A phaser blast. A blue and black blur.

But he is not fast enough. Not this time. Pain engulfs me, followed by blackness.

I wake to pain. But it is not physical, and not my own. I reach out a hand, grasping blindly for his, but my hand is pushed away by another.


He is trying to tell me something. To lie still?

The pain increases, ebbs again as Spock realises it has bled through to me. I reach for him again, and am stopped. Again.

Blue eyes catch mine. "Jim, lie still!"

Bones is tending my injuries; he has blocked my pain. But he is no more than peripherally aware of Spock's anguish, doesn't understand my need to ease it.

I need to make him understand.

I search for my voice. "S-sp-ock."

Blue eyes again. "Lie still, Jim. Spock's fine. You can see him soon."

He doesn't understand.

I can sense Spock is near, can see him in my mind trying to find me. Bones wants to fix me up before he lets Spock in. I am gratified that he does this to spare Spock pain, but he is unaware that he causes more harm than good.

I focus my strength. The words are forced and choked, but they are important. "Need... see... Spock."

The blue eyes look away...

And suddenly, Spock is here. He is afraid. Afraid he has failed me, afraid I will blame him, afraid to touch me and find Death lurking, afraid of being afraid. His hands tremble at his sides.

I am the cause of his pain. In awakening those guarded emotions within him that were friendship and love, I also set free the demon emotions that were bound to them, sorrow and grief. And he is ill equipped to deal with them.

I grab his hand... and wince when his agony hits me. I see Bones reach for Spock's shoulder, to pull him away... he must not! I wrench myself away from the dark, tortured eyes long enough to tell Bones that me mustn't touch Spock. Something in my face transmits, and the hand falls away.

I meet the midnight-dark gaze again and am stung by the guilt I see there. He is ashamed at his lack of control, mortified that his pain has touched me.

//You are blameless,// I think to him, making sure my hand is in contact with his telepathically sensitive fingertips. //When you feel pain, I want - I need - you to share it with me. You have always accepted mine.// It is a truth he can not deny.

His mind-touch is tentative, careful. He does not want to hurt. Nor is he fully convinced that I have beaten Death.

Something in my heart lurches at the sheer enormity of his fear, how emotionally dependent on me he has become. Starfleet offers no lifetime guarantees. If I do not die today, I may die tomorrow, or next month. I have no assurances for the future to offer him.

I am suddenly weary. We have played this scene before, and will no doubt play it again. It is inevitable.

Our lives are intertwined, in the way that the moon and the Earth coexist, one life orbiting another. When the Earth is knocked off its axis, the moon is wrenched from its steady orbit. Collision becomes a possibility for both.

Spock has allowed me to become his Earth, and today, his contented orbit has been shaken. He needs to know that the Earth suffered nothing more than a minor earthquake.

I squeeze his fingers, allowing my affection for him to transmit. I need to reach the emotional Spock, the fragile part he's keeping locked away for protection.

A sudden stab of physical pain from somewhere in my body... and the reticence of the mind-touch has gone. Panic has overcome his fear. //T'hy'la, I am here.// His mind-voice is soothing, but I hear the concern.

He places his essence around my pain, cocooning it from my mind. I sense him mentally probing, ascertaining the damage. Instinct makes him begin to summon his strength for the task of Healing. His t'hy'la's pain is his own.

//No, Spock.// I very carefully push him away. I have learned to be exquisitely gentle with the emotional contents of Spock's soul. To no one else does he entrust them. Such honest and total trust, and that much greater a gift because he has been so often hurt.

It is time for him to go. By now, he has satisfied himself of my continued existence, although I know he will fret until I am well. Our communion has taken only a moment, but my strength is waning, and I can sense Bones' almost desperate need to finish healing me.

//Spock, you must go. Bones will look after me.//

Spock, too, senses my diminishing hold on consciousness. //T'hy'la!// Panic and fear return, although not anywhere near to the same level of terror as before.

//Take good care of my ship, Spock. When I wake up, I expect to find everything in order. Do you think you can manage that, Commander?//

I sense indignation.

//Of course, Captain.//

//Because, if you don't think you can cope with that...// I let the thought trail off. And wait.

//You are teasing.//


//Then I will go.// He brushes his mind affectionately against mine and withdraws gently. I feel his hand linger a moment more in mine. I have just enough energy left to give it a soft, reassuring squeeze.

Then he is gone.

Before the blackness completely consumes me once more, I take a moment to examine the warmth left behind in my mind by a friend who does not know that he is as essential to me as I to him. I am a satellite to his Earth; he is the solid rock around which I revolve.

I must tell him that, I think with the final flicker of my conscious mind.

//I know, t'hy'la,// I hear from somewhere, perhaps reality, perhaps a dream.

The world goes dark.


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