tried to stand.

"But I'm not going to," Nero said. "Not yet, at least. I have plans for you. I'm not going to disrupt my revenge just because you're being annoying." He looked past Ayel, and ordered, "Take them to the holding cell. I don't want to see them again until we reach Vulcan."

Rough hands grabbed Jim and pulled him to his feet. He hissed an inward breath at the pain. At least one rib was probably cracked, possibly more of them. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Spock grabbed just as roughly.

Jim half stumbled and half let himself be dragged behind the guards. Spock could walk himself, but he kept looking at Jim like he wanted to pick him up and carry him. His eyes softened when they lit on Jim, and his hands clenched beside him as he walked. He kept looking back and forth between their captors and Jim.

The Romulans shoved them into an empty room, living quarters bare of anything useful. The room was small, closer to the size of Jim's quarters on his original Enterprise, and had nothing beyond a bed, a desk, and a chair, all bolted down. There was a place on the desk where the computer terminal had obviously been removed.

The scoured desk, more than anything else, brought home to Jim that Nero had really planned this. He even had a place to act as a cell for them, in lieu of a real brig, which the mining vessel didn't have, no matter what weapons enhancements it had gotten after Romulus's destruction.

"You should not have aggravated Nero," Spock chided him gently, guiding him to sit down on the bed. "I do not have a medical scanner, but I can determine the severity of your injuries with a meld."

"Do it," Jim said, trying to breathe shallowly. He'd fractured ribs before, but years ago, when he was far younger. He'd forgotten how much they hurt.

Spock fitted his fingers to Jim's face and his mind flowed into Jim's with ease, a welcome distraction from the pain. Vulcans had a much greater awareness of their own bodies' workings than humans did, and the bond between them let Spock spread that awareness to Jim's body as well, when they were engaged in a meld.

"Your right seventh rib is broken, though none of your internal organs are damaged," Spock informed him after a few moments. "I do not have any pain medication, nor have the Romulans equipped us with any medical supplies."

"They probably don't think we're going to live long enough to need them," Jim replied.

Spock regarded him calmly, but Jim could see the worry in the depths of his eyes. "You have always been the more optimistic of us," he said. "Do not be fatalistic, Jim."

"I'm not," Jim said with a shrug he immediately regretted. Wincing, he continued, "That's what the Romulans think, not me. Though it's not looking good, Spock."

"Our situation is not agreeable," Spock conceded. "Furthermore, Nero declared his destination to be Vulcan."

"He...did say he wanted revenge on Vulcan for not wanting to save Romulus," Jim reminded him reluctantly.

"Indeed," Spock said. "And now he possesses the red matter."

Jim sighed. "We should never have left the ship," he said. "Maybe we could have defended ourselves."

"Or perhaps a fight could have breached the red matter," Spock countered. "Speculation on what did not happen is pointless. We must deal with what is."

"Lucky us," Jim said caustically. "Have you thought of any plans?"

"I confess I have not," Spock said, moving his hand to cover Jim's. "And you?"

"The first thing is that we need the Jellyfish back," Jim replied, thinking out loud. "And if you know the way back there, I certainly don't. Assuming it's guarded, and we can't assume it's not, we have to overpower the guard completely unarmed. We have to leave this ship, and it would have to be unnoticed, or else they're perfectly capable of towing us back with the same tractor beam they caught us with. And even if all of that happens, we have to somehow deal with the Narada, a ship from the late twenty-fourth century with extremely advanced weapons technology, with only this ship and whatever resources we can manage to find here in the past."

"That is certainly a daunting plan," Spock said, and Jim smiled.

"Daunting, but not necessarily unmanageable, as long as we take it in pieces," Jim said. "It's highly unlikely they left our door unlocked, but why don't you check? I don't think I really want to move again," he admitted with another wince. He could breathe, but not easily. He did force himself to take a deep breath, though, remembering he needed to do that at least once an hour.

A dark look passed over Spock's face, but he rose to check the door and confirmed it was, indeed, locked. "Why did you aggravate Nero?" he asked, returning to the bed. "Silence would have been more logical."

"I just...couldn't let that stand," Jim replied, reminding himself not to shrug. He couldn't even say it had been because he didn't want to let Spock believe Nero's words, because of course Spock hadn't. He'd been as aware of the logic as Jim. "I know it was stupid, but I couldn't let him challenge our bond like that."

"It was not our bond he challenged. His implication was meant entirely for our counterparts."

Jim shook his head. "He said it to get to you. The focus may have been our counterparts, but the challenge was to you, about us. I wasn't even thinking, Spock. I just couldn't let him think we would let that go."

Spock's eyes softened. "T'hy'la," he murmured, and that word carried his understanding.

On Vulcan of ancient times, the warriors who could claim a t'hy'la bond would defend that bond to the death against any and all challenges. Any implication such as Nero's would have been cause for a duel of honor. The meaning of t'hy'la had evolved over the years to include just the more general concept of friend, and could mean simply that, but it was not how Jim and Spock used it with each other.

Spock followed the principles of Surak, but he also recognized that the spirit of ancient Vulcan in many ways ran true in him. He and Jim were not warriors as the ancient Vulcans thought of them, but they had been warriors in their own way. And Jim may not have been a Vulcan, but he was t'hy'la, and he knew exactly what that meant.

And so did Spock, which was why he let it go, as much as he hated Jim in pain.

"So, escape," Jim continued after a moment. "They don't even have a door panel on the room's interior, so we can't cross a few wires there."

"I do not believe our strength is sufficient to force our way through the door physically," Spock said, throwing a considering look at the door. "Even were reinforced doors not typical on starships, Nero seems to have been most thorough in planning our capture and imprisonment."

"So we'll have to make our move in transit," Jim mused, carefully lowering himself to lie on his injured side, which would help him breathe easier. He rested his head in Spock's lap, and closed his eyes. Spock's hand landed lightly on his hair. "Assume two guards like before -- do you think we have a chance?"

"I estimate our odds to be approximately twenty to one," Spock replied. "However, our chances are further reduced by your injuries. You would have difficulty overcoming a young, healthy Romulan even were you in the peak of your health and in your prime, Jim."

Jim grimaced. As much as he hated to admit it, Spock was right. Romulans and Vulcans were simply stronger than humans, and there was no way around it. He still occasionally sparred with Spock, in an effort to keep himself at least somewhat in shape, but Spock rarely used his full strength during their sessions. They sparred mainly for enjoyment and exercise now. Even when Jim was in his prime, though, he'd rarely been able to defeat a Spock who used his full strength.

"What about you?"

"My strength is comparable, but I too am old. My agility is lessened, as is my flexibility. I do not anticipate overcoming our guards, Jim."

Jim sighed, and winced. He'd forgotten about the ribs again. "Well, we can't let that stop us. We have to have a plan, no matter how unlikely we are to succeed. Trying to get past our guards is our best chance. Do you think you'd be able to find our way back to the shuttle bay?"

Spock tilted his head in one of his thinking poses. "I could easily retrace our steps, but such a route would take us to the bridge on our way to the shuttle bay."

"Yeah, we should probably avoid the bridge."

Spock nodded. "I am not overly familiar with this vessel, but based on what I recall of our first voyage on board, I might be able to attempt a path. Furthermore, should we manage to subdue our guards, I could also attempt a light mind meld and take the information from one's mind."

"Do that, then," Jim said. The situation was certainly dire enough to warrant that kind of mental breach. "No good leaving this up to chance -- we probably won't get another opportunity if we fail."

Surprisingly, the first part of the rough plan they'd made went smoothly. Several hours after they'd been locked into the room, two Romulans came to get them out -- the same two Romulans, Jim thought.

Jim stood near the chair when the Romulans came in, and Spock stood on the other side of the desk. The Romulans would have to come further into the room if they wanted to fetch them.

"Come on," one ordered, gesturing with his disruptor. "Captain Nero would like to see you."

"And if we would prefer not to see Captain Nero?" Jim asked coolly. He watched not the disruptor, but the Romulan's chest, which would telegraph any moves he was about to make.

He didn't think they would use the disruptors, anyway. Nero seemed to want them alive, for the moment at least, and most likely even Romulans would prefer ambulatory prisoners than dead weight they would have to carry around if they stunned them.

"You don't have a choice," the other Romulan said. "Now come on." He raised his disruptor, but Jim was pretty sure it was a bluff.

"Thank you, no," Jim retorted, and with a curse, the two Romulans moved further into the room. Then Jim and Spock sprang into action.

The second Romulan moved closer to Spock, who moved in for a nerve pinch. The Romulan evaded him at first, and swung his disruptor to face Spock, but Spock had already raised his arm to knock the Romulan's hand away. With the Romulan off-balance, Spock delivered his quick and efficient nerve pinch.

Jim was only tangentially aware of this, because he had his own Romulan problem. He feigned more pain than he really felt, doubling over with an arm around his ribs to protect them. When the Romulan angled his disruptor to follow Jim's body, Jim moved forward and exploded up, ignoring the pain in his chest. He knocked the disruptor out of the Romulan's hand altogether, though it skittered out of his hold when he tried to catch it. The Romulan dove forward after it, but Jim grabbed his head on his way past and slammed it against the hard metal of the chair. The Romulan crumpled to the floor, unconscious.

Jim grabbed the disruptor, though. A quick look at his bondmate revealed Spock with his hand on the Romulan's face, so he picked up the disruptor near them as well. He had to wait only a few moments before Spock opened his eyes and nodded.

Jim handed Spock the other disruptor as they headed out of the room. He kept an arm around his ribs as they moved, trying to support his chest as best he could. Spock took a brief moment to lock the door behind them, then slid an arm around Jim's back to help support him as they walked.

They snuck through most of the ship only seeing a few members of the crew, and shooting the few they did see before the Romulans could call an alarm. Jim would have liked to set his disruptor to stun, but this was too important to leave potential enemies at his back. He had no idea what Nero had planned, but he didn't have to in order to know that it was not anything good. So he shot the few Romulans he saw with a disruptor set to kill, and counted it good that Nero had fewer allies with each person he shot.

They got all the way to the shuttle bay before the Romulans caught up to them in force. Jim didn't know what had alerted them about the escape -- maybe it was the guards not returning, or someone came across one of the bodies. It didn't matter, though. Jim and Spock obviously had to be heading towards their ship, which was most likely why, when they turned the last corner for the shuttle bay, they were confronted with the remaining crew standing in the open space in front of the Jellyfish, blocking the entrance. All of them had disruptors of their own, and Nero stood at their center.

"It's rude for guests to try and leave without telling their host," Nero said, crossing his arms. His disruptor was holstered, but it didn't matter when the rest of his crew had theirs out and ready.

"It's also rude to keep guests against their will," Jim replied.

"Perhaps, but I'm not finished with you yet."

Jim raised his disruptor, and beside him, Spock did the same.

"There's no need for that," Nero told them. "Or do you really think the two of you can take out all of us before we can stun you?"

Jim grimaced, but he kept his hands steady. "We can't let you go through with whatever you're planning," he said flatly.

He aimed at Nero, but one of the crew stunned him before he could shoot. Jim woke up later to burning ribs and a view of the stars. They were back on the bridge.

"We've arrived at Vulcan," Nero said. His eyes fastened on Spock. "I swore I would have my revenge, Spock, and so I will. On you, and on your planet, who allowed mine to die. And now I have the red matter."

"What are you going to do?" Jim asked quietly. His hands and feet were free, but they had taken the disruptors, and there were enough Romulans on the bridge to stymie any possible move.

"I am going to destroy Vulcan," Nero said simply. "And I am going to make you watch."

Destroy Vulcan? The idea was ridiculous...yet terrifying. Jim believed Nero intended to do exactly that.

And with the red matter, he could.

"Nero," Spock said, speaking quickly. "We are in an alternate timeline. This Vulcan has done nothing to you. Romulus still exists. Do not do this."

"Don't tell me Vulcan has done nothing! I saw Romulus destroyed!" Nero shouted. He spun on his heel and moved until he was inches from Spock's face. "They delayed and delayed until it was too late, and only after Romulus was destroyed and the Federation was in danger did they care about the supernova. Vulcan needs to pay, Spock!"

"It was not this Vulcan, Nero!"

"It doesn't matter!" Nero yelled. "I am going to have my revenge, and you are not going to be able to stop me, either of you! You are going to be completely helpless, as I was completely helpless. And you will be separated."

Jim's heart almost stopped. "What?" he asked in nearly a whisper.

But Nero still focused on Spock. "I'll put you somewhere you can watch, Spock," he commented, in an utterly reasonable tone. "Watch, and do nothing while your planet and the love of your life are taken from you. Delta Vega's close enough for you to have a front-row seat.

"I'm not going to kill you, Spock. You're going to have to live with what happens next, and knowing that you brought it on yourself."

"What are you doing to Jim?" Spock demanded, not responding to the other statements.

"Oh, he's going to stay here," Nero said, still disturbingly calm. "At least until Earth shares the same fate. You'll be separated, and you'll feel him die, and you won't even be able to see him one last time."

"Are you out of your mind?" Jim hissed. Hearing his captors plan his death to his face was nothing new, but this was... God. It was even worse than Khan. At least Khan hadn't been deliberately focusing on Spock in his revenge against Jim. "We tried to help, Nero! We failed, but that doesn't mean we didn't try!"

But Nero ignored him. "Say goodbye to your Jim, Spock," he said. "This is the last time you'll ever see him."

Jim didn't believe that -- he knew they would get out of this somehow, they had to -- but he took the opportunity to lunge forward and throw his arms around Spock, not caring when his ribs protested as Spock responded. They kissed once, too quickly to do anything more than simply taste each other, when Spock pulled back enough to get his hand on Jim's face and draw him into a meld.

But they couldn't do anything more than share their fear and their love. Hands pulled Spock away after only a few seconds, and still more hands held Jim back as he tried to follow. They locked eyes as long as they could before Spock was taken away. All too soon, Jim was on the bridge, alone but for a crew of Romulans who wanted nothing more than to see his husband suffering and him dead.


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