“Don’t move! Hold on! Computing gravitational pull and…gotcha!” Chekov exclaimed.

Jim slammed hard onto the transporter pad, Sulu right there with him. Sulu blinked at him, then turned to Chekov.

“Thanks.”

Even as he and Sulu moved to get up, the doors of the room opened and Spock rushed in.

“Clear the pad.”

Jim stepped down as Spock stepped up. “Wait. Spock. What are you doing? Are you going down there? Are you nuts? You can’t do that!”

“Watch me.”

Jaw tightening, Jim jumped back onto the pad next to Spock. “Then I’m going too.”

“There is no time to argue, Jim.”

“Then don’t.”

Spock gave a short nod. “Energize.”

They reappeared on Vulcan and before Jim could even think about what Spock planned, he was grabbing Jim’s arm and dragging him toward some ancient looking dwelling.

“The Katric ark,” was all Spock said.

The ground beneath them shook violently. Jim ducked falling debris.

There surrounding artifacts were Spock’s parents and several Vulcan elders.

“Spock! Jim!” Amanda exclaimed.

“The planet only has seconds left. We must evacuate now. Mother now!”

They ran for it, running out of the dwelling, Spock holding on to his mother the entire way. Right next to Jim a giant statue broke apart and landed on the Vulcan running beside him.

Outside, Spock pulled out his communicator. “Spock to Enterprise. Get us out now.”

“Locking on you,” Chekov’s voice. “Don’t move. Stay right where you are now.”

Jim felt the ground falling away. Eyes wide, he saw that Amanda was right on the edge.

“Shit!”

“No!” Spock yelled.

Jim lunged at her, arms ensnaring her waist just as Spock lost his grip on her. The transporter activated and Jim watched as the others disappeared.    

“Jim,” Amanda cried.

“Hang on.” They began to fall as Jim desperately clawed for the edge of the cliff. “Don’t let go.”

“Jim! I…”

Suddenly he felt his particles breaking up and a moment later he reappeared on the transporter, arms tightly around Amanda. She clung to him.

“Oh, oh my.”

“Hey,” Jim whispered. “You’re safe. I’ve got you.”

****

“Have you confirmed that Nero is headed for Earth?” Spock asked Uhura.

“Their trajectory suggests no other destination, Captain.”

“Earth may be his next destination, but we have to assume every Federation planet is a target,” Jim said, sitting in the captain’s chair.

“Out of the chair,” Spock said curtly.

“If the Federation is a target, why not destroy us?” Chekov asked.

Sulu glanced at him. “Why would they? Why waste the weapons? We aren’t a threat.”

“No,” Spock replied. “He wanted me to see the destruction of my home planet.”

Bones brushed past Jim to speak up. “How the hell did they do that? Where did the Romulans get that kind of weaponry?”

“The engineering comprehension necessary to artificially create a black hole may suggest an answer. Such technology could theoretically be manipulated to create a tunnel through space-time.”  

“Damn it, man. I’m a doctor, not a physicist. Are you actually suggesting those Romulans are from the future?”

“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

“Then, what would an angry future Romulan want with Captain Pike?” Jim asked. “What we need to do is catch up to that ship. Disable it, take it over, and get Pike back.”

“A rescue attempt would be illogical. We are outmatched in every way.”

Chekov shook his head. “The ship would have to drop out of warp for us to overtake him.”

“Then, we assign engineering crew to try and boost our warp gear.”

“Remaining power and crew are focused on repairing radiation leaks on the lower decks.”

“Spock, there’s got to be some way.”

He shook his head. “We must gather with the rest of Starfleet to balance the terms of the next engagement.”

Jim sighed in frustration. “There won’t be a next engagement because by the time we’ve gathered, it’ll be too late. If you say he’s from the future, he knows what’s going to happen, so the logical thing is to be unpredictable.”

“You are assume that Nero knows how events are predicted to unfold. To the contrary, his very presence has altered the flow of history, beginning with the attack on the USS Kelvin, and culminating in the events of today. Thereby creating an entire new chain of events that cannot be anticipated by either party. Whatever our lives might have been, our destinies have changed. Mr. Sulu, plot a course to the Laurentian system warp factor three.”

“Spock, no,” Jim pleaded. “Running back to the rest of the fleet is a massive waste of time.”

“Captain Pike issued orders when he left…”

“He also ordered us to go back and get him. Spock, you’re captain now. You have to be…”

“I am aware of my responsibilities, Mr. Kirk.”

“Every second we waste, Nero is getting closer to his next target. I will not allow us to go backwards instead of hunting Nero down!”

Spock’s jaw clenched as he glared at Jim. “Security, get him off the bridge.”

The security guards bore down on Jim, who struck one in the face.

“Jim,” Bones cried. “No.”

Spock approached Jim, hand out, Jim shook his head.

“Get him off this ship.”

“Jim, wake up. Sweetheart, wake up.”

Jim gasped and sat up straight.

Amanda smiled. “There you are. Back with me?”

Jim looked around the hospital room, breathing heavily.

“Deep breath, Jim. Let it out. Inhale, exhale. There you go.” She squeezed his hand. He hadn’t realized she was holding it. “Better?”

Jim nodded, swallowing.

“Bad one?”

“A memory dream.”

She perched herself on the edge of his bed. “You said my name. Spock’s too.”

“I was dreaming of when I rescued you before Vulcan was destroyed,” Jim admitted. “And after.”

“Understandable. Humans have to process these things somehow, don’t we? I’ve had a few uneasy dreams lately myself.” She paused. “Some where you were not there and I fell to my death.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It is no matter. You haven’t been taking care of yourself. Here you are in the hospital.”

“I’m being released today.”

“So I have been told. You’ll come stay with us, of course.”

Jim shook his head. “No.”

“Now, Jim. There’s no point in arguing with me.”

“I agree. Amanda, I guess you haven’t heard, but, uh, Spock and I aren’t…we’re not together anymore.”

“What?” Her hands went to her face. “You-you broke up with him?”

“Huh? No. No. He…well, I mean. Sorta. But he was going to…”

“Spock wouldn’t have ended your relationship,” she insisted. “He loves you.”

“Maybe he did once. But he woke up.” Jim paused. “Or I did. Whichever. The point is, Amanda, the events surrounding everything Nero did, well, it-it was too much for Spock. He’s resigned from Starfleet.”

“What?”

“Yeah. Pike told me. Not Spock. And he’s going to go help with the Vulcan colony.” He moistened his lips with his tongue. “I can’t even blame him.”

“Well, I can. None of this makes any sense, Jim.”

“How can it not? I’m sorry. I am. I really really wanted us to be a-a family for-forever, but it’s just, it’s not going to happen. Sometimes love doesn’t survive something like this. And it hasn’t now. I mean, I’m always going to care about him. So much. But surely you can see that it does make sense.”

Amanda stood. “What I’m going to do is bring Spock here.”

“Please don’t.”

“Jim…”

“Please?” He pleaded with her. “This is all hard enough on him as it is. He’s lost so much and I don’t want to add anything else to his pain. So, please, don’t bother him. Okay? Not about me.”

She bit her lip and Jim could tell she wanted very much to argue with him. But instead she sighed, and nodded, then moved forward to give him an all too brief hug.

As she pulled back she said, “Are you sure you don’t want to come home with me?”

He smiled. It was forced. “I’m sure. I’ve got the apartment. I’ll be fine until the Enterprise goes out.”

“Okay.” Amanda walked to the door of his room. Then turned to fix him with her motherly stare. “And I don’t care what you say or think, Jim. I know my son. He loves you.”       

As soon as she left, Jim got out of bed and got ready to leave. Bones had said he’d be by later in the day to release him, but Jim figured he was okay to release now. He didn’t need Bones mothering him anymore than he’d needed Amanda. He was going to be fine on his own. He’d been that way before and had lived through it.

The hover cab pulled up in front of his apartment building. Jim’s hand went to his throat.

“Come on, Spock. Your whole planet was just destroyed. We barely rescued your parents. Some of the elders we tried to help died. Your own grandmother was killed. You have to feel something about all of that. You’re not a robot despite what others say.”

“I will not allow you to goad me into some emotional outburst.”

“Are emotions so shameful? Do you even love me? Spock, your mother is human. Don’t you feel love for her? She’s got to be devastated and you’ve not even said one word to her since you came back to the ship. I’m starting to wonder if you even love her or anybody. Maybe they’re right. You aren’t even upset. Did you see his ship? Did you see what he did?”

“Yes, of course.”

“You’ve said before that fear is necessary for command. Are you afraid or not?”

“I will also not allow you to lecture me on the merits of emotions.”

“Then why don’t you stop me, Spock? What is it like not to feel heartbreak or anger? Does it even compute to you how close you came to losing her? Losing both of us?”

“Back away from me,” Spock said coldly.

“You don’t love her!”

“Mister, we’re here.”

Jim realized the cab driver had been trying to get his attention for a while.

“Oh. Thanks.” Jim smiled. Hit the pay with his credit chip, added a tip, and got out of the cab. He stood on the sidewalk, watching it leave.

Nothing lasts forever, except memories.

He entered the building, walked up the stairs instead of the lift, and then headed to the third floor where his apartment was.

He swiped his hand across the scanner and the door popped open. He was about to take out his communicator to let Bones know he’d left the hospital when he saw someone standing by the sliding glass door to the balcony.

Jaw dropping open, Jim stared at the broad back, clad in a charcoal gray sweater. “Spock?”

Spock turned then to face him. He looked…wrecked. Dark eyes wet. Something was clutched in his hand though Jim could not see what it was.

“Ashaya,” he whispered.