Summary: Something goes wrong during an away-mission mind-meld between Kirk and Spock
Thank you to my beta, Gamin Davis.

The Intruder

by Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
blueberrysnail (at) yahoo dot com

The away team had been sampling the alien forest for nearly three hours. Without a complete tricorder scan, tree by tree, there would be no way of finding which trees held the special gene they were looking for. It was a simple gene, but the chemicals it caused the tree to produce were of considerable value to Starfleet as an industrial lubricant. Once the gene was found and isolated, the chemical could be synthesized in a laboratory.

But until they found traces of the compound in enough of the trees, Kirk and his away team were in the unenviable position of wandering through waist-high greenery. Their skin was nearly melting from the heat; the tree canopy was too sparse to allow for much protection by shade.

Kirk collapsed upright against a tree trunk, at the edge of the area his crewmates were working. Spock quickly crashed through the foliage, his long legs toppling angry gnarls of undergrowth as he rushed to Kirk's side.

"Captain? Are you well?" Before Kirk could respond, Spock flipped open the canteen attached to a strap around Kirk's neck and held the mouth to Kirk's lips.

Kirk took the water bottle from Spock's hand and gulped a few healthy swallows. "Thanks, Spock." He shook his head. "I'm all right. I just need a break. I'm telling you, Starfleet should never have told us to rush this. They knew what the climate was like on this planet."

"No doubt some incompetent Starfleet official believed an experienced ship like the Enterprise would be able to provide for any type of unforgiving environment." Spock combed the falling pollen grains out of his hair with his fingers.

"I thought of sending people down here in environmental suits, but I figured that was going too far." Kirk drank some more water. "Maybe we would have been better off."

"Is the water satisfactory in restoring your energy?" Spock asked helpfully.

Kirk looked like he was about to answer, but then suddenly stopped, as if he'd gotten a better idea. His face suffused with a sleek, friendly glow as he said, "Spock?" He peered around at his shipmates, who were all busy examining trees. "Will you meld with me? I need a break from all of.... this." He waved his hand vaguely at the trees.

"Here?"

"Right here! Behind this tree! Just for a minute? Everybody's busy. No one will disturb us."

Spock blinked as he considered the proposition, then nodded. "Very well, Jim, if it will sufficiently rejuvenate you to continue the mission in good health."

"I promise it will." Kirk flashed him a boyish grin.

He leaned back against the tree and continued smiling up at Spock as the Vulcan's fingers slid into position on his face. One finger settled on his temple, one on his cheek, one into his shining brown hair, damp with sweat. "My mind to your mind." Spock said the words with the ease of much practice, and the woods shimmered and faded slightly as their inner selves began to merge.

//You are quite uncomfortable. Why did you not tell me?//

//I can handle it... I should be drinking more water.//

//You are dangerously close to dehydration. You may have my water; Vulcan weather frequently reaches the current temperature, and I am quite used to--//

//BLOOD BLOOD SEEK BLOOD SUCK THE BLOOD FIND THE HEAT SEEK THE HEAT--HEAT IS WHERE THE BLOOD IS--MUST SUCK BLOOD--FOOD//

//Jim?//

//Spock??//

//HUNGRY!!!!//

//Jim, are you ill? Do you require food?//

//*I* didn't say that!!//

//UNDER SKIN IS BLOOD, AND BLOOD IS FOOD.... MUST SUCK....//

Jim's world blurred and snapped into focus several times as Spock's fingers suddenly jerked around on his face, interrupting the continuity of the meld. "Wha--?" Jim gasped in confusion. He felt Spock grip the skin on his forehead in a tight pinch. The Vulcan's nails dug brutally into the base of his hair. Jim cried out in pain, but then he felt Spock's other hand settle on his back in a comforting embrace.

The meld finally cleared and Jim found himself staring down at Spock's fingers, which were held in a clawlike pincer grip around something tiny and black. It had a lot of legs.

Jim looked up at Spock questioningly. "A tick? Here?"

"Or the local approximation," Spock affirmed with a nod. "It was attempting to burrow under your skin and--"

He seemed reluctant to follow, so Jim interrupted mercifully, "And suck my blood? That's certainly what it sounded like it was thinking about."

"Once I realized why another's thoughts were intruding on our privacy, it was easy to remove the tick from your head." Spock crushed the animal and placed it in a specimen jar.

"Those were some pretty scary thoughts there!" Kirk's eyes widened as he shifted against the tree behind him, remembering.

"Would you like to return to the meld? I am sorry it was interrupted, but I have.... taken... revenge on the intruder." Only the lights in his eyes betrayed his humor; his Vulcan mouth barely twitched.

"Yes, Spock, that would be nice." Kirk smiled at him. "And thank you for your quick thinking--with all of that strange stuff about sucking blood and seeking out heat flashing into my mind, I was--I was starting to get a little ticked off!"

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