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It should be a sign of deep trouble when Spock drops his spoon and says, “Captain, what is the main ingredient in this dish?”

But Jim doesn’t get it at first, just shrugs as he piles more into his mouth, tongue trailing over every curve of the spoon. “Dunno, but it tastes like the best fucking chocolate I’ve ever had.”

“Chocolate? Damn,” Spock says, before falling backwards into the cushions surrounding the table.

Jim turns, the decadent dessert forgotten, and shakes Spock’s shoulders. “Spock?”

Looking around the room, he sees that his hosts and the other party-goers are busy talking to one another. No one has noticed that Spock has passed out after actually uttering a swear word.

Jim does what any clear-headed adult would do: He crawls under the table and pulls out his communicator. “Kirk to Uhura,” he whispers.

“Uhura here. What did you do now?”

“I didn’t do anything. We were eating dessert at this banquet –”

“There was a banquet?”

“Yes.”

“Was it good?”

“Incredible, actually. They did this fish thing in parchment –”

“You bastard. You got fish in parchment, and I got a space sick new ensign throwing up all over me,” Uhura says.

“I’m sorry about that. You can go to the next boring dinner party. But listen, about our little situation down here. We were eating dessert, this chocolaty soufflé-type thing—”

She starts screaming at him so loudly that he has to hide his communicator under a cushion to avoid detection. “You let Spock have chocolate? Are you an idiot? Wait, don’t answer that. You don’t need to, because I know that you are.”

“Whoa whoa whoa,” he says when she finally stops berating him. “What is the big deal?”

“Uh, hello Captain Clueless, chocolate has the same effect on Vulcans that alcohol has on humans.”

“Chocolate? Damn.”

“You need to get him into bed and get him some water. If he doesn’t wake up, I’ll get McCoy down there,” she says.

“Fine.”

“And Captain?”

“Yeah?”

“Try not to kill him completely.”

“Under advisement, thank you Lieutenant,” he says. “Kirk out.”

He crawls out from under the table and sees that a tiny thread of drool has made its way out of Spock’s open mouth, that there’s a faint green flush on his cheeks, and that he is absently playing with his ears in his sleep.

Jim smacks his face lightly, tries to get him to wake up. Spock bats his hand away and mumbles, “No.”

He wishes, for a second, that he had an airhorn and a flashlight. It was something he liked to do to Bones every once in a while when they were at the Academy. He’d honk the airhorn, shine the light on Bones’ sleeping face, smack him with a pillow, and yell “Truck!” at the top of his lungs. The momentary sting of Bones punching him in the arm (same place every time – how did he do that?) was always well worth the look of terror and alarm.

But alas, all he has at his disposal now is a pillow. He settles on splashing water in Spock’s face. That rouses Spock enough, his eyes opening halfway, the whites shot through with threads of green.

“Captain?” he asks, voice shaking. “I do not feel well.”

“I’m sorry, Spock.” Jim looks down at his confused, miserable face. “I didn’t know about Vulcans and chocolate.”

“I have never had any before. I did not know what it tasted like.”

“Can you walk?”

Spock raises himself on his elbows and thrashes his legs under the table, which earns them a few dirty looks from the people sitting around them. Jim just offers his best grin and hopes that it has the same exchange value here in the middle of nowhere that it does on Earth.

“I appear to be able to move all my limbs. As to whether they will actually support me, I am uncertain.”

“Okay. Well, stay here just a second.”

He looks around the table, eyes finally alighting on their host for the evening. Jim is grateful that M’reth is a jovial man who likes his parties and his wine. He’s holding court at the end of the table with a couple of visiting Andorians, their antennae bobbing with delight as they laugh at his jokes. He goes over to where they sit, crouches down close.

“M’reth?”

“Captain Kirk! I trust you and your first officer are enjoying yourselves?” M’reth claps a hand on Jim’s shoulder and Jim nearly tumbles over.

“We are, sir. The food was excellent. But, ah, we have a problem. My first officer is half Vulcan. And he appears to be having a reaction to the dessert. It seems that Vulcans don’t do well with chocolate,” Jim explains.

M’reth glances over at Spock, who is now sitting up and swaying in his seat. “Oh dear.”

“Yeah. We better excuse ourselves.”

“Perfectly understandable! Please, come back and join us once you get your friend settled.”

“Yes, sir,” Jim says, even though he is pretty sure it won’t be that easy.

He works his way back to Spock, pouring him a glass of water as he sits down. Spock drinks it slowly, his hand shaking around the glass.

“Thank you, Captain.”

“Let’s get you up to your quarters,” Jim says.

Spock rises, swaying all the while, and Jim puts his arm around his waist to steady him. Spock looks at him as though he wants to protest the impropriety of it, but he nearly loses his balance just standing still.

They make their teetering progress out of the banquet room, down the long hallway to their guest quarters. Jim wrangles Spock into the room, and Spock sits heavily on the bed and sighs.

“Actually, this feeling is not entirely unpleasant,” he says, as though this is a conversation they’ve been having all along.

“Really?”

“Really. I feel . . . almost giddy.”

There is no evidence whatsoever in Spock’s countenance that would suggest anything other than his usual calm, cool remove. His eyes, though bloodshot and unfocused, evince no mischief, and his mouth remains the same tense line as ever. Though he sways a little as he sits, his back is still straight.

“Giddy, huh?” Jim goes to the bathroom, finding a glass on the counter. He fills it with water and hands it to Spock.

“Yes. This is actually rather amusing.”

“I can tell.”

Spock drinks his water, and hands the glass back to Jim. As he does this, his fingertips brush Jim’s. And then the unthinkable happens. Spock giggles. The sound is creaky, rusty, like a gate that has not been opened in a long while. But nonetheless, it can only be described as a giggle, even accompanied by the tiniest smile.

Jim stands there, more shocked than if Uhura had come in and given him a lap dance.

Spock clears his throat. “My apologies, Captain.”

“Sure, Spock. No problem,” Jim says. He knows he is staring at Spock as though he has grown another set of pointed ears. He knows it’s rude to stare. But Spock – who has never shown so much as mild amusement over anything – just touched his fingers and giggled.

Then he remembers: One time, sitting in the mess hall with Uhura, she had been waxing on for what seemed like hours about the intricacies of alien biology. Among the many factoids she had mentioned, one was that Vulcans have sensitive fingers. It was more intricate than that, and of course Uhura had explained it with equal parts poetry and excruciating fact, but that was the bottom line.

The thought of Spock getting turned on by this brief touch causes Jim’s cheeks to flush.

“Pink,” Spock says, pointing.

“Yes, Spock. Pink.” Jim goes back into the bathroom for more water. “So you’re not going to throw up or anything, right?”

“No, I am 78.6% sure that the contents of my stomach will remain in place.”

“I don’t really like those odds,” Jim says, leaning in the doorway.

“It is a 33% increase from ten minutes ago, Captain.”

“That puts things into perspective.”

“Quite,” Spock says, punctuated by a loud thump. Jim turns around to see that Spock has fallen backward onto the bed. “The room is spinning, Captain.”

“Oh lord. I promise it’s not.” Jim has sympathy, because he has been there. He goes to the bed, puts down the glass, and sits next to Spock, letting his gaze linger on his drowsy face. Spock’s eyes stare forward at nothing, his second eyelids drooping slightly under the first set. It’s disconcerting, but Jim also finds it exotic and beautiful.

“I suppose that would be illogical.”

For a second, he thinks Spock has read his mind, knows that Jim has just thought of him as simultaneously exotic, beautiful, and disconcerting. But he realizes that there is an actual conversation happening, such as it is. “Yeah, it would be.”

“Thank you for assisting me,” Spock says.

“Any time, Spock.”

“You are one of the first and only people to befriend me.”

“Really? And to think, you almost strangled me once.”

Spock flings his arm out and bats at Jim. “Do not push your luck, as humans say.”

Jim laughs, reaches out and squeezes Spock’s shoulder. The air changes when he does this, an electrical buzz threading through the room, the air feeling too thin and hard to breathe. He looks down at Spock to see that his eyes are wide, his hand hovers just over Jim’s.

“Spock?”

“Forgive me, Captain.”

“Nothing to forgive.”

Spock shifts himself up to a sitting position. He takes Jim’s hand and holds it between both of his, leaning forward. He doesn’t quite kiss Jim, but rests his lips on Jim’s mouth. Jim feels a flare inside him, a flame of feeling that he has let burn out for the simple fact that there was no way for it to be properly nurtured. Spock’s lips are hot and dry, smooth as paper. It tears Jim to pieces to push him back, to separate their lips. He wants more, has always wanted more.

“Captain, I—”

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just – you’re not yourself right now. It would be unfair of me.”

“I assure you that this is not an anomaly precipitated by my consumption of chocolate,” Spock says.

“Okay. Lay down and we can talk about this when you’re feeling better.”

“That would be acceptable.”

“I’m glad it meets your approval.”

Spock lays back. He blinks a few times before falling asleep, one hand across his chest. Jim takes one last lingering look at Spock, relaxed and at peace.

Next door in his own quarters, he pulls out his communicator. “Kirk to Uhura.”

“Go ahead, Captain.”

“Mr. Spock is fine. He had some water and he’s passed out.”

“Thanks for not killing him, Captain,” Uhura says.

“Your loyalty and confidence is always appreciated, Lieutenant.”

“Any time,” she says, and he thinks he might be hearing her smile.

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