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His breath was harsh and echoed in the small space. He froze, struck silent as he heard a splintery crash. It was quickly followed by muffled cursing.

Two of them. He could hear the other one, scolding his friend in some unknown dialect. Absently Kirk lifted a hand, covered the torn flesh on his forearm where his translator had been gouged out.

The weight against him shifted with a moan. A spike of adrenaline shot down Kirk's spine and he clutched Spock close, clapped a hand over his mouth. The two outside had gone quiet, and that was bad. Kirk crouched in tense silence.

For about ten minutes there was nothing but the occasional murmur between them, Kirk could barely hear them (first to port, then to starboard...seaching, Kirk was sure). Then they seemed to reach some kind of mutual agreement and resumed talking in a natural tone of voice. Their conversation trailed off casually into the distance.

Kirk waited. For a few minutes the world was silent save for his breath, and Spock's. Then Spock stirred and made a soft, petulant sound against his hand. Getting restless. Kirk winced. His fingers tightened over his first officer's mouth. He didn't think Spock had been loud enough to hear outside the crate. Leaning in, he took a deep breath of Spock-scented air and pressed his lips to the Vulcan's ear.

"Shhh..." he whispered. It seemed to calm him.

Kirk heard a sudden, explosive sound of exasperation from outside. Close by. The rustle of the stiff fabric the natives preferred. Kirk narrowed his eyes and took a moment to silently congratulate his own intuition. He heard hard soled shoes click-clacking on concrete, fading off to starboard, laced with sullen mutterings. Bemoaning the fate of nameless henchmen everywhere, no doubt.

Kirk waited an hour. Then he relaxed a little.

He scooted around in the small space, huffing as he pulled Spock into a more comfortable position. His first officer tensed in his arms at the motion, made a soft verbal protest against pain. Kirk pressed his lips together, listening. In the past hour he'd heard voices several times, but never as close as the first two had been.

Well. Someone was moving around out there.

Voices again.

Kirk sighed quietly, thinking fast. He pressed his cheek against Spock's. Spock had found him once. He'd been captured, and Spock had found him, just thinking. Vulcans were supposed to be touch-telepaths but Kirk had seen Spock pull some crazy, impossible things with his brain. Spock had stumbled in on Kirk seemingly by chance. Just chance. Just thoughts. Kirk was thinking now.

Maybe if they were...close, Spock would hear him. Even unconscious, maybe he would sense something, something of what Kirk needed him to hear.

Kirk took a breath, a breath of Spock, and shut his eyes.

Shhhh.
Quiet now. Quiet. He tried to think as loudly and clearly as he could. Quiet.

Spock stilled under his hands, tension melting. Leaning into his touch. With a nearly inaudible sigh he relaxed against his friend.

Kirk raised his eyebrows, surprised more than he would care to admit. After Sargon, he really shouldn't have been. Maybe there was something to this 'mental mumbo jumbo,' as Bones would say. Certainly came in handy from time to time.

Outside, someone raised their voice. An argument.

The patrols, if that's what they were, didn't seem to be regular. Though someone had been by at least once every fifteen minutes. He shifted under Spock. They might be stuck here all night if he was too hurt to move quickly.

With careful thought to the possible damage he might find, he lifted a hand to the back of Spock's head. He hadn't had much time to spend looking when there was light to look. He brushed his fingers over singed hair, noted with relief the lack of blood or blistering. They'd given him quite a jolt, but the absence of deep burns was reassuring.

Spock stirred a little at the touch, as if uncomfortable, but remained quiet. Kirk took hold of his narrow shoulders, rested his lips next to his First Officer's ear once again.

"Spock," he breathed. Spock mumbled something and turned his face into his Captain's neck. Kirk stilled, eyebrows rising as his proper Vulcan friend cuddled up to him. Aching, stiff and exhausted, he let slip a mute breath of laughter. He rubbed at his First's shoulders, gave him a little shake.

"Commander Spock," he murmured more firmly.

Spock did not-exactly-start awake. It was more like tension seeped into his limbs until he was almost vibrating under Kirk's hands.

"Captain?" Spock replied in dismay.

"Shhh," Kirk reminded him. Spock, to his credit, took a moment to survey his lack of surroundings before drawing away from his Captain. His back moved in a way that made Kirk think he had a hand out, feeling the limits of their world. He hesitated, his breathing suddenly gone harsh.

"Are you all right?" Kirk asked immediately.

Spock simply breathed for a moment. Then,

"Yes," he said in a faint, not-at-all-alright tone of voice. Kirk let out an exasperated puff of air through his nose.

"I see," he said dryly. From the sudden elbow in his chest he could guess Spock was rubbing at his head.

"Where are we attempting to hide?" Spock asked, voice hushed.

"Storage crate. In the warehouse." Kirk shrugged, then abruptly felt stupid in the darkness. The crate was tightly made, nearly airtight, and black as pitch. "Any port in a storm," he continued. "They're looking for us now. I've heard guards coming through five times this past hour." He felt Spock's uniform shift, supposed he was nodding, and felt a bit better about himself. Then Spock ruined it.

"Mendoza?" Spock asked softly, as if he knew the answer. And didn't he? Shouldn't he know if the lieutenant was still alive he'd be here? Why ask, why the hell ask-

Spock sighed regretfully. Kirk turned his head to look at him, though it was too dark and he saw nothing. Given time to adjust, the human eye was capable of seeing a single photon of light. Humans had that over Vulcans. They saw better in the dark because it got darker on Earth.

Spock, however, seemed to be seeing just fine.

"Captain, I-" he began, and there was warmth, and sympathy in that voice, and damn him if he didn't hate Spock a little for it.

"Yes," he cut off briskly. A quiet echo of his usual snap. "Yes, Mr. Spock." He wanted to give Spock a firm shove out of his personal space all of a sudden. He didn't. Spock let out a disapproving little breath. Kirk wanted to tell him he was much easier to read in the dark. He didn't do that, either.

"They got my communicator. You?" he said instead. Spock hesitated just a fraction, spoke with understanding still painting his voice in delicate watercolor.

"Yes, Captain. They confiscated my communicator shortly after we were separated."

Kirk made a soft 'hmmm' sound. He'd checked Spock over for a communicator in the first fifteen minutes. Spock probably knew it, too.

Spock took the opportunity to draw away from him, pressing into the corner, trying to remove himself from his Captain's lap. His breath came fast and shallow, as if it hurt more to move than it ought to. After a few moments he sat back with a resigned sigh. He was still half on top of Kirk. Jim reached over and gave his arm a pat. A thought passed through, that if Mendoza had been there they never would have had room to hide together. Had there been larger crates? He hadn't seen any. He would have found a way, somehow. He let the thought go, let it pass.

Spock relaxed against him, and Kirk leaned his head back. He wasn't comfortable, but he was less uncomfortable than he had been in quite a while.

"We've missed two check-ins already. Scotty will be looking for us."

"Mr. Scott is most diligent in these matters." Spock agreed, seeming content for the moment to lean against his captain. Kirk smiled, and it showed in his voice.

"I'll be sure to tell him you said so," he replied.

The sudden yell made them both jump.

One voice shouting, then another, and another, moving closer, too close. They stopped barely a few meters away, from the sound of them. Silently, Jim took his first officer's hand. Spock stiffened a bit, and Kirk pressed his reluctant fingers against the torn skin on his forearm. After a moment Spock relaxed, understanding. Kirk felt his own fingers taken, pressed into the flesh of his officer's arm. Smooth. Spock could understand them. Somehow, Kirk wasn't surprised. Something about his posture made him think he was listening, not just hearing.

The voices rose in volume, and one in particular sounded terrified. That one ran, he thought. The other two followed after, calling to her.

Kirk waited impatiently for the voices to fade.

"Report," he murmured.

"They are looking for an outworlder." A soft rustle of fabric and a shifting of weight told him Spock had turned to him. "One outworlder," he said, sounding startled, "one hostage."

Kirk blinked at him.

"It would appear that your disguise was effective," Spock said reasonably.

"It would indeed," Kirk agreed with a twist of his lips. "But at the moment that hardly improves our position, since I have no plans to go native, and no desire to see my first officer dragged away in chains." He smiled. "Or whatever the local equivalent might be."

There was a long history of small considerations in the good-humored gratitude glinting in Spock's eye, in the careful tilt of his head as he nodded.
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The woman brushed black lace from her face, and Ruth stared up at him, looking sad. He sat down in the empty chair in front of her. Ruth held up a card in front of her face, and somehow it became her face, a black ragged hole in space, glinting with a thousand dead eyes-he jumped back in horror, ran from her, ran into the trees, he had to find something, something to save her. The trees were dark and dead, and tore at his shirt.

A hand came out of the trees, black and blood-spattered, looking like it was made out of the wood. Somehow it was Spock as well, he looked at him and Kirk knew, he knew Spock was about to die and he cried out, reaching for him. Spock was reaching, he had a card for him, and just as he handed it to him Jim saw that he was wearing his mother's wedding ring....he ran out of the woods for Ruth, holding the card tight.

When he got to the beach Ruth was gone, and the card had turned into a little red rock. It was glittering in his hand....suddenly his mind was clear, so clear and he thought he understood...he thought...

Kirk woke with a shudder and a quick stab of guilt- he was supposed to be on watch. Spock was sleeping uneasily, curled up close to him, head on his shoulder. He prodded at his memory, knowing he'd dreamed. He was left with some vague impression of Ruth and a thought that something...important had happened. He was never good at recalling that kind of thing.

On his shoulder, Spock pressed himself closer. Locked in intense dreams, Spock shook his head a little and clutched at him. Kirk felt a quick stab of sympathy. This wasn't the best spot for a peaceful sleep, and he had nightmares of his own on occasion...opening his arms a little, he accepted the desperate embrace.

"Spock," he said gently, quietly, giving him a slight shake. "Wake up." Spock moaned, and several things happened at once.

Kirk reached out and clamped his hand over Spock's mouth, hard. Spock woke up, gasping, right out of dream country. And pressed his erection into Jim's thigh.

Kirk hissed in a surprised breath, stiffening.

Spock jerked back from him like he'd been scalded, and did his damnedest to push his body up against the corner hard enough to actually squeeze through it and come out the other side.

Well hell, Kirk thought.

His chest tightened a bit in sympathy. Embarrassing enough for anyone. For Spock...he sighed. Hell for Spock.

"It's all right, Mr. Spock," he murmured, going for lightness. Man of the galaxy and all that. "Happens to everyone."

"Captain," Spock said in a sick, strangled kind of voice. The look in his eyes was painful to see, the shredding of carefully constructed shields as shocking as seeing a Ming vase shatter.

There was a picture, he'd seen once. First looking at it, it seemed to be an old man. But after a moment, he saw that if he looked at it differently, it was a lighthouse. The picture didn't change at all, the person looking had to change, to see the lighthouse inside the man. Watching Spock, watching him fight his way back to equilibrium, Kirk felt some ominous stirrings in his subconscious, and saw the picture start to shift.

Quietly, in the dark, James T. Kirk had a revelation.

"I see," he said softly, and Spock flinched.

There was something he'd dreamed of, he was reminded of it now, something he'd...seen...

Spock was patching himself together, smoothing his face, insisting on the control even in the dark. Even in the dark. Jim felt oddly lightheaded for a moment.

"Spock," he said then, "I can see you." Spock looked at him sharply, and he saw his eyes move. The crate did not grow any brighter. Jim couldn't see the hand in front of his face. But he saw Spock.

"That is....highly unlikely, Captain," Spock said flatly. Kirk stared at him for a moment, juggling perceptions. He knew it was dark, he could see it was, but he could see Spock as well, like a...like a layer behind the darkness, or just to the side of it....He had an odd notion he was using parts of his brain he wasn't generally familiar with.

"Nevertheless, Spock, there you are," Kirk murmured with narrowed eyes. Spock looked at him for a long moment, then slowly turned his head to the side.

"You moved your head," Kirk said quietly. "To the right. My right."

Spock looked mystified.

"Mind meld?" he prodded. Spock looked down, thinking about that.

"Perhaps, there have been instances of intense stress on one member of a...pair...re-forming a previous mental stucture..." He raised his eyebrows. "Perhaps the prolonged physical contact." He shook his head minutely. "I am not certain."

There was a slight catch in his voice at the end, and Kirk noted it.

"Speaking of physical contact..." He trailed off, watching his first officer closely. He wanted to know if he was right. He thought he knew...but he wanted to be sure.

For an instant, just an instant, Spock looked like a desperate man. Then it rolled away, wiped almost the moment it showed.

But he'd seen it.

In the distance, a voice called out, and moved on. Spock's head came up, listening, on point. They waited in silence for any other noise. Nothing.

"I believe they are moving off," Spock said quietly, distracted. Kirk nodded to himself.

"Good," he said. Then he reached over, and with casual innocence put his hand on Spock's leg.

Spock turned to stone. A carved imitation of himself. Very lifelike.

Hmm.

Deliberately, he moved his hand up. Spock shut his eyes, his head dipping a little.

"Captain-" Spock said weakly, and Kirk rested his hand on his first officer's crotch. Spock made an interesting choking sound, and got hard under Kirk's offending hand. Kirk gave the area in question a friendly little squeeze.

"Yes?" Kirk asked warmly. Spock made a very faint noise in the back of his throat. In the dark, Kirk curled his lips in a predatory little smile. People who didn't know him had described it as charming, even sweet. Anyone who'd ever managed to get close to him recognized it for the dangerous tool it was. He was not admiring the curve of a shapely leg-he was looking for the hamstring. The fact that he could enjoy himself while doing business had left women heartsick all over the quadrant, and Spock knew it. He knew the tone of voice, knew that look. Spock's eyes followed him as he curled up close, fingers roaming.

He leaned his head in, and breathed on Spock's ear. Spock shivered.

Highly unlikely, Spock had said. Kirk knew Spock at least as well as Spock knew him. Highly unlikely. Meaning slightly likely.

"You can see me, can't you," he said in that voice. He'd gotten women to betray their whole way of life, with that voice.

Spock's eyes widened a fraction, shot sideways to look at him. Yes, he was looking.

"Yes," he breathed, disturbed. Kirk smiled, and made sure it was a smile worthy of disturbing a Vulcan. Casually, he unfastened Spock pants, slipped his hand inside. Spock's face went slack and he lifted his hips a little, pushing himself into Kirk's palm. He was hard and wet and pleasing to the touch.

"And why," he asked softly, tasting the delicate skin of his neck, "is that?" Another small inarticulate sound. Kirk curled his fingers around him, squeezed gently. "Spock?" He prompted.

"Possibly...we..." a soft gasp raced goosebumps down Kirk's spine, "may have become...mentally attuned...our, our-" his hands tightened on Kirk's shoulders,"-our brain patterns...oh..." Kirk kissed him, lightly.

"I don't know..." he murmured.

Hell. He really didn't know, and Kirk felt a little twinge of guilt for giving him a hard time. He kissed him firmly then, a real kiss, to make it up to him. Spock gave way against him, lips parting. His body went very still, as if everything he was had focused in on a single sensation. Utterly rapt. Softly, Spock groaned into his mouth.

Kirk drank the sounds. He drank them right down.

He fit himself against Spock tightly and ground their hips together. Spock stiffened, his fingers tightening on Kirk's arms, his breath coming hard and fast. Kirk freed one of his hands from around Spock's hips, fumbled at the front of his own pants. This was going to be awkward in the tight space, but any thought of that flashed away as he lifted himself free, lifted Spock free, pressed against him for the first time. The sweetness of Spock's single, helpless moan was so sharp he could taste it like a piece of candy in his mouth.

Kirk paused for a moment to get his breath. To listen, before he was too caught up to care anymore if they were caught. Only his breath, and Spock's. Harsh in the silence.

Carefully, testing, Kirk pressed in tight, digging into the slight groove of his hip. Felt Spock, the texture of him different, wetter, doing the same to him.

"Ah," he sighed, as Spock's arms went around him. The muscles were taut, like steel bands at his back.

He thrust again, setting up a rhythm that felt a bit like falling off a cliff. He wasn't going to last long. Not with Spock pushing back and making soft little gasping sounds. Kirk paused, pulled back, panting for air like he'd just come up from a long dive.

"Jim," Spock gasped with an anxious twist to his voice that nearly sent his captain right over the edge. Spock leaned up against him, arms tightening imploringly. "I have wanted," Spock buried his face in Kirk's shoulder, but Jim still heard him, faintly. "So long..."

The quiet surrender in that voice was like a drop of cold water down his spine. He shivered as his heart tightened in his chest. With a desperate, impatient little moan, Kirk reached for him, curling his fingers to cup his balls, lifting them up, out of the way. He slid himself into the tight, warm space, the skin was so soft...

He lifted a hand to Spock's erection. It was very wet. Almost a wetter-than water-kind of feel to it. A pebbly texture over the head that he took a moment to explore, playing a fingertip over the small opening, rubbing a thumb down the underside before getting a firm grip at the base. Starting to pump in earnest. Thinking himself momentarily out of the woods, he thrust firmly between Spock's thighs. His breath faltered.

Not long, damn it all...then he was pushing himself into his friend with the urgency of a dying man, a familiar, wonderful tension coiling up inside him. Spock's penis was twitching in his hand, and Spock moaned softly, little 'oh' sounds that were killing him, driving him mad. Driving little spikes of pleasure up into his abdomen.

For a moment Spock seemed to almost brighten, looming clearer and more defined than anything he'd ever seen in his life. Spock was close, Kirk realized. His proper first officer...

"Oh," squeezed out like Spock couldn't help it, couldn't help himself. He turned his head to the side, lashes dark on his cheek, almost as if the sound had been wrung from him...

Close, Kirk thought with a shiver of real delight. Then Spock stiffened under him, shuddering and gasping and flooding Kirk's hand with a hot rush of fluid.

Kirk didn't pause, didn't falter, couldn't have stopped if the planet had suddenly flipped its axis. He thrust against him once, and once again, and then he was pouring himself out, coming hard enough he thought he might be losing vital body functions. He shuddered to a halt with a final, thoroughly satisfied twitch of his hips.

Jim panted for a moment, leaning on his hands, then brought the sticky one to his mouth for a thoughtful lick.

Spock was watching, and caught his breath. Kirk smiled at him. A gentle, boyish, pleased smile few ever saw. Then he leaned forward and turned around to get his legs out of the impossible position he'd jammed them in.

At which point someone started to beam them up.

For a frozen half second he looked directly into Spock's eyes, already shot with sparkles, and mental attunement or not Spock was following his thoughts perfectly.

Shit.

Transportation, contrary to popular belief, was not instantaneous. There was a normal window of perhaps five seconds between start of transport and actual molecular fragmentation. Longer for a difficult transport, through an atmosphere, or interference in the carrier wave. Maybe ten.

This went through his head almost instantly, giving him a clear choice. Time to collect himself, or time enough to straighten his first officer. Maybe a second of deliberation. Then he was grabbing at the front of Spock's pants, telling himself he'd get over the embarrassment.

A moment, a breath of time, and he was stumbling, getting his footing on the transporter platform, his legs complaining after being cramped up too long.

Scotty was at the panel, looking proud of himself.

I'll kill him, Kirk thought calmly, and waited for the explosion. It never came. Scotty just kept on looking pleased.

"Welcome aboard, sirs," he said jauntily. Confused, Kirk glanced down at himself. At his neatly fastened pants and slightly rumpled shirt. He glanced over at Spock with a flash of intuition and Spock gave him a marvelously bland look in return, his hair askew. He'd been rather distracted, and while he'd put Spock in order, Spock had...

He had to remember to stop underestimating that man. Spock put up an eyebrow and Kirk had to stop looking at him or he'd start laughing.

"Scotty, remind me to raise your pay," he said instead, smothering a smile. Scotty's good cheer wilted a little.

"Not just yet, sir. I was only able to get a lock on the two of you."

"Yes, I know," Kirk said quietly. Scotty looked at his face and his eyes turned sympathetic.

"Ach, poor lad," Scotty said softly.

"Yes. Report, Mr. Scott."

"We've had contact with the Liberation Party, Captain." He bounced on his toes, a little. "About Mr. Spock's...about his ransom, sir."

Kirk raised his eyebrows high. "Do you have contact?" He asked, moving towards the door.

"Aye," Scott replied.

Kirk smiled a tight, humorless smile. "Well, then, I'd hate to keep your kidnappers waiting too long...Shall we, Mr. Spock?"

Spock inclined his head, and followed. His shoulder brushed against him, in the hall, and Kirk glanced up at him, letting the sleeves of their uniforms touch. He caught the briefest curve of Spock's lips as they entered the turbolift.

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