Everything Old is New Again

by Juli

August 2009

Contrary to popular belief, Jim Kirk slept alone. That might not have been true in his academy days, but he took his captaincy seriously and wasn't about to compromise his position due to something like promiscuity. That didn't stop him from flirting, but despite there being a large number of crew members who would have liked to join him in bed, none of them had so far. Jim had every intention of it staying that way.

Unfortunately, there wasn't a whole lot of sleeping going on in his bed lately either.

Jim punched his pillow before turning on his other side. He wasn't sure what the problem was. One thing he knew was that his trouble sleeping wasn't stress-fueled insomnia. If anything, the last weeks had been the calmest he'd had since deciding to put his own stamp on the Kobayashi Maru test. After returning to Earth following the confrontation with Nero, Jim had been kept busy finishing up his academy business, while overseeing the repair of the Enterprise. He'd been spared the media frenzy that had resulted from the planet's dramatic rescue, for which he'd been thankful. Jim craved the recognition of his peers, but media sycophants were another story.

By the time the Enterprise was fully repaired, Jim and his crew were ready to go too. Jim had insisted that everyone who had served on the ship's maiden voyage be allowed to continue on the crew, should they want to, regardless of whether they'd officially cleared the academy or not. It had made for some hurried graduations, but insured him a ship full of loyal people.

The Enterprise's initial missions were milk runs. Their current mission of ferrying cargo to scientific outpost was particularly humdrum and Jim was frustrated by the prosaic nature of the job, but had been warned to expect it. His mentor, Admiral Pike, had taken Jim aside and explained it was SOP for any new ship, giving the crew a chance to get to know one another and the vessel they all served aboard.

"There's not a lot of Neros out there, thank God," Pike had advised him. "Take advantage of quiet time when you find it. Not all your missions will be on a grand scale, but they'll all need your undivided attention. Downtime is rare, so use it to get to know your crew and, more importantly, let them get to know you."

Jim had taken the words to heart and used the relative quiet of their shakedown missions to become more acquainted with the crew. He'd crawled all over the ship during the repair process, but to get to know the people, he visited various departments. It was a big ship and he was far from being on a first name basis with everyone, but was pleased with his progress.

Over the years, Jim had been accused of being an adrenaline junky on more than one occasion. Maybe it was true, because as satisfying as he was finding the beginning of his captaincy, Jim was starting to feel restless. More than that, he felt uncomfortable in his own skin and his sleep patterns were nowhere near normal. The feeling had been building over the last couple of weeks and, since their missions had been so simple and stress wasn't an issue, Jim wasn't sure what the problem was. He tried very hard not to think that maybe he wasn't cut out for the full spectrum of responsibility that came with being a Starfleet captain.

Groaning, Jim gave sleep up as a lost cause. Again. He slipped out from the covers and quickly pulled on some casual clothes. Bones had been after him about having lost too much weight since leaving the academy, so Jim padded down the corridor to the galley. It was the middle of the third shift, so Jim wasn't surprised to find himself alone. He headed over to the replicators.

"Chicken soup, hot," Jim stated, fingers drumming impatiently against his thigh as he waited. He'd felt a little chilly since getting out of bed and something warm sounded good.

Jim didn't have to wait long. Within moments, he had his soup in hand and he settled down at one of the many empty tables. After one spoonful, though, Jim knew that eating was a lost cause too.

"I don't care what Scotty says," he muttered under his breath. "There's something wrong with the replicators."

Over the last weeks, Jim had his chief engineer look at the replicators several times. To Jim's palate, the food dispensed from the machines tasted far too bland. After looking at the replicators several times, however, Scotty had yet to find a problem. Jim had left off mentioning it, though, since no one else had complained about it.

After dumping the remnants of his soup, Jim left the galley and started wandering the corridors. His steps took him by the engineering department and the security person stationed there.

"Captain," the guard came to attention as was fitting for a superior office, but Jim was pleased to see no resentment in the man's stiffness.

"At ease, Johnson," Jim replied, grinning at Johnson as he remembered the first time he'd said that to him.

Jim was justifiably proud of the fact that all of the crew from that fateful maiden voyage of the Enterprise chose to stay on, despite having a new, youthful captain. He didn't let it go to his head, though, since he knew how coveted a spot on the fleet's flagship was. Tony Johnson was a different story. Jim's first encounter with him had been when Johnson was a burly cadet visiting a bar in Iowa and Jim was just a townie. They'd run into each other at the academy too and, although those encounters weren't as violent as the bar brawl they'd engaged in at their first meeting, they were far from friendly. Johnson also happened to be the security guard that had taken Jim into custody when he and Scotty had beamed back onto the Enterprise and had clearly relished the opportunity.

Of all the crew, Johnson was the only one who'd requested a private conference with Jim before re-signing on. Jim had granted it and wasn't too surprised to find that Johnson's only question was "Why?"

"Why do I want you back?" Jim had been leaning back in his chair when Johnson entered, but came forward with a serious expression on his face after the other man nodded. "Our main mission is an exploratory one. Where we're going, I'm going to need security guards that aren't afraid of a tussle." He'd grinned at Johnson then. "And I know for a fact that you can hit."

To Jim's pleased surprise, Johnson had actually smiled back at him. "If you don't mind me saying, you're not so bad at that yourself, sir."

"I'll make a deal with you," Jim had said as he stood up to shake Johnson's hand. "I won't call you Cupcake if you don't use it on me."

Johnson had looked relieved. "I can do that, sir."

The two men would never be friends, but after that conversation, they'd developed a better working relationship. Enough that Jim was comfortable being casual with him.

"How's our lady doing tonight?" Jim asked. "Heard of any system hiccups or anything?"

"Everything's quiet, sir," Johnson replied.

Jim realized that he still felt chilled. "It doesn't feel cold in here to you, does it?"

Johnson shook his head. "No, sir. The temperature seems just the same as it usually is."

The security guard had a puzzled look on his face, so Jim didn't make an issue out of it. Like the replicator, it was probably a variation that only he detected. Even so, Jim made a quick trip into engineering to check the environmental controls. Sure enough, everything read normal. Making a mental note to mention it to Scotty, Jim continued his rounds.

Walking through his ship wasn't as restful as sleeping, but it helped Jim achieve a more relaxed state. By the time he felt like he actually could go back to bed and get some rest, however, it was time to get ready for his shift. By that time, Jim was downright cold, so he took a hot shower. That warmed him up, but when he stepped out of the water into the cooler room, he got chilled again.

"Screw it," Jim muttered. He pulled out a heavier uniform, the type usually used in cold weather environments rather than the controlled settings of a ship's atmosphere.

Jim didn't feel like having another run-in with the replicator, so he eschewed breakfast all together and headed for the bridge. Spock was already there, even though Jim was early for the start of the shift.

"Reports, Mr. Spock," Jim greeted the Vulcan.

Instead of immediately replying while seated at his station, Spock rose and approached Jim. "All areas of the ship are reporting operations well within the normal parameters." He hesitated just a moment before continuing. "As you are well aware of, Captain."

Jim didn't know whether to be amused at Spock's comment or offended by it. He chose amusement, since Spock had spoken quietly enough that the other crew members hadn't noticed how he'd phrased his statement. "Is that so, Mr. Spock?"

"It would seem a logical conclusion," Spock replied evenly. "Given your tour of the ship's essential areas in the hours before the shift started."

He wasn't sure exactly why he should feel like he'd done something wrong, but Jim definitely did. "I couldn't sleep, so I thought I might as well be productive."

"Difficulty in acquiring adequate rest is often an indicator of a physical ailment," Spock pointed out, continuing to keep his voice soft. "As is a lack of appetite."

Jim made a quick decision. "Walk with me."

Spock lifted one eyebrow, but followed obediently as Jim got up and made his way to the lift. Once the two men were inside, Jim got it started towards a lower level, but paused it shortly thereafter.

"Was there something you wanted to say to me?" Jim demanded, suddenly angry. "Because it seemed to me that you were implying that I wasn't fit for command."

"I merely stated possible causation for a set of observed symptoms," Spock coolly pointed out. "However, it is significant to note, Captain, that I did not specify that both symptoms applied to you."

Jim leaned against the wall, rubbing his forehead. "Sorry, Spock, I didn't mean to jump down your throat like that."

"Apology accepted," Spock answered. "However, if I may ask a personal query, why are you wearing your thermal uniform?"

"I was cold," Jim shrugged and gave the Vulcan an unhappy smile. "I suppose, like the replicators, it's all in my mind."

Spock's expression changed subtly. If Jim didn't know better, he'd think the Vulcan was worried about him.

"Perhaps a visit to Dr. McCoy would be in order," Spock suggested.

Jim shook his head. "I'm fine, Spock."

For some reason, his comment made Spock flinch. It was so slight that Jim likely wouldn't have noticed it elsewhere, but in the quiet and relatively small confines of the lift, it was noticeable.

"Fine has variable meanings," Spock's voice was stiff when he replied. "Fine is unacceptable, Captain, particularly when it is obvious that you are not operating within normal parameters."

"That obvious, huh?" Jim asked.

"Dr. McCoy is not the only crew member to notice your loss of weight," Spock stated. Jim winced. The comment made it clear that the two senior officers had been discussing him behind his back. "Coupled with the inability to sleep and discomfort in the previously acceptable ship's environment, it would appear obvious that medical attention is required."

Jim was tempted to dispute Spock's observations, but from the glint in the Vulcan's eye, the other man had no intention of backing down. Jim sighed. The last thing he needed was to be forced into going to sick bay. As the youngest captain in Starfleet's history, he was already closely observed; he didn't need anything to hint he wasn't up to the task. Still, it might look better if he went willingly.

"Fine," Jim bowed his head slightly as he used the f-word. "I'll visit Bones, if that will make you happy."

"Happy is irrelevant in this instance, Captain," Spock pointed out. "As your first officer, it is my duty to point out actions that may prove detrimental to the ship or its crew."

"Of course it is," Jim sighed, but pressed the button that got the lift going again. "I'm going, I'm going."

When the lift reached the appropriate floor, Jim got out. Spock shifted his stance, as though preparing to follow, but Jim put up one hand to stop him.

"I think I got this one covered, Spock," Jim told the other man.

"Very well, Captain," Spock seemed unphased by the rejection. "I shall return to the bridge."

Heading to sick bay, Jim felt like a kid being summoned to the principal's office, something that had happened all too frequently during his school years. When he got there, McCoy was leaning up against a bed with his eyes on the door. Obviously, he'd been waiting for Jim.

"So the pointy eared bastard did it," McCoy stated as Jim came through the door. "And without using that nerve pinch of his either. Didn't know he had it in him."

Jim stiffened. "You put him up to this, Bones?"

McCoy shrugged. "Whatever works."

"Great, just great," Jim complained as he climbed up onto the exam bed. "I've been the captain for less than two months and already my crew is worried that I'm not up for the job."

"No one said that, Jim," McCoy frowned. "I thought I was the cranky one?"

"This just isn't going to look very good on my record," Jim pointed out.

"Funny about that," Bones drawled. "It seems your pre-assignment physical got lost in the system. This is just a routine physical exam." He winked at Jim. "Must have been because of all that repair work that was going on at the time. Even with all the bells and whistles on these fancy computers, sometimes a glitch will pop up."

Jim smiled, grateful that his friend was looking out for him. "Thanks, Bones."

"Any time," McCoy pointed a finger at him. "But that's two you owe me."

It was a good thing that Bones had gotten himself into Jim's good graces, otherwise the next hour would have tested the boundaries of their friendship. Bones poked and prodded to his heart's content, even looking into orifices that Jim was sure his mother had never seen. He put up with it with as good of grace as he could, well aware that McCoy was doing him a favor by not reporting the concern about the state of Jim's health.

Eventually, it was over and Bones stood frowning at a padd that held the results of all the various tests.

"Well, will I live?" Jim asked. As grateful as he was to his friend, he'd reached the end of his patience.

"Unless someone kills you for being annoying," McCoy answered. He lowered the padd and looked at Jim. "All the tests came back as normal."

"Really?" Jim grinned. "I'm fine?"

"Well, you're a little rundown and you've lost too many kilos for my comfort, but that could be attributed to the stress of a new position." Bones snorted. "That is, if I didn't know that you thrive on stress."

Jim hopped down with considerably more energy than when he'd gotten up on the table. "I'm fine, Bones." He grinned impishly at McCoy. "Make sure you use that word when you tell Spock. He loves that."

"Excuse me, sirs," the two men were interrupted by one of McCoy's nurses. "The bridge is asking for Captain Kirk. There's a transmission coming in from Starfleet for him and it's marked as private."

"Thank you, Nurse Chapel," McCoy's tone with his staff member was a whole lot more polite than what he typically used with Jim. When he turned back to the captain, however, Bones was more his usual self. "I suppose this means you want to use my office."

"Thanks, Bones," Jim clapped him on the shoulder as he made his way to the medical office.

Jim's good mood evaporated as he approached the communication terminal. A private message from Starfleet was rarely a good thing. It could mean anything from notifying a crew member of a family death to a private reprimand for Jim, as captain. Jim was certain he hadn't done anything to deserve the latter, but the idea of the former filled him with dread.

With a suitably somber expression on his face, Jim sat at Bone's desk and activated the terminal. With moments, Admiral Pike's familiar visage appeared.

"Jim, it's good to see you, although I wish the circumstances were different," Pike's greeting was informal, but he was as serious as Jim had ever seen him.

"Is something wrong, sir?" Jim asked. Christopher Pike was someone that Jim greatly admired. In fact, the only negative aspect of being the Enterprise's captain was that it had happened only because Pike had received permanent physical damage from Nero's torture techniques.

"Not exactly," Pike answered. "Jim, in a few minutes, I'm going to patch you through to the council of Vulcan elders and they are going to ask you a highly personal favor. I've been asked not to tell you what it is, that it would be best for the explanation to come from them."

Jim frowned. "Ooookay."

Pike smiled a little at his uncertainty. "I insisted that I be allowed to talk to you first because you need to understand that, because of what's being asked, it's okay for you to say no. No one will think less of you." He winced. "In fact, no one will think less of you for saying yes, either."

Admiral Pike's attempt at being reassuring was failing; Jim was beginning to get a very bad feeling about what the Vulcans wanted. "And there's nothing more you can tell me, sir?"

Pike grimaced, expressing how frustrated he was with the situation. "The only additional thing I can say is that what's being asked of you is not related to your position in Starfleet. Whether you say yes or no will not be entered into your file and will have no bearing on your future service."

"All right," Jim nodded at the admiral. He hadn't been a captain long, but he already had felt the constrictions of rank and well knew that Pike had done the best he could with the situation. "Thanks for the heads-up."

"Don't thank me just yet," Pike warned him. "Not until you've talked to the Vulcans. I suggest you get your best game face on and, remember, you can say no."

With those cryptic words, Pike's face disappeared and was replaced by the image of a Vulcan with gray hair. Jim vaguely remembered the man as part of the group of Vulcan elders that Spock had rescued from the planet before it was destroyed. Behind him, Jim could see a group of equally elderly Vulcans in a loose circle. Hastily, Jim schooled his expression to one of neutrality.

"Elder," he nodded solemnly at the older man.

"Captain Kirk," the Vulcan replied. "I am elder Ponak. Thank you for accepting our communication."

"You're welcome," Jim was careful to be formal. Although his relationship with Spock had eased since their first meeting, he knew better than to be casual with a Vulcan. "I understand from Admiral Pike that there is a way for me to assist the Vulcan people?"

"Indirectly, yes," Ponak corrected him. "The benefit of your assistance would be to one specific Vulcan, but he is important to our people, particularly given the concerns of our reduced population and lack of elders to guide the survivors. By aiding him, you allow him to be of continued service to the Vulcan race."

"You have me intrigued," Jim replied, careful not to imply that he would do what they wanted, not until he knew more. "Please continue."

Ponak nodded. "Are you aware of the mating habits of Vulcans?"

Jim blinked. "Excuse me?"

"Given how the logical nature of our species differs from that of your own and how emotionally charged sexual reproduction is typically considered, it would be natural for non-Vulcans to be curious." Ponak explained. "Are you aware of how Vulcans pick our mates?"

In fact, Jim had thought a lot about it; ever since learning that Spock and Uhura were lovers, to be exact. However, as the weeks went by and Jim got to know his first officer better, he realized that his fascination on the subject had everything to do with Spock and not Uhura, despite his earlier attraction to the young woman.

"Such matters are considered by many to be private," Jim stated carefully. "I had not thought to inquire, no."

"Your discretion does you well," Ponak replied. The group behind him murmured in appreciation. "However, you must understand fully what we are asking before you can make an informed decision about whether you are willing to proceed. Is it acceptable to explain in detail?"

Jim managed not to squirm in his chair by the barest of margins. "If you feel it's necessary, yes."

"Very well," Ponak crossed his arms in front of his chest and hid his hands in his wide sleeves. "In order to preserve the continuation of the species, Vulcans have no biological choice but to enter into Pon Farr. During the Pon Farr cycle, Vulcans experience an influx of physical needs and a decided degradation of their emotional control. It is a physical and emotional state that is both taxing and disturbing."

The old Vulcan looked at Jim, apparently looking for acknowledgement that Jim was following the explanation so far. Jim nodded and Ponak continued.

"During Pon Farr, a Vulcan male must mate or die. Meditation can be used as a suitable substitute and, in rare cases, shock such as the release brought about by extreme violence can prevent death."

It was the clearest case of 'fuck or die' that Jim had ever heard of, although he certainly wasn't going to phrase it that way to the venerable Vulcan elder. "I'm confused, the only time a Vulcan mates is during this cycle?"

"Vulcans can engage is sexual activity with whatever frequency they need to bring them physical release," Ponak explained. "Pon Farr is merely the biological drive to propagate. It begins as a Vulcan reaches optimum breeding maturity and continues every seven years until a Vulcan is beyond breeding age."

Jim shook his head. "I'm sorry, Elder Ponak, I'm just having a difficult time understanding what this has to do with me."

"As you are aware, Vulcans are also telepaths," Ponak continued. "Pon Farr is as much a mating of minds as it is the body. Vulcans who are particularly compatible can find themselves bonded to one specific mate, unable to endure Pon Farr with any other or to survive the cycle without their mate."

His bad feeling came back with a vengeance, so Jim asked his question again. "And how does this involve me?"

Ponak didn't flinch as he answered. "You are familiar with Ambassador Spock."

It wasn't a question, but Jim nodded anyway. The Spock of Jim's era had confessed that he was aware of his elder self's existence and actually spoken with him without the universe exploding. At first, Jim had been annoyed at the elder Spock's manipulation of him, but that had quickly given away to amused admiration. If there was something that Jim could understand, it was thinking outside of the box to the extent that it appeared to others that you were being sneaky. He'd meant to contact the elderly Spock and see how he was doing, but had been so busy that it just hadn't been possible.

"He performed a mind meld with you on Delta Vega," Ponak continued.

Suddenly Jim had a feeling he knew where the conservation was going. Eyes wide, he waved his hand in a gesture that was no doubt overly emotional for use with a Vulcan, but he couldn't stop himself.

"No," Jim denied. "The meld lasted only for a few moments. You can't tell me that was long enough to bind Ambassador Spock to me."

"You are correct, it was not," Ponak agreed. "However, during the meld, did you discern the nature of the relationship between Ambassador Spock and the Jim Kirk of his era?"

"No, I didn't," Jim answered shortly.

He'd known by the way Spock had greeted him and subsequently treated him that Spock had been friends with the other Jim. During the meld, however, Jim had been too overwhelmed by the depth of Ambassador Spock's grief and guilt over the destruction of Vulcan and its people to feel anything else.

"They were bonded mates," Ponak explained, either ignorant of Jim's growing discomfort or uncaring. "As rare as it is for a Vulcan to bond to a human or for two males to bond, Ambassador Spock's bond with Jim Kirk appears to have been an exceptionally strong one."

"Forgive me, Elder Ponak," Jim tried to avoid the main issue, "but isn't Ambassador Spock a little on the mature side?"

"It is true that Pon Farr is highly unlikely in a man of Ambassador Spock's age," Ponak didn't take offense at the suggestion. "However, the destruction of Vulcan appears to have precipitated a number of improbable Pon Farr cycles. It is as though the bodies of the surviving Vulcans recognized the potential for the extinction of our race and are compensating. It is highly fascinating."

"I'm sure it is," Jim hoped his sarcasm didn't show. "And I take it that meditation didn't work for Ambassador Spock."

Ponak inclined his head. "It did not, nor has it been a successful technique for any of the other Vulcans who have entered the state since our planet was destroyed."

Under other circumstances, the thought of what essentially sounded like a Vulcan orgy would have piqued Jim's interested. As it stood, however, he had other concerns. "What are the symptoms of the onset of Pon Farr?"

There was more than one Spock, after all, and if Vulcans were spontaneously entering into a crazed reproductive cycle, then Jim needed to know about it.

"Loss of emotional control is the most disturbing for us," Pontak replied. "Vulcans entering into Pon Farr are particularly prone to displays of anger and aggression. Physical symptoms include loss of appetite and inability to sleep."

Almost the exact symptoms that Jim had been experiencing, although he hoped he'd been mildly cranky instead of aggressive and angry.

"And how long does it last?" Jim asked.

"That is dependent how long it takes the Vulcan entering the cycle to recognize the symptoms and seek a mate," Ponak answered. "The longer he puts off submitting to Pon Farr, the stronger his symptoms become, culminating in plak-tow, blood fever. Ultimately, how long he survives without mating depends on his strength."

Jim had a feeling he knew how long Ambassador Spock had been resisting it. A couple of weeks, at least, given how long Jim had been feeling strange.

"And once the mating begins," Jim questioned. "How long does that phase last?"

Ponak gave the equivalent to a Vulcan shrug. "It is dependent both on how long from the onset of Pon Farr that the mating occurs and, of course, the stamina of the participants."

Only the solemn expression of the Vulcan kept Jim from bursting out in laughter. He was known for his stamina, just had never dreamed he'd be asked to put it to such a use.

"Am I correct in assuming that you are requesting that I come to New Vulcan and. . . mate with Ambassador Spock?" Jim asked, extremely proud of the calm in his voice.

"We are," Ponak inclined his head.

"May I have a moment?" Jim requested. "This is an unusual situation and I want to make sure that I carefully think things through."

"Certainly," Ponak replied. "We shall await your reply."

Jim hadn't expected them to take him so literally, but took what he could get. After nodding an acknowledgement to the Vulcan, he toggled off the video display and the accompanying audio. The link would remain active, but he had a few moments of privacy.

He hid his face in his hands momentarily before scrubbing with them in an effort to force himself to focus. This was big. Not as monumental as saving Earth from Nero, but important on a much more personal level. For once in his life, Jim wasn't sure what to do.

Jim's body stilled as he contemplated the surreal situation he found himself in. From what Ponak had so thoroughly told him, Ambassador Spock would die if Jim didn't have sex with him. Jim liked the older Vulcan a lot and the thought of the man dying disturbed Jim more than he thought it could, given the short duration of their acquaintance. Maybe that could be chalked up to the fact that Jim knew that Ambassador Spock liked him. Jim had a lot of casual friends, but not many that he could say deeply cared about him. The mind meld the elderly Vulcan had conducted with Jim on Delta Vega had revealed to Jim that not only did Ambassador Spock care for him, but accepted him too, on a level that Jim had never known with anyone else.

Although Jim had spent far more time with the Spock from the current era, his connection with the younger Vulcan was more tenuous. Thanks to the raid on Nero's ship, they had a good working relationship and were well on their way to forging a friendship. Spock, Jim had come to appreciate, was just as much a rebel as he was, although being Vulcan, it manifested in different ways. Even so, it was a relationship still in the building stages. Jim had hopes that they'd one day enjoy camaraderie like their future counterparts obviously had, but it would take time.

He categorically refused to consider Spock as anything but a trusted officer and new friend, though. Jim was increasingly aware of how attractive Spock was and how well they complimented each other. Unfortunately, Spock was still seeing Uhura. Jim might be a slut, but he wasn't a poacher.

Still, was fondness for both Spocks enough to get Jim through what sounded like a mating frenzy with a man old enough to be his great-grandfather?

"Damn it," Jim muttered under his breath. "I've had sex with less reason than that."

With a feeling of determination, Jim pressed the controls that turned the vid-screen and the audio back on. True to his word, Ponak was there, staring calmly at him.

"I'll do it," Jim stated. Ponak looked mildly relieved, which for a Vulcan, meant he'd been far more worried about the outcome than he'd let on.

"You have the gratitude of Vulcan," Ponak intoned. "We anticipate your arrival as soon as possible."

With that, the connection was abruptly switched back to Pike.

"Are you sure, Jim?" The admiral asked. There was a worry line in the older man's forehead.

Jim gave the question the consideration it deserved, but in the end, it didn't change his mind. "Yeah, I'm sure. I'm not going to let a man I admire die just because I got a little shy."

"I know crazy Vulcan sex sounds like a frat boy's wet dream," Pike cautioned. "But I've heard about the aftermath of Pon Farr; it's not pretty."

"Thanks for the concern, sir," Jim didn't smile, but did try to convey his gratitude with his expression. "But I think I'll be okay. Sex is something I'm good at."

Pike shook his head. "This isn't sex, Jim, this is something else." He sighed. "But I know better than to try and talk you out of something you're set on. I'm authorizing you to change your course to New Vulcan; we'll have another ship come out and gather the supplies for the science station."

"And while I'm. . . otherwise occupied?" Jim asked. He supposed it wouldn't be possible to keep what he was going to be doing a complete secret, but he didn't like the idea of his crew gossiping about it either.

"New Vulcan deserves all the Federation support it can get," Pike told him. "Your crew can lend a hand where needed, although they'll need to be particularly sensitive towards the surviving Vulcans."

"Understood, sir," Jim reassured him. "Most of us saw the planet destroyed, not to mention having Spock as First Officer; I think you'll find us sympathetic towards both the Vulcans' pain and their need to control showing it."

"Good," Pike hesitated. "And, Jim, I think it's a hell of a thing you're doing for Ambassador Spock. I'm not sure I would have it in me."

"Thank you, sir," Jim replied and with after a few logistical details were worked out, the transmission was ended.

Jim wasn't sure if Pike's last comment was a compliment or not. After all, what Pike said he'd be unable to do was have unrestrained sex. That Jim could might not be seen by all to be a good thing. Still, when weighing Ambassador Spock's life against the possible disapproval of a few Starfleet prudes, Jim knew he'd made the right decision.

It was a good thing that Jim put his second-guessing behind him, because the first person he saw after leaving Bones' office was Bones himself.

"Everything okay?" Bones asked.

"We're being rerouted to New Vulcan," Jim explained.

"Something wrong with the colony?" Bones was immediately concerned and Jim knew he wouldn't be the only one. Everyone was a bit protective of the remnants of the Vulcan race.

"The colony is fine, even by Spock's standards," Jim replied easily, hoping his manner would go a long way to dissipating Bones' worry before it could even register with the older man. "They just need me there for something."

Bones was quick to pick up on Jim's statement. "You?"

"Yeah, me," Jim replied, but didn't bother to explain. "While we're there, though, Starfleet wants us to aid the colony as much as possible. I'll have Spock put together some work teams."

As he hoped, the comment distracted his friend.

"Peachy," Bones muttered, turning towards his supply cabinets. "New Vulcan's just like the original Vulcan - a sauna. I'll need to inoculate the away teams to help them with the added heat and thinner atmosphere."

"I'll be sure to have Spock route those chosen to you," Jim assured him.

He left before Bones could ask any more questions and breathed a sigh of relief when Bones didn't come hurrying after him, demanding an explanation. Bones could be a bit of a mother hen and, given the little that Jim had been told about Pon Farr, he doubted that Bones would approve. He'd have to tell him before actually going through with it. McCoy was not only his friend, but his doctor. Jim was determined, though, to tell Bones at the last possible moment. He'd still have his ears blistered about it, but at least it would be a shorter amount of time that he'd have to endure the man's lectures.

Even as he made his way to the bridge, though, Jim realized that telling Bone was going to be relatively simple, comparatively speaking.

How the hell was he going to tell Spock?

* * *

It was quiet enough on the bridge that Spock could handle the responsibilities of having the conn from his science station. He also managed to keep a surreptitious eye on the lift doors, waiting for the captain to return. Doctor McCoy had contacted him some minutes ago to inform him of the results of Captain Kirk's exam; Spock was as mystified at the findings as the doctor clearly was.

Spock knew that there was something wrong with Jim Kirk. Someone fully human would have called his suspicions intuition, but Spock preferred to think of it as adeptly applied logic. The captain was an athletic man in his prime. He normally thrummed with vitality, but that vigor had been lacking of late. While Kirk was on duty, particularly during a crisis, he performed his duties optimally, but off the bridge he was. . . quiet. He had visibly lost weight and was pale; a far cry from the normal picture of health that Jim Kirk enjoyed. Spock had maintained silence, until Nyota had informed him that the crew was beginning to talk. Not wanting them to lose confidence in the young captain, Spock had brought the matter up with McCoy and thus the exam.

The exam which had told them nothing of use.

The lift doors opened and Jim Kirk stepped through. Spock rose from his chair. Rather than showing relief at being given a clean bill of health from the ship's chief medical officer, Captain Kirk seemed unusually solemn. Spock was spared from having to inquire as to his condition, however, by the captain approaching him.

"Spock," Kirk pitched his voice low enough that no one other than Nyota was likely to be able to hear. "I've received a change in our orders from Starfleet and I want you to know that it's not due to an emergency." His smile was half-hearted. "At least, not any sort of emergency that involves the safety of the planet or your father."

The captain's words had the opposite affect of Kirk's stated intention; Spock immediately felt concerned. "Captain?"

"Don't worry," Kirk reassured him. "It'll make more sense in a minute."

Kirk turned to the rest of the bridge and moved the few feet to stand next to his chair. "Attention everyone," he spoke loudly enough for all to hear. "We've been rerouted to New Vulcan. There is no planetary crisis, but there is something that I need to attend to. While we're there, we will be sending teams down to the surface to assist the Vulcans with anything they need to further the establishment of their colony. Mr. Chekov, plot a course."

"Done, sir," the young man had been making calculations while Kirk spoke. "We will arriwe in approximately 8 hours."

"Very good," Kirk nodded at him. "Make a ship wide announcement."

The captain turned back towards Spock. "I'd like you to coordinate things. I don't want anyone on the surface who's going to emote all over the place. The last thing your people need right now is any over emotional humans."

"I trust in that case that Dr. McCoy will be staying onboard," Spock couldn't help but ask.

His comment got actual smile from Kirk, if a small one. "We'll see. Spock, you continue to have the conn." He started moving towards the lift, obviously intending to leave the bridge again.

"Captain?" Spock asked, stepping closer to Kirk. He wasn't sure how to ask the other man if everything is all right. "Your statement to the crew did not, as you indicated earlier, make more sense."

"Everything is fine, Spock," Kirk replied. Evidently remembering their earlier conversation, he clarified before Spock could comment. "What I mean is, the reason we're going to New Vulcan is more of a personal favor and not anything having to do with Starfleet, although Starfleet is sensitive to the request."

Spock lifted one eyebrow. "A personal favor? To the best of my knowledge, the only Vulcans you are acquainted with are myself, my father and my older self."

He wasn't entirely positive, but Spock thought he detected a blush creeping over Kirk's face.

Kirk rubbed at the back of his neck. "I keep forgetting that sometimes subtle doesn't work with you." He took a deep breath and looked Spock firmly in the eye. "What I was trying to say is that I appreciate your concern, but the matter is none of your business."

"I see," Spock replied. It wasn't often that a human was so blunt with him. "In that case, I apologize for my query."

"That's not necessary, Spock," Kirk told him. He seemed about to say something more on the subject, but then appeared to change his mind. "Please continue to hold the conn; I'll be in my quarters."

After Kirk left, the rest of the shift went relatively quickly. The journey itself soon proved tedious, but the added duties of choosing appropriate crew to visit the surface of New Vulcan occupied Spock's time. He appreciated the captain's sensitivity to his people's needs and wanted to make sure that his choices would prove beneficent to the colonists.

The shift eventually ended and Spock went to the galley for a meal. He and the captain had gotten into the habit of eating together during the shift's break and directly after the shift was over, using the time to speak about issues that might have arisen during more formal work time. To his mild surprise, Spock found that he appreciated those occasions. He had not expected Kirk to be in the galley following the shift, but was still somewhat disappointed not to find him there.

Spock obtained his usual vegetarian dish from the replicator and sat at a table in the far corner of the galley. Without Kirk's presence taking Spock's attention, Nyota soon joined him. The rest of the crew gave them a wide berth, partially due to Spock's aloof nature and partially due to his rank in the command structure.

"So what do you think this personal favor is?" Nyota asked him after she settled in her chair, pitching her voice low.

Given the nature of her communication duties, Nyota was often privy to confidential information. Her acute hearing gave her unintentional access to more. Spock knew the strength of her integrity, though, and trusted her discretion. Nyota brought up the subject with him because she knew that Spock was already aware of the situation, but she would never reveal it to another member of the crew.

"I do not know," Spock replied. The added duties of organizing the upcoming relief effort for New Vulcan had not been enough of a distraction to keep him from mulling over the problem.

"Personal," Nyota mused. She contemplated the small tomato on her fork as she thought. Although not a vegetarian herself, Nyota tried not to eat meat around Spock. "That would imply the favor is specific to Kirk; something that only he could accomplish. Who does Kirk know on New Vulcan anyway?"

"Speculation is illogical," Spock intoned. "The captain was quite adamant about not speaking of the matter."

Nyota gave him a searching look. "You're worried about him, aren't you?"

"Captain Kirk is a most resourceful individual," Spock stated. "And while New Vulcan is a colony, it is hardly a dangerous environment. To devote time being anxious about his safety would be unproductive."

"There are different kinds of danger," Nyota pointed out. "Besides, I don't believe you when you say you're not worried."

Spock raised an eyebrow at her. "Your concern regarding Jim Kirk's welfare is perplexing, given your previously stated opinions of him."

Nyota shrugged hard enough to start her ponytail swinging. "He's not as insufferable as I originally thought. "


"Okay, he's almost as smart as he thinks he is," Nyota admitted. "He's a good captain, but if you tell him I said that, I'll deny it."

"I believe the captain's ego is sufficiently healthy without knowing of your endorsement," Spock agreed. "I trust you are pleased with your assignment on New Vulcan?"

Their conversation turned to the logistics of the mission to New Vulcan and Spock managed to push the puzzle of Jim Kirk to the aside. Once he reached his quarters, however, he realized the distraction had only been temporary. Spock found that the meditations he typically performed before entering his rest period were impossible to conduct. Nyota was right; there were more types of danger than the physical and while Spock's observation that Jim Kirk was well able to take care of himself was equally true, Spock was disturbed by a niggling doubt. He could not conceive of any reason for James T. Kirk to be called to New Vulcan, much less for a personal favor.

After an ineffective rest period and a breakfast that he ate without tasting, Spock returned to the bridge. All of the members of the command crew were present except for the captain.

"Mr. Chekov, what is our estimated time of arrival to New Vulcan?" Spock asked.

"Approximately 12 minutes, sir," Chekov replied.

"Very good," Spock nodded his thanks. Sitting at his station, he commed the captain's quarters.

"Go ahead, Spock," Kirk's voice sounded fatigued. Apparently Spock hadn't been the only one to have difficulty resting.

"We are approaching New Vulcan, sir," Spock informed him.

"Thanks, Spock," the captain said. "If you could meet me in the ward room once we're in orbit and ask Dr. McCoy to join us, I would appreciate it."

"Of course, sir," Spock replied, one eyebrow once again lifting up. "I will see you there shortly."

Spock next commed McCoy and informed him of the captain's instructions.

"You suppose Jim's going to finally get over this sudden bout of shyness and tell us what the hell is going on?" McCoy asked. He apparently had as little information as Spock about the nature of the personal favor that Jim Kirk had been asked to do on New Vulcan. Just as clearly, McCoy did not like being left uninformed.

"He did not say," Spock replied. "And I did not inquire."

"Of course you didn't," McCoy muttered.

Spock had sudden insight into why the captain had not told McCoy about the meeting himself. No doubt he did not want to listen to the man's complaints.

"I'll be there," McCoy stated in a louder voice. "With bells on."

It was, Spock reflected internally, likely to be an interesting meeting. He put any speculation behind, however, and concentrated on the task of finalizing the ship's approach to New Vulcan.

"Commander, we're being hailed," Uhura told him only moments after the ship entered into orbit over the planet.

"Onscreen, lieutenant," Spock told her. He pulled himself to his full height and moved to place himself in front of the captain's chair. Within moments, the face of a familiar Vulcan contemplated him from the view screen. Spock remembered Ponak from the rescue of the Vulcan elders from the destruction of the planet.

"Greetings, Enterprise," the Vulcan stated, although his expression was far from welcoming, even for a Vulcan. "We had expected Captain Kirk."

"I am him First Officer Spock," Spock explained. "The captain is readying himself for beaming to the planet. In addition, a number of work teams comprised of members of the crew will be taking shuttles to the surface to provide assistance to the colony."

"Very good," Ponak replied. "We await the captain's arrival."

With that, the view screen went dark. The other crew members looked at Spock, but he kept his face expressionless. "Mr. Chekov, notify the work teams to start deploying to the planet. Lieutenant Sulu, you have the conn."

Spock left the bridge and walked briskly to the ward room. It was located near the bridge, but even so, McCoy had arrived first. The two men exchanged glances, but had no new words to add. Spock took a seat and they both waited silently for Jim Kirk to join them. The captain didn't make them wait long, but as he entered the room, Spock felt his eyebrows go up again in mild surprise. That seemed to happen a lot to him when Jim Kirk was around.

"I guess when you said it was a personal favor, you weren't just whistlin' Dixie," McCoy exclaimed. "Isn't that a little casual, Jim, even for you?"

The captain was not dressed in a Starfleet uniform. Instead, he was wearing pants out of denim fabric and a lightweight knit shirt. Spock was not used to seeing his superior officer in such informal attire.

"Indeed, Captain," Spock concurred with McCoy. "Vulcan elders have an acute sense of propriety. I strongly urge you to reconsider your current wardrobe choices."

Kirk straddled the nearest chair. "I'm not going down to the surface as a representative of Starfleet, gentlemen. I'm going as Jim Kirk and if the Vulcans don't like it, they'll just have to live with it."

"So are you going to tell us what this is all about?" McCoy asked. "Or are you too busy being a rebel to actually stop and explain to your senior officers?"

"Like I said, Bones, this isn't about Starfleet, so my senior officers don't need to know," Kirk replied. McCoy seemed as surprised by that comment as Spock was; he straightened in his chair. Before the doctor could vocalize a protest, however, Kirk clarified. "My friends, Bones and Spock, though, are a different story."

"All right," McCoy relaxed slightly, although he still seemed wary. "Just tell us already."

Kirk took a deep breath. "Spock, I know you're familiar with this, but Bones, what do you know about Pon Farr?"

Spock was startled enough that he jerked in his chair. "The doctor would have no knowledge of Pon Farr; it is not widely spoken of outside the Vulcan race."

"It's the Vulcan reproductive cycle," McCoy glared at Spock as he spoke. "I know you guys don't like to talk about it, but I have a half-Vulcan on my crew. Of course I'm going to make sure I know how to handle any health-related issues that might come up."

"Pon Farr is far more involved than a mere reproductive cycle," Spock disagreed. "It is a profound event and not to be taken lightly."

"Guys, let's play nice," Kirk chided them. "It's good you know what Pon Farr is, Bones, because that's why I'm needed on New Vulcan."

"In case you hadn't noticed, Jim, your ears are round," McCoy stated. "You're not Vulcan."

"But he is," Kirk pointed at Spock and then blushed. "Him and the older version of him. You know, the one from the future."

"Ambassador Spock?" Spock questioned. "But he is an elder, far beyond the drive of Pon Farr."

"Well, I guess somebody forgot to tell him that," Kirk replied. "Because he's in Pon Farr and none of the usual coping techniques are helping him."

"It is possible that the destruction of Vulcan and the resulting deaths of so many of our race has prompted Pon Farr to occur out of cycle or in individuals who are normally too young or too old to feel its influence," Spock mused. "The Ambassador possesses knowledge that is valued greatly by our people. I'm sure he has had no difficulty in finding a willing mate."

The captain cleared his throat. "That's also not an option. Apparently, the future you bonded so completely to a certain individual that no one else will do."

"It is not unheard of," Spock admitted. "Although rare."

"Wait a minute," McCoy appeared alarmed, although Spock could not see a reason for his distress. "This 'personal favor' you've been asked for, are you future Spock's mate?"

"Impossible," Spock stated flatly. "Dr. McCoy, I will reiterate that the subject of Pon Farr is not to be taken lightly. It should not be the object of one of your jokes."

"Um, Spock," the tint of pink in the captain's complexion became more pronounced. "I'm sorry, but Bones is right. Apparently the future you hooked up at some point with the future me." He shrugged. "There's no accounting for some people's taste, huh?"

"Jim, are you out of your mind?" McCoy protested. Spock was glad the doctor said something; he was at a momentary loss of words. "From what I've read, Pon Farr can get a bit rough and you're not as strong as a Vulcan." He threw up his hands. "And that's not even taking into account the emotional aspects, which despite you being a tomcat, are likely to be an issue."

"First, because as you so delicately put it, I have a lot of experience in sexual situations, I think I'm better prepared to handle this than someone like, say, Chekov," Jim retorted. "Second, humans can survive Pon Farr just fine. Your mother did, didn't she, Spock?"

Spock shook himself out of his shocked stupor, hoping his discomfiture did not show in his expression. Jim Kirk, as a mate? His mate, even though it was a future version of Spock? The idea was most illogical.

Or worse yet, it was entirely logical and that disturbed Spock on more than one level.

"My mother did not look forward to my father's Pon Farr; she said that he was not the Sarek she knew during that time," Spock explained "Mother was also rather delicate. For these reasons, my father was always very mindful of the signs for entering into Pon Farr so that it could be carefully managed. Submitting to the drive early keeps the male from being over physical with his mate."

"You said that none of the usual coping mechanisms worked for Ambassador Spock," McCoy reminded the captain. "How far gone is he?"

Kirk shrugged. "It doesn't matter. Besides, he's a lot older than me; I think I can handle him."

"I disagree," Spock stated. "Elder Ponak acknowledged our arrival was most grave in his manner and impolite in his inquiry regarding your pending arrival on the planet. It can only be surmised that Ambassador Spock is deep in plak-tow, the blood fever. If this is the case, he will be very dangerous indeed."

"Thank you for your concern, gentlemen, but I am doing this," Kirk rose from his seat. "Now, it's my understanding that the male is allowed the company of friends, at least until, um, things get started. I was hoping you both would accompany me, but I'll understand if your feelings against my participation are too strong to allow you to do that. I don't want you to compromise your beliefs on my behalf."

Spock rose as well and put one hand on Kirk's shoulder. The captain's eyes widened briefly; he was aware that Vulcans eschewed casual physical contact. Although Spock had learned to weather Kirk's friendly slaps on the arm and the like, he had never initiated such contact himself.

"Captain," Spock tried to get through to the other man. "Jim. Do not do this."

The muscles under Spock's hand had been tense when he first placed it there, but they relaxed at his appeal. "Spock, I have to. I'm not letting you die, any version of you, when there's something I can do to stop it."

"We have only discussed the physical aspects involved," Spock informed him. "But Pon Farr strips away a Vulcan's emotional control, which in turn impairs the control of our mental abilities. Your mind may be violated."

Kirk seemed content to leave Spock's hand where it was. "Don't worry about that; he's been in my mind before and was a perfect gentleman about it."

"He has?" McCoy demanded. "When?"

"Back on Delta Vega," Kirk looked briefly at McCoy and Spock felt the lack of eye contact keenly. "Now, as much fun as this has been, I need to get down on the planet."

McCoy shook his head. "Far be it from me to try and change your mind when it's made up. Wait a minute, though. If you're going down to the surface, you'll need an inoculation."

Belatedly, Spock realized that McCoy had brought a hypospray with him. Reluctantly, he stepped back and let the doctor do his job.

Kirk winced when the hypo was administered. "I think you like jabbing those things in my neck," he accused the doctor.

"Well, if what I've read is right, this won't be the last thing jabbed into you today," McCoy muttered. Spock found his comment to be highly inappropriate.

"Bones," Kirk said softly, apparently detecting a level of concern that Spock had been unable to detect. "I'll be all right."

McCoy did not seem greatly comforted. "You better."

As he accompanied the captain to the transporter room, Spock could only internally agree.

* * *

Hopefully, the worst was over. Jim let out a relieved sigh as the familiar sensation of the transporter energy engulfed him. Having sex with future Spock had to be easier than telling the current Spock that his alternate self was bonded to one James T. Kirk. All in all, Jim thought it had gone pretty well. Spock had seemed concerned about Jim once he got over the shock and that reaction had been completely unexpected. Jim had to admit that it was far better than his worst case scenario, which had involved Spock's hands around his neck again.

The heat hit Jim even before the energy patterns from beaming completely faded. He'd never visited Vulcan, but he'd read about its challenging environmental conditions. From what he could tell, New Vulcan appeared to be a good match. He didn't have much time to look around, though. A delegation was waiting for them.

"Captain Kirk," Ponak stepped forward to greet him. From the way his eyes locked on Jim, Spock and Bones didn't exist. "Thank you for coming so quickly; there is no time to waste. This way, please."

"Wait a minute," Bones protested. "I want to know what safety precautions are being taken to insure Captain Kirk's well-being."

One of Ponak's eyebrows arched and he turned to Jim in an obvious request for an explanation.

"This is Dr. Leonard McCoy, the Enterprise's chief medial officer and Commander Spock, my First Officer," Jim made hasty introductions.

"Dr. McCoy, as you are not Vulcan, you are not aware how private and intense a time Pon Farr is in a Vulcan's life," Ponak said ponderously. "However, I can also assure you that the Vulcan council is aware of the sacrifice Captain Kirk is making on behalf of Ambassador Spock. Although it is most untraditional to interfere with Pon Farr, steps have been taken to reduce the likelihood that Captain Kirk will receive any serious physical injuries."

"Oh, that's just swell," McCoy muttered. "Very sporting of them."

"Bones," Jim warned him in an undertone. Raising his voice, he nodded at Ponak. "I appreciate the consideration."

"If you will follow me, Captain, we have a chamber where you can prepare yourself before joining Ambassador Spock in the quarters we have arranged."

It was Spock's turn to interrupt.

"I find the lack of ceremony disturbing," Spock pinned a steely gaze on the other Vulcan.

Jim jumped in. "I'd just as soon not make a big deal out of this."

"Ceremony was not an option," Ponak added. "Ambassador Spock is deep in the plak-tow. Our physicians felt it would be best to allow the Pon Farr to commence as soon as possible. Please, Captain Kirk, there is need for haste."

"Certainly," Jim turned briefly to Spock and Bones. "Spock, you're in charge until I get back in touch, but I know this planet has special meaning for you. Feel free to spend as much time on the surface as you'd like. Bones, I'm sure that if there is a medical necessity, Ponak can arrange for you to be contacted."

"Of course," Ponak nodded. "This way, Captain."

"Good luck, Jim," Bones looked distinctly uncomfortable at the situation and even Spock appeared more grave than normal.

"I'll be fine, Bones," Jim assured him. "See you later."

It was difficult to turn his back on his friends; Jim wasn't used to such obvious concern. Thankfully, Ponak led him through a doorway, so the other two Starfleet officers were soon out of view.

"I'm sorry about that," Jim apologized for his friends. "They're not usually such worriers."

"It is a captain's duty to protect his ship," Ponak didn't seem offended by Bones' and Spock's mistrust, "but it is the senior officers' duty to protect their captain."

Ponak took off at a brisk pace, which Jim was hard-pressed to keep up with him in the heat of New Vulcan. He was just as glad. The situation was awkward enough without having to make an attempt at small talk with a Vulcan.

They quickly arrived at a large, nondescript building which was obviously new construction. They entered and soon were in front of a door which was equally nondescript.

"Dr. Votar will help you prepare," Ponak inclined his head towards entrance. "I will leave you here. Again, the Vulcan people thank you for your assistance."

"No problem," Jim answered automatically. Ponak watched him intently and, a little unnerved, Jim entered the room he was being directed to.

To his embarrassment, Dr. Votar turned out to be a female that appeared to be about the same age as Jim's mother.

"Ah, Captain Kirk," she greeted him. "We expected you some time ago."

Jim immediately felt defensive. "That's the problem with being a starship captain, your time isn't always your own."

"Indeed," she answered gravely. "No matter. Ambassador Spock's condition remains stable. To expedite matters, I will orally brief you while you ready yourself. You will find the necessary supplies in the cubicle directly behind you."

"Um," Jim felt himself blushing. "Right. Very efficient of you."

He entered the curtained alcove she indicated, pulling the fabric closed behind him. Jim was soon glad he was hidden from view. The Vulcans were not only efficient, they were thorough.

Jim stuck a finger into the tub of glistening liquid and rubbed it against his thumb. He was not surprised to find that it was slick. He then eyed the phallic-shaped object warily. From the larger flat end of it, it must be intended to be inserted and then remain inside.

"Captain Kirk?"

The voice startled Jim and it took some effort to keep his voice steady when he replied. "Yes?"

"Forgive me, Captain, but I neglected to inquire if you were familiar with the mechanics of male to male mating?" Dr. Votar sounded as matter of fact as though she were talking about the weather. "Will you require instruction?"

"No," Jim's voice did break a little at the thought of the mature Vulcan woman giving him a sex talk. "I understand. No, um, instruction is necessary."

"Very well," her voice sounded as though she were standing nearby. "I encourage haste, Captain Kirk, although not at the expense of thoroughness."

Jim quickly stripped before taking a generous dollop of the slick stuff and coating a finger with it. Feeling extremely self conscious, he put one leg up on the alcove's bench and, using the greater access the position provided, inserted one finger into his anus.

"Man, I'm glad I cleaned up good this morning," Jim muttered to himself. He forgot how excellent Vulcan hearing was.

"That showed insight," Votar complimented him. "If you are agreeable, I will provide instruction on Pon Farr as you prepare."

"Okay," Jim agreed.

He withdrew one finger and coated another before inserting them both. He'd gone as far as one finger in his encounters with a couple of female sex partners, so the single digit had been nothing new. Two, however, was a bit more than he was used to taking.

"A Vulcan male in plak-tow sees only his mate. Anything that comes between him and his mate is considered a threat and dealt with accordingly," Votar explained. "They can become quite violent."

"And Ambassador Spock is pretty far gone with plak-tow?" Jim asked. The presence of two fingers in his ass was slightly uncomfortable. Remembering that a male erection was even bigger, he grimaced and scissored the fingers until they moved about more freely.

"It was necessary to confine him," the doctor stated. "We have had a number of Vulcan males succumb to plak-tow after the destruction of our planet. Pon Farr cycles have been disturbed in the aftermath, causing an unprecedented number of out of cycle matings."

"I bet," Jim withdrew the two fingers and went back to the lubrication jar for more. He winced when he inserted all three. "Is there anything I can do to make this easier for Spock?"

"I recommend that you concentrate on your own safety," Votar advised him. "When you enter the chamber, you must not deny him or he may see it as a challenge. In a same sex Pon Farr mating, the male who feels the drive the strongest dominates and penetrates. You must not fight this."

Jim let the three fingers slide out of his body. Reluctantly, he picked up the phallus-shaped object, discovering it was slightly flexible. Realizing that it was a plug, he slicked it up and, bracing one hand against the wall, slowly slid it in.

God, it felt huge.

"Captain Kirk, did you hear me?" Votar repeated. "You must not fight Ambassador Spock, but allow him to penetrate you."

"Got it," Jim replied. He rocked on his heels a couple of times, trying to get used to the hard object in his ass. "Don't fight."

"It will be easier for you should you be sexually stimulated as well," Votar added calmly. Jim decided that the blush on his cheeks was pretty much a permanent thing. "Will you require a stimulant?"

Jim looked down at his cock, which was beginning to show signs of being interested in the proceedings. "I don't think that will be necessary."

"Captain, I am not sure that is wise."

"Not gonna happen," Jim stated firmly. He could imagine, barely, going through with this, but only if he was completely in control. "No stimulant."

"Very well," the doctor's voice sounded disapproving, but Jim didn't care. "Food and beverage will be provided at regular intervals. I will make sure that a stimulant hypospray is included in the delivery, should you change your mind."

"Food" Jim yelped. "Just how long is this thing supposed to last?"

"It depends on the individuals, but the longer the drive to mate is denied, the longer the resulting coital activity is," Votar sounded just the slightest bit smug. "Also, Pon Farr is the drive to procreate. With the participants both male, impregnation cannot occur. It takes the Vulcan body longer to determine this, thus prolonging the Pon Farr."

Jim swallowed; what the hell had he gotten himself into? "So how long does Pon Farr between two males usually last? An average, I mean."

"Rarely in excess of 48 hours," came the answer. "We will transport food and supplies to you, as the presence of any others during the mating drive can spark violence in the dominant male."

"Great," Jim muttered. He'd just signed up for a two day fuck fest. Under other circumstances, that might actually be the ideal shore leave, but not when the sex partner was an older version of his very desirable, but very unattainable First Officer.

His body was as ready as he could make it, so Jim turned his attention to the clothes. To his surprise, there were several layers. He started donning them in the logical order, but couldn't help but ask why there were so many, given what he was about to do.

Votar, as anticipated, had an answer. "The removal of his mate's clothing can deflect some of the dominant male's aggression. You will not be wearing them long enough for the garments to have a detrimental thermal affect."

Somehow that didn't cheer Jim up much.

Sooner than he was really ready for, Jim was dressed. He opened the curtain to the alcove and stepped out. Votar looked him over and gave a curt nod of approval. She turned to a different door than Jim had used to enter the room. He moved to follow her and became glad of the layers of clothing he had on. Walking caused the plug in his ass to rub in all sorts of interesting ways and the bulky clothing hid his growing hardness.

Jim couldn't tell one door from another, but Votar could. She stopped in front of one and stepped back.

"This is the mating chamber that Ambassador Spock is confined in. There is an airlock, to make sure that your scent does not reach him while the outer door is open," Votar explained. "This is to minimize aggression. There is a computer monitoring the chamber. Should you feel anxious about your safety or experience undue physical discomfort, utter the word 'emergency' and the chamber will fill with gas that will quickly sedate Ambassador Spock."

"Thanks," Jim took a deep breath. "I guess I'm ready."

"Very well," Votar palmed a control and the door opened. Beyond it, Jim could see a similar control on the door that led into the actual chamber itself. "Ambassador Spock awaits you."

Jim stepped in and gulped as the door closed behind him.

* * *

As Spock watched the captain stride away from them, even he could see that Kirk's confident swagger was not right. It was stiff, inferring that it was deliberate, rather than a physical movement that unconsciously mirrored Kirk's current mood. Spock considered, as unlikely as it seemed, that for the first time since he'd known James T. Kirk, that the other man was intimidated.

The prospect did not bring as much satisfaction as Spock thought such a thing would.

"Damn Jim and his stubbornness anyway," McCoy vocalized some of Spock's frustration. "This is not a good idea, but he'll never admit it."

"Indeed," Spock replied. He stared at the doorway for several unnecessary moments after Kirk disappeared through it. "I concur."

McCoy seemed surprised. "You do?"

Spock turned to him. "Of course. Did I not make that clear in our conversation aboard the Enterprise?"

"Yeah, I know," McCoy sputtered. "But he's doing it to save you. I thought that might have special meaning for you."

"Your observation is inaccurate, Doctor," Spock pointed out. "Captain Kirk is not enduring Pon Farr for me, but for an alternate universe Spock, one that has 129 years of experiences that I do not share."

A Spock who's mother had not died so untimely and in such a manner.

Although Spock had taken care not to let any emotion compromise the statement of his observation, something of what he was feeling must have bled through. Instead of his characteristic sarcastic comment, McCoy calmed down and even put a hand on Spock's shoulder.

"I stand corrected," McCoy apologized. "You're right. It's not for you."

Spock allowed himself a brief nod of acceptance. "Be that as it may, the captain has made his choice and our only option is to support him in it."

"Yeah, right," the doctor snorted and dropped his hand. "That means waiting around to pick up the pieces." He gave Spock a sharp look. "When you've been Jim's friend long enough, you'll get used to doing that."

Friend. After only a few short months serving with James T. Kirk, Spock was mildly surprised to realize that the word did define their relationship. In spite of his brash first impression, Kirk had proven to be a man of deeper motivations than what Spock originally thought and had proven himself loyal even before this incident with Ambassador Spock.

"Doctor, will you be remaining on the planet?" Spock changed the subject. The discussion of friendship was not a comfortable one. He had organized all of the work parties except for medical, trusting in Dr. McCoy to see to the needs of his own staff.

McCoy shook his head. "Not for long. I'm just gonna check in with New Vulcan Medical real quick and make sure they have Jim's files and know to contact me at the first sign of trouble. Seems they weren't real interested in receiving any medical assistance from us."

"You should not be offended," Spock explained. "The injuries to the surviving Vulcans are of a mental and emotional nature, rather than physical. An outsider's presence in such cases would do more harm than good."

"I get it and I can't say as I blame them, either," McCoy assured him. "What about you? Are you going stick around or head back to the ship?"

"I have agreed to assist the New Vulcan Science Academy in their analysis of the planet's geology," Spock stated. "Lieutenant Sulu has the conn and knows how to reach me should there be any incident that requires my attention."

The doctor seemed annoyed at Spock's answer. "This is your new planet, man. Don't you think you should take the opportunity to explore what it's like? Jim all but told you to."

Spock tilted his head. "With my career in Starfleet, it is unlikely that New Vulcan will become 'my' planet for a number of years, if at all. It is more logical for me to assist the efforts of rebuilding what was lost than in indulging in sentimentality for a planet that as yet has little resemblance to the home that was destroyed. Also, my father is currently off planet and the likelihood that anyone else of my acquaintance survived is minimal."

McCoy's expression softened. The reminder of the billions of lives lost visibly affected humans more than Vulcans, simply because humans wore their emotions more openly. Spock sometimes envied them that.

"All right," McCoy gave in. "If I hear anything, I'll let you know."

"As will I," Spock promised.

After McCoy left, Spock communicated with the New Vulcan Science Academy, only to realize that in their speed to get Jim Kirk to the planet, the scientists he was to assist were not ready for him yet. Spock was asked to report back in an hour, which gave him free time. He briefly considered monitoring the progress of the other work parties from the Enterprise, but Jim Kirk trusted his crew and did not watch their every move. Spock decided he should do the same.

As a result, Spock did the very activity that he told McCoy that he would not, he began to explore the surrounding area. Upon a cursory examination, New Vulcan bore a close resemblance to Vulcan. It was hot and dry, with a landscape that was colored in various hues of red and brown. A more thorough inspection revealed minor differences. The prevailing wind came from a different direction, the soil was less sandy and the planet had two moons.

By the time Spock had noted these differences, he had wandered around the compound. He heard the sound of a faint, low bell. He triangulated its likely position and found it very quickly. The bell was located in a small clearing, one nestled closely among hastily erected buildings. The clearing was barren, except for few benches and a bell that lowed in reaction to the wind. It was a serene place, as Vulcan parks usually were.

As Spock entered the clearing, he discovered that there was a plaque erected near the bell. Curiosity piqued, he drew closer to read the engraving he found there. He stiffened as he read the Vulcan phrase.

It was no park, it was a memorial, to both their planet and the billions of people who had died there.

It was inevitable to erect some sort of monument. Those who survived the destruction of Vulcan would never forget, but the same must be insured for future generations. No doubt a more elaborate monument would eventually be built, but Spock found he rather liked this one. It was simple, yet poignant and he thought it embodied the best of his people.

Spock sank down on one of the benches, grateful that he had chanced upon the memorial while it was empty. He entered a light meditation and mused upon memories of his mother. For once, he could concentrate on remembrances of her life, rather than raging futilely at the senselessness and violence of her death.

His internal clock warned him when it was time to return to the New Vulcan Science Academy. Spock opened his eyes and rose, allowing his senses to drink in the serenity of the memorial before he turned to leave.

He stopped short when he saw who was waiting for him.

"Father," Spock strode forward quickly. "It was my understanding that you were off planet."

As an ambassador, Sarek had been visiting various worlds, both to speak with the Vulcans who might be in residence there, as well as to negotiate for assistance and supplies for the colony.

"I was," Sarek waited for Spock to come to him. "However, the High Council requested that I return when the gravity of Ambassador Spock's condition became apparent."

Spock took a quick breath in surprise. "I had not realized that you had become close to Ambassador Spock."

"To watch one's child grow into an adult is a fascinating experience," Sarek stated. "To see a version of that same child as a venerable elder and older than oneself is an unusual situation, although not an entirely unpleasant one."

It was tempting to ask his father about the other Spock, but Spock resisted. He had always been far closer to his mother than his father, sometimes feeling as though he had failed Sarek in some way. Since Amanda's death and subsequent events, they had drawn closer, but the last thing Spock wanted to hear was that his father preferred this older version of his son.

"He is not me," Spock made the same statement to his father that he had earlier with McCoy.

Sarek looked mildly surprised. "Of course he is not. To assume otherwise would be illogical."

"At least his presence has answered one question," Spock relaxed a little at his father's statement. He stepped outside of the memorial and began walking towards the New Vulcan Science Academy. "It had been unclear if Pon Farr would effect me, given that I am not fully Vulcan."

"Indeed," Sarek nodded. He readily paced beside his son. "Spock, I do not know if you inquired, but your former intended, T'Pring, survived the destruction of Vulcan. Her husband, Stonn, did not."

Spock felt himself bristle, even if inwardly. Like all Vulcan children, Spock's parents had chosen a mate for him and the two had been bonded in a ceremony that took place when they were seven. The bond was a light one, intended only to bring them together during Pon Farr, the time of mating. When that occurred, it was assumed they would marry. However, when Spock chose to enter Starfleet rather than the Vulcan Science Academy, T'Pring had used his choice as a reason to terminate their connection and instead married her preferred mate, Stonn.

After so many years, Spock didn't realize that it still stung. Not because he'd cared for T'Pring, but because it had been one more rejection.

"It is irrelevant," Spock stated. "I have entered into a relationship with Nyota Uhura. Even if I wished to marry T'Pring, which I do not, I would not be free to do so."

"It is as I thought," Sarak replied. "The Vulcan High Council is encouraging marriages and is pleased with the increased numbers of our people entering into Pon Farr. Our race cannot be allowed to perish. However, we are not so desperate as to force a joining where one is not desired. The High Council wished me to inquire and I will carry your answer back to them."

"Thank you, Father," Spock was grateful for his father's support.

Sarak looked off into the distance. "Having loved a human woman myself, I can hardly fault my son for doing the same." He turned his gaze back to Spock. "They wish me to re-marry."

Spock was appalled, although he did his best not to show it. "So soon?"

"It is believed that I am young enough to father and raise more members of our race," Sarek explained. "However, I do not feel so myself. I have declined. At least, for the time being."

There really was nothing Spock could say to that, so he remained silent. It was unthinkable to consider any woman other than his mother sharing his father's life. They walked quietly until they reached the building that house the New Vulcan Science Academy.

"Spock, I wish to spend more time with your Nyota," Sarek said. He'd met Uhura briefly while being aboard the Enterprise following Vulcan's destruction, but it had not been a time to make new acquaintances. "If it would be possible, I would like to share a meal with both of you."

"I believe that our schedules would allow it," Spock answered carefully. "However, I cannot speak for Nyota. I will inquire and contact you."

"There will be time," Sarek's face was perfectly expressionless. "It has been hypothesized that Ambassador Spock's mting with Jim Kirk will last a matter of days. Contact me when you have found a convenient time."

With a final nod, Sarek turned and walked away. Although their conversation had been most ammeniable, his departure had been rather abrupt. Spock couldn't help but theorize his father's easy acceptance of Spock having a human mate only extended to the female gender.

Uneasy, Spock entered the building and left such thoughts behind.

* * *

Jim had been warned that Ambassador Spock was in plak-tow and was likely to be aggressive. Even so, the elderly Vulcan struck far more quickly than Jim had anticipated. He'd barely stepped into the room and the door had just closed behind him when a pair of strong hands grabbed him. Before he knew it, Jim was shoved against the nearest wall and a naked Vulcan was pressed up against him.

"Jim," the sound of his name was savored, like a caress. "You should not be here."

"I'm not gonna let you die," Jim looked into Ambassador Spock's eyes. Gone was the anguished, but controlled Vulcan that Jim had met on Delta Vega. In contrast, this Spock's eyes were dark with an intensity that Jim thought seemed somehow primal.

"I told them not to contact you," Spock's voice sounded like it was being ground out between clenched teeth. He leaned his head forward until his face was close to the juncture between Jim's neck and shoulder. Spock took a deep breath, although Jim wasn't sure if it was in order to speak or to better smell him. "This is unwise."

Jim hadn't thought he would be intimidated by Ambassador Spock, plak-tow or no plak-tow. He was wrong. Jim was thoroughly aware that the Vulcan holding him against the wall might be older, but he was stronger than Jim and clearly not in possession of his vaunted Vulcan control.

"Part of you thinks it's a good idea," Jim quipped. His sense of humor had a bad habit of making itself known at the worst possible moments. He had a point, though. Even through the layers of clothing, Jim could feel Spock's erection poking into him.

One of Spock's hands came up to stroke down Jim's cheek in a surprisingly tender gesture. "You are so like him and yet not. Beloved, it has been so long."

Jim gulped. He hadn't expected such depth of emotion and wasn't quite sure how to handle it, especially when it was directed towards him. Jim gave himself a mental shake. Spock's devotion wasn't for him; Jim was acting as a substitute for someone else

"I know I'm not him, but take what you need," Jim offered as Spock went back to sniffing him. "I don't mind."

With Spock's face all but hidden in his neck, Jim couldn't kiss him. Instead, he twisted until he could lick the tip of one pointed ear. The movement also caused him to slide his body even closer to Spock's.

Spock reared back. "You were warned," he stated in a taut voice. "So be it."

When Spock bore down on him for a kiss, Jim expected something dry, maybe because the Vulcan was so much older than he was. Instead, though, Spock's mouth was wet and hot and demanding as he took kiss after kiss. Just when Jim thought he might pass out from lack of air, Spock pulled his mouth off of Jim's.

Jim panted, already dazed and grateful for a break in the action, however slight. Instead of a pause, though, Spock upped the ante. His mouth burned a trail down Jim's jaw to his neck, sucking and biting as he went.

Within moments, Spock reached Jim's shirt and he made a sound of frustration when the cloth impeded his progress. He immediately started pulling at the outer garment. Jim tried to help, but his hands were impatiently batted away. Jim remembered the advice about not fighting Spock, so just dropped his hands, the very picture of compliance.

As more skin was revealed, it was also licked and sucked. Jim squirmed a little, but when Spock's hands weren't busy stripping him, they stayed on his hips; pinning Jim in place. The plug in his ass was a constant reminder of what was to come, but Jim didn't have much time to think about it. Spock was everywhere. Jim gasped as teeth closed on a nipple a little too forcefully, but Spock quickly laved the abused bit of flesh with his tongue and Jim let out a ragged breath.

By the time Spock got to Jim's pants, he was making a noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl. It briefly occurred to Jim that Dr. Votar might have been wrong about the clothing acting as an outlet for Spock's aggression; it appeared to be fueling it. He was distracted by his thought by Spock's hands dipping into the waistband. There was no stripping of the clothing. Instead, Spock used his strength to simply rip both layers right off of Jim's body.

Jim jerked as the relatively cooler air of the room hit his overheated skin. Spock abruptly pulled him away from the wall, kissing him again deeply. Jim moaned softly as one of Spock's hands came down and wrapped around his cock, jerking him roughly. The other hand reached around behind Jim and cupped his ass, obviously intending on pulling him even closer.

That was when all hell broke loose.

There was a slight twitch of the plug in Jim's ass as Spock's fingers brushed against it. Drowning in the dual sensations of Spock's kiss and the hand on his cock, Jim barely even noticed it. Spock did, however.

"Who dares?" Spock snarled.

Although Jim had barely felt the first touch as Spock encountered the plug entrenched in his ass, he was thoroughly aware as the piece was swiftly removed.

"Whoa," Jim grabbed on to Spock's arms as he reacted to the hard, but flexible object sliding out of his lubricated opening. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt he understood the origin of the phrase 'greased lightning.'

Everything else Jim would have said was prevented by Spock's mouth coming down on his for a deep and savage kiss. Jim could have sworn he felt the Vulcan's tongue all the way in the back of his throat. As quickly as the kiss started, however, it was over.

"Spock. . . ." Jim panted.

It was all he had time for. The heat of Spock's body left his for a moment and then Jim was easily flipped around so that he was facing the wall. Jim's face pressed into its hard surface and he felt his hips being pulled back, causing his legs to fall slightly apart.

"My mate," Spock snarled. "Mine."

Jim was aware of a large object sliding across his ass and then it was inside. The plug had prepared him to a certain extent, but Spock was larger than it had been. Jim cried out softly and flexed his hands against the wall as he was penetrated. It burned and felt decidedly strange, enough that his cock, which had been painfully erect only moments before, quickly deflated.

Spock seemed unaware of Jim's lack of experience. He shifted his hips forward implacably until he was fully sheathed. Once Jim felt the Vulcan's balls snug against the bottom of his ass, Spock reached a hand to his face. Jim halfway expected to be turned for a kiss, but instead Spock's fingers spread out into a familiar pattern as they were placed across Jim's cheek and temple.

And then Spock was inside Jim's mind just as quickly and thoroughly as he'd penetrated Jim's body.

Vaguely, Jim was aware that Spock was thrusting inside him. His mind was flooded with memories, ones that he knew weren't his, but became burned onto his consciousness anyway. Mostly they were of him . . . an older him, but undeniably James T. Kirk. Every one of the memories involved his older self having sex with the older Spock and Jim was overwhelmed with feelings of love, lust and loss.

Mercifully, the hand on his face pulled away and Jim was thrust against the wall again. With two hands again on Jim's hips, Spock's thrusts reached their climax. Jim heard the Vulcan make a wordless cry and then heat filled his ass. Spock had reached orgasm and once his cock stopped pulsing inside of Jim's ass, Spock draped himself across Jim's sweaty back.

"Mine," Spock murmured in a far gentler tone than what he used previously. He bit the back of Jim's neck, not hard enough to pierce the skin, but a sharp pain nonetheless.

It was too much for Jim. He hadn't climaxed himself, but his cock was half hard again. Jim didn't know if it was a reaction to Spock's memories or to how the older man had ridden his body. In either case, Jim's legs were in no shape to support his own body, let alone Spock's. Slowly, Jim slid down the wall, Spock going down with him.

The two men ended up on the floor, with Jim in Spock's lap. The Vulcan continued to worry at Jim's neck, although Jim was the one panting hard, not Spock.

It took a moment for Jim to realize that not only had Spock remained buried inside him, but that he was still hard.

Deep in the Pon Farr, Spock was quick to take advantage of the situation. He lavished kisses and nibbles on Jim's shoulders, but his hands reached around to Jim's front. One of Spock's hands began playing with Jim's nipples, while the other stole down to again encircle Jim's cock.

"So beautiful," Spock lifted his mouth from Jim's skin long enough to murmur. "My mate."

The Vulcan's hands were talented as they worked Jim's flesh. His cock was stroked, sometimes with fingernails and sometimes not, while Spock's other hand took turns from playing with his nipples and resting intimately on his belly. When Jim whimpered, Spock left off with Jim's cock to gently fondle his balls, a sensation that caused Jim's toes to curl in the carpet. Each new sensation caused his ass to spasm around the cock that still impaled him.

"That's it, my mate," Spock gave one last pinch to the nipple he'd currently been rolling. "You'll come for me this time."

With touch and words, Spock encouraged Jim to his hands and knees. Although elderly, Spock managed to move with Jim closely enough that his cock never left the younger man's ass. Once Jim was positioned, Spock began thrusting again. This time the movement was eased by the previous fucking.

Jim had hardened considerably with Spock's caresses and so his body easily accommodated the continued sex. This time his erection didn't flag as Spock rode him. In fact, when one of Spock's hands shifted position so that Spock was stroking Jim's cock in time with his thrusts, Jim cried out in pleasure.

Spock sped up both his thrusts and his strokes. "Come for me, mate."

"God," Jim's hands couldn't support him anymore and the front part of his body dropped to the carpet. This served to cant his ass even higher in the air and Spock was forced to remove his hand from Jim's cock. The thrusting in and out of Jim's ass increased in force and it was enough to send Jim over the edge.

Jim had thought Spock's cock filled his ass tightly while they were fucking, but as his sphincter tightened during orgasm, the Vulcan's erection seemed impossibly huge. Vaguely, Jim was aware of his own ejaculation spurting out and covering his thighs, just as he was aware of Spock's triumphant cry as he thrust deeply in and stayed there. The Vulcan had found another release inside of Jim's body.

Mostly, though, Jim just knew pleasure combined with exhaustion and, for the first time in his life, he blacked out because of sex.

* * *

Nyota had readily agreed to share a meal with Sarek and, in fact, had seemed more pleased to do so than Spock himself. They decided to meet for the evening meal the following day and Spock chose to use a shuttle rather than beaming, since they had a number of supplies that could be ferried down a the same time. On the flight to the surface, they were the only two people aboard and Nyota soon used the opportunity for conversation.

"You'll have to let me know how you want to handle this," she stated.

"Handle?" Spock spared a brief moment from the shuttle controls to question her.

"Your father," Nyota explained. "I know he knows we're a couple, but I need to know how you want to act around him."

"You should behave as you normally would in any similar social situation," Spock found it odd that she needed to make the query. "It is illogical for you to behave in any other manner."

"All right," Nyota took a deep breath. "I guess I'm just nervous."

"Why?" Spock asked, genuinely curious. "You have met my father before."

She shook her head. "Not like this. Meeting the parents is a big step." Her eyes widened in dismay. "I mean, parent. Meeting your father is a big step."

The allusion to his mother, however brief, quelled conversation for the rest of the trip. Spock efficiently landed the shuttlecraft and, once he saw that the unloading of materials was proceeding in order, directed Nyota to a nearby communication kiosk.

"I thought Sarek was expecting us?" Nyota asked.

"He is," Spock replied. "I wish to contact New Vulcan Medical and inquire as to Captain Kirk's state."

Nyota frowned. "I thought you did that right before we left."

"My last contact with New Vulcan Medical was twenty-two minutes before we departed the Enterprise," Spock clarified. "And they may not have wished to disturb me in route with a further update. There may be new information available that I am not aware of."

Although she still did not seemed pleased that Spock was making the inquiry, Nyota refrained from further protest. She stood quietly while Spock communicated with the appropriate personnel. Spock's efforts were futile, however. There was no change in Kirk's circumstance.

"You sure are worried about him," Nyota commented as they began their walk towards Sarek's quarters.

"He is my captain," Spock stated. "And my friend."

Spock had already explained to Nyota that the details about why Kirk was on New Vulcan were highly personal and off limits. She was used to confidentiality restrictions because of the nature of her job and had accepted his inability to talk about it, although clearly was not happy with the situation.

They walked quietly to Sarek's quarters, Nyota making idle comments about the colony and asking how it differed from the original planet. By the time they arrived his father's residence, the awkwardness between them had faded. Spock gave her a moment to compose herself before pressing the door chime to announce their arrival.

"Greetings," Sarek answered the door readily. "Welcome to my home."

It had only been a few months since Vulcan's destruction and, while the colony on New Vulcan was being developed quickly, it still had a long way to go. Spock was not surprised to find that his father's quarters were sparse, but he it still made him ache in a way. His mother had filled their home with color and an intangible presence that Spock hadn't even realized was there until she was gone.

"Nyota, thank you for accompanying Spock," Sarek went on to welcome Nyota specifically. "I trust that you are finding your experience on New Vulcan rewarding."

Sarek had been an ambassador for years. That and his long and happy marriage to Amanda had given him an ease around humans that many Vulcans did not share. Spock had seen his father interact on a professional level before, but it was still fascinating to watch him charm Nyota. The time before and during their meal was spent in conversation about the colony and, more specifically about the work Nyota was doing on the communication relay systems.

"Vulcans are an insular people," Sarek commented. "It is not easy for us to ask for assistance and so the destruction of our planet may serve as a lesson."

"In what way?" Spock asked, even though his father's statement had been said more to Nyota than to himself.

"We have been forced by our diminished numbers to accept assistance from other worlds," Sarek explained. "Although we have often assisted other species, it is not in our nature to do the opposite. That must change if we are to survive."

He looked at Spock and, from the minute variance in his father's expression, Spock gleaned that he was not likely to care for the upcoming change in subject. He was right.

"I have received a communication from T'Pring," Sarek stated. "She wished me to convey to you her understanding of your decline of the proposed offer and that she wishes you well."

"Thank you, Father," Spock replied, hoping that Nyota would not want an explanation.

"Who's T'Pring?" She asked. "A friend?"

Spock detected nothing but hope in Nyota's voice. She was a caring individual and no doubt wished for him that an additional person that he was attached to had survived the destruction of his home planet. Unfortunately, Sarek answered before Spock was able to form a diplomatic reply.

"T'Pring was Spock's intended," Sarek told the young woman. "At one time, they were to be married."

Nyota turned to Spock, a look of hurt in her eyes. "You were engaged? You never mentioned that."

"It was not relevant," Spock explained.

"I beg your pardon, but I think it's relevant," Nyota countered. "That's a pretty big part of your life that you neglected to mention."

"Vulcan children are promised to another at the age of seven," Spock clarified. "T'Pring severed the attachment when I chose to enter Starfleet. She went on to marry elsewhere,"

"So it was an arranged marriage," Nyota relaxed as the meaning of Spock's explanation became clear."

"Precisely," Spock was pleased that she understood. "I had spent approximately 47 minutes in her presence and most of that as a child during the original binding ceremony. We had no emotional attachment."

"And the proposed offer your father mentioned?" Nyota pressed. Spock had always admired her determination, but found it uncomfortable in the current situation.

"It was suggested, in light of our species' need to repopulate, that Spock consider resuming their previous status," Sarek told her. "Spock declined."

When Nyota looked at him for confirmation, Spock inclined his head. "I am not free to do so."

Her skin flushed. "Because you do have an emotional attachment?"

"Indeed," Spock replied.

From the width of Nyota's smile, Spock knew he'd been forgiven for not revealing his former attachment to T'Pring. Before Nyota could start any further public emotional display, however, Sarek interrupted them.

"Spock, am I to understand by this conversation that Nyota is unaware of Vulcan marriage and mating rituals?"

"Rituals?" Nyota questioned. "All cultures have their ceremonies surrounding marriage or commitment to a life partner."

"Pon Farr is more than that," Spock resigned himself to a full explanation. He'd hoped that he would never have to give Nyota this information. "It is an instinctive and physical drive to procreate that cannot be denied."

Over the next several minutes, Spock described the details of Pon Farr, leaving nothing out, including the likelihood of death should the Pon Farr drive not be fulfilled. As he spoke, Nyota's eyes got wider and wider and Spock realized that he had been unwise not to tell her earlier in their relationship.

"Since I am half human," Spock said by way of apology at the end of his explanation, "I had hoped to be spared Pon Farr and thus had not mentioned it."

"If nothing else, Ambassador Spock has proven that not to be the case," Sarek spoke for the first time since initiating the conversation about the topic.

"Ambassador Spock?" Nyota was aware of the elder Spock's presence in their timeline, but had not met him. "Is he in Pon Farr now?"

"Yes," Spock admitted.

Nyota's eyes widened again. "Oh my God, that's why Captain Kirk is here, isn't it?"

In light of her blunt question, Spock could not lie. "Yes."

"Jim Kirk is the other you's boyfriend?" Nyota seemed appalled, which Spock found disquieting. Jim Kirk's willingness to undergo Pon Farr with Ambassador Spock was a sacrifice on the captain's part and should be seen as such.

"The future Jim Kirk was apparently mated to the future Spock, with a deep bond that could not be broken by Ambassador Spock's entry into our timeline," Spock explained. "That the Jim Kirk from this timeline is willing and able to save him speaks highly of the captain's character."

Nyota flushed again and looked down. "I know."

"Ambassador Spock, however, is not me," Spock said firmly. "It does not follow that because he was bonded to James T. Kirk, that I will as well. In fact, current circumstances almost certainly preclude that as a possibility."

"I know," Nyota claimed, although she looked far from convinced. Her expression firmed in a manner that Spock knew meant that she had come to a decision of some sort. "As long as I'm on New Vulcan, is there some way I can learn more about Pon Farr?"

Spock hesitated. "It is a subject not often spoken of outside the Vulcan race."

"And yet Nyota is correct," Sarek disagreed. "If her relationship with you proceeds to its ultimate conclusion, then it would prove wise for her to have more information." He addressed Nyota directly. "I will alert New Vulcan Medical that you will be making an inquiry and to provide assistance on the matter."

"Thank you," Nyota replied, obviously pleased at his father's reaction.

Spock, however, wasn't so sure. With a growing sense of disquiet, he returned to the remnants of his meal and tried not to think of the future.

* * *

Sex was certainly not a new experience for Jim, but he'd soon learned that Pon Farr kicked it up to a whole new level. Within the first hour, he realized he was in over his head, but by the second hour, he didn't care. He was that blissed out. Jim had lost track of both time and the count of how many ways he'd been taken. It didn't help that the sex was interspersed with short periods of unconsciousness that happened when his body just gave out on him. Spock hadn't seemed to need the rest, but Jim certainly did.

Jim woke from the latest catnap on his stomach and with a strange sensation going on in his ass. Unlike his other awakenings, it wasn't a cock inside him, either. It was a cooler sensation and Jim wiggled against the sheets in response.

"Be still," Spock's voice was hoarse, but his hand was gentle as it splayed against Jim's back, applying just enough force to keep Jim in place.

As Jim's fuzzy mind woke up, he placed the sensation as a dermal regenerator at work. He'd had one applied to his body before, just never in such an intimate place. It was a relief, actually. His flesh wasn't torn, but it was well used. The regenerator soothed that and seemed to be tightening him up too. Jim relaxed into the treatment, which was soon over. He must have woken up towards the end of the process.

A thrum remained in the back of Jim's mind, it was the way he'd come to identify the drive of the Pon Farr in Spock. The first touch of Spock's mind to his had been a shock that bordered on violation. Gradually the sensation had felt less intrusive, although Jim couldn't tell whether Spock pulled back enough until Jim was comfortable or he just had gotten used to it.

Languid, Jim turned his head to watch Spock put the medical instrument aside. Spock seemed calmer as he sat on the edge of the mattress, but his touch, as he stroked a hand down the curve of Jim's spine to his ass, was definitely possessive.

"I am sorry," Spock stated quietly. "I did not mean to wake you."

"Don't worry about it," Jim stretched, his muscles as tired as though he'd run a marathon. In a way, he supposed he had.

Spock's face darkened as he watched and he licked his lips. "This lull is temporary. You should take sustenance while there is opportunity."

Jim felt the Pon Farr thrum coming from Spock pulse a little stronger and knew at the Vulcan was holding it at bay for Jim's sake. Frankly, Jim was mildly surprised to realize that he was hungry. He sat up, resisting the urge to gather the sheet around him. Given the activities he'd been doing with Spock, it was far too late to be shy. "That's probably a good idea."

Spock got up and padded over to a nearby table. While he moved, Jim took the time to study his partner. Spock was old enough to Jim's father, several times over, but there'd been no hint of that as Spock had so thoroughly topped Jim. Considering how good a lover the older version of Spock was, Jim couldn't help but wonder how good the younger one was. No wonder Uhura seemed so satisfied.

That line of thought would get Jim nowhere, so he instead turned his attention to the rest of the room. He hadn't noticed earlier that it was rather large and filled with various furniture pieces. They were of different shapes and sizes and Jim blushed as he realized he'd been fucked on or over most of them.

"Here," Spock had arrived with a tray of food and Jim moved over to give him room.

As Jim looked at what was on the tray, he wasn't surprised to see that the array of foodstuffs consisted of fruits and vegetables. Vulcans were vegetarians, even if most humans weren't. Jim's stomach growled and he reached for the nearest bowl, not really caring what it contained. His hand, though, was gently but firmly removed from the tray.

"It is customary to feed one's mate," Spock explained.

Jim watched as Spock selected something, lingering over his choice. Now that he knew what was expected, Jim noticed that all the pieces had been cut in order to be easily eaten by hand. Jim wasn't sure what it was that Spock had chosen for him, but it was pink and he hoped it was a fruit. A vegetable shouldn't be that color.

Spock slowly lifted the morsel to Jim's mouth and he obediently opened up to accept it. The tidbit was cut into a long and slim shape and Spock was very careful when he slid it in between Jim's lips. Spock withdrew his fingers very slowly.

Jim chewed carefully and if the flavor on his tongue was any indication, the food item was a fruit. It managed to be sweet and tart at the same time, almost like a kiwi. The taste was just the thing for a parched throat and Jim licked his lips in appreciation.

Spock's eyes darkened and the mental thrum pulsed again. "It would be best to eat quickly, Jim."

His comment coupled with what he was feeling from Spock made Jim look down. Impossible at it seemed, Spock was getting hard again. Blushing, Jim nodded and let Spock feed him a few more items, each from a different bowl. After a few minutes, though, Jim stopped Spock from reaching for anything else.

"My turn," Jim told the older man. When Spock lifted an eyebrow, Jim shrugged. "You said it was customary to feed your mate. That holds as true for you as it does me."

Spock's expression softened. "It does indeed."

Jim fed Spock several pieces and then they took turns feeding one another. Jim's hunger was assuaged far sooner than he would have expected. It was a good thing, because when Spock next placed a food morsel in his mouth, his fingers lingered, caressing Jim's lips as he chewed. Jim swallowed loudly and Spock gently insisted on putting his fingers back in Jim's mouth. Jim allowed it, not breaking eye contact with Spock. The Vulcan's eyes had gone dark again and Jim figured that break time was over.

Wrapping a hand around the back of Jim's neck, Spock pulled the younger man close for a kiss. As he did, he knocked the tray to the floor. An oddly metallic sound resulted, distracting the Vulcan from Jim. He looked down and frowned.

"Jim, there is a hypospray included with this food," Spock stated. "Why would you need another dose? Our mating has only commenced for 36 hours."

"Uh, I never took a dose," Jim admitted. The hint of anger coming from Spock confused him.

Spock's expression darkened and not from lust. "What was your reasoning for that decision?"

Jim shrugged. "I don't like to lose control."

The corner of Spock's lips turned up in a half-smile. "And have you been in control without it?"

Jim found it difficult to maintain eye contact and even more difficult to admit the truth. "No."

"Then take the stimulant, Jim," Spock lifted Jim's chin with gentle fingers. "Don't make me hurt you more than I have."

"You haven't hurt me," Jim grew defensive. "And I agreed to this."

Spock sighed. "While it is some comfort to realize that many aspects of your personality remain the same, despite how different your upbringing was from my James T. Kirk, I would wish that your penchant for self-sacrifice was not one of them."

"Am I so different?" Jim asked. He'd been dying to bring up the other Jim with Ambassador Spock, but even he hadn't quite dared.

Spock looked at him for long moments before answering. "You are similar in the ways that count. You are intelligent and brave," he slid closer to Jim and stroked down his chest. "Not to mention beautiful and hedonistic."

"No hypo," Jim stated, shivering at the warmth in Spock's words and touch.

"Since you wish it so strongly, no hypo," Spock agreed. He moved so that he was covering Jim's body with his own, kissing Jim deeply. The taste of the fruit was easy to detect, with the distinctive taste of Spock a spice underneath.

Jim moaned and opened his legs to accept the Vulcan's weight. Spock settled in, kissing Jim as he ran his hands up and down Jim's sides. Jim resigned himself to being taken on his back again. He didn't mind, really, and rather enjoyed seeing Spock's face as they coupled. The Vulcan showed emotions during those moments and Jim was fascinated by them. His only objection to the position was its awkwardness. Jim had to be bent to the limit of his flexibility to allow for maximum penetration.

Instead of spreading Jim's legs up and out, Spock instead encouraged Jim onto his side. Once Jim was positioned, Spock pressed close to his back. The Vulcan's erection nudged at Jim's ass and a strong hand grabbed Jim's thigh, helping him to lift his leg. Although the dermal regenerator had helped the well-used flesh of his ass feel better, Jim was right that it had also served to tighten him up again. He felt it keenly when Spock pushed back in.

"Vulcans are touch telepaths," Spock grunted as his hips began to move. "You should have told me that you did not prefer that particular position."

Jim bit his lip at the newly familiar sensation of being fucked. "You're cheating again."

Spock laughed softly and Jim regretted not being able to see his face. "Let me show you something else I learned from you."

The Vulcan twisted his hips as he thrust in, causing the blunt head of his cock to hit Jim's prostate. Jim moaned and thrust back, eager for the sensation again.

"Perhaps you should have taken the hypo," Spock stated and there was smugness in both his tone and his mind.

As they settled in for another marathon session, Jim reluctantly agreed that maybe Spock was right.

* * *

Four days.

It was an unprecedented length of time for a Pon Farr joining to last. Spock was concerned for Jim Kirk's wellbeing and he wasn't the only one. With the exception of Nyota and McCoy, the others did not know why the captain had all but disappeared on the surface of New Vulcan, but his extended absence left the crew members uneasy. As for McCoy, he was beyond worried, judging by the number of communications he made to New Vulcan Medical demanding information about Kirk.

After the dinner with his father and Nyota, Spock spent the remainder of his time on the Enterprise. In Kirk's continued absence and the resulting disquiet of the crew, he felt it was more logical to be on the ship than to indulge himself by exploring his people's new planet. Nyota, on the other hand, had several extended sessions on New Vulcan. Most of her reason for going to the surface was to continue work on the communication relays, but she was also to receive instruction from New Vulcan Medical regarding Pon Farr.

"Commander Spock," the lieutenant staffing the communications post interrupted Spock's line of thought. "There is an incoming communication for you from the planet. It's marked as private."

"Very well, transfer the communication to the ward room," Spock rose from the captain's chair and strode very quickly out of the bridge. He didn't care if his haste was unseemly; hopefully this was the message he'd been expecting about Jim Kirk's welfare.

Once seated in the empty room, in front of a terminal, Spock received the transmission. He recognized the Vulcan on the other end; it was the male who had greeted them so abruptly upon the Enterprise's arrival.

"Commander, I understand that you are eager for an update on Captain Kirk's condition," Ponak stated. "As is your Chief Medical Officer."

"Indeed," Spock replied. "Dr. McCoy is most concerned."

"So one would gather from the number of queries he has made with our medical personnel," the other Vulcan stated. "I am pleased to inform you that Ambassador Spock has indicated that his Pon Farr has passed."

"Then the captain will soon be returning to the Enterprise?" Spock asked.

The other Vulcan looked at him in a manner that could only be called condescending. "A human does not have the stamina of a Vulcan. Your captain will require rest before he can return to duty."

"Dr. McCoy will want reassurance that Captain Kirk has sustained no serious injury," Spock warned him.

"That is not entirely unexpected, given his previously demonstrated insistence on receiving information," was the reply. "Ambassador Spock has instructed that you are both to be allowed into the Pon Farr chamber, to verify with your own eyes that he has not injured Kirk."

One of Spock's eyebrows quirked up in surprise. Such access was unheard of. "Very well. I will inform Dr. McCoy and we will proceed to the surface as soon as possible."

"I will arrange to have a doctor from New Vulcan Medical meet you there," the other Vulcan signed off without bothering to say goodbye.

Spock wasted no time in contacting Dr. McCoy and soon reached him via the ships internal communication system. "Doctor, we have received word from New Vulcan," Spock was careful to keep his words vague, knowing that other members of the medical staff might be able to hear. "Captain Kirk is available to see us and our presence was requested as soon as possible."

"Well, it's about damn time," despite his grumbling, the relief in McCoy's voice was clearly evident. "I'll meet you in the transporter room."

"I am on my way," Spock took the time to inform Sulu that he once again held the conn and then strode quickly to the transporter room. McCoy followed directly after, still in the process of slinging the strap of his medical bag over his shoulder.

"Doctor, that will not be necessary," Spock informed the other man. "Vulcan doctors are quite capable of seeing to the captain's health."

"Like hell they are," McCoy retorted. "I'm Jim Kirk's doctor and he's okay when I say he's okay."

"Very well," Spock took his place on the transport pad and McCoy joined him. Scotty himself manned the transport station. "Energize, Mr. Scott."

"Aye, Sir." Scotty's fingers started to fly across the control board and soon the familiar buzz of the transport beam engulfed them.

The transition to the heat of New Vulcan was welcome to Spock, but McCoy muttered under his breath and actually stepped back.

"Commander Spock, Dr. McCoy," a Vulcan woman greeted them. "I am Dr. Votar. I have been overseeing Ambassador Spock's Pon Farr mating with Captain Kirk."

McCoy winced at her blunt phrasing. "Way to keep it private, lady," he muttered.

"Please follow me and I will take you to Ambassador Spock," she continued and Spock hoped that she had not heard the doctor's complaint.

Votar walked off at a brisk pace and Spock followed her. Although less tolerant of the heat, McCoy easily kept up, proving just how anxious he was to determine the state of the captain's health.

"I do not have to tell you how unorthodox this is," the Vulcan physician stated as they neared a large building. "It is unprecedented for anyone to be allowed into a chamber that contains a Pon Farr coupling, let alone for a non-Vulcan to be granted such access."

"We understand," Spock answered quickly, before McCoy could say anything offensive. "We do not wish to intrude, but merely to assess Captain Kirk's condition for ourselves."

Dr. Votar clearly wasn't happy with the situation. Given that she was a full Vulcan, such an emotional display was indication that she was very dissatisfied with the request. Even so, she led them within the building and through the corridors, until she reached a particular door.

"I will warn you, Dr. McCoy, that although Ambassador Spock has indicated that the Pon Farr drive has passed, he will be unusually emotional for a Vulcan," Dr. Votar directed her comments to McCoy, but they were educational for Spock as well. He had never experienced Pon Farr himself. "I recommend that you move slowly and do not engage in any activity that would suggest an unwarranted interest in Captain Kirk."

"That's absurd," McCoy protested. "Of course I have an unwarranted interest in Jim; that's why we're here. To make sure he's all right."

Votar looked at Spock and he inclined his head slightly, silently taking responsibility for McCoy's behavior. Privately, Spock was not entirely certain that the doctor was capable of controlling himself. Spock was also confident in his ability to intervene, however, should his elder self become aggressive.

"Very well," Votar gestured towards the door.

McCoy was clearly surprised. "You're not coming in with us?"

"No," the Vulcan doctor told him and was obviously disinclined to explain any further. Then again, even carefully masked by impartial logic, her disapproval was clearly evident.

Spock the led the way through the first door and waited until McCoy was with him, with the outer door shut, before going any further. Once the interior door was opened, he beckoned the doctor to proceed him. McCoy already had his tricorder out at the ready.

The light level had been dimmed, but Spock could still easily make out the room's furnishings. Vaguely he was aware of a number of furniture pieces strewn throughout the room, but his attention was taken by the large bed placed at the chamber's other side. On it were two men. One was the older version of himself and, pillowed on top, was a sleeping Jim Kirk.

Both men were propped against the headboard and, although a sheet covered the lower half of their bodies discreetly, the two were bare-chested. Spock thought it safe to hypothesize that the lack of clothing extended below the covering. Ambassador Spock's chest was mostly covered by Kirk, but the younger man's back was clearly seen. It had an array of dark splotches marring the skin and other marks as well.

"Well, he's dehydrated, with some bruises and lacerations, but nothing serious," McCoy had not looked up from his instrument, even as he stepped closer to the bed.

"Thorough as always, Dr. McCoy," Ambassador Spock's voice was deep and sounded amused, if dry in tone. "I would expect no less of you, no matter the era."

McCoy's head popped up. He looked at the bed for the first time, his eyes skimming quickly over the captain and fixating on Ambassador Spock. From there, his gaze darted back to Spock, clearly comparing him to his older self.

"Holy Mother of God," McCoy uttered. "It is you, Spock."



The word came from the throats of two different Spocks, causing a strange stereo effect. Ambassador Spock just lifted one eyebrow, but Spock couldn't help but comment. "Fascinating."

"Downright eerie, if you ask me," McCoy complained. "Dealing with one of you at a time is a big enough challenge. Two of you is just. . . ." He stopped momentarily as he made an obvious last minute switch in phrasing. "Twice the fun."

"It is disconcerting, to say the least," Spock replied. "But we are not here to indulge in your need to ogle, Doctor. Are you satisfied that Captain Kirk is in good physical condition?"

"I am," McCoy admitted. He frowned at Kirk. "Although he looks as tuckered out as I've ever seen him."

"Pon Farr is quite strenuous for a Vulcan," Ambassador Spock commented. His hand came up and stroked the captain's back. "And as a human-. . . ."

McCoy held up a hand, effectively silencing the older Vulcan. "Spare me the details, please. I can see where your Dr. Votar is right, even Jim's going to need a little recovery time from this."

"Then we can leave," Spock stated. He was growing increasingly uncomfortable as the encounter continued. Seeing his older self had that effect on him, in spite of his best efforts, and to see his older self holding Jim Kirk in such a protective way began to stir feelings in Spock.

Feelings that Spock did not want to look at too closely.

"Hold your horses," McCoy objected. He put his tricorder away and dug out a medical device. "It won't take me a minute to heal up the worst of the lacerations and then Jim can rest more comfortably."

The doctor took two rapid steps forward before Spock could stop him. Ambassador Spock's expression went from calm to feral in a single heartbeat. The older Vulcan actually growled low in his throat as Dr. McCoy approached and began to move as though he was going to shift Kirk behind him.

Thankfully, McCoy stopped in surprise before Spock had to intervene.

"Doctor," Spock kept his voice soft and calm as he addressed the other Starfleet office. "Back away, slowly, and keep your eyes on the floor."

Gulping, McCoy did as he was told. Even so, Ambassador Spock continued to glare at him and Spock was concerned that the older man would lose control and attack. Jim Kirk inadvertently saved the situation. Still asleep, the captain made a small noise of discontent and shifted position, as though he were about to wake.

Ambassador Spock's response was immediate. He turned his attention from McCoy back to Kirk. He murmured softly to the young man and stroked his back gently, until Kirk settled back into a deeper sleep. It took several minutes until Kirk was completely soothed. Spock knew that he should have taken McCoy and left, but he couldn't take his eyes from the scene in front of him.

Only when he was satisfied that his mate was again resting peacefully did Ambassador Spock lift his head to consider them again. "The Pon Farr drive itself has waned, but the proprietary tendencies it causes tend to linger."

"My apologies," Spock said for the both of them. "We did not mean to disturb your mate. Now that we have ascertained the captain's condition, we will leave."

"Is he gonna be okay with you?" McCoy demanded, nodding at Kirk.

Ambassador Spock nodded. "Yes. Forgive my display, but you have my word that James T. Kirk shall never take harm from my hand."

Satisfied, McCoy allowed himself to be guided out without a backward glance. Before they exited, it was Spock who couldn't help but look over his shoulder. For all outward appearances, Ambassador Spock's attention was on his mate again. The older Vulcan's head was bent over Jim Kirk as he ran a hand down Kirk's neck and exposed shoulder. Just before Spock stepped out of the chamber, though, Ambassador Spock pinned him with a strange look. Spock couldn't divine what it meant, but as he joined McCoy in the corridor outside the room, he was uneasy.

"Does Captain Kirk's condition meet your approval?" Votar questioned them. From the immediate way she addressed them, she had been waiting anxiously.

"He's banged up a little, but mostly okay," McCoy told her. "I want to make sure that those bruises and lacerations are taken care of as soon as Spock Senior will let someone near him."

"Ambassador Spock has the necessary skills for such minor wounds," Votar stated.

"Good, then I guess I'm satisfied," McCoy admitted.

"If that is the case, then we should leave this area," the other Vulcan put action to words and led them away.

Dr. Votar took them to a general area and then abruptly took her leave of them.

"Well, good riddance to you to," McCoy muttered, glaring at her and generally looking out of sorts.

"Pon Farr is a highly. . . ." Spock began.

"I know, I know," McCoy waved off Spock's explanation. "It's private and you don't like to talk about it."

"Very private," Spock agreed.

McCoy considered him. "And does Uhura know about it? If you two stay together, she's got a right to know what to expect."

"Until Ambassador Spock's arrival, it was unclear that I would be affected by Pon Farr," Spock felt oddly embarrassed.

"I'd say we can safely say that you are," McCoy stated bluntly. "Lieutenant Uhura's no hothouse flower that needs protecting; she deserves to know what it's all about."

"I agree," Spock replied. "As does my father. Part of her time here on the surface has been spent at New Vulcan Medical, learning the particulars."

"Good," McCoy stated. Spock was surprised to find that he welcomed the other man's approval. "But, Spock, you have to know, Uhura's no Jim Kirk."

Spock found the statement confusing. "The two are clearly distinct individuals, both physically and mentally. I have never confused one for the other."

McCoy chuckled. "Just think on this - the future version of you? He chose Jim for a reason. Think about it."

And as McCoy strode away, Spock found himself doing just that.

* * *

Jim knew before he opened his eyes that it was over. He could feel Spock's essence lingering in the back of his mind, but the burn and thrum of Pon Farr was gone.

"You are awake," the warm surface that Jim's head was pillowed on moved in conjunction with the words and Jim realized that he was being held by the Vulcan. "I was beginning to become concerned."

"Sorry." Lifting his head, Jim looked at the older man. "I had the strangest dream. . . . like Bones was here."

"If you are referring to Dr. McCoy, he was," Spock replied easily. "He wanted to verify with his own eyes that you had not been harmed."

Jim blushed. Bones was a good friend and had been witness to some of Jim's sexual exploits, at least the beginning stages of a few, but the older man being in this room was not good. Not good at all. Jim was never going to live it down.

"Great," Jim muttered under his breath. Spock began to stroke down Jim's back and he relaxed into the touch. As he did, he identified something else he was feeling from the older man. "You like him. McCoy, I mean."

Spock's expression lightened into a near-smile. "Of all the old friends I have encountered in this era, Leonard McCoy is the most similar to the man that I knew."

"That must be weird," Jim said after a moment of thought. "To have people you knew be the same, but not."

"It can be disconcerting," Spock shifted underneath Jim. "Are you in any pain?"

The mental link between them had faded in intensity as the Pon Farr drive passed; Jim supposed it was a sign that Spock was regaining his mental control. Even so, Jim knew an obvious change in subject when he heard one. He wasn't tempted to call Spock on it, though. Not yet, anyway.

"I'm a little sore," Jim admitted. "Tired. Nothing I haven't been through before."

His comment caused a spike of emotion in his bed partner, which was coupled with a frown on Spock's face. "I trust your similar symptoms were caused by a different set of circumstances."

Jim grinned, inappropriately pleased at having been able to prompt a jealous reaction from Spock. "Yeah. You remember how intense physical training can be in the Academy."

Spock gave him a measuring look, as though doubting Jim's statement. Eventually, though, he nodded. "This chamber contains an amenity that should assist with your aches. Let me ready it for you."

The Vulcan shifted out from underneath Jim, being very careful not to jostle the younger man much. Jim watched, bemused, as Spock approached a corner of the room that he hadn't paid attention to before. A few buttons were pressed and the flooring drew back to reveal a sunken tub. Spock bent to turn on the water taps and then padded over to the bathroom. When he came back out, he had a vial of what looked like oil. Spock poured nearly the whole bottle into the rapidly filling tub before he stooped to check the temperature.

Feeling guilty at allowing the much older man to take care of him, Jim got up and joined Spock. The Vulcan seemed resigned as he realized what Jim had done.

"You are a difficult man to spoil," Spock stated with some exasperation.

"What?" Jim asked. "You were gonna carry me over here?" He was kidding, but as Spock just gazed back at him blankly, he realized that was probably exactly what the Vulcan had been planning.

"You endured much during my Pon Farr," Spock explained. "It is my duty and privilege to see to your needs."

"I've always been pretty self-reliant," Jim shrugged. "Sorry?"

Spock briefly cupped Jim's cheek. "There is no need to be sorry. Now, please, enter the water. It will make you feel better."

It sounded damn good and Jim didn't resist. He climbed over the edge, finding that the tub was quite deep. It had seats cut inside and Jim sank onto one with a groan of pleasure. The hot water was just what his well-used body needed. "You're right, this is fantastic."

"I knew that you would find it pleasing," Spock replied.

Jim thought that the Vulcan's face looked a little wistful. Besides, since the Pon Farr had started, Spock had either been by him or in him. Even the slight separation currently between them was a little too much.

"Join me," Jim held up a hand, trying his best to look beseeching. "There's plenty of room for two."

Spock hesitated a moment and then climbed in after Jim. "Perhaps it will not be so difficult to spoil you as I originally thought."

After Spock got in and settled, Jim immediately slid closer and again rested his head against Spock's chest. "I could get used to this."

Spock ran his fingers through Jim's damp hair. "You were ever the hedonist."

It was the opening he'd been looking for. Jim kept his head on Spock's chest. He couldn't look at the elderly Vulcan while he made his next comment. "He's dead, isn't he? Your Jim, I mean."

His words made Spock take a sharp breath. That as well as the spike in emotion that Jim felt from the other man made it clear that he'd made a correct assumption. "Yes, years before my unfortunate trip back in time."

"I'm sorry for your loss," Jim said, knowing his words were inadequate but needing to say something anyway. "He meant a lot to you."

Spock's hand had stopped petting Jim after he asked his question, but quickly resumed when he offered his condolences. "James T. Kirk was my captain, my friend, and my life's partner."

Even with the bond dimmed, the depth of Spock's feelings for his Jim came through clearly. Jim couldn't imagine feeling that way about anyone and the idea that someone felt that way about any version of him was downright incomprehensible.

"I can't imagine being that close to you," Jim stated. Realizing how that sounded, he was quick to clarify his comment. "The you from my timeline, that is."

Spock didn't seem offended. "We were not, at first. Our relationship grew over a number of years." He looked down at Jim fondly. "He was most persistent. Another trait you share with my Jim is your disbelief in no win scenarios."

"So is that why this Pon Farr was so intense?" Jim asked, hoping to distract Spock from his pain. "Because you hadn't been with your Jim in a while?"

"That contributed to the strength of the drive," Spock told him. "As did trying to deny it and entering into plak-tow. Also, male/male Pon Farr matings tend to be longer in duration than the traditional male/female coupling."

"Lucky us," Jim murmured, meaning it genuinely.

Spock bent and kissed him chastely. "I think it logical to assume that you yourself had some hand in the matter."

Jim snorted. "Yeah, I'm known for my sexual talents. Infamous, even."

"You sound as though my comment was meant in a derogatory manner," Spock seemed concerned. "I assure you that it was not. You are a worthy lover in your own right, James T. Kirk."

Jim didn't say anything, thinking of all of the women who had been in and out of his bed over the years. He didn't know about worthy, but they certainly seemed to enjoy him.

Spock put his hand on Jim's chin and titled his face up. "Unless you have not had any."

"Lovers?" Jim asked, incredulous. "I've had more than my fair share, thank you very much."

His claim prompted a solemn shake of Spock's head. "That you have had a number of sex partners is not something that I doubt. Your counterpart in my era did as well. However, I am speaking of lovers, Jim."

"Sex partners. . . lovers," Jim repeated. "Aren't they the same thing?"

Spock stroked Jim's face. "That you ask the question demonstrates that you have not, in fact, ever made love."

"Excuse me?" Jim laughed. "After what we've been doing the last few days, how can you say that."

"We have been answering the Pon Farr drive," Spock disagreed. "Although love might be involved, and certainly was on my part, it is not the same."

Jim shrugged. "I'll take you word for it."

Spock kissed him again, decidedly less chaste than the kiss of a few moments before, but far gentler than he had during their intense couplings. After their lips parted, Spock dipped his forehead until it rested against Jim's.

"Let me show you, Jim," Spock implored softly. "Allow me to demonstrate the difference between having sex and making love."

Jim laughed, half in disbelief and have in admiration. "You're kidding, right? You're ready to go, even after . . . . how long have we been in here?"

"Four days, thirteen hours and forty-seven minutes," Spock provided the information. His voice was a bit muffled, since he was busy kissing Jim's neck at the time.

"Wow," Jim was amazed. "That's. . . that's impressive."

He was distracted by Spock nibbling gently behind his ear and then blowing on the moistness left behind.

"Hey," Jim protested, even as Spock's actions made him break out in goose bumps. "You're cheating again."

"Please, Jim," Spock ignored Jim's attempt to tease him. "You have done so much for me, allow me to show this to you."

Despite his own body's state of satiation, Jim felt the beginnings of desire and knew he wouldn't be able to deny the older man. "All right."

Spock didn't reply verbally. Instead, he gripped the back of Jim's neck and pulled him close for more kissing. They'd kissed during the Pon Farr too, but those had been aggressive kisses, as Spock demanded - and got - Jim's submission to the mating. In contrast, these kisses were gentle. Jim melted into them and when Spock's tongue lightly pressed to gain entrance, he gladly opened his mouth for more.

For a long time, they did nothing more than kiss. Jim bobbed a little in the hot water, until Spock snaked an arm around his waist and encouraged the younger man to straddle him. In another situation, it was position that might have made Jim feel silly, but given the current circumstance, he wholeheartedly approved. It gave him better access to Spock's mouth.

"Spock," Jim moaned when the Vulcan finally pulled off Jim's mouth to trace kisses down his neck. Jim could feel that his lips were swollen from the prolonged kissing session. "Let me. . . ."

"No, Jim," Spock's voice was calm and if it were not for the bond telling him otherwise, Jim would suppose the Vulcan immune to what they were doing. "Making love is about sharing pleasure with your partner; expressing your feelings through your actions."

"Oh, I'm ready to express," Jim claimed, squirming on Spock's lap. He could feel the Vulcan's erection pressing against his thigh and wanted to do something about it. "Believe me, I am."

Spock was implacable. "No, Jim. The Pon Farr was about my needs. This is for you."

With that, Spock went back to his slow exploration of Jim's neck and shoulders, using his lips. His hands rested on Jim's hips, a light hold, but one that kept Jim from moving.

When Spock's tongue lapped at the first of Jim's nipples he gasped and arched his back. The touch was electric and Jim looked down. Jim distinctly remembered the area being bruised from receiving too much attention during the mating drive, but Spock must have worked with the dermal regenerator the last time Jim slept. The skin was tender, but healed, and Spock's current kissing was gentle enough to not cause any pain.

Held as he was, Jim couldn't do anything to reciprocate. He kept his hands on Spock's shoulders, gripping tightly when sensations got a little overwhelming. When that happened, Spock left off what he was doing and moved to a new area to worship with his tongue. With their prolonged physical touch, the bond between the two of them flared more strongly and Jim could feel the pleasure Spock was getting just from making Jim feel good.

Due to sitting in a tub of water, Spock's explorations had remained from the waist up. That changed. As the Vulcan's lips encircled one of Jim's nipples and gently sucked, one of his hands left Jim's hip in order to grasp Jim's penis. Jim gasped again and his hips arched.

During the Pon Farr, Jim had experienced how strong Spock was. During the heat of that experience, he'd almost come to take it for granted. In this more gentle joining, Jim was keenly aware of the restrained strength in the hand that was palming his sex. Jim also hadn't noticed how calloused Spock's hand was, but as the Vulcan started slowly stroking up and down his cock, Jim appreciated those toughened areas of skin and how they delicately scraped the hypersensitive skin of his erection.

"Spock," Jim moaned again. There was a demand in his utterance of the other man's name, even if it wasn't clearly articulated.

"Yessss. . . ." Spock definitely didn't sound unaffected as he answered. The older man released Jim's cock, causing Jim to cry out softly. "Shhh, Jim."

With his newly freed hand, Spock fumbled around the edge of the tub until he found the nearly empty vial of oil. He handed it to Jim, who'd just been watching with unfocused eyes. Whether thanks to the bond or not, Jim knew what Spock wanted. He eagerly tipped the vial over, spilling out the remaining contents onto Spock's outstretched fingers.

Jim let the vial tumble into the water as Spock's greased hand disappeared beneath the surface. Anticipating what the Vulcan was doing, Jim raised up. It gave him some welcome friction against the erect cock pressed against his, but mostly gave Spock the access he needed. The dermal regenerator had been applied to Jim's ass during another lull, so there was no pain as Spock's fingers breached the opening to his body, slicking it and stretching it with relative ease.

"Now," Jim demanded.

"Yes, now," Spock agreed.

Spock withdrew his fingers from Jim's ass and placed both hands on Jim's hips, raising him up. After sharing a deep kiss, he positioned Jim over the head of his cock.

"Take what you need, Jim," Spock told him.

Jim slowly lowered himself onto Spock's erection. He felt the stretch as the blunt head made its way past the tight entrance and then savored every centimeter as it slowly impaled him. It was only when he was fully seated and opened his eyes to gaze into Spock's that he realized that he'd closed them.

The expression on Spock's face at that moment made the difference between having sex and making love blatantly clear.

His body's need overtook Jim. Bracing his hands on Spock's shoulders, he lifted himself up off Spock's lap, careful to keep the other man's cock inside him. Then he lowered himself again, a little less gently. Spock's hands on his hips were a support, but the Vulcan let Jim set the pace.

Emotion washed through Jim from the bond and he kept a slow pace at first, savoring both that feeling and the ebb and flow sensation of being filled and released. The fact that he'd had so many sexual releases over the last few days meant that his body didn't require immediate satisfaction. Time seemed to stop as he rode Spock, reveling in both their physical and emotional connection.

Spock had a Vulcan's stamina, but Jim was merely human. Eventually, he felt the burn of muscles as he rose up and down, plus the added pulse of impending orgasm. He began moving more quickly as he tightly gripped Spock's shoulders, biting his lip to keep from crying out.

"Yes, Jim," Spock encouraged him. "My body is yours, as is all of me. Take it."

As with their initial encounter, Spock was deep in his mind again. Unlike that first time, though, Jim's mind wasn't flooded with erotic images. Instead, a wash of love and affection filled him, even as Spock's cock filled him physically. Jim did cry out at that and felt his entire being clench as pleasure exploded.

When Jim was next aware, he was draped across Spock, still in the water. The Vulcan had his hands resting on the base of Jim's ass, keeping him in place and the two of the connected. Jim could tell that it wouldn't last long, though. For the first time in days, he could feel Spock's erection start to become flaccid.

"Are you all right?" Spock asked.

"As if you didn't know," Jim lifted his head to kiss Spock's chin. "You damn well know I'm more than all right."

"Indeed," Spock sounded decidedly smug. "It appears that you enjoy making love."

Jim gave the comment serious consideration. "I do." He looked up at Spock shyly. "I wonder if Starfleet will let me come to New Vulcan for my scheduled shore leaves?"

Spock looked dismayed at the idea. "You cannot, Jim. This connection of ours cannot be allowed to continue."

"Why not?" Jim demanded. "It makes both of us feel good, what's wrong with that?"

"You are young, as I am not," Spock explained. As though in agreement, Spock's spent cock slipped out of Jim's ass. "While I will always value your friendship most highly, and will cherish the memories of this Pon Farr for the rest of my days, it would be detrimental to you to permit anything more."

"Says you," Jim retorted stubbornly. Suddenly extremely tired, he laid his head against Spock's chest. "I can decide for myself, thank you very much."

Spock sighed. "Perhaps this is a conversation for a later time. I think it would be safer for you to rest in bed, where there is no risk of drowning."

Jim chuckled, but had to agree. With each other's help, they got out of the water and quickly toweled down. Spock was in good shape for a man of his age, but the sight of him at the moment did little to arouse Jim. He was simply too exhausted.

The few steps to the bed seemed an inordinately long distance, but soon they were under its covers. Jim took up his customary position draped over the Vulcan and sighed in contentment.

When Spock's hand came up to brush against his hair, Jim actually leaned into the touch. It was only when Spock's weathered fingers spread out against his temple, that Jim thought that maybe Spock was better at cheating than he'd ever guessed.

"I am sorry, Jim, truly I am," Spock's voice was full of sorrow. "But this must never be allowed to happen again."

And with that, something inside of Jim's mind broke with an almost audible snap. He would have cried out in pain, but darkness engulfed him and he lost consciousness mercifully quickly.

* * *

Their mission at New Vulcan was almost over; Spock had finally been given a time that Captain Kirk would be ready to leave the planet. Most of the away teams were making their way back to the Enterprise, although a few of the work crews would be there until the very last minute.

Spock, on the other hand, was heading back to the surface.

Nyota had contacted him from New Vulcan and asked him to meet her there. Since Spock had wanted to say farewell to his father and accompany Captain Kirk back to the ship anyway, it was easy enough to arrange to arrive early. After transporting down, Spock swiftly headed to the designated location. That Nyota wished to speak to him away from the Enterprise and its crew did not bode well.

The various non-Vulcans working on the planet had been given a designated building for their use while assisting with the work of building the colony. It had not been assigned to them for their own comfort. Rather, the surviving Vulcans were still processing the overwhelming anguish from the loss of their planet and most of their population. Even if they weren't such an insular people, it would understandable that they wished to isolate those not of their species while they grieved.

The crew of the Enterprise had been assigned a small area within the building. Since they did not sleep on the planet, but rather went back to the ship at the end of their shift, it was more of a gathering place than anything else. With the other crew members either back on the Enterprise or hurrying to complete their work before they left, it was deserted. Nyota had picked a private place to talk and Spock had to theorize that she did so deliberately. Spock was familiar enough with human relationships to realize that this also did not bode well.

When he reached the designated meeting area, Nyota was already there. The room was set up similarly to the galley on the Enterprise, with a series of tables centered around an open area. Nyota was seated at one of them, her hands clasped loosely as they rested on the table in front of her. The young woman's back was ramrod straight and her expression, as she faced the door, seemed entirely composed. Half-Vulcan or not, Spock could tell that it was too composed.

"Nyota?" Spock asked. "You wished to see me."

"Yes," Nyota's fingers stiffened. Her hands were now clenched, not loosely clasped. "I can't do it, Spock."

"What?" Spock slid into the chair opposite here. The question was a formality; he knew what she was referring to.

"Pon Farr," Nyota's voice was clipped. "Your father was right that I needed to learn about it, but now that I have, I know that I can't go through that with you."

"There are alternatives to mating when it comes to the Pon Farr," Spock stated. "Surely the personnel at New Vulcan Medical informed you of those."

"Meditation," Nyota listed off. "Or a sudden shock to the system, such as violence."

"The latter is certainly not an option," Spock admitted. "However, I have some time before I anticipate my first Pon Farr cycle; I can hone my meditation techniques in preparation."

"That didn't work for Ambassador Spock," Nyota pointed out.

Spock was getting tired of the comparisons to his elder self and, as a result, his response had a bit of an edge to it. "I am not him."

"No, but it's only logical," her voice stumbled over the use of that word, "to assume you might have the same physical limitations."

It was a valid point and Spock changed tactics. "If the Pon Farr drive is appeased early, it is my understanding that it is little different than any other physical joining."

"That's the problem," Nyota's composure cracked. "I don't want to 'appease' anything. If I'm going to be with you, I want it to be because I want to, that we both want to. I don't want to have sex with you just to fulfill some biological urge."

"An urge that takes place every seven years," Spock stated bluntly.

Nyota started a quick answer, but then stopped. She closed her eyes briefly before responding.

"I love your control, Spock," she stated. "You feel things deeply, but you don't allow that to overwhelm you. Even when we make love, I can sense you have all that passion and strength, but you're gentle with me. I love that; I count on that."

She paused before continuing. "I can't live my life with you knowing that your control will falter, even if it's only once in seven years. Don't you see? It will eventually color everything else about our relationship."

"It is possible, however," Spock wasn't sure why he was arguing, but something made him continue to press. "I remember my mother implying that she was not fond of my father's Pon Farr time and yet they enjoyed a mutually beneficial marriage."

Nyota's smile was sad. "Just like you're not Ambassador Spock, I'm not your mother. I don't know how she managed to reconcile herself with the need for it, but she did. Besides, your parents were diplomats and were together all the time. We both have careers in Starfleet. We serve together now, but that won't always be the case. There will come a time when you go into Pon Farr and I won't be around to get you through it. You could either die or go into plak-tow." She shuddered.

"Pon Farr mtes are typically husband and wife," Spock said slowly. "But that is not always the case. Given the current circumstances of the Vulcan people, I am certain that a Pon Farr substitute mate could be located, one that would fulfill my biological imperative without compromising your wishes on the matter."

Nyota start shaking her head even before he was finished speaking. "No way. If we're a couple, then I'm not sharing."

"That is. . . ." Spock faltered, not wanting to finish the sentence and thus alienate her completely.

"Illogical, I know," Nyota finished it for him. "Believe me, I know."

She took a deep, but shaky breath.

"That's why I think we need to stop now," Nyota stated. "This relationship isn't going to work, not in the long run, so it's only fair that we end it now. It leaves you free to pursue other options."

Spock tilted his head. "And if I do not wish to. . . pursue other options?"

"I'm afraid that doesn't matter," Nyota rose from her seat. "I care too much about you to continue this when I know it's not going to work."

She brushed Spock lightly on the shoulder with his hand as she stepped by him. Unlike Jim Kirk, who apparently took such physical contact for granted, Nyota knew what casual touch meant to a Vulcan. He read an apology in her gesture, but also determination.

"This is for the best," she told him. "I'm sure when you've had time to think about it, you'll agree."

Spock was out of arguments and so let her leave the room without further comment. He sat for a few minutes, wondering why he did not feel a deeper sense of loss from her decision. He could not refute her logic; Nyota was intelligent and capable of the kind of reasoning that could put a Vulcan to shame. That combination of passion and reason was what had originally drawn him to her. Unfortunately, those traits were apparently what was destined to drive them apart.

His emotions under control, Spock left the room, intending to make his way to his father's quarters to make his farewell. Instead, he came across his father striding towards him. Sarek must have had the same idea.

"Greetings, Spock," Sarek's expression didn't change upon seeing Spock, but Spock knew his parent was glad to see him. "I am grateful for the chance to speak to you before you left the colony."

"I assume now that Ambassador Spock's condition is no longer life-threatening that you will also be continuing your journeys?" Spock asked.

"Yes, the USS Angelou will arrive in two days time," Sarek fell into step with Spock as the walked slowly towards the building that housed the transporter area. "I understand that Lieutenant Uhura made good use of the offer to become educated about Pon Farr. The members of the New Vulcan Medical staff that she interacted with were most impressed with her intelligence and understanding."

"Yes." It seemed as though Sarek approved of Nyota and Spock could see no benefit to keeping information from him. "However, it has led her to the conclusion that she is not the proper match for me. We are no longer seeing one another."

Sarek stopped walking mid-step. "That is most unfortunate. Did she inform you as to the reason for her decision?"

Spock kept walking and his father caught up to him. "Yes. Apparently she does not feel that she can endure Pon Farr. The idea of having a mate with a lack of control is distressing to her; she does not think she could submit to the imperative."

"There is submission involved," Sarek stated. When Spock's eyebrows went up in surprise, he explained. "When both partners are driven by Pon Farr, it is a balanced exchange. However, when one partner is not Vulcan, or part Vulcan, they can be overwhelmed by the drive of the other. Your mother did not speak of this to you?"

"No," Spock replied. "Such matters were too private. She spoke of Pon Farr only in the most general of terms."

"Ah." Sarek was quiet for a moment before continuing. "It is my understanding that she eventually came to understand the Pon Farr and that there was a gift in submitting to the needs of one's mate. As for myself, I can tell you that I cherished her most of all during those times."

Spock thought about his father's comment. "Nyota is a strong woman, as was Mother, but in a different way. I do not think she would come to that realization."

"Then it is good that fact was discovered now," Sarek stated. "Before Pon Farr occurred."

His father was right, as was Nyota, but Spock was unwilling to verbally acknowledge that fact. Given how insistent Sarek had been about Nyota learning of Pon Farr, he wondered if his father had known how unappealing she would find it.

"There is one matter that Nyota's decision does not change," Spock said firmly. "I will not accept T'Pring as a mate."

His declaration did not seem to surprise his father, although neither did Sarek seemed pleased by it. "I thought not. So be it. Do you have an alternate mate chosen?"

"No," Spock replied. They had reached their destination and he stopped right outside the door. "Since I am some years from my first Pon Farr cycle, it does not seem necessary at the current time."

"I urge you to reconsider," Sarek advised. "Ambassador Spock is not the first Vulcan to go into Pon Farr out of cycle; nor will he be the last. It would be wise to have a plan in place should you experience it. Otherwise, you may find yourself without a choice."

"Ambassador Spock chose Jim Kirk," Spock pointed out. He was not sure why he said it, other than he had received the impression that his father did not approve of his older self's selection.

"A mating between two males is illogical," Sarek retorted, nostrils slightly flared and indicating his displeasure. "No offspring can be achieved by such a joining. Given our people's current need, it would be self serving at best."

"And yet you were willing to allow me to procreate with a human," Spock countered. "The child of such a union would only be one quarter Vulcan."

Sarek contemplated. "Perhaps you are correct and there is time to consider before you make a choice."

"It would be logical not to be too quick to come to a decision of such magnitude," Spock managed not to be too smug about his father's backing off. "I shall be mindful of the symptoms of Pon Farr. It will not catch me unaware and I am sure that Captain Kirk will allow me to return to New Vulcan should an acceptable mate not be available to me elsewhere."

"Very well," Sarek straightened. "I will take my leave of you now." He raised his hand in the traditional gesture. "Live long and prosper, my son."

"Live long and prosper," Spock's reply was automatic. He watched dispassionately as his father strode away.

His father quite obviously did not consider Jim Kirk to be an appropriate candidate for a mate; Ambassador Spock just as obviously thought the exact opposite.

Spock only hoped he had time to figure out how he felt about the whole matter.

* * *

"You are angry with me."

Jim finished tying his shoe before he looked up. It wasn't that he needed to concentrate on the laces that much, but that he was trying not to give in to Spock's woebegone voice.

"You cheated again," Jim stated when he was finished. "Big time. I'm a believer in thinking outside the box and all, but that was downright sneaky."

Jim had awakened to a blinding headache and a lack of Spock in the back of his mind. He'd panicked at first, thinking something had happened to the elderly Vulcan, but Spock's arms around him had immediately reassured him. That was, until Spock explained what had happened.

"As we have already discussed, Jim, the bond was detrimental for you," Spock repeated what he'd told Jim when the young man had first awakened. "You are at the beginning of your life's journey; mine is nearing its completion."

"So what?" Jim demanded. "That doesn't mean I don't value you, because I do."

"And yet one can occur without the other," Spock reassured him. "My desire to sever our bond does not mean that I also wish to sever our relationship. You are young, Jim, as I am not. Your future is ahead of you and you need to live it without being concerned about fulfilling my past."

"What if you go into Pon Farr again?" Jim demanded. "If I don't know you're in trouble and that I need to get to you, then you'll die."

Spock shrugged. "At my age, the likelihood of entering Pon Farr again is negligible." Jim opened his mouth to protest, but Spock spoke right over him. "In the unlikely event that it does occur, my death would be inevitable, for even should I survive the mating drive, fulfilling it with you might kill me. I am not, as you may have noticed, as young as I used to be."

It took Jim a moment to realize he was being teased. He wasn't expecting it, even from this most un-Vulcanlike Vulcan.

"Not funny," he wagged his finger at Spock. Spock just raised an eyebrow and Jim couldn't help but grin. "I hope that the younger you finds his sense of humor."

"I'm sure he will in time," Spock replied. Unlike the younger Spock, he didn't seem to have a problem talking about his alternate self. "It took Jim some years to teach me."

"It did, huh?" Jim smiled again, thinking about the fun it might be showing Spock how to loosen up a little. "I think I might have liked your Jim." His smile dropped quickly, however.

"Jim, what is wrong?" Spock asked, stepping closer to him and pulling him into a loose embrace.

"It's just that I spent my whole life trying to live up to my dad's reputation," Jim felt like a whiny kid but was unable to help himself. Spock deserved nothing but the truth. "And I think I finally did, but now I have another dead guy to live up to."

"The James T. Kirk from my era?" Spock asked.

Jim nodded. "Nero said he was a great man."

"And so he was," Spock agreed. "On that one point, at least, I cannot fault Nero's logic."

Jim sighed. "I bet that other Kirk didn't cheat on the Kobayashi Maru test."

"You are sorely mistaken," Spock corrected him. "In fact, my Jim did alter the circumstances of that very simulation in order to win."

"He did?" Jim grinned, but then his expression fell again. "And did they threaten to throw him out of the academy?"

"On the contrary," Spock frowned. "He was given a commendation for original thinking."

"Lucky him," Jim mutter sarcastically. Spock raised an eyebrow and Jim knew he needed explain. "I was in the middle of an official inquiry about what I did when the call came in from Vulcan. Let's just say that it didn't look good for me."

"Fascinating," Spock commented, "how the alternate time lines differ."

"That's easy for you to say," Jim claimed. "I'm the one who had to live it."

"I am sorry for that," Spock apologized. Jim once again felt the impression of suppressed grief. "If I had not failed to save Romulus, Nero would not have sought vengeance and the timeline would have remained intact."

Jim shook his head, exasperated. "You can't blame yourself for what happened to the Romulans, Spock." He grinned faintly. "It's not logical."

Spock's body became stiff with tension. "They trusted me to save them, but I did not."

"There's a saying on Earth, 'Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.'" Jim poked Spock gently in the side. "I know you're a great scientist and everything, but the Romulans had some responsibility to see to the saving of their own people. Sure, you were right to do the whole Red Matter thing, but they should have been evacuating their planet and running like hell."

"You are not the first to suggest this," Spock admitted.

"I'm not surprised," Jim relaxed against Spock. "We have another saying on Earth, 'Don't put your eggs all in one basket' and Romulus was a big egg.'"

"Tell me, Jim," Spock asked. "Had your actions resulted in the deaths of billions of people, directly or indirectly, would you not feel remorse?"

Jim sighed. He wasn't doing any better debating with this version of Spock than he had back at the Academy, with the younger one. "Yeah, I guess I would."

In fact, Jim did. He'd been right to chase Nero to Earth, but he'd lost crew members as a result. The few deaths might seem negligible in face of saving an entire planet's population, but Jim had still felt them keenly.

Spock kissed him gently. "Then do not reprimand me for my grief."

"Fair enough," Jim replied. He bit his lip as he considered another question that had been bothering him.

"What, Jim?"

Jim glared at Spock. "Are you sure that bond is gone? Seems to me that you're awfully good at reading me."

"I have known you longer than you have been alive," Spock replied. "I can tell when you are troubled, although normally you hide it much better."

Knowing he was busted, Jim looked away again. "How did he die? Your Jim, I mean."

Spock's arms tightened around him. "The timeline is changed, Jim. It will not happen to you."

"I know," Jim kissed Spock. "But you can't blame me for wondering."

"Your curiosity was both a strength and weakness of yours," Spock complained, but then went on to answer. " My Jim disappeared. I looked for him, but could not find him."

"I'm sorry; that had to have hurt," Jim said quietly.

Spock nodded. "I knew from the bond that he was not dead, but I could not locate him. Finally, after years, the bond flared back full strength, but only for a short time. Jim died before I could reach him."

It was Jim's turn to hold Spock tightly. "I'm sorry."

"Jim," Spock pulled out of Jim's hold and cupped the younger man's face with both hands. "You must promise me this, if, once you are admiral and are asked to attend the christening of the U.S.S. Enterprise-B, you must decline. Avoid anything referred to as the Nexus. The temporal ribbon will be your undoing."

"Admiral?" Jim's grin was dazed.

Spock dropped his hands to Jim's shoulders and shook him lightly. "Promise me."

"All right, all right," Jim put his hands on Spock's wrists. "I'm taking you seriously, I promise. Temporal ribbons are bad. I'll remember."

There was a chime at the door and the two men stepped back from one another. Ponak stood in their doorway. "Captain Kirk, are you ready to return to your vessel?"

Jim shared a look with Spock. "Yeah, I guess I am."

With Ponak as witness, the two men kept their conversation to less intimate topics as they approached the transporter chamber. As they entered the room, Jim could see that Spock, McCoy, Chekov and Sulu were waiting for him. McCoy was doing a terrible job with hiding the fact that he had his tricorder out and had it pointed at Jim.

"A moment, please," Jim said to Ponak. He pulled Spock aside. "Bones isn't going to find anything with that medical gadget of his, is he?"

"I healed most of your bruises and lacerations when you were recovering from the severing of the bond," Spock told him.

"Not all of them," Jim pointed out. He had the pleasure of seeing the older man's face darken a little with a flush.

"I did take the liberty of leaving two, in areas that will not be detected with casual observation," Spock admitted. "My apologies, but I could not bring myself to remove all of my marks from your body."

"Just my mind, huh?" Jim asked.

Spock didn't apologize. "Think on this, Jim. As difficult as it was for you when I severed the bond, it would have been exponentially worse had it been severed because of my death. Given our age difference, I did not want you to experience that."

Jim relented a little, not wanting to part on a sour note. "I understand your reasoning, but forgive me if I don't thank you."

"Understood," Spock replied. "It is enough that you understand."

The two of them approached the transporter pad. The humans, as well as Ponak, had watched their exchange avidly. Jim hoped that none of them had managed to overhear.

"Jim, you all right?" Bones asked.

"Oh, I'm fine," Jim grinned at his friend. "Eager to get back to work, even."

Bones glowered, but Jim saw right through that. The doctor had been worried about him. "Right, I bet."

"It is good to see you well, Captain," Spock said. Sulu and Chekov murmured their assent.

"The Vulcan people wish to convey their gratitude on this matter," Ponak intoned.

Jim assumed his best solemn expression. "You're welcome."

He refrained from adding 'it was my pleasure,' but it was a struggle.

"Jim, let me add my thanks," Ambassador Spock said.

The older Spock stepped forward and Jim held up his hand for the traditional Vulcan gesture of farewell, figuring that the ambassador would want to keep things on a professional level in public. Instead, Spock took his hand and used it to pull Jim closer.

And then he kissed him. Long and hard, with tongue.

In front of everyone.

By the time Spock let him go, Jim was a little dazed and definitely flushed. He raised one eyebrow at Spock, who had the audacity to wink at him. Then Ambassador Spock looked beyond Jim to someone standing on the transporter pads. Even though he'd come to know the Vulcan fairly well in the last few days, Jim couldn't fathom that expression. It seemed like a challenge, but also a warning.

He was pretty sure he knew who it was directed at, though.

Jim needed to clear his throat a couple of times before he could address Spock. "Stay in touch."

"Of course," Spock inclined his head regally, as though he hadn't been tonsil diving just a few moments earlier.

Nodding to Ponak was the best that Jim could do; he didn't trust his voice and could barely look at the man. Luckily, the Vulcan didn't seem to mind. If anything, he appeared more shocked by Spock's action than Jim felt.

Farewells made, Jim turned to the transporter pad. Bones and Sulu were openly grinning, while poor Chekov was beet red and had his eyes firmly pointed towards the ground.

As for Spock, Jim couldn't read the younger version's expression either.

Jim took his place on the pad and nodded to the Vulcan engineer standing by.

"Captain, am I to surmise that your mating with Ambassador Spock was successful?" Spock asked.

The whine that preceded the start of the transport started. Jim took the time to wave and Spock and was delighted when Spock waved back. Before they were engulfed in the tingle of the energy that would take them back to the ship. Jim thought of the perfect reply to Spock's question.

With a great deal of satisfaction, he said, "I have nothing to say on the matter."


~the end~


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