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- The Vulcan -

 

 

The Vulcan’s eyes flew open, wide with terror. He had some sense that he had been something else before, that what he had become was abnormal, terribly damaged even, but he could not begin to understand what his previous self might have been. He knew only that some kind of barrier in his head, once immeasurably tall and thick, had been obliterated. As a result, everything in his mind was mushrooming out in a rapidly expanding, roiling cloud of unchecked emotions.

 

There was a terrible noise all around him, a fierce, guttural screaming. It was only when he became aware of the scratching pain in his throat and the air violently leaving his lungs that he understood that the sound was coming from his own mouth.

 

It seemed for a moment that he should feel shame for this unhinged howling, that he needed to pull everything back inward until it compressed into a fine, controlled point somewhere deep inside him. But any controls he once possessed had been completely annihilated by some unknown force. He was only this now: a highly sensitized bundle of pain and joy and anger and love.

 

There was someone very near him, and where this man’s hands touched him he felt concern and fear and anger that did not belong to him. Disturbed by these emotions which were not his own, the Vulcan lashed out so that the hands left him. There was a crash and a cry of pain.

 

The other was making noise, repeating the same sound again and again. He had drawn near again, but remained just out of reach. He would not go away, and he kept up his urgent chant.

 

That voice… It was calling to him. It was concern and hope and sadness all in one.

 

The Vulcan stilled his flailing limbs and focused on the sound of that voice. So familiar. There was safety in that voice. He heard a short, clipped sound come out of his own mouth in response and understood that he had named this treasured being.

 

Jim.

 

It was the only thing the Vulcan knew for certain in this world that was shifting and collapsing and reforming all around him. This name, this man. The Vulcan reached for him. The man was radiating joy and fear, as his hands pulled the Vulcan to his feet.

 

Jim. His Jim. They were in terrible danger and he must do something.

 

They were in an enclosure of some sort, a cage. They must get out of this cage. With a thunderous yell the Vulcan threw himself against the entrance of their cage, then backed up and charged again and again. There was the sharp splintering of wood and the high creak of twisting metal. He was so intent at his task that he did not hear his Jim crying out in alarm until he stood back to look at what he had done.

 

The door was shattered and hanging open, and Jim was clutching frantically at the Vulcan’s arm and his shoulder, his hands coming away green with blood.

 

The Vulcan caught Jim by the wrist and tugged him roughly forward. He shoved him past the ruined door and rushed down a long corridor toward the bright glare of sunlight. They reached the end of the corridor and burst into a large, high-ceilinged room. The Vulcan pushed Jim to the ground as a bolt of blazing light shot past his head.

 

He launched himself at the nearest alien, one hand catching it by its pale silver hair, and the other crashing in a fist to split open its skull. Blue blood gushed down over alabaster skin, and the Vulcan let the alien drop, moving on to the next and ripping its head around on its thick neck, delighting in the crackle of its bones snapping.

 

More white light blazed past him, and a searing hot pain went through his shoulder. He whirled and darted, leaping to grab the alien’s weapon hand, and he shattered its wrist with ease. The alien cried out, and one of its companions fired another bolt of light at him, but he shielded himself with the body of the alien in his grip and then let it drop lifeless to the floor. He was diving toward the one who had fired the shot, when Jim appeared behind the alien and knocked it unconscious.

 

The Vulcan came to a stop standing over the alien, and then crouched down, wrapping his fingers around its neck. This alien had tried to harm him, would try to harm his Jim. He would not allow this. He felt Jim yanking at his arm and heard his agitated vocalizations, but the Vulcan knocked him away and reached back down. He dug his fingers deep into the pasty flesh of the alien’s neck and blue blood splurted and gushed between his fingers in a satisfying torrent, pooling on the floor around the pale head. The alien’s light grey eyes had shot open and were staring emptily at him in death.

 

He felt his lips curve up at the corners, and he let the pleasure of being alive and the elation of victory flow easily through him.

 

His Jim was angry, beating his fists against the Vulcan’s back in his distress. Not wishing to agitate Jim further, he stood up and allowed himself to be led out of the building and into the sunlight.

 

The dead and the dying were all around him. Aliens—these ones smaller and grey-skinned—were collapsing on sidewalks and in the streets. They tumbled out of buildings, their minds split open and their mouths gaping in silent screams. But the Vulcan could hear their screams in his head, and the anguished cacophony of dying telepaths crippled him, blinded him, left him writhing and vomiting onto the pavement.

 

He was paralyzed by the overwhelming sea of grief and pain around him, and it was with great difficulty that he was able to turn his attention to the man standing above him. Jim was pulling at him, shaking him, and pouring desperate noises into his ear.

 

The Vulcan climbed unsteadily to his feet, and it was then that he saw the source of Jim’s urgency. Coming down the street was a group of the pale Aliens. He turned around to see that another group was coming from the other direction, and he understood that they must leave this area immediately. He was not afraid of these beings—but he would not risk Jim’s life.

 

Linking their arms around each others shoulders—the Vulcan leaning more heavily on Jim than he would have liked—they fled down a small side street.

 

The mental cries of the small aliens dying around them were beginning to overwhelm the Vulcan again, and he fell to his knees, shaking and moaning. His Jim yanked him up, leading him on and on, not heeding his anguished cries. They had gone a fair distance when Jim suddenly knocked him to the ground behind a line of hedges, his body pressed protectively over the Vulcan. They heard hurried footsteps pounding by and shouting. When it was silent again, Jim pulled him up and they continued, still clinging to each other.

 

The Vulcan noticed with some approval that the buildings around them were becoming smaller and spaced more widely apart, and ahead he could see more vegetation. He was pleased that Jim was leading him out of the city and away from the attacking aliens.

 

Jim must remain safe.

 

The road they were traveling alongside seemed to be leading them into a sparsely populated, mountainous terrain. The Vulcan quickened his step, moving more easily now that the worst of the telepathic death throes were behind them. He was no longer leaning on Jim, and strode quickly forward, slowing occasionally to cast anxious glances back at his lagging companion.

 

After walking for some time, the Vulcan looked back to see that Jim was breathing heavily, sweat streaming down his face. Jim stopped abruptly, wiping at his eyes with his sleeve. He called out, and the Vulcan stopped walking, waiting patiently while Jim caught his breath.

 

As the trees had become more numerous and the buildings more infrequent, they had found themselves in shade more often than not, but the noonday heat seemed to be wearing on the human. Jim clumsily pulled his shirt off, tying it around his waist before leaning his rump back against a tree as he let his upper body fall forward. His hands were on his knees, and he was staring at the ground with an expression of strained dejection that tugged at something in the Vulcan. He moved closer to his companion and squatted down low so that he could look up at Jim’s tired face.

 

Jim’s eyes met his. They were as golden as the leaves fluttering above them, and the Vulcan felt his breath catch. The full lips were pressed into a firm line and the brow furrowed as Jim’s eyes bored into him, seeming to strip him bare. The Vulcan felt that he should understand this look. He knew that Jim’s obvious disquietude should mean something to him, and he should feel something very particular in response to it, but he could not gather what that was. He felt his own brow furrow, and his mouth fell open as he struggled with his need to somehow reassure the being in front of him.

 

To his relief, Jim’s features suddenly softened. Jim stood up straight, catching the Vulcan’s arm and muttering something low but gentle as he led them on again. The hand dropped away too soon. They resumed their former pace, Jim’s breathing still deep, but more even.

 

They had been walking for nearly two hours when the Vulcan veered off into the woods that had grown thick around them. He clambered behind a large boulder, and reached out to pull Jim down next to him. Below them on the road a large vehicle zoomed past, coming from the direction of the city. It was followed by five smaller ones, and they tensed at the sight of the grim, pale faces behind the protective shielding of these heavily armed craft.

 

After the aliens passed by, the Vulcan stood and led Jim away from the road, deeper into the wilderness.

 

They walked on in silence, and the Vulcan began to feel concern for his Jim. He himself could go on for many more hours, but he sensed that the human was becoming weary in his body and in his mind. He wanted to put as much distance between them and the invading forces as possible, but he resolved that they would stop and rest as soon as they found a suitable place.

 

They came upon a small, unpaved road, and though the Vulcan was hesitant to follow it, Jim darted forward with renewed energy. He had no choice but to go after Jim. When they came upon a small dwelling nestled at the foot of a steep, rocky slope, surrounded by smaller more colorful trees, he grudgingly followed Jim to its entrance.

 

They approached the entryway of the dwelling, both of them slightly crouched and watchful. The Vulcan moved swiftly past Jim and pressed himself to the door, listening intently. When he made out no sounds within the dwelling, he listened with his mind until he was sure there was no one inside. He nodded slightly to Jim and tried the door. It swung open and the Vulcan stepped gingerly inside, still wary of being attacked at any moment despite the peaceful silence. He sniffed at the air, and then, finally satisfied that they were safe for the moment, moved to let Jim enter.

 

As Jim moved past him his naked arm brushed the Vulcan’s raised hand, and the Vulcan was momentarily puzzled by the strange mixture of impatience and affection that came through the contact point. And worry. His Jim was steeped in worry, though his face did not show it at the moment.

 

Jim was communicating with him now in what he knew were words, but the meaning the of noise escaped him. He could tell by the tone and the set of the human’s handsome features that he was pleased with something. He watched Jim with covetous fondness as he moved deeper into the domicile to find what he was after.

 

It was clear that the place had been abandoned in a hurry. There was a half-eaten meal on a low table, and cabinets had been flung open and partially emptied, various containers flung around on the countertops and floor. Jim was moving about the room collecting the containers, examining them and adding some to a growing pile on the little table.

 

Jim eventually abandoned the pile of boxes and packets, and wandered down a hallway to another room, the Vulcan on his heels.

 

It was a room for sleeping, and contained a bed and a few storage compartments. Jim immediately began to go through the compartments, obviously searching for something in particular. The Vulcan wondered at the care Jim took with the alien’s belongings, as it seemed unlikely that the being would return even if it managed to escape the invaders. At the thought of the pale aliens and their weapons the Vulcan felt rage fill him. He stalked over to the window to peer out at the dense woods, searching for any hint of movement.

 

Jim must hurry. They must not linger here too long.

 

Jim let out a satisfied noise, and the Vulcan turned away from the window to see him holding up a small pack. Jim lengthened the small straps and slung it over his shoulder, testing it. When he was satisfied, he dropped it down on the bed and shoved folded blankets into it, along with a few other items he had gathered. He carried it—and another bag with only one long strap—into the room with the food, and began to load the containers into the empty bag.

 

The Vulcan followed Jim as he explored the rest of the dwelling. When they came to the small room with the stall for washing and a toilet, Jim turned and motioned for him to sit. The Vulcan stood still, gazing at him in confusion. The human sighed and put his hands on the Vulcan’s arms, pulling until he lowered him onto the closed lid of the toilet. The Vulcan sat still, staring questioningly into Jim’s hazel eyes.

 

Jim was talking to him in a soothing voice and tugging at his tunic, so he raised his arms and allowed him to tug it off. The Vulcan had forgotten that he had been injured. Jim tended to the wounds, cleaning and bandaging his shoulder with the supplies he had gathered. The human’s touch was warm and calming, and the Vulcan let his head fall forward to rest against the smooth skin of Jim’s chest. He did not realize that his hands were stroking Jim’s muscular thighs until the man froze, stopping his gentle vocalizations.

 

Jim backed away from him slowly, his face blank. He handed back the tunic and left the room.

 

The Vulcan felt something twist painfully inside him, but got up and followed Jim. He was crestfallen and aching for more contact with that smooth skin, for more of the tingling electricity that shot between them, charging him with desire.

 

That could wait though. They must keep moving.

 

The Vulcan pulled on his shirt and followed after Jim. He went to the table, shouldered the heavier bag Jim had packed, and walked toward the entrance. He stopped just before he reached the door, looking back to make sure Jim would follow. Jim understood and shrugged the smaller pack onto his shoulders. Jim gazed wistfully around at the disordered but cozy room before striding past his companion and out the door.

 

The Vulcan walked out into the sunlight, squinting as his eyes adjusted. Feeling Jim go tense beside him, his heart skipped a beat. Something hot and poisonous flooded him as he glared at the three aliens in front of them.

 

The pale alien faces were frozen with surprise, their weapons half-raised, and the Vulcan took that moment to act.

 

He shoved Jim ahead of him as he dove toward the edge of the building, hearing the weapons discharge just as they made it around the corner. He dragged Jim with him around to the back and threw him up onto the steep hill, snarling and striking Jim forcefully when he tried to slide back down the rocky face to rejoin him. He shoved at Jim’s legs and growled until the man started to ascend, and then turned, dumping his heavy bag to the ground just as the first alien burst around the corner.

 

The Vulcan jumped forward, dropping into a roll and leaping up at the alien, catching him in a death grip. He snapped its neck and whirled when he saw a flash of light, howling with rage when he realized that the other two aliens had gone around the other side of the dwelling and were firing at Jim. Jim was nearly to the top of the ridge, but slipped as a blast of fiery light exploded next to him. He began to tumble downward.

 

The Vulcan cried out in fury, charging the aliens. One of them turned to fire on him, and the Vulcan swerved off his course just enough that the shot flew past his head. He covered the remaining distance with a speed that sent the now frightened alien staggering back into the other one.

 

He swung and clawed and tore, ignoring the heavy blows that occasionally landed on him, the bloodlust whipping him into a violent frenzy. Then there was stillness, and he was standing above two mangled corpses, his eyes still blazing. He turned to see that Jim was gone. He noted with relief the swaying of exposed tree roots where Jim had managed to find purchase before pulling himself to safety.

 

Snatching up the bag, he reached out, and catching the top of a large boulder, hoisted himself up and began to climb. When he reached the top he immediately scanned the surrounding area, but to his horror Jim was nowhere to be seen. It was then that he heard the snapping of branches. He turned to his right to see two more aliens moving toward him through the trees.

 

He must find Jim, but first this threat must be eliminated.

 

The aliens had spotted him, but he moved with agility and swiftness between the trees. When he caught the aliens he dispatched them quickly, relishing the look of surprise and fear on their faces as they went.

 

There were more of them. He could hear them moving off quickly into the woods, as if pursuing something. Pursuing his Jim. The Vulcan lunged forward, running as fast as his long legs would carry him, his vision blurring with rage. This group of three was so intent on their prey that they did not know that they, too, were being hunted until the Vulcan was upon them.

 

When they were dead the Vulcan stood silently, head bent, listening intently for any sound that might indicate more of the aliens. He heard nothing. He was alone.

 

Jim. He must find his Jim.

 

He thought he spotted a trail and began to follow it, but he lost it when the trees thinned out and he found himself climbing up a rocky hillside. How far had Jim gone? Would Jim come back for him? What if he encountered more of the aliens and was killed?

 

The Vulcan filled with fear and began to search frantically, so careless in his haste that he nearly tumbled over a precipice that dropped sharply to the ground far below. He watched small pebbles tumble down and then backed up, heart throbbing. He must be careful. If he died, who would protect Jim?

 

He began his search again, moving more carefully now, but still feeling desperation surge through him in waves. He heart was aching, his mind racing. He needed to find Jim, needed him near. He needed the human’s alluring scent and his warm skin and his soothing presence.

 

He realized he was running and slowed, turning in a circle to look around him. The sun was going down and the forest around him was getting darker, increasing his sense of urgency. He must find Jim before the sunlight completely faded away. Jim must not be left alone in this strange place at night. He reached out to Jim with his mind, hoping to touch that warm spirit with his own and find him that way, but he met only darkness and silence. He could not find Jim.

 

Jim was gone, lost in this wilderness.

 

The Vulcan fell to his knees and let out a cry.

 

Anger. Misery.

 

He rocked himself back and forth, clutching at his aching head. He was alone, and worse, Jim was alone as well, out there in this strange place.

 

Whatever else there had been in his mind before had been obliterated when the walls crashed down. There was only Jim now. If he could not find Jim what point was there in going on? What purpose did he serve if not to protect Jim, most cherished of beings? What pleasure could he get from life if he could not bask in Jim’s bright presence and share with him the task of living?

 

His head jerked up at the sound of very light footsteps. Someone was moving stealthily toward him, perhaps drawn by the cry he had uttered. The Vulcan kept his head lowered and rose slowly to his feet, not turning toward the soft sounds, but listening carefully.

 

Whoever it was had stopped a short distance from him, and become perfectly still.

 

The Vulcan’s whole being shuddered with relief as a familiar voice called out from behind him. He turned, his eyes shining with joy, and watched his Jim stride up to him. Jim had put on his shirt again—protection against the rapidly cooling air—and was grinning as he reached out a hand to grasp the Vulcan’s shoulder. The Vulcan moved fast though, slipping past the outstretched hand to catch Jim in a fierce embrace.

 

The Vulcan nuzzled into him with a soft whimper, nipping and lightly tasting the salty skin of Jim’s neck, his arms snaking underneath the pack to wrap tightly around the broad back. Jim stiffened, and the Vulcan reluctantly moved his mouth away from the enticing throat, but he did not release his grip. Not until Jim slid his hands up between them and pushed hard against the his heaving chest did the Vulcan let him go. He let himself slide to the ground, still shaking with relief, his head drooping in exhaustion.

 

Jim stood still for some time before finally lowering himself down next to the Vulcan and gently stroking the bowed head. The Vulcan pressed his head into the stroking hand, eyes closed and face going slack as he completely relaxed, all the pain and fear he’d been feeling slipping away. He wanted it to go on forever, this melting caress, but too soon the hand was withdrawn and that warm voice urged him up.

 

They must go on. They could not risk being caught again, so if they meant to rest at some point during the night they must first put more distance between them and the city. The Vulcan was sure that if they moved deeper into the mountainous terrain the pale aliens would not find them. The invaders would have no reason to go into uninhabited areas, so they must isolate themselves as much as possible.

 

The Vulcan accepted the hand that was extended to him and stood up. As he walked along, letting Jim lead now, he contemplated the last hour or so. He had been separated from Jim and unable to find him, and it was only pure luck that his desperate searching had brought him so close to Jim. It was luckier still that Jim had heard him cry out and had located him. This must not happen again. He needed a way to keep track of his human. He needed a link with him, needed to be bound to him so that they would never be separated again.

 

It was a matter of survival. It was an undeniable need to protect Jim, and beneath that, it was pure, aching desire.

 

He wished to join with his Jim, but first he must lead him farther from danger.

 

The Vulcan followed close behind Jim until the light faded and the spaces between the trees grew black, before he took the lead. He peered searchingly into the dark and pulled Jim along behind him as he weaved around trees and over boulders, climbing steadily upward.

 

The forest had been fairly quiet by day, but now the air around them was buzzing with strange whoops and rumbling calls. The Vulcan’s movements became slow and cautious, his eyes sharply focused and his head cocking to the side, as he listened quietly to the night.

 

He stopped suddenly, sniffing the air, and pressed himself back against Jim until the man was pinned against a rocky outcropping. Jim shoved at him, but the Vulcan paid him no heed, listening intently and trying to make out shapes in the dark. He sniffed again as a sharp animal scent hit him, and Jim, hearing this small sound from his companion, stopped his struggling to peer around him into the dark.

 

They were on a well-worn trail that led up a steep section of hill. Though there were no trees around them, jagged, rocky protrusions provided ample cover for any animals that might be lurking in the area. The Vulcan was sure that some large animal was close by. He carefully let the strap slide from his shoulder and eased his bag to the ground.

 

Jim whispered something to him, questioning him, but the Vulcan pressed back harder until Jim let out a hiss and then fell silent, waiting.

 

This planet’s moon provided some illumination, but that faint light would do them no good if a predator leapt down on them from above. He looked up at the looming boulders and listened.

 

It was not long before he heard it: a soft snuffling sound and the shifting of gravel. He went deathly still, and Jim, feeling his tension, stopped moving as well. The human’s breath came in slow, quiet puffs against the Vulcan. Feeling Jim’s breath against his shoulder stirred him, made him fierce with the desire to protect his companion, and his lips pulled back in a silent snarl as the shuffling of a large animal drew closer.

 

The animal did not come from above, but from between two jutting crags a little further up the trail. When the animal finally came into view the Vulcan immediately understood what was responsible for the beaten path they had been traveling. The creature had large, hoof-like feet, thick squat legs, and long fur covering its body. It was the head of the beast that concerned the Vulcan though. As the creature lifted its snout and scented the air, the Vulcan saw rows of small but undoubtedly sharp teeth glinting in the moonlight.

 

The creature was huffing wetly and moving straight for them, and though it seemed wary, it had not sighted them yet. The Vulcan felt a surge of panic. As soon as he moved the creature would spot them, so he would need to pick the right moment to leap. He hoped Jim would not try to interfere, but there was nothing the Vulcan could do to make sure that he did not. He briefly considered knocking him unconscious, but that would be too dangerous for Jim if the struggle did not go well for the Vulcan.

 

The creature was closer now, and they could see the mottled grey pattern of its fur and smell the acrid stink of its heavy breath. Jim shivered against his back, and the Vulcan knew it was as much from the chill of the night air as from fear. The Vulcan lowered himself slightly in a crouch and was preparing to spring, when he felt Jim’s hand squeezing his arm as if to hold him back. Anxiety was seeping through the touch, but the Vulcan made his decision, and knocking the human away as he went, jumped for the creature.

 

He had meant to land on its back, but at the last second the creature whirled so that he found himself straddling its head. The creature let out a throaty squeal and violently tossed its head, partially dislodging its attacker and striking out with its hooves. The Vulcan dangled on the creature’s shoulder, sinking his hands into the long fur and hanging on with all his strength as the mighty hooves landed with deep echoing cracks against the rocks. The creature managed to turn its head around and it slashed at the Vulcan, its teeth sinking into his side and pulling a strangled cry from him.

 

He heard a loud thock, and felt the creature jerk beneath him. He only caught a glimpse of Jim wielding a large stick before he vaulted himself up onto the creature’s back, wrapping his arms around its thick neck.

 

He yanked upward with all his strength, and the creature reared up with him, its high-pitched squeal turning to a gurgling hiss as the Vulcan tightened his grip, using his feet to brace himself against a rock. In a last, desperate act the creature flung itself onto its side and began to roll over onto the Vulcan, its stubby legs kicking in the air. The Vulcan felt the pressure squeeze the air out of him, felt his ribs begin to crack, and he fought madly against the darkness that was overtaking his vision.

 

He must not fail. Jim was nearby. Jim needed him.

 

His mind was sinking rapidly downward when the pressure suddenly eased. When his vision cleared, he saw Jim throwing his weight into the creature, shoving at it with all his strength to lift it off of him. The creature was still now, and the Vulcan gave one final, vicious squeeze, completely crushing its neck.

 

Releasing the creature, he dragged himself out from under the furry bulk, and staggered to his feet. Jim was immediately at his side, slinging an arm around his waist and pleading with him as he began to stumble up the path. Jim darted back for the abandoned bag and then back to the Vulcan’s side, pulling at him and trying to block his path. The Vulcan knew where he was going though, and swatted Jim away when the man tried to make him be still.

 

He struggled onward, moving toward a gaping crevice ahead. Shelter.

 

When Jim spotted the dark split in the stone, he stopped trying to slow the Vulcan’s pace, and instead hurried forward, pulling him along. Jim stopped as they reached the well-trodden entrance, eyeing the opening warily. But the Vulcan moved past him, pausing only for a moment before plunging into the dark. The opening was just wide enough for the furry, hoofed creature, and tufts of its long fur clung to the rough edges of rock where it had passed through time and time again.

 

The Vulcan sniffed the air and listened carefully for sounds of movement. The cave opened up around him as he crept forward, and he quickly decided that the now dead creature had been the only occupant.

 

He heard Jim moving behind him, followed a clicking sound as light flooded the cave, throwing his shadow out in front of him. The cave was not very large and the Vulcan had to crouch a little even at its highest point, but it was wide enough that he could lie across it and twice as deep. It ended with a jagged niche that housed the bones of various creatures. The Vulcan crept forward and examined the bones, and after noticing the various patterns of teeth and claw marks etched into them, decided that the furry creature had been a scavenger, feasting on the leavings of other predators.

 

Jim had set the lantern down in the middle of the space and was staring in disgust past the squatting Vulcan at the collection of bones. His gaze drifted to the Vulcan and his eyes went wide in alarm. He rushed forward and dropped down to his knees, hands fumbling as he pulled at the Vulcan’s shirt. The Vulcan, realizing what had alarmed the human, let him pull the dirty, blood-soaked shirt off and examine his wounds. The creature’s teeth had left four oozing, blood-caked gashes along his side, and he knew that on his chest mottled bruises would be forming where his ribs had nearly shattered under the creature’s weight.

 

Jim was making concerned noises as he rushed to one of the packs. He began to root around in it, pulling out and piling up a few items. He gathered up the supplies and moved back to the Vulcan, immediately setting to work dressing the wound.

 

The Vulcan watched Jim quietly, greedily drinking up the sight of him. Jim’s full lips were pouting in concentration and when he sucked lightly on his bottom lip, brow furrowed and eyes intent, the Vulcan felt heat blossom low in his belly. As those sure, warm fingers brushed his skin, the heat in his veins burst into a fire that tore through him, shooting out into his limbs and making his vision shimmer with lust. He must possess this man. They must not be separated. The mere thought of losing his Jim made the Vulcan shudder.

 

He would have him. He would join with him.

 

The human had bandaged his wound and was now staring at him in obvious concern as the Vulcan shivered under his touch. The gaze was questioning, Jim’s eyes so full of affection and trust. It was almost enough to make the Vulcan hesitate for fear of breaking that trust. Almost.

 

The Vulcan caught Jim in his arms pushed him down onto the sandy floor of the cave, lowering himself on top of him and burying his face in the human’s shoulder. He nuzzled and bit through the fabric of the shirt, mildly annoyed by this barrier between his mouth and Jim’s skin. Jim had been frozen beneath him, shocked into stillness, but as the Vulcan straddled his hips and started to pull the shirt off he began to struggle, striking out in fear and anger.

 

The sharp nature of Jim’s emotions hurt the Vulcan far more than the blows, but he would not be deterred. He must have Jim. Jim’s fury lashed whip-like at his mind, but he could not bear the thought of being separated from him again, unable to find him.

 

He must do this.

 

Jim landed a particularly powerful blow to his aching chest and the Vulcan gasped. Wheezing painfully, he caught the human’s wrists and pinned them to the ground. He bent down, panting hotly into the human’s ear and then rose up enough to catch Jim’s mouth with his. The kiss was forceful and burning, a demand for more. The Vulcan let out a frustrated cry when Jim yanked his mouth away, turning his head to the side to yell at him.

 

The Vulcan let his head drop to Jim’s chest, pressing down heavily on the struggling body beneath him as he tried to gather his thoughts. But the need to join with Jim’s mind finally overwhelmed him, and he pulled the wrists in his grasp up and together, taking them both in one hand. With his free hand he tenderly caressed the side of Jim’s face. Jim was repeating two sounds over and over, desperately pleading. The wretchedness in that voice made the Vulcan pause, fingers hovering over the face so twisted with emotion.

 

He was on the verge of releasing Jim, when his fingertips brushed the man’s temple and electricity arched between them, begging for the link, for completion.

 

Jim must have seen the moment when the Vulcan made his decision, because his eyes went wide and fearful. Then they rolled back in his head as the Vulcan’s fingertips joined them together, obliterating the world around them.

 

Their minds crashed into each other with brutal force, churning and ripping apart and mixing together again in a raging storm of fractured memory and emotion. The Vulcan surged deeper, his mind wrapping around Jim’s and piercing it with all the savage force of his animal need, and Jim’s mind reeled and tumbled and twisted in pain and confusion.

 

Jim was fighting him, raging against him. He was radiating hurt and betrayal that made the Vulcan recoil, but then push forward, desperate to join, to comfort, to reassure. He reached, touching, blending. There was a flare of light.

 

The Vulcan felt Jim’s agony first all around him and then, moving deeper, he felt it inside of him as if it were his own. Then he was screaming and Jim was screaming, and he did not know where he began and Jim ended.

 

In a powerful, desperate wave, Jim surged against him, and the Vulcan, not wishing Jim’s mind to break against his, let himself be driven back. The force of the onslaught was such that the Vulcan felt his mind tear at the edges as it ripped away from Jim’s. Suddenly back in his own head, his body collapsed off of Jim and onto the floor.

 

No matter. He had done it. He could feel Jim’s presence in his head, faint but unmistakable, and knew that if he turned inward he would see the shimmering thread connecting them, thin but tremendously strong.

 

Jim was somewhere nearby, and at the sound of his retching and his pained, dry sobs, the Vulcan tried to climb to his feet, only to drop down into a heavy heap of aching muscle and tingling skin. Jim’s misery was deeply distressing to the Vulcan, but his battered and abused body was no longer under his control. He could not move to comfort him. As he felt his consciousness begin to sink he became aware that Jim was standing hunched above him.

 

He struggled vainly to make sense of the strange look on his face.

 

As he lost conscious he tried not dwell on the flash of manic ferocity that slipped into him through the link from the man above him. The twisted expression faded from view as he sank.

 

He was at Jim’s mercy now.

 

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