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The first Kirk knew anything was wrong was from a degree of tension he sensed between Uhura and Spock when they were sharing a shift on the bridge.  Not that they were being in any way unprofessional, just that their normally smooth interactions seemed stilted.  If the two of them had had a lover’s tiff, it was the first time in the three years since their mission began that any outward manifestation of it was detectable.

The second indication came a few days after he’d noticed the tension.

“Captain,” Uhura said, “I’m picking up a faint signal, but am unable to determine the source.”

Kirk swiveled his chair around.  “Spock?  Any ideas?”  There was a pause of a few seconds during which time Kirk began to get the distinct impression he hadn’t been heard, as the First Officer appeared not to be reacting to his request for more data.  “Spock?” Kirk prompted a little more loudly.

The Vulcan almost jumped, causing Kirk to frown.  He got up and walked over to the science station, standing close.  “Spock, are you okay?” he asked, quietly.

The placid face looked up at him.  “I am well, Captain.”

Something in Kirk’s gut told him that wasn’t an honest answer, but he ignored it for the time being, not willing to confront Spock when he had no actual evidence to go on.  “Then can you tell me any more about what Uhura’s picking up?”

Spock’s eyes momentarily flicked across to the comm. station and then back to his own console, not meeting his captain’s piercing gaze.  “I was focused on running diagnostics of the secondary warp core containment field which Mr. Scott informed me earlier was showing intermittent fluctuations.”

I didn’t hear, Kirk translated.  From the years they’d worked together, he’d never known Spock to miss anything, no matter how much he was focused, as Vulcans were more than capable of directing their attention to several complex streams of information simultaneously – a feat that had saved the Enterprise on more than one occasion and had left Kirk believing that all starships should have Vulcan execs.

“Uhura’s picking up some kind of signal.  Do you have anything on scanners?”  Kirk stepped back so as not to crowd Spock while he ran his analysis.

After a moment Spock glanced up at Kirk.  “Sensors show a harmonic resonance of a supernova that originates outside the galaxy.”  The first officer then moved his gaze to Uhura, his eyebrow raised as if signifying disbelief.

Kirk looked at Uhura too, to find her studiously gazing at the screen at her station.  “Thank you, Mr. Spock.”

What the fuck’s that about? he wondered as he returned to his seat.  Uhura picked up those kind of signals all the time and had never before had difficulty interpreting them.  Which meant one of two things.  Either Uhura was dropping the ball, or she was subtly letting him know that Spock was.  His money was on the latter, though he had no idea what could be the cause.

After shift, Kirk headed towards sickbay.

“Captain,” Chapel greeted him.  “Dr. McCoy’s just administering some medication to a patient – he shouldn’t be a minute.”

Kirk went and took up his habitual seat in his friend’s office and drummed his fingers as he waited.

The doctor entered and glanced at his chronometer.  “I thought we weren’t meeting until 19:00 for dinner.  You’re early.”

“Something’s not right with Spock,” Kirk responded, not bothering with preliminaries.  “He’s been acting odd the last few days, but I couldn’t put my finger on it—”

“He always acts odd,” McCoy interrupted as he took his seat.  “He’s Vulcan.”

“Well, odder, then.  Today he completely missed a discussion between Uhura and me and my request to him for more information.  He’s never done that before.  It was like he was preoccupied with something.  And what’s more, I got the impression Uhura used the whole discussion thing as a way of letting me know something’s up with him without outright saying it, and maybe betraying her boyfriend.”

“Can’t say as I’ve noticed any difference in him.  He’s not exactly the easiest person to read.”

Kirk always found that fact surprising.  The doctor was empathic and normally excellent at reading visual body-language cues as part of his diagnosis, yet the expressiveness Spock showed, in his Vulcan way, that Kirk rarely had difficulty reading, was apparently lost on McCoy.

“I asked him if there was anything wrong, and when he denied it, I didn’t buy it.  Can you get him to come in for a check-up?”

McCoy leaned back in his chair and folded his arms.  “You’re not giving me much to go on, Jim.  I can’t just demand a check-up when he isn’t showing any clear sign of illness or stress.  You know he’ll call me on it.  Maybe he’s got stuff on his mind.”

Kirk’s gut instinct told him otherwise.  “He’s definitely looking peaky.”

McCoy arched an eyebrow.  “Peaky.”

Kirk huffed.  “Just humor me, Bones, will you?”

The doctor scowled and Kirk knew why.  He and Spock were the hardest to pin down for any kind of scheduled visits to sickbay.  He knew it was going to be a battle for his friend.

“Okay, but if it turns out there’s nothing wrong, you can buy me a bottle of real bourbon next Starbase we stop at.”

Kirk grinned and stood, feeling confident he’d never have to make that purchase.  “You’re on, Bones!  I’m heading to the gym.  See you at 19:00.”

-=-=-

It was the following morning that Spock got his summons.  Kirk grinned to himself at McCoy’s strategy.  It was far harder for the first officer to come up with an excuse not to go when the whole of the bridge crew had heard the message than if the doctor had simply left him a message on his personal console.  It didn’t stop Spock attempting to wiggle out of it, Kirk noticed.

“Doctor, I am not in need of a health screen.”

“When was the last time you had one, Commander?”

“I am currently working on a project that cannot be interrupted—”

“It can, Mr. Spock,” Kirk overruled.  He swung his chair around.  “A brief visit to sickbay won’t be a problem.”  He had to work hard not to smile, recognizing the kind of antics he himself used to wriggle out of official visits to medical.

“Captain—”

“Dismissed, Mr. Spock,” Kirk said firmly.

Reluctant didn’t even begin to describe the way in which the Vulcan made his way to the turbolift.  Kirk glanced at Uhura and saw her frown as she watched her partner depart.

Half an hour later, McCoy called.  “Jim, when’s Spock going to get here.  I’ve got better things to do than to wait around—”

Kirk cut off the rant.  “He left here over thirty minutes ago.  I take it he didn’t go to you.  One minute.  Computer, what is the current location of Commander Spock?”

“Commander Spock is located in his quarters.”

Kirk felt a knot in his stomach – something felt very wrong.  “There’s your answer Bones.  Track him down, will you, and report back.”

“Yes, sir,” the doctor replied.  “Should I take him a bowl of plomeek soup, while I’m about it?”

Kirk grinned.  “I’m sure he’d appreciate it.”

The answer was a grunt followed by the termination of the connection.

Fifteen minutes later, Kirk had more evidence that something was wrong with Spock, but no more information as to what it was.

“He threw it at you?” Kirk said, gaping in disbelief at what remained of a medical tricorder on the doctor’s desk.

“To be more accurate, he threw it at the wall.  I’d like to think it wasn’t his intention to hit me with it.”

“Did you get any readings before he got hold of it?”

“Not that I saw,” he said, sifting through the tricorder’s innards.  He held up a small chip and inserted it into his console.  “But if this wasn’t damaged, it’ll show the last readings taken.”

Kirk walked around the desk so he could see, though he wasn’t certain if he’d be able to actually interpret any of the data.  He glanced at the figures, but with Spock’s physiology, they were meaningless.

“Well?”

“I want a second opinion.”

Kirk’s heart sank.  “So there is something wrong.  Is it serious?”

Bones leaned towards the comm. panel.  “Geoff, can you come to my office.”  He glanced up at Kirk.  “I don’t know, Jim.  M’Benga’s the expert on Vulcans.”

As they waited, Kirk found himself fiddling with the bits of tricorder and forced his hands behind his back while they waited for the other doctor.  His worry wasn’t assuaged when M’Benga looked over the data and the two men exchanged what he could only describe as a meaningful look.

McCoy closed the door to his office as M’Benga took a seat.  Over the course of the next half hour, Kirk learned all that was known to outworlders about Vulcans and the Pon Farr mating cycle.  According to M’Benga, since what was left of the decimated Vulcan population had relocated to T’Khasuzh – their name for what everyone else was calling New Vulcan – the information he was sharing was considerably more detailed than it had been.

Kirk had had to consciously stop his jaw from gaping open on occasion, finding it difficult to equate the proud, logical race with the uncontrollable biological mating drive described to him.  Clearly his preconceptions of Vulcans was skewed.

-=-=-

Kirk hated using the command override, but Spock’s refusal to open his door left him with little choice.  Thank goodness the corridor along which the officers’ quarters were located wasn’t on the way to anywhere and was usually pretty quiet.

When the door opened, Kirk was hit by a blast of heat.  Spock was lying on his back on his bed, the fingers of both hands forming a steeple over his chest.  The first time Kirk had gone into the Vulcan’s quarters, he’d been surprised at how lavishly it was decorated, with heavy red velvet drapes on the walls, and Vulcan artifacts including weaponry scattered around.

“I did not invite you in, Captain,” Spock said, apparently staring at something interesting on the ceiling.

Kirk walked up to the end of the bed.  “I don’t recall giving you permission to stand down from your shift, Commander.”  He’d decided being direct would be the best approach.  “I’m not going to ask why you didn’t report to sickbay as ordered, or why you destroyed an expensive piece of equipment.  McCoy took enough of a reading for us to know what the problem is.”

Spock suddenly sat upright and the look he threw Kirk could only be described as menacing.  With an adrenaline spike, the captain took an involuntary step back, his body tensing.  With Spock behaving unpredictably, this was not a good time to be surrounded by lethal weapons, he realized.

“Then you know I must return to T’Khasuzh.”

“Why?  Uhura’s here, she—”

“—is not my wife,” Spock finished, cryptically.

“Your…”  Kirk cast his mind back to what M’Benga had said.  Take a mate or die.  Since Uhura was his mate, what difference did it make if they were married or not?

“Explain,” Kirk ordered.

“I must return to the colony to meet my wife at the appointed place.”

Kirk’s mind worked on trying to fit the pieces together that weren’t making the picture he’d imagined.  “Not Uhura?”

“My betrothed, T’Pring.”

Kirk felt like he was in some weird dream.  Spock was betrothed – clearly she’d survived her planet’s destruction – and he needed to get to the colony to marry her and have wild sex.  Where the hell did that leave Uhura?  He had to ask.

“The lieutenant was aware of my status,” Spock answered, staring at the floor.

No wonder there’d been that tension on the bridge.  Of course, with this whole ritual, according to M’Benga, shrouded in secrecy, she hadn’t been able to simply tell her captain what was going on.  Maybe she didn’t know all of it beyond the fact he’d terminated whatever it was they’d had going between them.  He’d long gotten used to the idea of them as a couple and had assumed at some point they’d marry.

Whatever, Spock was a far darker horse than Kirk had imagined, with a fiancée back home and a girlfriend on the ship.  Talk about have your cake and eat it, he thought with wry amusement.  Even he’d never two-timed any of his partners, well apart from that one time when he was sixteen and had been dating Macy and his brother’s friend, Steve, had offered him a blow-job.

“I’ll contact StarFleet and request to route via the colony to drop you off.”

Spock stared silently at the floor.  Thanks are illogical, the words reverberated around his head.  Kirk left, taking a deep breath of the cooler air once outside the Vulcan’s quarters as he considered the situation.  Fuck.

Kirk’s appeal to HQ, backed up by the CMO’s medical report, to divert to the Vulcan colony to get treatment for a sick first officer, was upheld.  Once it had been established that it wasn’t an immediate life-threatening condition, Enterprise was ordered to stop off at Starbase 14 to pick up supplies the colony had requested.  Knowing time was of the essence, the delay would mean traveling at a higher warp factor to meet the three-day deadline M’Benga and he had agreed, and that would mean higher fuel consumption which he’d have to justify.  He pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache coming on.

-=-=-

The evening before their scheduled arrival at the colony, Kirk found himself once again having to override the lock on his first officer’s cabin door.  He’d had no contact with Spock, choosing to leave him messages containing details of their orders to the Starbase and their scheduled time of arrival at the colony, which he’d confirmed with the Vulcan authorities.  Ambassador Sarek, he was informed, was off-planet.

When the door slid open, if anything, the heat seemed higher than it had before and the air was thick with a cloying incense.  Spock was on the floor, his legs neatly folded beneath him in what Kirk assumed was a meditative posture.

“Spock,” Kirk said when the Vulcan appeared not to notice his presence.  When he got no reaction, he moved to sit cross-legged in front of his first officer and repeated the name, this time reaching out and touching his arm.

Spock’s eyes snapped open, regarding him menacingly, as he found his wrist taken in an iron grip.

“Do not touch me,” Spock growled, releasing his arm.

Kirk fought not to rub where it felt like his bones had been almost crushed and kept his eyes focused on Spock’s face.

“We’ll be there tomorrow.  Is there anything you need from me?”

“Need?”  The manner in which the word was repeated, the slight tilt of Spock’s head in consideration, it was as though it was a new concept for him.  “I do not believe I require any more than you are providing, Captain.”

“I don’t know how Vulcan marriage ceremonies go, but on Earth it usually involves family and friends.”  Kirk had been thinking about the situation and didn’t like the idea of just dropping off Spock to his fate and leaving him to it.  While the first officer had been an uptight asshole at the start of his mission, after the many sometimes life-threatening challenges he and his senior officers had faced together in the past three years, they had bonded as a team and he knew they all regarded Spock as a friend as well as a colleague.

“You wish to accompany me.”  Spock said it as a statement rather than a question.

That wasn’t quite what he’d meant to imply.  “Well yes, but not necessarily just me—”

“I will permit you to attend,” Spock cut in, the words said with a finality Kirk knew brooked no argument.

Kirk licked his upper lip where beads of sweat were forming in the heat of the room and was reminded how hot the colony was going to be.  M’Benga wasn’t too clear on the finer details, but he was able to confirm marriage ceremonies took place outdoors.  The last thing he needed was to get sunstroke.  “Thank you, Spock.  I’d be honored.  How long is the ceremony?”

“It is brief.”

Made sense, Kirk thought.  If Vulcans were usually in Pon Farr when they married, then consummation – thereby satisfying the mating drive – would presumably be imperative.

Kirk stood up.  “Just to confirm our ETA is 11:20, which I understand is 16:34 at the colony.”  He probably hadn’t needed to add that second part, because Spock could make calculations almost as fast as a computer.  “Uh, I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Spock had assumed his prior stance and didn’t acknowledge his words.  After hesitating a few seconds, he turned on his heel and left.

-=-=-

“Rather you than me,” McCoy grinned over his dinner in the main mess hall.  “Personally I can’t think of anything worse than voluntarily standing outside in the scorching heat with a bunch of humorless Vulcans while they go through some arcane ritual.”

Kirk grinned back.  “I’m looking at it as a cultural experience, Bones.  Besides, when a senior officer’s getting married, it’s only fitting there be a StarFleet presence.”

“If you’re going in dress uniform, make sure you wear the thermal shirt underneath to keep you from overheating.  And maybe take a dose of tri-ox too – the air’s got a lower oxygen concentration than you’re used to.”

“Yes, mother.” Kirk gave his friend his trademark smirk.

“Asshole.”

Kirk’s smile widened.  “Only you could call me that and make it sound like a term of endearment, Bones.”

“Fuck off,” McCoy said quietly, not wanting other crew to overhear him cussing their captain like that, and cut into his crab cakes viciously.

Kirk grinned, always amused at how easy it was to embarrass McCoy.  After six years, he reflected, the two of them shared a deep friendship and understanding of one another.  He recalled how over the course of their Academy years, they had shared drunken secrets with each other that not even their own family were aware of, demonstrating a degree of trust that was unparalleled in either of their lives.  Since the start of the mission, there had been some pretty hair-raising moments, life-threatening close calls where Bones’ skills had saved his life, and on two occasions, his own quick reflexes and deadly accuracy with a phaser had thankfully saved McCoy.  All in all, he could see how those experiences had made them very close.

Bones played another vital role in his life.  He’d long ago acknowledged it was Bones who kept him sane during some of the tougher assignments they were given.  Until he’d built a degree of rapport with Spock, Bones had been the only person on the crew who’d been willing to confront him and force him to question some of his more unorthodox decisions – not that he’d always shown an appreciation of it at the time, he thought wryly.  Bones was also the one person on his ship he could go to when he thought he might have screwed up, or when he lost a member of his crew, because no matter what the circumstances, he always felt responsible and his friend had a great way of helping him achieve perspective.

The funny thing was, the bond he and Bones shared was not something they’d ever actually spoken about or tried to analyze, they both simply accepted it for what it was.  Just like now, having eaten their meal in comfortable companionable silence.

Kirk’s mind focused once again on the present as he stood.  “I’ve got a ton of paperwork to do before we get to the colony.  I didn’t realize how much admin Spock did until he stopped.”

McCoy screwed up his face in sympathy – their dislike of bureaucracy was evenly matched.  “Rather you than me, kid.  Remember to drop by sickbay tomorrow morning for that tri-ox shot.  Believe me, you’ll thank me for it.”

Kirk clapped his friend on his upper arm and smiled down at him.  “You got a date, Bones.”

-=-=-

‘Hot as Vulcan’, as the saying went, equally applied to their new home as their old, Kirk decided within minutes of beaming down with Spock.  As sweat trickled down his neck, he pulled uncomfortably at the collar of his dress tunic, glad his thermal shirt would keep him a little cooler.

The two men had materialized beside a deserted, circular ceremonial ground bound by large, carved stones.  M’Benga had told him they called it the place of Koon-ut-kal-if-fee – ‘marriage or challenge’.  It was no wonder, Kirk thought, the Vulcans were so secretive when their rituals held so many reminders of their barbaric past.  “Where is everyone?” he wondered aloud.

Spock ignored the question, but his curiosity was almost immediately satisfied when he heard the distinct tinkle of bells approaching.  A procession of twelve Vulcans in ceremonial garb carrying the bells and what looked like assorted weapons, approached them, the latter causing him to frown.  Sitting above the group was an elderly female on a sedan.

Kirk looked for T’Pring and only saw her once the procession had fanned out.  She was all Vulcan, her naturally austere features betraying a haughty appearance as though she were bored and all this Pon Farr business was beneath her.  Spock’s fiancée wasn’t his type, but he could acknowledge her beauty.

Before Kirk had time for further assessment his attention was drawn to the elderly woman still seated in the chair.  It took a moment for him to recognize T’Pau.  She’d famously refused a seat on the Federation Council, instead turning her attention to championing a failed attempt to have Vulcan cede from the Federation.  In a way he couldn’t blame the Vulcans for trying – after the Romulans that had attacked the Kelvin were identified as Vulcanoid, there had been quite a backlash across the Federation towards the people of Vulcan, leaving them marginalized and politically and physically isolated.  It was the reason they had been so open to attack by Nero.

“Spock, you bring an outworlder to this ceremony.”  Kirk hoped he was only imagining that her voice dripped with disdain.

“He is a friend – I am permitted this,” Spock responded without inflection.  Kirk hadn’t seen Spock as tightly controlled as this since that Narada battle.

She beckoned them forward.  “Thee are Captain Kirk.”  He wasn’t surprised she knew him after his attempt to save their planet and saving Earth had made galaxy-wide news-coverage.

“Yes, ma’am,” he responded and held his hand in the Ta’al as a sign of respect.  It had taken months to be able to perfect it, with Spock’s help.

Not responding in kind as would be usual, she turned her attention to Spock.  “Thee names this outworlder ‘friend’. How does thee pledge his behavior?”

“With my life, T’Pau.”  The words sounded ritualistic, but Kirk couldn’t help nervously glancing at the array of weapons the males in the procession were carrying.

“What he is about to see has come down to us from the time of the beginning, but has necessarily changed after the t’Naehm.  This is the Vulcan heart.  This is the Vulcan soul.  This is our way. Kah-if-farr.”

Kirk turned as Spock made his way towards a hexagonal gong.  From his right, T’Pring also approached it and just as he was about to strike it, the young woman put up her hand and prevented it.

“Kal-if-fee.”

Kirk could clearly see Spock’s confusion and knew this wasn’t going according to plan.  He turned to T’Pau for an answer.

“She challenges.  She will choose her champion.  He will have to fight for her. It is her right.”

Kirk felt as though he’d been kicked in the gut.  He looked at all the males present and knew Spock was in no condition to fight any of them.  When he inevitably lost, his mating drive would remain unsatisfied and M’Benga had been clear: such an outcome could prove fatal.  Feeling he had to somehow intervene on behalf of his friend, Kirk stepped forward.  “Spock.”

“Do not attempt to speak with him, Kirk.  He is deep in the plak-tow and will not speak with thee again until he has passed through what is to come.  If thee wishes to depart, thee may leave now.”

What, and leave Spock here?  No way, he thought.  “I’m staying,” he said, firmly, his body unconsciously taking up a confrontational stance.

T’Pau turned and gave him an appraising look.  “Spock chose his friend well.”

What the fuck was that supposed to mean?  Before he could ask further questions, T’Pau was speaking again.

“T'Pring, thee has chosen the kal-if-fee, the challenge.  Thee are prepared to become the property of the victor?”

Kirk thought she looked defiant.  “I am prepared.”

T’Pau turned to his first officer.  “Spock, does thee accept the challenge according to our laws and customs?”

“I do, T’Pau.”  The words seemed to be ripped from his throat, as if he was on the verge of completely losing control, and he knew what that looked like, had experienced it first hand.

“T'Pring, thee will choose thy champion.”

“As it was in the dawn of our days, as it is today, as it will be for all tomorrows, I make my choice.  I choose Stonn.”

The male she pointed to was much heavier built than Spock and Kirk knew there was no way his friend would win.  He had to stop this.  “Wait, it’s not—”

“Kroykah!” T’Pau said loudly, the Vulcan equivalent of a shout.  It had the desired effect on Kirk, silencing him.  However he was feeling, and anger was only the beginning of it, he was determined not to be an embarrassment to Spock, especially after he’d vouched for his captain’s behavior with his life, no less.

“I accept the challenge,” Stonn said, stepping forward.

T’Pau stood.  “Here begins the act of combat for possession of the woman, T'Pring.  As it was at the time of the beginning, so it is now.  Bring forth the ahn woon.”

Kirk watched as one of the males in the procession came forward with two long straps and handed one each to Spock and Stonn.  Almost immediately the two Vulcans began to circle one another.

The innocuous-looking implements were wrought with a degree of expertise that left Kirk in no doubt both had been trained at some point in their use.  Since they seemed to be equally proficient, the fight was a match between Stonn’s superior body mass and strength and Spock’s agility and StarFleet training.

For a while, they were evenly matched, but Spock’s fever gradually took its toll and exhaustion began to show on his features.  It took one stumble and suddenly Stonn lunged and began to tighten the ahn woon around Spock’s neck.  Kirk knew how that felt, the loss of oxygen, the inability to breath around the unrelenting pressure on the throat.  Surely Stonn wasn’t going to…

“Kroykah!” T’Pau called out.

Stonn ignored her and continued to tighten as Spock’s face went from green to an almost purple color.

“Kroykah!” she called again much louder and finally, he released the pressure and allowed Spock’s body to slump to the ground.

Kirk could no more stop himself running to Spock than a star could cease to emit light.  Falling to his knees he carefully gathered him up and desperately looked for signs of life, but was unable to find a heartbeat.

“T’Pring is yours, Stonn,” Kirk distantly heard T’Pau pronounce over the rushing in his ears.

“Wait!”  he called at the retreating back of the woman who’d scorned his friend.  He needed an answer.  “Why?  Why did you challenge?”

“Spock is much known among our people, a legend.  As the years have passed, I came to know that I did not want to be the consort of a legend.  But by the laws of our people, I could only divorce him by the kal-if-fee.  There was also Stonn, who wanted very much to be my consort, and I wanted him.  After the challenge, if Stonn were victor, I would have him.  Were Spock to be victor, he would free me because I had dared to challenge, and so I would have Stonn.  But if Spock did not free me, it would be the same.  For he would be gone, and I would have his name and his property, and Stonn would still be there.”

Kirk felt the building rage and did everything he could to keep it in check, though he was certain his face was flushed, not just from the godawful heat.  “You killed him because he became known for saving the Vulcan Elders and Earth,” he spat, feeling a sense of hatred rising in him.

Her eyes flicked from Kirk’s face down to Spock’s, cradled in his lap.  “He is not dead.  Since the loss of our planet, the kal-if-fee now ends in defeat, not death.  Stonn spared him.”

As if her words were heard, Spock suddenly began to cough, taking in great shuddering breaths between.  Kirk was so relieved he didn’t see T’Pring and Stonn’s departure.  As the panic withdrew and clarity returned, he remembered Spock’s heart wasn’t in his chest – it was lower down just below his ribcage on the right side.  No wonder he hadn’t felt anything.  If the situation he was now in wasn’t so tragic, he might have laughed at his stupidity.  What the fuck was Spock going to do now?

“Spock, Kirk attend,” T’Pau commanded imperiously.

Spock’s eyes fluttered open and as if unable to defy the voice, began to try to stand.

“Here, let me help you, Spock,” Kirk said, throwing an arm around his first officer.  Together they staggered to where T’Pau sat.

“Kneel before me.  I would have your minds.”

Kirk was about to protest but her glaring stopped him.  With my life, T’Pau. Just go along with it, he thought to himself forcefully.  But what the fuck was it with ancient Vulcans and unsolicited mind melds, he wondered.  He watched as her gnarled hands reached out for their faces simultaneously.  There was a pressure against his mind and then a sudden searing white light seemed to fill his head and he gasped.

“It is done,” he heard T’Pau’s voice as if coming from a distance.

Kirk was sitting on the ground and realized that T’Pau was being lifted and carried away.

“What’s done?” he asked, Spock, T’Pau, anyone who’d listen.  What the hell was going on?

As if a silent signal had passed from the old woman to the sedan’s bearers, all movement ceased.  Looking down at Kirk as though he were something she had accidentally stepped in she said, “You are bonded.  Spock is yours.”

Spock is mine?  What?  His mind was utter confusion.  He looked to his friend still kneeling, now rigidly straight.  “Spock, what the fuck’s going on?  What’s she talking about bonded?”

Spock stared at a point on the ground ahead of him, apparently unwilling to meet his captain’s bewildered gaze.  “I failed the kal-if-fee.  As my t’hy’la – the one who accompanied me – I am given over to you.  As is tradition and your right under Vulcan law, T’Pau bonded us.”

“Bonded as in married.”

Spock nodded once, confirming his worst suspicions.

Kirk was well aware his voice held an edge of panic, because Vulcan law was also binding under Federation law.  As far as StarFleet were concerned, they were now legally wed.  His head immediately went to considering divorce and as soon as it did, he felt a sharp stab of pain.  At the same time, his friend looked utterly miserable and Kirk had the sudden realization that there was a reason he was able to so clearly read what Spock was feeling.

“This bond – it’s a telepathic link.  Right?”

“Affirmative.”

Robotic Spock.  Like he really needed Spock to withdraw when they had to talk.

“Can you read all my thoughts?”  The idea of it made him shudder.  There was a lot of stuff in his head he wouldn’t even want Bones to see, never mind someone as uptight as a Vulcan.

Spock took in a deep breath and Kirk knew his friend was trying hard for his sake.  “I am attempting to block your thoughts to maintain a degree of privacy,” he explained.  “However, I am unused to shielding to this degree and am currently only partially successful.”

Kirk wished he could stop all thought, but he was struggling with quite the opposite problem as his mind furiously considered all the options.  Clearly the thought of divorce distressed Spock and given what he’d just been through, to have Kirk discard him too would be utterly humiliating.  Not only that, but he would be obliged to give a reason for the divorce, which would bring the whole fiasco to light.  There was no way, with two such high-profile StarFleet officers, they’d be able to keep a lid on it – the media would have a field day.

Kirk suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of longing and realized it was emanating from Spock.  In all his own selfish needs, he’d neglected his friend.

“The Pon Farr.  Do you—?”

Another feeling washed over him, confirming that Spock’s fever had not abated.

“The need to mate has severely diminished since the challenge.”  He could see it was Spock’s attempt at reassurance.  It wasn’t working much.

“But it’s not gone altogether.”  Kirk knew that for a certainty.  Somewhere behind that dignified façade, there was a backwash of lust.

“It is possible that certain meditation techniques will alleviate the…issue.”

The bond was two-way.  Evidently Spock was having as much difficulty preventing Kirk reading him as the other way around.  It was clear the Vulcan was dubious that such an intervention would be successful.

“And if it doesn’t?”

“Then I must consummate the bond or—”

“There is no ‘or’,” Kirk butted in.  “Uhura can help you out, right?”

Kirk knew the answer before Spock said a word.

“I am drawn to my bondmate.”

He’d never slept with a man – had never been interested enough to try it.  Sure, he’d been curious when he was younger, but women had always provided him with everything he could want, sexually.

“You are unwilling.”  There was a note of defeat in Spock’s voice.

“I’m not going to let you suffer because of my male pride.”

“Captain, you do not have to—”

“Since I’m your husband, don’t you think you should be calling me Jim?”  Kirk gave him a small smile.  “And I know I don’t have to.  But I’m not putting you through the alternative.”  He reached out and squeezed Spock’s shoulder.  “I’m sorry, I know how private you are, but we’re going to have to tell Bones.”

Spock nodded once in acknowledgement.

Kirk stood up wearily and waited as Spock got up to stand beside him.  Flicking open his communicator he hailed his ship.  “Two to beam up.”

-=-=-

Kirk sat slumped in his seat in McCoy’s office looking utterly defeated, the dust of New Vulcan still on his boots.  McCoy was laughing.

“Well I’m glad someone finds it humorous,” he scowled.

“I’m sorry Jim, but you have to admit it’s kinda funny—”

“No,” he cut the doctor off.  “I’m not finding it even remotely funny.”

Kirk watched as McCoy pulled himself together.  “I guess I can see why,” he admitted reluctantly.  “Can’t you break the bond?”

“First, Spock’s not out of Pon Farr.  Second, I’m damned if I’m going to let this be the next big story for the Federation’s trashiest media.  Third, what signal does that send Spock?  That I don’t value him?  That I’m not honored to be his consort?”

“Jim.  On the first count, you’re straight.  It’s not your fault—”

“Neither was it Spock’s fault that T’Pring rejected him.  He’s my friend.  If he needs sex from me to stay alive, then I’ll give him that.”

“M’Benga implied the coupling can be violent, Jim.”

“Yeah I know.”  He shrugged.  “You can patch me up though, can’t you?”

McCoy glared at him.  “Your body, yes.”

“What, you think sleeping with a guy will leave me feeling emasculated or something?  For god’s sake, Bones.  I’m not that fucking fragile.”

“This isn’t sleeping with a guy.  It’s your first officer, a Vulcan.  How’s it going to affect your command?”

That was a good question.  “You’re talking about the mental bond, right?”

McCoy nodded.

Kirk ran various scenarios through his head and came to the same conclusion each time.  “It won’t.  I won’t let it and I know Spock won’t let it.  We’ll figure it out.”

“And if you don’t?” McCoy pushed.

“If we don’t?  I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.  But for now, I’ve got to at least help him through this fever.”  He stood up and pushed the chair back.

“Jim, wait.  You’re going to need a few things to prepare.”

When McCoy handed him an enema kit, he winced but said nothing.  It was when he was given five tubes of lube that he could no longer keep his mouth shut.  “Five?  How long are you expecting it to go on for?”

“M’Benga doesn’t know as it varies Vulcan to Vulcan, and then factor in Spock’s hybrid physiology…who knows?”

Kirk headed for the door.

“Jim, if I don’t hear from you in twenty four hours, I’m using my medical override to check on you, okay?”

Aside from knowing how private Vulcans were, it was more the thought of his friend potentially walking in while he was taking it in the ass that made him cringe the most.  But he understood the doctor’s concern and, nodding once, he left.

-=-=-

Other than McCoy, M’Benga and Uhura, no-one knew the reason for their visit to New Vulcan.  The standard answer had been that Spock was unwell and needed specialist treatment.  It was going to appear odd that their captain was now also under medical supervision and not to be disturbed, leaving Scotty in charge.

Kirk used the kit, its process a graphic reminder of what he was soon to be doing and why such preparation was so necessary.  Afterwards, he showered and threw on some casual clothing.  Not yet ready to face Spock, he sat on his bed, throwing the tubes of lube on the nightstand.

For the first time since T’Pau had bonded them just two hours earlier – though it seemed like a lifetime ago – he thought about Uhura and the impact this might have on her.  As far as he knew, they’d been happy in their relationship, though she’d presumably known it had a finite length to it given his prior betrothal.  Spock coming back married to T’Pring was one thing, but coming back married to him, was quite another.  With his elbows on his knees, he buried his face in his hands.  Shit.

If Spock had taken Uhura down instead of him, they’d be married now and could live happily ever after.  Instead…this was all so wrong.  Uhura, he felt certain, was going to kill him.  Probably slowly.

“Jim.”

Kirk looked up and realized Spock had entered his cabin through the connecting bathroom.  He must have showered and changed into a clean uniform, because there was no sign of the dust he’d been rolling around in during the combat.  He threw Spock a wan smile.

“There is a Vulcan term, kaiidth, meaning what is, is.  Neither of us was to know that T’Pring would challenge.  I regret that when Nyota discovers our bond, she will be adversely affected.”

“Yeah, and it’ll be me she’ll be mad at, not you,” he pointed out.

“I will speak to her.”

“Spock, take it from someone who’s an expert on the illogic of Human emotions.  She’ll get it intellectually, but not emotionally.”  And he really, really wasn’t looking forward to the point in time when his theory will be proven.

Spock nodded.  “You may be correct in your assessment.”

Kirk smiled wryly at Spock’s immediate acceptance of his words.  “Speaking from experience?”

Spock’s lips quirked slightly.  “Indeed.”

“And what about you?  Do you need to—?” Fuck?  What word would be appropriate, he wondered.  Spock was his husband.  This was technically their honeymoon.  But making love seemed so inappropriate given the travesty of their marriage.  Not only did he not love Spock that way, but the thought of the act didn’t exactly fill him with lust, either.  It’s not like he hadn’t done it before with women occasionally.  He had, but he’d been the giver, never the receiver.

Kirk felt a wave of lust wash over him and knew it had emanated from Spock.  Looked like it was time to do whatever was necessary to keep his first officer alive.

“Spock, have you ever had sex with a male before?”

“No.”

He’d already figured that but just wanted to be certain.  Standing up, he took off his teeshirt and paused as he realized Spock’s eyes were riveted to his chest.  He suddenly felt self-conscious as he pushed his sweats down his legs.  “Lights to twenty five percent.”

Still in his briefs, he lay down on his bed and waited to see what Spock would do.  He’d seen his first officer naked on occasion in the showers after working out in the gym, but had never seen him aroused.  As Spock stripped, Kirk’s eyes were drawn to his groin where his briefs bulged almost obscenely.

Kirk wasn’t sure what he was expecting, but perhaps he’d assumed it would be something along the lines of a series of quick fucks until Spock was spent.  What surprised him was the way Spock sat astride his hips and gently ran his fingers over his skin, as though he were something precious.

When Spock leaned forward, he felt a moment of panic and put his hand against the hot chest in front of him.  “No kissing.”

Spock’s eyebrow lifted and Kirk was relieved to sense curiosity rather than rejection.  “As you wish.”

As the Vulcan sat back up, he breathed a sigh of relief.

Spock appeared to pause a moment and then, as if coming to a decision, stood up and removed his briefs.  Kirk couldn’t help glancing at his cock which looked more than half hard as the dark green length nestled against his thighs.

“May I?” Spock asked, pointing at Kirk’s briefs, but in a tone of voice that he might have used in the mess hall when borrowing a salt cellar from another table.

Kirk felt unaccountably embarrassed at the thought of Spock removing them and quickly rid himself of the underwear, pushing them down his legs and kicking them off with his feet.  Almost immediately he felt himself under an intense gaze and looking up, he caught Spock licking his lower lip.  Before he had time to think, the Vulcan had dropped to his knees on the floor and had taken his cock into the hot mouth.

Fuck, thought Kirk, his brain shorting out at the sight of Spock sucking and licking, teasing him to a reluctant hardness.  He definitely hadn’t imagined this.  Clearly his cock wasn’t discerning regarding the sex of the giver of oral favors and in a short space, Spock was having to hold his hips down to prevent him trying to fuck his mouth with the kind of desperation of someone who hadn’t had sex in months.  When the Vulcan took his balls in one hand and gently rolled them, and squeezed a nipple with the other, Kirk’s immediate orgasm was assured.  He tried to warn Spock who steadfastly ignored him and a moment later, with a lush groan, he climaxed hard as the Vulcan sucked every last drop from him.

He sank bonelessly into the bed and it was several seconds before he was able to open his eyes, to find himself under Spock’s watchful gaze.  Even though the lights were low, there was a flush about his cheeks and his mouth glistened.  Well, he’d gotten more than he expected, but now it was his turn to provide.

He turned over and burying his face in his arms, spread his legs and waited nervously.  He felt the bed dip as Spock got on, kneeling somewhere near his feet.  The hands that had brought goosebumps to his chest, now began to weave a pattern over his back, back and forth, up and down.  One hand trailed lower to his crack and he felt a thumb trace its length, without dipping inside.  Even so, he tensed involuntarily.  A moment later, his buttocks were being kneaded and he quickly felt himself relax again.

Kirk inwardly cursed himself for behaving like some goddamn maiden.  Sure he was a virgin when it came to male sex and penetration, but this wasn’t some stranger here, it was…his husband.  Even saying it in his head sounded completely weird.  But Spock, he reminded himself, was a man he’d worked closely with for three years, someone he’d come to trust and respect, whose company he actively sought out, who he had long regarded as a friend.  He’d just never thought of Spock in this way before.

On countless missions, Spock had saved him from serious injury and, on occasion, saved his life.  Here was an opportunity to repay him, though Spock would no doubt consider the idea of some kind of debt, as illogical.  It really wasn’t about tit for tat, and neither was he offering himself as a sacrificial lamb.  He was doing this because he wanted to be here for Spock in his hour of need.  In fact, a part of him felt privileged that Spock had even taken him down to the colony to witness the wedding.  He alone had been chosen for that honor, something he wouldn’t quickly forget, even if the whole wedding thing had quickly turned into a fiasco and he’d inadvertently gotten caught up in it.  But that’s what friend are for, he concluded.

Kirk’s mind, contemplating the events of that day, was suddenly pulled back to the present when, without warning, his ass-cheeks were pulled apart.  Before he could react, a hot tongue began to rim him, combining slow laps with a flat tongue with pokes and flicks that had him squirming and hardening again.

A few women had done that for him and he’d always felt ambivalent about it – kind of grossed out even though he knew he’d been clean, but loving the sensations.  He was feeling that again, but oh god, Spock’s tongue was weaving some kind of magic.  When he felt the tongue push past the muscle and begin to fuck him, he let out a groan of pleasure as a part of him felt thankful that he’d used McCoy’s kit to thoroughly cleanse himself.

It took Kirk a moment to realize that the tongue had been replaced by a finger – one that was slicked in lube.  The transfer from one to the other was seamless and while it felt slightly strange, it wasn’t uncomfortable.  When a second finger was applied, he began to feel a level of discomfort which increased when a third finger was pushed in.  Three fingers was still a lot less than a cock.

The fingers were removed and Kirk focused on his breathing, taking deep breaths in and out, forcing his body to relax.  He felt his hips lifted until he was on his knees, his head still buried in the pillow, and tried not to imagine what such a submissive position must look like.  He’d taken enough women doggie style to know that it was a sexy view, especially when he wrapped around them and fondled their hanging breasts as he thrust.

When he felt the tip of Spock’s cock begin to push past the muscle, all thought fled as he focused on the pain of the entry.  It burned as the Vulcan slowly pushed his way in and Kirk found himself gasping.  IcandothisIcandothis, he repeated the litany in his head, knowing that the pain level would drop back once his muscles had gotten used to accommodating the bulk.  He suddenly realized he was biting the pillow.

There was no doubt about it, the feeling of his rectum filled, like he badly needed to take a dump, wasn’t one he’d ever associated with sex.  Apparently people enjoyed this.  When Spock began to move, it felt even weirder.  The hard-on he’d sported when he’d been rimmed had long vanished, and not expecting to get anything out of this, Kirk focused on the fact that this was giving Spock life – a small price to pay.

He was just beginning to get used to the feeling and had loosened enough that the slow pistoning was becoming smooth when Spock altered his angle slightly and hit something that lit Kirk up like a Christmas tree.  His entire body shuddered.

“Fuck Spock, do that again,” the words tumbled from his mouth, muffled by the pillow, before he even registered he’d said them.  The Vulcan obliged and Kirk groaned.  Oh god, that felt…amazing.

His own cock began to stir and to help it, Kirk moved his hand down, taking it into his fist, matching the rhythm that Spock set.  Before long the Vulcan had speeded up and the room was filled with the sound of skin slapping skin, little moans from Kirk and short, ragged breaths from Spock.  The Vulcan began to make little noises beyond gasps, which Kirk actually found it incredibly erotic.  When his hand was batted away and his cock wrapped in a hot, tight tunnel, he knew he didn’t have long to last.

He wasn’t sure if it was feeling Spock’s thrusts become erratic and knowing he was on the edge of orgasm, if it was the quiet litany of sounds that he uttered or the final feeling of the hot seed buried in him as that sweet spot was grazed a final time that sent him over the edge, but Kirk couldn’t remember ever coming so hard in his life.

The two of them collapsed, side by side in a hot, sweaty and exhausted pile, Kirk still on his stomach.

“Fuck.”

“Quite,” Spock responded, causing Kirk to laugh.

Kirk felt Spock’s fingers weave patterns about his right hand as they lay getting their breath back.  When he could speak without panting, Kirk opened his eyes and looked at the Vulcan beside him.  “How are you feeling?”  Even before Spock could answer, he already knew.  Temporarily sated, but still needing more.

“I believe you have discerned my current status.”  Spock got off the bed and disappeared into the bathroom, though he didn’t close the door.  Two minutes later, he returned with a damp cloth.

“Hey,” he said, feeling himself flush and pushing himself up onto one elbow to look over his shoulder.  “You don’t have to do that.  I’ll clean myself up.”

“I wish it,” Spock said simply.

Given where Spock had had his mouth, not to mention his cock a few minutes earlier, Kirk’s sudden embarrassment seemed ridiculous, and with effort he let it go.  Closing his eyes, he felt the bed beside him dip.  Although he was tired, it was actually only early afternoon ship’s time and he was really feeling way too energized to fall asleep.  Nevertheless, he did drowse for a while.

“Jim.”  Spock’s voice cut into that floaty place he’d been.  Guessing he was in need, Kirk forced his eyes open and rolled to lie on his side, facing the Vulcan.  It was very weird seeing his first officer lying naked next to him, his hair awry, like he’d stepped into some surreal dream.

“Mmm?”

“Intercourse does not need to be exclusive to me.”

Kirk’s eyes snapped open and any post-coital lassitude vanished in a moment.  “You mean…I can get to fuck you too?”  He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.  Kind of ambivalent, but erring on the side of ‘bring it on’, given this was going to be a sex marathon and he may as well get something from it too.

“Indeed.  In fact, I desire it,” Spock admitted.

“I uh… You’ll need to give me some time to recover.  Do you need release right now?”  Again, before Spock said a word he knew, could sense his urgency through their link.  He’d assiduously not looked down, but now he couldn’t help himself.  Fully erect, the dark skin was folded back revealing an even greener glans and a secondary ridge beneath it.

“How about I do it the next round.  This time we can spoon – I’m still relaxed from the last time.  Don’t try to stimulate me, to give me time to catch up, okay?”

“Very well.”

Spock leaned over, reaching for the lube as Kirk rolled over to face the other way.  Moments later, he felt hot hands pull his ass-cheeks apart and this time the feeling of fullness was not so acute and was less off-putting.  Good, he was already getting used to this.  There was less finesse this time, as Spock grasped his hip with a firm grip and began a fast rhythm almost immediately.

Kirk focused on keeping his body rigid for Spock to pound into and within minutes, he knew the Vulcan was on the verge of his second orgasm.  Without thinking, he placed his hand over the one Spock still had anchored to his hip, twining their fingers together.  Spock cried out and came hard and Kirk felt a resonance of it wash over himself, leaving him tingling.

He felt Spock’s forehead rest between his shoulder blades as he caught his breath and then felt him gradually ease out of him.  Before Kirk could move, Spock was once again cleansing him gently.  As soon as he’d done, Kirk flopped onto his back, not wanting to leave Spock staring at his back.

“You okay?” he asked.

“I believe the saying goes, ‘I have been better’.”

Kirk barked out a laugh at the unexpected humor, especially as he saw Spock’s lips twitch in response.  “I was going to suggest you let me know when you need to release again, but,” he tapped his temple, “I don’t think you need to.  It’s odd feeling what you’re feeling.  Aren’t you shielding at the moment?”

“I am.  It is the intensity of Pon Farr that is bleeding across, beyond my ability to block.  I apologize for the intrusion.”

Kirk smiled.  “There’s no need to apologize.  It’s not like you wanted this.”

“I appreciate your understanding, Jim.”  Spock sat up and cast his eye down Kirk’s body.  Then, leaning forward, he picked up Kirk’s cock and brought his mouth down to cover the length of it.

Preparing Spock for penetration was possibly one of the most embarrassing sexual experiences of his life.  The intimacy of it – this was his normally dignified Vulcan first officer whose ass he had his fingers jammed in, for fuck’s sake – was tempered with the knowledge that he was going to enjoy burying his cock in that incredibly hot tightness.

Spock’s muscle control was impressive and he slid in easily, sheathing himself in one, long thrust.  Gripping the narrow hips, he began to slide in the slick heat.  While the position he was in, behind Spock, wasn’t a new experience, what was new for him was seeing a firm back leading to broad shoulders stretched before him, muscles rippling with every move.  The cap of black hair and the tips of the pointed ears finished off the never-before-seen picture and Kirk felt a moment of surprise that far from the unusual image being off-putting, he actually found it erotic.

“You okay?” he asked, not getting any feedback from Spock other than feeling the hips pushing back against him in rhythm with his own thrusts.

“I…yes.”

Kirk grinned, never having heard his first officer unable to speak properly.  It was at that point it suddenly dawned on him that while Spock may have had a regular sex-life, he’d already admitted that being with a male was a new experience for him.

Kirk reached around and took hold of Spock’s cock which was fully erect.  It felt weird holding a cock not his own.  Still so unused to the situation, his mind jumped out of the sex it had been focused on, to view the bigger picture of what exactly he was doing and to whom.  It caused him to falter until Spock wrapped his hand around the one already gripping him to show him how he liked his cock handled, and pushed his ass back hard.

Kirk grinned at Spock’s apparent enthusiasm and as a tease, pulled almost all the way out, then thrust back in slowly.  He wanted to keep up the slow, deep strokes but his body had other ideas.  Faster than he would have thought possible, given he’d already come twice, he felt his climax quickly building and in response, began to apply a sense of urgency to his actions.  He tried hard to maintain the same rhythm on Spock but completely lost it when he felt the Vulcan go rigid.  A moment later, his own cock was gripped in a tight spasm as he felt Spock shoot in wet pulses, pushing him over the edge with a long, loud, groan.

His hand was now covered in Spock’s semen which he wanted to get rid of, but not in a way that might signal disgust to the Vulcan, although he was a bit squicked by it.  Spock suddenly got up and disappeared into the bathroom, giving Kirk the opportunity to wipe his hand on the bed linen.  As he glanced at the closed door, he wondered if maybe McCoy hadn’t thought to give Spock the enema kit.

They stopped to shower, eat and nap – well Kirk ate, but Spock mostly pushed the food around his plate.

“The ritual has apparently been altered since Vulcan’s destruction,” Spock said out of the blue.

“Yeah, T’Pring said as much.  Wait…you didn’t know when you accepted the challenge?”

“I was unaware of the alteration.”

Kirk was appalled.  “You accepted the challenge believing it would lead to death?  And given the state you were in, most likely yours?”

“Yes.  Regaining consciousness was most unexpected.”

It was hard for Kirk to truly comprehend just what Spock had gone through that day and in many ways, how much he had lost.  The fact that he was calmly willing to accept death and appeared almost regretful that he was still alive, told him a lot.

They recommenced their sex marathon late afternoon, taking turns to give and to receive and Kirk tried his best to make it as good for Spock as he was able.  He knew the moment Spock’s Pon Farr had ended, as though the fire that had blazed was now no more than a few burning embers.  Spock emptied himself a final time deep inside him with something close to a whimper and instead of remaining close, rolled to the other side of the bed, lying on his back.

“It is over.”

Kirk breathed an inward sigh of relief – he felt absolutely exhausted and his ass was more than a little sore.  He winced at the thought of seeing McCoy about it, but given the length of time he spent sitting on an average day, he probably didn’t have a choice if he didn’t want to be squirming the whole shift.

He glanced across at Spock who was staring at the ceiling.  Despite the fact that they’d just spent the entire day fucking, there had been a certain lack of intimacy about it.  They hadn’t kissed, anywhere, he hadn’t given head, and even the stroking that Spock had begun, had ceased early on.  Kirk was more than okay with that.  After all, they were only together because of the Vulcan’s biological imperative.

Hell, Kirk thought, the poor bastard.  If Spock had a choice, it wouldn’t be his captain lying here next to him.  Somehow the thought must have been strong enough for Spock to pick up because as soon as it crossed his mind, he saw the Vulcan look over at him and sensed his regret.

“I’m sorry, Spock,” he said.  Sorry he’d lost his fiancée, sorry he wasn’t Uhura, sorry his friend had bonded to the wrong person, sorry he couldn’t be more for Spock himself.

Spock rose silently from the bed, and gathering his uniform, walked into the bathroom.  In the stillness of his quarters, Kirk heard the door leading to Spock’s cabin close with a sense of finality.

Only then did he let go of the breath he was holding.

-=-=-

Kirk sat in his quarters working through some of the not inconsiderable backlog of paperwork that had accrued during his first officer’s term of medical leave.  McCoy had put both him and Spock on ‘light duties’ which essentially meant ‘confined to quarters’.

He’d suffered an endoscopy with Bones huffing and puffing, and he’d been part appalled, part enthralled to see his innards on the screen beside the biobed as the doctor directed the camera around.  Bones had then done something that had taken the worst of the soreness away and given him what looked like a slim metallic dildo, telling him to insert it every four hours to administer a mild local anesthetic, an anti-inflammatory and something to prevent infection.

He should have seen it coming.  The Vulcans hadn’t wasted time informing StarFleet on Spock’s change of status, and with it, of course, Kirk’s.  Even he hadn’t gotten around to putting in the relevant official paperwork, yet.  And the first person on the crew who would see the happy news was one Lieutenant Nyota Uhura.

He was in the middle of working his way through departmental reports, when Uhura chimed and walked in without waiting to be given permission.  Kirk hadn’t locked the door, since he was technically on duty.  Even so, her manner, her body language and the fierce look on her face all spoke to him of a major confrontation.

“Lieutenant.”

“Don’t you lieutenant me.  This isn’t ship’s business, Jim, and you damn well know it.”

Ah.  He looked up at her with his blandest expression and feeling somewhat at a disadvantage, stood up.  That was probably his first mistake.

“You bonded with Spock.”  Her voice held an edge of hysteria and now that he looked more closely, he could see her shaking.  Presumably with rage, judging by the look on her face.  He unconsciously took a step back.

“I didn’t have a choice.”  That was true, but apparently it didn’t help.

“It should have been me.  If T’Pring didn’t want him, then I should have had him.  We’ve been together for four years.”  The last few words were shouted and he could see her eyes become glassy with unshed tears.

“Believe me, if I’d known what was going to happen, I’d have gladly sent you in my place.”

“Do you love him?”

The question threw Kirk.  She must have known the answer.  “What?”

“I said, do you love Spock?”

“I—” She glared at him.  He licked his lips, his mouth suddenly gone dry.  “Not in that way.  No.”

He watched her face crumple further and tried to think of something to console her.  He really hated it when women got emotional, maybe because it reminded him too much of his mom when she was going through one of her ‘bad patches’.  Unwilling to witness his normally proud comms. officer in this state, he focused on one of the padds on his desk.  “Look, we didn’t get a choice about the bonding and it’s not what I would have chosen.  I wouldn’t have a problem with the two of you carrying on as you were before all—”

The right hook came out of no-where and he staggered back under the force of it.

“You bastard!  You grade A fucking bastard.”  Now the tears overflowed.  “You’re not capable of loving anyone but yourself.  Spock’s tied himself to an emotional cripple.”

As Kirk moved his jaw around to figure out if Uhura had dislodged anything, she stormed out.

Fuck.

Emotional cripple?  Only capable of loving himself?  Where had she gotten those ideas from?  He sank back on his seat, staring unseeingly at the padds on his desk, feeling the stirrings of anger.  What was the difference with her fucking Spock when he was betrothed to a woman who apparently didn’t want him, and fucking Spock while bonded to a man who didn’t want him in that way?

Of course, he could have Uhura up on a number of charges, the most serious of which, assaulting a superior officer, could see her busted down to ensign.  But, in truth, he had no intention of reporting her.  He would speak to her, though, when she’d calmed down.  If he let her get away with this, now that she felt even more hostility towards him than in their academy days (if that were possible), he had to ensure her insubordination didn’t escalate.

Meanwhile, he received a formal message of congratulations from Starfleet, a less formal and far more hearty message from his old friend Ambassador Spock, and what he could only consider as a letter of commiseration and regret that he’d been inadvertently caught up in this, from Ambassador Sarek.

-=-=-

Awkward.  That was the word that best described how Kirk felt when he walked onto the bridge the following day and saw Spock sitting at his station.  He tried hard to act natural and not remember how it felt to fuck his first officer, or for that matter, how it felt to be fucked.  That was going to be harder to forget, since there was a degree of lingering soreness there, not enough to be uncomfortable, but enough to be a reminder.

Spock didn’t need to know he’d just had an appointment with Bones for another check-up to ensure his encounter with his first officer hadn’t left him with any lingering health issues.  Once again, he’d moved the camera around while clinically discussing the on-going issues with him.  He hadn’t much felt like eating after that, and probably wouldn’t have had time anyway.

Looking at Spock’s profile now as he sat at his station, he wondered if he’d also sought McCoy’s assistance – Bones would never tell him if he did.  Somehow, with all his Vulcan dignity, he doubted it.  Either way, it was likely Spock was getting the same reminder he was, though probably with his Vulcan control, he was better at blocking it out.

“Morning Mr. Spock,” he said trying to sound cheery.  “Status report?”  As Spock looked up at him, he had to force himself to make full eye contact.

“Good morning, Captain.”  And there it was.  He could somehow sense Spock’s feeling of awkwardness too, even though apart from to talk, he’d barely moved a muscle in his face.  That and the fact that Spock was speaking to some point over his left shoulder.  “StarFleet sent through orders to report to Starbase 14 for inspection and possible repairs of the secondary warp core containment field.  I sent the packet to your console.”

“I was busy this morning and didn’t check before I left my cabin.  I’ll go over it now.  Should I be worried about this?  Scotty’s usually pretty good at fixing things.”

“It is a precaution only, Captain.  The fluctuations are minor and well within safety parameters.”

“Okay, good.”

His eyes flicked over to Uhura who was steadfastly focused on her workstation.  He’d have to have that chat with her at some point that day.

As the rest of alpha shift arrived, it became increasingly obvious that his entire crew seemed to know about his and Spock’s bonding, and he felt embarrassed at the number of congratulations they received.  He didn’t have the heart to explain this whole thing was kind of in name only.  Things got worse when Scotty scheduled an early afternoon meeting with him.

“Congratulations, Cap’n!” Scott greeted him cheerily.  “I had no idea.”

Translate that as: ‘If I’d got any inkling about the two of you, I’d have been running a betting pool on it’.  “Thanks Scotty!  Spock says you’re not overly concerned with the problems in the secondary warp core,” he said, getting swiftly back to ship’s business.

“Ach no.  More than likely, one of the dilithium crystals has a wee flaw, but we’d have to drop out of warp for at least a day to check it all.  Seems we can kill two birds with one stone by getting it looked over at twelve – they’ve got better diagnostic equipment and we get to have a couple o’ days shoreleave.”  He said the last word with a waggle of his eyebrows.  “Anyway,” he added, “that’s no’ why I wanted to see ye.”

“It isn’t?”

“No, Sir.  StarFleet have sent me the blueprint to upgrade yours and Mr. Spock’s quarters from single to married.”  And with a flourish, he twisted the console on his desk around so Kirk could see.

“It’ll mean—”

“Scotty, it’s not necessary.  We can keep our own quarters as they are now.  It makes sense especially given the number of days we work different shifts.”

“Ach, I do see your point, Cap’n.  But you dinna have a choice in the matter.  I’ve had orders to make the necessary alterations from HQ.  Your combined quarters will be fifty percent larger than what you have currently.  Half of Commander Spock’s cabin will be given over to you, and the other half will be made into a single cabin and bathroom – can’t have anyone sharing facilities with you and the commander,” he said with a lewd wink that made Kirk inwardly wince.  “And that new wee cabin goes to Ensign Chekov.  Since he’s permanently Alpha bridge crew, he gets to move up to ‘Officer Country’.”

“Right.  When does this need to begin.”

“No time like the present, eh sir?  You and the commander can share one of the ambassadorial suites for a coupla nights, and we’ll get it all done in no time at all.  I’m gonna oversee it personally for ye.”

Kirk did his best to smile in the face of Scotty’s genuine enthusiasm at this project, but inwardly his heart was sinking.  The thought of sharing quarters with Spock was…daunting, but it would look odd if they constantly worked opposite shifts.  And then there was shoreleave.  How the fuck could he go off carousing now his entire crew thinks he and Spock are an item.

-=-=-

“Sir?”

Kirk looked up from his ready room desk as Uhura came to stand just inside the door.  She’d looked distinctly nervous when he’d told her he wanted to see her after shift.

“Jim.  This conversation’s off the record.”

He watched as some of the tension eased and wondered if she really thought he’d press charges against her.  Maybe she thought even less of him than he realized.

“Jim.  I want to apologize for hitting you yesterday.”

Wow, that was a fast capitulation, he thought.  “Apology accepted, Uhura.  And I…well, I guess what I said was inappropriate.” He focused on a small scratch mark on the surface of his desk and ran his thumb nail back and forth over it.  “It’s all happened so suddenly, I guess I didn’t think about the fact the entire crew would know Spock and I are married.”

“You’re still not getting it, Jim.”

He looked up to see annoyance back on her features.  “It’s not just the fact that Spock and I could hardly be seen hooking up when he’s married to his captain.  Spock’s bonded to you.  That goes way beyond what he shared with that Vulcan bitch.”

Kirk was unable to suppress a smile.  At least they agreed on one thing.

“You’ve got two choices, Jim.  Figure out a way to make it work, and if you can’t, then divorce him.”

Well, that was a second thing they agreed upon.  Divorcing Spock straight away wasn’t an option.  Figure out a way to make it work.  His mind automatically shied away from the thought because it meant a monogamous relationship; it spoke of a life-time commitment.

“Right.”  This wasn’t something he was comfortable talking to Uhura about.  At the end of the day, she was always going to be protective of Spock and think the worst of him.  So okay, maybe what he’d said the previous day had been kinda douchey and badly thought through, but her reaction to it told him a lot about the depth of her feeling for his…husband.  Would he ever get used to saying that?

He wanted to get this discussion over with as quickly as possible.  “I want you to know I don’t intend to press any charges.  As far as I’m concerned, your right hook didn’t happen, okay?”

She nodded her head.  “Okay.”

“Just don’t let it happen again.”

He noticed she didn’t offer a promise on that one and sighed as a moment later, she’d gone.

-=-=-

“I’m so up shit creek without a paddle.”

McCoy looked at him sympathetically and poured him a bourbon which Kirk knocked back in one, enjoying the burn of it down his throat and gullet.  He pushed his glass forward for another.

“This is the real stuff Jim, go easy on it.  I don’t want you throwing up perfectly good bourbon in a couple of hours.”

“You can pick up some more at twelve.  Make it part of your medicinal requirements for ultra-stressed starship captains.”

McCoy smirked.  “Now there’s a thought.  Creative requisitioning.”

“How am I supposed to go get laid without any of the crew suspecting anything?”  He didn’t mean for his voice to sound like a whine, but it came out that way.

“You could always turn to your husband for—”

Kirk’s glare stopped him before he finished his sentence.  “That’s not even remotely funny, Bones.  Why do I feel like we’ve had this conversation before?”

McCoy leaned forward.  “Can I ask you a personal question, Jim?”

“Sure.”  He had a feeling he knew what the question was going to be.

“I’m not asking this to be prurient.  But did you respond sexually with Spock?”

Kirk felt himself flush and cursed his fair skin as it must have been immediately obvious to McCoy.  “Yeah, up to a point.  We kept it kind of clinical – no kissing or anything.”

“Whose idea was that?”

The way he asked, Kirk knew he’d already guessed the answer.  “Mine.  He’s my first officer – I didn’t want any more intimacy than there needed to be.”

“You let him fuck you but not kiss you.”

Kirk wasn’t sure why he felt the need to defend himself.  “Yeah.  The fucking was unavoidable.”

McCoy folded his arms over his chest and gave him a look that told him he thought his captain was an idiot.  “So because you set it up like that, now you can’t go back to him for more sex if you need it.”

“I don’t want sex from Spock.  I don’t want sex from any guy.  I like women, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“You prefer women,” McCoy corrected.  “But your psych eval shows you as bisexual, which is why you were able to respond to Spock.  Have you really never had any other sexual experience with males?”

He was sure he and Bones had had this conversation way back at the beginning of their friendship.  Probably some time after McCoy had officially become his physician and he’d seen his medical file.  “Does one blow-job when I was sixteen count?”

“Barely.  In all the time I’ve known you, you’ve only had three brief relationships – Ruth, Carol and Areel.  Your very feminine, petite blonde types – a profile Spock most definitely doesn’t fit.  Mostly, you love ‘em and leave ‘em.”  McCoy put his hand up to stop Kirk from interrupting, which he was so about to do in protest.  “I’m not judging you, Jim.  Just that you may be into women, but not enough to want to commit to any of them.”

“What, you think I’m carrying around some latent homosexual thing and all it’ll take is the right guy and that’s me, committed for life?  Don’t you think that’s a bit simplistic?  Maybe I’m a commitment-phobe.  Or maybe I’ve just not met the right woman.”

“I don’t get it, Jim.  Why limit your options of finding the right partner to only half the population, when you’re capable of responding across the spectrum?”

“Wait, wait.  How the fuck did this discussion go from me wanting to figure out a way to get laid, by a woman, into a psychoanalysis of my sexual proclivities?”

“Just giving you food for thought, Jim.  I didn’t mean to over-analyze.  As for what you do when we get to twelve, I guess discretion’s the way to go.  Probably your best bet is to use one of the brothels.”

Kirk was horrified.  “Pay for sex?  I’ve never paid for it in my life.”

“Maybe,” McCoy responded, filling up Jim’s empty glass, “now’s the time to start.”

-=-=-

The ambassadorial suite contained one large bed and one couch that converted into a single cot.  The first evening had been awkward – a word that was in increasing use in his daily life.

“You take the bed, I’ll have the couch.”

“Captain, as ranking officer, you should take the bed.”

“Spock, it’s Jim, your husband remember.  We’re equals here.  And I say you take the bed.”

“You claim we are equals, yet you are ordering me.”

Kirk was beginning to feel exasperated.  “Okay, let’s flip a coin.  Uh, do you have one?”

“Negative.  The bed is large enough for us both to use it.”

Kirk glanced at the bed.  It was huge, designed to take species wider and taller than standard Humans.  “Okay.  Do you want to use the bathroom first?”

“I intend to meditate prior to sleeping.”

“Right.”

Kirk had brought only pajama bottoms, assuming they were going to sleep separately.  It’s not like Spock’s not seen his chest before, he thought with an internal shrug.  He definitely didn’t want to remember how the feeling of Spock pinching his nipples had gone straight to his groin.

To be on the safe side, Kirk jerked off in the shower.  It was his first time since Spock’s Pon Farr – after the marathon two days earlier, it had practically died.  When he re-entered the room, the lights were low and the temperature was a little higher than he preferred.  Another reason not to wear a top in bed.

The following morning he woke up gradually, to find himself tangled in a hot body.  It had taken a few seconds to realize before he leaped backwards away from Spock.

“Shit, I’m sorry Spock.”  He rubbed at his bleary eyes and caught the dark gaze looking up at him from the middle of the bed.

“Apologies are unnecessary, Jim.”

“Yeah well, I’ve shared beds with Bones on occasion and I’ve never had any problem sticking to my side of the bed before.”

Spock raised an eyebrow.

“We’ve never been sexually involved, if that’s what you’re wondering.”  He wasn’t sure why he felt the need to say that.

“It would appear the bond unconsciously drew us together.  You will notice that I, too, have moved from my original position.”

Spock was a good half meter from the edge of the bed.  It was like they’d been drawn together like magnets.  The fact that it had been one of the best night’s sleep he’d had in a long time didn’t detract from the fact that Spock was his first officer and captains weren’t supposed to cuddle them in bed, even though they were married.  Because that was in name only.

The following two nights, he’d taken the couch.  Scotty had told them the final touches on their joint cabin would be done at the Starbase where he’d be able to requisition a few extras the blueprints hadn’t stated.  Now was a good time to put in any special requests.

According to the blueprint Kirk had been given, the bedroom was completely separated from the main cabin by a bulkhead with a door, rather than simply divided from it by a mesh screen.  The bedroom itself was spacious, containing dressers and wardrobes, as well as a large bed with nightstands either side.  A door at one end led to a large bathroom with a much larger shower, a bath – a totally luxury on a starship – and two basins.  The office area of their quarters held two desks that abutted one another – useful for when they were working together on missions, reports and other hateful administrative processes.  A large couch, twice the size of the loveseats currently in both their quarters made up the last item of furniture.

“What do you think?” Kirk asked Spock as they both sat on the same side of his desk in his ready room.  He was overly conscious that the bridge crew might think the two of them had gone for a spot of canoodling.  It left him feeling a little annoyed because even if they did have that kind of relationship, both of them were too professional to do anything like that while on duty.

“The plans are satisfactory.”

Kirk wasn’t that surprised at his answer.  “That’s it?  No special requests?  I was thinking we could put a table at the back here, for when we play chess.  That way we keep our desks free.  We could use it for dining too.”  In his mind, he was thinking eating singly, not candlelit dinners for two.

“Logical.  There is sufficient space.”

“What about your stuff?” he asked Spock.  “You’ve got wall hangings and Vulcan artifacts.  We could get some nice shelving on this wall here to display some of the smaller items.  I’ve no objection to you hanging those red curtains in the bedroom either.  And that tapestry could go up on this wall here.”

“What of your own personal belongings, Jim?”

Kirk shrugged.  “I’ve only got a few old books and a couple of souvenirs from places we’ve visited.  I’ve never been a big collector.”  Never been in one place long enough to accumulate much, he thought.  Prior to this the academy had been his longest stint anywhere since his mid-teens and all he’d collected then were a few text books and a lot of padds.  “The books can go on a shelf below your sculptures and bits and pieces, if you’re okay with that.”

“That would be satisfactory.”

“What about your meditation stuff?  I was reading about an asenoi – there’s room for one if you’d like it.”

He hadn’t realized how strongly Spock must have been shielding their bond, because suddenly he felt something wash over him.  Perhaps it was gratitude, though he really couldn’t have put a name to it with any degree of accuracy.  Spock’s eyes did soften, though.

“An asenoi would be most beneficial for my meditation.  It is unlikely,” he said with an amused quirk of his lips, “that Starbase twelve will have one in their stores.”

“Where do you get them from?”

“They are made by artisans at the colony on T’Khasuzh.  It is possible to have one sent to a Starbase next time we are scheduled a visit.”

Kirk grinned.  “Right.  Anything else?”

“My needs have been adequately met, Jim.  If you’ll excuse me, I will return to my station.”

As Kirk watched Spock leave, he ran his mind over the conversation they’d just had.  Had he really just sat with his first officer and gone over decorations for their joint quarters?  He shook his head with a smile.  At least the couch they were going to have was big enough to accommodate one or the other of them when they were sharing the same shift.  He really didn’t want a repeat of that embarrassing awakening the first night they’d slept together.

-=-=-

The visit to Starbase twelve was a success in all but one area of Jim’s life.  The brothel had indeed been discreet and the sex had been great.  A relief really, as part of him wondered if he’d be able to sexually respond to someone else now he was bonded to Spock.  And just to prove to McCoy he didn’t always go for the same type, he’d chosen a tall, dark-haired humanoid woman with small, pert breasts and a pussy he hadn’t been able to get enough of.

Scott had been right about the flawed dilithium and the base’s engineering team was able to repair the problem in a third of the time it would have taken Scotty and his team while they drifted in space on impulse power.

The only fly in the ointment, had been Spock, whose interactions with him had become perfunctory, almost monosyllabic.  He was guessing Spock had known of his ‘transgression’, but the Vulcan had never said extra-marital activities were not an option.  This wasn’t good given his return signaled their first night in their new joint quarters.  He took the couch.

-=-=-

After departing the Starbase, the Enterprise headed with medical supplies to Kri-ifala, an independent planet in a minor star system on the edge of the neutral zone.  In exchange they would be picking up osmium, a base element used in many structural areas of a starship.

Over the next two weeks, relations thawed out between Kirk and Spock during their off-duty time – neither had allowed the strain to affect them while on duty.  When shifts allowed, they recommenced their chess games and Kirk made sure he spent quality time with Bones.  He assumed Spock was doing the same with Uhura, as they seemed to have remained on friendly terms.  It wasn’t something he asked about, not wishing to encroach on his personal affairs.

Kirk also studiously avoided thinking about Spock’s Pon Farr and what they had shared during that time.  On the occasions when he jerked off, which was pretty much every morning in the shower, and often at night, too, he focused on fantasies involving women.  If he’d started to include images of ass-fucking with those fantasy women, that was only because it was something he now knew he enjoyed – a new addition to his many other sexual proclivities.

Kirk sat in a chair, his bare feet propped up on a cushion on the loveseat McCoy was currently sprawled on in his quarters, his hands cradling a brandy snifter.

“I’ve already gotten used to the larger couch we have – it’s nice to stretch out on.”

McCoy smiled wryly.  “And sleep on.”

Kirk returned the smile.  “Yeah, that too.”  Unless Spock had said something to Uhura, and somehow he’d doubted it, though he didn’t know why, McCoy was the only person who knew they weren’t literally sleeping together.

“Not wanted to give it another try?”

“Come on Bones.  Imagine yourself in that situation.  How would you like to wake up like you were trying to bodily meld with Spock?”

McCoy winced.  “Point taken.”

Kirk swirled the Saurian brandy around the glass, inhaled the fumes appreciatively and then took a sip, feeling it heat up his mouth and throat.  “Spock was clear that the bond tries to draw us together and while we can consciously control it, once we’re asleep we’re at its mercy, kind of.”

“You mean you could end up having sex in your sleep and maybe not know about it?”

Kirk wriggled his toes and pulling them up, stretched his calf muscles.  “I’d like to think we’d wake up before it got that far, but I guess the potential’s there.  It’s not something I want to risk.”

McCoy appeared to consider something for a moment, staring into the large glass of amber liquid perched on his chest.  “I’m sorry if this sounds insensitive, but have you considered Spock’s needs at all?”

Kirk stared at McCoy, frankly amazed that the doctor would be thinking about Spock’s needs ahead of his friend’s.  “I don’t know what the deal is with Vulcans but I’m guessing since they can control everything else, outside of Pon Farr they can probably control their libido.  If he wants to get sex, he’s free to go for it.”

“You think that’s likely after the way he was with you after your little tryst on twelve?”

“Maybe we’re in a period of adjustment.  I’m hoping he gets used to it because I’m not going to stop my usual sex-life anytime soon.”

Kirk didn’t know, when he made that declaration, how soon he’d come to rethink his plan.

-=-=-

Kri-ifala catered to one and all when it came to adult entertainment.  The government welcomed everyone, as long as they followed certain strict laws on behavior.  It was one of the few places in the galaxy where it was possible to see Romulans, Klingons and StarFleet officers all drinking in the same place.  The potential for trouble was high, so the authorities strictly policed the pleasure areas and surveillance cameras were everywhere.

After a discussion with Spock, Kirk decided to allow two days of shoreleave – half a day per crew-member, as long as everyone travelled down and remained in pairs, no matter what.  He made it clear that anyone found alone would be in serious trouble.  Any anyone starting a fight would face court-martial.  No way did he want the Enterprise responsible for starting an inter-galactic war.

“Bones, I’m sorry, but for appearance’s sake, I have to go down with Spock.”

“No problem, I’d already figured that out.  Scotty’s going to chaperone me,” McCoy said with a grin.

Kirk looked alarmed.  “Just…for god’s sake don’t get too drunk.  I’ve seen Scotty lead you astray.”

“We’ll avoid Cardassian Sunrises, Romulan Ale and any other illegal or nefarious alcoholic beverages and stick to our usual, okay?”

Kirk breathed a sigh of relief.  What did it say about his top officers that he was more worried about their conduct than the junior crew?  Their ability to get into mischief had a long and colorful history.

Kirk and Spock were due to go on the first rotation, Scotty and McCoy on the last, since they were both going to be busy offloading and uploading cargo.

“I’d prefer to go somewhere a little off the beaten track,” Kirk said to Spock, half an hour later in their quarters.  What he meant was ‘a place he could pick someone up without any of the crew witnessing it’.

“That would be my preference also.”

Spock didn’t question the idiom and Kirk smiled inwardly, having long suspected that given the Vulcan taught linguistics at the Academy and must have learned Standard from his teacher mother probably while still in diapers, it was likely he understood far more than he let on.

Kirk clapped him on the arm.  “Good.  Shall we?”  He waved his arm towards the door of their quarters.

The two men materialized in a large square, three sides of which were lined by bars, clubs and brothels.  The fourth side led out onto a grand avenue lined with hotels.  Kirk looked at the swankiest hotel and pulled at Spock’s sleeve.

“I’ll bet the concierge can give us a few pointers.”

Kirk was right and armed with a map, they headed to a quieter part of the city center where the establishments were definitely more up-market, no doubt with price tags to match.  Perfect.  Captains and first officers were paid enough to cover the kind of charges to be expected in places like that, while lieutenants and ensigns weren’t.

As they walked past various bars, Kirk hovered at the door and looked in before moving on.  “Are you looking for something in particular, Captain?”

Kirk stopped walking.  “Spock, we’re off duty, we’re in civvies and ideally, we shouldn’t be drawing attention to ourselves.”  He raised his eyebrows, refusing to state the obvious.

“Jim,” Spock said, and Kirk could have sworn he sighed with it.

Kirk grinned.  “Just a place that looks lively.”  Translation: ‘full of attractive women’.

“You must realize that the last point you made, regarding drawing attention to ourselves is impossible, especially when we are together.  Since the Battle of Vulcan and the subsequent media coverage, our images continue to be used whenever StarFleet is in the news.”

Of course Kirk knew and he’d been cashing in on it for three years, never having any difficulty talking women into bed.  “Yeah, well, maybe in this backwater it might be different.  I mean we really are the back of beyond here on this planet.”

The bar Kirk eventually settled on was busy and lively, with a real musician playing a stringed instrument that Kirk thought sort of resembled a harp, but smaller.  The bar along one wall had seating along its length, and scattered around were small tables for two or three occupants and a few booths along the far wall.

“Drink, Spock?” Kirk asked, leaning on the bar close to two young and attractive women.

“Apple tea,” Spock said, putting down a small counter menu.

Kirk grinned.  “Sounds like something I’d like, only I want something a little stronger.”

The two men settled at a small table, Kirk nursing a double Jack Daniels.  It cost an arm and a leg but it was the real deal and worth it as it slid smoothly down.

“Is it your intention to find a sexual partner for the evening, Jim.”

He’d been waiting for that question, though wasn’t sure if Spock would ask outright or be more subtle about it.

“If I meet someone suitable.  You?”  Fair dues if Spock could ask, he could ask back.

“Likewise, if I meet someone suitable.”

Kirk was certain picking up someone for the night wasn’t something Spock had ever done with another person before.  He was way too private for that.  He suspected if not for the rule of staying in pairs, he wouldn’t be sitting here with Spock now.

“Vulcan?”

Kirk and Spock glanced up simultaneously to find a tall, slim Vulcanoid standing beside their table.  His dark hair covered his ears but not his eyebrows and almost black eyelashes framed brilliant blue eyes.

“I am.  You are Rihannsu?”

“From the colony on Remus.  I grieve for your people, Vulcan.  Much of our joint history was destroyed by the actions of a mad man.”

Spock inclined his head in acknowledgement as Kirk quietly watched on.

“May I join you?” he asked.  “I am Logoralan.”

Spock looked to Kirk who shrugged his shoulders in a ‘yeah sure’ sort of way.  Indicating the spare seat, the Vulcan said, “I am Spock.”

“I’m Jim,” Kirk smiled, but had the distinct impression Logoralan wasn’t interested in learning his name.

“Spock of Vulcan?  Son of Sarek?”

Kirk sat up tensely, always uncomfortable when they were recognized.

“I am.  How do you come to know of my family?”

Logoralan smiled.  It was odd for Kirk to see emotion displayed on a face that resembled a Vulcan’s.  “Who has not heard of you?  And your father has done much work to assist in the rebuilding of your people.”

Kirk knew it was true and felt himself relax a little.  When the two men began an earnest discussion about the future of Vulcan and the rebuilding of the culture, he found his mind, then his eyes wandering around the bar.  It had become quieter since their arrival, after a large group of people, apparently together, had left.  Not much choice for him of the clientele left.

Kirk tuned back into the conversation as it was reaching, he realized, a critical point.

“How long are you here, Spock?” Logoralan asked.

“For this evening only.  Our ship is here for two planet rotations but the crew have limited leave time.”

Logoralan glanced across at Kirk and then back to Spock.  After a moment, he appeared to come to a decision.  “May I speak with you privately, Spock?”

The two men stood and went to a quiet area of the bar.  After a few minutes, Spock returned.  “Jim, Logoralan and I are taking a room above this bar for two hours.”

Kirk tried not to show his surprise.  Not only was the Romulan a fast mover, but he never expected Spock to pick up a male, given he’d never been with one before his Pon Farr.

“Since we cannot be separated,” Spock continued, “it will necessarily require you to remain in this bar.  Will you permit it?”

Kirk glanced over to the bar where Logoralan waited.  “Sure.  Maybe I’ll get lucky too.”

Spock nodded his head and disappeared off.  This was not how it was supposed to go.  He was the galactic stud who never had trouble picking up women.  Oh sure, there were some in the bar and he probably could have pulled any one of them, but he also had certain standards.  Like, he needed to find them attractive, for one.  No-one here caught his eye and now he was stuck in the bar for at least the next two hours.

It was about fifteen minutes later, that Kirk decided he needed to move to one of the more private booths.  Whatever Spock was doing, was bleeding across the bond, and he was feeling it too.  Not only that, but he was becoming aroused from it.

The next hour and a half was, to Kirk’s mind, agony.  He was getting all the feeling, without the pleasure, and it was driving him nuts.  And he was not, absolutely not, going to go into the restroom and jerk-off.  Because he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Spock would feel it.  So, no way.  The only consolation he had from it all was that at least he knew Spock was safe.

He knew exactly when it was over, and walked to the bar to wait impatiently.  Spock didn’t seem surprised to see the look he knew he had on his face when he returned alone.

“Let’s get back to the ship,” Kirk said.  “I’ve had enough of this place.”

They walked back to the beam-up area in silence, and on the ship they made their way to their quarters.  It was only when the doors closed that Kirk turned on Spock.  “What the fuck was that about?”

Spock looked entirely too serene, to Kirk’s mind.  “Please be more specific, Jim.”

“Don’t be coy with me.  You know goddamn well what I’m talking about.  I felt everything you did with that Romulan.”

“Logoralan is Reman.  As for what you felt, it is the nature of the bond.  I can control up to a point, but during sexual relations it is necessarily open.”

“Between bondmates, I get that.  But you weren’t with your bondmate.”

“Neither were you on Starbase twelve.”

Kirk stared at him.  “You mean, you felt—”

“Affirmative.  Every time you have sexual release.”

Kirk flushed.  “Even when I jerk off?”  Spock’s placid gaze said it all.  “Oh god, that’s almost as embarrassing as getting caught by your mom.”

“Sexual release is a natural part of the bond, Jim.  What shame is there in it?”

That was fine, he thought, when the two people were actively involved in a sexual relationship together.  That wasn’t the case here.  How could he explain without rubbing Spock’s nose in it?

“We don’t have that kind of relationship.  Jerking off is supposed to be a private and solitary exercise to relieve stress or sexual tension.  It’s not something I’d choose to do in front of you.  Now, knowing you can feel what I feel, it’s not something I’m going to be comfortable acting on.”  And where would that leave him? he wondered.  Probably tied up in knots.

Spock stepped forward and put his hand on Kirk’s arm.  “You are being illogical.  Why are you embarrassed about masturbation after what you and I shared, which was far more intimate?”

“It’s not something I can rationalize,” he tried to explain.

“Allow me to assist you, Jim.”

“What?”  Kirk stared at Spock incredulously.

“I believe you are in need of release.  You may go into the bathroom and relieve yourself alone, knowing I will be able to sense it.  Or you can increase the pleasure by having me perform the act for you.  I will do nothing else but this.”

Kirk was caught between the proverbial rock and hard place.  Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.  His balls were currently in knots, he knew that much, and if he didn’t get some kind of release soon, it was going to begin to hurt.

“Come, stand with your back to me, Jim,” Spock urged quietly.

Almost without conscious volition, he did as suggested.  He closed his eyes and felt Spock step forward until his entire back was pressed up against the Vulcan’s torso.  He then felt a hand snake around and undo his pants before sliding inside.  When Spock took his cock into his fist, it was bliss.  The small part of his brain still functioning wondered why he hadn’t let Spock do this before.

The hot hand gripped the upper part of his cock and began to work it in long slow movements to begin with, but as the urgency grew, so the rhythm increased.  Kirk put his hand over the fist, lightly gripping it as it worked its magic.  He felt the pressure build, his balls tighten, an uncoiling deep in the root of his cock, then suddenly with great force he erupted in staccato spasms, his whole body jerking with the effort as he released himself over their joint hands.  When he was done, he was gasping, breathing as heavily as if he’d just done a five kilometer run.  He allowed his head to tilt back onto Spock’s shoulder a moment, as his body began to still.

Kirk finally pulled away.  “Thanks Spock,” he said quietly.  He didn’t really know what else to say.  Walking into the bathroom, he discarded his soiled clothing and stepped into the shower.  Spock stood at the basin to wash his hands, but not before Kirk spotted him putting a finger into his mouth and tasting.  Kirk grinned and turned his back, pretending not to notice.

So where did that leave them now?  There was no way he could sleep with anyone else if that was the effect it had on Spock, but neither was he going to allow Spock any extra-marital sex either.  There was no way he was going to go through that again.  He was aware that neither of them could be expected to continue indefinitely having no sex at all, but it was something he could put off for the time being.  He had no idea how celibacy would suit him.  Not well, he suspected.

Meanwhile, there was always jerking off.  He’d been doing it a lot more, recently, and after what they’d just shared, he didn’t feel quite so self-conscious about Spock knowing.  He could carry on as he had done, discreetly in the bathroom, or he could, on occasion, get Spock involved, since he’d appeared willing.  Certainly he hadn’t come that hard in a while.  Actually not since the two of them had had Pon Farr sex.

Despite the little episode that evening, on the whole nothing had changed and, that night, he slept on the couch.

-=-=-

The rampant plague on Gamma Niobe III – known as Xavasillia to the local inhabitants – had been harrowing in the extreme.  Enterprise was the only starship in that sector initially, but because the source wasn’t known and Humans were susceptible, all they could do initially was to offer advice.  McCoy and Spock had beamed down wearing environmental protection suits and until they came back and tested negative, Kirk’s heart was in his throat.  What surprised him is that his level of worry had been about equal for both of them.  Bones he understood – they’d been friends for six years and they definitely had an emotional attachment.  He’d even go so far as to say he loved Bones.  Spock was more of a surprise.  Maybe it was the bond, or maybe their friendship had just kind of snuck up on him that he hadn’t realized how much he really cared for the Vulcan.

Once McCoy had successfully synthesized a vaccine and the planet’s authorities were manufacturing it bulk, it became a damage limitation exercise, trying to save those already infected.  Crew from every department offered to volunteer their assistance and for several days straight, pretty much everyone on board was pulling double shifts.

The Constellation and Defiant showed up and things were a little less crazy after that.  Finally, with the situation under control, Enterprise was given new orders to proceed to Starbase thirty four to drop off the osmium deposits from Kri-ifala and pick up supplies, and then head to Daran, a small colony of Humans close to beta sector to carry out routine medical checks and drop off their cargo.

“Mr Chekov, lay in a course for Starbase 34.  Mr. Sulu, break orbit.  Proceed on course, warp factor three.”

The two aye aye sirs, Kirk barely acknowledged as he didn’t so much as sit, but rather slump in his seat.  It felt as if every muscle ached.

“Captain, I believe it is time for you to rest.”

Kirk looked up at Spock standing sternly beside his seat and knew he would brook no argument.  It was with great effort that he nodded and stood.

“Mr. Spock, you have the conn.”

“I am coming with you.  Mr. Sulu will take the conn.”

Kirk gazed into the dark brown eyes and could see the worry there.  A hand gently took his arm and steered him to the turbolift.

In their quarters, Spock went into the bathroom and ran a bath.  “Jim, I believe submerging yourself in hot water will assist you.”

“What about you – are you going to join me?  I bet the healing power of water would do you good too and the tub was designed for two.”

Spock’s eyebrow soared in obvious surprise.  He looked as though he was going to give his usual lecture as to why desert-born Vulcans don’t require water to rejuvenate, but apparently thought better of it.  “If you wish it.”

Kirk smiled.  “I do.  I think we’ve both earned it.  I’ve not used the hot tub yet as it’s a bit of a luxury.”

Ten minutes later, the two men lay end to end, side by side.  Kirk closed his eyes and allowed his mind to float, consciously relaxing his body and feeling the heat of the water ease away the worst of the aches.  His hand reached out to Spock’s, his fingers curling around their counterparts until they were loosely clasped.  And then he breathed a deep sigh of relief.

“Jim.”

Kirk had to force his eyes open.  “You fell asleep.  The water is beginning to cool and your skin is becoming wrinkled.”

Kirk grinned.  Climbing out of the water, he grabbed a large towel and dried himself off.  In the bedroom he found a clean pair of briefs in his dresser which he donned as Spock put on his pajamas.

“Night Spock,” he said, turning towards the door.

“Jim.  I will take the couch.  You need adequate rest and this bed is more comfortable.”

Kirk turned and regarded Spock for a moment.  “I’m the one who’s trying to keep his distance – it’s not fair that you should have to get the raw end of the deal because of a decision I made.”

Something flared in Spock’s eyes for a moment and then vanished.  Kirk was too tired to try to figure out what had come across the bond in that moment.  “We could both sleep in the bed.  Would it be such a dent to your dignity were you to find yourself sleeping beside me tomorrow morning?”

God, when he put it that way.  No, not really.  Ah fuck it.  Kirk turned back to the bed and took ‘his side’.  By the time the bed dipped as the Vulcan stretched out beside him, he was already asleep.

Kirk wasn’t surprised to find himself sleeping with his head on Spock’s chest and his arms wrapped around the slim body.  He was surprised that Spock’s arms were also around him and the Vulcan, uncharacteristically, was still asleep.  A testament to how tired he must have been.  Kirk knew that Spock hadn’t slept the last few nights, just using their room to meditate for no more than a couple of hours each night.  Now they were heading to Starbase 34, he hoped Spock would be able to get his asenoi delivered.

Kirk was reluctant to move in case he woke up Spock, who clearly needed the rest.  And, if the truth be told, he was pretty comfortable himself.  He allowed himself to drift for a while and came to in the pitch black of their bedroom knowing two things.  First, Spock was now awake.  Second, so was Little Jimmy, which was pressing hard and urgent against Spock’s thigh.

One of Spock’s hands drifted down his arm, leaving goosebumps in its wake, then over his hip and inside the waistband of his briefs.

“What are you doing?” Kirk asked, mildly panicked but not enough to move.

“I am assisting you with a problem.  I believe I have the skills necessary to make it go away.”

From Kirk’s position, face still pressed to Spock’s chest, he could hear the teasing in the tone.  “Really?  I—”  He didn’t get any further than that, because Spock had just taken his cock in hand and all coherent thought got up and walked out without so much as a backward glance.

It was when Kirk moved to cover Spock’s hand with his own, that his wrist nudged against something solid.  Interesting.  Apparently Spock was in a not dissimilar state.  He hadn’t touched Spock sexually since the day his Pon Farr had ended.  This could just be a mutual jerk-off, he reasoned.  Nothing to read in it.  Resolved, he pushed his hands beneath the band of Spock’s pajama bottoms and took Spock into his grip.  The action elicited a soft sigh and it was one of the most erotic things Kirk had ever heard.

Their position wasn’t optimal for their actions and it took only a little shifting around to change that.  Kirk found instead of imagining some fantasy female, just the thought that it was his very upright first officer doing this to him, together with the little sounds Spock was emitting in response to his actions on the Vulcan, was enough to push him quickly to the edge.  Their breaths had become quick and shallow, their bodies tensing with the sensual rhythm and suddenly, Kirk was convulsing against Spock as his orgasm ripped through him and he let out a long, shuddering groan.  He felt a simultaneous wetness flow over his hand as Spock surged against him.

They lay in the darkness, their foreheads pressed together as they fought to get their breathing under control.

“Morning Spock.”  His amusement was very evident in his voice.

“Good day, Jim.  I trust you slept well.”

“Lights to twenty five percent.”  He looked at Spock and confirmed his lips were quirked up just the tiniest bit.  He nearly leaned forward and kissed him, and then remembered the rule he’d made.  No kissing.  Instead, he gave Spock’s half-hard member a final squeeze.

“I did.  Best night’s sleep in a while.”  If he’d been more lucid, he might have remembered the last time he’d thought that was the last time he’d slept with Spock.

“For me, also,” Spock responded.

Kirk smiled.  “That’s not hard – it’s the first night’s sleep you’ve had in a while.”  Kirk yawned and blinked several times.  “I guess we ought to get up.”  The statement was accompanied by a sigh.

Kirk swung his legs over the edge of the bed and as he made his way to the shower, he surreptitiously licked a finger to see what Spock tasted like.  He’d tried his own semen in the past but had never tasted anyone else’s.  The flavor was milder and less salty.  He tried a bit more.  Yes, not bad, really.

-=-=-

It took five days to reach Starbase 34.  Five mind-numbingly boring days and Kirk wouldn’t have had it any other way.  After the excitement of Xavasillia and the plague, the crew needed time to cruise and recharge their batteries.  Kirk had scheduled in a few drills, because it was always important to keep his crew on their toes, but they weren’t due to start until they were two days out from the Starbase.

He elected to continue sleeping in the bed with Spock, and was rapidly becoming used to sharing.  He always started out lying on ‘his side’, not wanting to cuddle up when they fell asleep because that kind of behavior was too much like the kind you get in a ‘relationship’.  But wherever he started in the bed, his body would home in on his bondmate.  And that was okay, because waking up like that didn’t feel so weird now, and because every morning they shared a mutual jerk-off which was always satisfying, and which totally got him in a good mood and set him up for the day.

“You’ve been looking chipper, Jim,” McCoy remarked as they sat in his office after shift, sipping a glass of whiskey.

“And?”  He didn’t need to give away all his personal secrets.  Although Bones had a habit of being able to ferret them out of him regardless of his convictions.  That said, he’d never told Bones about Spock’s encounter on Kri-ifala, and had no intention of telling him, either.

McCoy smirked.  “Getting any lately?”

Kirk mock-frowned.  “Why do you ask?”

“Because you’ve been walking around with a shit-eating grin on your face the last few days and the only time I’ve seen that look on you is when you’re getting good sex.”

That was the trouble with McCoy.  He knew Kirk too well for him to be able to keep secrets from him even if he wanted to.  “I started sleeping in the bed and we’ve been doing our own circle jerk to wake up.”

“For fuck’s sake, Jim!” McCoy grimaced, coughing on the drink that had gone down the wrong way.  “You really don’t need to go into detail.  Not when the person you’re having sex with is Spock, at any rate.”

Kirk beamed at him, having timed his comment and McCoy’s swallowing to perfection.  “You shouldn’t ask if you don’t want to know.  Anyway, that’s as far as it’s gone.”

“Well, you’re certainly looking better for it.  You were dead on your feet when we left Xavasillia.  I was seriously considering putting you on twenty four hour medical leave.  You really need to know your limits – there’s no point in the captain burning himself out and being good to neither man nor beast.”

McCoy had a good point and he felt from that, he’d learned his lesson well.  “Yeah, I really didn’t know how far I’d pushed until it was over.  Then it was like someone had pulled my plug out.  Spock and I slept for twelve hours straight.”

“He’s as bad as you; he wouldn’t sleep at all.  All that stuff about superior Vulcan physiology, my ass.  Even he has his limits.  If I hadn’t been so caught up trying to prevent more people from dying, I’d have intervened with both of you sooner.  You both need to be accountable for your own health and well-being.”

“Don’t think it’s something I’ve ever been that good at.”

McCoy’s face went thoughtful for a moment.  “No, as long as I’ve known you, you haven’t.”

-=-=-

When the alarm went at 05:00, Kirk groaned.  The first drill was due to begin at 06:00, two hours before alpha shift began.

“Have we got time—?”

“Not and change the bed-linen following our activities, if you wish to partake of breakfast.”

He definitely needed food, as it was going to be a long day and he’d probably skip lunch.  But he had gotten used to waking up feeling horny.

“Jim, I have a suggestion.”

“Yeah?”

Spock didn’t say any more.  He just began to slide down Kirk’s body and seconds later, his cock was engulfed in warm, wet heat.

“Oh fuck,” he breathed.  It was incredible – the best blow job he’d ever had.  How the fuck had he not remembered how talented Spock was.  The trouble was, this was all one-sided, and if nothing else, Jim Kirk was a fair man.

“Stop a minute,” Kirk said, lifting the sheet up.  “Swing yourself around so I can reach you too.”

Spock was intelligent and didn’t need asking a second time.  Though they hadn’t engaged in sixty-nining before, they had it figured out in moments.

Kirk suddenly found himself confronted by a very hard, green cock with a glistening drop on its tip.  Not so long ago, he would have felt disgusted at the thought of taking a cock into his mouth, but really, why was it ‘worse’ than going down on a woman?  This was Spock, who he already knew intimately – even knew how he tasted.  And with that thought, a good place to start was swiping that drop away with his tongue.  Gently taking the column in one hand, he opened his mouth wide and wrapped his lips over the head.  Below, he felt Spock’s breath gush against his own cock, as all movement stilled.  Kirk would have smiled if he could.

He began to suck and using his tongue, he explored as well, quickly finding the actions that brought the greatest reactions from Spock.  Not all the reactions were overt, either.  He realized some of the feedback was coming through the bond, too.  So that’s how Spock got to be such a brilliant cock-sucker.  It was kind of cheating, he thought, but awesome too.

Spock bent back to his task, keeping pace with Kirk’s rhythm.  The Vulcan’s hips began to rock and not wanting to choke, Kirk put his hand across his hips in an attempt to hold him back.  He realized Spock had done pretty much the same thing for him too.  The instinct to thrust was almost overpowering.  Looking down his body and seeing Spock sucking his cock like it was the most delicious dish he’d ever eaten was too much for Kirk.  Sucking harder himself to try to focus his mind away, it was too late.  He hummed around the shaft in his mouth and then felt something in him unwind and wash over him in a toe-curlingly intense orgasm.

Maybe it was the bond, because Spock had a knack of pretty much doing the simultaneous orgasm thing and suddenly, Kirk felt squirts of liquid gush across his tongue several times.  He had no trouble swallowing between spurts, and the overall taste was pleasant – actually far less pungent than many women he’d gone down on.

Kirk felt utterly enervated as he lay his head on Spock’s thigh.  “Fuck,” he repeated.

“My sentiment precisely.”

That comment made Kirk laugh.  “Do you really think words like that in your head?” he asked with a smile.

“On occasion.  However it would, in most cases, be undignified to repeat it aloud.”

Kirk was curious.  The thought of Spock swearing was very amusing.  “In most cases?  When have you ever done it?”

“I have not, as yet.  However, in certain circumstances, I believe I could be persuaded.”

“Like when?”  He asked, but he was already getting an idea.

“I believe many Humans derive additional excitement during sexual intercourse when their partner provides a litany of colorful language to accompany their actions.”

“Talking dirty.”

“I believe that is what I said.”

Kirk pushed himself up on one elbow to better see Spock’s face.  “You’d talk dirty to me?”

“If it provided you with satisfaction, I would.  You are my bondmate, Jim.  I am not overly concerned with a loss of dignity with you, given what we have already shared.  If it enhanced your experience, uttering words that are generally considered to be vulgar would not be a great hardship.”

Kirk grinned.  “Go on, say it now.”

“Now you are being childish.  You merely wish to hear me say such a word for amusement, not for pleasure.”

“I know, but humor me.  Please?”

Spock raised an eyebrow and let out an audible breath.  “Fuck.”

Kirk went into a fit of giggles while Spock lay back and stared at the ceiling.  “You are incorrigible.”

“But you love me.”  The words slipped out before Kirk had realized he’d said them.

“Yes.  Yes I do,” Spock said quietly.

-=-=-

The battle-stations drill had gotten off to a flying start at 06:03.  To Kirk’s amusement, some crew had arrived wearing the wrong colored shirts, not always the color of their room-mate either.  Only the heads of departments had been privy to the drill, the time and the content, so they at least had turned up not looking like they’d slept in their clothes.

He had to keep focused on what they were doing – but Spock’s words were echoing around in his head.  Spock loved him.  He hadn’t said the words back because he honestly didn’t know if he felt that way about his bondmate.  Spock’s admission really had been a bombshell and now he felt like a teenager with a new crush, unable to think about anything but the object of their desires.

In a bid to save time and earn enough extra minutes to get them breakfast, they’d shared the shower for the first time that morning too.  That was three ‘firsts’ in one go, not counting hearing Spock say ‘fuck’, which still brought a grin to his face each time he thought about it.  Yes it was puerile, but it was hugely amusing, too.

“Captain?” Sulu said, looking at Kirk in an odd way.

Kirk realized he was still grinning for no apparent reason.  Even though he knew it was highly unprofessional, something he berated himself for, it took real effort to make it go away.  “Nothing Sulu, carry on.”

Kirk had the ability to completely submerge himself singularly into any given activity, and he did that now, putting all personal thoughts to one side.  He didn’t see behind him Spock nod once with satisfaction and turn back to his station.

-=-=-

Spock’s asenoi was waiting for him at Starbase 34, and within two hours, engineering had it secured in their quarters.  Kirk was slightly repelled by it when he finally got to see it at the end of his shift.  Thankfully Spock wasn’t there to witness the face he pulled, having gone straight to the labs to check on several experiments being run.  The asenoi was carved out of stone, the upper part not unlike the kind of gargoyle that decorated medieval European cathedrals, this one with its mouth wide open.  The cavern of the mouth itself appeared to be filled with small shards of red crystal.  How Spock could gain a sense of peace from it he had no idea, but to each their own, he supposed.

This was the first occasion Kirk had been alone for a while.  It was as good a time as any, he decided, to reflect on what was happening between him and Spock.  He went into their bedroom and lay on the bed, the smell of his lover slight but distinct.

There had been an increasing degree of intimacy between them.  He’d kind of figured that the Pon Farr would be the beginning and the end of their sexual relationship, naively believing that having satisfied the biological imperative, they could go back to their old way – Spock to Uhura and he to his usual womanizing ways.  He’d had no idea how much they would feel the sexual exploits of the other through their bond.

Only now did he feel he could really acknowledge that he’d been jealous of the Reman Spock had taken.  He’d felt everything, even the fact that Spock had taken the top, the Reman submitting to him.  He also knew that Spock had gained little more than a release from it.  It was at that point, he’d realized, they only had each other.

Even as their intimacy had escalated, Kirk was still drawing strict boundaries around what was permissible, and though they were largely tacit, Spock understood and was sticking to them.  Sex was confined to early morning or late night, and only in bed.  They were now giving each other blow-jobs, which left a lot less mess and Spock’s were pretty mind-blowing.  There was no kissing, no cuddling or any other forms of affection.  Outside of their bedroom – even that time they’d rushed to have a shower together, and they’d really just showered – they acted as though there was nothing between them.

Kirk wasn’t sure why he was compartmentalizing things the way he was, or why he was still keeping Spock at arm’s length.  Maybe it was so he wouldn’t have to acknowledge he was in a homosexual relationship.  Or that he had homosexual tendencies.  Bones had told him that he was bisexual pretty much down the line with no significant leaning either way.  He’d always thought of himself as straight.  He kind of liked his womanizing reputation, perhaps because it made him seem somehow virile.  But then again, wouldn’t he be viewed as that to be able to hold down a male Vulcan bondmate?  Nothing about either of them was remotely effeminate.  Neither had they, during the Pon Farr episode, established a pattern for topping or bottoming.  They’d pretty much shared that equally, not because of convention but they’d discovered they both enjoyed giving and receiving equally.

Maybe that was his issue, thinking in terms of stereotypes and labels.  Since when did he give fuck what people thought about him – well, at least outside of his job.  In that arena, at least, it was important to garner respect and trust from his subordinates, as well as his superiors – the latter having been harder won.  But Kirk the man had long stopped caring about trying to do what others expected of him.  He’d tried that and it had gotten him no-where.  Good grades at school hadn’t stopped his mom from heading off-planet, hadn’t stopped his step-father taking out his drunken frustration on him for his mom’s absence, hadn’t stopped Sam from deserting him the first chance he got.  After that, he’d lived his life as he’d pleased, and fuck everyone else.

So really, why was he giving a damn about other people’s opinions.  It wasn’t as if those opinions were even negative ones.  Clearly T’Pau was okay with their bonding since she was the one who’d initiated it.  StarFleet seemed fine with it – the blueprint for their shared quarters had arrived at the same time as the messages of congratulations from various quarters.  The crew, after the initial buzz were fine with it.

He wondered what his block was to taking Spock in as a full lover.  The Vulcan’s words, his admission of love, had really thrown him for a loop, that was for sure.  Was it about commitment?  Maybe just the idea of saying ‘I do’ til death us do part.  But realistically given the lifestyle he’d chosen, what could be more convenient than have your partner serve with you.  He had thought the lack of variety would bother him – Jim love ‘em and leave ‘em Kirk – yet there was something incredibly enjoyable in satisfying the sexual needs of someone familiar, someone you feel a lot for…someone you love.  Did he?  He wasn’t sure.  He didn’t think he’d ever really known love in his life, so trying to identify the feeling in himself towards others wasn’t exactly an easy job.  But the sex, especially given the limits he was imposing, was better than he’d ever experienced and he didn’t think it was all to do with the bond.  He wanted to pleasure Spock, wanted him to feel good, wanted him to feel sexually satisfied.

So it was back to the labels, he thought.  Maybe he just needed to adjust the view he had of himself a bit.  Or maybe just take the labels away altogether – screw them up and throw them in the trash.  Other people’s labels of him had never been accurate.  So labels really were all bullshit.  He is who he is and who gives a fuck where he gets his sexual gratification?  Really.

Whatever.  For the time being, he’d keep things as they are.  If they naturally progressed to more, well then he’d cross that bridge when he came to it.

-=-=-

Daran was an unexciting planet in the far reaches of Federation space.  The people belonged to a religious sect called The Dara that had been persecuted wherever they had tried to settle.  In the end, they’d been given their own Class M planet well away from anyone who could cause them trouble.

The agreement had been that every year, a Federation starship would stop by to help with medicals and drop supplies.  So here they were, having drawn the short straw.

McCoy and his team had beamed down and the medicals of six thousand people began.  It was estimated it would take a week, given they weren’t that in-depth and the state-of-the-art bio-beds the Enterprise was fitted with could do instant diagnostics with written reports for the colony’s database.

The people on the colony led a very simple life, not unlike that of the Amish found in northern America.  Machinery was minimized, with most activities, be it housekeeping, farming, or hunting for food, was all done by hand.  This meant that for those born on the planet, transporters and starships were a frightening experience.  McCoy had had to coax many to lie down on the bio-beds as even that seemed to scare many of them.  McCoy he could understand – the guy was pretty scary after all – but the beds?  Each to their own.

The first night they were there, Kirk broached a subject he’d been avoiding, but had been curious about.  Actually, it had been Spock who had encouraged him to ask questions, apparently having sensed his curiosity.  They were lying side by side in bed, Kirk staring at the ceiling.

“In the few months since we’ve bonded, you’ve never talked about Uhura.”  He kept the statement open for the time being to see where it would take them.

“What would you have me say?”

That was a tough question.  Kirk turned onto his side to look at Spock.  “She was your lover for four years, Spock.  I don’t believe you can just switch those feelings off, even if you are bonded to someone else.”  Again it was an open statement.

There was a long silence from Spock and Kirk could feel through the bond that it wasn’t because he wanted to keep his thoughts private, but more that he was trying to sort through his feelings.

“I was in love with Nyota at the time of our bonding,” he admitted finally.

“And now?”  It wouldn’t make any difference, he was sure, to what they shared, but he wanted to know.

“I still love her,” he said quietly.  “But I am no longer in love with her.”

That was a very honest answer.  After all that time, how could you stop loving someone, just because an accident has prevented you being together.  “I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you, for both of you.”

There was another question, but he didn’t ask it because some part of him really didn’t want to know the answer.  Do you regret bonding with me?  He would hate for Spock to say ‘yes’.  And he couldn’t see how he could say anything else.  Spock had been in love with Uhura, but while his bondmate had admitted to loving him, he was reasonably certain he wasn’t in love with him.  How could he be?  What Spock had shared with Uhura was so much more than what the two of them shared – no, he had to be honest, with what he was allowing the two of them to share.

He put his hand out and pressed it to Spock’s chest.  “I’m so sorry all this happened, Spock.  I’m sorry you lost her.”

After that, they’d sucked each other off with more urgency than usual and when Spock did something different and gently pushed his finger in Kirk’s rectum for the first time since his Pon Farr and pressed against his prostate, Kirk had come like a freight train.

Afterwards, instead of starting on opposite sides of the bed, they cut to the chase and fell asleep wrapped around each other.

The following day, Spock expressed an interest in studying some of the flora to the north of the colony where some variants of plants he’d not seen before were apparently growing in abundance.  Kirk managed to get permission from the colony’s leader, Anton d’Aragescu, to allow the science team to beam down and carry out some explorative work over the remainder of their time there.

Each evening, Spock came back enthused by his work and Kirk would happily listen to the things his bondmate was discovering.  To anyone watching, Spock’s face would appear placid, his voice, monotone.  But Kirk had the extra dimension of the bond and his excitement was as clear as if he’d jumped up and rung bells, singing hallelujah.  The very thought of Spock doing that made Kirk grimace and realize they’d been there too long.  The strict adherence to religious doctrine seemed, to Kirk, to severely limit freedom, creativity and innovation.

After the catch up, they had dinner in the mess, usually alone as Bones was busy with the medicals and Uhura was still avoiding him outside of duty hours.  Then it was paperwork for him, and lab work for Spock.  He went to bed and Spock generally appeared sometime in the middle of the night.  In the morning, they did their sixty-nining, with a few variations.  One morning, they’d started with Kirk flat on his back and Spock straddling his knees, bent over his cock, his head bobbing up and down.  Spock’s control included his gag reflex, because he was able to go down until his lips made contact with his abdomen.  It was obscenely erotic, especially as Spock insisted on not only keeping his eyes open, but fixing on him, so that he hadn’t lasted more than two minutes.  He’d tried to reciprocate but he still couldn’t get more than halfway down before he felt like he was choking.  He knew it’d come with practice.

-=-=-

Only one more day and they’d be out of here.  McCoy was actually ahead on the screenings, good for him.  He missed his friend and was looking forward to getting some time with him once they were on their way back.  Next stop, patrolling the Neutral Zone.  Not the greatest of assignments, but surely better than what they were doing now.

“Captain.”  It was Uhura’s voice.  He sat up straight, hearing tension in her tone.  “Spock and the science team are overdue.  They should have beamed aboard fifteen minutes ago and they’re not answering their communicators.”

“Understood.  I’m on my way.”

Kirk was on the bridge twenty three seconds after leaving their quarters.  Probably a record but he didn’t have time to consider it now.  “Masters, can you read them on scanners?”

“No sir.  We’re not getting anything.  Commander Spock’s with three Humans so it’d be almost impossible to detect them separate from the colonists without their communicators.”

Kirk focused on the bond, but it felt dormant.  A condition it was in a lot of time when they were on shift and Spock was carefully shielding to avoid distractions.

“Uhura, get me Anton d’Aragescu.”

It took fifteen minutes for d’Aragescu to respond.  The picture on their viewscreen was piss poor quality, due to the standard of equipment they chose to use.

“Mr. d’Aragescu, the science team who have been conducting studies are not answering their communicators.  Are you or any of your people aware of their whereabouts?”

“Sorry Captain Kirk.  The last I heard, they were working in the foothills of the Geystron Mountains.”

Kirk heard a discreet cough behind him.  “One moment Mr. d’Aragescu.”  Kirk swiveled around to Uhura and mouthed ‘put him on hold’.

“He’s lying, Sir,” she said matter of factly.

“How can you tell?”

“Intonation, inflection, lack of eye contact, unconscious hand movements about his face.”  Kirk had gotten the last two but the voice sounds he’d missed.  He trusted Uhura implicitly.

“Mr. d’Aragescu, do you have any objection to me sending some security teams down to locate the whereabouts of my crew?”

“Captain, your presence here is already disrupting our daily life.  Sending security teams in will frighten the colonists.  I am certain your people will make contact with you soon.”

Kirk bristled but held off using a heavy hand.  “So you’re saying ‘no’, is that correct?”

“For the time-being.”

Kirk’s lips were a thin line.  “If I hear nothing in thirty minutes, I’m sending my people down whether you like it or not.  Kirk out.”

Fuck, he hadn’t meant to say that.  He turned and caught Uhura’s sympathetic look.

Two minutes to the deadline, Scott called the bridge.  “Sir, just beaming the landing party up.”

Kirk let out the breath he was holding.  He forced himself not to go rushing to see Spock – he was only 45 minutes overdue and there was probably a good reason for it.  He’d tell him what he thought about his timing in private later.  Kirk’s euphoria turned out to be short-lived.

“Cap’n,” came Scott’s voice again.  “I’ve only got three of the team.  Mr. Spock’s still missing.”

So began one of the longest nights of Kirk’s life.

“Are any of them in need of medical assistance?”  Kirk asked.

“No sir, not that I can see.”

“Right, send them to briefing room C.”  He punched the button on his armrest to close the channel.  “Sulu, you have the conn.  Uhura, with me.”

“Masterson, what happened?” he asked the moment he was through the door.

“I’m not sure Sir.  We were working in a grove, spread out but no more than fifty meters away from anyone.  I just remember waking up flat on my back in a small copse near where we’d been working.”

“Was Commander Spock with you when you woke?”

“No Sir, just Ar’ryia and Feng.”

“Ar’ryia?”

“Pretty much the same story, Sir.”

“And me, Sir,” added ensign Feng.

Kirk let out a troubled breath.  “Do any of you have any idea of Mr. Spock’s whereabouts?”

They all shook their heads. 

“Uhura?”

“I don’t understand why we’re not picking him up on scanners.  These people don’t have the equipment to be able to jam the signals.”

“Which means we may be dealing with others who may or may not be in cahoots with the colonists.  I’m going down.”  He leaned forward and hit the comm. button on the console in front of him.  “Sulu, hand the conn to Chekov and meet me in transporter room 1 in five minutes.”  He punched another button.  “Kirk here.  I need four experienced security officers to beam down into a possibly hostile situation.  Transporter room 1 in five minutes.  Armed to the teeth and any gear needed for night searches – night vision equipment, tricorders, you know the deal.  Oh, and bring four extra phasers.”

“Right sir, willdo.”

Kirk punched the button again.  “Dr. McCoy?”

“I’m busy Jim, can this wait?”

“Where are you, Doctor?”  What he meant was ‘I need to speak to you without eavesdroppers from the colony’.

“Dammit I’m—”  Kirk grinned as McCoy caught on.  “Wait a minute,” the doctor added.  “Okay, what’s up?”

“Spock’s missing, not even showing up on scanners.  I’ve got a bad feeling about this so I’m sending down a search party.  I want you on it so beam up now.  We’re meeting in transporter room 1 in three minutes.  Kirk out.”

Kirk stood up, and waited for the inevitable.

“I’m coming with you,” Uhura said.

Kirk grinned.  “Yeah, I know.  That’s why four extra phasers.  One’s for you.”

She smiled back – her first genuine smile to him in what seemed months.  “Asshole,” she said quietly once they’d left the room and were out of hearing range of the science away team.

“Hey, only Bones gets to call me that as a term of endearment.”

“Since when was it supposed to be a term of endearment?  I meant it.”  There was no bite to her words.  Kirk smiled, but it was short-lived.  He had a bondmate to find.

The transporter room was busy.  “Scotty, when you beamed up the team, what was their position relative to where they beamed down?”

“Ach, I’d say no more than four hundred meters to the east, Cap’n.  I can get you more precise information—”

“No, that’s fine.”  Kirk leaned over Scott’s shoulder and talked into the comm. unit.  “Chekov, I want you on those scanners.  Keep trying to find Spock – use any method you can, recalibrate all you like.  Just don’t stop, okay?  If you get anything.  Anything that shouldn’t be there, call me and let Scotty know too.”

“Werry well, Keptin.”

“Incoming McCoy,” Scott called out.

Kirk looked up to see his friend materialize.  “Here, catch,” he said, throwing a phaser.

McCoy scowled at it, turning it over in his hands and checking it was set to stun.  “You think we’ll need these?  I thought these people are pacifists.”

“My gut’s telling me this isn’t about the colonists, although Uhura felt certain Anton d’Aragescu was lying when he said he had no idea what had happened to the landing party.”

“Right people, get ready to beam down.  Scotty, send us to the last known whereabouts of Spock.  It’s as good a place as any to start.”

Eight people beamed down to a meadow, lined to the west by a river, beyond which were the foothills of a mountain-range, and to the east by a small wooded area.  The sun was low in the sky and Kirk estimated that sunset would be within the hour.  “This is where the science team were abducted.  In pairs, work your way around and see if you can find any clues as to what happened.  The three who came back, regained consciousness in a wood.  From what Scotty said, it’s likely that one,” he speculated, indicating some trees.  “Maintain open communication at all times.”

Four pairs of StarFleet staff began to scour the meadow.  It was over half an hour and Kirk was just beginning to wonder if they were on a wild-goose chase when Uhura’s voice sounded over his communicator.

“Captain, I’ve got something.”

Kirk straightened up and glancing around, saw her waving a few hundred meters away.  With the security man at his side, he ran towards her, reaching her in under half a minute.

“I found this,” she said holding up a piece of cloth between her long nails.

“Excellent work, Uhura.”  She nodded once in acknowledgement of the praise.  “Let’s send it up for analysis.”  A moment later the piece of cloth was back on the Enterprise.  Kirk imagined one of Spock’s staff tweezering it off the transport pad and putting it into a clear specimen bag before scuttling off to the labs.  They may have been the youngest crew in the fleet, but they were among the brightest.  If that piece of cloth had any story to tell, he was confident they would find it.

A further half an hour of searching proved fruitless.  Above them the sky changed from blue to pinks and purples as the sun headed rapidly towards the horizon.  Kirk’s communicator sounded.  “Lieutenant Donaldson, Sir.  I’ve got information on the analysis of the material you sent up.”

“Go ahead.”

“It’s of Romulan origin, Sir, and includes Romulan DNA.  Very recent, within the last half a day, we think.”

Fuck.  “Thanks Lieutenant.”  Kirk switched channels.  “Chekov.”

“Nothing to report, Sair.  Still searching for Woolcan signs.”

Kirk was used to the way the navigator mangled Standard but it still made him smile.  “We’ve got Romulans too.  I want crew to standby on battle alert.”

“Understood, Sair.”

The rest of the search party who had been listening were running to converge on their captain.  Within a minute they were all gathered.

“Sulu, I need you to beam up and take command as acting captain.  Any sign of hostility, get those shields up.  Try the détente first – they may have already beamed Spock up so we don’t want to blow them out of the sky.”

“Captain, you should go up.  The Enterprise needs you,” Uhura said.

“No, I have to stay here.  I don’t know why, but I’m certain Spock’s still on the planet.  I have to find him.”

Uhura glared at him and took an aggressive stance, hands on hips.  “You can’t stay here and look for one person where there’s a ship and four hundred crew who need you.”

Kirk knew Uhura still loved Spock and knew how hard that must have been for her to say.  “I’m the only one who can locate him.  I can use the bond—”

“You are compromised, Captain.”  The last word was emphasized.  “You cannot justify staying here when—”

Kirk was aware of the others all standing listening to this.  “I can and I do, Lieutenant.  The Romulans are a telepathic race.  Spock is privy to a great deal of classified StarFleet information, including all the details of Nero and the formula for the red matter he used to destroy Vulcan.”

Uhura’s eyes widened.  “You can’t mean—”

“I am not compromised.  I’m weighing up four hundred people on the ship against billions throughout the Federation.  Maybe these people intend to finish what Nero started.  Whatever, I can’t take that risk.”  He turned to the helmsman.  “Sulu.  Go now.”

As the hum of the transporter took him, he turned back to the group.  “This may be a suicide mission.  If any of you want to go back to the ship, I’m giving you the out.”

There was silence from the remaining six crew.  McCoy spoke up.  “Jim, if you can use the bond to find him, why are we all thrashing about in a field?”

“It’s been dormant since he beamed down.”

McCoy scowled.  “So we’re looking for a needle in a haystack, in the goddamn dark.”

“I know it’s—”  Kirk didn’t finish his sentence as a blinding pain shot through his head as though someone had hit him with a claw hammer, and his legs crumpled.

“Jim, Jim!”

The voice sounded far away.  He forced his eyes open to find McCoy aiming his medical tricorder at him.  Clutching his head he focused on the pain and mentally called Spock.  He didn’t know if his bondmate could hear him, but he tried to send reassurance and a sense they were looking for him.

“Your psionic reading’s just gone off the scale.  What the hell’s happening?”

As quickly as it hit him, Kirk was free of the agonizing pain that had left him almost heaving with nausea.  Gasping for breath, he forced the rising feeling of panic of what they might be doing to Spock to the back of his mind.

“They’re trying to use some kind of device on Spock.  But whatever, it’s cleared the block.  I can feel him now – he’s definitely still on the surface.  Andretti, I need your tricorder.”

The security man handed it over and Kirk manipulated the settings so that it mapped the terrain.  Kirk slowly turned through a full circle and then aligned himself with the direction he was as sure as he could be, he felt Spock was in.  Squinting in the half-light at the read-out and focusing on the bond, he concentrated while the litany of whereareyouwhereareyou ran unceasing through his head.

Kirk looked up.  “He’s about ten kilometers in that direction,” his finger pointing northwest.  He spoke into his communicator.  “Sulu, anything to report?”

“Negative, Sir.  All quiet up here.”

“Good.  Scotty, on my command, beam us to these coordinates.  He fed the data from the tricorder to his comm. device.”

“Right you are, Cap’n.”

“Computer, acknowledge my identity.”

“Captain James T. Kirk, serial number sierra charlie nine three seven dash zero one seven six charlie echo charlie.”

“Authorize access to files romeo oscar romeo one seven six beta to Ensign Pavel Chekov and Lieutenant Commander Montgomery Scott, Kirk alpha alpha four eight zulu.  Acknowledge.”

“Authorization acknowledged and accepted.”

Kirk let out a breath.  “Chekov, read the files I’ve just given you access to and focus scanning on a point five hundred meters north west of the coordinates I’ve just sent Scotty.  And let us know immediately if you get any signs of Romulan lifeforms in the vicinity.”

“Aye, Sir.”

“Scotty, take a look at the files too, so you can see what we’re up against and standby for emergency beam-out if necessary.”

“Willdo, Sair.”

"Beam us over now.”

The words had barely left his mouth when Kirk felt the tug of the transporter.  The seven of them materialized in a sparsely wooded area, the canopy preventing little of the dusk sky to permeate.

“Shit, I can’t see a thing,” McCoy groused as Kirk heard a stumble.

“Don’t move until you’re wearing a night-vision kit.  Andretti?”

“Here, Sir.”  Kirk felt something placed in his hand.  A moment later he could clearly see the landing party as each of them donned the goggles Andretti was handing out.

“By my reckoning, Spock’s about half a kilometer in that direction,” he explained, pointing to his right.  “He’s conscious and he knows we’re looking for him.”

“Can you communicate with him?” McCoy asked.

Kirk shook his head.  “Not directly, no.  It’s more than a sense of awareness, but less than speech.  I can’t really explain.  What I’m about to tell you is the classified information I’ve used my discretion to give Chekov and Scotty access to, which until now was privy only to Commander grade and above.”

He glanced around as each of the team looked at him attentively.  “Fleet Intelligence has been aware for some time that the Romulans have managed to perfect some kind of cloaking device.”

“Cloaking device?” McCoy echoed.

“It renders their ships invisible to scanners, but not to the naked eye.  What we don’t know is when the device is activated, what their capability is.  By that I mean if their device blocks the ability of other ships to detect them on scanners, whether it also blocks their own sensor array, preventing them detecting other ships – which isn’t an issue if you’re invisible to them in the first place.”

“So as long as they’re cloaked, they may not know we’re out here looking for Spock,” McCoy said.  “But we don’t know that for sure, right?”

“Not for sure, Bones.  But StarFleet scientists have done the math and they’re fairly certain it works both ways.  Or rather they haven’t yet come up with a formula that would work in their favor on their own scanning equipment while they’re cloaked.”

“How certain is ‘fairly certain’, Jim.  I mean, are we walking into a deathtrap here, or what?”

Kirk smiled at McCoy, ever the cautious one.  “A ninety seven point something or other possibility.  If Spock were here he’d give you the exact figures.”

Kirk saw McCoy’s mouth crack into a small smile at his irony.  “If I’m right, then they have no idea we’re here and now it’s dark, that should make it easier to get right up to them.  When we get to within a hundred meters, we’ll fan out and converge.  Look for any signs of how we can get in and—”

The blinding pain was back and Kirk staggered.  This time McCoy held him upright in almost a hug as his arms went around him, but he was unaware of it, only the agony in his head, the pressure increasing as though it were about to explode.  As suddenly as it started, it ended and Kirk turned his head, feeling his stomach heave.  He’d skipped lunch and hadn’t eaten since Spock went missing, so there was nothing to give.  He was vaguely aware of the sound of his dry retching echoing around him before he felt a hypospray against his neck and, seconds later, he felt his stomach calm.

“What was that?”

“I was about to ask you the same question,” McCoy said.  “I’ve just given you an antiemetic which blocks the neurotransmitters associated with the vomiting process.”

StarFleet officers one and all, the people around him were looking at him with professional concern, but not disgust.  “I don’t know what they’re doing to Spock, but I’m getting a pain like someone’s put a bomb in my head and detonated it.”

“I don’t want to give you anything against any future episodes of pain in case it dulls your ability to sense Spock.”

Kirk agreed.  He didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the quality of link they had between them.  “That’s fine.  If it hits me again I’ll just stop.  Okay everyone, before we move, check your phasers are set to stun.”

Even with their night vision equipment, the going was slow as they made their way through the wood’s undergrowth, trying not to trip over roots and small shrubs.  McCoy’s muttered epithets under his breath was at times colorful but he gamely carried on.

Kirk focused as much as he could inwardly, trying to reach Spock.  He knew his bondmate was aware they were trying to reach him and that they were close.  He had no idea what they were doing to Spock beyond an understanding they were trying to get information from him and without knowing how he knew, he was certain they hadn’t yet succeeded.

A hundred meters from their target, the group fanned out.  Kirk was half-way to the ship when the pain erupted again white hot in his head and he stumbled and fell to the leafy floor.  Andretti was at his side seconds later, kneeling beside him but not touching.  Kirk closed his eyes and focused on breathing, trying to calm his shuddering gasps like he’d been taught at the academy.  When it ceased, he was thankful there was no nausea this time.  He opened his eyes to Andretti’s concerned gaze.

“Sir?” he whispered

“I’m okay now,” came his hushed reply.  He went to stand but his legs felt weak, so signed that he needed assistance.

A pair of strong hands – Waldegrave, one of the other security officers – hauled him upright.  After a few seconds, he felt his limbs were back in his control and he pulled out of the supporting grasp.  With a signal to Andretti, they moved off, the security officers returning to their original tracks.

The black, saucer-shaped vessel stood in a clearing and was, Kirk estimated, between thirty and forty meters in diameter.  That would likely give it a crew complement of maybe eight or ten.

Apparently undetected, the Enterprise team silently circled the ship and then made their way to an indicated point fifty meters away from their target.

They stood in a huddle, heads together.  “Okay, I saw one exit on the far side and nine viewports,” Kirk whispered.  “Anything else?”

“There were markings in Rihannsu for an emergency only exit close to the base at a point diametrically opposite the main door,” said Uhura.

“Any chance we can gain access that way?”

“There weren’t any obvious signs to open it from outside, but I may have missed it,” Uhura responded.

“Sir, surely they’d have everything alarmed,” Waldegrave pointed out.  “The moment we try to get in they’ll know we’re here.”

“Probably, but what else can we do?  Any ideas?”

“Sir, I’ve seen diagrams of this ship design before,” Denielska spoke up.  “We may be able to deactivate their alarms from an external access port used for maintenance.”

Kirk turned his attention to the petite security officer who he’d sparred and lost to more than a few times, despite the fact that the top of her head didn’t even reach his shoulder.  “Do you remember where the access point is?”

“Somewhere at the back above the emergency hatch, if I recall it right.”

“She can stand on my shoulders,” Waldegrave suggested.  At least two meters in height, he was by far the tallest of the team.

“Do you know anything of the layout inside, Ensign?”

“Very little’s known.  It’s conjectured on this design that the access hatch leads off a small cargo bay, but I can’t be certain.  The blueprints we were shown were incomplete, only showing exterior views.”

Kirk nodded – it was their best bet.  Silently and stealthily, they approached the ship.  They began the search directly above where Uhura had found the hatch, and shuffling half a meter first in one direction and then the other, Denielska indicated she’d found it with a couple of taps of her foot to her colleague’s shoulder.

The wait was agonizingly long, during which time, Kirk had another pain episode.  He came back to full awareness kneeling on the ground with McCoy’s arm around his shoulder.  He threw his friend a wan smile and knew behind the night vision goggles, concerned eyes were looking at him.  He gave his friend a squeeze on his arm and carefully got to his feet.

A minute later, Waldegrave was helping Denielska down as she gave a thumbs up.  Now they focused their attention on the emergency hatch.  It was well concealed at the base of the ship and was surprisingly easy to open.

Waldegrave crawled in first with Kirk immediately behind.  The two other security officers, Andretti and Fen’nii, brought up the rear.  Inside was pitch darkness, but their vision equipment picked up that the small tunnel widened out like a cone further ahead.  Within a minute they were all standing before a door that led, Kirk hoped, to an empty cargo bay.  As he glanced around, everyone was clutching their phasers.

They paused at the door.  A small activator had Rihannsu markings beside it.  Uhura read it and then began to search for something.  On the other side of the door there was a small panel which she opened and pressed a button inside.  “A door alarm,” Uhura whispered by way of explanation.

Thank god she was here with them, her and her knowledge of all three dialects of Romulan, he smiled wanly.

Uhura moved back to the activator and rotated it up.

The door slid noiselessly open and for a moment everyone tensed.  It wasn’t a cargo bay, but it was what Scotty would call the bowels of the ship.  The large area was bathed in a half-light and as one, everyone moved the goggles to the tops of their heads.

From behind a console, came a voice.  “Captain Kirk, I’ve been expecting you.”

Kirk along with everyone else scattered, rolling on the floor to take cover.

“I’m here to help you, Captain,” the voice reassured.  “I am, Centurian Logoralan.  We met on Kri-ifala.”

Kirk remained silent as his stomach twisted into a knot at the thought that this man had set Spock up.

“You will recall I am Reman.  My people do not follow the aggressive military ways of our Romulan brothers – I am a scientist and explorer, not a soldier, and carry no weapons.  I regret that the encounter I had with you inadvertently led to this.  It was not planned and my own arguments were overruled by my science colleague and also my sub-commander who both seek glory.  To avoid your sensors detecting Romulan life-signs the leader of the colonists was bribed to attack the landing party and bring Spock to our ship.  Knowing what was planned, I was able to use a mind-technique on one of the colonists, to leave a piece of cloth as a clue to alert you to the situation you were in.  Meanwhile, I have tampered with the mechanism of this ship to prevent escape, disguising it as a technical malfunction.”

Kirk remained silent, not wishing to give his position away.

“I learned from Spock that you share a warrior bond with him.  My sub-commander is attempting to gain information but your bondmate has been successful to date in withholding that which he seeks.  However, I fear for his sanity.  The method being used…”

Kirk could hear the disgust in Logoralan’s voice as he broke off.  He looked across at Uhura where she was huddled behind a maintenance pod and saw her nod her head.  She believed him, and at a gut level so did Kirk.

“He is trying to gain the secrets of the red matter.  With it, Romulus can hold the entire galaxy to ransom.  It can only lead to death and destruction beyond our imaginings.  By the gods, I cannot allow that to happen.”

Kirk gingerly stood up from behind the panel that shielded him and faced Logoralan, meeting the bright blue gaze.  “Then how do you intend to help us?” he asked the Reman.

“I cannot bring him to you as he is under guard and my sub-commander is currently with him.  However, you are seven and with me, eight.  Together we can overpower the guards.”

“How many on this ship?”

“Nine, including me.  Two of us are scientists, the rest are military.”

About evenly matched then, Kirk thought.  He nodded and indicated to his team to stand.  “I’m going to keep my phaser locked on you.  If you set us up, you’re dead.

Logoralan nodded once.  “Understood.”

Kirk followed immediately behind the Reman as they made their way out of the bay and down a several corridors.  The link told him they were moving in the right direction and they’d been going for a minute or so when he heard a shout.  Turning, Waldegrave was lowering his phaser, a Romulan guard lying unconscious a few meters from him.  Seven to go.

Logoralan stopped just before a junction and indicated around the corner.  Since the Reman was unarmed, Kirk switched his phaser to wide dispersal stun – it didn’t last as long but was good for times when aiming and accuracy were an issue.  Crouching, he moved his hand around the corner and pulled the trigger.  A satisfying thump nearby told him he’d gotten his target okay.  Six left.

Just as he was about to stand, the pain hit again and he fell to the floor, clutching his head.  He couldn’t tell how long the agony lasted for – perhaps fifteen or twenty seconds – before it finally ceased.  When he opened his eyes, Logoralan was crouching beside him, concern on his face.  The Reman stood and then effortlessly pulled Kirk to his wobbly feet and he held up his hand to signal he needed a moment.  When his head felt clear and he could focus, he nodded to continue.

When they passed the junction, Kirk realized the guard had been standing at the entrance to the bridge.  As they turned down another corridor, Kirk added this change of direction to an internal map he was visualizing, no doubt everyone else was doing the same thing.  Logoralan stopped again and pointed to another junction.  Kirk crept up and again crouching, used wide-dispersal to drop whoever was round the corner.  This time, two thumps.  Four to go.

The Reman indicated the door that had been guarded, but Kirk already knew that Spock was behind it.

The four security team dragged the guards’ bodies away and around the corner.  Logoralan indicated to Kirk to stay where he was.  Walking up to the door, the Reman activated it.

“What are you doing here?  Get out you Reman vreshni—”

Kirk’s subcutaneous translator stuttered over the last word, offering up bowels / colostomy bag / shitpile.  He now knew the direction of the sub-commander but couldn’t use the wide-dispersal and risk stunning Spock.  With lightening reflexes and surprise on his side, he ran through the door hit the Romulan at almost point blank range.  The look of shock on his face lasted a moment before he dropped to the floor.

Spock was lying, restrained on a bed, his eyes closed.  As everyone piled in, leaving two of his security team to guard, they made quick work of freeing Spock.  Meanwhile, Kirk tried to rouse his bondmate.  Holding his hand, he said his name and projected thoughts of wakeupwakeup at him through their link.  It seemed an agonizingly long time before the Vulcan’s eyes fluttered open and when their gazed met, Kirk thought he’d never seen a more beautiful sight.  Stopping himself in front of his team from doing anything as embarrassing as a hug, he gave the hand he held a final squeeze and released it.

“Can you stand?”

“I—”  Spock shook his head, not as a negative, but to clear it.  He sat up and swayed, his skin turning the color of the gray walls around them.  A moment later, McCoy stepped forward and jammed a hypospray into Spock’s neck.

“Something for the dizziness and a stimulant,” he explained.

As Kirk watched, the color returned to his bondmate’s face and his eyes became more lucid.  Slowly, Spock swung his legs around and stood a little unsteadily.  Kirk grabbed him but then his attention was drawn to noises outside.  Evidently, one or more of the three remaining Romulans had discovered them.

Spock’s eyes flicked to Logoralan who was standing beside Kirk.

“I apologize, Spock.  I should not have spoken of our encounter to my comrade.  I had thought a fellow scientist could be trusted but I was in error.  He is ambitious and saw an opportunity to gain a name for himself in the Empire.  I beg your forgiveness.”

Spock seemed to study his face for a moment.  Then nodded.  “You are forgiven, Logoralan.  You actions today have redeemed you.”

“You honor me, Spock cha’Sarek.”

Kirk was concerned about time.  He was aware of Vulcan and Romulan concepts of honor, but they couldn’t afford to linger further.  “We need to get out of here,” he reminded them.

Turning to the door, Denielska gave him the thumb up – evidently whatever had gone on outside the door had been resolved in their favor.  Two security staff worked their way ahead, to ensure a clear route, and two remained at the rear to cover their backs.  He and McCoy supported Spock as he stumbled along, each taking an arm around their shoulders, their own snaked around his waist.  They had almost made it back to the hold when the unmistakable whine of a Romulan disruptor being fired was followed almost immediately by a phaser.  No time to do anything, they kept moving forward.

More disruptor fire ahead halted them in their tracks.  Ensign Fen’nii’s body seemed to light up and then vanished.  Denielska’s quick reflexes dropped the attacker and they pressed forward, reaching the point of their entrance twenty seconds later.

Once they were inside, Logoralan sealed the door.

“Wait, where’s Waldegrave?” Kirk asked.

“We lost him Sir,” Andretti responded.  “Got hit by a disruptor set to kill.”

Kirk swallowed and nodded.

“Leave by the exit and transport out immediately.  I am setting this ship to self-destruct in two minutes.”

“You’re coming with us, right?” Kirk asked the Reman, meeting the steady blue gaze.

Logoralan shook his head.  “I cannot.  I must remain here to prevent anyone overriding the self-destruct.  I have brought dishonor to my people and this is a fitting way to repay my debt.”

“But—”

“Captain,” Spock interrupted, his voice gravelly.  “Allow Logoralan his honorable passage to the gods.  It is his time.”

Kirk stared at Spock – the Vulcan from a race who believed in non-violence, saying those words.  Then over the bond he felt something he couldn’t describe beyond a knowing.

Kirk held his hand in the ta’al, but unable to say the words as they would be meaningless.  “Your courage does you credit, Centurian.  I regret I didn’t get a chance to know you more.”

“As do I, Captain.  I envy your bond with Spock – you are truly t’hy’len.”

Logoralan turned to Spock and clasped his hand.  “Live long and prosper.”

As their eyes held, Kirk turned away to find the door to the hatchway already open.  Each of the team made their way through it, and before he left, he turned back once more to see the proud Reman bent over a console, his fingers flying over the screen as he input the fatal command.

As soon as Denielska appeared – the last of the landing party to exit – Kirk ordered emergency beam-out.  They were gone before Daran’s night sky was lit by a fiery explosion.

-=-=-

The chronometer in sickbay showed 03:07 and Kirk felt exhausted.

“Jim, go get some sleep.”

Kirk shook his head.  “You really think I can?  And don’t you dare give me a sedative,” he added quickly.

“Spock’s in a healing trance.  He doesn’t even know you’re there.”

I know I’m here.  I want to stay, just for a while.  Then I’ll go, okay?”

“Yeah well don’t make it too long or I’ll have one of the medics creep up on you and administer a sedative whether you like it or not.”

Kirk pouted and got exactly the reaction he wanted when McCoy rolled his eyes and shook his head.  Kirk grinned at the retreating back and pulled up a seat next to Spock’s bed.

When they had beamed back, duty had taken him to the bridge, but not before he’d squeezed Spock’s hand and whispered, “I’ll see you later,” before a medical team whisked him on an antigrav gurney to sickbay.

He’d then sat in the captain’s seat and read Anton d’Aragescu the riot act, taking great pleasure in having woken up the slimeball.  Kirk had made it clear that he was now facing charges of kidnapping a StarFleet officer, handing said officer over to enemies of the Federation, and a number of lesser charges including concealing information about the presence of the Romulans and taking bribes from them.  As he’d spoken the words, two security officers had beamed down and Kirk had had the satisfaction of seeing them on screen take hold of the colony leader who now languished alone in the ship’s brig.  If it wasn’t for the fact that several hundred colonists still needed their medical checks, Kirk would have warped straight out of there.

Getting up, he walked over to a replicator and dialed a strong coffee, needing it before he fell asleep on his feet.  Not eating anything since breakfast probably didn’t help but even though it probably would have done him good, he really couldn’t face anything right then.

As he returned to his chair, he thought of Logoralan.  His report wouldn’t give the details of their introduction beyond their brief meeting in a bar on Kri-ifala.  Kirk felt sad at his loss.  In another time, maybe another universe, they could have been friends.  He’d called him and Spock t’hy’len – he’d have to ask his bondmate what that meant, because for some odd reason, his subcutaneous translator didn’t recognize it, or more likely for whatever reason, the Vulcans hadn’t included it in the list of vocabulary programmed into the tiny devices.  It sounded similar to a word Spock had used, but he’d translated it as companion, or some such equivalent.  Somehow he felt this word was something significant.

His mind turned to the two security team he’d lost, Waldegrave and Fen’nii.  He didn’t even have bodies to hand back to their families.  It would be small consolation to know they had carried out their duty to an exemplary standard and had died courageously and with honor, protecting their crew-mates.  He would see that they received posthumous citations for valor and make certain their families knew their loved-ones had given their lives while on a dangerous mission to prevent genocide on an unimaginable scale.

Loved-ones.  Picking up Spock’s hand, he looked at the serene face and thought about their odd relationship and Uhura’s angry words.

You’re not capable of loving anyone but yourself.  Spock’s tied himself to an emotional cripple.

Her words had caused him inner doubts for weeks, but he finally felt certain she was wrong.  When he considered how close he’d come to losing Spock…so close – so very, very close – he knew that he couldn’t bear the thought of a life without him, knew that if he had to, he’d die for him.  Wasn’t that love?

It certainly wasn’t about sex, because outside of the Pon Farr, they really hadn’t done much and there had been little real intimacy.  He hadn’t allowed any kissing or affection and Spock had never offered to meld, which he knew instinctively was a core part of a Vulcan bonding.

When he compared the love he felt for McCoy, the closest friend he’d ever had, his feelings for Spock transcended that – eclipsed it.  When he thought of Spock he felt an ache in his chest and with a wry smile, understood for the first time why poets and writers placed the seat of love firmly in the heart.  But that’s not where he felt the love the most.  There was their bond, quietly humming unobtrusively at the back of his mind, a constant awareness of other and a conduit of the love they shared.  He may never have spoken the words aloud, but he knew Spock knew how he felt.  When they’d shared a look on the Romulan ship, Spock’s eyes told him, I knew you’d come for me.  I never doubted you.

Kirk yawned.  Even the coffee only had a limited ability to hold back the tide of his exhaustion.  Defeated, he finally stood and leaning over, he placed a kiss on Spock’s forehead.  “I do love you, you know,” he whispered.

It was hard getting into the empty bed after sharing it for the last few weeks with Spock, knowing his bondmate was alone in sickbay.  But he was a starship captain first, sworn to duty, and he needed to get some sleep before his shift began.

When Kirk awoke, he knew instantly that he’d slept past his normal time.  A glance at the chronometer showed it to be 09:46, causing him to shoot out of bed.  At his desk, he checked ship’s status to find the first message from McCoy that read, ‘I over-rode your alarm call after giving you six hours medical leave.  I wanted to give you longer but I really couldn’t face arguing with you about it.  I’ll call you when there’s news about Spock.  LHM’  Kirk grinned.

Being on medical leave didn’t stop him from scrolling down to check on his ship and any Fleet news.

Showered and dressed, Kirk felt two hundred percent better and a growl from his stomach reminded him he hadn’t eaten in twenty four hours.  He wanted to go to sickbay to check on Spock, but knew McCoy would shoo him away, so taking a datapadd with him he headed to the mess for a leisurely brunch and began to make notes that he needed to include in the report he’d be sending to StarFleet.

“Thought I’d find you here,” McCoy said as he slid his tray onto the table.  His gaze shifted to the padd.  “Is that work?”

“Look, I’m not on the bridge, am I?  But I needed to make some notes.  Because this is so big, I’m going to have to send a preliminary report to Fleet Intelligence before the more detailed one, just so they know what happened.”

“You’re supposed to be resting.  Maybe I should take a leaf out of the Romulans’ book and restrain you to a bed.”

Kirk smirked.  “Kinky, Bones.”

McCoy’s eyes narrowed.  “Only you can apply sex to the most innocuous subjects.”  McCoy scooped up a fork-full of scrambled eggs and after swallowing, smiled.  At Kirk’s quizzical look he explained, “I found and cured a potentially lethal genetic problem with an infant on the colony.  The mother was so grateful, she gave me a dozen eggs.  I got the chef to put them aside for me for the next few days… hey, hey!”

McCoy tried to bat Kirk’s hand out of the way but, too late, he’d already scooped up a spoonful of the fluffy fare and popped it into his mouth.  It tasted delicious.

“I know exactly how many eggs I’ve got left.  If I find so much as one missing, I’m going to inject you with something nasty.”

Kirk put on a hurt look.

“Fuck off, asshole.  It doesn’t work on me.”

Kirk laughed and turned back to his breakfast, and they ate in companionable silence for a while.

“Bones. I…thank you.  For yesterday.”

McCoy looked mildly confused.  “What for?”

“For volunteering to help rescue Spock.  For being on hand with your dreaded hypospray when I needed you, when Spock needed you.  You made all the difference to the success of that mission, you know?”

Kirk could have predicted the reaction to the words because he knew his friend didn’t take compliments well.

McCoy flushed.  “Jus’ doin’ my job, Jim.”

Kirk looked down and smiled, letting it pass.

After watching Kirk tapping at his padd, McCoy spoke up.  “So what’s your report going to conclude?”

“Don’t know if there’ll be a definite conclusion.  This could be a one-off – just a sub-commander taking advantage of a situation to make a name for himself, it could be the beginnings of increased hostilities with the Romulans or it could be outright war.  If it’s the second or third possibility, we need to be prepared.  Whatever, our next assignment, patrolling the Neutral Zone, isn’t going to be the quiet time we all thought it was going to be.”

“As bad as that?”  McCoy gave him that ‘why did I ever agree to follow you out here’ look he usually did after a nasty scrape.

“Probably.  Who knows?”  Kirk stood up.  “I want to see Spock before I head back to our quarters to write this up.”

-=-=-

Spock didn’t look any different to how he had when Kirk had finally headed for bed.  He glanced up to see Uhura watching him, not letting go of the hand he held.

“How long’s he going to be like this, any idea?” she asked quietly.

Kirk looked at Spock’s face and shook his head.  “M’Benga said one to three days, he thinks.  He’s not certain because they didn’t damage his body.”  Just his mind, he thought with a shudder.

“Can you tell…?”  She waved vaguely at his head.

“Not really, no.  My gut instinct is that he’s okay.  He felt all right when we got to him yesterday.”

“I owe you an apology, Jim.”

Kirk looked up at the use of his name.  “What I said about you and Spock after the bonding.  I was hurt and I lashed out.  I can see you love him and I know he loves you.”

Kirk looked up and feeling his eyes prickle, quickly glanced down.  “I’m sorry I took him away from you, I really am.”

“Don’t be.  Spock and I loved each other, I think we still do.  But while I hate to admit it, what you two have transcends anything I think he and I could ever have had.  Logoralan called you t’hy’len and he was right.”

“What’s it mean?”

“It means everything.  I guess the closest Standard equivalent is ‘soulmates’ but that’s a kind of cheesy translation.  There are layers of meaning behind the term that are steeped in Vulcan’s ancient warrior brotherhood traditions that date from the ‘time of the beginning’.”

Kirk thought he got it, and could understand why Uhura felt as she did.  In no way did it denigrate what they had shared and he vowed always to honor it, but t’hy’len fit what he and Spock were to each other, absolutely.

“I’ve already said this to Bones, but I want to say it to you, too.  Thanks for volunteering to stay with it yesterday.  We couldn’t have done it without you…” he smiled at her, “…and your three dialects.”

Uhura grinned and really, she was beautiful when her face lit up like that, Kirk thought.  “Any time.”  She turned to leave.

“Uhura?” he called and she half turned towards him with a quizzical look on her face.  “When he wakes, I’ll let you know.”

She nodded.  “Oh, and just so you know.  My name’s Nyota.”

She left Kirk sitting with a huge grin on his face.

-=-=-

Kirk had had a late lunch, written up his report, checked over and approved the reports of the rest of the landing party, recommended citations for everyone involved and had written personal letters of condolence to the families of the crew he’d lost.  They were so far away, it would take their subspace transmissions well over a day to reach StarFleet HQ on Earth.

As he sat, mind blank for a few minutes, he felt something stir in the bond and he was out of his seat and heading to the turbolift before he’d even given it a thought.

“Well you’re a sight for sore eyes,” Kirk said as he entered sickbay to find Spock sitting up in bed, M’Benga and McCoy standing beside him.

“Sore eyes, Captain?  Did you not have adequate rest?”  Kirk grinned sensing Spock’s amusement over their bond, McCoy rolled his eyes at the predictability of the Vulcan’s response and M’Benga just chuckled.

“How are you feeling?”  This wasn’t really a conversation he wanted to have with an audience, but he didn’t have much choice.

“The Romulans left me with no permanent damage.”

Kirk let out a huff of breath in relief.  “Good.”  He turned to McCoy.  “When can Spock leave sickbay?”

“Now, if he wants.  He checks out fine.”  Kirk tried not to smile too much as Spock swung his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up.

As soon as the doors closed behind them and they were alone in the corridor, Spock stopped and leaned on Kirk.

“Hey, are you okay?”

“I am feeling somewhat light-headed following the trance.”

“But you didn’t want them to know that and keep you longer.”

Spock’s lips curled a little.  “Precisely.”

Kirk totally understood, and had himself on a number of occasions managed to fool McCoy into letting him out before he was fully recovered.  “Come on, let’s get you back to our quarters.”

“I require a shower,” Spock said as the door slid shut behind them.

“And something to eat.  What can I get you while you freshen up?”

“Soup will suffice.”

While Spock was in the shower, Kirk called Uhura as promised, but she assured him she could wait until the following day to see Spock.  He appreciated her tact and understanding more than she could know.

Next he dialed up a vegetable noodle soup, a chicken sandwich and two cups of lemon tea which he laid it out on their chess table.  Then he sat and patiently waited for Spock’s return.

Spock entered wearing what Kirk thought of as his mediation robe, thick, long and black with a series of Vulcan symbols embroidered in silver down one side.

“Immediately prior to our escape, Logoralan handed me something.”  Spock opened his hand where a small chip sat nestled on his palm.

Kirk moved forward to take a closer look.  “Do you know what it is?”

“I have not yet viewed it, but when we clasped hands, we shared a silent communication.  I am aware of the contents.”  He walked over to Kirk’s desk and inserted the chip into the console.

“Oh my god!”  Kirk said and leaned forward to get a closer view.  On the screen were the blueprints to the cloaking device used on Logoralan’s ship.  “This is priceless.”

“He believed that the probability of war is lessened when adversaries are evenly matched.  The device, which they are still testing, would have given the Romulans a significant advantage that the Federation may never have been able to recover from.  His dept of honor has been repaid many times.”

A sense of sadness swept over Kirk once again, that he’d never get to know the quiet and honorable Reman scientist, and was glad that Spock, at least, had shared something special with him, even if briefly.

Kirk wanted to know what it was Spock had gone through, what the sub-commander had used to try to divine his first officer’s knowledge of the red-matter, but it could wait until Spock was ready to talk.  He knew it had been a harrowing experience for his bondmate and now was not the time to push.

They sat to eat, but Kirk couldn’t help but feel morose, thinking about Logoralan, his lost crew-members and most of all, the close call it had been for Spock.

“I am not about to break, Jim,” Spock said after they’d sat for a while, eating in silence.

“It was fucking close, Spock.  Too close.  I nearly lost you.”  He could hear the strong emotion in his wavering voice but he didn’t care.

“And I, you,” Spock pointed out as he moved his hand to take Kirk’s, their fingers stroking.

Kirk had to break the intensity of the moment and glanced down at Spock’s robe, then back up to his dark gaze.  “Do you need to meditate?”

“No, Jim.  I need you.”

Kirk stood up and held out his arms.  “You’ve got me.  I’m here.”

Spock stood and entered into the embrace.  They stood, holding each other, but it wasn’t enough for Kirk.  He began to place a series of kisses and licks from the tip of Spock’s ear down, feeling him shudder under the assault.  The kisses continued along his jaw and then Spock turned his face so their lips would meet.  It wasn’t a searing kiss of lust, but a gentle, tender kiss that spoke of their love.  Their mouths and lips and tongues caressed lingeringly as their passion gently grew.

Kirk had never really allowed himself to think what it would be like, or feel like, to kiss Spock.  The intimacy would have traversed a line he hadn’t been willing to cross.  But he knew, even if he had, he never would have imagined it would be as sweet, as sexy and as devastatingly powerful as what they were now sharing.  He was also achingly hard.

The kisses were different to anything he’d experienced before.  For one thing, Spock’s mouth wasn’t just hot in an aesthetic sense, it was actually hot, like kissing someone who’d just drunk something scalding.  And there was the feeling that accompanied it, the friendship, the affection, the love.  It was like getting home and putting on comfortable clothing, where he could utterly be himself.

Kirk wanted Spock horizontal somewhere comfortable, and breaking the kiss, took him by the hand and led him into the bedroom.

Once there, he began to strip, but Spock stopped him after he’d gotten his gold shirt off.  “Allow me,” he said and lifted the black shirt slowly over his head.  Before he pulled it all the way off, while his head and arms were tangled in it, Spock paused and held him in this position.  He felt a wet tongue slide across his left nipple, working it with mouth and teeth until it was wet and stiff and tender.  Unable to see, he was forced to concentrate on the sensations, never having noticed how sensitive he was here, before.  Spock pulled away and then blew on it before the hot lips and tongue trailed across and began a second assault.  This time, Spock bit hard, causing Kirk to gasp in pain, and then he felt wet licks and gentle sucks, as if to kiss it better, and fuck if that wasn’t one of the most erotic things he’d ever felt.

He struggled against Spock, wanting to see what was going on and the Vulcan relented.  His head appeared, hot and flushed and he leaned forward and captured the talented lips with his own.

He felt Spock’s hands at his pants and a moment later they were pooled around the top of his boots.  Both of them glanced down to see the long hard bulge at the front of his black briefs.

Spock cocked his head to one side.  “Paragraph twenty four of the StarFleet dress code states the wearing of gray briefs is mandatory for all personnel regardless of rank…”

Kirk had just discovered that kissing Spock was an effective way to silence him.  He felt Spock take one of his hands into his own, their fingers tangling together as did their tongues, sliding and curling wetly about one another.

Kirk eventually had to come up for air and pulled back.  “I’m still feeling over-dressed here,” and twisting round, made quick work of his boots, socks and trousers.  “And you…”

Kirk began to pull open Spock’s robe, starting at the neck, slowly revealing more of his chest, kissing skin as it became exposed, running his tongue lightly through his chest hair, dropping to his knees as the gap reached the Vulcan’s waist.  Kirk smirked, looking up at Spock.  “Well, they may not be the right color, but at least I was wearing underwear.”

A small pull at the robe and it was open low enough for him to find himself staring at Spock’s cock as it pointed out direct at his face.  How fortuitous it happened to be in line with his mouth.  Leaning forward, he ran his tongue languidly across the head, swiping at the drop of liquid gathered, speaking to him of Spock’s arousal.  He felt his bondmate shiver at his touch.

Taking hold of the base of the column, he pushed his lips slowly over the head until his mouth entirely engulfed it, then breathing through his nose and swallowing, he slowly moved his mouth further down the shaft.  He’d never gotten this far before without gagging and felt a sense of triumph.

He loved the feeling of his Vulcan’s cock in his mouth, the different textures, the taste, loved how Spock always shuddered when he ran his tongue over certain places, loved the feeling of power it gave him, yet humbled that Spock gave himself over to his bondmate so freely.

Kirk looked up to find himself the recipient of a hot gaze.  He pulled back and off with a slurping noise and standing, pushed the robe off Spock’s shoulders and watched it slide gracefully down his skin to pool at his feet.  His own briefs were gone a second later.

“Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” he asked, holding the dark eyes with his own.  “Did you know you turn heads as you walk down the corridors of the ship because you’re so hot?  Half the people on this ship probably fantasize about you.  But none of them can have you, because you’re mine.”

Spock swallowed and ran his fingers over the shell of his ear and along his jaw.  “I am yours.  As you are mine.”  The kiss that followed the declaration was like a brand, sealing them and their fates together.

Kirk climbed onto the bed and sat, his knees bent and apart pulling Spock to sit between them, facing him.  From this position they kissed and stroked and petted muscled flesh, gradually building their level of arousal.  Their cocks stood proud between them and when Kirk took Spock into his fist, his was also taken, the strokes long and slow.

Spock broke off the kiss and leaning forward whispered in Kirk’s ear, “Fuck me.”

Oh god, Kirk thought and his eyes closed at the blatant eroticism of hearing Spock say that.  “Yes.”

Spock untangled himself and lay on the bed beside Kirk, who was reaching to the nightstand to find one of the bottles of lube McCoy had given him during Spock’s Pon Farr.  They hadn’t used it since.  As he twisted round, Spock was lying on the bed and Kirk’s breath caught in the back of his throat at the sight of the gorgeous, sexy body laid out before him like a magnificent feast.  Never before had he seen such perfection, the athletic body, all muscle and sinew holding back inhuman strength.  Until Spock, he’d never been aroused by the male physique, but who could deny the raw beauty and sheer sexiness that was his bondmate?

Spock drew his legs up to his chest and Kirk couldn’t resist moving down and pushing his tongue between the spread ass-cheeks, remembering how erotic it had felt when Spock had done it to him.

“Fuck me with your tongue, Jim,” Spock said hoarsely and Kirk thought he was going to come then and there.  Taking the base of his own cock into a tight grip, he took several shuddering breaths in an attempt to regain some measure of control.  Then did as Spock asked, probing the ring of tight muscle, feeling it spasm and relax.

Sitting up, with shaking hands, he poured some lube onto his fingers and gently began to push inside the hot, tight channel, aroused by the feel of it, loving the incredible intimacy of his actions, knowing the pleasure he would soon be giving and getting.  His own cock twitched, leaking pre-cum in anticipation and he had to force himself not to think about what it was going to feel like when Spock’s tight ass was gripping him along his entire length, using his internal muscles to milk him.  A drop of sweat ran from his temple down to his jaw as he poured more of the gel onto his slightly unsteady palm.  Careful not to push himself any closer to climax, he ran his fingers along his shaft until it was wet and slick and ready.

They’d never done it like this before, face to face.  It was so much more intimate than doing it from behind, and he liked that.  Grabbing two pillows, he placed them under Spock’s lower back and kneeling, got himself into position.  He’d forgotten how arousing it was to watch himself push into Spock’s body, but it was even more so, being able to see his bondmate’s face as he did so, watching that control slip as he slid his length into the tight sheath.

Spock’s hair was fanned out on the pillow, his chin lifted, exposing the long, slender throat.  Kirk leaned forward and ran his tongue down his neck, sliding it to where it formed a juncture with his shoulder and licking it for a moment, he suddenly bit down, hard on the muscle and skin and then sucked wetly.

“Yes,” Spock hissed, grabbing him by his upper arms.  Kirk pulled his hips back and then pushed his pelvis forward, hard, hearing the loud slap of flesh, feeling his balls hit the crack of the upturned ass.

Kirk pushed himself, locking his elbows and stared down at the wanton Vulcan beneath him.  “What do you want me to do, Spock, huh?”

“I want you to fuck me hard.”

Kirk shook his head, a part of him feeling a sense of disbelief that those words came out of that mouth, while another part of him was utterly turned on by it.  Complying with the request, he snapped his hips forward, pushing hard into the tight heat, feeling Spock rock to meet the thrust, his abs rippling with the effort.  Kirk plunged into him over and over, each thrust eliciting a gasp of hot, sweet pleasure.

There was an edge of desperation to what they were sharing, as if they were reaffirming their existence and their bond to one another, celebrating having lived another day, and yet it was a beginning too, a realization for Kirk of what his bondmate meant to him, the depth and breadth of his love for him.

When Spock took hold of himself and began to work his cock in rhythm, the sight of it pushed Kirk inexorably towards the edge.  A slender hand snaked up and pressed against the side of his face, and suddenly what had been a dull awareness flared to brilliant clarity, like black and white springing to color, the intensity breathtaking.  Suddenly no boundary existed, they were utterly merged as one, and for the first time, Kirk truly knew Spock, truly understood him, at a soul-deep level.  Their rapport, their friendship, their love was here, held up unashamedly, to be revered and held in awe for its depth and its beauty.

As their bodies shuddered together and their climax ripped through them, the images they shared suddenly fragmented into a million pieces flying apart, reaching towards infinity, and then as if in reverse, flying back, coalescing…

As Kirk’s body rocked in the aftershocks of orgasm, Spock released his corded thighs from around his waist.  That had been the best sex he’d ever experienced, not just because of the meld, but because this was Spock, whose sexy body he could happily worship, who was someone he loved and cherished, whose life meant more to him than his own.  There was something special about the familiarity, the closeness, the knowing that he’d never experienced with anyone else because he’d never stuck around long enough, had never wanted to before now.  It wasn’t just sex.  They’d made love.

He found himself looking down at his bondmate, and meeting the dark brown gaze, he held it a moment.  Then said quietly, “I love you.  To anyone else, I’d say ‘you have no idea how much’, but I know you do.”

“Yes, I do.  It is as I love you.  As I feel destined to love you.”

Kirk carefully pulled himself free and maneuvered himself to lie beside Spock, facing him and felt Spock take his hand, their fingers interlacing.

“I wouldn’t have thought Vulcans believed in destiny.”

“Ambassador Spock and his captain were also t’hy’len.  Weigh that up against our own situation, when the probability was vanishingly small, with the worst possible beginning, with no conscious volition, without our own intervention, despite everything, now we are, too.  When one views it thus, it is hard not to believe in destiny.”

“I never would have pegged you for a romantic.”  Kirk then leaned forward and kissed Spock softly and cherishingly, their tongues rolling languidly about one another.  “I can’t believe we haven’t kissed until now,” Kirk added, as he pulled back to gaze at the delectable mouth.

“You are in error.  We have been kissing from our first encounter.”

Kirk looked confused.  “I think I’d remember if—”

Spock held their joined hands up, stroking his slender fingers over Kirk’s.  “Vulcan kisses.”

“What?”  And then Kirk burst out laughing, silently congratulating his bondmate on his deviousness.  He knew a surefire way to get rid of the smirk that now adorned his Vulcan bondmate’s mouth and swooped down to once again capture those luscious lips and claim them as his own.

FIN

 

Silver Lining has a companion piece, Children of Destiny, the same story but written from Spock's POV.  You can link to it by clicking >>>here.

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Chapter End Notes:

 

Two days ago, I read a story from a prompt_meme in which two men were maneuvered into getting married by others in their lives.  In filling the prompt, the author apologized for not including the prompters requested sex scene at the end, because the story didn't have a place for it.  So there was not even a discussion about sex between two men who had never shown even the remotest interest in the other sexually, before the final commitment was made.

It made me think realistically, how would two men, who had never had a homosexual relationship and who found themselves married without their consent, would cope.  Just to add spice, I had one of them already in a happy and fulfilling heterosexual relationship.


Click for Vulcan language dictionary
T’Khasuzh – New Vulcan (T'Khasa - Vulcan, uzh - new)
Ta’al – Vulcan salute
t’Naehm – the war
Koon-ut-kal-if-fee – ‘marriage or challenge’
Kah-if-farr - marriage
Asenoi – meditation fire pot
Rihannsu – Romulan race
Vreshni – piece of shit

Reboot Kirk/McCoy stories here
Reboot Spock/McCoy story here

 

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