elles_letters: (Perfect fit!YunJae)
[personal profile] elles_letters
<-- Back to part one

Chapter 9: A Healing Touch

The angry holocaptain had ordered the bridge crew to evacuate and a small crowd rushed to the bridge's four turbolifts. Yunho cursed upon discovering the lifts unresponsive. Undeterred, he pulled open the door leading to the Jeffries tube and quickly crawled inside.

Jaejoong clambered after Yunho, struggling not to lose his composure in the smothering confines of the narrow tube. The tubes were nearly pitch black, and Jaejoong could barely hear over the sounds of sirens and frantic crowds that echoed throughout the ship. After a few minutes of crawling, his disorientation began to make him feel nauseated.

"We are we going?" he shouted at Yunho. Uncertain of how far the other man was in front of him, Jaejoong was surprised to hear his voice come from only five feet from in front of him.

"We're heading to the ship's guest quarters. That's where my family is."

"How long will it take us to reach them?"

"They're 15 decks down on the other side of the ship. There are escape pods another two decks below that."

A couple seconds later, the calm voice of the computer spoke again.

Warning: Warp core breach in three minutes.

"Do you think we will make it in time?" Jaejoong asked.

Yunho didn't answer, and Jaejoong decided not to press it. He followed behind, struggling not to get left behind in the dark maze of tubes. Yunho was being reckless, Jaejoong decided. It was foolish to be crawling around the insides of this dying ship to look for two people who, if they had any sense, had more than likely already sought escape themselves.

"Captain, what if they've already left the ship? How will you find which pod they're in?"

"Stop talking, Jaejoong," Yunho snapped.

Warning: Warp core breach in two minutes.

Jaejoong wanted the noise to stop, he wanted the captain to stop acting so brash and he wanted for some blessed light to reach the interior of the dark tube. He was so miserable that he didn't notice that Yunho had stopped moving and ran right into his back.

He looked up, a sudden rush of heat blasting over his skin. He was finally able to see Yunho again, his face glowing in the light of a fire. Flames burned less than two feet in front of them behind a barely stable emergency containment field. The energy field protected them from most of the fire's heat and flames, but prevented them from going any farther. They'd hit a dead end.

"No," Yunho said at first, the word broken and quiet. "No!" Yunho punched wall of the Jeffries tube, and the loud bang reverberated and echoed in the darkness.

"Captain," Jaejoong began softly. "What do we do?"

Warning: Warp core breach in 90 seconds.

"Computer," Yunho said, voice rough. "Freeze program." He turned away from the flames. He sat, back leaning against the wall of the tube, and seemed to stare off into space. Jaejoong hovered nearby, unsure if Yunho would welcome his approach.

"Who knows how big this fire is," Yunho said softly to himself. "It could take all our time just to get around it. The tubes are the only way around the ship. If the lifts are down, the transporters would be down. I wouldn't be able to beam to another part of the ship. I can't save them." He looked up, meeting Jaejoong's eyes. "You saved an entire ship and I ... I can't save two people."

"The circumstances were not the same. You were in more imminent danger than we were."

“Sometimes," Yunho began with a broken laugh. "I wonder if it would have hurt less if they’d been assimilated. At least then they’d be alive.”

"Alive, but not living. And then once the Borg deemed them no longer useful, they would be deactivated."

Deactivated. Murdered, in other words. The image of his sister and fianceé as cold, dead drones came unbidden to his mind's eye and his heart twisted painfully. Jaejoong was right; assimilation would have destroyed the very essence of who they were. At least they got to die with their individuality, their Humanity, intact. A small desperate sob escaped his throat. They deserved so much more than that.

Jaejoong sat down beside him. "You're hurting again," he said softly.

Yunho squeezed his eyes shut. He refused to cry. He was done crying over this. This whole futile exercise felt foolish now. There was nothing that could bring them back. What good did he think would come of this?

"Tell us," Jaejoong implored.

"Tell you what?" Yunho asked, his voice a harsh whisper as he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

"The doctor has informed us that talking about traumatic incidents can help alleviate some of the pain they cause. That's why we came to you with our fears. Now let us— let me help you."

“No, Jaejoong. There's nothing that you or anyone can do to help, and I really don’t want to talk about it at all.”

“Repression does not appear to be a recommended coping technique.”

Yunho inhaled deeply, eyes still closed. “Well, it’s what has worked best.”

Jaejoong scooted closer, until his side was pressed along Yunho's. He grasped the other's hand and held it awkwardly. "That is unacceptable, Captain," he said quietly. "We don't like to see you in pain." He placed the palms of their hands together and laced their fingers. Giving the man's larger hand a firm squeeze, he held their joined hands close to his chest.

Yunho winced as the metal of Jaejoong's wrist implant dug into his skin. He could feel the press of the thin filaments that webbed out from his palm and laced up his long fingers.

“Do they hurt?” he asked softly, voice quiet.

"What?" Jaejoong asked, turning to look at him.

"Your implants. Do they hurt?"

The other man shook his head. "No. Not anymore."

"Did they?"

"When we first received them, yes."

"When you were assimilated?"

Jaejoong shook his head again. "We were assimilated as a child. We didn't get these implants until we had matured."

"Well, then did it hurt to be assimilated?"

“We do not remember our own assimilation,” Jaejoong offered simply.

“You must have observed a few.”

“10,456,722 to be precise.”

Yunho’s stomach twisted uncomfortably as he tried to comprehend the sheer number. “You assimilated 10 million people?”

“I observed the assimilation of 10 million people. The number of people I assimilated personally is quite lower.”

“Well, what did you observe?”

“There was always a struggle until the new drone was connected to the hive mind.”

“What, then they were suddenly cooperative?”

“No, but their individual will was … lost. Crushed by the billions of voices in the Collective."

“What else do you remember?”

Jaejoong looked away, obviously uncomfortable. “Nothing from before I left the maturation chamber. Everything once I did.”

“Maturation chamber?”

“That’s where children are placed until they able to be assimilated into fully developed drones,” Jaejoong explained.

“You spent your childhood in some chamber?”

"How else would it have been spent? We were of no use to anyone until we were fully developed."

In the flickering darkness of the tube, Jaejoong could make out Yunho's face as the anger softened into heartbreak. "You would have spent it the way you wanted."

"There is no use mourning over something that cannot be changed, Captain."

"I can still hate them," Yunho said, softly.

"We understand."

Yunho shook his head. "No, Jaejoong, I … I hate them. I want them all to suffer. I want them all to be destroyed. I want for every single one of them to get crushed by a collapsing star or irradiated until they bleed our of their damn implants. To be ripped apart like they do to others." Yunho's voice had grown painfully harsh and Jaejoong gave his hand another squeeze.

He took a shaky breath as he looked over at the other man. "But," he continued, "but then I look at you and I get … I feel so … guilty."

"You have done nothing but help us, Captain," Jaejoong murmured. "There is no need for you to feel guilt about your hatred for the Borg."

Yunho shook his head. "I don't feel guilty because I hate them; I feel guilty because I—" Yunho stopped himself short.

Jaejoong bit his lip. "You what?"

"I ... need you. I don't know how to explain it," Yunho tried to pull away from Jaejoong's grasp, embarrassed by his own admission. Jaejoong's grip was steadfast, however. He wasn't letting the captain go anywhere. "You give me hope," he said softly. He turned to stare in to the darkness of the Jeffries tube. "It sounds stupid, but the only reason I even thought this program was a good idea was because of you. You've fought the Borg, you've survived assimilation, you've ... made my nightmares seem like something I could overcome."

"We just did what you asked us to," Jaejoong replied. "Everything we've done was because of you."

Yunho turned back to look at him, the same indecipherable look on his face that Jaejoong had been puzzling over for days. It didn't linger as long this time and Yunho gave him a small grin before sighing and closing his eyes. Jaejoong watched over him as he sat in a morose silence.

"Captain?" Jaejoong asked a few minutes later, when he could no longer take the stifling confines of the Jeffries tube.

"Hmmm?" Yunho replied. Their fingers still entwined, he ran his thumb over the back of Jaejoong's hand.

"I still want lunch."

Yunho laughed. It was weak and a bit sad, but Jaejoong relished it all the same.

"Computer, end program." The tube disappeared at Yunho's command, leaving the two men sitting on the floor of the empty holodeck. Yunho stood, pulling Jaejoong up behind him, and was rendered speechless when Jaejoong stepped closer to wrap him in an awkward hug.

"What are you doing?" he whispered. He fidgeted in Jaejoong's too-tight embrace.

"I want to help you the way you helped me," Jaejoong answered, warm breath tickling Yunho's ear. "You held me and it made me feel better." He held Yunho tighter.

"Captain, we don't know anything about family or responsibility. But we know you, and your life is valuable." He swallowed past the lump in his throat. He didn't understand why it was proving increasingly difficult to talk nor why his eyes were beginning to feel as if they were burning. "As Borg, we never understood the attention other species paid to individuals. Why they fought us so hard. But ... we get it with you. We have known the minds of billions of individuals ... and none of them are as special to us, to me, as you."

Hesitantly, Yunho returned the hug, wrapping his arms around the other's thin torso. He hadn't realized how badly he'd needed to hear that until that moment. How badly he needed someone to tell him that his life was important too.

"Thank you," he said. "For everything."

When Jaejoong released him, he didn't let go. Instead, he pressed his body closer, looking up to stare into his dark eyes. All the things Jaejoong knew, all the people he had met, none of it was as important as him. It was humbling. He pressed their foreheads close, the cool metal of Jaejoong's eye implant sending a small shiver down his back.

“What are you doing?” Jaejoong whispered. He sounded unsure and a bit afraid, but he didn’t let go of Yunho’s waist.

Noses pressed close and lips hovering close together, Yunho gave a small grin. "Flirting," he whispered.

Jaejoong swallowed, and Yunho watched as his Adam’s apple bobbed up and then down. "We ... I don't know how to do that."

A warm hand settled on Jaejoong's neck and long fingers threaded themselves in his hair. "I'll show you," Yunho whispered before leaning forward to press his lips against Jaejoong's. They tasted better than any strawberry. He could feel the other man stiffen in his arms and he held on tighter.

Jaejoong knew the basics of Human sexuality, even if he didn't always understand the more social subtleties. He knew that what he and the captain were doing was something couples often did to show affection. He knew the mechanics behind physical intimacy and everything it entailed. Still, the rush of sensations that he felt nearly threatened to overwhelm him. The feel of the captain's lips against his, the press of his warm skin, the fingers that scratched gently at his neck. He'd never in his life, in his entire existence with the Collective, felt another person's being like this. It shook him to his core.

Yunho ended the gentle kiss and pressed his forehead against Jaejoong's, staring into his eyes. Pupils blown wide, the other man simply stared back. Soon, however, a red flush stole across his face and he glanced — none to subtly, either — at Yunho's lips. Encouraged, Yunho placed a quick chaste kiss on his lips. When Jaejoong didn’t get it, he kissed him again. This time, tilting his head to fit better against his. It was short — lasting no more than a second or two. He pulled back again, and waited, eyes inviting.

A moment later, the tension in the former drone's body seemed to drain out of his understanding dawned on him. He moved forward to kiss Yunho, copying his moves exactly, tilting Yunho’s head and pressing his lips in the same way the captain had done to him. His kiss was awkward and eager, and his hands held on to Yunho too firmly in an attempt to get closer. It was exactly how Yunho would imagine a Borg would kiss.

They went on like that, a slow, exploratory back and forth where Yunho demonstrated and Jaejoong repeated. To his credit, Jaejoong was a fast learner. When Yunho’s tongue swiped across his lips, his responded in kind. When Yunho’s hands traced the long, flat band of wires along Jaejoong’s spine, he could feel fingers trailing their way up his back.

Emboldened by Jaejoong’s touch, he wanted more, to feel more. He pulled away, and the heat he felt when his eyes came upon Jaejoong’s kiss-swollen lips sent him fumbling for more. Nimble fingers began undoing the buttons of Jaejoong's large navy blue tunic. Nervously, Jaejoong shrunk back until his back hit the wall of the holodeck. He clenched the collar of his shirt closed and looked away, shame marring his features.

"Don't, Captain. We are damaged."

"I've seen your implants before," Yunho whispered gently.

"Not all of them." Jaejoong wouldn't look at him. "The doctor was unable to safely remove the implants that protect our heart and lungs. Our chest still looks Borg. I don't want you to see."

Yunho slowly approached the other man. Gently taking his hands from the front of his now twisted shirt front, he raised the left one to his lips and kissed the top of the implant that encased his wrist. He brushed his lips along the thin lines that traveled down his and to the tips of his fingers, eyes locked onto Jaejoong's the whole time.

When he finished that, he leaned in, pressing a line of kisses along the top of the implant above Jaejoong's eye. As he trailed more kisses along his hairline, down his jaw and into his neck, his hands hovered above Jaejoong's heart.

"Please, baby?" he asked, warm breath tickling Jaejoong's throat. "Let me see you. Please?" It took a moment and a few more soft kisses, but he heard the quiet sigh of Jaejoong's assent. His fingers made quick work of opening his shirt, and this time, Jaejoong didn't fight him.

Jaejoong was deathly pale, the result of a lifetime spent in a dark Borg cube in space. His wounds, many of which were still healing, were ugly and painful-looking. Scars ran in ragged parallel lines under his collarbone and across his dark nipples. In the center, right about his heart, sat a flat, dense piece of metal. It was attached to his body through sharps edges which pierced his skin.

Yunho placed a gentle hand onto the warm metal and was surprised to feel Jaejoong's heart beating underneath. Easing the shirt off his shoulders, he ran his hands along Jaejoong’s back and immediately felt the chill of the long, flat implant that lay parallel to his spinal cord. He felt, as well as heard, the quick intake of breath Jaejoong took when he laid his palm flat against the small of his back.

"You feel Human to me," he said quietly, pressing close to whisper into the shell of Jaejoong's ear. His hand moved lower, fingers splaying across his lower back. "Warm and Human." He brought his hand back up and ran a thumb along the edge of the large chest implant, frowning at the feel of hard metal against soft flesh. He paused when he felt Jaejoong’s hands pressing against the muscles in his back tentatively. Dark eyes looked into his, asking permission.

“You can touch,” he whispered, the air they shared hot and smothering. “Learn what a Human feels like.” And as Jaejoong's touch grew more bold, he melted, pressing himself into the other man, breathing quickening as his uniform and undershirt were pulled up and hands slid underneath. Jaejoong’s touch was a paradox. Hot flesh surrounded by cool metal. A shy hand that knew the muscles and bones of the body as well as any doctor. He shuddered as those hands swooped low coming around his waist and circling around the skin at his navel.

Fingers skimmed along the edge of his waistband and Yunho couldn’t take the teasing for long. He unzipped the black slacks and loosened his pants. His breath began to come in quick gasps as he felt Jaejoong’s unique touch trail along his sides and dip low on his hips.

“You are so fragile, Captain. There is nothing protecting you from harm.”

“Yunho,” he corrected. “That’s my name. Call me Yunho.”

“Yunho,” Jaejoong repeated. "We want to protect you, Yunho."

Yunho leaned forward for another kiss and whispered his name against parted lips. Jaejoong, Jaejoong, thank you, Jaejoong.

Cool hands continued to run up and down his sides, and Yunho bucked suddenly into Jaejoong when a hand strayed to low and brushed along the front of his clothed cock. Jaejoong's eyes met his, curiosity evident in their dark depths. Hand shoved deeper into the front of Yunho's pants, he ran his palm slowly along the thin fabric covering his manhood. A low, breathy moan escaped his lips as he thrust uselessly into Jaejoong's hand.

"We did not expect that," he said, slightly in awe of the power he had over Yunho.

"Neither did I," Yunho laughed. He pressed a kiss into Jaejoong's smiling face, this one longer and deeper than any of their previous shy caresses.

So focused on each other as they were, neither heard the chime of the holodeck doors as they whooshed open.

"Captain," a familiar scolding voice stated.

Startled, Yunho released Jaejoong quickly before moving to stand protectively in front of him. With an embarrassed after thought, he zipped his pants back up and fixed his uniform shirt.

"Commander," he began, using his intimidating captain's voice.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” Changmin said. (He didn't sound very sorry.) His glare softened as he took in Jaejoong’s unabashedly happy face peeking from over Yunho's shoulder. “You have call.”

“Take a message and have them call back.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t do that. The call is from Earth. It’s Starfleet Command.”

A/N: DAMN, YOU TWO. FINALLY. Sighs. I'd like to thank first the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ligerliger for her help in getting this mess of a chapter finished and Alicia Keys for producing this song, as it was what helped me get through the writer's block that plagued me in the smutty final scene.

We're rounding the bend and nearing the end, guys. <3 Thanks for reading. -3-
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