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Personal Effects



Jim Kirk didn’t even try to suppress the huge grin that was plastered all over his face as the last of the transporter sparkles materialized into a slender, tall, familiar figure. It had been a very long two and a half months, and he was more than glad it was over. “Welcome home, Mr. Spock.”



Spock moved with his customary grace from the transporter platform. “Thank you, Captain.”



As he regarded the grave brown eyes of his first officer, Kirk’s grin softened into a smile of quiet affection. “You’ve been greatly missed. Remind me never to agree to loan you out again - not even to the Edinians.”



“I must confess it is gratifying to be back on board the Enterprise, although the Edinians are a most interesting people.”



“And a grateful people, from what Akthari Skilea tells me. She says they never would have been able to fix their central computer if you hadn’t been there to coordinate the repairs. I’ve spent enough time there to know how much they depend on their technology to run everything. It’s no small thing you’ve done for them. They won’t forget it, either – you’ve represented the Federation well.”



“I fear that Akthari Skilea overstates my contribution to the project.”



Kirk laughed. “I doubt it, but we can argue about that later. Why don’t you get unpacked and then join me in my quarters? I want to brief you on everything that’s happened while you were gone. Wait’ll I tell you about what Ambassador Grulpihn tried to pull on the Dikrania mission. You won’t believe - ”



Uhura’s pleasant voice cut into his sentence. “Bridge to Captain Kirk.”



“Kirk here. What is it, Uhura?”



“A message from Akthari Skilea, sir. She requests your permission to beam aboard a thank-you gift for Mr. Spock.”



Kirk glanced over at Spock. “I told you she was a fan of yours. What’s she planning to send you?”



Spock’s eyebrow crept up slightly. “I have no knowledge. She indicated no such intention to me before I left.”



“Well, I’m afraid it’s against policy to accept gifts for services rendered. We’ll have to tell her that - ”



Spock interrupted him. “Captain, I have developed a fairly extensive knowledge of the Edinians’ customs during my stay. The giving of gifts is an essential and revered part of their social interactions. I am afraid that it would be highly offensive to them if we were to turn down Akthari Skilea’s offer.”



Kirk sighed, considering. “Of course you’re right. I remember when I stayed there, I had to be careful not to compliment them on anything, or they’d instantly be trying to give it to me as a present. That’s one of the things I like so much about them - they’re generous to a fault.” He frowned slightly, and then shrugged. “Well, it won’t be the first time policy’s been, shall we say, reinterpreted.” He turned back to the intercom. “Uhura, send my warmest regards to Akthari Skilea and tell her that permission for the beam up is granted.”



“Yes, sir.”



What appeared on the transporter platform a few short moments later was a glossy black box about two meters tall and one meter in width. Spock approached it with his head tilted, obviously itching to find out what was inside.



Kirk stood back and watched him, smiling. Spock’s curiosity never ceased to amuse him: it was one of his most human qualities, and in Kirk’s opinion one of his most endearing. “It’s quite a bit bigger than I pictured. Apparently, when the Edinians send a present, they don’t mess around.”



“Indeed,” Spock murmured distractedly as he busily explored the surface of the box with his hands. Finally, he stopped his search and said, “Yes. There it is.” He gently pressed against the surface and the front side of the box slid smoothly away, revealing the interior of the box…



…and a nude, young male humanoid.



“Good God,” Kirk whispered. He didn’t know what he had expected to see when the box opened, but it certainly wasn’t this. Quickly surveying the humanoid, he discarded his initial conclusion that the being was Edinian. Although the young male’s skin tone was the silvery light blue common to natives of Edinia, his pointed ears were definitely atypical. In fact, they looked much more like a Vulcan’s. A hybrid of some kind? Or…?



Spock also appeared to be nonplussed. One eyebrow firmly fastened underneath his bangs, he ran his tricorder over the humanoid, occasionally glancing up as if to confirm with his own eyes the being’s existence. The humanoid meanwhile surveyed Spock with equal dedication, a pleasant smile on his extremely handsome face. Finally, he stepped out of the box and said, “You are Mr. Spock. Akthari Skilea sends to you the following message: The people of Edinia are forever in your debt. Although they can never repay you for the generous sharing of your knowledge, your time and your skills, they humbly offer this small token of their gratitude.”



Kirk stepped forward. “The small token being?”



For the first time, the humanoid regarded Kirk. “Myself, of course.” There was a tiny hesitation, as if the humanoid was processing some sort of information. Then he added, “Captain Kirk.”



Kirk swung toward Spock. “I was more than willing to bend the rules a little bit in order to accommodate the Edinians’ideas about social obligations. But the giving of a person as a- a gift is just plain slavery, no matter how you look at it. It’s completely unacceptable under any circumstances.”



“I agree,” Spock said. “However, it is, I believe, acceptable to give a machine as a gift.”



“A machine?” Not for the first time that day, Kirk found himself gaping.



The humanoid turned once again toward Kirk. “An android, to be specific. Manufactured for the sole purpose of expressing gratitude to Mr. Spock.” The android turned to face the Vulcan. “I was made for you,” he said softly.



Spock appeared to be totally unruffled by this remarkable proclamation. “Indeed,” he said. “A most commendable work of engineering.”



Kirk took a deep breath. “Now, listen,” he started. “You can’t seriously think you can keep him!”



“It,” corrected both Spock and the android in unison.



“Fine. Even if he is an it, it’s still against regulations.”



Spock clasped his hands behind his back and tilted his head as he considered Kirk’s statement. “In actuality, sir, I believe that the regulations do allow for it.”



Kirk rolled his eyes. “All right - I’ll bite. I defy even you to quote me regulations that allow for the keeping of a gift android aboard a starship.”



Spock did not hesitate for a moment. “Regulation 381, Section B, “Personal Effects”, Paragraph 2 states that ‘No commissioned officer shall house within his or her quarters personal effects in excess of a volume of 30 cubic meters.’ I believe that an inventory of my personal effects will demonstrate that at present I am well under this maximum, even if the Edinian android were to be added to those effects.”



For a fragment of a second, Kirk was speechless. Then he said, “You have got to be kidding me. You’re arguing that this- this- talking, thinking, moving being is just another personal effect? Just a thing, like a favorite sweater you brought from home?”



“Vulcans do not wear sweaters, sir. But in response to the first portion of your question, I do believe that this android would indeed fit the definition of a personal effect, since it is essentially a thing and not a person. You will recall that Paragraph 3 of Regulation 381, Section B defines personal effects as ‘any items of non-uniform clothing, jewelry, mementos, personal papers, awards, holographs, tools, hobby equipment and collections, and other recreational equipment; and effects belonging to an individual for his or her personal use and not for commercial purposes.’”



Kirk folded his arms. “And just what part of that paragraph do you think our friend here fits into?” he asked crossly. He scanned the android’s youthful-looking, perfect body warily, eyes narrowed. “Recreational equipment, by any chance?”



“Certainly not,” Spock said calmly. “Memento, I believe, would be the most appropriate category.”



“Memento?”



“A memento of the stay on Edinia,” Spock and the android clarified simultaneously.



Kirk fought to stay calm. “First of all, let me respectfully request that the two of you make every effort not to say the same thing at the same time again, because it won’t take long before you drive me stark raving crazy. Secondly - ”



“Captain,” Spock interrupted.



“What?”



“Perhaps it would be advisable to continue this conversation out of the hearing of the... memento.”



Kirk glared. “Fine.” He jerked his head toward the door. “Outside.”



As soon as the door swished shut behind them, Kirk opened his mouth to continue his tirade. But before he could utter a word, Spock said smoothly, “I must apologize, sir. I did not intend to involve the Enterprise in a diplomatic imbroglio.”



“A diplomatic imbroglio? That’s how you’d describe this- this little situation?” Kirk scowled up at his first officer.



“I am afraid it does have the potential to become one. The android made reference to being made specifically for me.”



“I heard him,” Kirk said. He really didn’t want to think about that statement right now; it made him too angry.



“Then because the Edinians took the trouble and went to the considerable expense of having it custom made for me, they will most likely be highly upset if we return it to them.”



Kirk eyed Spock closely, lips pursed. “You wantto keep him, don’t you?” he accused.



“It, sir.”



“Whatever. You want to keep it - admit it.”



Spock hesitated. “Affirmative. Not only am I reluctant to offend the Edinians, who treated me with the utmost consideration throughout my stay, but it does not seem to me to be logical to return it.”



“Oh, really. And why not, may I ask?”



“Because it was made for me,” Spock explained patiently. “If I do not keep it, its existence will have no purpose. The Edinians’efforts will go to waste. Waste is illogical.”



Kirk began to rub his right temple, which was predictably starting to throb. Arguing logic with Spock was not one of his favorite activities, probably because it was the picture next to the definition of a no-win situation. With a feeling similar to being sucked inexorably into a black hole, he said slowly, “When you are on duty, I want him confined to your quarters. If I catch him - even once - wandering around the ship without you there to watch him, he’s gone.”



“Understood, sir,” Spock said quickly. Kirk noted that he did not bother to point out, this time, that the android was an “it.”



It took Kirk all of three days to work up a true, full-scale hatred toward the android. Each of those days brought another development that increased his antipathy, and each of those days came to have a title in Kirk’s mind as he mulled things over afterward.



The first day’s title was The Naming. Kirk found out about the naming when he invited Spock to play a game of chess with him that night, Spock’s first night back on the ship. To be sure, Kirk’s real hope was to be able to see that glossy head bent over the chess board, to look deeply into those dark, entrancing eyes, and to enjoy the simple fact that Spock was home, with him. But the android got in the way. “If you do not mind,” Spock had said, “I should like to spend some time tonight acclimating Seheik to his new environment. Perhaps another night would be acceptable?”



“Seheik?”



Damned if Spock hadn’t looked embarrassed: Kirk was certain he saw a faint flush of green tinge his sculpted cheeks. “Yes, sir. It seemed logical to name the android, strictly for convenience’s sake, of course.”



“Of course,” Kirk said. “And may I ask what ‘Seheik’ means?”



“It means ‘pilgrim.’ A reference to one who journeys in a foreign land.”



“Pilgrims usually make the journey in order to reach a shrine. Are you Seheik’s shrine - the object of his pilgrimage?” Kirk tried hard to keep his tone light and teasing, but even he could hear the edge that crept into his voice. He remembered clearly how, in the transporter room, the android’s gaze had rarely left Spock’s face. He remembered - and logical or not, he didn’t like it.



Spock’s eyebrow shot up. “Really, sir. Your question is most fanciful. Seheik is a machine, though a highly sophisticated one. He has no desires or feelings - no goals other than what have been programmed into him by the Edinians. He is certainly incapable of worship.”



“Of course,” Kirk said. He gave the Vulcan a tight little smile. “I see that Seheik has taken on a gender as well as a name.”



This time the green tinge deepened. “It seemed logical. After all, he does have the secondary sexual characteristics of a male humanoid.”



“Yes,” Kirk said tersely. “I noticed.”



The second day’s title was The Lesson. That’s what was happening when Kirk sought Spock out in his quarters after their shift, hoping to initiate the delayed chess game.



“Excellent,” he heard Spock say as he walked in. “Your capacity for language is indeed remarkable. No Vulcan would be able to tell that you are not a native speaker.”



“Thank you,” Seheik said in his customary soft voice. “I am of course programmed to carry out all of your orders and requests to the utmost of my ability. It is my pleasure to devote myself to the learning of your world’s tongue.”



“Language lesson?” Kirk queried as he entered, trying hard to ignore the unpleasant tightening feeling in his stomach at the sight of Spock and Seheik sitting closely together at the desk. At least the damn thing had some pants on this time. Doubtless Spock had found him a pair from the rest of his personal effects, Kirk thought ironically.



Spock looked up at him. “Seheik is a truly extraordinary feat of engineering. He has studied Vulcan for only one hour, and already his vocabulary surpasses my own. His accent, moreover, is flawless.” Spock studied the striking countenance of the android for a brief time and then added thoughtfully, “Even more notable is his apparent ability to discern the connotation, and not just the direct meaning, of words.”



For a moment, Kirk forgot his dislike for Seheik as his curiosity flared. “Why is that notable?” he asked, peering at the seated android, whose eyes were fastened single-mindedly on Spock’s face.



“Having an understanding of connotation allows one to impart an emotional as well as a factual message. I find that ability surprising in one whose intelligence is artificially created. It is a truly fascinating feat of programming.”



Kirk’s eyes twinkled. “Perhaps as fascinating as you valuing the ability to impart an emotional message in the first place,” he teased gently.



Spock replied very seriously, “The Vulcan language is not devoid of emotional content, sir. In particular, many of the ancient words are imbued with emotion - even with passion.”



For a long moment, Kirk found himself unable to answer. It was easy for him lately to get lost in those dark, beautiful eyes of Spock’s - and those eyes were focused on him right now with a steady intensity that made Kirk believe, for one heady instant, that the passion of the ancient Vulcans still lived in Spock. If I were to tell him how I feel about him, he thought, would the Vulcan I see in those eyes respond? It was a question he had asked himself countless times, but the answer always eluded him. He said slowly, “Well, the Edinians are an emotional people. Maybe that’s why they program the capacity for emotional expression into their androids. And remember, just because someone knows how to describe an emotion, doesn’t necessarily mean he can feel it.”



“Quite true,” agreed Spock. “Just as one who feels a particular emotion may utterly lack the ability to express it.”



Before Kirk could respond to that cryptic statement, Seheik said in a matter-of-fact tone, “The Edinians had to program a capacity for emotional expression into me. My prime purpose requires it.”



Kirk and Spock exchanged a quick glance; Kirk asked first. “And that purpose is?”



Seheik’s dark eyes practically caressed Spock’s face. “My prime purpose is to make you happy in any way possible. It is my primary reason for existence. All else is secondary.”



Spock’s eyebrow rose. “Indeed.”



“Yes,” Seheik said. “My programming is quite clear. Moreover, Akthari Skilea herself instructed me before I left Edinia. She impressed upon me how important it is that I fulfill my purpose.”



Kirk leaned forward. “Really,” he said. “What did she say?”



Seheik’s dark eyes flickered toward Kirk and then returned to Spock. “She said that you are an exceptional man, and that you deserve to be exceptionally happy. It distressed her that you are not happy. She told me that I must find what makes you happy and provide it.”



“I am a Vulcan, governed solely by logic,” Spock said. “My happiness or lack thereof is of no consequence.”



Seheik said, “Akthari Skilea told me that you would say that. But I am compelled both by my programming and by her orders to fulfill my purpose. Your happiness is of great consequence to me: it is my reason for existence.”



There was a rather uncomfortable silence, during which Kirk considered whether a serious blow to Seheik’s head would create sparks or simply expose a mass of wires and chips. Finally, Kirk said, “Happiness is not easily measured or defined. How will you know when you have achieved your purpose?”



Seheik said, “Akthari Skilea said that Mr. Spock will tell me.”



“I see,” said Kirk. For the first time, he felt a modicum of sympathy for the android. All you have to do is make a Vulcan happy, and then make him tell you he’s happy. You poor son of a bitch, he thought. You’ve got your work cut out for you.



Sympathy, however, was a distant memory by the end of the third day, the day that came to be titled The Proposition in Kirk’s mind. The evening had started out very well. Kirk and Spock were finally ensconced in Kirk’s quarters over the long-postponed game of chess, and Kirk was reveling in the quiet pleasure of Spock’s company. By what appeared to be mutual consent, for once neither concentrated on the game. Instead, conversation, casual and relaxed, took the forefront. Kirk filled Spock in on events that had occurred on the Enterprise during his absence; Spock for his part was unusually talkative about his experiences on Edinia. I’ve missed this, Kirk thought as he listened to Spock’s deep, soothing voice. I’ve missed his companionship. I’ve missed the sound of him, the sight of him. I’ve missed everything about him. “It’s good to have you back,” he said quietly, during a lull.



“It is good to be back,” Spock replied. “In fact, there is no other place I would prefer to be at this moment than here - with you.”



Kirk held his breath. His eyes dropped to Spock’s right hand, which rested beside the chessboard, easily within reach. What if I just say it, right now? Kirk asked himself. I could just take that hand and kiss those long graceful fingers, and then tell him everything: how important he’s become to me, how beautiful he is, how much I want him. He might deck me. But then again, he might listen. Slowly, Kirk leaned forward.



The door chimed.



Kirk closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. “Come.”



Seheik walked in, moving with elegant poise across the room until he stood very close to Spock. “I have mastered Andorian and Klingon as you told me to do, Mr. Spock. I have also completed the necessary computations for Project H-135.”



Spock looked up at the android with an unreadable expression. “That is excellent,” he said politely. Thank you for informing me.”



Seheik did not budge. “It is 2200 hours. May I bring you refreshment?”



“No, thank you. I am not in need of nourishment at this time.”



Seheik still did not move. “Then, if eating or drinking will not give you pleasure, perhaps you would care to engage in some form of sexual activity.”



Kirk’s lower jaw just about hit the chessboard and knocked over his bishop, but Spock did not seem flustered at all. “Not at this time, but thank you for your offer. Please return to our quarters. You may access the computer records on Vulcan history and anthropology until I return.”



Seheik finally turned and moved toward the door. “Thank you, Mr. Spock.” At the door, he hesitated. “Mr. Spock?”



“Yes?”



“Playing chess with Captain Kirk - does this make you happy?”



Spock’s mouth opened, then shut again, as he reconsidered his reply. Finally, he said, with the faintest tinge of surprise in his voice, “Yes. It does.”



“I see,” said Seheik, and left the room.



There was total silence as Kirk tried to order his whirling thoughts, tried to make sense of what had just happened. Spock told Seheik to return to their quarters, not to his quarters. Seheik propositioned Spock, and Spock didn’t turn him down outright - just told him “not now.” Spock admitted that playing chess with me makes him happy. Kirk scrutinized the face of his first officer as if for the first time, searching for clues about what might be running through that massive alien brain. For once, Spock did not meet his gaze, but seemed to be unduly interested in the rear left square of the chessboard. Finally, Kirk couldn’t stand it any longer. “Spock.”



“Sir?”



“Seheik is a machine. In spite of his name, in spite of all appearances, he’s just a machine - he can’t feel anything for you.”



“I am well aware of that.”



Kirk leaned forward, eyes troubled. “When he offered to - well, when he offered sex... Could you have sex with a machine?”



Spock's eyebrow rose a fraction of an inch. “Your question is highly personal.”



“Yes, I suppose it is. But I’m your friend - your good friend - and I care about you. That may or may not give me the right to ask.” He smiled slightly. “But in any event, I am asking.”



Spock’s face was totally blank, the expression in his eyes unreadable. “You believe that it would be inappropriate?” he asked.



Kirk ran his hand through his hair. “Well, not exactly inappropriate, but - ” he hesitated, and finally admitted with a grimace, “I suppose I should be the last person to try to warn anyone away from sex for the sake of sex, or even from sex with an android. After all, I…” he stopped, suddenly acutely embarrassed, and painfully conscious of Spock’s ironic gaze upon him. “Well, you know,” he finished lamely.



“Yes,” Spock replied in a dry tone.



“I guess I just always thought that you were above that kind of thing, that you’d want something closer to the ideal.” Like sex with someone who loves you, he thought but did not say.



Spock said, “I am somewhat surprised that you did not reach the opposite conclusion. After all, I am a Vulcan. You know better than most my characteristics, my inability to express emotions, to give or receive what you humans call love. Dr. McCoy has, in fact, referred to me as a walking computer. Given those characteristics, given my nature, has it not occurred to you that Seheik, a machine, might be a most appropriate sexual partner for me?”



Sudden fury made Kirk’s throat constrict. “No,” he grated. “It has not.”



“You are angry.”



“Seheik is a machine. You are not. You deserve more - better - than settling for mere sexual release with a piece of… of recreational equipment. Akthari Skilea said you’re exceptional, and she was right. Sex with Seheik wouldn’t be exceptional - it’d just be… empty. I can’t imagine that’s what you want.”



Spock got up and faced Kirk, hands clasped behind his back. “I fear,” he said, very softly, “that you have very little idea of what I want.” He glanced toward the abandoned board. “It appears that our chess game is concluded, at least for the time being. Good night, sir.”



For three days thereafter, Kirk saw Spock only on the bridge and Seheik not at all. In his too-plentiful spare time, he tried hard not to think about the conversation in his quarters. He tried even harder not to think about Spock and Seheik having whatever kind of wild, depraved sex an android might be programmed to execute. The Edinians were a sophisticated and uninhibited people; Kirk could only imagine what Seheik knew how to do. The thought of Seheik even touching Spock made Kirk nearly ignite with rage, a rage that always seemed to subside almost instantly into a strange kind of sick sadness. Sadness and - yes - jealousy. He was able to admit that last only in the privacy of his quarters, with the lights turned way down. God, you’re pathetic, he chided himself over and over again. You are jealous. You’re jealous of a piece of machinery. You can’t stand the idea that a machine might be able to touch Spock in a way that you can’t, that Spock might prefer a machine over you. Or that a machine might be able to make him happy, when you can’t.



He was on his back lounging on his bed glaring up at the ceiling, telling himself for the ninety-eighth time that Spock’s happiness was all that mattered, whatever the source, when Seheik called him. The sound of the android’s mellifluous voice hailing him over the intercom made every muscle in his body tense; he took three deep breaths before he rose to answer.



“Kirk here. What is it?”



“Captain Kirk. Mr. Spock is in the science lab and I do not expect him to return for at least two hours. May I speak with you?”



“You are speaking to me. What do you want?”



There was a little pause. “I had hoped to talk to you in your quarters, Captain Kirk. Not over the intercom, but what you humans term as face-to-face.”



Kirk rubbed the back of his neck. Given a choice between keeping company with a dyspeptic Gorn or Seheik, he would definitely go with the Gorn. But there wasn’t a Gorn in sight, and Seheik would probably track him down at some point anyway. Might as well get it over with. “All right, come over.”



As soon as he entered Kirk’s cabin, Seheik got right to the point. “It did not work,” he said.



A vivid image of Spock and Seheik tangled together in bed flashed into Kirk’s mind; he formed his hands into fists, largely to keep from wrapping them around Seheik’s slender neck and squeezing until the android’s exquisitely manufactured eyes popped out. Trying with everything he had to keep his voice level, he asked, “What didn’t work?”



“Chess.”



“Chess?”



Seheik stepped further into the room and clasped his hands behind his back in what seemed to be an unconscious impersonation of Spock. “I played chess with him. But it did not make him happy. In fact, he seems instead to be most unhappy.” He looked down at the floor. “I do not understand. I have studied everything he has told me to study, mastered every discipline he has told me to master. He tells me that he is pleased with my accomplishments. But I see that he still is unhappy. It is not logical.” Seheik’s voice became even softer, as if he were musing to himself. “Chess made him happy once. I was certain that it was the solution.”



“How can you tell that he’s not happy?”



Seheik looked up. “I have studied verbal and nonverbal expression of both humans and Vulcans, by utilizing the computer banks and through firsthand observation of the people on this ship. Cues given by Vulcans are subtler than those given by humans, but they are still present.”



Kirk stared at Seheik intently. “What have you seen?” he asked.



“A preoccupied expression on Mr. Spock’s face. A tendency to look away from his work for long periods of time, as if distracted. Failure to initiate conversation except when absolutely necessary.”



Kirk shrugged. “Well, Spock isn’t the most expressive or talkative person around. Maybe he’s just not feeling well. Or maybe he’s tired. He’s been working long hours.”



Seheik shook his head. “No,” he said firmly. “He is unhappy; I am certain that I am not mistaken. What must I do to fulfill my purpose?”



Kirk gave a short laugh. “Look, I have no idea why you think I have the answer, but I assure you - ”



“But you must. Chess with you made him happy; chess with me did not. I am a more proficient player than either of you, so skill was not the difference. You must therefore have the key. What is it?”



Kirk said slowly, “I’m afraid I can’t help you. As a matter of fact, Mr. Spock has as much as told me that I’ve got no idea how to make him happy - that I have no concept of what he wants.”



Seheik frowned slightly. “I see. Then it appears I must keep searching for the answer on my own. I must admit, the task is more difficult than I at first anticipated.”



Kirk had a sudden thought. “Let me ask you this. When did Mr. Spock start acting so…unhappy?”



“Three days ago,” Seheik replied promptly.



Kirk couldn’t quite name the emotion that started to smolder inside of him. He said, “Have you seen anything else that might provide a clue to the key?”



“When we walk together in the corridors, he stops by your door as if he wishes to enter. But then he always continues walking. Afterwards, he is exceptionally quiet. He does not sleep. He attempts meditation, but is not successful. When that happens, he goes to the lab to work and does not return for several hours.”



The nameless emotion sparked, flared and ignited into hope. “Seheik,” Kirk said. “Do you have the capacity to answer a hypothetical question?”



“Yes, Captain Kirk.”



“All right. What if someone else made Mr. Spock happy? Would your purpose still be fulfilled?”



“No,” Seheik said promptly. “My programming is clear. I must make him happy.”



“But what if something you did caused the other person to do what is necessary to make Mr. Spock happy? Would your purpose be fulfilled under those circumstances?”



Seheik hesitated. “I am not certain I understand.”



“What if, as an example, I did have the key to Mr. Spock’s happiness? What if the things you’ve told me right now made me go to Mr. Spock and make him happy? Would that be acceptable?”



Seheik considered. “Yes, because it would be my own actions that initiated the events. My purpose would then be fulfilled.”



Kirk smiled at the android. “You know, this just may work out all right after all.”



Spock answered Kirk’s summons with his usual promptness. As he entered the captain’s quarters , he said calmly, “You wished to see me, sir?”



Kirk studied the Vulcan’s face closely. Seheik was right: there were signs of strain on the chiseled face, subtle but unmistakable. “Yes, I did. We didn’t finish our game the other night.”



Spock’s eyebrow rose. “This is most irregular. To call me out of the laboratory to play a game of chess – ”



Kirk stepped closer to Spock. “Actually, I’m not sure that chess is the game I’m referring to. It seems to me that we were playing something else. Some sort of guessing game, perhaps, or maybe hide and seek.” He looked into Spock’s eyes. “Maybe even truth or dare.”



Spock’s eyebrow inched up further. “Truth or dare? I am not familiar with that game.”



Kirk smiled faintly. “Well, it doesn’t really matter what the game was. The main point is that you made the last move, then walked out. I hardly call that playing fair.”



Spock stiffened. “My project in the laboratory is at a critical point. If you do not mind – ”



“I do mind,” Kirk said quietly. “I mind very much.” Ever so gently, he reached up and touched Spock’s cheek, holding his breath for fear that Spock would bolt. But Spock did not; in fact, he remained frozen to the spot. Somewhat encouraged, Kirk continued. “As I recall, your last move was to tell me that I had very little idea what it is you want.”



Spock waited silently, lips slightly parted, not seeming to breathe himself.



Kirk went on, “And of course I then have two possible moves available. I could ask you what you do want. That would be the logical thing to do, wouldn’t it? It would probably be the safest, too.” Kirk’s mercurial amber eyes held Spock’s; the Vulcan stood stock-still as if Kirk’s touch had stripped him of his ability to move. “Or I could do the illogical and the risky thing. I could just... take my best guess. Which move do you think I’ll make, given all those chess games you’ve played with me?”



Spock swallowed and replied hoarsely, “You invariably select the riskiest and the least logical move, sir.”



Kirk smiled, a smile full of love and hope and more than a little fear. “Yes, I do, don’t I?” And he moved his hand to Spock’s neck, pulled the Vulcan down to him, and kissed him.



At first he was certain he’d made precisely the wrong move: he felt nothing but passivity from Spock as he kissed those warm, sensual lips. But then he felt strong Vulcan hands grip his upper arms; Spock began to tremble slightly and to lean into the kiss. When Kirk finally pulled back and tried to catch his breath, the dark eyes that were staring back at him were indeed the eyes of the long-ago Vulcans, bright with passion and desire. “How did I do?” Kirk finally asked. “Did I guess what you want?”



Spock closed his eyes for a moment and then looked down at his hands, which still clutched Kirk’s arms with almost painful force. Seeming to make a conscious effort, he released his grip. “You are close,” he whispered. “You are very, very close.”



“The next move is yours. Show me,” Kirk challenged.



“I- I cannot...”



“You can. I know you can.” Kirk reached up and put his hands on Spock’s shoulders, then leaned forward and kissed Spock’s neck lightly. He felt Spock shudder beneath his caress; smiling against the Vulcan’s hot skin, he whispered, “Make a risky, crazy, illogical, badly thought out move. Try it.” He brushed his lips against Spock’s ear and heard a tiny gasp in response. “Try it just once.”



The next thing Kirk knew, he was lifted completely off his feet and shoved against the wall with a force that would have been frightening had he been in anyone else’s hands. A hot Vulcan body pushed against his, pinning him utterly; demanding, adamant lips descended upon his mouth. There was no gentleness in the kiss or in the hands that held him captive, only unadulterated desire. Kirk squirmed beneath Spock’s weight, caught between near total immobility and all-consuming arousal. He could feel Spock’s hard sex pressed against his thigh and struggled to reach down to touch it, but relentless hands held him fast; all Kirk could do was submit to the Vulcan’s devouring mouth and tongue.



Finally Spock pulled away. “You are what I want,” he said simply. “You are, in fact, what I have wanted, since the moment I first saw you.” He reached out to trace the curves of Kirk’s cheek and jaw with his fingertips. “I do not understand,” he murmured, “how you do this to me.” His hand slid downward to rest against Kirk’s neck, to where the pulse pounded hard beneath the soft flesh. “How do you take my control away so completely, so irreparably? How do you leave such want in its place?” Gently, he took Kirk’s face in his hands, lifting the human’s chin slightly. Spock’s sensual lips were tantalizingly close to Kirk’s mouth; Jim closed his eyes, partly to shut out everything but the feel of Spock’s hands upon his skin, partly to invite the kiss he hoped would come.



It did come - a sweet, short kiss that nevertheless left Kirk’s head spinning. “It should be the deepest shame to be consumed by desire in this way,” Spock whispered, and claimed Jim’s mouth again in another kiss, this one deeper and more insistent. “But I feel no shame.” Questioning, dark eyes sought out Kirk’s. “No control, and yet no shame. I do not understand how this can be.”



Kirk licked his lips, discovering suddenly that it was hard to find his voice. Taking Spock’s hand in his own, he drew it down until it rested over his heart. “This is the only answer I have for you.” He waited, allowing Spock to feel the hammering of his heart beneath his breastbone.



Spock’s eyebrow rose in silent inquiry.



“It’s been telling me for a long time now,” Jim explained quietly, “that you and I – together – are part of the order of the universe. The only shame would be in denying what is – what must be.”



Spock considered for a split second, and then said, “I fear that your propensity for receiving messages via your cardiovascular system is…”



“…most illogical.” Kirk laughed softly. “Yes, I know. But I get some of my best information that way.”



“Indeed.” Spock slid his hands underneath Kirk’s shirt and spread his fingers across the contours of Kirk’s bare chest, causing Jim’s breath to catch in his throat. “And what else, if I may ask, has your heart conveyed to you?”



Kirk wrapped his arms around the Vulcan’s slim waist and pulled him closer. “Well, for one thing,” he said gruffly, “it’s telling me that we’ve got way too many clothes on.” He pulled up on the hem of Spock’s shirt; obediently, Spock slid both it and his undershirt over his head and let them fall to the floor. Kirk raked his eyes over the wiry bare torso of his first officer appreciatively and added boldly, “It’s telling me we ought to take off every last stitch and then get into that bed over there.”



Spock glanced at the bed, then back at Jim. “I see,” he said, as he started to work at the fastening of his pants. “And I assume when we reach the bed…” he pushed his pants slowly down from his waist, “…your heart will have further instructions for us?”



Kirk swallowed, unable to tear his eyes away from the enticing bulge in Spock’s briefs. As if in a trance, he started to undo the fastening of his own pants. “I think it will,” he said. “And if not –” his pants slid obligingly to the floor and he began to pry impatiently at the heel of his right boot with the toe of his left, “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”



By the time they made it over to the bed, there were fifteen pieces of castoff clothing on the floor and one highly aroused Vulcan stretched out on the mattress. Kirk sat down on the side of the bed and surveyed his naked first officer with hungry eyes. “You, Mr. Spock,” he said softly, running his hand gently over the Vulcan’s dark chest hair, “are beautiful.” He leaned forward and kissed Spock lingeringly, feeling a rush of pleasure as he sensed the Vulcan respond so eagerly beneath his lips. “Beautiful, and glorious,” he kissed the Vulcan’s throat, “and perfect.”



Spock groaned and pulled Kirk down upon him in one swift motion, running his hands along the human’s smooth muscular back and buttocks as if he wanted to touch all of Kirk at once. It was an unbelievable feeling, to be sandwiched between those searching, tantalizing hands and Spock’s hard, searing cock. Kirk gasped with pleasure and burrowed his head into Spock’s neck, nipping and kissing the warm, sensitive skin until he heard Spock give a very un-Vulcanlike whimper in response. The strong hands found his shoulders, gripped them, and pushed, causing Kirk to roll onto his side.



He found himself staring into eyes grown black with passion. “Beautiful One,” Spock whispered, in a voice rough with desire, and took Kirk’s nipple very deliberately in his mouth. As he teased it with his teeth and his tongue, he reached down and grasped Kirk’s erection, sliding his hand along it slowly until the human was certain he’d go mad with want. “Spock…”



“Yes,” Spock murmured in reply, and wriggled lower on the bed until his face was level with Kirk’s straining penis. He stroked it unhurriedly, watching in fascination as a tiny bead of moisture seeped out of the tip, and then glanced upwards inquiringly, as if asking permission.



“Please.” It came out as a breath more than a word; Jim’s control was weakening quickly.



Kirk couldn’t tear his eyes away as the Vulcan took him in that hot, delirium-inducing mouth. Jim had never met a blowjob he didn’t like, but this experience was beyond pleasure, to see those seductive lips wrapped around him as Spock’s warmer-than-human tongue slid up his full length, paused to play at the tip of his cock, then slid back down until the entirety of him was tightly encased within Spock’s mouth.



The same strong hands that had held him immobile against the wall now grasped his hips, thumbs stroking gently against his soft skin, fingers pressing firmly into his rounded ass as if to push more of him into those tormenting, torturous, wonderful lips. “God, Spock,” Kirk gasped, as he thrust convulsively into the insistent mouth, felt the soft throat open to take more of him, felt the muscles constrict to swallow him.



Spock held him there for a delicious moment, his lips clasping the base of Jim’s sex, then pulled back to sweep his tongue once more along every sensitive inch of the hard cock, sucking and teasing and licking until Kirk was nearly out of his mind. He didn’t even recognize the sounds that were coming from his own mouth as Spock continued his relentless, rhythmic assault, was only barely cognizant that his hands had somehow found their way to Spock’s silky hair and were tangled in it. His breath came in gasps as Spock brought him closer and closer to the edge.



One more stroke of the molten tongue, a harsh cry, and Jim came inside of Spock’s waiting mouth, his hands tightening in the Vulcan’s glossy hair, then relaxing as he sagged, nearly senseless, against the bed. From light years away, he felt Spock’s tongue, source of torment and delight, licking away every drop.



Kirk clutched clumsily at Spock’s shoulders. “Come up here,” he murmured. “Let me look at you.”



Obligingly, Spock moved up the bed until his face was even with Kirk’s.



“That was absolutely incredible,” Kirk told him softly. “And now, I think I’m going to find out just how much of your control I really can strip away.” He kissed Spock slowly, then sat up on the bed and reached into the nightstand drawer. He rummaged around in it a bit before finally holding his hand up in triumph. “Found it,” he told Spock.



“Lubricant,” Spock said. “Most conveniently located.”



Kirk gaze was suddenly intense. “I intend,” he informed Spock, “to take every last inch of that glorious long length of you inside of me.” He squeezed a generous amount of the lubricant into his hand and worked at it to warm it, smiling in satisfaction when he saw that Spock was watching him with rapt attention. “I intend to fill myself to overflowing with you.” He coated Spock’s engorged penis liberally with the slippery salve, sliding his hands along the sensitive organ expertly until Spock’s breath quickened and his eyes narrowed. Quickly straddling Spock’s body, Jim leaned forward and whispered, “Just like this.” Reaching behind him, he guided the head of the Vulcan’s stiff cock to his tight opening.



Spock’s breath hissed between his teeth; he reached up and grabbed Jim’s hips, then moved his hands back to spread the cheeks of Kirk’s ass apart. “Yes – like that,” Jim said, and shoved himself back on the long cock until the head slipped into him.



Spock did not miss Kirk’s wince of pain. His eyes widened in alarm, and he began to try to pull away. “No!” Kirk said. “I want this. I want you – all of you.” With that, he pushed himself back all the way, taking the entirety of Spock’s shaft inside of him in one ruthless motion.



Spock’s face - eyes shut in rapture, cheeks flushed dark - was his reward. Spock, so controlled and so dispassionate – writhing beneath him, gasping out his delight and his desire – the sight and the sound of it made Kirk’s heart soar. I am doing this to him, he thought. I am giving him this. Determined to make him lose control completely, Kirk rocked forward until Spock nearly slid out of him. Spock’s response was a tiny whimper of protest, a noise that quickly turned into a moan of ecstasy when Jim jammed himself back down again.



“Ah,” Spock moaned, and grasped Kirk’s cock, now grown hard again, in both his hands.



That touch was enough to enflame Jim; he started to move rhythmically, forcefully, up and down on the Vulcan’s length until Spock stiffened, drew him close and held him captive in his arms. Kirk felt a ripple and then a surge as Spock thrust into him a final time, shooting his wet seed shot deep within him. A heartbeat later, Jim climaxed, into Spock’s hands and over his abdomen.



For long moments the two lay together, spent and drifting. All the times I dreamed of this, Kirk thought, entwining his fingers lazily in Spock’s soft hair and brushing his lips along the Vulcan’s chest and shoulder. If this is just another fantasy, I hope it never ends. I never want to be without this feeling.



A chime at the door snapped him back to reality. Alarmed, Kirk opened his mouth to tell the unwelcome visitor to wait, but before he could utter a sound, the door swooshed open. The slender being that glided so gracefully into the room was all too familiar. Kirk slapped his forehead. “Seheik!” he moaned. He looked helplessly over at Spock, who looked about as stunned as Kirk had ever seen him. “I guess I forgot to engage the privacy lock, what with… with everything that happened,” he said lamely.



Seheik, naturally, was totally oblivious to the consternation of the two officers. He walked directly to the bed and gazed down at them appraisingly. Kirk resisted the urge to squirm, but couldn’t keep the flush from spreading across his cheeks. It was stupid to be embarrassed by the scrutiny of a machine, he knew, but he had the horrible feeling that Seheik’s eyes missed nothing. He had never felt so naked.



“Ah, you are here, Mr. Spock. That is excellent.” The android turned to Kirk. “I had hoped, when Mr. Spock did not return from the lab at the expected time, that you had found the opportunity to speak with him.” He tilted his head contemplatively. “Apparently, you surmised that sexual activity might indeed be the key. Most interesting. Were you successful?”



“Uh,” Kirk began, thoroughly at a loss, his cheeks positively flaming.



“Although I must say,” Seheik continued, addressing Spock, “I fail to understand your preference for Captain Kirk over me. I am programmed to perform both chess and sex in a superlative manner, and yet you still choose him for both activities. It is most perplexing.”



Spock’s Vulcan training served him well: he was a bit more composed than Kirk. “I shall endeavor,” he said politely, “to find the time to attempt to explain it to you. Later,” he added firmly.



“That would be most appreciated. May I provide you with a washcloth and towel?”



A mental picture of Seheik, crisply folded towel over his arm, diligently washing Spock’s genitals popped spontaneously into Kirk’s head. He couldn’t help it: he snorted, and then started to shake uncontrollably with laughter. Both Spock and the android studied him impassively for a moment. Finally, Spock said, “Thank you, but that will not be necessary. The captain and I will… attend to it. You may return to our quarters now.”



“Yes, Mr. Spock.” Seheik’s shoulders slumped somewhat as he reluctantly turned to go.



Could an android be disconsolate? He certainly looked the part, and for the second time since the Edinian gift had been beamed aboard the ship, Kirk felt sudden, irrational pity. “Seheik.”



The android turned to him. “Yes, Captain Kirk.”



Kirk sat up and looked intently into the android’s eyes. “Don’t worry about it. It’s going to be all right.”



Seheik frowned slightly as his mechanical brain tried to process the human’s vague and cryptic expression of reassurance. Kirk swore he could see a dozen questions written all over the android’s perfectly wrought face, but for once none were asked. Instead, Seheik smiled faintly. “Yes, Captain Kirk. Thank you.” He turned and exited the room.



As the door shut behind the android, Spock turned to Kirk. “I fear,” he said slowly, “that I understood less than 5.8 percent of the conversation between you and Seheik.”



Kirk sighed. “Yeah, I know. I owe you an explanation. But first - Seheik seemed to think we need to get cleaned up, and I think he was right. Let’s get a shower, and then we’ll talk.”



Kirk quickly learned that showering with Spock, while pleasurable in the extreme, was not a thoroughly efficient process. There were too many distractions, too many temptations. And Spock, uncharacteristically, seemed more than willing to be both distracted and tempted himself. At last they did emerge, towel off, and dress. Kirk found himself sitting across from his first officer, who waited patiently for the promised explanation.



Kirk took a deep breath. “All right,” he said. “It’s like this. Seheik came to me earlier, asking for my help.”



“Indeed. And what sort of help did he require?”



“He wanted me to help him fulfill his primary purpose.”



“His primary purpose,” Spock echoed. His eyebrow shot up. “To make me happy?”



“Yes. He seemed to think that I might be able to – well, to think of some way to bring it about.”



Spock contemplated Kirk in something close to horror. “You discussed the possibility of seducing me – with Seheik?”



“No! I never mentioned anything of the kind. I just asked him questions.”



Spock was not appeased. “What kind of questions?”



“Just questions. Questions about what he’d observed, about why he thought you were not happy in the first place. I never talked to him about sex – I promise.”



“You talked to him about emotions. My emotions. I find that equally disquieting.”



Kirk bit his lip. He had known this conversation was not going to be easy, but he’d hoped against hope it would go better than this. He decided to plunge on – there really was no choice anyway. “Listen to me. The other night, when we were playing chess – I wanted to tell you then how I felt about you. I came so close – so close – and then Seheik walked in. I blamed him for my failure to talk to you. But that wasn’t true, or fair. The fact is, I’ve come close to telling you at least a hundred times, and each time I’ve found an excuse to stay silent. Seheik was just the excuse that particular night, and if he hadn’t come, there still would have been a reason not to tell you. I would have hunted around until I found one.”



“But why?”



“Why didn’t you ever say anything to me?”



Spock looked away. “I am a Vulcan,” he began.



“Bullshit,” Kirk said. “Being a Vulcan has nothing to do with it. Being afraid – that’s what it’s all about. We were both afraid. I knew if I said anything to you, I’d be taking the risk that you might turn away, or run away, or…” he stopped.



“Or?”



“Or that I would lose your friendship,” Kirk whispered.



Spock looked distressed. “You must surely know that would never be.”



“No. I didn’t know that. And I just wasn’t willing to risk it. When I thought of what it would be to not have you in my life at all, just because I pushed you for more than you were able to give – ” Kirk shrugged helplessly. “I couldn’t take the chance. Not until I talked to Seheik today.”



“But I still do not understand what he could have said to you that would have changed your mind so completely.”



“He just let me know that you had acted particularly restless since the night of our chess game. I started to think that maybe you missed me – maybe you did care for me in the same way I care for you. I started to hope.” Kirk leaned forward and grasped Spock’s arm. “That hope gave me enough courage – just enough – to talk to you.” He looked into Spock’s eyes and gathered his nerve one last time. “It gives me enough courage to tell you that I love you.”



“T’hy’la.” Spock caressed Kirk’s face tenderly, his dark eyes soft with affection. “I do not know why I have been given such a priceless gift – but I treasure it, and always shall.” He paused, and added, “And if it is indeed Seheik who has caused this to happen – then I owe him a great debt of gratitude.”



Kirk smiled. “If you can find a way to tell him that, I think you’ll repay that debt. He’s very anxious to know that he’s fulfilled his purpose.”



Spock regarded Kirk soberly. “It will involve speaking of emotions,” he said.



Kirk nodded, equally solemn. “Yes, I’m afraid it will.”



“It will be… uncomfortable.”



“More uncomfortable than when he offered you a washcloth?”



Spock’s mouth curved slightly. “No,” he answered. “Not as uncomfortable as that.”



Kirk chuckled. “I thought not.” His smile quickly faded and he looked away, then stood up and walked across the room to his bookshelf.



Spock watched him run his hands aimlessly across the spines of the books for a minute, and then prompted, “There is something more you wish to say.”



“Yes.” Kirk’s voice was distracted; he pulled a book from the shelf and stared at it with unseeing eyes.



“I cannot imagine,” Spock said gently, “that there are any words that you would fear to tell me, now.”



Kirk glanced over at him and sighed. He replaced the book and walked over to the Vulcan, then sat down. “You’re right. There shouldn’t be. There aren’t. It’s just that – well, I’m afraid that what I’ve got to say is going to sound harsh, maybe even petty.” He drew a long breath, let it out, and said in a rush, “Seheik can’t stay on the ship.”



Spock steepled his fingers and waited silently.



“You’re probably thinking that I want him to leave because I’m jealous of him, and I admit there is some truth to that. I am jealous of him – or at least, I was. I didn’t like how much time you spent with him, I didn’t like his disgustingly flawless looks, I certainly didn’t like him offering to have sex with you.” He leaned forward. “But that isn’t the problem – I swear it isn’t.”



“I believe you,” Spock said quietly.



“I think it all comes back to what you said the first day he arrived, about waste being illogical. He’s wasted here. He’s got all these incredible capabilities, tremendous intellect, the ability to learn the most complex information in a mere heartbeat. But he’s got no official status on this ship. That means he can’t be given any truly meaningful duties, anything to challenge those tremendous abilities of his. It means that as long as he’s here, he’s condemned to be nothing more than your personal effect, a material belonging. I think he deserves more than that.”



Spock’s eyebrow climbed. “Deserves? You speak of him as if –”



“As if he’s alive,” Kirk said wryly. “I know. But let’s face it – in many fundamental ways, he’s indiscernible from a living, sentient being. He can learn, he can grow – you’ve admitted yourself, he even can understand emotional expression. And he can act autonomously. After all, neither of us asked him to barge in on us today. He did that completely on his own.”



“Merely a logical outcome of his programming,” Spock demurred.



“You may be right,” Kirk countered. “But if that’s true, then what will there be for him, once he sees that his primary purpose has been fulfilled?”



“I suspect,” Spock said dryly, “that you have some ideas on that subject.”



“You’ll accuse me of treating him like a human being again, and you’ll be right. But I think that he will need to have a new purpose – one that’s challenging, that’s important. Something to give new meaning to his existence.”



“Are you by any chance consulting your cardiovascular system again?”



Kirk smiled. “It served me very well a couple of hours ago, thank you. And poke fun at me if you want, but I think you listen to your heart too, occasionally. You’re the one who gave him a name – and a gender.”



Kirk expected Spock to protest, but he did not. Instead, he arose and began to pace slowly about the room, his hands clasped behind his back. Finally, he said, “Seheik would be well accepted on Vulcan. Indeed, he would be considered very close to the ideal.”



Kirk just stared at him.



“He is, after all, flawlessly logical – a veritable walking computer, as Dr. McCoy would say. His ability to absorb data quickly and completely would be very much admired. He has a superlative grasp of the language and the culture. Even what you term as his ‘disgustingly flawless looks’ would be of benefit to him – Vulcans are, after all, admirers of beauty.” He turned to his captain with a tiny smile. “The Edinians did a commendable job on his ears – they are most aesthetically pleasing.”



Kirk said slowly, “You’ve been preparing him for Vulcan all along, haven’t you? You said his name meant a journeyer in a foreign land. You weren’t thinking of the Enterprise at all when you named him that – you were thinking of Vulcan. You’ve had him learn the language and the history of your planet, not to please you, but to give him the tools he needs to have a life there.”



“An existence there,” Spock corrected.



“I think you’ve planned more than just mere existence for him,” Kirk said. “I suspect you’ve been aiming for exactly the same thing I said he deserved: meaningful, important work, a challenge. A life, in the truest sense of the word. Tell me the rest – what do you have in mind?”



Spock walked over, stood in front of Jim, and looked down at him. “I believe,” he said composedly, “that Seheik would make an excellent diplomatic aide.”



Kirk started to grin, sudden understanding lighting his face. “Sarek?”



“Indeed. I sent him a message 20.2 hours ago. His reply was characteristically prompt and to the point.”



“What did he say?”



“He led me to believe that any being who is able to learn an infinite number of languages, who is logical, who is intelligent, and who would not be prone to losing his temper in trying situations would be most valuable to him.”



Kirk’s grin broadened. “Another son, one to follow in his footsteps. He must be so proud.”



Spock’s eyebrow arched up. “You are, at times, most whimsical.”



Kirk stood and faced the Vulcan. Placing his hands lightly on the taller man’s shoulders, he said teasingly, “And what else do you find me to be, Mr. Spock? As always, I’m very interested in your scientific analysis.”



Spock gave a low growl and clasped Kirk’s waist, pulling him closer. “You are,” he whispered, “most illogical.”



“And?”



“Most fascinating.” He stroked Kirk’s hair gently, searching for the correct words. “Most enticing.” Spock bent down and kissed the cool human lips that were turned up to him so invitingly. “You are,” he continued, his voice rough, “all the brightness of my universe: golden, powerful, capable of filling every corner of the darkness with light and life.” Drawing Kirk to him in a close embrace, he pressed his lips to the human’s temple and murmured, “You are beautiful and desirable beyond description.”



Kirk hugged him tightly. “And you,” he said passionately, “are exactly what my heart told me to seek and to find. My God, you’ve no idea how many times I’ve dreamed of holding you like this – and hearing words like that from you.” Reluctantly, he pulled away. “But I’m very much afraid,” he told Spock ruefully, “that if we keep this up, I’m going to be begging you to take all of your clothes off again. And if that happens, the next thing you know…”



“Seheik will be attempting to present us with various cleansing materials,” Spock finished with a small shudder.



“That’s exactly right. And speaking of Seheik –”



“Yes. I shall go to him now and talk to him.”



Five days later, the Vulcan shuttle Sa-te'kru reached the Enterprise and indicated readiness to beam aboard the newest member of Sarek’s diplomatic team. Kirk and Spock, both wearing their dress uniforms as a gesture of respect, escorted Seheik to the transporter room.



As he contemplated the face of the once Edinian, now Vulcan, android, Kirk speculated that Sarek might have an interesting time ahead of him. Spock would doubtless claim that it was just another manifestation of whimsicality, but Kirk was certain Seheik had been acting pleased – perhaps even smug – since Spock had told him he’d achieved his primary purpose, and that he was now free to move on to other pursuits. Kirk peered closely at the android’s perfect face. Sure enough: a smile that could only be described as self-satisfied graced the beautifully formed lips, and Kirk was certain he detected an unusual twinkle in the dark, synthetic eyes.



The Edinians were capable of amazing things. Were they capable of manufacturing an android that could actually feel? Kirk wondered, and felt a momentary twinge of regret that he would not be around to witness Seheik’s continuing evolution.



Spock’s resonant voice cut into his thoughts. “Live long and prosper, Seheik,” he said to the android, with fingers spread in the customary Vulcan salute. He resolutely ignored Kirk’s look of amusement at his use of the word “live,” and added, “Please send my greetings to Sarek and Amanda when you reach Vulcan. And – thank you. For all that you have done for me.”



“You are most welcome, Mr. Spock,” Seheik replied graciously. “I thank you for all that you have taught me. I shall make every attempt to comport myself in a way that will bring honor to you and your family.”



Kirk extended his hand. Seheik studied it for a moment and then took it. “The handshake,” he said to Kirk. “An Earth custom, I think.”



“Yes,” Kirk said. “Used to greet and to say farewell. And often – as in this case - to show feelings of friendship.” He released Seheik’s hand and stepped back from the transporter platform. “I wish you the best, whatever that may come to mean for you.”



“Thank you, Captain Kirk.” Seheik gave a smartly executed Vulcan salute, and said to both the officers, “Live long and prosper.”



Kirk nodded to Transporter Chief Kyle, and the android’s form was soon lost in the shimmering sparkles of the transporter beam. The two officers stared at the transporter platform for a long, silent moment, then turned in unison to leave.



As they exited, Spock mused aloud, “Most puzzling.”



“What’s puzzling?” Kirk asked.



“I must confess I do not believe that I shall ever fully understand you humans. You are extremely contradictory creatures.”



Kirk laughed softly. “Yes, I suppose that’s true. But I imagine you have a specific example in mind?”



“Yes.” Spock stopped in the middle of the corridor and faced his captain. “Your recent indication that you feel friendship for Seheik.”



“You find that contradictory?”



“Most contradictory, sir. When Seheik first came aboard, I understood that you felt a certain amount of enmity toward him. Yet just now as he was preparing to leave…”



“I told him my handshake was offered out of friendship.”



“Yes.”



Kirk shrugged and smiled up at the Vulcan. “I changed my mind.”



“Changed your mind, sir?”



“Yes. I found out he’s not such a bad guy after all.” He gave Spock a sidelong glance. “He certainly did me a big favor. And then, of course, we have so much in common – it’s only natural we’d end up as friends.”



Spock thought of the logical, preprogrammed Seheik and the impetuous, intuitive Kirk. He could not, as hard as he tried, find any common ground between the two of them. “I am afraid I do not understand,” he finally admitted.



Kirk’s smile was mischievous as he looked up and down the corridor. Finding to his satisfaction that there was no one near, he stood on tiptoe and kissed the startled Vulcan quickly on the lips. “But, Mr. Spock,” he said in a soft, even voice that was uncannily like Seheik’s, “don’t you realize? Both of us… were made for you.”



The End
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