Title: Two Peas in a Pod
Author: Farfalla the Butterfly-Kitten
Email: blueberrysnail @ yahoo
Website: http://spirk.cosmicduckling.com
Rating: G
Archive: ASCEM & AAK/SA. All others, please ask.
Characters: Kirk and Spock from TOS Star Trek (must you really ask, at this point?)
Disclaimer: You know the drill.
Betas: Hypatia and Blue ~ the usual suspects :-P

TWO PEAS IN A POD

The mission had seemed relatively simple. Captain Kirk and First Officer Captain Spock were on board a Melian vessel, negotiating with them over their request for military assistance in their intra-system war against the Sefols. Between them, the two Starfleet captains hoped they could instead negotiate a peace. The fighting was over resources anyway, or had been before it had escalated into xenophobia, and in the nearly infinite galaxy of the Federation, no planet need grow hungry from its own mineral shortcomings.

Both men had misjudged the panicked, restless, and desperate nature of the core of the fighting, and unfortunately a battle with a Sefolian cruiser sprang up even while Kirk was still touring the Melian ship. He found his presence suddenly ignored as Melian crewmembers sprang into action around him. Offering his help too ferociously might be diplomatically difficult for the Federation, and besides, he certainly wasn't expecting the self-destruct order.

"We can't be taken prisoner," the Melian captain condescendingly tried to explain, as if he couldn't figure out why Kirk had dared to think otherwise.

"You... don't have any escape pods?" Kirk was starting to ask, but Spock had an iron grip on his arm and was dragging him away urgently. They scurried down the hallway and before Kirk knew what was happening, he had been stuffed into a tiny compartment lined with chrome. Spock pressed a few buttons by the entrance before he slithered in after him and yanked the door shut.

"What about them?" Kirk asked, wiping sweat from his forehead. The compartment was musty and unpleasant, and he and Spock were squished into each other at the side. The shape of the thing had necessitated their sitting down, but it was still too small even for that.

"They refused," said Spock. "This is not an escape pod. It is intended for cargo delivery to lunar colonies."

"Cargo delivery? Is that why it's so cramped and hot in here? I feel like I'm in a sauna." Kirk's hair was getting a little damp. The back of his neck was probably turning into a swamp.

"Would you like me to get you a towel?" Spock said with classic irony as the cargo pod jettisoned itself. It sprang away from the Melian ship only seconds before the explosion.

The men couldn't see outside the pod, but they felt the explosion's force change their trajectory. A moment of mourning marked the aliens' deaths. "Such a waste!" said Kirk in quiet frustration.

"They are too limited in their outlook to accept the alternative solutions that exist within their own means," remarked Spock.

"So they come to us calling for help that they won't even listen to?" Kirk threw up his hands in defeat, smacking one unintentionally into the pod wall. He winced in pain.

"Let me see it," said Spock, uncurling Kirk's clenched fingers. He methodically massaged Kirk's hand for a few moments.

Kirk sighed. "Thanks, Spock. So... now what do we do? Is there any way to signal the Enterprise? How long before our air supply runs out?"

"The Enterprise will come looking for us once our shuttle does not return on schedule," said Spock. "Unfortunately, our air supply will barely last half the time that we need. I had not anticipated the pod containing so much internal solid material instead of space." His face, as usual, betrayed no distress.

"Can we do anything to conserve the air?" Kirk asked. This was ridiculous. He had never been thrust into such a potentially hopeless situation so suddenly. Barely two minutes had passed since he'd been talking with the Melian captain!

"There are two possibilities," said Spock, taking off his jacket as Kirk had already done. "I can cede the air supply to you, or we can try to save air together by breathing only when we have to."

"Spock!" Kirk exclaimed emotionally. "I'll hold my breath for a minute at a time if I have to. I'm not losing you again!"

"As long as there is a logical alternative, I, too, prefer not to leave your side."

Kirk squeezed his arm. "Nobody's going anywhere. Spock, what can we do to let the Enterprise know-- ahead of time-- that we're sitting out here?"

"Jim, there is practically nothing in here to work with," said Spock.

"Is there anything under this seat?" Kirk struggled to a half-stand, and helped Spock into the space their feet had just occupied.

Spock's eyebrow cheered up when he saw the control panel under the seat. "Fascinating!"

"Why? What is it?"

"An automatic signaling beacon to alert the receiver of the cargo where the pod has landed," said Spock.

"Can we use it to call home?"

"I can periodically disable the signal to form the letters S-O-S," Spock suggested.

"Good! Good. Add the ship's registry number and get to it. And let's start holding our breath."

For an hour they crouched there in silence, barely breathing, as Spock carefully repeated the signal: S-O-S-N-C-C-1-7-0-1-A. The heat stripped them of more clothing. By the time the signaling device finally grew weary of being turned on and off so much that it refused to turn back on, both men were thoroughly shirtless.

"Well, now what?" Kirk wasted a little air to ask.

"If Commander Scott is able to read our signal, we'll be retrieved." said Spock.

"And otherwise... otherwise, that's it?"

"In twenty minutes, Captain."

"They'll find us!" Kirk said solidly. "I trust Mr. Scott." He helped Spock back into the seat they had occupied on the start of their impromptu podflight.

"If the Enterprise does not come within fourteen point three minutes," Spock suddenly said, "the pod is going to self-destruct-- and us with it."

"Why? What happened?"

"Our signal caused malfunctions in its internal thruster machines," said Spock. "An altogether clumsy and flawed technology!" He seemed slightly irritated, almost offended, at the pod.

Kirk had to laugh affectionately. "We might be about to die and you're still worrying about inferior alien vehicles."

Spock looked at him innocently, his face a perfect mask, but they both knew that even under such ridiculous conditions, they both saw the humor in the situation.

Kirk felt a wash of tenderness for his favorite brainiac. "Thanks for saving us, even if it doesn't work."

"Shh, Jim, the air," Spock whispered.

"I know, I just wanted to remind you how important you are in my life, and how much you mean to me."

"T'hy'la..." Spock put a finger to his own lips briefly.

He was right, no talking. Well, they didn't need to talk anyway. Jim wanted to say more, but instead he just pulled Spock into a big, sincere hug.

Time passed.

Nobody came.

Jim showed no external signs of despair, but their slim chances of survival had cast dark shadows over his face. Spock took his hand comfortingly. At least they were together.

In the silence, a communicator beeped. Jim darted for his discarded jacket and pounced upon the little gold delta. "Kirk here!" He grinned at Spock.

"Captain Kirk! Where are you?" Uhura's voice came crisply over the frequency.

"In a Melian cargo pod. We jettisoned it just before their ship was destroyed."

"Destroyed?"

"Tell you later. Beam us up, Commander!"

"Energizing."

Spock grabbed his own jacket just in time. They vaporized, and rematerialized safe and sound back on the Starship Enterprise. Kirk started putting his shirt and jacket back on. "Welcome home," said Uhura.

"Scotty, you got our signal?" Kirk asked, rushing back to the bridge with everybody else in tow.

"Aye," said Mr. Scott. "Mightly clever of you. But with you two, that's certainly nothing new."

"That escape pod's going to self-destruct in two minutes. Put a phaser on it, Scotty. I don't want it scratching the hull."

"Aye, sir." Scotty fired.

The cargo pod burst out of existence in a brilliant flash. The light from the explosion whited out the viewscreen for a tiny stretch of seconds and lit up the room. As it died away it traced a glimmering touch on small bits of metal around the bridge, like Uhura's dangling golden hoop earrings, and the Vulcan characters, worn yet distinct, engraved on Kirk's wedding ring.

~end

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