“Open your eyes, Spock,” a familiar voice called out.
Spock obeyed. As his eyelids parted, a desert of rock and sand appeared extending in an endless shimmer beneath a red sky. Jim was there, standing in front of him and smiling. Spock suddenly lost all interest in the crimson world on which they had landed—with all its wondrous mysteries waiting to be solved—unable to focus on anything but his bondmate’s sparkling eyes. All Spock wanted to do was gaze into the perfect world shining within them, and he thought that every wonder in the universe could be found there.
Slowly, he raised his hand and let his fingers brush Jim’s psi-points, and that action alone was enough to send intense flashes of emotion through their bond. Spock’s hand moved from his husband’s temple, traveled across his cheek and then pressed two fingers to the smiling mouth. Jim kissed them, closing his eyes with a sigh. They were both old and wrinkled, but standing there with the person he loved the most made Spock feel young. Time was only a relative notion, and with Jim, a second could last forever.
The sun was setting on this foreign world, making shadows dance all around them. Spock cupped his bondmate’s face in his hands and paused for a moment to marvel at his handsome features. The worn out skin was still smooth to the touch, some locks of graying hair still fell gracefully upon the forehead lined with creases, and the brilliant hazel eyes still stared back at him in a way that made Spock’s breath hitch.
“Close your eyes now,” Jim whispered.
Once more Spock obeyed. He felt warm human breath tickle his cheeks, then hot lips grazed his own and he sank into the kiss. The world around them exploded: rocks flew into the sky and under the endless dunes of golden sand, water appeared, glittering like silver under the dying sun.
Spock slid his tongue over his husband’s lips and pulled him closer. Some of the rocks ignited and burned, and the water began eating the land, making the sand slowly disappear under their feet. Jim moaned into the kiss, wrapping his arms around Spock’s back. Love, lust and need poured through their bond as the sky caught fire.
The ground began shaking, mountains of rock and sand falling apart. Spock found he did not care, but suddenly Jim’s hands were pushing him away. He opened his eyes and gave his bondmate a questioning look.
Eyes wide with terror, Jim only shoved Spock further away, pushing him with all his strength as far as possible. Surprised and unable to react, Spock stumbled and fell several steps backward. Only a moment later, flaming rocks were falling from the sky and landing where Spock had been standing.
Jim backed off,covering his face with his arms, but there was no escape; the heat of the flaming rocks made the earth crack beneath his feet. Spock stood up just in time to meet Jim’s terrified gaze as he lost his balance from the violent tremors, and in that dreadful moment they both knew he was going to fall.
Spock didn’t wait for it to happen; he leapt over the blazing rocks, ran towards the cliff, reached out to grab his husband’s hand… only to find that he was too late. Jim was falling. And Spock jumped after him.
It was long and terrifying, as Spock freefell, thinking about the last thing he saw before jumping: Jim’s handsome face, and his lips which held the form of one word in shocked silence—‘Spock’. The vision swam in his head, haunting him, until the ground began to get closer and closer.
His velocity began slowing until he was deposited gently on a pile of ashes. Sinking to his knees, he plunged both hands into the dust and searched desperately for something—anything—that could lead to…
Forever suddenly no longer existed. Spock felt old.
He stood up, looked around him, and fell to his knees again. There was nothing, only ashes and the desert that was once more calm and quiet. The sky had turned ominously red.
His frantic searching whirled up the ashes, blinding him and yet he searched, moving his hands through the pile of dust. His own voice rang in his ears, infuriatingly composed and emotionless, “What are you searching for, Spock? You will find only another illusion here, but nothing more. He will follow you as long as your eyes are closed, but when you turn around to make sure he is there, you will see ashes… dust…”
He woke up panting. It took his blurred mind a few seconds to realize it was only a dream—no, a nightmare. Through the oppressive darkness he stared at the ceiling, focusing on slowing his heartbeat to a normal rate. Then he closed his eyes again and listened to the steady breathing of the man peacefully sleeping at his side.
He reached out in the darkness to touch him, and found the warmth he longed for. As illogical as it was, Spock felt relieved. He pulled his husband closer and wished he could see him clearly through their shadowy bedroom, if only to ensure that he would be resting with the innocence which was his alone.
Spock held Jim as close as possible, planting soft kisses in his hair and placing a hand over his heart to feel it beating reassuringly against his palm. Still beating… He made himself remember that a second could last forever if they wanted it to. And Jim was still there…
“Stay with me…” Spock whispered. A whisper that was dangerously close to a sob.