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The Kiss

 

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, I’ve just borrowed them to play with for a while.

 

Captain's Personal Log
Stardate: 4295.4

The last two months patrolling the Neutral Zone have been a strain on the crew, myself included. Because of the continual tension, Bones has insisted I make time to relax so I don’t succumb to stress. He and Spock have been a constant source of support and companionship, helping me to unwind particularly after all the yellow alerts we've had. I’m glad we’re about to see the back of this sector of space.

Despite Spock covering Gamma shift throughout the patrol, we seem to have spent more time together than ever before, playing chess, working out in the gym, problem solving or just talking. On a few occasions in his cabin, we actually spent the whole evening in almost complete silence when he went through his meditation exercises while I read a book he lent me—a luxury I rarely have time for. The book is about pre-reform Vulcan which has given me a fascinating insight into the history of his people. I’m very aware of how private an individual he is, and feel very privileged that he’s let me in as much as he has.

Yesterday, Bones sent me a report showing accidents and minor ailments among the crew are well up on average—a sure indication of the presence of stress and fatigue. Although we're due to be relieved by the USS Hood later today, my request for R&R was denied. This was a blow to all of us, myself included, as I managed to get Bones and Spock to agree on us taking a camping trip together.

When we rendezvous with the Hood, they'll transfer supplies and equipment which we're to deliver to two scientific outposts on Augelia VII and Castor V. When he gave me my orders, I think Commodore Rais understood my frustration at being given a job that a transport vessel could do just as well, especially when my crew have more than earned a respite. My only consolation is that both planets lie roughly between here and Starbase 6, so at least we're headed in the right direction.

~__=__=__~

Kirk sat on the bridge of his ship drumming his fingers on the arm of his command seat. Something made him turn and he caught the amused eye of his First Officer, who had returned to Alpha shift the day before. The border of the Neutral Zone lay three days behind them, but they still had five more days to go before their arrival at Augelia VII, and after all the tension of their previous mission, Kirk was frankly bored. The usual routine when the ship was en route somewhere, was for each department to run drills and exercises to keep the crew at peak performance. But with the general air of fatigue, he felt more harm than good would come of it and so kept such activities to a minimum. He knew performance levels would almost certainly be well below par and that wouldn’t do anything to improve their already low morale.

After a glance at the bridge chrono, he stood up and stretched with an inward sigh. “Mr. Spock, you have the conn. I'm going to catch up on some paperwork.”

Kirk was sitting in his office and had barely made a start when the comm unit chimed. He hit the audio switch.

“Bridge to Captain Kirk,” came Uhura’s voice.

“Kirk here.”

“Sir, there's a priority coded message from Admiral Pohl coming in for you on the Starfleet channel.”

Unseen by Uhura, Kirk pulled a face at the news. Promoted to Rear Admiral the previous year, he’d had only two previous dealings with him and hadn’t been impressed. “Patch it through, Lieutenant.”

After a moment's pause, Pohl's smooth features lit up the screen. “Captain Kirk. You are to divert immediately to Rigani II, to arrive there at Stardate 4299.3. You and Dr. McCoy will report to the Starfleet office at the Federation Embassy, where you will be met by the Starfleet attaché who will give you further orders. I expect you to cooperate with him fully. The Enterprise will proceed with its current assignment under the command of Cdr. Spock. Acknowledge. Pohl out.”

Part of Kirk was pleased to be getting something a bit more exciting to do than a milkrun and another part was irritated that they were pulling him from his ship to do it. He sighed and left for the bridge.

As the lift doors opened, Spock stood up from the command seat without a backward glance. Kirk inwardly smiled. Evidently aware that a message had come through for his captain, the Vulcan had been expecting him to return.

“Uhura, acknowledge Admiral Pohl's orders, received and understood and have Dr. McCoy report to my quarters. Chekov, lay in a course for Rigani II and execute.”

“Rigani II, yes sir,” replied the navigator enthusiastically, evidently glad something interesting was happening.

Kirk leaned over the navigation station. “What speed will get us there for an ATA of 4299.3?”

“Computing speed now... Sir, warp 4 will do it.”

“Alter speed to warp four, Mr. Sulu. You have the conn.”

“Aye sir, warp four.”

Kirk glanced towards the Vulcan, whose raised eyebrow indicated his curiosity, and smiled at the familiar gesture. “Mr. Spock?” he said beckoning with his head as he walked back towards the lift.

A minute later they were sat at Kirk's desk waiting for McCoy. With a small shrug, Kirk pushed all the data-tapes he had just started to work through to one side then looked at the door expectantly. After a moment, he pressed the comm switch impatiently. Chapel's face appeared. “Where's Dr. McCoy?”

Before she could answer, Kirk heard a familiar voice in the background. “I was just about to call you. I’ve got a small problem with my ankle.”

“He's fractured it,” Chapel explained before Kirk could ask.

“Oh great,” muttered Kirk and glanced at Spock who was sitting opposite him with his hands clasped and saw the expected eyebrow raised in surprise.

“Thanks for the sympathy, Jim,” came a plaintive voice.

“How?”

“Nurse Fandalska dropped a nanoprobe and was on the floor of the dispensary by the door looking for it when I walked in with my lunch tray. I tripped right over her.”

“How long before you can walk on it properly?” Kirk asked, trying not to sound exasperated.

“Three or four days, depending on how effectively the osteo-regenerator can work on my weary bones.”

Shit, he thought. He’d have to contact Pohl and find out what Plan B is. “Never mind, Bones, stay where you are. I guess that makes you one more in those accident stats you sent me. I’d order you and Fandalska to attend one of Lieutenant Eco’s Health and Safety sessions if I thought it’d do you any good. I’ll get back to you later.”

Snapping off the screen, Kirk turned to the matter in hand. “What do you know of Rigani II, Spock?”

The Vulcan shared what little he knew. Kirk then described the contents of Pohl’s message.

“A field assignment?” Spock asked.

Kirk half shrugged. “No idea. Since they’re sending the Enterprise off to continue its current assignment, I assume so.”

“Dr. McCoy is an unusual choice,” said Spock candidly, echoing a thought Kirk had already had.

“Maybe they need a doctor—if they do, they’re not going to get Bones. Speaking of which, I'd better let Pohl know.”

“If there is nothing further Captain...?” Spock was already halfway out of his seat.

Kirk grinned, knowing the Vulcan was itching to do a bit of research. “No. I'll see you later.”

At the door, Spock paused. “Would you care to join me for dinner, Jim?”

Spock was making it a personal request. A few months ago, Kirk would have been surprised at such an invitation, but not since they had spent so much time together recently. “Nineteen thirty in the OM suit you?” he suggested with a smile.

With an answering smile in his eyes, Spock gave a small nod in affirmation and left, unaware that Kirk continued to gaze fondly at where he had stood.

Just before Kirk left to visit McCoy in his quarters at shift’s end, he received updated orders and was glad Pohl was transmitting from Starbase 2, as the distance caused a forty minute lag in communications. It meant he didn’t have to deal 'live' with Pohl's obvious irritation at his CMO’s incapacitation.

“Here’s mud in your eye!” McCoy said holding his glass up to his captain. He sat on his bed, back against the headboard, his damaged foot propped up on a pillow.

“So, who heals the healer?” Kirk asked with a smile, as he swirled his brandy around the snifter that was cradled in one hand.

“Well now, Christine’s doing a fine job of mother henning me, although she’s yet to bring me a bowl of soup!” The two men grinned, remembering. “She’s given up on him now,” McCoy added after a moment.

“She’s accepted Spock’s not interested in her that way?”

“She’s accepted Spock’s not interested in anyone that way, I think. I never got what she saw in him. He’s terminally serious and got those so-called non-existent Vulcan emotions of his so suppressed, I know a few psychoanalysts who would have a field day with him.”

Looking into the amber liquid of his drink, Kirk thought about McCoy’s comments and found it interesting that their perceptions of Spock were so different. The Vulcan could actually be quite funny, demonstrating a wickedly dry sense of humor. As for deeply suppressing emotions, he and Spock were more than work colleagues; they had a solid friendship with a definite undercurrent of affection between them—he was certain it wasn’t one way. For that reason, Kirk suspected Spock’s emotions weren’t really that far beneath the surface. But the Vulcan was a very private individual and chose to share this facet only with him. Respecting that, Kirk didn’t correct McCoy’s beliefs, but instead changed the subject.

“At least you’ll be well enough by the time we get shoreleave.”

“Don’t remind me,” the doctor scowled.

“It’ll be fun, Bones. Communing with nature will do you the world of good,” Kirk beamed.

McCoy’s scowl became a glare. “I still don’t know how I managed to let you talk me into going camping. I like five star hotels, hot running water and a bed that isn’t likely to be invaded by the local insect population as soon as I’m in it.”

“Toasted marshmallows, campfire songs...”

The doctor grinned. “Oh, I can see Spock joining in the songs!”

Kirk didn’t want to give McCoy an opening to tease Spock. It was one thing to do it to his face. It felt quite different when his friend wasn’t there to provide a pithy response.

“So, have you signed yourself off duty?” Kirk asked with a grin.

“Forty eight hours and confined myself to my quarters to give the ankle a chance to heal properly.”

Kirk chuckled. “I bet you don’t stick to it!”

McCoy grinned back, not denying it.

They chatted comfortably for an hour before it was time for him to join Spock in the officer’s mess for dinner. He arrived to find the room empty other than Spock, who was selecting his meal.

Once seated at a table, Kirk swirled spaghetti around his fork. “Pohl’s put you on the job with me,” he said without preamble. “Scotty’ll be in charge.”

Spock looked up from his salad. “Indeed?”

From the inflexion on that one word and Spock’s expression, he could tell he was pleased. He found it easy to read the Vulcan, and thinking of his earlier conversation with the doctor, wondered why others couldn’t seem to.

“So, what did you find out?” He shoveled a fork of spaghetti into his mouth and as Spock was about to answer, he sucked up a long piece that had gotten away and then grinned at the distracted expression on his First Officer’s face.

“Are you aware,” the Vulcan began after a pause, “that Admiral Nogura recently transferred Pohl to Head of Internal Investigations, working under Chief of Starfleet Intelligence, Vice Admiral Frougge?”

Kirk became serious. “No I hadn’t.”

It wasn’t surprising he’d missed the announcement. He routinely received over a hundred Starfleet Internal Communications and Federation announcements every day and generally only skimmed through the ones not marked as high priority. With the long shifts he’d frequently worked during the patrol, and McCoy’s insistence that he take a break at the end of them, he’d gotten behind and was only now beginning to catch up. “I guess the announcement is on one of those tapes I didn’t get around to while we were on patrol.”

The mention of Frougge brought back good memories. He was the highest ranking Andorian in Starfleet and the last time Kirk had seen him was when he had been an upperclassman at the Academy and Frougge a Commodore heading up Security training. They had sometimes worked out in the gym together, and fought utilizing a combination of unarmed combat techniques. Although nearly three times his age, the Andorian had at first wiped the floor with Kirk. Determined to win, it had caused Kirk to work hard to up his game, and the first time he beat the Commodore, the victory had tasted sweet. Out of respect for the hard work he’d put in to improve and for his indomitable spirit, Frougge had bought him a drink to celebrate.

As for Pohl, Kirk thought, Internal Investigations was a good place to be if you wanted to dig up any dirt on people to use against them in the future. And it was something the admiral seemed to have a penchant for. He knew of at least one lieutenant commander who’d been disciplined and demoted following Pohl’s discovery that the officer was having a relationship with his yeoman. In his new capacity, Pohl could really increase his power were he to abuse the system, and knowing the type of man the admiral was, Kirk believed he might well do. The man had what Kirk believed was an outdated attitude to discipline and was a stickler for the rules. Leadership and influence, he had learned, was far more effective when it came from building relationships than through fear.

“Who appointed Pohl?” asked Kirk out of curiosity. Knowing Frougge as he did, he couldn’t imagine the Andorian had anything to do with it. His code of honor and personal values would certainly be at odds with Pohl’s modus operandi.

“Admiral Nogura was responsible. I believe his aim is to tighten up on what he believes is the open flouting of certain rules and regulations within Starfleet.”

Figures, thought Kirk, and Pohl would be the perfect person to achieve it.

“So,” Kirk asked after another mouthful of spaghetti, “what have you got on Larsen?”

~__=__=__~

The following afternoon they entered the outer limits of the Rigani system. Sulu carefully piloted the Enterprise around an asteroid belt as they approached the second planet and put her into a geostationary orbit well away from interference of the planet’s rings.

Kirk and Spock stood in the transporter room with Scott at the controls, waiting on beam-down coordinates from the Federation Embassy.

Unsure of the length of their stay, packing had not been an easy task—both of them opting to travel light. Kirk figured since Pohl was being so tight-lipped about the assignment, if they needed more clothing, they could buy it and charge it back to Starfleet. As they took their places on the pad, McCoy came in on crutches.

“Come to wish us a nice trip, Bones,” Kirk said grinning.

“I suppose you think that’s funny,” McCoy retorted, scowling.

“What are you going to do?” Kirk asked. “Put me on a charge for insubordination? You wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Despite trying his best not to, the engineer laughed and earnt himself a withering look from the doctor. “Next time you need a detox pill, Scotty, I’ll remind you of this!”

Scott looked genuinely alarmed. “Ach Leonard, surely you can take a wee joke!”

McCoy gave Kirk a mock-glare. “I’m so sorry you’re leaving before I can hear your full repertoire of leg jokes.”

Kirk laughed as McCoy rolled his eyes heavenwards in pretend exasperation and then fixed a glare on Spock. “What’s that look for?” he asked the Vulcan.

“Look, doctor?” Spock asked innocently. “I was merely considering the fact that the idiomatic nature and imprecision of Standard lends itself to such jesting. Had you been speaking Vulcan...”

McCoy held his hand up. “Spare me the linguistic lecture, Spock. Believe me when I say I’m happy as Larry that we don’t!”

Spock pulled the expected expression and beside him, Kirk laughed, enjoying the by-play.

A soft beep pulled their attention back to the transporter console. “Right Captain, they’ve just sent the coordinates,” confirmed Scott.

“Look after her, Scotty,” Kirk said, suddenly serious.

“Aye sir, I will.”

“Stay out of trouble, you two,” added McCoy. “I want you back in one piece.” Although he was teasing, the gruffness to his voice gave away his real concern for his two friends.

“Given the trouble I know I’m in with you now,” Kirk grinned, “you can count on it. I don’t want to be stuck in sickbay with a vengeful CMO!”

A few moments later, Kirk and Spock were standing face to face with Lt. Cdr. Sven Larsen, the Starfleet attaché.

Larsen was a tall, thin man, with piercing blue eyes who looked to Kirk to be in his late-thirties. Noticing how his blond hair had receded, Kirk wondered why he hadn’t undergone any one of a number of hair regeneration remedies widely available.

The room they stood in was some kind of briefing room. Windowless, it was dominated by a long table with 12 chairs around it and a series of monitors down the middle

“You’re no doubt wondering why you've been sent here,” said Larsen.

Kirk, ever the professional, offered a smile to the young man that didn’t touch his eyes, but said nothing.

Larsen looked from Kirk to Spock, whose face was schooled to neutral. If he was intimidated by the two Enterprise men, he didn’t show it. “It would facilitate matters,” he continued, “if you see this report from Admiral Pohl, rather than have me explain everything.” He handed them a tape and offering them seats at the long table, turned the nearest viewer to face them. “Once you've seen it, I'll try to answer your questions as best I can.”

The screen flickered to life, to reveal Pohl seated behind the huge desk that dominated his office on Starbase 2. “Your mission concerns a young Terran scientist by the name of Kim Wong, who went missing from Vulcan five days ago...”

After the admiral’s introduction, Kirk and Spock read the attached report. When they were through, they looked across the table to where Larsen had sat.

As Larsen had correctly anticipated, Kirk had a number of questions. “This classified research Wong was working on at the Vulcan Science Academy—is it something the Romulans would be interested in?”

Larsen momentarily looked away and Kirk picked up on the unconscious body language. “It may be,” he hedged. “Obviously I can’t reveal the nature of it. But since Wong’s come all the way out here, this close to Romulan space, we can’t take any chances.”

Kirk didn’t think he sounded convincing, but let it drop for the time being. “This professor who was mentoring him...”

“Sopan,” Spock reminded him.

“Right...it says the professor fell ill the day after Wong vanished. Is there any link between Wong’s departure and Sopan’s illness?”

“None, as far as we know. I’m sure the Vulcan authorities would have mentioned it if they suspected foul play.”

“And because Sopan was ill, no one noticed Wong’s disappearance?” Kirk clarified.

“That’s correct. When another scientist on the team got back from a visit to his home planet yesterday and realized Wong had vanished, he contacted Starfleet. Admiral Pohl immediately set up an investigation and has reprimanded the VSA for not reporting his disappearance earlier.”

I'll just bet they appreciated Pohl slapping them on their collective wrists, thought Kirk wryly. He glanced at Spock and his expression told him he was thinking the same thing, which almost made him smile.

“I didn’t see anything from Sopan in the report,” Kirk noted.

“No.” said Larsen and his eyes flicked momentarily to Spock. “We’ve...uh...been unable to talk to him. I understand he’s still unwell.”

“Illness is a private matter,” Spock interjected evenly. “The family will guard their kin until full recovery.”

Knowing what he did of Vulcans, it made sense. While ill, he could imagine they would not want anyone to witness them when not in full control of their body. Besides, if Sopan were in a healing trance, he wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone until he came out of it.

“Don’t you think it’s a little odd that Wong’s made no attempt to cover his tracks from Vulcan to here, or the shuttle he’s taking later today to Dracor.” Kirk made no attempt to hide his skepticism.

“As I said, Captain, we’re not taking any chances,” Larsen said with a bite to his voice.

With what Kirk believed was flimsy evidence of a conspiracy, Pohl had pulled him and his First off their ship to tail Wong to Dracor in the neighboring Corvus system. Under cover, their orders were to wait until Wong communicated with his contact and once identified, he and Spock were to drug them both—hence McCoy’s initial involvement—and then send a coded message to Lt. Cdr. Larsen. A small craft would be dispatched to pick them all up and return them to Rigani II. Because Dracor was a neutral planet with no extradition treaty in place, the assignment was to be undertaken in the utmost secrecy. Kirk did not like it one bit and was fighting to keep his anger in check.

“Why aren't you sending in trained field men for such a delicate operation? Spock and I are hardly of the caliber of your people.”

“You're too modest Captain,” said Larsen with what Kirk thought was an insincere smile. “Your reputation for getting out of tight corners is renowned in Starfleet.”

Kirk dismissed Larsen’s attempt to butter him up. It was obvious he’d been picked because the Enterprise was the nearest ship to hand. He wanted to know why they weren’t using intelligence personnel. “You haven't answered my question Mr. Larsen,” he reminded the attaché in a silky voice.

“We’re a bit out of the way here and couldn’t get intelligence officers at such short notice...” Larsen responded to Kirk’s skeptical look. “There's been an increase in Romulan activity which has tied up all our agents in this sector...” Kirk's expression did not change. “I'm sure you appreciate that the details are classified sir,” he finished with an edge to his voice.

“Commander Spock's going to stand out on Dracor like a sore thumb, unless you intend to pass him off as Romulan,” Kirk pointed out.

Larsen addressed Spock directly. “Your appearance did cause us some difficulty. A Romulan would draw as much attention as a Vulcan, so we intend to pass you off as a Grusian traveler. You'll find the style of their clothing will conceal certain of your more obvious physical characteristics.”

Kirk didn’t need to look at Spock to know the expression he’d be wearing at that comment. “Did Admiral Frougge authorize this?” His voice held an underlying tone of incredulity.

“No sir. It came direct from Admiral Pohl.”

Figures, thought Kirk. “Why don’t you simply pick Wong up while he’s here? Why this elaborate charade?”

Larsen started at Kirk’s last word and frowned disapprovingly. “The Admiral wants Wong’s contact.”

“Why? Do you have an idea who he or she might be?” he pressed.

Larsen hesitated. “No...”

Kirk pushed harder. “I understand Admiral Pohl has just taken over Internal Investigations. Surely setting up a mission to pick up Wong’s contact is out of his jurisdiction.”

“Are you questioning Admiral Pohl’s authority, Captain?” Larsen’s face showed clear anger.

“I’m trying my best, Lieutenant Commander,” he said stressing the rank, his voice carefully controlled, “to understand why I and my First Officer have been pulled off the jobs we’re qualified to do, to chase after someone you already have sitting under your nose, on the off-chance we might be able to apprehend his contact, who could end up being just some go-between. It’s a risky mission, on a neutral planet that neighbors the Romulan Neutral Zone, with no back-up.” As he listed his issues, Kirk could feel his anger rising, but forced himself not to let it out. “Tell me, Mr. Larsen, what would you do in my position?”

The attaché looked genuinely taken aback by the question. “I...I’d follow orders, sir.”

He’s got no capacity to think for himself, Kirk thought contemptuously. He wouldn’t last five minutes in space. He was obviously one of Pohl's 'yes men' and the less he revealed his opinion of this mission to this man, the better.

Knowing he didn’t really have an option, at least his questioning Larsen had provided him a few more of the facts. “So, what do we do now?” he asked in a resigned voice.

“We've put together a selection of devices that you are to take with you,” Larsen answered. “And we've fabricated clothes for your disguises. I'll issue you with false ID cards.” Larsen stood up. “If you'll both follow me, I'll get you kitted out. Time is of the essence.”

~__=__=__~

As Kirk and Spock entered the departure lounge for their shuttle flight to Dracor, the captain spotted Wong already occupying a seat in a corner. According to their brief, he had arrived on another flight from Beta Taurus III a few hours previously. They sat down in seats as far from their target as possible and away from anyone who could overhear them while they waited for the boarding announcement.

“I don’t think I endeared myself to Larsen,” Kirk commented after a few minutes.

“You made some valid points, Captain.”

Kirk looked down at his hands tightly folded in his lap. “He’ll probably go squealing to Pohl. Shit. If I’d wanted to do espionage, I would have joined Starfleet Intelligence.” Now alone with Spock, he made no attempt to hide his resentment.

“I concur. However, I am in no doubt that you are more than capable of carrying out this mission successfully.”

Kirk looked at Spock and saw the warmth in his eyes and smiled, despite his anger. He appreciated the compliment, sincerely meant, that was in such contrast to Larsen’s hollow flattery.

“You didn’t say much during the briefing,” said Kirk after a few minutes.

“I share your misgivings about the assignment. However, I did not believe voicing them would have persuaded Lt. Cdr. Larsen to cancel the mission. Had Dr. McCoy been with you as originally planned, I am certain he would have expressed his feelings on the matter.”

Kirk could hear Bones saying, ‘I’m a doctor, not a spy!’ and grinned at Spock. There was no-one he’d rather be with on this ridiculous assignment, than his Vulcan friend. What was Pohl thinking about sending in McCoy?

“I can just imagine Bones being there and what he’d have had to say about it!”

Kirk recognized Spock’s smile, a barely imperceptible change in his features, but one which to Kirk transformed his face. “Indeed.”

Yes ‘indeed’, thought Kirk with continued amusement. Enough said!

How quickly, Kirk realized, Spock had been able to lift his mood.

~__=__=__~

Their flight took a little over five hours and Kirk was glad when they finally touched down on Dracor, since the age and condition of the spaceship did little to fill him with confidence.

Spock in his disguise wore the traditional Grusian headgear, akin to that worn by Terran arabs, which served to hide his Vulcan physical traits. It was ideal since Grusians never appeared in public with their heads uncovered. His ID showed his name to be Belar Grinkh.

Kirk's ID gave his name as Jim Lavir and showed that he was of Terran origin. Both men carried heavy overcoats to combat the planet's low temperature as well as cases that cunningly concealed the tools they might need.

Dracor was a cold, desolate planet in the outer reaches of Federation space, although the Dracorians chose to maintain their neutrality from the UFP. The planet's main income was generated from the wealth of mineral and ores it mined, many of them rare. It was sparsely populated, with the majority of the indigenous population , humanoid in appearance (although very hairy by Human standards), living in the large cities that lay mainly in the slightly more temperate equatorial belt. Despite the low temperature, the cities were always bustling.

Because of the large numbers of off-worlders who visited to ply their trades and export the minerals, law and order was strictly maintained in order to prevent the dregs of the galaxy attempting to overrun the place - a system that worked well. It was against the law for any off-worlder to carry any type of weapon, with heavy penalties for those caught with one in their possession.

Dracor rotated on its axis only once every fifty seven hours, so each day lasted two and a half Terran days. Since the two Enterprise men arrived only a few hours after daybreak, it would be some time before they would see the sun set again.

Wong sat two seats ahead of them. As they disembarked, Kirk noticed that the young man was compelled to borrow a blanket from the shuttle to protect himself from the bitter cold, as he was considerably underdressed for the harsh climate. With over fifty people separating them, Kirk and Spock followed him across the tarmac and into the busy spaceport terminal.

“He looks as though he left Vulcan in a hurry,” commented Kirk.

“Agreed Captain. He appears unprepared for sub-zero temperatures.”

After clearing all entry formalities, they stood by the shuttleport main entrance and felt a blast of cold as one of the doors opened to let someone out. Kirk smiled. “This is supposed to be one of the more temperate cities. At least your headgear will stop your ears getting frostbite!”

Spock gave Kirk a look which told him he was not looking forward to going outside. While he went off to collect the key to an aircar that had been booked in advance for them, Kirk hung around as inconspicuously as possible, keeping his target in sight as Wong made several purchases and spent some time at the ticket desk.

Finally, sporting a new coat, Wong went outside to hail an airtaxi and Kirk jumped into the aircar Spock had waiting. With Kirk at the controls, the two Enterprise men followed at a discreet distance. Twenty minutes later, they hovered close to where Wong's taxi had pulled up in front of a motel.

Wong entered the reception and shortly after, went to his room. The motel was laid out on three sides of a square that was covered by a transparent thermodome. The central courtyard comprised of a small garden with a fountain and several seating areas, divided up by large plants, all kept at a temperature that was considerably warmer than the ambient air where Kirk and Spock stood.

As soon as Wong was inside, they parked up and retrieving their baggage, entered the reception where several terminals allowed customers to book rooms and check in and out.

“Have you seen the prices, Spock? This place is listed as five star.”

“I had surmised as much. A thermoderm is a luxury and likely costly to maintain in this climate.”

Kirk grinned. “Good thing we’re not paying.” He went through the check-in process and selected a room opposite the one they had seen Wong enter.

Their accommodation was laid out as a suite, divided into sections much as their quarters were on the Enterprise, although there the similarity ended. Thick cream-colored carpet covered the floor and the spacious living area contained an office with a desk complete with computer console with a built-in vidphone. Next to it were two very comfortable-looking couches and a coffee table. A small dining area contained a servo, with a table and chairs. The sleeping section was dominated by two double beds, beside which was a door that led to a bathroom with a large, half-sunken bath that could easily take two.

“I will take first watch, Captain.”

Kirk smiled wearily, too tired to argue, as it was gone 1 a.m. ship’s time and it had been a long day. It was just like Spock to sense his fatigue and in his own unobtrusive way, encourage him to get some rest. All the same, Kirk wanted to do ‘his bit’. “All right,” he said with a smile, “but I'll set it up.”

Kirk was very aware that culturally, Spock would find the idea of eavesdropping on someone a gross invasion of privacy, even though in this case, the victim was alleged to be a spy. Despite Spock’s personal reticence, though, he knew the Vulcan would follow orders, no matter how distasteful he sometimes found them.

Opening his suitcase, Kirk located a carefully concealed listening device and stepped out of his room. He meandered in a diagonal direction across the courtyard to beyond Wong’s room, appearing to be looking around at the facilities. After a few minutes, he started to make his way towards the reception area, keeping close to the rooms on Wong’s side. As he passed their target’s door, he attached the bug to the corner of one of his windows without breaking his stride.

Spock had already assembled a tiny receiver and was listening via a small ear piece by the time Kirk returned to their room. He asked a silent question.

“He would appear to be alone,” Spock responded, “since I am unable to detect voices.”

Kirk appreciated how easily they understood each other, even without words. After several years of working together, they seemed to be able to read each other easily.

Walking over to his suitcase he removed a number of items. Larsen had given them two stunners. To avoid the possibility of being arrested at the spaceport had they been caught with them, they were cleverly designed to be assembled from what looked like innocuous random objects. He gave them to Spock to piece together and then from a concealed compartment, pulled out the hypo they had been given to keep Wong and his accomplice out after stunning, and put that on the bedside table. The last thing he pulled out was his toiletry bag which he carried into the bathroom.

His ablutions completed he tiredly walked up to where Spock was sitting with his back to him and squeezed his shoulder. “I'm going to take a nap. Wake me up if anything happens; if not, then in a couple of hours or so.”

Spock nodded in response. Kirk lay down and pulled a loose cover over himself and a few minutes later, he was asleep.

~__=__=__~

“Captain.” Spock gave Kirk a slight shake.

He came awake immediately and looked at the Vulcan suspiciously. “How long have I been asleep?”

“Four point one hours. Wong has been asleep as long as you have as remains so. There seemed little point disturbing you since you required rest.” Spock’s lips twitched as he added, “He snores loudly.”

Kirk grinned. “Do I snore?” Only once, when he had a sinus infection, had a bed partner complained.

“Not that I have ever witnessed.”

Kirk felt relieved and it likely showed on his face.

“Although,” continued Spock with a very straight face, “ you do make other small vocalizations which no doubt some may find endearing.”

Kirk grinned and blushed, not about to ask his First Officer for a description. He enjoyed these rare occasions when Spock teased him.

After that, they took it in turns to monitor Wong, but since concentration was necessary to the task, conversation was difficult. Over the course of the next five hours, while the other was monitoring, they each took a shower, and while Kirk took the opportunity on his down time to catch up on more sleep with brief naps, Spock elected to spend the time meditating. When their body clocks told them it was morning, they ate breakfast in a companionable silence.

So far, Kirk thought, it was not being able to talk that was the most frustrating part of their mission. It was rare that he got Spock to himself away from the rigors of daily life aboard the starship, but monitoring required keeping distractions to a minimum. At least he had their up-coming shoreleave to look forward to, whenever that finally happened, although he would be sharing Spock with McCoy. Meanwhile, to stave off boredom, they settled at the desk where the computer supplied them with a virtual 3D chess game. This wasn’t so bad after all, he mused.

Kirk continued to feel one of those intuitive itches that couldn’t be scratched. So far, their target has shown no evidence of being a professional spy. His dossier was sparse, saying little more than the fact he was a twenty five year old Terran, born in Singapore of very wealthy parents who were both scientists. He had spent most of his youth on various planets living in small scientific research communities and had been identified as a childhood genius, speaking ten languages by the age of eight. Excelling in physics and computer science, he’d been offered a post-doctoral position with the VSA—something that august body only offered to those outstanding in their field. He was working on a hush-hush project for Starfleet who would have carried out very thorough background checks before assigning him to the team. No, there really was nothing in his background that revealed any obvious reason as to why he would want to defect.

Kirk and Spock had just started a light lunch when Spock, who was currently on surveillance duty, picked up on Wong making a call to order an airtaxi. Abandoning their food, they donned their overcoats and prepared to leave. They each took a stunner and Kirk stashed his, together with the hypo, in a hidden pocket. When Wong entered the main building, they slipped out of their room.

“Did you get any clue where he’s going?” Kirk asked, worriedly looking out the aircar window at the area they were passing through. They’d long left behind the plush buildings of the precinct their hotel was in, and were now surrounded by shabby looking tenement blocks.

“Negative Captain, only an address.”

Ahead, Wong’s airtaxi turned a corner and after a few hundred meters, came to rest in a street lined with bars, brothels and establishments offering live sex shows that featured various galactic beings. Kirk had seen its like on a hundred other planets and he’d long ago noticed that for some reason, these places tended to come alive after dark. With Dracor’s slow rotation, nightfall was still nearly a full Terran day away, and so the street was only sparsely populated. Ahead of them, Wong alighted and entered a bar while they searched for, and quickly found, a place to park.

A few minutes later, the two Enterprise men stood beside a brightly illuminated sign in a window, proclaiming the bar’s name as The Kiss. Underneath that, a huge pair of animated lips blew kisses at any passersby who cared to notice. Two announcements caught their eye: one stated: “Males Only” and the other proclaimed “You won't be disappointed here”.

Shit, thought Kirk, this is all we need. He'd been into a few gay bars with friends during Academy days and had noticed then that neither modesty nor privacy were high on the list of priorities of the average customer. He was unsure what going into a place like this would do to Vulcan sensibilities. That said, the book Spock had lent him had a section about the ancient Vulcan warriors who had openly practiced homosexuality among their ranks, so although in its far history, homosexuality wasn’t unheard of on Vulcan.

It wasn’t a of subject that had ever come up between him and his First Officer, so he had no idea what Spock’s opinions were about it—illogical, he supposed. But he could hardly object to it in theory, he reasoned, as it fell within the principles of IDIC. Oh well, he thought, looks like he was about to find out.

Pushing the door open, they stepped into the murky warmth inside to be greeted by a doorman Kirk decided wasn’t much smaller than a barn door.

“Sorry, no couples here,” he said, holding his hand up to prevent their entry. “This is strictly a singles place.”

“We're not together...” Kirk said quickly. Throwing Spock one of his brightest smiles, he addressed him directly, “...but you’re very good looking and I wouldn't mind getting to know you.” Kirk continued to smile, although now it was from amusement at the expression of surprise that Spock was carefully keeping from his face but was unable to hide in his eyes.

The Vulcan bowed slightly. “That would be acceptable.”

“You may enter. You can leave your coats in the cloakroom,” he said, pointing to a counter. “Max will look after you.”

Despite it being broad daylight outside, the establishment was dimly lit with a long, old-fashioned bar along the wall nearest the door. It was lined with rows of bottles and shelves of glasses and came complete with a real barman. Tables and more private cubicles hugged the other three walls, with only a third of them occupied. Slow, seductive music seemed to waft around from no particular direction, not too loud to make conversation difficult. In the middle of the floor, at least twenty male couples holding each other close, danced slowly around in circles, many kissing and fondling.

Divesting themselves of their overcoats, they went up to the bar at which several men were seated. Wong was at the far end being served, and as they waited their turn, Kirk watched as another member of staff approached their target and had a conversation with him, guessing him to be Max.

Next to Spock sat two men, one of whom was dressed in skin-tight pants and a top that had a 'V' neck reaching his naval, its cap sleeves emphasizing his hairiness and showing him to be a native of Dracor. He looked the Vulcan slowly up and down and then turned to his companion, commenting, “She's very exotic. I wonder where she's from.”

Kirk sensed Spock tense at the scrutiny. He didn’t see what happened next, but he caught Spock’s reaction to it when, quick as lightening, he grabbed the stranger's wrist in an iron grip causing the man to gasp out in pain.

The Vulcan pulled himself to his full height and said very quietly, but menacingly, “I did not give you permission to touch me.”

The color drained out of the man’s face and when Spock let go, he snatched his arm back and rubbed his wrist. Looking at Kirk he hissed, “You can keep her...vicious bitch!”

Kirk quickly glanced around, but no-one other than the man's companion seemed to have noticed the altercation. Spock moved further up the bar and together with Kirk, ordered his drink.

Kirk saw Max introduce Wong to a man who was seated at the bar near him and then showed them both to an empty table. He evaluated the man as he engaged their target in conversation, wondering if that was his contact. He looked human, about forty, Kirk estimated, and was tall and slim with long dark hair that framed a hard, angular face.

As they paid for their drinks, Max approached them. “Gentlemen, let me show you to a table.”

“Can we sit there?” asked Kirk, pointing to the table that was close enough to Wong's to allow them to hear his conversation, but behind him so they could monitor unnoticed.

“Sure. It's unoccupied; follow me.”

They circumnavigated the dance floor and when they got to their table, Kirk noticed there was only one double seat. Spock sat closest to Wong since his hearing was superior. There wasn’t much room for him to sit and out of respect for the Vulcan—especially after whatever had just taken place at the bar—he tried to maintain a gap between them, which necessitated sitting twisted, perched on one buttock.

“I'm Max—welcome to The Kiss. I don't think I've seen either of you here before...”

Both men confirmed it was their first time.

“I’ll explain how it works here then,” said their host. “This is a singles bar, and we pride ourselves on ensuring our clients have a good time. If you leave here without having got at least one kiss, we’ll give you a ticket for a free drink next time you come. All the staff here will do our best to encourage some action between clients. Now, I will give you a warning. We don’t tolerate cockteasers or drama queens here. If things aren’t working out for either of you and you decide to go talk to someone else, we don’t want any trouble. Understand?” Max glanced at the doorman in a veiled threat.

The two men confirmed their understanding with a nod and apparently satisfied, Max left them alone.

“Seems a bit heavy-handed,” Kirk said with irritation. “Why can’t they let people do things at their own pace?”

“A singles bar serves a specific purpose. Perhaps it is known for its guarantee and attracts a certain...clientele,” suggested Spock.

“I guess so. I just don’t like the pushy attitude.” He also didn’t like the prospect of Max attempting to get him and Spock better acquainted. He fully intended to leave with a free drink ticket.

He left Spock to concentrate on what was being said at the next table as he began to study the place more closely, noting an emergency only exit on the opposite wall to the entrance and no windows. All the seating was arranged like theirs, with a double seat on one side of each table. The slow beat of the music encouraged close dancing and there seemed to be a regular stream of men, mostly in pairs, coming and going. Everyone at tables appeared to be paired off with most of the single men sitting at the bar. Each time the door opened, they all looked around hopefully.

From where he was sitting, Kirk thought Wong looked decidedly miserable and began to wonder whether the man might be being blackmailed. He turned his attention to Spock. “Are you alright?” he asked in a whisper.

“Affirmative.” Spock seemed to notice Kirk’s position for the first time. “You look uncomfortable, Jim.”

He was. “These seats are a bit of a squeeze.”

Spock looked decidedly amused. “I believe that is the purpose.”

Kirk grinned back. Spock’s humor popped up at the darnedest times.

“If you are sitting in that position to spare me,” Spock went on, “it is unnecessary. In order to maintain our cover, I would suggest a closer arrangement would look more convincing.”

Spock had a point—he didn’t want to come across as a shrinking violet in a place like this, and perhaps draw undue attention to himself, especially from Max. Besides, he really didn’t know how long he could have held that position—his lower back was already complaining. “If you’re sure?” He could see Spock’s expression. “OK, you’re sure.” With that, he shifted to sit normally. With their shoulders, hips and thighs now pressed together, he became very conscious of the heat of the Vulcan’s body.

“After the altercation at the bar, I thought you’d punch my lights out if I got any closer,” he whispered, smiling.

“He gave me what I believe you would call ‘an intimate caress’, which was unwelcome.”

Kirk chuckled. “You mean he squeezed your ass?”

There was a moment’s silence. “More intimate,” Spock admitted, finally.

A feeling of sympathy welled up in him for his friend. “I can see why you reacted the way you did. I imagine you found being touched in that way offensive. I’m sorry you had to suffer it.”

“It was objectionable because it was uninvited.”

Kirk found himself surprised by the answer and what it implied, although it made sense. While Vulcans as a rule avoided touch, clearly that would not be the case with people close to them, and bondmates would obviously freely touch intimately. Spock had given him permission to sit closely and perhaps this was his way of saying he was not offended by it.

“I’m afraid the odd grope is par for the course in places like this.”

Spock turned to face him and while Kirk couldn’t see it beneath the Vulcan’s headgear, he knew that eyebrow had twitched up. “You have been in such establishments before?” Spock asked.

“I went occasionally with friends at the Academy. You know what it’s like when you're young and you want to see a bit of life...” No, he realized, Spock probably wouldn't know about those kind of urges and he wasn’t about to tell his First Officer about some of his experimentations in those places, either. “That was years ago—you know the kind of places I go to these days,” he added. He’d once half-heartedly invited Spock to join him and McCoy for a night of bar-hopping at some of the fleshpots on Vanturia—a planet known for its hedonistic culture—and had been turned down flat.

Kirk glanced to where Wong was sitting, noticing he and his companion were sitting in silence, watching the dancers. Since there was nothing to monitor, conversation-wise, he continued to talk. “Does this kind of thing bother you?” he asked, suddenly very curious.

“If you are referring to this being an all-male bar, I am not uncomfortable with it. However, as you are aware, culturally, Vulcans are private by nature and do not engage in such public sexual displays as a rule.”

As a rule...? Kirk’s mind boggled at when they might.

Having such a personal discussion with Spock was a novel experience. After the surreal conversation they’d shared in Spock’s quarters when he was going through Pon Farr, and recalling the Vulcan’s excruciating embarrassment, he had no idea what subjects were considered taboo. Apparently, homosexuality wasn’t one of them. He’d definitely continue this conversation at a more appropriate time. Meanwhile, like those that they were monitoring, they lapsed into silence.

Kirk watched Max as he darted energetically about the room making introductions and encouraging men to get up and dance. Time and again, his eyes were drawn to the couples both sitting and dancing as they kissed and fondled each other. He’d rarely been in a position to watch such uninhibited sexual behavior between so many men.

After an hour Kirk and Spock were on their third drink. During that time, conversation between Wong and his companion had been sporadic and mundane. Meanwhile Max had been over twice in a bid to persuade them to dance but they, like the men at the adjacent table, had declined.

Because of their proximity, Kirk was able to feel it when Spock's stance altered slightly as he suddenly became more alert.

“Jim, Wong is talking about Vulcan,” he whispered.

“What's he saying?” asked Kirk, straining to hear the conversation.

“At present, he is giving a general description of the planet and the people.” Before Spock could add anything, Kirk looked up in dismay as Max sauntered over to Wong's table and this time managed to persuade them to dance.

Damn, thought Kirk. He’d known this was almost an inevitability and smiled wryly at his companion. “Care to dance, Mr. Spock?”

As he stood, he swayed slightly and realized that having missed out on lunch, he was drinking on an empty stomach and was feeling decidedly light-headed. Leading Spock across the dance floor, they found a spot close to Wong and his partner. Kirk turned to find the Vulcan standing, apparently waiting for some direction from him.

Flushing and feeling awkward, Kirk took two steps forward until he was standing chest to chest with his First Officer, and put his arms loosely about his waist. He felt Spock’s arms wrap around his shoulders and after a moment asked, “Are you comfortable?”

“Affirmative.”

This felt so weird. “Can you hear what they're saying?” Kirk whispered.

“They are not speaking.”

“Oh!” Kirk grinned to himself at the thought of how they must look together and was surprised when Spock picked it up.

“Something amuses you?” he asked.

“Yeah. If Bones could see us now, he'd never let us forget it.” After a moment, he confessed, “While we're in this situation, I'm glad it's you here and not anyone else.” He supposed that because Spock was unemotional, it somehow helped him to cope with the bizarre situation of being in a clinch with his First Officer. He had no idea how Spock felt and he was not about to ask.

Kirk felt Spock begin to relax and interlacing his fingers behind the Vulcan’s back, he rested his forehead against a bony shoulder. In response, Spock wrapped his arms closer about his shoulders and rested his cheek against the side of his head.

This was the first time Kirk had ever danced at close quarters with another man and he didn’t feel as awkward as he thought he would have, putting his comfort at their unusual proximity down to the deep and trusting friendship he shared with Spock. They had rarely stood close together and never for this long.

The two things that immediately struck him as different to dancing with a woman was that first, the body he held was hard, flat and sinewy, and second, Spock was taller than himself—he generally dated petite women. He felt no urge to talk and wondered whether even in private they'd ever refer to this incident in the future.

“How are you two getting on?”

Kirk groaned inwardly as he looked up to see Max grinning at them. This was exactly what he’d been afraid of and his irritation at the man deepened, although he forced a smile. “Fine thanks.”

“Good to see you dancing at last.” He glanced at Spock and indicating Kirk observed, “Very kissable lips. Why don't you try them?”

“In our own time,” cut in Kirk, flushing with embarrassment at the thought of being forced to kiss Spock, his defensiveness driving his anger. Max was pushing it—obviously he didn’t want them getting free drinks on their next visit.

“But if you don't now, perhaps you never will and that would be a missed opportunity.” Kirk stiffened and pulled slightly away from Spock. In a quiet voice he said, “I said in our own time. All right?”

Max turned to Spock. “Look if he's going to play hard-to-get, I can easily find you someone else.”

“Why don't you mind your own business,” Kirk said through clenched teeth, barely holding his anger in check.

Max moved his face close to Kirk's. “That's just what I am doing. This is my joint and I’ve explained how it works here. Now, if you're gonna cause trouble...”

Kirk began to move away from Spock, who responded quickly. “Do not be coy Jim.” Grabbing his upper arms, the Vulcan pulled him into a tight embrace. “If you will permit me...” Before Kirk could react, the Vulcan's lips descended on his. Keeping his mouth tightly closed, Spock's lips crushed Kirk's.

The first thing that came to him was the shocked thought, ‘Spock’s kissing me!’ As the Vulcan held him tightly in place, Kirk forcibly calmed himself down, even as Spock continued to crush his mouth.

As he began to relax, Spock eased off slightly. Even in the midst of this bizarre situation, a bubble of mirth floated up. His indignation had come from not wanting to inflict something as embarrassingly intimate as a kiss on his First Officer and so there was a certain irony that it was Spock who had taken the initiative. He was acutely aware that Max had been on the verge of throwing him out, which could have put the entire mission in jeopardy. The danger was not yet over as Max was still standing beside them, watching.

To make it look more believable, he slid his arms back around Spock, and closing his eyes, pulled him in close. At his change of stance, the Vulcan let go of his arms and embraced him, running his fingers lightly through his hair. Kirk wanted to get rid of Max, so cutting off all conscious thought of who he was holding, he softened his mouth to make the kiss look more authentic, their lips lightly brushing, gently grazing. At some level he acknowledged that this felt far less awkward than he would have imagined, that it was actually quite pleasant.

He allowed his entire being to center on the sensations caused by the nuzzling kisses and the soft mouth pressed tenderly to his. He took hold of Spock's bottom lip between his own, sucking, licking and nibbling, eliciting the quietest of gasps. He opened his mouth a little, his tongue reaching out, feeling Spock’s lips give way under the gentle assault. With a sense of exhilaration, their tongues touched, the tips coming together hesitantly at first in no-man's land, the intimate caress sparking off an electric current that settled in Kirk’s groin.

He pushed past Spock's tongue and with a growing arousal, penetrated the moist, soft recesses of his mouth. Probing inside, his tongue slowly revolved around the Vulcan’s in an exploratory stroking, detecting the sweet after-taste of Spock's fruit-juice in contrast to the tartness of his brandy.

Spock began to press on his tongue, pushing it to retreat into his own mouth, where the Vulcan’s followed, kissing him gently, fully. Kirk closed his mouth on the tongue and began to suck on it and felt a tremor run through the Vulcan. Spock's fingers lightly stroked the short hair on his neck and until that moment Kirk didn’t know how highly sensitive he was there. They kissed, hotly, tongues twining, dancing.

Kirk was, by now, deeply lost in sensation. It was a delicious feeling to play with Spock’s tongue and he tasted, lingering to explore and savor. If mental bells were ringing, warning him of what he was doing and to whom, he chose not to heed them. If he needed it, his justification was that he was doing this for the mission to maintain their cover, the three brandies on an empty stomach allowing him to drop his inhibitions enough to carry it out.

Pulling Spock in closer, his right hand slowly travelled down from the middle of the long, sinewy back to rest on a firm buttock. After a few seconds, the other one followed and began a light massaging action. He had seen that ass a thousand times on the bridge, black material pulled taut as Spock bent over the hooded viewer, and now he knew what it felt like.

Spock kissed him harder, with passion. Tongues dueled, seeking each other, swirling in an exquisite dance. Kirk pressed their lower bodies tightly together so that their groins met. A combination of a gasp and a groan unintentionally escaped his lips at the feel of erections touching through the layers of their clothing, pressed together, the contact, exciting and sensual. He immediately felt embarrassed at the frankness of the utterance, at the full admission of the pleasure he was feeling, of the reckless commitment to the situation. The entire episode could have been reversible, they could have passed it off as role-playing right up until that gasp of unadulterated pleasure.

Although he was keenly aware of it, he could not recall the moment when he had become aroused. The feel of that hardness rocking against his own should have alerted him that something was amiss, that responding to another man was not customary for him, that this man was his friend and colleague. In that monosyllable utterance, Kirk had reached a point of no return, yet still he would not allow his conscious mind to fully acknowledge what he was doing and put a stop to it. He was acting purely on impulse.

Kirk ground his hips against Spock’s in time to the slow pulsing of the sensual music as the two rigid bulges in their pants collided together and their panting breaths became more ragged. Thorough tongues eagerly probed each other's mouths, while one hot hand at the back of Kirk's neck stroked him cherishingly and the other seared his left buttock. He caressed and fondled, nibbled and lapped in a haze of naked sensuality and imagined what it would be like to have that hot mouth and busy tongue wrapped around his cock. He felt his balls tighten and a twitching begin deep inside his cock, accompanied by a familiar mounting pressure...

With an almost sickening jolt, Kirk’s attention was suddenly snatched back to his surroundings as a commotion broke out near to where they stood. The music ceased abruptly as they jumped apart, still panting from arousal.

Max, it appeared, had long gone, though Kirk had been so caught up in the kiss, he had no idea when. It might have started out as a necessity but it had gone far beyond when they had both become aroused. He felt a flush of embarrassment at what had inadvertently occurred between them and unconsciously wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Not daring to look at Spock he, along with everyone else in the bar, watched on as Wong and his partner harangued each other. His mind in turmoil, he forced himself to focus on the matter in hand.

“Why don't you just leave me alone?” shouted Wong, looking close to tears.

His erstwhile companion suddenly pushed him hard on the shoulder, sending him tripping backwards. “You know your trouble? You're just a fucking prick-teaser.” With that, he threw himself at Wong. Having finally pushed their way to the front of the crowd, Max and the doorman, who were both clutching phasers aimed at the two men, pulled them apart and held them firmly.

Wong tried to pull out of Max's firm grip unsuccessfully. “Let me go. I want to leave.”

“Good. We can do without your type in here.” Releasing him, Wong collected his coat and walked out hurriedly. Not wishing to attract attention to themselves, Kirk and Spock headed for the cloakroom as casually as they were able. As they collected their coats, they watched in dismay as Wong's adversary suddenly shot out of the door, looking furious. Pulling on the heavy garments, Kirk avoided eye contact.

Not bothering to fasten their coats, they pulled open the door. Outside, the bright sunlight momentarily dazzled them, a frigid wind biting into their skin, as they searched the street for the young scientist. Spock was the first to spot him, heading back in the opposite direction to the motel at a trot, with the other man in hot pursuit.

Kirk paused, watching the two men running down the street. “Wong could be genuinely in trouble, or this may be a ruse between him and his contact to get rid of us if they know we’re tailing him.”

“The two possibilities had occurred to me, also,” confirmed Spock.

So much didn’t add up and he was feeling more convinced than ever that Wong was innocent. It took only a moment to come to a decision. “Let’s go,” he said.

As he was about to set off, Spock stayed him with a hand on his arm. “Captain, even if you are correct and Wong is in difficulty, if we assist him, it will make it impossible for us to tail him further.”

Kirk glanced up at the Vulcan, meeting his eyes for the first time since their shared embrace. “I could be very wrong and this could all be part of an elaborate set-up,” Kirk agreed, “but my gut instinct tells me Wong is no more a spy than I am. I’m willing to risk it. Just to be on the safe side, don’t use the stunner unless absolutely necessary.”

Spock nodded and they set off at a sprint, with the Vulcan gaining ground fastest. Ahead of them, Wong’s assailant had caught up with him and having wrestled him to the ground, managed to lay several punches on the terrified Terran before Spock hauled him off and sent him out cold with a nerve pinch. Kirk arrived in time to help a grateful but shaky Wong to his feet.

“I don't know how to thank you both,” Wong said, still visibly upset.

“We'd better get out of here. I wouldn't be surprised if Max has called the law enforcement.” Kirk glanced around and taking in the seedy area, came to a decision. “I don't think you should walk around here alone. Can we give you a lift? We've got an aircar just over there.”

Wong gratefully accepted and as their aircar ascended, they saw three uniformed men surround the motionless body they had left behind, and begin to search him. Breathing a sigh of relief, Wong sat back and directed them to his motel.

Kirk refused to let his mind go to what had just taken place between him and Spock, instead concentrating on the here and now. After a short while, they were back at their hotel. “You’re staying here?” Kirk asked, pretending surprise. “That’s a coincidence, so are we.”

“I really appreciate you helping me out back there. Can I at least buy you a drink—the hotel’s got a bar.”

Since it was now impossible to tail Wong, Kirk accepted the invitation, hoping that the young man would reveal something in casual conversation. Besides, he didn’t feel inclined to be alone with Spock right at that moment.

“I’m Jim Levir and this is my friend Belar Grinkh,” said Kirk, as they sat at a table in the small bar.

“Kim Wong,” the young man responded. “Nice to meet you.”

Having learnt his lesson, Kirk ordered a non-alcoholic drink from the small servo beside their table.

“You're not from Dracor, Kim,” Kirk said casually. “What are you doing out this way?”

Wong smiled wanly. “It's a rather long story, which would only bore you.”

“Try us,” said Kirk, smiling.

“Given where I met you, I guess you won’t find it too shocking,” he said. “I grew up travelling a lot with my parents and studied computer sciences through distance learning courses, under the tutelage of some of my parents’ colleagues. Six months ago, I was offered a scholarship at a very prestigious institution under the mentorship of a young professor.”

Kirk noticed Wong’s discretion as he recounted his story.

“After two months I began to realize there was something about the professor...” he broke off and gazed at his lap, looking embarrassed.

Kirk leaned forward. “Go on...” he encouraged.

Perhaps it was something in his voice, but Wong looked up and smiled gratefully. “Let’s just say what I was feeling was more than just a student's admiration of his teacher and at first I felt confused. I grew up in a series of mostly isolated communities and didn’t ever date but I recognized what I was feeling and I was shocked I felt this way about another man. But then I thought he was feeling something more too and it gave me courage. We started to meet after school and in our time off, and often spent evenings together.

“The day before I left to come here, I noticed the professor wasn’t himself and I wasn’t sure why. That evening, I went to his home and as soon as I was through the door, he...he kissed me.” Wong stopped for a moment and swallowed.

Still looking at his hands clasped in his lap, he continued. “It was the most amazing experience. It was like my whole body came alive as I felt him pressed up against me; as though he were stealing my soul with that one kiss.”

For the life of him, Kirk could not look at Spock.

When Wong looked up, there were tears in his eyes. “Suddenly he pushed himself away from me and told me I should socialize with people my own age and we shouldn’t spend any more time alone together. Then he told me to leave.”

“The next day, I decided to take some unused vacation time to visit my dad’s best friend, who’s like an uncle to me. He’s head of the marine biology team on Corvus VII. There aren’t many hoppers from here so I had a day to kill on Dracor.”

Dracor being Corvus VI, Kirk realized Wong was only a short distance from his final destination.

Wong looked a little sheepish as he concluded his story. “After that kiss, I thought I’d try out a bar to see if I could get that from others, or if it was just him. I found out quickly, it’s just him. I’m in love with him.”

“You were lucky to be given leave at such short notice,” commented Kirk, with a hunch.

“Well, I wasn’t actually given it. I was still very upset, so I just left a message with the professor.”

Kirk looked at Spock as the import of what Wong was saying sank in. He could see what Intelligence had missed. They would likely have automatically searched for any of Wong’s relations in the sector, but they would not have known about a close family friend. He looked back at the young man. “Why did you decide to go to your father’s friend, rather than your parents?”

The young man smiled. “Because he's homosexual and I need to talk to someone about it.”

“And what will you do after that?”

Wong shrugged. “He'll probably tell me to go back to collage and from now on have only a professional relationship with the professor.”

Kirk gave him a reassuring smile. “I know with how you’re feeling, that sounds impossible, but it’s good advice. Given the prestige of this school, you really should try to stay and complete your studies if you can.” He needed to get this information back to Starfleet as soon as possible and stood up. “If you'll excuse us Kim, there are a few things I need to do. We're in room 42 if you want company later.”

Wong nodded and standing up, he smiled. “Thanks again for helping me. I haven’t been on a slow-rotation planet for a long time and I’ve forgotten how much it messes with my circadian rhythm. I need a nap.”

You and me both, thought Kirk, tiredly. It didn’t help that he hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast eight hours earlier. But since he was still embarrassed and confused at what had happened between them, a part of him didn’t want to be alone with Spock. He knew they needed to talk about it, but he really wished he could have space to think first.

When they got back to their room and closed the door behind them, Kirk forced himself to act as he normally would, but was finding it difficult meeting Spock’s gaze. “I’ll call Larsen. Carry on monitoring Wong’s room, just to be on the safe side.”

As Spock sat down with the equipment, Kirk walked over to his case and replaced the unused hypo he had been carrying, then extracted a device that Larsen had provided, that would enable him to scramble transmissions made on the public communication system.

Kirk sat at the desk, and activated the vidphone. Keying in the details of the call, a message appeared to inform him his connection to Rigani II would take place momentarily. As he waited, he glanced across the room to where Spock was sitting with his back to him. There had been no discernable change in his behavior since their embrace, neither a withdrawal nor a greater warmth. It was impossible to guess what the Vulcan had made of it. His thoughts were cut off as the screen informed him his connection to Larsen was imminent.

“Commander...” Attaching the scrambler, Kirk gave a brief outline of their mission to date, with the omission of certain personal details. He then related Wong's story, and although he was aware that Sopan was ill, he wanted to know why no-one had checked to see if he had known of Wong's whereabouts. He also asked for verification on Wong's father’s friend being stationed on Corvus VII. Frowning, Larsen promised to get back to them as quickly as possible.

With nothing to do now but wait, Kirk went to the servo and ordered a sandwich. He knew Spock wouldn’t eat anything while he was working, so didn’t offer. Once eaten, he lay on the bed and although he was tired, he knew there was little chance of his getting any sleep with his thoughts in turmoil.

His first puzzle was trying to recall how the real part of the kiss had started. It had been in three stages, the first was when Spock had grabbed him, the second when he had tried to make it look more real, and the third... His mind seemed to shy away from remembering too vividly.

He was certain that he had not initiated it, but then he was not at all sure that it had been Spock. He thought he would have noticed if Spock had started to kiss him passionately, yet apparently he hadn’t. It was almost as if it had crept up on both of them.

His second puzzle was trying to fathom why he had not only taken an active role in it, but had become very aroused by it, when all his partners for the last nearly 15 years had been female. Yes, he’d been drinking, but not enough to have lowered his inhibitions by that much. He considered the possibility that their drinks had been spiked, but dismissed the idea, since what may have affected him was unlikely to have any impact on Vulcan physiology. He’d done some bi-curious stuff while at the Academy, but it was one thing as a horny teenager to jerk someone off and let them suck your cock, and quite another to kiss someone as passionately as they had been doing. He was sure that had they not been interrupted, he would have climaxed.

And Spock! That was the one thing he truly couldn’t get his head around. Of all the beings in the universe, it was Spock he’d just done this with. This, the man McCoy had laughingly said was not interested in anyone, sexually. Boy, was he wrong on that count. And where the hell had Spock learnt to kiss like that? With his considerable experience, he realized Spock was one of the best kissers he he’d ever known.

Then there was this whole thing from Spock’s side. He’d obviously started the original kiss to prevent Max throwing him out. And incredible as it may seem, Spock had not only actively participated in the real kiss, but like him, had also become aroused by it.

Looking back over the time he had known Spock, until his Pon Farr, he had more-or-less assumed him to be asexual by nature. After his encounters with Leila and Zarabeth, if the Vulcan did have a sexual preference, he’d imagined it was for women.

Kirk knew he was still skirting around the subject, his mind not wanting to go there. This wasn’t about a kiss and their response to it. This was about them and their sexual response to each other. The kiss had been a catalyst to that sexual response. There was no getting away from the fact that he had been deeply turned-on and it had to rate as one of the most erotic experiences he’d had for a very long time.

But Spock was his friend and his First Officer, and he’d had no conscious sexual thoughts about him up to this point. So why on earth did he respond the way he did?

Kirk sighed, frustrated that there were so many questions and not enough answers. His main concern now was that he didn’t want relations between them to become strained, but he knew he wasn’t acting normally as he was feeling awkward and embarrassed by the whole episode. With everything going on, this wasn’t the time to discuss it all with Spock.

As if to underscore that, the vidphone buzzed. To Kirk's surprise, it was Admiral Frougge, the sight of him causing him to sit bolt upright.

“Admiral Frougge.”

“At ease, Captain,” he said with a smile. “Is Commander Spock with you? I wish to speak with you both.”

“He’s monitoring Wong, sir,” Kirk explained.

Frougge pursed his lips. “That will no longer be necessary.”

Spock walked over to the desk carrying a chair and sat down next to Kirk. “Yes sir.”

“Excellent. Now I am aware that you were expecting Commander Larsen, but I have deemed it necessary to deal with the matter myself. Unfortunately I have only just been informed of your involvement in this situation...”

So contrary to procedure, Pohl was working on his own, thought Kirk.

“...On the day of Dr. Kim Wong's sudden departure,” continued Frougge, “I received a personal communication from a member of the Vulcan High Council - I believe you are acquainted with T'Pau...” Frougge's eyes wrinkled in a smile.

Kirk’s mind was running on overdrive, trying to figure out why T’Pau was involved.

“Since the work he is carrying out at the VSA is for Starfleet and of a delicate nature,” continued the Admiral, “she believed it prudent to inform me of his sudden departure, as he evidently had not put in a request for a leave of absence through normal channels. I understand he left Vulcan as the result of personal circumstances which involved a member of her family and she requested that she be allowed to deal with the matter of Dr. Wong herself.”

Kirk felt a jolt, like a physical punch to his stomach, and glanced briefly at Spock whose face was completely neutral. Professor Sopan is a member of Spock's family? Why the hell didn’t he mention it? he wondered, annoyed.

“For the record, although the Professor is still unwell, T'Pau has stated that he has corroborated the statement Dr. Wong made to you concerning his departure from Vulcan. I can confirm that Mao Ling, a close family friend, is indeed stationed on Corvus VII and is expecting Wong to arrive tomorrow. Dr. Wong is not a spy Captain, merely a confused young man. Obviously, Starfleet have dropped all charges made by Admiral Pohl against him.”

“Are you saying sir, that this whole thing has been a wild goose chase?” Kirk had had his doubts all along, but even so, to have them confirmed left him feeling angry.

Frougge's antennae dipped as he contemplated Kirk's question. “If you mean a useless exercise, then yes Captain, I regret that that is so. I have informed T'Pau of your unfortunate involvement. She had a representative on his way to Corvus VII to request that Dr. Wong return to Vulcan. However, she has made a personal request to me that you and Cdr. Spock accompany Wong to Vulcan and in the light of this mess, it is the least I can do. On arrival, you will receive further orders. Since this is a private matter, I have left it to T'Pau to make arrangements for your journey. You will receive a communication from one named Sorval regarding this. Do you have any questions?”

Kirk shook his head. “No sir, none that I can think of.”

“Very well. Good speed and travel safely Captain, Commander. Frougge out.”

Kirk turned to Spock who was wearing the old Vulcan mask he hadn’t seen since his earliest days aboard the Enterprise. They were sitting too close—he needed space, so walked over to the bed and sat on the edge. “You’ve been withholding information from me.” He tried to keep an accusatory tone from his voice, but knew he hadn’t entirely succeeded.

“Nothing that would influence the outcome of the mission, Captain.”

Why is trying to get information from a Vulcan like trying to get blood from a stone? Kirk wondered in frustration. He pressed on. “Since T’Pau is involved, I gather Professor Sopan is a relative of yours.”

“He is a cousin.”

Kirk felt his anger increase a notch. “And you don’t think that information had any bearing on the mission.”

In an unconscious response, Spock crossed his arms. “I deemed it irrelevant, sir.”

Kirk hung on to his temper long enough to concede inwardly that Spock was right, the coincidence didn’t really affect their mission. All the same, it irritated him that Spock hadn’t told him. Was it a lack of trust?

“And this Sorval who’s going to call us?”

“Is Sopan’s father.”

Kirk felt another jolt. There was so much about Spock he didn’t know, he realized. The contrast of the physical intimacy they had shared only a couple of hours earlier to now, and this feeling that there was so much about Spock he did not know, was extremely disconcerting.

There were too many things going on in his head that he needed time and space to unpack and work through. For now, he decided to let the matter drop.

“One thing's for sure,” he commented with a small smile, “Pohl's definitely in the shit. He was way out of line on this one.” The thought made him feel better already. Standing up he began to pace up and down in silence, as Spock dismantled the surveillance device and then the stunners.

It was, for Kirk, a tense fifteen minutes before Sorval finally contacted them. Being Vulcan, he wasted no time on preliminaries. “Captain, I wish to speak to Cdr. Spock alone. It is an urgent and private matter.”

Kirk stood up.

“A moment Captain,” Spock said, and sat down on the seat he’d just vacated. He addressed his uncle. “You may speak before Captain Kirk, Sorval.”

“This is a private family matter,” the older Vulcan stressed again.

Kirk had moved so that he was no longer in view, but could still see Sorval’s face on the screen and Spock’s profile as he talked.

“Sopan is in his Time.” Spock said it as a statement.

“Kirk is an out-worlder,” Sorval reminded Spock, his voice tight.

“Captain Kirk risked his career to return me to Vulcan at the time of my Pon Farr. He remained at my side throughout and nearly lost his life for it. He may not be family, but I consider him t’hy’la.”

It warmed Kirk to have Spock defend him. Being in Pon Farr would explain the kiss Sopan had given Wong and the strange behavior the young man had witnessed. The pieces of the puzzle were coming together.

There was a moment's silence as Sorval came to a decision before he continued. “Sopan wishes to take Dr. Wong as his bondmate...”

Kirk saw no outward sign of surprise on Spock’s face.

Sorval continued, “Tradition dictates that he must, therefore, come to Vulcan and give Sopan his answer in person, as is the way of our people. If Kim Wong rejects Sopan, then T'Rena will accept the surrogacy as she has done before. T'Pau sent Senderal to escort Dr. Wong and was awaiting a connecting ship from Deneb, but he has been ordered to return. Since you are now his escort, she commands that it be you who informs Dr. Wong of the duties of a bondmate to ensure that he fully comprehends the commitment of a bonding. He must be fully cognizant of all the facts before he makes his decision.

“Three seats have been reserved on a shuttle to Starbase 17 which departs Dracor in four point two standard hours. From there, you will take the Cunard Federation Express which comes to Vulcan by way of Alpha Centauri and Terra. The only suitable accommodation at the time of booking was a family suite.”

“I come to serve, Sorval. I will carry out my role as escort and will speak with Kim Wong on all matters.” On the viewscreen, the Vulcan held his hand in the traditional salute as Spock did likewise.

“Live long and prosper, Spock.”

“Long life and prosperity, Sorval.”

As soon as the screen went blank, Kirk addressed Spock. “I didn’t know Vulcan allowed bondings between males.”

“There is much you do not know about Vulcan ways, Captain.”

With everything that had taken place that day, the statement packed more of a punch for Kirk than it might normally. Working with him on a daily basis and spending so much time with him, he frequently forgot Spock was Vulcan, almost thinking of him as a Human with pointed ears. At times like this, he’d get a stark reminder of how alien his First Officer really was.

One thing puzzled him. “Did I miss something? I thought Sopan rejected Wong.”

“We have only Wong's interpretation of events. You will recall he stated that Sopan's behavior had altered. I surmised from this that he was in his Time. During this period, anything that is said or done is open to question.”

Recalling Spock's behavior during the voyage leading up to their disastrous visit to Vulcan, Kirk understood what he meant. Spock hadn’t even been able to recall countermanding his order and diverting the ship to Vulcan. “Wasn’t Sopan betrothed as a child?”

“He was, but T'Pula perished in an accident before reaching adulthood. He subsequently rejected all further attempts by our family to find him another. His own search for a suitable bondmate has been fruitless. This is his second Pon Farr. Last time a healer, T’Rena, acted as surrogate and has agreed to do so again should Wong reject him.”

Kirk realized that Spock was being remarkably candid and felt certain that the events of that day were partly responsible. It had altered their relationship and at this stage he could not be sure whether it was for better or worse. He was grateful that they had a legitimate excuse to postpone the inevitable discussion as they had to prepare for departure.

With only four hours to get the shuttle, there was no time to waste. “I'll go and get Wong,” said Kirk. Outside, a bright sun shone through the protective dome and Kirk was reminded how disorientating planets with a slow rotation could be. He had no idea how many hours it had been since he’d last had a proper night’s sleep.

Walking across to the young man's room, he discreetly removed the bug he had left earlier and knocked several times before he got an answer from a sleepy-looking Wong.

“Kim, can you come over to room 42, my friend and I need to talk to you.”

Wong immediately looked alert and suspicious. “What do you want to talk about.”

Kirk smiled. “We’ve already helped you out—we’re not about to do you any harm. It’s just we’ve got some information about Professor Sopan we’ve been asked to relay to you.”

Wong looked shocked. “What’s going on? Who are you?”

“Trust me, Kim.” Kirk looked to his left and right to make a point. “But I don’t want to have this conversation out here.”

Wong reluctantly followed Kirk. As the captain entered the room, he noted that Spock had removed his headgear, so the young man’s surprise at the sight of the Vulcan was overt.

Kirk shut the door and to allay Wong’s fears quickly said, “I'm Captain James Kirk of the USS Enterprise, and this is my First Officer, Commander Spock...”

“Spock...Sopan's cousin?”

“Affirmative.”

The young man looked crestfallen. “I don't understand. Why are you here? And why were you in disguise?”

Kirk briefly explained their mission, which caused the young scientist great distress. He managed to calm him down and left it to Spock to reveal Sopan's wish and the fact that he was expected to make a decision by the time they reached Vulcan in four days. Wong looked confused.

“I don't understand. A few days ago, he didn't want me and now he's asking me to be his bondmate.”

Kirk tried to reassure him. “When you last saw him, he wasn't himself. He's not ill; it's a biological phenomenon that happens to Vulcan males every seven years, but it's something they never speak about, even among themselves.” Wong started to ask another question, but Kirk stemmed the flow pointing out that if they did not hurry, they would miss their shuttle. There would be time enough on the journey to Vulcan to answer all his queries.

~__=__=__~

They had been on Dracor for almost fourteen hours and the sun had barely got past its zenith. Arriving at the shuttleport, Kirk hadn’t expected to see it quite so soon, and was very glad to be leaving the frigid planet. To avoid complications at the immigration section, he and Spock maintained their disguises.

On the trip to Starbase 17, the three men sat in silence, each deep in their own thoughts. After a while, the lack of sleep and the long and eventful day finally caught up with Kirk and he fell asleep. As he did so, his head gently fell until it rested on Spock's shoulder where he remained until he awoke a few hours later. Feeling embarrassed at the physical contact, Kirk muttered an apology and turned to the compscreen on the seatback in front of him, which kept him occupied for the remainder of the journey.

As soon as they had disembarked, they checked in for their onward connection to Vulcan and found that Sorval had booked them First Class accommodation. Spock did not raise so much as an eyebrow at this, which served to remind Kirk that the Vulcan's family not only had considerable political clout, but were very wealthy too.

Admiral Frougge’s office had arranged for two suitcases to be left for them at the check-in desk which contained some civilian clothing and two sets of uniforms each: one standard and one dress. Whoever had been responsible for putting the package together had taken the trouble to ensure that the styles were appropriate to their respective races. While waiting for their departure, the two Enterprise men took the opportunity to change out of their disguises. From this point, they were all travelling in their real names, although not wishing to draw undue attention to themselves, they agreed to remain in civilian attire.

Part of the cruise experience for passengers was to be taken onboard a tender to fly them to the orbiting starliner, so that they would have the opportunity to see her from the outside in all her glory, rather than simply to beam up.

Until they boarded the tender, they whiled away the time in the luxurious First Class departure lounge. Kirk decided he could definitely get used to this style of travel. Going through the boarding package each had been given, there was a plan of the family suite Sorval had booked for them, which comprised a lounge, two bedrooms—one twin and a double, with a connecting bathroom.

“I’ll take the twin,” said Wong.

“If you’re OK with it Kim,” said Kirk, carefully not looking at Spock, “I’ll share it with you.” Wong’s surprise was evident, probably, Kirk suspected, because he’d seen them kissing in the bar and likely assumed they were in a relationship. He was grateful when the young man remained tactfully silent on the matter.

When the time came to depart, they, together with at least a hundred other passengers, boarded several tenders. They were designed with large viewing ports to provide the maximum exterior visibility. Those with vertigo were advised to sit inboard away from the ports. Kirk enjoyed the ride as they gently ascended from the planet's surface until they left the atmosphere behind and were surrounded by the blackness of space.

Sleek and majestic, the huge starliner they were approaching was illuminated by the planet’s nearby sun. She was a design that Kirk recognized as originating from Earth, one of a fleet run by Cunard. The company had a centuries-old tradition in luxury travel that had begun with ocean-going vessels. As they neared, he saw her name emblazoned in large letters along the hull: The Queen Elizabeth—a name nearly as old as Enterprise.

They docked at 22:30 ship's time and headed straight for their cabins, where their baggage was already waiting for them.

Kirk refrained from commenting on the size of their quarters, as both his companions, coming from well-to-do backgrounds, had probably travelled this way before and he didn’t want to come across as sounding gauche. The rooms were well-proportioned, with the large lounge being the main point of entry. It had its own viewing port with comfortable seating and a dining area that clearly allowed for the occupants to invite guests. Off the lounge were the two bedrooms, connected by the largest en-suite bathroom he had ever seen on a spaceship, its size, he estimated, about half that of his cabin on the Enterprise.

“I’m not tired,” said Wong. “I think I’ll go off and explore. Are we going to meet for breakfast?”

“Is 8:30 all right for you,” Kirk asked.

“Sure,” said Wong. “See you guys tomorrow,” he said and disappeared through the door.

Spock had barely said a word the whole trip and Kirk was wondering what was going on in that Vulcan mind of his. He wasn’t ready to talk yet, although he knew that it was an inevitability—just the thought made him cringe. He decided to beat a hasty retreat before Spock could say anything.

“I’m tired. I think I’ll head to bed. Night Spock.”

“Good night, Captain,” the Vulcan responded, and picking up his bags, went into his room.

~__=__=__~

Having only snatched a few hours here and there in the last three days, Kirk had no trouble falling asleep, and woke several hours later feeling refreshed. He turned the light onto its lowest setting and could now see Wong’s bed hadn’t been slept in. A quick check of the chrono showed it was 03:07, ship's time. As Wong had seemed to sleep for much of their time on Dracor, it was not surprising that the young man was now wide awake.

Thoughts of what had taken place between him and Spock prevented him from getting back to sleep, so he let them come. He started by trying to recall if Spock had given any indication in the past that he wanted more from him than just a friendship, but could think of none. Of course, since he’d presumed Spock to be heterosexual, he had never looked. It would be typical of Spock that if he did feel anything sexually towards him, he would keep it very well hidden. Even so, he was just as taken aback by Spock's arousal during their embrace as he was of his own. It was tangible proof that they were capable of being turned on by each other, something he still found surprising, especially given the suddenness of the discovery.

He realized that speculation about Spock was pointless, so he concentrated on aspects of himself, starting with the physical. Apart from a few fumblings during his Academy days, he had never had sex with another man, nor had he ever been interested in exploring that avenue; physically, he found women attractive and up to this point in his life, they had offered all that he needed.

Spock’s degree of attractiveness wasn’t something he’d ever contemplated before, perhaps because he’d considered him to be largely asexual. Spock was Spock. But now that he had cause to really think about it, he could acknowledge objectively that Spock was good-looking, but it was not something that had an affect on him physically in the way a beautiful woman did. There simply wasn’t the same appeal.

This was even more the case when he considered the physical differences between male and female bodies. He loved the curves of a woman, the softness of her breasts and the silky wetness when he slid into her. He had seen Spock naked on a few occasions and not once had he ever felt anything remotely like arousal.

He was jogged by a memory of the feel of Spock’s erection pressed to his and recalled there had been something deeply powerful and erotic about it. When he had cupped the Vulcan’s ass...a memory skittered across his mind and he pulled it up into the light of his consciousness. As he’d massaged the buttocks, he’d recalled how often he’d looked at that ass when on the bridge. Not consciously, but unconsciously. He knew for certain he had never checked out any other male crew member’s ass, but apparently without realizing, he had Spock’s...many times. Yet now, as he lay there, he still felt nothing at the thought of Spock naked. What did it mean?

It would be easy to claim that he wasn’t physically attracted to men, yet he could hardly deny that he’d been turned-on when they had kissed—he had, embarrassingly so. He knew, unequivocally that had the incident with Wong not interrupted, he would have climaxed then and there. Not a single one of his previous partners could lay claim to making him come with just a kiss.

From an intellectual point of view, Kirk had nothing against homosexuality per se, but he had never been drawn to that lifestyle. He considered his self-image and saw himself very much in the Alpha Male group: strong, dominant and virile, and also hetero. He admitted to himself that he quite enjoyed his reputation with women and there was a certain machismo attached to his job that he had always been happy to live up to; one that Bones and Scotty had always encouraged when on shoreleave together. While he knew it was unlikely he’d end up with a wife and two kids, neither did he see himself with a lifelong male partner. It just didn’t seem to fit how he saw himself.

But just as his dominant personality drove him to becoming a starship commander, so it influenced his sex life. He knew he enjoyed nothing better than the challenge of a relationship with a strong and capable woman, who like himself, was ambitious in her career, but who he finally got to capitulate to him in the bedroom. He enjoyed being dominant, so the thought of being taken by another man was, for him, a distinct turn-off. He recognized that he felt as though having a male partner was somehow emasculating, although he knew that was his own mental image—the book Spock had lent him depicted fierce warriors in male-male bondings.

He wondered whether because it had been quite some time since he had slept with anyone, that sexual gratification from another man was preferable to none at all. Yet even as he formed the thought, he knew somehow, that didn't ring true: he certainly wasn't some sex-starved maniac who would stop at nothing for a good fuck. The thought made him smile wryly.

Kirk had one other hypothesis which he now reluctantly considered: that Spock had somehow unconsciously communicated something mentally to him and had made his body react like that. He knew the Vulcan's mind was capable of such a thing since he had seen Spock use auto-suggestion when they had been taken prisoner on Omega IV. He accepted it could be a possibility.

There was only one way to test that possibility, and that was by reliving those crucial moments in the bar, away now from Spock’s influence to see how it affected him. He cast his mind back to the moment that they had begun to kiss for real. He fought to recall all the sensations he had felt: slender fingers running lightly through his hair; the hard, hotter-than-human body pressed close to his; the feel of the firm buttocks in his hands; the tenderest of kisses turning passionate and fiery; the mouth tasting of fruit-juice; the texture of the tongue as he sucked it into his mouth; the hard-ons rubbing together...

His erection was almost instantaneous and after a few minutes of it refusing to die down, he knew he’d have to do something about it. To prevent Wong from interrupting, he flicked the locking switch beside the bed so that he would have to buzz for admittance to the bedroom from the shared lounge area. Going to the bathroom, he grabbed a towel and then lying back on the bed, took his cock in a familiar grip and cupping his balls, began to pump.

He thought of Spock on his knees, dark head bent to his service, channeling his considerable Vulcan concentration to sucking him off in that hot mouth... Orgasm was swift and resounding, and as he climaxed, he was unaware that he softly called out Spock's name.

As the snail's trail of semen cooled on his chest and belly, he heard the unmistakable swish of a door closing and realized he’d forgotten to take care of the bathroom lock. He cringed as he wondered how much Spock had seen or heard. While he could normally count on the Vulcan’s innate sense of privacy, given what had taken place between them, he was uncertain whether Spock would have followed his normal code of conduct. Had the situation been reversed, Kirk admitted, he probably would have secretly watched out of curiosity. Knowing what Spock had seen, even if briefly, was going to make it even harder to face him. He’d just have to deal with that when the time came.

But, now he knew. Just recalling what they had shared at the club had turned him on to such a degree it had taken him no time at all to bring himself off. He didn’t understand it, but he was beginning to accept it. Cleaning himself up with the towel, he took the lock off the door to the lounge and covering himself back up, tried to go back to sleep.

~__=__=__~

At 08:00, the alarm brought Kirk out of deep slumber although Wong did not stir. He wondered whether to leave the young man to sleep, but the thought of breakfast alone with Spock dispelled that idea. He walked over to where Wong lay and shook him lightly.

“Kim, wake up. It's time for breakfast.” The young man grunted and forced open his bloodshot eyes. Kirk took a shower and opted for civilian attire of a loose white shirt and dark pants. He then waited for Wong before heading for the dining room a little later than planned.

Spock, wearing a dark Vulcan tunic and pants, was already seated.

“Morning, Spock. Sorry we’re late,” said Kirk, forcing himself to smile.

Spock began to stand, but Kirk waved him down again. “Good morning, Captain, Kim.”

“It’s my fault we’re late,” Wong added. “I didn’t get to bed until gone 4 a.m.”

Silence fell as they looked at the menu and placed their order.

“Did you sleep all right last night?” Kirk asked, the silence leaving him feeling uncomfortable.

“I meditated.”

“Oh,” said Kirk, not knowing what else to say. What do you say to your First Officer and friend after you’ve kissed him passionately, after you’ve felt his arousal burning into yours? Kirk felt the color rise in his face and looked at the table.

“There’s so much to do on this ship,” said Wong, unknowingly stepping into the breach. “They have a couple of night clubs, a 24-hour movie theater, an entertainment hall with live acts, a huge games room, a swimming pool and tons of other stuff I haven’t explored yet.” He chatted away about what he had done and the people he had met, apparently unaware of the strain between his two companions.

The table fell silent when their breakfast was served. When they finished eating, Wong, who had been deep in thought for some time, addressed both men, “I was wondering whether the three of us could talk. I've got a lot of questions and there are some things I want to get straight in my mind before I make the decision that's going to affect the rest of my life.”

Before Kirk could say anything, Spock said quietly, “I have been charged by my family to acquaint you with the details of the...Vulcan mating cycle.”

Kirk noticed the hesitation and knew Spock was still uncomfortable discussing the subject. Glancing around the crowded dining room, he made a suggestion, “How about going up to the observation deck, if that's all right with you, Spock?”

“Very well, Captain.”

Kirk noticed Spock’s formal tone and it bothered him. He was really missing the close camaraderie they had shared of late.

Although the observation deck was quite busy, it was very large and the three men managed to find some seats in a secluded area, where they would not be overheard. Spock went straight to the point as he very matter-of-factly gave Wong a full explanation of Pon Farr. As he did so, Kirk once again cast his mind back to that day in Spock's cabin and recalled how he had been unable to resist teasing Spock as he had tried to give him a lesson in “Vulcan biology”. The memory still amused him and he was unable as a result to suppress a smile.

Wong nodded when Spock finished. “Now I understand why Sopan was acting so strange before I left. I still can't believe he wants me as a bondmate. As I'm not telepathic, how exactly is this union achieved?”

Kirk listened with interest as it was something he had often wondered about Spock's parents, but he had felt it too personal a subject to ask the Vulcan.

“As you are psi-null, Sopan will join minds with you at the proper time and then use...I believe the closest approximation in Standard would be the psionic energy...generated by the subsequent consummation to form a stable bond.”

Wong's eyes opened wide. “You mean...oh.” He went silent for a moment. Then said, “But if he's deep in this blood fever, won't he hurt me? I mean, I've never...” He trailed off embarrassed.

“The meld can shield any pain. However it is possible you may experience some...discomfort, after the joining.”

Kirk knew Spock found talking about Pon Farr difficult, so he could only imagine how much more uncomfortable he was discussing a subject as deeply personal and intimate as anal sex.

Spock continued, “Following the permanent establishment of the link, Sopan will be able to assist you with further shielding, if necessary.”

Wong looked confused. “Permanent link?”

Kirk unconscious leant forward, finding this topic, to use his First Officer’s favorite word, fascinating.

“Bondmates maintain a constant telepathic link without the need for physical contact. As you are a non-telepath, the link will be controlled by Sopan and will not be as deep as that between Vulcans, although you can learn to freely communicate telepathically.”

Wong's eyes grew wide with wonder. “I’ll be able to talk to him in my mind?”

“Affirmative. Sopan will be able to teach you a method that will allow you to shield your thoughts and he will, of course, maintain his own shield.”

Kirk could easily imagine the well-ordered Vulcan mind would need protection from the constant stream of mind-chatter and random thoughts that routinely flow, in anarchic fashion, within the consciousness of humans—not to mention all the emotions generated by those thoughts. He considered how he’d feel to have such a link and found himself shying away from it, a feeling that it would be intrusive.

“Why is it so important that I tell Sopan my decision myself, even if I decide not to go through with it? Surely if I decided against it, it would be a lot easier for me and less distressing for him if I didn't see him.”

“It is an ancient Vulcan custom. He will meld with you to ensure that whatever your decision, it was taken freely and not made as the result of duress. Such unions have, in the past, proven ultimately unsuccessful and occasionally disastrous.”

Wong went quiet for a few moments and then addressing his hands folded in his lap, he said, “I've never had a relationship with another man before, and I can't help thinking that despite what I feel for Sopan, that it's somehow not natural.”

They were straying away from discussing the specifics of Pon Farr and Vulcan bondings, into an area of cultural norms. Kirk could see Spock was carefully considering an appropriate answer that would not be his own opinion. Taking pity on him, Kirk stepped into the gap.

“We live in a galaxy that is peopled with such diversity, you have to ask yourself: what is natural. Natural is what feels right for you, not some cultural or sociological ideal that you feel you should live up to. You're lucky—some people waste half their lives in an unhappy marriage and even have children before they realize that deep down they're really bisexual, it's not going to go away and they need to explore it.”

This was way too close to home for Kirk and he swallowed nervously, but forced himself to go on. “Occasionally, a heterosexual person can, in his or her life, come across just one person of the same sex who they can respond to, sexually. The attraction—and the response—is to that special person, and their gender becomes irrelevant.”

Wong considered this for a moment and then completely fazed Kirk by asking with tremendous insight, “Is that how it is with you and Spock?”

Kirk felt the color rise in his cheeks and did not dare to look at the Vulcan. Mildly he replied, “We're here to talk about you, Kim.”

Wong looked embarrassed. “Yes, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry.”

Kirk waved his arm dismissively. “Don't worry about it.”

“I've heard in a homosexual relationship,” Wong said, addressing Kirk, “that one partner takes the 'male' role and the other becomes the 'female'. I know I would have to submit to Sopan while he’s in Pon Farr. But, I don't want to become effeminate.”

Kirk thought about the camp man that had been seated at the bar in The Kiss and could not imagine Wong ever becoming like that. “Every relationship is different,” he explained. “Sometimes one partner is naturally more dominant or submissive than the other, but not always. It’s possible to have a relationship of equals when both partners will have the occasion to dominate at different times. Just remember, whatever is right for you, you are no less a man for taking a male partner.”

Kirk let Wong chew this over before asking if there was anything else he'd like to know.

“I don't think so,” replied Wong. “If I think of anything, I'll let you know.” Turning to Spock he added, “Thanks for explaining everything to me. I'm familiar with Vulcan reticence and I appreciate this can't have been easy for you. You've been very frank, which has been a great help. I'll see you both later.” With that, he got up and left.

Kirk stood up to follow but was halted by Spock. “Jim. I wish to speak with you.”

Kirk realized that they were going to have to talk sooner or later and now was as good a time as any. At least Spock had used his name rather than his title. That, in itself, was promising. He sat back down and watched as Spock waited until Wong was out of earshot.

“With regards to the events yesterday. You are evidently experiencing a negative emotional reaction to our...embrace,” said Spock carefully.

Kirk felt an adrenaline rush, knowing which one out of fight or flight he wanted in that moment. However, he couldn’t run away from this conversation and instead, shifted uneasily and cleared his throat before answering Spock’s statement. “I've been thinking about it. When you started the real kiss, I don't really understand why I went along with it or why I responded to it the way I did. I don’t find men sexually attractive.”

Spock's eyebrow rose. “I feel constrained to point out that your...arousal would suggest otherwise.”

Kirk squirmed at Spock's directness and feeling himself flush, stared at his hands clasped in his lap. The Vulcan’s statement caused him to think back to those few times at the Academy and the drunken fumblings of horny youths. He’d never allowed kissing and all he’d done himself was brought a few guys off with his hand—he’d found no shortage of men willing to pleasure him and get off on that alone. Back then, by closing his eyes, he’d been able to focus purely on the sensation, without thinking too much about the fact it was another male who was giving him head.

He knew, without question, that his experience with Spock had been entirely different. Aside from the fact they had kissed—an intimacy he had never allowed in those days of his youth—while he had refused to let his conscious thoughts dwell on who he was kissing, he knew that at an unconscious level, it was precisely because it was Spock that he had been aroused to such a degree.

“You’re right, of course,” he said, finally. “I’ve never found men sexually attractive...” Kirk took a deep breath before his admission, “...until you.” There, he’d said it out loud. “There’s no denying I was turned-on when we kissed, and by the feel of you against me.” And again later from the memory of it all, he thought silently, not needing to say those words, knowing the Vulcan was probably thinking them anyway.

In a moment of insight, Kirk felt a true empathy with Spock and the Pon Farr discussion they’d had—this was surely as awkward and embarrassing, this time for him. Normally so self-assured, it was because this subject was hitting him at the level of his self-identity and it was all so new, that he was having such difficulty with it. He felt as though he were in a spotlight. His psyche was being stripped bare, leaving him feeling naked and vulnerable, the light shining unfalteringly into the dim recesses of his unconscious mind as he attempted to analyze and understand what had taken place.

“It’s come as a complete surprise to me,” Kirk continued. “If we hadn’t been forced into that situation, I may never have made that discovery.” Finally, he looked up to see the juxtaposition of Spock’s impassive face and his bright, alert eyes. “As far as I can remember, I've never consciously had any sexual thoughts about you.”

“Perhaps you have to look deeper into your mind to find the answers.”

Kirk felt alarmed at what Spock seemed to be suggesting. “If you're talking about a meld, forget it.” Goodness knows what he'd find if he started digging around, he thought with dismay.

Spock looked taken aback at Kirk's tone. “That will not be necessary. After meditating for some considerable time, I have formed a hypothesis based on these facts: you have never exhibited any sign of sexual interest in me nor to my knowledge, any other man; you freely reciprocated the kiss and derived pleasure from it; you became fully aroused by the contact. Your subsequent distance towards me bears testament to the confusion and perhaps, embarrassment, you are experiencing as a result of your reaction.”

Kirk couldn’t deny the facts as laid out before him, so remained silent, staring at his hands curled in his lap, waiting to hear what Spock’s theory might be.

“I believe, “ continued Spock, “the Terran psychologist, Freud, suggested that sexual repression is common among humans, but that it frequently finds an outlet eventually, sometimes in unusual forms and circumstances.” Then more quietly, he added, “Perhaps we should attempt to discover whether you are experiencing sexual repression, Jim.”

Kirk's head snapped up. “How?”

“When I conduct an experiment which yields unexpected results, I must ascertain whether there was any fault in either the design or execution, or if imprecision or random error of the analytical methods were the cause. To do this, I carry out a validation study by repeating the experiment and analyzing the results to determine if there has been any variation from the original."

“You want us to kiss again to see if I get turned-on?” Kirk asked, aware his heart was beating faster.

“I believe to do so would serve either to prove or disprove my theory. We will not be disturbed in my room.”

Kirk had two more questions. “What if you're proved right. What then?”

Spock’s voice sounded carefully neutral. “That would be your decision. I am not averse to forming a relationship with you.”

Kirk was glad he was sitting. Did Spock really just say that? “So what happens if this turns out to be a disaster?”

Spock gave the matter a moment's consideration. “If I am in error, or if you decide, regardless of response, that it is not for you, the matter will be dropped and I shall not refer to it again.”

Kirk looked incredulous. “Don’t you think that would put a strain on our working relationship and our friendship?”

“Initially it is possible that it may affect our friendship if you are unable to adjust,” conceded Spock, “although I believe we are both professional enough not to let it interfere with our working relationship.”

Kirk felt a surge of arousal wash over him, and letting go of his thoughts, decided to follow his instinct. “All right. Let's go.”

They walked to their suite in silence and entered. It was as they approached the door to Spock's bedroom that Kirk had an attack of butterflies. Hiding his nervousness, he strode into the room and standing beside the enormous double bed, tried to give the appearance of being confident and in control. Standing in the middle of the cabin, he turned to Spock with a question that had occurred to him on their way to their rooms. “I don't know how far we're going to have to take this before I can decide whether it's right or wrong for me. How would you feel if we went all the way before I realized that it wasn't going to work?”

“I have already stated that in the event of your decision going against forming a relationship between us...”

“Yes, I know what you said, Spock,” interrupted Kirk, “but you're not answering my question. How would you feel? Resentful?...Upset?”

Kirk waited patiently while Spock considered his answer. At least it didn’t look as though he was going to try denying he’d feel nothing.

“A negative emotion is brought about by a resistance to accepting the facts of a situation unconditionally, regardless of whether it is what one wishes or not. Should you be averse to a continuance of intimacy, I will fully accept your decision and therefore logically, I will experience no emotion with respect to this.”

Kirk looked at Spock thoughtfully. “Easier said than done.”

“Jim, you are aware that as a Vulcan, I am capable of suppressing all emotion.”

Kirk was unable to suppress a smile. “So you wouldn’t sulk and make me feel guilty.”

Spock remained silent at Kirk's teasing and Kirk realized how serious the Vulcan was taking it. That gave him pause...was he being flippant, leaping into this without giving it proper consideration? The issue, he knew, was that if he didn’t try it now, he never would. Suddenly, he wanted to get started before he had time to change his mind.

“All right. Let's see how it goes.” He felt his heart quicken in anticipation and wondered whether Spock would expect him to make the first move. The Vulcan turned the lights to dim and then, before Kirk had time to think, he was pulled into a tight embrace.

“Jim,” Spock whispered in his deepest register, the Vulcan’s breath hot against his ear. He felt a shiver run down his spine.

Spock loosened the grip he had on him and begin to shower him with featherlight kisses about his face and neck. This tenderness was entirely unexpected, and Kirk stood still, enthralled by it. But the suspense at waiting for Spock’s exquisite mouth to claim his became too great. Lacing his fingers through the silky hair, he pulled Spock’s head towards his own until their lips met in a searing kiss. The contact was for Kirk an explosive one, coming as it was in a haze of anticipation, expectation and reality. There was nothing of the tenderness of their initial kiss; it was firm and strong as their tongues attacked one another in a ritualistic battle for domination.

Within seconds, their arousal was complete. As they kissed, Kirk grabbed hold of Spock's buttocks, pulling the Vulcan's firm body against him. He then began to push against the hardness in Spock's pants with his own and groaned at the stimulating contact.

He was surprised at what quick work Spock made of his pants fastener and a moment later, a hot hand snaked inside and burrowed beneath his briefs. Kirk was flooded with emotion—apprehension, amazement, excitement and nervousness, but mostly just pure physical pleasure as strong, hot fingers wrapped around his engorged shaft and squeezed. He gasped at the contact.

Kirk felt Spock do a rolling squeeze by tightening first with thumb and index finger, then rolling down his hand, one finger to the next squeezing along the length of the shaft. “Yes, that feels good,” he panted.

In the haze of his arousal, a voice at the back of his mind acknowledged that Spock seemed to know exactly what he was doing, that this was a practiced art.

Kirk’s knees were threatening to give way. "Let's lie down. Please."

Once on the bed, he unfastened the Spock’s pants, dragging them partway down his legs until his erection sprang free. Slowly, tentatively, he reached out for him, cautiously watching Spock’s reaction, trying to ascertain if this was all right or not—they had already gone way beyond a replication of what had taken place the day before. Spock licked his lips and his eagerness showed clearly on his face, so Kirk completed the motion, his right hand closing round the generously proportioned flesh. Slowly, almost inaudibly, he heard Spock suck in a long breath and could feel the Vulcan’s cock twitch in his hands.

As Kirk began to trace the length of Spock’s shaft, wondering at the experience of holding his First Officer’s erection, the Vulcan continued to stroked Kirk, unintentionally squeezing him tightly in response to the sensations the human’s touch was apparently causing him. Assuming their physiology was basically the same, Kirk began to manipulate it the way he would his own with long, slow strokes from base to tip.

“Am I doing it right?” Kirk asked, wanting to give Spock maximum pleasure.

The Vulcan gave a small thrust with his hips. “Yes. You are...” he smiled at Kirk, “...a natural.”

Kirk chuckled at that. “Could be all the practice I’ve gotten on some of those long periods between shoreleaves!”

Encumbered by their clothing, the two men stripped each other and lay side by side, holding on to each other's erections as they thrust powerfully into tightly clenched fists. Kirk half pushed himself up on one arm to claim Spock’s mouth in a deep and passionate kiss, sucking the Vulcan's tongue into his mouth and moving rhythmically in the firm grip that held him.

Every now and again, he jumped out of the moment and the sensations, as he continued to experience difficulty adjusting to the fact that this carefully controlled man, with whom he’d worked for the past three and a half years, was here in his arms and was aroused by him, was responding to him.

It had been too long since his last sexual encounter and the sensations threatened to overwhelm him. He had to fight hard to keep them under control, although he knew from the pressure building up inside him and Spock’s frantic writhing and bucking that neither of them would be able to last much longer. As their tongues probed deep into each other's mouths, the staccato rhythm of their thrusting and jerking bodies speeded up.

Kirk pulled away from the kiss and kept his eyes open, noticing Spock did too, as the rousing sight of seeing the Vulcan in a state of passionate ecstasy served to intensify his ardor. He thrust himself hard into the hot fist that still gripped him, feeling Spock do the same and then suddenly, with a shudder and deep groan, Spock was tumbling over the edge, spurting his seed over his hand in five intense pulses, each accompanied by a loud gasp. The sheer eroticism tipped Kirk over the edge as a wave of euphoria washed over him and he cried out, the pressure released in violent spasms of pleasure. Kirk wasn’t disappointed at what he had beheld for the first time on familiar features—it was a sight he would never forget.

When his breathing had slowed down and with the initial urgency gone, Kirk was in a position to be a more considerate lover. Pressed up against each other, Kirk kissed Spock deeply, aware of the flat, hairy chest against his own, of a semi-hard cock pushed against his stomach, of their legs intertwined. It felt good.

He pulled away and lifted a hand to run a finger over Spock’s angular visage, following the line of one ear up to its point and discovering with some wonder, that it was something he had long wanted to do. Maybe Spock was right, that he had been suppressing a bisexual tendency, or at the very least, a sexual attraction to his Vulcan friend.

He met Spock’s gaze, passion still in the Vulcan’s eyes, his hair awry, his lips kiss-swollen. He looked...Kirk’s mind stumbled over the right word. Handsome? Beautiful? Gorgeous? What was the appropriate word, he wondered. Whatever, how could he not have seen it before? Only a few hours earlier, he’d believed that the Vulcan’s looks didn’t have a physical affect on him the way a beautiful woman’s might, but he’d been wrong. Just looking at Spock now, he felt the throb of desire.

It was as if all this had been hidden in another dimension, another reality to his own, and in that instant, a switch had been flicked in his head and he could now see that dimension with absolute clarity. Yes there was a newness to this sexual experience because he hadn’t done it before, and he had much to learn and discover. But now his mind had caught up with what his body had known all along: that he was physically and sexually attracted to Spock.

“You’re beautiful,” he decided, out loud. He wasn’t just describing the external attributes, but Spock’s inner beauty too.

“As are you, Jim.”

The words sent a shiver down Kirk’s spine and he moved forward to kiss that intoxicating mouth. After some minutes, he became aware of the cooling stickiness between them and pulling away, got off the bed and went into the bathroom, knowing that eyes watched his every move.

After cleaning up, Kirk straddled Spock’s hips and lowered his head to reclaim the Vulcan’s mouth, but didn’t linger there, nipping and kissing as he progressed down his neck. He continued his downward excursion until his lips locked around a small nipple, licking and sucking, his tongue swirling around the swollen nub.

Despite the fact that he had never worked on one so small and flat and hairy, it was a turn-on knowing it belonged to Spock, even more so when the Vulcan arched up and groaned his appreciation. Trailing his tongue across the hirsute chest, he attacked its twin, lapping and nipping enthusiastically—egged on by Spock's surprisingly vocal encouragement—until it was stiff, while his thumb flicked simultaneously at the one his mouth had abandoned. Both verdant peaks were throbbing, one by his hand, the other between his lips. He was finding it incredibly erotic hearing the Vulcan responding so uninhibitedly.

Kirk sat up and pressed the pads of his thumbs in a circular motion lightly over the taut buds, puckered and wet from his attentions.

“You’re quite sensitive here,” he remarked with a smile.

“Very,” Spock corrected with a shiver.

Kirk leant forward until their lips met once again, mouths melting into each other, tongues caressing, thrusting, battling. Pulling away, he looked down. What a sight lay before him: a man, powerful, steel-muscled, hairy, with not a kilogram of extra weight on the length of his lean body, a mouth which was able to smile with the merest up-turn of the corners, expressive eyes, a strong face—all male right down to his dark, green cock, lying rigid on the hard slab of his belly.

He noted the subtle differences beyond the coloration: the double ridge, the flatter crown. His penis stemmed from a dark thatch of hair, embedded in which were his testicles, smaller than a human's and now stretched taut by his impressive erection. It twitched.

“Not yet,” Kirk said with a lascivious smile.

Spock regarded him silently with dark, impenetrable eyes. So familiar. So alien.

Kirk massaged the flat, muscular planes of Spock’s chest, his fingers running through the dark hair, enjoying in a way he would not have believed, even a few hours ago, the strength and tensile beauty of this lithe, masculine body. Bending down, he placed kisses on the chest, and scooting back, followed a downward trail until he came to the erection lying in expectation.

He scooted back further and let his hands drift up Spock’s legs, enjoying the rasp of leg hairs against his palms. Starting at the long, slim feet, he began to kiss and lick his way slowly up the insides of the Vulcan's legs, moving from one to the other, teasingly. Halfway up, he paused to place a kiss behind each knee. As he reached the muscular loins, Spock spread his legs to afford him easier access. The Vulcan's unselfconscious action spurred him on.

Kirk looked up to see Spock raised up on his elbows. “Enjoying the view?” he smiled.

“It is one I dreamed of, but never thought to see,” Spock admitted.

“I need you to tell me if you don’t like something, or if you want me to do more of it.”

“I will,” the Vulcan promised.

Kirk stared at the erection lying before him and with a sense of both nervousness and exhilaration, leant forward and flicked his tongue over the taut scrotum. There was a strong, musky aroma here and he inhaled deeply, feeding his passion, then sucked a testicle gently into his mouth. A long, deep groan escaped the Vulcans lips. He moved to the other one and repeated the action, this time running his tongue over it while it sat in his mouth. Spock gasped.

For the benefit of his audience of one, he made a great show of nibbling and sucking his way agonizingly slowly up the long rock-hard erection. He had never been this close to a penis before, but having one himself, he felt he had a good idea what to do to elicit the greatest sensations.

Arriving at the glans, Kirk lifted the hot, hard flesh in one hand and wrapped his lips around it in one quick movement. This was it, he thought, his very first try at sucking cock. He found himself enthralled at the way heat emanated through the shaft’s silky skin to his lips and tongue, and for a moment he held his mouth still, just feeling it, becoming used to it. His senses were overwhelmed. He began to lap and suck gently and as he did so, heard Spock's head hit the pillow with a soft thud, his back arching, then he began to thrash his head from side to side with the sensations Kirk was creating with his lips and tongue.

Spock’s taste, the feel and smell of him filled his senses and he was so focused on giving pleasure that at first, he didn’t notice the Vulcan’s hot hands moving across his back, shoulders, neck and head. He became aware of the slight rhythm of Spock’s hips, his heavier breathing, and the gentle pressure his hands gave Kirk’s head, indicating the pace he desired.

With another long groan, Spock's hips began to buck upwards, inviting greater friction. Kirk began to flick his tongue rapidly over the underside of the glans, having to hold Spock's arching hips down in the process. He was almost mesmerized by the open look of intense arousal etched on the Vulcan's features. The face was flushed, the lips slightly parted, the hair awry, eyes watching his every move as his breaths came in short, sharp gasps.

Kirk paused a moment. "I like the look of desire in your eyes when I touch you. I like the way you taste and feel in my mouth."

“I wish to pleasure you too,” said Spock.

Kirk shifted his body around until they were alongside each other, their mouths able to reach each others cocks. Spock pushed out his lower thigh for Kirk's head to rest on and he did the same, their legs splayed open to give the other as much access as possible.

"Give me all of you, Jim," Spock coaxed, his voice low. "I want all of you in my mouth.”

At the enticing words, Kirk's heart missed a beat, then began a fluttering half step before kicking into high gear. He paused to watch as Spock guided him towards his mouth. He felt a welling up in the deepest pit of his stomach, as hot lips pressed against the head of his cock. Spock’s lips were soft and delightfully warm as they encircled the first few centimeters and sucked. The fluttering in his stomach unexpectedly morphed into a deep rolling rush of excitement, enveloping his balls and spreading out in a wave to cover the whole of his lower abdomen. It was as if someone had loosed a flock of tiny birds, their weight bearing down on his insides while their beating wings stimulated him to the roots of his sexuality.

Apparently having control over his throat muscles, Spock allowed the crown to slip right to the back of his mouth for a few tantalizing seconds before releasing it once more, then he did it again, his tongue tenderly persistent around the base of his shaft. Just watching Spock deep throat him—as he had fantasized the previous night—almost made him come. Before he did, Spock clamped his hand tightly around the base of Kirk’s shaft and the feeling receded.

“Good idea—leave it for a minute,” Kirk said, concerned he’d come too soon. “Let me focus on you first.”

“Very well,” said Spock and lay his head on Kirk’s thigh.

Kirk took the head of Spock's erection into his mouth and for the first time, tasted a bitter fluid, telling him Spock was close. Not knowing how to prevent himself from gagging, he focused on working the crown, taking in as much as he was able, tonguing between the double ridges and using all the suction he could manage.

“How am I doing?” he asked, wanting to make it the best experience he could.

Spock lifted his head. “Given this is your first time participating in such...activities...you appear most adept.”

Kirk grinned and began to suck again, holding the shaft with one hand while his other slipped between Spock’s thighs and over the perineum until he found the small pucker. Very gently, he inserted his middle finger up to the second knuckle and began a movement that coincided with his sucking. Occasionally, women had done that to him and he had found it incredibly erotic.

Kirk felt Spock buck and clutch at his hair, and then begin to rock his hips forward, pushing the shaft further into his mouth and then back, impaling himself on his finger. He was moaning almost continuously now and as he speeded up his movements, he lost his rhythm, his hips jerking spasmodically. Spock was almost there.

Tightening his grip on the shaft, he sucked harder and Spock gasped as his body arched, then froze for an instant. Kirk felt the first pulsing deep in the shaft that he held tightly in his fist, and with a final thrust, Spock unleashed the full fury of his orgasm, sending a creamy liquid in several short spurts down Kirk's throat with a cry of release. Spock’s body continued to shudder for several seconds before it finally attained a quiescent state.

The experience had been so erotic to watch that Kirk teetered close to the edge. Spock lifted his head and in one movement, swallowed him to the hilt, and then pulled his mouth up to the glans and plunged. The Vulcan worked him over, building a powerful orgasm from long, slow, inhumanly tight strokes in and out of his mouth. Spock applied unbelievable suction that made him slurp loudly as air entered his mouth at the top of each stroke, his tongue dancing constantly, lashing Kirk’s throbbing cock with its warm wetness. Its effect was devastating and he called out loudly, “Ohmigod! Spock!...I'm going to come...”

Spock didn't move, keeping him fully and tightly wrapped in the hot velvet of his mouth and throat, milking him as Kirk exploded everything he had into him. Grunts forced themselves out of his belly and through his lips. He froze for an instant and then began to fold in.

As Kirk began to soften, he lay back, exhausted, thrilled, spent, floating in sexual bliss while Spock resumed a tenderly slow and light sucking until he was truly drained, cleaning him off, allowing him to slowly unwind from the intensity of the orgasm.

Spock was gentle, apparently aware of how much more sensitive Kirk was, pausing whenever he jerked a little at the intense sensation, and putting most of his focus on massaging his empty balls, still holding his half-hard cock in his wonderful mouth. After a while, Spock lay his head down on Kirk’s thigh, his cock still nested nicely in the hot mouth, resting there and sucking on him, while a hand gently stroked Kirk’s balls, his legs and anything else he could reach. Eventually, Spock let the softened penis slip from his mouth.

“That was incredible,” Kirk said quietly.

“Yes,” agreed Spock. “It was.”

Kirk moved up to lie beside Spock, who opened his arms to welcome him. Kirk’s instinct was always to hold his lover, so it took him a moment make the mental adjustment and capitulate gracefully. He found himself held in a comfortable embrace, with Spock gently running his fingers through his hair. A few minutes later, he drifted off to sleep.

When his mind first drifted back to consciousness, he felt initially disorientated. Opening his eyes, his memory of what had happened earlier came flooding back. A glance up confirmed Spock was awake.

“How long did I sleep?”

“Two point three hours.”

Kirk sighed contentedly, eventually breaking the silence, “Well, I know I can respond to you, sexually, what now?” He didn't have to look to know that Spock's querying eyebrow had snaked upwards. He elaborated, “I mean us. Where do we go from here?” He twisted slightly so that he could see Spock's face.

“I have already stated that that is for you do decide, Jim.”

Kirk frowned. “Why me?”

“I have already made my decision. I am prepared to make a life-time commitment if you are.”

Kirk hastily pushed himself out of the embrace and up onto one elbow. “Aren't you taking this a little too fast?” Spock’s declaration scared the hell out of him.

“On the contrary, two point three months after you took command of the Enterprise, I was certain that you would make an ideal lifemate. However, I did not believe that such a union was attainable as you displayed only heterosexual behavior patterns and I was bonded to T'Pring. I have merely taken advantage of the circumstances that we have found ourselves in.”

Kirk was beginning to feel out of control and reacted to the last comment. “Damn right you took advantage when you started that kiss.”

“You made this suggestion earlier, although I did not correct your error. I confess that I was somewhat taken aback at the time, as it was you who initiated it.”

“Me?” Kirk could say no more, the wind gone from his sails. He knew the Vulcan would not lie to him. He might not have been consciously aware of it, but he knew now that deep down he had already been physically attracted to Spock for some time. Their love-making over the past hour certainly confirmed it.

He sat up away from the Vulcan, needing a bit of space. “I'm not ready to make that kind of commitment, Spock. I mean, it's a hell of decision to be making. I’m not the committed type.”

“I would disagree, Jim. You have stood by your commitment to Starfleet, to your career and to your ship. You have committed yourself to friendships with both McCoy and me. It appears you have a proven track record when it comes to things that matter to you.”

He has a point, Kirk thought. It was just relationships where he couldn’t bring himself to commit and maybe it was because either the person or the circumstances had never been right.

“I am not requesting you make a decision immediately,” added Spock, “since it requires a great deal of thought and consideration. You may give me an answer when you are ready. I shall ask only one thing of you: do not go with another in the interim.”

Kirk reached out to place his palm on Spock's cheek. “And what do we do, meantime?”

The corners of the Vulcan's mouth turned up into a smile, the sight of which pleased Kirk immensely. “I have no option but to use everything in my power to persuade you, when you are ready, to bond with me.”

Kirk grinned as he ran a finger along Spock's upturned lips. “And how do you propose to do that?”

“Like this...” He pulled Kirk down beside him and leaning over him, kissed him tenderly. “...and like this...” He sucked each of the Human's nipples erect, causing a tremor to run through Kirk’s body. “...and like this...” He took Kirk's awakening member into his mouth and began to suck.

“You can...be...very persuasive...Mr. Spock,” gasped the Human, enthralled with the sight of his First Officer giving him a wonderful blow-job.

Spock stopped for a moment and looked up. “I have my methods, Captain.” With that, he bent back to his task.

~__=__=__~

Later that day, having showered and had a late lunch, the two men lay side by side on Spock's rumpled bed.

Kirk idly ran a finger from Spock’s collar bone down through his chest hair and then flicked a nipple. “Can I ask you a question?”

“You may.”

“Yesterday in the bar, you made out with me in front of all those people right after you’d told me Vulcans don’t engage in sexual displays in public. So, how come you did that?”

“I qualified the remark with the words, ‘as a rule’,” Spock pointed out. “I believed the cause was sufficient.”

“It was now or never?”

“I had reason to believe so,” agreed Spock. “In all the time I have known you, you have never demonstrated any outward sexual interest in males. Initially we kissed to ensure we would be allowed to remain in the bar. However, you altered the quality of the kiss—you were no longer merely ‘going through the motions’. I felt you begin to become involved in it, and to actively engage me in it. It was at that point that you became aroused. My need for privacy was secondary to my desire to participate to the same degree you were.”

“Carpe diem?”

“Precisely,” agreed Spock.

“It would have been hard not to become aroused—you’re a great kisser.”

Now that he thought about it, Spock was exhibiting far more expertise and confidence than would have been expected from someone completely inexperienced. Feeling emboldened by the openness between them, Kirk turned onto his stomach and pushed himself up onto his elbows and put the matter to the Vulcan.

“I have had two male...companions...” Spock confirmed.

His suspicions confirmed, Kirk vaguely wondered why he was surprised at this news.

“The first was in my final cycle at what you would call ‘High School’, when the lifelong friendship I had shared evolved to something more with my cousin Sopan...”

“Sopan?” He’d been unable to stop the name escaping his lips. Damn, damn, damn! he chided himself. Why did I have to sound so shocked? “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound so...well, after everything that's happened in the last few days, I was surprised that it was him. Why did it...shit, I'm sorry Spock. I shouldn't pry.”

“You are not prying Jim. Since you are considering taking me for a lifemate, it is right that you know certain things.”

Kirk felt an inward reaction to the ‘lifemate’ comment, but quelled it so that it didn’t reach his face.

“Although I name Sopan as my cousin, we are not blood relatives,” Spock explained. “His father died from illness before he was born. Sorval and his first wife had dissolved their marriage and he was looking for a new wife. He found Sopan’s mother to be compatible and after they bonded, he raised Sopan as his own.”

Kirk felt inwardly relieved to hear that. Not that it would have been incest, exactly, but cousins are close relatives.

“Sopan was one of the very few who treated me no differently to any other Vulcan. Like you, he accepted me for who I am. He is older by three Earth years, but the age gap made no difference to him. We shared an interest in computer science and my own abilities in that field grew out of the time we spent together, constantly driving each other to push the boundaries of our knowledge.”

Hence Spock’s incredible computer rating, he realized.

“Over the years we became very close and when our bodies matured, we turned to one another. At this time, he had already begun studies at the Vulcan Science Academy. Our relationship was brought to an end when T'Pring's father discovered its existence and made strong objections to Sarek. My father forbade us to see each other again and discussed the matter with Sorval. Their solution was that Sopan be moved to a scientific establishment in another city.”

A part of him felt a pang of jealousy that Sopan had been Spock’s first lover. Irrational as it was, especially coming from someone who had had so many lovers, he wished he could have been Spock’s first. It wasn’t a productive line of thought, so he focused instead on trying to imagine how hard that must have been for Spock...for both of them, when they had been forced to separate. Young love—he remembered Ruth and the pain he had felt at the end of that relationship.

“I was aware that the research he was conducting could be undertaken no-where else. If Sopan left the VSA, three years work would be lost. I informed Sarek that I had made the decision to leave Vulcan in order to join Starfleet, thus allowing Sopan the opportunity to continue his research. As you are aware, the move displeased my father.”

That's an understatement, thought Kirk. Sarek was a formidable man—it must have taken great courage for Spock to face up to him, knowing the risk involved. At that moment, he felt an odd mixture of emotions—compassion and jealousy in equal measure. He said nothing about his feelings and pushed them to the back of his mind.

Almost absentmindedly, Kirk gently ran his fingers through the hair on the Vulcan's chest. “I guess I should say I'm sorry it didn't work out, but for obvious reasons, I'm not.”

There was a pause for a moment before Spock plowed on. “My second relationship was while an Academy cadet. In my third year, I shared accommodation with Tschi'itra, a human from the Earth colony on Omega Cygnii IV. It was his first time leaving his planet and he experienced great difficulty adjusting to his enforced stay on Earth. Our relationship was not enough to help him fight his natural inclination to return to his homeworld. He did not return for his final year.”

For some reason Kirk couldn’t fathom, Spock's relationship with Tschi'itra didn’t affect him in the same way that his involvement with Sopan had. He’d have to analyze that later when he had more time.

“Why haven’t you had any relationships since then?” Kirk couldn’t imagine going that long without sex.

“There have been no others with whom I was compatible.”

Kirk could hear the ‘until you’ as if he had said it aloud.

The two men spent the rest of the afternoon in Spock’s room in relaxation, playing virtual chess, reading and talking. They received two messages on the vidscreen, one stating that since the “Do Not Disturb” sign had been illuminated all day, they would have to contact housekeeping via their computer terminal if they wanted their room cleaned; the other was an invitation for the three of them to join the Captain for cocktails at 18:00 in formal attire, followed by dinner.

As the day wore on, Kirk noticed there were some niggles in the back of his mind. The first had been to do with their lovemaking. The first time around, he had taken the lead and had been very comfortable with it, but the second time, it had been Spock who had played a more dominant role and for some reason, it had bothered him. He knew thinking about it wouldn’t do much good, so he pushed it to the back of his mind, confident that the answers would come when he least expected, as they usually did when he employed this method.

Another thing that niggled was the fact that Spock was very clear he was looking for a lifetime commitment, when all he wanted was a relationship that could be taken day by day. Clearly he’d had relationships with Sopan and Tschi'itra without bonding, so why couldn’t they do the same?

And that led on to his final niggle, the bonding itself. He didn’t like the sound of what Spock had described to Kim. As a non-telepath, Spock would control the bond and effectively, if the Vulcan chose, he could go into his mind and root around, any time he pleased. Not that Spock would, he knew that, but the very fact that he was able to was enough to make him uncomfortable with it.

~__=__=__~

Their entrance to the cocktail lounge resplendent in their dress uniforms caused quite a stir among the other passengers and by the time they went into dinner everyone knew who they were and Wong's status had been elevated to an “eminent scientist”.

Scanning the passengers, Kirk could see that there were representatives from quite a few different races, including a number of Vulcans, though none of them were known to Spock. Seated at the Captain's table were those who were considered by the shipping line to be some of the more important passengers, most of whom, Kirk noticed, were elderly.

The one exception was Kara, the daughter of a wealthy Centauran industrialist. She had been seated next to him and didn’t take her eyes off him for the entire meal, engaging him in conversation at every opportunity. Under the table she pressed her thigh against his and Kirk found himself inwardly quite enjoying her flirting, although he was very careful not to show it. He thought her very pretty, responding to her in his usual charming way, and although he was aware of Spock watching him, chose to ignore it. While they may be trialing a relationship, it didn’t mean he was going to completely ignore women.

After the meal, the two Enterprise men unexpectedly found themselves surrounded by a group of people, most of whom were women, all wanting to know everything about them. Included in the group was Kara who, once standing, was able to show off her stunning figure to full effect. Her tight silky dress hugged every contour of her curvaceous figure, clinging to her full breasts so that the outline of her nipples was tantalizingly visible through the scanty fabric.

Kirk found it hard to keep his eyes off her, especially as she was giving him some very blatantly ‘come hither’ looks. But the fact of the matter was he was still feeling tired after spending all day engaged in sex with Spock, so as soon as it was polite to do so, the two men beat a hasty retreat, leaving Wong to his own devices.

The moment the door to Spock's cabin was closed, Kirk found himself being confronted by the Vulcan.

“I made a request to you this afternoon which you agreed to abide by. In light of that agreement, your attention to Kara was inappropriate.”

A jealous Vulcan—that’s a new one on me, Kirk thought. He felt a prickle of irritation at Spock’s possessiveness. All he’d been doing was talking to her. It wasn’t as if he’d been giving her the come-on. And he was here with Spock now, not fucking her in her cabin. He took a calming breath and quelled his annoyance.

“Spock, she was talking to me—I couldn’t just ignore her...”

“She was attempting to seduce you and you did nothing to dissuade her.”

Kirk didn’t want an argument and held up his hands in surrender. “Look, I'm sorry. promise I'll be more careful. Truce?”

Spock nodded and before the Vulcan could say anything, Kirk had pulled him into a tight embrace and kissed him hard. Pulling away, he glanced at the newly-made bed, noting housekeeping’s efficiency. “It seems a shame to mess it up, but what the heck...”

Between kisses and lingering caresses, the two men gradually divested each other of their dress uniforms, carefully folding each item. Kirk was still finding it odd being intimate with, and responding to, another man’s touch—and not just any man, but the last one he would have thought of, had someone suggested this scenario to him. Even more unlikely was his discovery that Spock was a great kisser and gave the best head he’d ever had. There was one thing left that they hadn’t done, and it had been on his mind ever since they’d first tumbled into bed.

“When you go into Pon Farr next time, I can’t imagine a blow-job is going to satisfy you,” Kirk said without preamble, as he lay next to the Vulcan.

Spock was silent for a moment, before saying quietly, “I will require complete submission and penetration.”

“That’s what I thought. I never thought I’d ever say these words, Spock, but I want you to fuck me.”

The Vulcan reached out and cupped Kirk’s cheek, running a thumb over his lips. “Jim, I cannot reciprocate at this time.”

Kirk looked surprised, but hid his disappointment. “Why not?”

“I intend to wait until I bond.”

“So with your two other lovers...?”

“We never took that step.”

An image appeared in Kirk’s mind and grinning, he shared it with Spock. “So you want to be a virgin bride?” he teased.

Spock's eyebrow rose. “Hardly, since technically I will be a groom.”

“It’s from very old, misogynistic Earth culture—virgin brides were prized. No-one ever cared if the groom had sown his wild oats or not.”

“Wild oats...?”

Kirk grinned. “You can pull that game with Bones, but I’m not buying it. You know full well what that idiom means.”

Kirk noticed Spock didn’t try to deny it. Had he been a full Vulcan, he could have believed it, but Spock was proficient in a dozen languages and had learnt Standard from his own mother. According to Amanda, he’d also been a voracious reader of books. Kirk had long suspected Spock knew a lot more slang than he let on. Spock had, after all, had no trouble understanding his request to be fucked.

“I don't know how you feel, but the physical aspect of a relationship is very important to me,” said Kirk, resuming his earlier subject. “If we were to bond, I would need to know that I could satisfy your needs and derive pleasure from it myself.”

“Are you stating that if I take you now, it will aid you in your decision on whether or not to bond with me?”

“I’m a way off deciding on that kind of commitment,” said Kirk, honestly. “But I need to know if I’m going to enjoy it, or not.”

“Then,” replied Spock in a seductive voice as he ran a tantalizing finger diagonally down the length of Kirk's torso from left shoulder to right hip, “I shall endeavor to please thee...”

Kirk shivered, not just at the touch, but the tenor of Spock’s voice and the words.

They fell together in a long, luxurious kiss as their hands eagerly skimmed each other's awakening bodies. Kirk pulled them closer so that their hardening shafts were trapped between them, rubbing against coarse pubic hair.

Spock was the first to move away, and began to kiss and lick a trail down his body, tonguing his nipples to hardness, sending small electric shock-like sensations down to his groin. Kirk’s hands alternated between skimming, tickling and scratching Spock’s back as he did so.

Spock slowly made his way towards his straining shaft, lightly biting and kissing as he went, causing him to gently moan at the wonderful onslaught. As the hot Vulcan mouth clamped onto the head, Kirk let out a gasp. He watched in ecstatic fascination as Spock went to work on his cock; the very sight of him in that position heightened the experience.

Kirk watched, enthralled, as Spock took the whole length of him into his mouth, causing him to groan in pleasure. He heard himself whimper when Spock removed that talented mouth. Sitting back, Spock took hold of his legs and pushed them back towards his chest. Feeling uncomfortably exposed and more than a little nervous, he felt his erection begin to dwindle.

Spock began to lick at his balls, sucking in one, then the other, before working his way down his perineum. Then, thumbing his buttocks apart, Kirk felt Spock’s tongue begin to lap at his anus. The shockwaves of pleasure at the intimate touch reverberated through his body, causing him to buck and shudder. Then Spock moved one hand back to his shaft and stroked it from base to tip while his tongue, using the same rhythm, probed just inside the small knot of muscle. Within minutes, Kirk knew his orgasm was mounting.

“Spock, slow down or I'll come,” Kirk pleaded.

The Vulcan pulled away and reaching into the drawer of the bedside cabinet, took out a small tube. As Spock squeezed some liquid onto his fingers, Kirk felt his ass tighten up in nervous anticipation.

“I will not hurt you, Jim.”

It was more than just the thought of the pain, it was the very act itself. He had always enjoyed dominance—it was part of his make-up and was what had driven him to the top of his chosen career at such a young age. For the first time in his life, he was in just about the most submissive position he could physically be in, and his mind had to fight against old stereotypes of emasculation and the subjugated male. Kirk breathed deeply, forcing himself to relax and accept.

Spock pressed the tip of his finger to the puckered entrance and rimmed it with the oil and then gently pushed inside. At the same time, he began to stroke Kirk’s shaft, bringing it back to life. Yes, that felt good, thought Kirk. He reached out and taking hold of the Vulcan's erection, began slowly to stroke it. For a moment, knowing what was coming next, the size of Spock's member as he worked on it worried him. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind.

He felt Spock gradually open him up and as promised, there had been no pain. The Vulcan stopped to squeeze more lubricant into the palm of his hand and then worked it along the length of his erection. Kirk watched his every movement as he made a show of the task by turning it into a slow masturbation.

“Do you have any idea how erotic it is to watch you doing that to yourself?” Kirk asked, his voice hoarse with need.

“Many humans have voyeuristic tendencies.” Spock paused a moment and then added, “I believe I may have inherited that tendency myself.”

Kirk grinned and made a mental note. He grabbed a pillow and placed it under his lower back, then lifting his legs, he watched Spock position himself.

While Kirk concentrated on relaxing himself, Spock balanced on his left hand and spread the fingers close to his face.

"Are you ready, Jim?"

He remembered Spock explaining to Wong that it was possible to take away any pain by melding. “Go ahead.”

Hot fingers settled over the meld points on his face and a moment later he experienced the sensation of the joining of their minds, understanding somehow that the meld was a shallow one. A sense of peace and tranquility descend over him, feeling the warmth of Spock's presence first mentally, then physically.

He felt Spock push forward, his erection slowly sinking into him. The meld was obviously working since all the discomfort he thought he should have felt was dissipated. Spock pulled almost all the way out and thrust once, and the sensation caused Kirk to throw his head back, bridging his whole body upwards, rising to meet the Vulcan’s strength. Spock removed his hand from Kirk’s face and began a rhythm, slowly in and out, increasing in tempo, speeding forward and then slowing down...again and again, each time going a little further. Kirk’s shaft was taken into a firm grip and stroked to match his thrusts.

There was a look of total concentration etched on the angular features, but in his eyes he beheld the Vulcan's desire. He was lost in a turmoil of sensation as Spock took him in a way no woman could. This sex was for men and it was a revelation to discover that this act could not only be pleasurable, but could actively turn him on. Kirk panted and sweat and thrust his hips in a bid to meet Spock half way.

"Kiss me!" he said, pulling Spock’s head down. Tongues probed deeply, just as Spock probed deeply.

All he had expected was a few capable thrusts and then a spike of pleasure when he came. But Spock was taking him a whole new way to paradise—a long, secret way. He hadn't anticipated this forbidden pleasure.

It was with an explosive force and Spock's name on his lips that Kirk climaxed, ejaculating in spurts over the Vulcan's fist and onto his own stomach. As he came, his spasming anal muscles gripped Spock’s length and with one last hard thrust, the Vulcan planted his seed deep in Kirk's body. Drifting down from the heights of ecstasy, he whispered, "Spock, I never knew...I never knew." With after-shocks jerking through their bodies, they sank into each other's arms, spent, exhausted, aglow.

It was only the hint of an oncoming bout of cramp that forced the men to change their position as Spock finally slipped from his body. Lying on their sides, they faced one another, as Kirk cradled Spock's face in his hands.

“I have to admit I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy that, but it was awesome.”

“I am gratified that I was able to pleasure you,” murmured Spock contentedly.

It was Spock, this time, who went to the bathroom and after a few minutes returned and gently cleansed Kirk. Once back in bed, it took Kirk only a few minutes, after all their activities that day, to fall into a peaceful sleep curled up in Spock's embrace.

~__=__=__~

The following morning, showered and refreshed, the three men met up for breakfast. Kirk wondered if Wong would comment on his absence from their shared room, but he tactfully refrained.

“You two were a hit last night,” said Wong with a smile, after he’d swallowed a mouthful of toast. “Quite a few of the ladies were asking questions about you.”

Kirk grinned impishly at this news and was careful not to look at Spock.

“If you're not doing anything now,” continued Wong, “I was wondering whether we could go up to the observation deck where you could point out some of the stars you've been to and tell me a bit about them. You both must have seen so much.”

Kirk smiled. “I'd be happy to. Spock?”

“If you will excuse me Kim, I intend to spend the morning in meditation. Shall we meet for lunch?”

“Sure,” Wong agreed.

“We'll come back to the suite at 12:00,” Kirk added.

While the Vulcan headed back to their quarters, Kirk and Wong went up to the observation deck. Kirk was feeling somewhat sore from the previous evening and had to walk a little slower than normal.

He’d been pointing out stars and regaling the enthralled young man with some of his and Spock's exploits for more than an hour when a young Vulcan approached them. Wong looked surprised to see him.

“Sorik. I didn't know you were aboard. May I introduce you to Captain Kirk. Captain, this is Dr. Sorik from the Vulcan Science Academy, a former student of Professor Sopan.”

The Vulcan inclined his head. “Captain Kirk.”

Kirk could see that Wong wanted to talk to Sorik and he noticed Kara had just appeared and was throwing him friendly looks.

“Would you mind if we continue this later Kim?”

Wong grinned. “No not at all. Sorik and I have a lot to catch up on since we last worked together.”

As Kirk left them he saw Kara sit down on a small sofa near one of the large viewing ports and a moment later he was standing in front of her.

“Mind if I join you?”

“Please do, Captain Kirk.”

Once seated, he found himself gazing into two large, violet eyes, set above a button nose and a pair of luscious lips that curved up into a dazzling smile.

“Jim,” he said, smiling back. “Captain Kirk sounds so formal.”

“I can't believe I'm sitting here alone talking to the Captain Kirk,” she gushed. “You're quite famous, you know, Jim.”

Kirk grinned self-consciously. “I’m just a figurehead in a high-profile job. I couldn’t do what I do without my crew. There are plenty of people that do far more dangerous and truly heroic jobs than I do.”

“Now you're just being modest!” she laughed as she brushed his knee with a well-manicured finger. “You're also very attractive...most definitely the dashing Captain!” she giggled. “I've heard you're a real lady-killer! And now that I've met you, I can see why.”

“Well...” he began.

She cut him off. “Oh I'm sorry, I've embarrassed you. The trouble is, when I'm nervous, I talk too much and say stupid things.”

His smile returned. “Don't worry about it.”

Kirk found that broadly speaking the women that made a play for him fell into two categories: the cool calculating seducers, usually very attractive and very sure of themselves. The other type tended to be outwardly impressed with his rank and treated him as though he were some sort of celebrity with effusive compliments and wanting to hear all about his “adventures” in space. Kara definitely fell into the latter category. However, unlike many of her type, she skipped the usual thousand and one questions and got straight to the point, catching Kirk off-guard.

“Look, it's rather crowded here. Do you want to come back to my cabin?”

She's fast, he thought at first, and then remembered they were due to arrive at the Alpha Centauri system in a few hours. She was beautiful and he found her sexually appealing—and for that he was grateful, because he was now feeling confused about his own sexuality.

His responses to Spock had been so unexpected and strong—it had truly rated as some of the best sex he’d ever had—a part of him needed to know if he could still respond to a woman. He was aware of an internal battle going on: the rational part of him told him that he hadn’t changed, that he just had an awareness of a facet of his sexuality he had not been conscious of before; but just as loud was an irrational part of him, the part that feared a loss of identity, that was telling him he’d responded so strongly to Spock because that was his true nature. He had always enjoyed the softness of women and it worried him that he might no longer be able to. The fact that he knew this was an irrational voice didn’t make it any easier to ignore.

The thought brought him up short. What was he thinking? He was supposed to be contemplating a commitment to Spock, and if he accepted it, being able to respond sexually to women would become a moot point. In the mean time, he’d promised not to go with anyone else.

Damn it, he thought. He needed to understand how all this had affected him. Could he still enjoy sex with a woman after Spock? His conscience pricked him, but he ruthlessly suppressed it. What does it matter? Spock would never know if he went with her and he had to know the answer.

The whole mental argument had hardly taken a second and it was almost without a pause that he replied, “Lead the way.”

As she stood up, she said, “Would you mind if we walk—I seem to have spent this entire trip sitting down and I could do with the exercise.”

I can help with that, thought Kirk, and smiled his assent.

Kara led him unnecessarily through some of the more crowded areas of the ship and Kirk recognized her rather unsubtle attempt to show off her ‘conquest’ to the maximum number of people.

As they walked and she chatted, he began to have doubts about his actions. Two voices in his head began a discussion, one his conscience, the other his ego. Spock had asked him to refrain from having sexual relations as long as they were sleeping together. But then, he thought, what gives Spock the right to ask that of him, since he hadn’t committed himself to anything? It would be betraying his trust, he argued with himself. Could he commit himself to a monogamous relationship for a lifetime after having spent most of his adulthood screwing around? Look at all the opportunities he'd miss if he did. But if he was really honest, he’d have to admit that most of his affairs in the past had been shallow experiences which merely provided short-term sexual gratification and boosted his ego, just like Kara, now. Hell, a lifetime commitment is a lot to ask—and he was already straying.

Kirk covertly glanced at Kara. She was typical of many of the women he had casually bedded: young, attractive and impressed by his status. It didn’t bother him unduly that she had practically thrown herself at him, since all he really wanted was to satisfy himself that he could still respond to a woman after going with Spock.

Although he enjoyed the challenge of a good chase, he found that a fair proportion turned out either to be cock-teasers that left him high and dry or worse, ones that had hang-ups of some kind and having finally got them into bed, suddenly wanted him to make some kind of deep and lasting commitment. He was well aware that his attitude to women was cynical, but thinking of them that way was his way of distancing himself from them, so that he never felt the urge to get more deeply involved and inevitably hurt, the way he had in his younger days. Even now, the memory of the break up of his relationship with Carol Marcus was a painful one.

For the first time since Carol, he was contemplating a full and unconditional commitment with someone and it scared the hell out of him. Was that why he was with Kara now? Did he really need to prove anything, or was he just fighting back at an unwanted emotional tie? He hadn’t liked Spock's possessiveness the previous evening. He’d only backed down to keep the peace, but he would not always be able to do that. He needed freedom. Perhaps he was already trying to break loose of the claustrophobic confines of the relationship he had yet to commit himself to.

Spock wasn’t just asking for an emotional commitment, but a mental one too, since he required his partner to share a full Vulcan bond with him. There was something about having a constantly open telepathic link with someone that he felt uncomfortable about. Inside a bond, would he ever be able to have a truly private thought again? He knew Spock would never do it consciously, but how much could Spock possibly influence him through the bond unconsciously?

Kirk had so many doubts and this early on in the trial he was already going astray. He realized it was unfair to all three of them to go through with this fling with Kara. It really wouldn’t accomplish anything.

He made his decision just as they drew up outside her cabin and was grateful to her for taking them on such a round-about route, giving him time to sort himself and his motives out. In order to save her too much embarrassment and to allow her to retain her dignity, he was going to have to be very tactful.

“Well, here we are,” said Kara brightly as the doors opened onto what was clearly an expensive suite of rooms.

Kirk remained in the passageway. “Kara. As we’ve walked here, I've given the matter some thought and I don’t think I should go alone into your cabin with you—some people might misinterpret the situation and I'm sure you don't want to get yourself a reputation.”

Kara looked at him in open disbelief. “I uh...”

“Imagine how your father would react if he accidentally overheard someone gossiping about the fact that you entertained a man alone in your cabin. You see my point?”

For a moment, she looked completely nonplussed before recovering well. “Yes, I see what you mean. Perhaps it is a little improper for you to be here.”

Kirk smiled affably. “I probably won't see you before you leave, so let me take this opportunity to say it was nice meeting you and I wish you a safe journey home.” He put his hand out to shake hers.

She clasped it, still looking confused. “Thank you and the same to you.”

With that, he strode purposefully back towards his own cabin. He knew the answer he was going to give to Spock and he hated himself for it. Although he could not fault the sex they had had together, he simply felt unable to commit himself for a lifetime to a totally exclusive and no doubt very intense physical, emotional and mental relationship. He refused to feel guilty. They had, after all, discussed the possibility that it might not work out.

Suspecting Spock was still meditating, he walked over to his bed and lay down. He had been there only a few minutes when the bathroom door opened and the object of his thoughts walked in. The moment of confrontation had arrived earlier than he had expected. He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed and feeling his mouth suddenly go completely dry, had to cough to find his voice. “Can we go to your cabin? We need to talk.” He sensed rather than saw the Vulcan tense at his tone. Without answering, Spock turned and led the way into his quarters and once there, he stood, waiting expectantly.

Kirk felt very uncomfortable. “Sit down Spock.” The Vulcan obeyed without question.

Kirk chided himself. We're not playing Captain/First Officer now, so stop ordering him about.

Unable to sit, he began to pace up and down, desperately trying to think of a way to let Spock down gently. Deep down, he knew that that was impossible.

“Spock, I don't think it's going to work...you and me, I mean.” For a second, the Vulcan looked completely crushed before he schooled his features to neutral. The sight caused Kirk to falter, feeling something twist inside his gut, before he forced himself to continue. “It's not because I think we're incompatible, it's just you want more than I think I can honestly give. I won't lie—a lifetime's commitment, and one with a telepathic bond, scares me. I've spent most of my adult life having brief affairs to the extent that it's become a habit that's too ingrained to change. There's a Terran saying, that the leopard can’t change its spots. That's me. I can't change who I am. I know we’ve had great sex and as I said just now, we're very compatible. It's nothing personal and it's totally selfish, but I like a regular change of partner. I don't want to hurt you any more than I am now...”

At this, Spock threw him an unreadable look. For the first time, Kirk noticed that the Vulcan's hands were clutched tightly in his lap. Still he said nothing, so to fill the awkward silence, Kirk continued. “You said at the beginning of all this that if it didn't work out, you'd carry on as if nothing had ever happened and never mention it again. Well, I think we can still work together. We're both professional enough not to let this get between us, aren't we?” He looked at Spock for an answer and when he got none, he began to feel frustrated at the lack of feedback. “Dammit Spock, say something.”

The Vulcan rose from the chair. “I wish to have some privacy.”

Kirk felt exasperated at the Vulcan's formal tone. “That's it? Don't you have anything to say?”

“As you correctly pointed out, I stated yesterday that should you decide against a bonding, I would treat the matter as closed. You have made your decision and I stand by my undertaking.”

Spock had effectively erected a barrier between them that was as impenetrable as a physical wall, leaving Kirk on the outside. Gone was their friendship, although Kirk hoped fervently that it was only temporary while Spock did whatever he needed to do to adjust. Turning on his heel, he left Spock's room knowing that if nothing else, at least the Vulcan's dignity was intact.

In his own room, Kirk pondered his actions, trying desperately not to feel regret at what he had done, yet feeling miserable and guilty for having hurt his friend. At least he’d done it before things got too heavy, he reasoned to himself. It would have been worse for the both of them had he waited. He truly believed that to prolong the relationship in a bid to see if his attitude to a permanent union altered was out of the question, since he was so certain that it would not. All that would accomplish would be to make the inevitable final parting so much more agonizing and difficult to deal with and would probably negate any chance of a continuing friendship. So he had ended it abruptly, before he had time to talk himself out of it.

Kirk was so deep in thought that he almost jumped when the door opened to admit Wong, who was positively beaming.

“Jim, I'm glad you're here. Where's Spock?”

“Uh...meditating,” he lied.

“Oh well, perhaps you can tell him for me. I've decided to accept Sopan's offer of a bonding.”

Feeling mixed emotions at the news, Kirk forced a smile. “Congratulations Kim. If he's anything like Spock, then you're a lucky man.”

“It was talking to Sorik that helped me to decide. He made me see that really, it's the logical thing to do since I love Sopan and he wants me as his bondmate.” Wong glanced at the chrono beside the bed. “I just came by to tell you. We'll be getting to Alpha Centauri soon and the Captain said I could go on to the bridge to watch the approach. See you later.”

With that, he was gone, leaving Kirk alone to contemplate his and Spock's misery. Although Kirk was genuinely pleased for Wong, he found it hard not to harbor some bitterness that his own life could not be so uncomplicated. Wong's decision had been relatively easy since he was certain of his feelings towards Sopan and had only to overcome some of the trepidation he felt with regard to the physical aspect of a single-sex relationship. For Kirk, it was the complete reverse. He had experienced no difficulty adapting to the sex, in fact, he reflected ironically, he had never had it so good. His problem arose in dealing with the emotional aspect, feeling unable or unwilling to make a commitment; not wanting to be tied down. Somehow, he didn’t think he could remain faithful to Spock when he was constantly meeting beautiful women, whose feminine attributes had always been a source of attraction to him.

He thought back to the first moment he had had doubts about what they were entering into. It had been when Spock had confessed that not only had he wanted him as a lover for the past few years, but that he yearned to have him as a bondmate. Kirk chided himself for not having given the whole matter more thought. He should have realized that Spock would not want just a casual relationship. However, when they had first gone to Spock's room, he had to admit to himself that he had not been thinking clearly. In fact his brain had been in his pants and all he had wanted at that time was to have some more of what he had experienced on Dracor. He’d even included a get-out clause by getting Spock to promise that if things didn’t go well, that the matter would never be discussed again. He now felt a justified sense of self-loathing.

What a bastard he’d been to him. He’d treated his best friend no better than any of the women he’d had meaningless encounters with. In his bid for self-gratification, he’d completely trampled over Spock’s wishes and the feelings he allowed himself to express to him. He was far from feeling proud of himself.

In an attempt to prevent himself from dwelling on his recent actions, Kirk spent the rest of the day making full use of the recreational facilities. Having no appetite, he skipped lunch and thought how Bones would approve of such a regimen, but not the reasons for it. He wondered whether to talk to his friend about all that had happened and decided against it without looking too closely at the motives for such a decision.

That night at dinner, Spock was conspicuous by his absence. Kirk apologized on his behalf without giving an explanation. During the meal, he glanced around the dining room and noticed that a number of Vulcans had embarked during their recent stopover and guessed that considerably more would join the ship while transiting Earth later that evening.

Despite being in a despondent mood, he forced himself to stay on for a few after-dinner drinks with some of the other passengers before beating a grateful retreat back to his cabin. While he was in the shower, Wong returned to change out of his dinner suit before going back up to the bridge to watch their entry into Earth’s Solar system. When Kirk came out of the bathroom and climbed into his own bed, it was obvious that Wong was surprised, and was grateful that the young man tactfully refrained from mentioning it. As Wong left the room, Kirk switched off the lights and bid him a curt good night, before admonishing himself. Don't take out your frustration on him, he thought. It's not his fault that things haven't worked out.

~__=__=__~

The following morning when Spock did not appear for breakfast, Kirk found himself having to assure everyone that he was not ill. As he stood up to leave, a steward approached.

“Excuse me Captain Kirk, there's a call for you from Starfleet. To save you going all the way back to your cabin, you can take it in the business center—the lines are guaranteed secure.”

Kirk thanked the steward and followed him out of the dining hall. The room he was taken to had a number of small cubicles at one end, most of which were occupied by businessmen working hard at the computer terminals or talking on the vidphones. He was taken to a vacant cubicle and after assuring him he would not be disturbed the young man left, closing the door behind him.

Admiral Frougge's face lit the screen. Kirk sat down.

“Captain Kirk. I have arranged for the Enterprise to rendezvous with you at Vulcan. Your orders are to transport with Cdr. Spock direct to your ship. You are then to proceed as originally planned to Castor V with the supplies before reporting to Starbase 6 in five solar days. Kim Wong is to go directly to Shikahr, where T'Pau is waiting to receive him—he’ll be met upon arrival. Do you have any questions?”

“Yes sir. What’s happened to Admiral Pohl?”

Kirk detected a slight hesitation and was sure there was a twinkle in his eye before he answered.

“He is currently on extended personal leave, Captain. Was there something you wished to ask him?”

Kirk was now certain the admiral was amused, as the corners of his mouth turned up slightly. He smiled back. “No sir. Nothing important.”

“Very well. Enjoy the rest of your journey, Jim. Frougge out.”

It looked like Pohl had his come-uppance, Kirk thought, and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow. Clearly there had been no love lost between the two admirals. He was pleased that good had won out.

~__=__=__~

Kirk didn’t see Spock until their arrival at Vulcan two days later and dead on schedule. After Kirk wished a rather nervous-looking Wong the best of luck, they went with their luggage to the hangar deck and watched him board the tender that would take him direct to Shikahr.

Once the hangar deck doors had opened and the tender departed, the two men picked up their bags and headed in silence to the ship’s transporter room. While they waited for Scott to beam them aboard the Enterprise Kirk, feeling concerned for his friend asked, “Are you all right Spock?”

The Vulcan stood stiffly with hands behind his back and refused to meet Kirk's gaze. “I am functional.”

“Did you get the opportunity to talk to any of your family?”

“My parents are absent from Vulcan. However, I did receive a communication from T'Pau.”

Kirk waited for a moment for Spock to continue and when it was clear that he did not intend to, he stood in embarrassed silence and was glad when the transporter beam claimed them.

The two ships' times were not synchronized and Kirk was pleasantly surprised to find that it was early evening aboard the Enterprise. Although neither of them was obliged to go on duty, Kirk went up to the bridge to supervise their departure from Vulcan. Within an hour, they were on course for Castor V and then at last to Starbase 6.

When the door to his cabin closed behind him, Kirk let out a sigh. He was glad that in less than a week, they would be getting their much needed break. He realized with regret that Spock would certainly now not wish to go on their planned camping trip and fought the wave of self pity that washed over him, knowing that he had only himself to blame for his vain and selfish ways. Before he had time to lose the battle, his door chimed, forcing him to dispel the unwanted feelings.

McCoy entered with just the hint of a limp, and if he sensed an uncharacteristic air of melancholy about his friend, he did not voice it. Kirk gave him a brief outline of what had happened between beaming down to Rigani II and their arrival at Vulcan, without he believed, giving anything away.

~__=__=__~

Late the following evening, McCoy visited Kirk in his cabin as he was putting the finishing touches to the report of their mission.

“Mind if I take a look?” the doctor asked casually as he sat down on the other side of his desk.

Kirk pinched the bridge of his nose and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. He’d been staring at the computer screen too long. Normally reports don’t take much thought, but he was omitting certain elements and he had to ensure that it still read right. That had taken more time and focus than he had expected and he still wasn’t done.

“Sure,” he answered. “I've done enough for tonight anyway. I'll complete it tomorrow morning.” With that, he swiveled the monitor around so McCoy could read it and walked over to the servo.

“Want a drink?” he asked.

“Er...no thanks,” McCoy answered without looking up.

Kirk selected a coffee and began to sip it while McCoy read.

It was several minutes before the doctor spoke. “That's a very detailed report you've done there, Jim...”.

Kirk thought it an odd comment and had a sinking feeling. “No more than usual, Bones.”

“...With one exception,” the doctor continued.

Kirk’s instinct had been good. Why was it, without the need for telepathy, this man could read him like a book.

“This bar...The Kiss...” McCoy continued.

Kirk involuntarily tensed and cursed himself when he saw the doctor catch it. Bones’ precision when firing off a salvo would surely leave any weapons officer envious.

“...You haven't said much about what went on in there and it seems to me that that was the turning point in your mission. How long were you in there for? I could probably work it out from the other timings you’ve given, but you didn’t mention that one here.”

Kirk thought back over what he’d written. Yes, he’d given approximate timings for the rest of their activities. “I guess a couple of hours,” he hedged.

“Now, you say that in this bar on Dracor, you sat at the table next to Wong's, monitoring the conversation, for apparently two hours although, according to your report, they barely spoke in all that time. And then all of a sudden, his companion began to turn nasty. Then when Wong suddenly got up and left closely followed by this other man, you two chased after them.”

“That's right,” affirmed Kirk carefully. “What's with the inquisition Bones?” A note of irritation was creeping into his voice. He wished the doctor would just back off.

McCoy ignored the question. “On your journey to Vulcan, why didn't you share the twin room with Spock?”

The unrelated question threw Kirk and without thinking the answer through properly replied, “I thought Spock would appreciate the privacy.”

McCoy smiled sweetly. “Poppycock!”

Kirk was indignant, before a sense of resignation replaced it. He should have realized that Bones would be onto him. It was useless trying to pull the wool over his friend's eyes; the doctor was far too perceptive.

McCoy's smile broadened. “Now tell me exactly what happened between you two.”

Staring intently at his hands as they rested in his lap, he recounted the true story. All of it.

Apart from twice where he sought clarification, McCoy remained silent. When he finally drew to a close he looked up to see the doctor shaking his head.

“You're a damn fool, Jim. You should never have turned him down. What are you having more trouble dealing with, the fact that you responded sexually to another man, the idea of a long-term commitment or what a Vulcan bond involves?”

Kirk seriously considered the question. “I don’t know. They all bother me in different ways. I know the fact of Spock being male shouldn’t matter if I’m attracted to him. But it does. It’s to do with my sense of self...my identity.”

“You identify yourself as heterosexual,” McCoy clarified.

“Yes, because all my sexual partners have been female. I don’t count a few fumblings from when I was at the Academy.”

McCoy leant forward. “So your body apparently accepts male or female partners, it’s just your head that won’t?”

“I guess,” he said, thinking how parochial it sounded.

“The other issues are the commitment and the bond,” said McCoy.

Kirk was glad the doctor had changed the subject. “I don’t do commitment, Bones. You know what I’m like—I can’t change the way that I am. Just to prove the point, the day after Spock and I slept together, I went off with Kara.”

“You didn't. You stopped short of taking her to bed. You probably went to her room because she was young and pretty and interested. Maybe you were beginning to doubt your masculinity and felt you needed to reassert it - after all, discovering that you're bisexual at your age can't be an easy adjustment to make. But you didn't let it go any further.”

Bisexual? That was something to think about, but not now. He wasn’t about to take the conversation back in that direction—for some reason, McCoy’s questioning of his sexual identity was making him feel very uncomfortable.

“I’m happy with quick flings,” Kirk pointed out, bringing the discussion back to safer ground. “They’re nice and uncomplicated. Spock’s made it clear he wouldn’t have let me carry on with them if we were together. He wanted a monogamous relationship and I can tell you now, he’s very possessive.”

McCoy rested his arms on the desk between them. “So are you,” he pointed out, quietly.

Kirk thought about that and realized it was true. He’d felt jealous when Spock revealed Sopan was a former lover. Because of their mission, Sopan had an identity and had felt more real than Tschi'itra, who was just a name from Spock's past.

“Don't you see what you've done?” McCoy asked earnestly. “You know this job isn't conducive to long-term relationships, so over the years you've managed to convince yourself that that suits you just fine. But it doesn't. It's just a dodge to help you cope with the loneliness of your command and your lifestyle.”

“How would you know what suits me?” Kirk asked, feeling annoyed at the impromptu psychoanalysis.

“You're scared to death of committing yourself for a lifetime to one person. What about the bond?”

“What about the bond?” Kirk was struggling to keep up with McCoy as he jumped around apparently randomly, although he knew the doctor of old and there would be nothing random in his choice of what to ask.

“You know how I feel about someone messing inside my head. But how do you feel about it? You’ve always been comfortable melding with Spock, welcomed it, even.”

“Welcomed it?” Kirk asked, barely aware he’d said it out loud.

“There have been times when you’ve melded and the look on your face—a kind of profound peace.”

Kirk thought back to the last time they had melded, when they had made love a few nights earlier...was it really only 4 days ago? He’d felt such...yes, peace and tranquility. “I don’t like the idea of sharing a permanent link and the loss of privacy that must go with it.”

McCoy’s expression told him exactly what he thought of that answer. He changed the subject. “I know Spock and I have had our differences and I'm one human he definitely doesn't get along with all that well, but I'll tell you straight, Jim, you two would be perfect together. And believe me, I don't say that lightly.”

Kirk regarded McCoy for a moment, then said, “Weren’t you the one saying that Spock wasn’t interested in anyone sexually and is emotionally so repressed he needs therapy? How come you’re now holding him up as the perfect partner for me?”

“I got it wrong, and I don’t mind admitting it either. There’s nothing wrong in making an honest mistake.”

Kirk could hear the emphasis the doctor was placing on the statement and recognized what he was implying. Had he made a mistake in turning Spock down? It wasn’t something he intended to sit here and argue with McCoy about.

Changing the subject, he said, “I'm curious to know how you guessed that something had happened between us.”

McCoy smiled, looking pleased with himself. “Firstly, the fact that the two of you left here friends and came back strangers. The moment shift was over, Spock scooted off to his cabin, which was definitely out of character when you consider that recently, the pair of you have been acting like you were joined at the hip.”

Kirk inwardly winced at the use of that term, a memory instantly springing to mind of him and Spock, hips pressed tightly together, undulating against one another to create a delicious friction...

He shifted, feeling his cock stir.

“Secondly,” continued McCoy, apparently not noticing his captain’s sudden fidgeting, “you claimed you didn't share a cabin with Spock because you thought he'd appreciate the privacy, which left you to share with a complete stranger. Now that didn't ring true because when we get our shoreleave, we were all supposed to go off camping, which would entail me, you and him spending several nights cooped up in a tent together.”

He realized now Spock would certainly refuse to go and who could blame him?

“The third, less obvious clue,” the doctor said, sounding very pleased with himself for his deductive reasoning, “was in your report, you went into specific detail about everything except the events that took place in the bar. I guessed you'd probably edited it to cover up for something else that had happened. That got me wondering what could have happened between the two of you in a male-only singles bar, which would cause you problems later.”

Kirk was mortified. “It was that obvious?”

“Only if, like me, you were looking for it. Besides, I know the way you two feel about each other.”

Kirk started. “What do you mean by that?”

“Oh come on Jim, don't be coy. It’s obvious you love him. I've seen the way you've fretted when he's been in danger and it's been even worse when you're the one whose in trouble.”

Kirk looked intrigued. “Like when?”

“Lots of times. On that Roman planet when we got separated from you at the arena, Spock was out of his mind with worry. Then there was the time when we got caught up with the Tholians. At one point, I swear he was visibly upset when we thought you had died. There’ve been plenty of other occasions too; do you want me to list them all?”

“No.” He recalled Spock’s ecstatic response to finding him alive in the dispensary after their trip to Vulcan. “I get the picture.” His guilt at turning down Spock was returning with even greater strength. “Look, I need time to think things through...”

McCoy stood up and winced as he put weight on his injured ankle. “Yeah—and I need to go get another pain killer. I'll catch you tomorrow, Jim.”

Kirk sat alone in his cabin chewing over the doctor's words. He realized that much of what McCoy had said made sense, yet he still had nagging doubts about whether Spock was his ideal partner. Bones was right about the adjustment he had to make with regards to his sexuality and how it mapped onto his self-identity. It wasn't an easy thing to deal with. He wondered whether he was really bisexual - whether he could be turned on by other men. Somehow, he couldn't imagine it, but then until a few days ago, he’d never even thought about taking a male lover. But the problem wasn't just a question of gender. Spock wanted a lifetime commitment and that was a huge step to take.

Being tied to one individual for the rest of his life was obviously not a decision to be entered into lightly, and as the perceptive doctor had pointed out quite truthfully, it was one that deep down he had chosen to shy away from rather than confront and accept. He was a fiercely independent individual and so was wary of anything that would erode his freedom. Yes it was selfish, but that was the way he was.

He had certainly been given food for thought, but he felt that now was not a good time to be trying to get his private life in order. Instead, he decided to defer the matter until after they had reached whichever vacation planet the powers-that-be at Starbase 6 had decided upon.

The following day Kirk handed Spock his report of their mission to countersign. When the Vulcan made no comment on the fact that it wasn’t an entirely full account, his relief was obvious.

Later that day, their visit to Castor V and supply drop-off went to plan and almost to a person, the exhausted crew breathed a sigh of relief that rest was finally at hand. An air of anticipation began to permeate the ship as excitement began to build over their up-coming leave. The one person who, as usual, appeared unaffected by the excitement was Spock. Much to Kirk's distress, he remained aloof, having become what McCoy privately called Super-Vulcan.

To Kirk’s horror, he appeared to be unable to control his less than professional thoughts about Spock when they were both on the bridge, and almost invariably, much to his chagrin, he experienced some kind of physical manifestation of those thoughts. Recalling Spock in the throes of passion was simply too vivid a memory to bury. Seeing the slender body in a familiar position, bent over the scanner, one which always caused the material of his pants to stretch tight over his firm ass, was enough to give him an unwanted hard-on. Shit, he thought, moving a datapadd across his lap so no-one would notice. Daydreaming on the bridge was a breach of military discipline and he firmly turned his attention to the requisition requests listed on the padd.

~__=__=__~

Three days later, the ship was approaching Starbase 6 when McCoy came onto the bridge. Checking up on them? Kirk wondered. Since Spock was still retreating to either the labs or his cabin when not on shift, the bridge was the only time the doctor would likely see them both to monitor how well they were working together. A part of Kirk resented McCoy’s intrusion and another accepted he was just doing his job.

“What’s our ETA at Starbase 6, Jim?” he asked as he stepped down to Kirk’s chair.

“Can’t wait to let your hair down, Bones?” Kirk smiled.

McCoy grinned back. “Well now...”

“Captain,” Uhura interrupted. “There was a message from Starbase 6. Heavy interference. All I get is Intrepid and what sounded like a sector co-ordinate.”

“Interesting,” said Spock as he read at the scanner read-out. “No indications of magnetic storms in this sector.”

What’s interesting, Kirk thought with a sigh, is that Spock wouldn’t even turn to look at him when he said that. “Try another channel, Lieutenant.”

“The Intrepid is manned by Vulcans, isn't it?” McCoy asked.

Kirk smiled, imagining what life would be like for McCoy if he were CMO on that ship. “Yes, that's right, Bones.”

Enterprise calling Starbase 6. Enterprise calling Starbase 6. Come in. Come in.”

Kirk felt a spike of adrenaline. Something wasn’t right. Turning to Spock he saw the Vulcan begin to slump and concern flooding him, rushed over. “Spock?”

Reaching the Vulcan’s side, he put out his hand near Spock’s back to steady him if necessary, but didn’t dare touch.

“What is it, Spock? Are you in pain?” McCoy said, trying to break through to him.

Spock ignored the doctor’s questions. “Captain. The Intrepid...it just died. And the four hundred Vulcans aboard, all dead.” His voice was almost a whisper, shock evident on his face.

Kirk looked at McCoy, wondering if the stress of everything had finally gotten to the Vulcan. When the doctor looked at him, his face suggesting he was wondering the same thing, Kirk gave a head signal to take Spock off the bridge.

“Come on, Spock,” McCoy said gently. “Let's go down to Sickbay.”

“Doctor, I know what I know,” Spock protested.

“Get to the Sickbay,” said Kirk.

Finally Spock looked at him and Kirk clearly saw distress in the dark eyes, the normally neutral face etched with the strain he was clearly under.

“Captain,” Spock whispered, his tone almost pleading.

Kirk’s heart went out to him. “No, no, no,” he whispered back. Then realizing how intimate he was sounding, added more loudly, “That's an order.”

“Yes, sir,” Spock’s voice was barely audible. Still in shock, he allowed McCoy to lead him towards the turbolift.

At first, Kirk inwardly felt relief when Spock quickly returned to the bridge. But as the malevolent object they were approaching began steadily to drain the life force out of the ship and her crew, he began to succumb to the symptoms of fatigue and irritability.

“Spock, give me an update on the dark area ahead,” he ordered.

“No analysis due to insufficient information.”

Kirk felt his hackles rise. How could he begin to fight this...thing, if he didn’t have a clue what it was they were up against. “No speculation, no information, nothing? I've asked you three times for information on that, and you've been unable to supply it. Insufficient data is not sufficient, Mister Spock. You're the Science Officer. You're supposed to have sufficient data all the time.”

The moment the words had left his mouth, he regretted it. Why take his frustration out on Spock? Hadn't the Vulcan suffered enough at his hands?

Spock’s mask remained stoically in position. “I am well aware of that, Captain,” he said placidly, “but the computers contain nothing on this phenomenon. It is beyond our experience, and the new information is not yet significant.”

Kirk sighed inwardly. Shit. As if the current emergency wasn’t enough for him to be dealing with, he was sitting here worrying about hurting Spock’s supposedly non-existent feelings. The bridge during a red alert was no place for apologies, so he said something he knew the Vulcan would nevertheless understand was one. “I don't know about you but I'm tired.”

Was it his imagination, or did Spock's features relax slightly? There was no time to ponder that now. Instead, he attempted a different approach in a bid to get the answers he needed.

Kirk called a meeting of department heads to discuss a course of action. When everyone but Spock left, he felt his heart rate accelerate. What did Spock want to say to him? Should he use the opportunity to apologize for behaving like an asshole on the bridge? But Spock was sticking to their bargain and was there on a purely professional basis.

“Captain, the Intrepid would have done all these things too, and yet they were destroyed.”

Kirk refused to give up. “Well, they may not have done all of these things. You just pointed out how illogical this situation is.”

“True,” Spock conceded. “It is also true they never knew what was killing them. Their logic would not have permitted them to believe they were being killed.”

Surely their logic couldn’t have failed them to such a degree. “Explain.”

“Vulcan has not been conquered within its collective memory. The memory goes back so far that no Vulcan can conceive of a conqueror. I knew the ship was lost because I sensed it.”

Kirk felt an inward shudder at the thought of what Spock must have gone through. He didn’t want Spock to have to relive that moment, but he had to know. No scrap of information could be overlooked.

“What was it you sensed?”

“The touch of death.”

He felt another shiver run down his spine. Not just for the lost Vulcans, nor the planetary system that had been destroyed, but for them—the Enterprise and her crew. They were facing death.

“And what do you think they felt?” he asked quietly.

“Astonishment.”

Kirk wasn’t sure what to do with that information. He felt a little irritated that Spock seemed to be so in control when he himself was finding it so hard to adjust. However, he was damned if he was going to let Spock see that. It was only after the Vulcan had gone that he allowed his shoulders to slump. He would allow no-one, not even Spock, to see how tired and drained he was really feeling.

Their perilous situation deteriorated until Kirk found himself pacing up and down his cabin, having just made an emotional entry into his personal log. He was faced with one of the most difficult command decisions he had ever had to make: which one of his two friends he was going to send to his death in the shuttlecraft. Despite the inherent dangers, there was no other way of gathering the information they needed if they were going to attempt to destroy the thing that was slowly killing them.

For him, the worst part of the decision was that there was not really any decision to make. He knew deep down that Spock was far better equipped both physically and mentally to cope with any stress he might come under and his superior intelligence was more likely to come up with the answers they so badly needed. He knew that both his friends would be willing to forfeit their lives in a valiant bid to save the Enterprise and her crew from certain death. It was Spock who was going to get the opportunity.

The knowledge that Spock was almost certain to die on this mission made him realize what he was about to lose. Suddenly, his feelings for the Vulcan were clear. While the thought of sending McCoy on a fatal mission would deeply upset him, it elicited no where near the same degree of emotion or despondency as the thought of losing Spock. He most definitely did not feel the same about his two friends. The big difference—and it was the first time that he was able to acknowledge it—was that he loved Spock, was in love with him.

With sudden clarity he knew that there could never be anyone else for him. No-one else would be so right for him. Right now, he would welcome a lifetime commitment with all that entailed. Now not only did he feel deeply ashamed at how he had treated Spock, but it was too late to tell him.

Kirk summoned Spock and McCoy to his cabin. It was clear from the doctor's overt confidence that he thought he was going to be the one to go. He was sure McCoy knew he was not as suitable for the mission as Spock. Therefore the only reason he could possibly be so certain that he would be chosen to go was because he believed that his captain would be unable to send the man he loved.

Scotty called to inform Kirk they were now down to fifty percent power. As Spock and McCoy entered his quarters, he ordered the shuttlecraft to be prepared. “Doctor McCoy will tell you what special equipment to put in,” he told the engineer. “Kirk out.”

Kirk turned to the Vulcan, a tight knot in his chest. He needed to keep his face straight, his voice calm for the most difficult order he had ever given out. “I'm sorry, Mister Spock...” he began.

McCoy turned to leave. “Right. I'll get a few things I need, Jim.”

“Not you, Bones.” McCoy looked openly devastated. Kirk plowed on. “I'm sorry, Mister Spock.” His voice was not much louder than a whisper. “You're best qualified to go.”

It was only in his eyes that he begged Spock to forgive him and as the Vulcan left his cabin, he knew that he had. He could not face watching Spock go to his death and so left it to McCoy to accompany the Vulcan to the hangar deck. Holding back tears as he stared at where his love had stood, he blindly searched behind him for his chair and finding it, slumped down on it.

It was a race against time. All the evidence suggested Spock was dead and Kirk was now working on autopilot, absolutely exhausted and unable to deal with the grief.

“Mister Kyle, back us out the way we came in. Mister Chekov, a nice, straight line. Don't waste any time.” He had no idea if they would make it in one piece.

“Backing out, sir,” Kyle confirmed.

“Estimate we'll be out in six point thirty seven minutes,” added Chekov.

“Very good.” Kirk felt the tension rolling off him. The only thing keeping him upright was a combination of stimulants and adrenaline.

“Captain, metallic substance outside the ship,” said Chekov calmly.

“Spock?” asked McCoy.

Kirk’s heart did a double flip. That might be the shuttle, but was Spock still alive? He didn’t dare hope. “Lieutenant,” he said to Uhura, “get me Spock's voice channel. Highest possible gain.”

“Go ahead, sir.”

“Spock, do you read me? Do you read me, Spock, do you read me? Come in, Spock. Spock!” No answer. He could be unconscious. “Scotty, get a tractor beam.”

“Captain,” responded the engineer, “we don't have enough time to do it. We only have a fifty three second escape margin.”

If by some miracle Spock were still alive, being towed along with the mother-ship would at least give him some chance of withstanding the blast. Damn it, he had to try. “I'm well aware of that, Mister Scott,” he said calmly. “Get two tractor beams on that shuttlecraft.”

“Aye, sir. Tractor beams on.”

“Captain,” came Spock’s voice over the bridge speaker.

Kirk's heart missed a beat and his face radiated happiness at the sound of Spock’s voice.

“I recommend you abandon the attempt. Do not risk the ship further on my behalf.”

Kirk had absolutely no intention of following his First Officer’s recommendation, even though it reduced the chances of their own survival.

McCoy knew it too. “Shut up, Spock!” said the delighted doctor. “We're rescuing you!”

“Why, thank you, Captain McCoy!” came Spock’s sardonic reply.

Kirk kept his emotions in check. The battle wasn’t over yet and even if the Enterprise survived the next few minutes, there was no guarantee they’d be able to hold onto the shuttlecraft. All he could do was silently pray they would all pull through. He sat tensely in his seat.

“Almost out,” said Kyle. “We're approaching the membrane, sir.”

“Time until explosion?” Kirk asked Chekov.

“Fifty seven seconds, sir.”

They had to keep Spock with them. “Maintaining tractor beams on the shuttlecraft, Mister Scott?” he checked.

“Aye, sir. I can't guarantee it'll hold when the warhead explodes. The power levels are...the power levels are dead, sir.”

So close. “You may have just written our epitaph, Mister Scott.”

As the warhead exploded, shockwaves sent most of the bridge crew sprawling from their positions. Had they made it?

“Activate main viewing screen,” ordered Kirk. As they did so, the starfield reassuringly appeared. “Mister Chekov, report.”

“The organism is destroyed, sir. The explosion must have ruptured the membrane and thrown us clear.”

“Power's coming back, sir.”

There was only one thing Kirk wanted to know. “Shuttlecraft?”

“I don't know how, sir,” answered Scott, “but it's still with us.”

“Shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Shuttlecraft to Enterprise. Request permission to come aboard.”

As Spock’s voice filled the bridge, Kirk felt a wave of euphoria spread over him. “Spock, you're alive!” he laughed. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt this happy.

“Obviously, Captain,” came the Vulcan’s dry reply. “And I have some fascinating data on the organism.”

“Don't be so smart, Spock,” came back McCoy. “You botched the acetylcholine test.”

“Later, later, later,” grinned Kirk. “Bring the shuttlecraft aboard, Mister Scott.”

Kirk decided that this time at least, the gods were on his side and he was being given a second chance. He just hoped that Spock would accept that he had made a terrible mistake and would take him back

Kirk felt exhausted, yet his whole body was tingling from the effects of too many stimulants and adrenaline. He looked up to see a pair of bright blue eyes regarding him.

“You need to rest Jim.”

“I know. I need to talk to Starfleet first. Then I’ll leave.”

“Well, I’m staying put until you do,” McCoy replied firmly. “When you’re through, you’re on twenty four hours medical leave.”

“Uhura, put me through to Commodore Rais, Starbase 6....Spock!” Kirk grinned at the Vulcan who had just stepped onto the bridge. Everyone turned around, smiling at him.

Kirk’s heart was hammering in his chest and it had nothing to do the recent events.

“Captain,” Spock replied, but gave him only the briefest of glances.

Kirk could hardly blame him for his distance, so reacted as though he hadn’t noticed. “Mr. Spock, arrange for a relief bridge crew. I think everyone here deserves a rest.”

“And as soon as you’re done, Spock, you can go to your quarters and stay there,” added McCoy. “You’re on medical leave for the next twenty four hours, too.”

“Too, doctor?”

McCoy nodded his head towards Kirk, and standing behind Uhura, folded his arms waiting.

In the event, Spock was done before Kirk and left. Eventually, after giving a verbal report and sending tapes of everything that had happened, McCoy was able to pull Kirk away. By that time, all the crew had changed, except Uhura, who had insisted on remaining until this task was completed.

Fifteen minutes later, Kirk sat alone in his cabin. He was supposed to be trying to sleep, but the adrenaline was still in his system. Besides, he needed to speak to Spock. This couldn’t wait.

Running his fingers nervously through his hair, he strode out of his quarters, walked down the corridor to the next cabin and buzzed.

“Enter,” came the familiar voice. The door opened to reveal a cabin with lights down low enough for the flame of the fireshrine to cast a flickering red glow about the walls. And there he was, standing in his black tee and pants in the middle of his cabin, looking completely striking and utterly alien.

“Spock,” he whispered, his voice hoarse.

Not taking his eyes off the Vulcan, Kirk walked forward until he was toe to toe with Spock, who hadn’t moved. “Dear god,” said Kirk quietly, “I thought I’d lost you,” and with those words, grabbed the top of a lean, muscled arm with one hand and pulled Spock’s head down towards his, with the other.

It was like a re-enactment of their first kiss in reverse, with Spock’s mouth firmly closed, his eyes open, refusal in them. Kirk let go of his arm and wrapping his hand around the slim waist, pulled Spock roughly to him so their bodies were pressed together.

He pressed his tongue against the lips, felt them part and pushed inside to take what was his. He recognized Spock’s capitulation within a heartbeat as the hot, hard body relaxed and molded against him. Kirk devoured the Vulcan’s mouth with the same urgency that a wild animal might eat after hibernation.

Arousal was swift. Spock grabbed Kirk’s hand and placed it against the hard bulge in his pants and thrust into it urgently. The action drove Kirk wild and he pushed his palm against it, molding his hand around it, massaging the crown through the fabric with the pad of his thumb. Spock had already gotten the fastener of his pants undone and was snaking his hand inside. The feel of the hot fist around his cock made him groan. With trembling fingers, Kirk did the same and once open, impatiently pulled the front apart and pushed the pants down the Vulcan’s thighs.

Spock's other hand joined the first to create a firm tunnel for his cock, and began to stroke Kirk with both, using alternating combinations of twists, pulls, grips and strokes.

Kirk held Spock's shaft in his fist and worked the top of it, already slippery with fluid. He felt himself pulled against Spock, as the Vulcan maneuvered his shaft directly opposite his and then, taking both of them into his hand, started a firm stroking motion. They both looked down between them to view the sexual spectacle. The sight and feel of Spock's dark green erection pressed firmly against his own was amazing. Added to that was the feel of his firm grip pumping them both, which made Kirk go weak at the knees.

Kirk added his hand to Spock's grip and used the other to burrow under the tee to play with one of the Vulcan’s sensitive nipples. Spock's mouth hung open in a silent grunt and his eyelids fluttered and Kirk realized he must have looked just like the Vulcan did.

"Are you close?" Kirk asked. "I want us to come together."

"Yes, I am," Spock panted and leaned down to take Kirk’s mouth in a passionate kiss, his plundering tongue meeting its match, a frantic urgency exploding between them.

Kirk came first, his breath bursting out from deep in his chest and followed within a heartbeat by Spock, their orgasms ripped from them in a desperate, shuddering release, the pulsing life-giving jets merging together as physical evidence they were still here, still alive together, proof that they had once again cheated death.

“I love you Spock,” Kirk said as soon as his breath had slowed down enough to allow him to talk. “I’ve been such a fool. Will you forgive me and take me back?”

“Yes,” was Spock’s simple reply and sealed his acceptance with a tender kiss that made Kirk's heart ache. It was so good to have Spock back in his arms where he now knew he belonged.

After the events of that day had left him absolutely ennervated, the orgasm was the final straw, and as the adrenaline disspiated from his system, Kirk’s legs started to give way. Spock grabbed him before he could fall and half carried him towards his bed, gently lowering him onto it.

“I’ll be all right,” Kirk reassured the Vulcan. Looking down at his soiled shirt he added, “but I really want a shower before I sleep. Can you help me?”

He hated feeling so weak and so dependent and was glad it was only Spock who witnessed it.

“Are you sure that is wise, Jim?” Spock asked, concern evident in his voice.

Kirk gave him a look and without a word, Spock helped him up and into the bathroom. Ten minutes later, both showered, they lay on the narrow cot, Kirk cradled in Spock’s embrace.

Every cell in Kirk’s body cried out for him to sleep, but he needed to speak first. “It's funny,” he began quietly, “but there's nothing like confronting death to help focus your thoughts and sharpen your mind.”

He pushed himself away from the warm body so he could look into Spock’s eyes as he said the next words. “It was the thought of losing you that made me realize that I love you, Spock, and I know now that I've been in love with you for a long time. I just never put a label to my feelings for you before. I guess until now, I wasn't ready to do that.”

“Jim, I am not adept at understanding or interpreting emotions, but I do know what I feel for you is love.”

The words provoked an aching feeling in Kirk’s chest, and smiling happily, he leant forward and kissed his lover, the sharing of the small intimacy all he was capable of as exhaustion dragged at him.

As if Spock sensed it, he pulled Kirk down to lie once more in his embrace. “Jim, sleep.”

And he did.

~__=__=__~

The cabin was completely dark when Kirk woke from a deep sleep, lying on his side with a body behind spooned tight against him. He felt disorientated for a moment, until he remembered the previous evening. A smile crossed his face and he sighed deeply, happily. A slight squeeze told him Spock was awake.

He wanted to stretch but there wasn’t room. “How long was I asleep?”

“Nine point three hours.”

Kirk ordered the lights to twenty five percent and wriggling, carefully maneuvered himself on the narrow bunk to face Spock, kissing him on the end of his nose before lying back on the pillow. “How about you? Did you get much sleep?”

“Eight point six hours. I am surprised I required so much. The drain on my energy was more significant than I had realized.”

Kirk levered himself up and kissed Spock tenderly then pulled back to gaze at him. “Last night when I told you how much I love you, I didn’t say everything I wanted to.” He ran fingers gently down his lover’s face and when he got close to his mouth, Spock teasingly nipped them with his lips. Kirk grinned at the playfulness.

“I told you before that I wasn’t ready to be tied to one person for the rest of my life. Spock, I take it back. Yes, I'll be honest, the idea scares me, but after yesterday I’ve realized the thought of you not being there in my life scares me more.”

“Jim, you know it is what I desire,” Spock said simply.

Kirk ran fingers through the Vulcan’s hair and then brought his fingers into an approximation of the meld position. “I know now that I want the bond as much as you do. When you were out there and I didn't know if you were alive or dead...” his voice cracked with the memory of it. “God Spock, I can't begin to describe how I felt. I never want to go through not knowing again. I'm willing to commit myself unconditionally to a relationship that I know will be more fulfilling and more profound than anything I've experienced before, to someone who couldn't be more compatible if he tried.”

“Jim, once done, the bond cannot be undone without harm to both parties. It is not something entered into lightly.”

Kirk looked deep into Spock’s eyes, so the Vulcan would see if he harbored any doubt. “Believe me, I’m one hundred percent certain. I want you to bond us now.”

Spock was still cautious. “Should we not wait until we are on shoreleave?”

Shoreleave. That was something that Kirk would have to change. If they were going to be on their honeymoon, a tent in the wilderness and McCoy tagging alone were definitely out. He would accept no less than...well the bridal suite he thought, was out - too mushy. Since it was to be a special occasion, they could splash out on a Presidential Suite. All good five star hotels had one, whichever planet they ended up on.

“If it's what we both want, why wait?” Kirk pointed out.

“Very well,” Spock said quietly, his eyes shining in happiness.

“One minute,” Kirk said and jumped out of the bed. He needed the facilities and also wanted to search for something that would work as a lubricant.

He returned carrying a small bottle of oil to find Spock lying on his back, the cover pushed off him. He paused beside the bed to look down at the gorgeous body laid out before him and felt the first stirrings of arousal. Putting the bottle on the headboard, he climbed on the bed to lie on top of his bondmate-to-be.

Spock ran his index finger lightly over Kirk's lips. “I have not dared to dream of this moment,” he said quietly.

The confession touched Kirk and he leant down and pressed his lips to Spock’s, an action which deepened into a soul-wrenching kiss. Between them, their cocks came to life and they began to undulate together, their shafts pressed tightly between them. Spock moaned his pleasure into Kirk’s mouth, a sound so erotic, Kirk felt himself harden even more.

Spock in the uncontrolled throes of passion blew Kirk’s mind away. That he could be the one to bring it about still awed him. Knowing they were about to take the step that would ensure it would be he, and no other, that Spock would be turning to for the rest of his life, filled Kirk with a sense of completeness. What he’d shared with Spock even before their fateful mission and their kiss, transcended any previous relationship he’d had. There was a sense of rightness that they had deepened that sharing to become lovers. He was aware of the contrast of this belief to the one he’d held before, one driven by fear of commitment, or perhaps a fear of failure, based on his previous relationship record.

The two men mastered each other’s bodies with their mouths, learning and mapping every contour, every erogenous zone and committed it all to memory.

Spock lay on his back, while Kirk teased his tongue along the length of his shaft from base to tip, gently lapping at the fluid he found at the crown. He alternately cupped and stroked and licked Spock’s swollen flesh and when he dipped his tongue into the small slit at the top, Spock almost jack-knifed, crying out and roughly pulling Kirk up his body. With a hand behind Kirk’s head, he pulled him down into a searing kiss.

After several minutes, Kirk moved back and off Spock to lie beside him. Propping himself up on one arm, he gazed down at the beloved face. His free hand moved to between the Vulcan’s legs, gliding down the perineum until he reached the small pucker of muscle. As he did so, he leant forward and his parted lips strayed over Spock’s, but when he slid a finger inside him, he plunged his tongue into his mouth deeply, cherishingly. Spock’s head canted back at the onslaught and he eventually pulled away.

“Jim!” Spock’s gasped, his voice cracked with need. “I wish you to take me when we bond.” .

Kirk sat up and reaching up, took the bottle of oil, pouring some onto his hand. With his free hand he gently pushed on one of Spock’s legs and the Vulcan obligingly shifted his position.

"Wider," he murmured, urging Spock’s thighs further apart. The thought of himself buried in that tight opening caused the heat of arousal to flood his body and his cock twitched in anticipation. Leaning down, he gently sucked on one of Spock’s testicles as he carefully prepared him, his mouth and massaging fingers eliciting quiet moans from the Vulcan.

When he was done, he kneeled back and picked up the bottle, this time drizzling some oil onto Spock’s fingers. The Vulcan rubbed his hands together, to warm it up and then wrapped his fist around Kirk’s shaft, liberally coating it. The feel of the hot, slippery sheath slowly sliding the length of his sensitized penis made Kirk gasp and he fell forwards to take Spock’s mouth in a bruising kiss.

He felt Spock place his fingers to touch the meld points. For the first and last time, Spock began the process of initiating the deepest meld a Vulcan could—the one that led to a permanent bonding. Kirk stilled and listened to the familiar words of ritual.

“My mind to your mind. My thoughts to your thoughts. Our minds are merging...”

This meld was like no other he’d experienced. As Spock entered his mind, it was like molten lava streaming across solid rock, sliding together, to eventually solidify. Kirk suddenly was no longer certain where he ‘ended’ and Spock ‘began’.

The meld was so deep that when Spock took his fingers away, Kirk was surprised they remained linked. Love and passion flowed freely between them.

Nudging Spock’s knees apart, Kirk settled himself heavily within the cradle of his thighs. As he did so, he became aware of how Spock was experiencing it—a feeling of his legs parted, lying exposed and waiting , needing, begging to be impaled by his lover’s aroused flesh. His virginity was a gift that Spock could give only once, and he was about to bestow it on his almost-bondmate.

Spock brought his knees up to his chest to accommodate Kirk, and very carefully, he pushed against the firm knot of muscle. Just the thought of what he was doing and to whom, pushed him close to the verge of orgasm. So it was with tremendous self-control that when he felt the muscles relax, he began to slide into the hot body. Spock clenched and shuddered but raised his hips slightly to help further drive Kirk’s engorged cock into his hot, tight channel. Sensing discomfort in the Vulcan, he stopped abruptly and began to pull out.

“Please... pain is at a minimum,” Spock whispered between gasps. “Observe the meld...and continue.”

Kirk’s mind reached out into Spock’s again, and carefully monitoring his lover, lowered himself again. At the same time, Spock heaved upwards in passion, his resisting flesh opening, and Kirk slid into him slowly and gently until he was completely sheathed. This was, without doubt, the most erotic experience of his life, enhanced by the dichotomy of being able to sense mentally Spock's experiences as strongly as he felt his own physical sensations.

It occurred to Kirk with some wonder that there would no longer be any need to speak about their sexual needs or wishes as once the bond was in place, words would no longer be necessary. He found himself sheathed in the hot channel and was unable to stop himself from thrusting, although he did so very gently, fearing he could injure Spock.

Kirk tested the meld for communication. If I think it, can you understand me?

Yes.

Does this feel good?

Even as he asked the question, he sensed that Spock was beginning to find his apparent timidity in their love making somewhat frustrating, even though it was understood that his caution stemmed from a reluctance to cause pain.

Spock was quick to dispel this worry. Please, Jim.

You want me to fuck you hard? With amusement Kirk sensed Spock's surprise at this thought.

I would not characterize it quite that way, but that is essentially my wish.

I want to feel you saying it, Kirk urged with another gentle thrust.

Fuck me harder, Jim.

The words inflamed him and he could feel lust rising like a leviathan within him. He wanted Spock to sense it and to see that look in his eyes and vice versa as he pleasured him. His next thrust was hard and deep and as he did so, his neck involuntarily arched and he lost himself in this mating-bonding rite.

Kirk kept up a rhythm and maintained it enthusiastically. His heart pounded and his blood roared through his arteries as if it were warp-driven. Breaths were short, hard gasps, as rivulets of sweat began to course down his face. With each stroke, he sunk his engorged flesh completely into his lover’s depths. Even without what he could read through the meld, Spock’s body language told him everything he needed as they bucked and arched and collided in almost perfect rhythm. With every withdrawal, Spock lifted his hips and heaved beneath him, as if to protest the removal of something that he now claimed as his own.

Kirk watched Spock take his own shaft into his hand and begin to stroke it, knowing it was still slippery from when the Vulcan had oiled him earlier. The sight of Spock pleasuring himself so uninhibitedly and the increased intense pleasure he sensed over their link ratcheted his arousal up another notch. Moving his gaze between Spock’s face to his rapidly moving hand, he became aware of the familiar feeling of his imminent orgasm, together with the mental sensations of Spock's impending climax.

They tumbled simultaneously over the edge. "Oh God Spock," Kirk groaned as the lightning bolts of fulfillment shot through their highly-stimulated bodies and ricocheted between their minds. And as they clung together in the midst of spiraling fireworks, words flowed across the link.

I love you. I love you.

Instead of lessening in intensity, it increased as if a star had gone supernova inside Kirk's head and he had a fleeting thought that he was going to pass out, that he was on sensory overload and his body was about to just shut down.

“Jim?” came a worried voice beneath him.

Kirk opened his eyes. “What happened?” he asked, a little shakily.

“We are bonded. I fear the fusion of our minds was too much for you—I was unable to shield you from its effects.”

It was with a sense of wonder that Kirk could feel their minds had become permanently entwined. It felt similar to the shallow meld that Spock had initiated when the Vulcan had taken him during their voyage to Vulcan. Now, for as long as they both lived, Spock would possess a corner of his mind and all of his heart.

Aware of Spock’s awkward position, Kirk shifted off him to lie at his side and the two men were content to simply gaze at each other. When Spock finally got up and headed for the bathroom, Kirk was able to sense his purpose through their new bond. After a few minutes, Spock returned with a cloth and gently administered to his bondmate.

Did I please thee?

Mmm. That was the most incredible experience of my life.

Kirk opened his arms and as the Vulcan lay down, he took him into his embrace. “Do you believe in fate, Spock?”

“Fate?”

“Do you realize that if I hadn't turned you down before, we probably wouldn't be alive now? If we'd been bonded, I would never have been able to let you go yesterday and I find that worrying. How am I going to cope if your life is endangered in the future?”

“Do you feel any differently towards me now than when I climbed into the shuttlecraft?”

Kirk did not hesitate. “No...”

“Then I submit that you would have still been able to let me go. You realized then, as now, that it was my life against the 430 crew under your command. The decision was, in effect, made for you.”

“Said like that it sounds so neat and logical. That may have been the end result, but I went through a lot of emotions to get there.”

“Without interference from emotions, it is possible for one's entire life to be like that. That is what every Vulcan strives for.”

Kirk frowned. “What about you, Spock?”

“I have spent most of my life trying to prove to myself and my peers that I am no different to any other Vulcan. Like many of my race, I confused emotion with weakness. Working with Humans generally, and you in particular, has assisted in dispelling that myth. I believe I am now able to accept my Human half and use it to my advantage, for example in nurturing our relationship. I am now able to express my love for you without feeling shame.”

Kirk winced at the memory of that virus. As Spock had battled with his uncontrolled emotions, it had been his first true realization of the internal conflict that Spock had lived with all his life. “I fell in love with you as you are, Spock. Promise me you won’t change on my account.”

“That is an illogical request, Jim. Since I have known you, I have already made many adjustments to accommodate you in my life.”

Kirk considered what Spock was like when he’d first taken command of the Enterprise and how over the three years since, their friendship had grown, flourished and deepened to what they had now, and accepted the truth of this.

“Does it bother you that you’ve changed?”

“It does not concern me unduly. An ancient Earth philosopher, Plato, is quoted as having said, ‘All is flux, nothing stays still.’ I believe the changes in me will be beneficial to both of us.”

Kirk pulled Spock into an embrace and kissed him gently. When he moved back, he noticed the corners of Spock's mouth had lifted into a half-smile. Without speaking, the Vulcan used their new link to send Kirk an almost tangible demonstration of his love that enveloped the Human like a cloak, making him feel secure and content.

How did you do that?

You will learn, Jim. Sleep now.

Kirk didn't argue—despite having slept for nine hours, he was still a little weak from the previous day's experiences.

I love you too, Spock.

~__=__=__~

EPILOGUE

“Why did I let you talk me into this?” Kirk demanded, pulling the flap of the tent closed for the third time in half an hour. “It hasn't stopped raining all morning and if that metrological forecast we picked up is accurate, it's not going to let up for at least two days.”

He sat down heavily on a nearby cushion and watched as Spock used a tricorder to analyze a sample of the local flora that grew in abundance outside their tent.

“Not only did I let you talk me out of booking us a nice, warm, comfortable hotel suite,” he continued, “but you somehow managed to pick the one part of this planet that's in the middle of a wet season. What are we supposed to do for two days? We haven't brought the portable chess set or even anything to read.” Kirk wanted to go outside, to commune with nature, to feel the grass under his feet, not sit in a soggy tent.

Spock looked up from the tricorder readouts. “We have complete privacy here and at least we will remain undisturbed. Since Commodore Rais has chosen to send us to a wilderness planet for shoreleave, you will recall that approximately half of the crew have booked into the Klarakh Hilton, as it is one of the few luxury hotels on the planet.”

“Yeah, I know. But this weather's getting me down. We spend enough of our lives being cooped up. I want to do something like hiking or rock climbing.”

“Did it not occur to you Jim,” said Spock as he moved over and encircled his annoyed bondmate with his strong arms, “that I deliberately chose this area.”

Surprise was evident on Kirk's face and he was about to speak when Spock waved him silent. “If you recall page seventy nine of the book on Vulcan history that I leant you,” he continued, “at times when the ancient warriors were confined to their temporary dwellings, they found plenty to occupy them.”

With that, he flooded their bond with lascivious images.

As Kirk's body responded, he turned to face his lover. “Why you...” All other speech was prevented by a pair of searing Vulcan lips.

[finis]

 

 

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