A Bump in the Night
A sleep-addled Kirk trudged into the kitchen and made a beeline for the coffee pot. His hair defied gravity, still wet from the shower. He’d been up half the night with a head full of chilling thoughts.
His son’s report on the supernatural mythology of Halloween was the boy’s most recent project on the study of human culture. Holidays were the perfect focal point since it was when humans tended to be their most illogical.
Sonak had hand delivered the lengthy report to Kirk and waited expectantly until he’d shooed him away. Page after page had proven disturbing to his peace of mind. The closing argument remained inconclusive after relating detailed accounts of ghost sightings. There was speculation on the possibility of a parallel universe that housed disembodied souls. Perhaps the coup de grâce was a case study that proved it was medically possible for a humanoid species to survive on blood alone. According to his logical Vulcan son, ghosts and ghouls might very well exist.
Seated at the square kitchen table, Spock watched his husband. A mug of tea sat steaming beside his datapad. "You were restless throughout the night," he said. He’d been the unfortunate target of jabbing elbows as Jim had thrashed about.
Kirk sipped his coffee, cradling his golden yellow mug in both hands. "Sorry, strange dreams."
"Indeed?" The quirk of Spock’s eyebrow encouraged the man to elaborate.
"Sonak’s paper had a few revelations that caught my eye. I was expecting run on sentences about the illogic of human beliefs. Instead, I got unsolved murders rumored to be the work of vampires and a section that linked lycanthropy to a disease found in the Rigel system." He would have gone on, but Spock had read the same report. "I think we should’ve set a limit on what he studied."
"It would be illogical to censure his research. The data collected and reviewed must remain unrestricted to avoid undo bias and inaccurate conclusions."
"Valentine’s, Christmas, Easter, all those Russian holidays he got from Chekov. Those are fine. Halloween, not so much."
"You claimed to enjoy this holiday above all others."
Kirk shrugged. "Yeah, free candy. That doesn’t mean I want my ten-year-old reading about blood sacrifices."
Spock disagreed. Knowledge, for better or worse, was sanctified. To limit a child’s knowledge was to limit his or her growth. "His understanding is beyond that of a human child."
"Vulcan or not, if it gave me the creeps, he’ll end up having nightmares."
"Vulcans do not dream. Our meditative rituals serve the purpose of sorting our subconscious and ordering thought."
Kirk shook his head in dismissal and took another sip of coffee. "Are we still on for the party?"
Spock returned his attention to his datapad. "It is unlikely that I will be able to attend. The sensor calibrations are at a critical stage and will need close monitoring through the night."
"Forget the party then. I don’t really have a costume anyway. But you should see Sonak dressed up. We’ll come by the lab."
"I am amenable to that compromise."
Leaning back against the counter, Kirk threw Spock a smile over the rim of his mug. He let his eyes rove his husband’s form. The long black tunic and slim black pants made Spock’s lithe frame seem longer.
Feeling the caress of Jim’s eyes, Spock could no longer concentrate on his journal article. He set the pad down, a decisive movement that aroused a flicker of excitement from across the room. Holding tight to his passive manner, he regarded Jim and said, "You are attempting to seduce me."
Eyes alight with mischief, Kirk returned, "Now why would I do that?"
Spock stood in a slow, measured movement. Jim’s excitement rolled against his mind. He took a moment to push the chair back into place. He moved with calm grace, betraying none of the desire that burned through him. He plucked the mug from Jim’s hands and set it aside before crowding the man against the counter’s edge.
Kirk tilted his head back, but made no move to touch Spock. He gripped the counter with his hands in silent declaration.
"You are a beguiling creature," Spock said, staring intently into bright blue eyes that seemed to laugh. Warmth radiated off Jim’s body. His hands itched to slide over the sculpted contours of his husband’s form and absorb the heat that humans carried around in excess.
"You gonna kiss me or do I have to show you how it’s done?"
Nostrils flaring at the challenge, Spock descended with almost violent enthusiasm. Hands molded to slim hips, he pulled Jim flush against him and devoured lush lips.
Kirk covered Spock’s hands with his own, tangling their fingers together.
"Father, Sa-mehk," an impassive voice interrupted from the kitchen doorway. "Shall I return upstairs while you continue your amorous and inappropriate display? Or may I request breakfast?"
The mood was effectively killed. Face buried against Spock’s neck, Kirk laughed. "He said amorous and inappropriate."
Barely managing to suppress the flush of green that began to creep up his neck, Spock said, "In the future we will uphold a greater awareness of our surroundings."
Kirk wore a sly grin when he asked Sonak, "What do you want to eat?"
Sonak took a seat opposite his sa-mehk. Though capable of programming the synthesizer on his own, his sa-mehk had explained that his father took pleasure in preparing his meals. "Khek and theris-masu, please."
Kirk frowned at this. Always Vulcan cuisine, always something that had to be synthesized because the ingredients weren’t easily obtained anywhere but the Vulcan colony. "What about waffles or pancakes?" he suggested with a hint of exasperation.
Sonak looked to his sa-mehk for guidance. The older Vulcan remained invested in the contents of his datapad, though the stillness of his eyes betrayed that he was not actually reading. "Either would be acceptable," he said. When his father smiled, satisfaction threatened to curl his lips in the same manner.
Kirk jumped into action. His first task on Earth had been to shop for groceries. Shore leave meant real food.
Spock discarded all pretense and set his reading aside to observe his husband. The man dashed to and fro with the same organized chaos that Jim exemplified on the bridge.
Kirk had a tendency to carefully measure ingredients only to alter the recipe by adding a little more or less. Sometimes he added ingredients that weren’t even called for.
A sweet scent filled the air at the hiss of steam from a device Kirk had identified as a waffle iron.
Sonak clutched his stomach when it gave an audible rumble. His cheeks shaded green.
"Almost ready," Kirk called over his shoulder. He set out syrup, butter, and powdered sugar. Finally, he plated two large round waffles and slid it in front of his son.
"It is orange," Sonak observed.
"For Halloween," Kirk said.
Spock watched his son prepare his dish, sampling the syrup before plying the waffles with it.
After his first bite, Sonak realized he was the target of his parents’ intent focus. He looked to them and tilted his head in silent question.
"Your father is seeking a compliment as recompense," said Spock.
Sonak regarded his father, eyes traveling up and down. "Your clothing flatters your physique."
Arm braced on the counter, Kirk doubled over and laughed until he lost his breath. The sight of two confused faces only set him off again. When he finally managed to calm down, he approached Sonak and said, "First of all, never listen to your sa-mehk again. He understands less than he thinks he does. Second, thank you. And third, I just wanted to know if you liked the waffles."
Sonak’s gaze flickered between his parents and his waffles. "Though the nutritional value is questionable, it is pleasing to my palate."
Kirk planted a sound kiss to the top of Sonak’s head. "My favorite Vulcan," he declared, throwing Spock a smirk.
Spock straightened at this. He had spoken to Jim about favoring their son so deliberately.
Head bowed, Sonak struggled not to fidget. He had the irrational urge to apologize to the older Vulcan, but a lick of satisfaction coursed through him at his human father’s declaration. There were times when he felt displaced after he observed his father and sa-mehk interact. His arrival in the kitchen served as a prime example. The two men had been wholly involved in each other, oblivious to his presence upstairs. He couldn’t help but wonder if they begrudged his intrusion into their lives. It had been five years since his adoption.
Smirk still in place, Kirk rounded the table and leaned over Spock’s shoulder. He linked his arms around the Vulcan’s neck and pressed his lips to a pale temple. "I guess that makes you my favorite husband."
"I would argue that I am your only husband and therefore inherently hold your favor as such."
"Some days more than others," said Kirk.
"Illogical," Spock concluded. He felt Jim’s affection wrap around him like warm vapor, sinking into every fiber of his being. He was loved, of that he had no doubt.
Lips close to Spock’s ear, Kirk asked, "Do you want a waffle?"
Sonak would not look up from his plate. He was uncomfortable with such an open display of affection. He had been raised to follow the traditional Vulcan precept of physical reservation. He would always carry those years with him, remembering his biological parents even as he grew closer to Kirk and Spock.
"I have already eaten," Spock answered.
"A grape fruit does not equal a meal. I made too much batter anyway. Do you have time?"
Minutes later, Spock stared down at his grid patterned meal. "It is green," he observed in the exact manner as his son.
"Sonak, have you seen my glasses?" Kirk called up the stairs.
The sound of giggles filtered down, then Uhura’s excited command, "Sonak, we’re not done. Christine, grab him."
Kirk became concerned that his son was being held hostage by Uhura and Chapel.
From out of sight, Sonak replied, "I have not, Father. Perhaps they are atop your head, where they have been found on past occasions."
Patting his head, Kirk felt only his hair. "I’m coming up to check," he called ahead of himself.
"No, Kirk!" Uhura snapped.
Kirk mounted the top step in time to see the bathroom door slam shut. He rapped his knuckles on the door and reminded, "No makeup. He doesn’t want it no matter what you’ve coerced him into agreeing to."
"Go away," was Uhura’s only response.
Rolling his eyes, Kirk moved down the hall to his bedroom. He found his reading glasses on his nightstand. The thick black frames were perfect for his last minute costume. He didn’t know for certain if he’d be stopping by the party in Cochrane hall, but at least he’d be prepared.
Ten minutes later, Kirk had made himself comfortable in an armchair in the living room. He browsed the latest updates on his silver beauty. He was leery about replacing the synthesizer food slots with replicators. Replicators were largely untested on an industrial level. He debated back and forth with himself, too distracted to hear Uhura’s come down the stairs.
"Jim?" Uhura intoned from the bottom step.
Kirk set his datapad aside. "Living room," he said, leaning forward to peer around the archway that led to the front hall and stairway.
Uhura looked back upstairs and waved forward whoever was at the top. "Come on, he’s in the living room." She scurried out of the way and dashed for her purse that hung beside the front door.
Sonak descended slowly, careful not to catch his cloak on anything. He was equal parts embarrassed and nervous over what his father would say. Beneath it all, he was ashamed that he could not control his emotions better.
Uhura had a camera trained on the young Vulcan. Kirk watched as the small figure turned on the landing way. The first Vulcan vampire.
Black suit pants and vest gave the costume a formal edge. Beneath the vest, Sonak wore a white dress shirt that had a pearly sheen. A cream colored ascot bloomed from the dipping neck of the vest. An emerald broach pinned his cloak in place near the hollow of his throat. The cloak itself fell a bare inch above the floor. Its dark green velveteen lining had a way of bringing out the faint greenish hue to his skin. His polished shoes clicked as he walked across the wood floor into the living room.
Kirk’s smile crinkled his eyes. No make up, but Sonak’s naturally pale skin gave an otherworldly quality that couldn’t be fabricated. The boy’s dark eyes were impenetrable. His hair smoothed back and glossy. The elegant sweep of his ears and eyebrows was regal.
"He looks amazing, doesn’t he?" Chapel said, standing near the banister.
Sonak glanced at the two women and then back at his father.
"Wow," Kirk said. He knelt in front of Sonak and pulled the cloak closed to see how it looked. "You look the part. A true count."
Sonak bowed his head. "It is adequate then?"
It wasn’t until Sonak spoke that Kirk caught sight of the twin fangs modestly distended from the neat row of top teeth. The porcelain caps were easily removed, but surprisingly sturdy. "Better than adequate, kiddo. Wait ‘til Spock sees you."
"Sa-mehk has professed this ritual to be illogical."
"That doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate how awesome you look." Seeing Sonak dressed up, Kirk realized how truly out of character it was for the boy. "Are you sure you’re okay with this?"
"You don’t have to go trick-or-treating."
"I have already donned the costume you procured for this very occasion."
Kirk indulged in a brief touch and cupped Sonak’s cheek. "Kiddo, you know you don’t have to do anything to make me happy. I’d be happy staying in for the night. If you’d rather be with Spock in the labs, I won’t be disappointed."
"I confess, I am curious about the practice of receiving confections from strangers. It seems contradictory to how humans generally instruct their young and yet it is expected of children one night out of each year."
"You’re making this a hands on study?"
"An adequate interpretation."
Far be it from Kirk to argue with a Vulcan on a quest of anthropological study. "I put your pillowcase on your desk," he said. "Grab it and we can go."
While Sonak made his way upstairs, Kirk approached Uhura and Chapel. "Thank you. He looks great."
"Where’d you find his costume?" Uhura asked, packing her camera away.
"Rand knew a place that does special orders, more for films and theatre."
Chapel shrugged into her coat. "Are you meeting Len and his daughter?"
Kirk darted a glance up the stairs to see if Sonak was coming back yet. "Yeah. Sonak gets along with Joanna."
Most of Sonak’s friends were his classmates on Vulcan whom he’d never met in person, only interacted with via live video feeds. There were only a handful of children aboard the Enterprise, none of them Vulcan like Sonak. Shore leave on Earth left the boy without any companions, save for Joanna.
Chapel eyed the captain’s grey sweater vest and snug jeans. "Is that supposed to be a costume?"
Kirk looked down at himself. "I’m a geek… or nerd, whichever is politically correct these days. Bookworm, maybe?" To give her the full effect, he dropped his glasses into place, eyes appearing owlishly large.
"You look like something out of a Calvin Kline catalogue for men’s sweater vests."
Uhura gave Chapel a look that told the woman not to inflate their captain’s ego.
"They could make a comeback," Kirk argued.
Dark eyes skimming Kirk, Uhura suggested, "Wear your academy uniform. Be a cadet." That seemed like the go-to item that people would at least recognize.
"Tried that already," Kirk said. He thought back to when he’d scrounged through the duffle Rand had sent him. He’d had the red uniform on when Spock had found him to say goodbye. The uniform hadn’t survived the encounter.
"Did it fit?" Chapel asked, a knowing look in her eye. Dr. McCoy was always harping at the captain about his diet.
"Of course it fit," Kirk said. He wasn’t going to admit that it now lay in shreds. "But I’ve always hated the high collar."
Onto part 2/2>>
By four o’clock, the sun was already low on the horizon. Clouds dappled an otherwise blue sky, but a wall of grey in the west edged closer. The bay air had a faint tang, heavier than the air Kirk had grown up with.
Kirk held a jean jacket in the crook of his elbow. He enjoyed the way the leaves crunched underfoot. Beside him, Bones burrowed deeper into a thin lab coat, the scrubs beneath were little help.
McCoy watched the gaggle of hens Joanna called friends surrounding Sonak. He leaned close to Jim and said, "I don’t know how he did it, but your kid managed to shut those girls up. It’s been non-stop giggling since I said Jo could have her friends up for the weekend."
Ahead of them, Joanna asked Sonak what he’d gotten from the last house.
"My guess is, Jo has a crush," Kirk said.
Within the group of six, Sonak stood out like an ink stain. Apart from being the only Vulcan among five humans, he was also the only boy and a full head taller than the others. Between turquoise sequins, neon taffeta, and bubble gum pink gowns, Sonak was comparatively underdressed.
Despite the occasional outburst of laughter when the kids trooped up the stairs, the clutter of color remained unnaturally quiet around Sonak.
The girls had tittered at the sight of Sonak before all going mute at the same time. They communicated with nudges and pointed looks, all vying for a place right next to the boy. Sonak’s apparent disinterest only encouraged them. Though with each house, it seemed they became more willing to speak to him. Joanna was the only one capable of saying a full sentence without going red in the face.
"The hell she does," McCoy hissed.
"Sonak looks awesome," Kirk said as if that explained everything.
"He’s ten, not Don Juan."
"He’s a Kirk and a Vulcan and tonight he’s a vampire. Those are three of the most attractive things known to mankind."
"Christ, can you hear yourself?"
A laughing Kirk reasoned, "Look at it this way, if Jo wants to date Sonak, you’ll never have to worry about him ruining her honor."
McCoy opened his mouth to argue, but realized that Jim was right. Then again, any child of Jim’s couldn’t be trusted. He settled for a glare.
A group of older kids on the other side of the street raced from one house to the next. The sound caught Kirk’s attention. He studied the distorted masks and fake blood. Sonak’s paper came to mind.
"Sonak finished his report yesterday," Kirk said.
"You still got him writing those things?"
Kirk shrugged. "It helps him understand." Unlike Spock, Sonak had never had any interaction with humans prior to his adoption. The culture clash had made for a rocky start. "Anyway, I’m starting to wonder how much of Halloween is real. With what we’ve seen on new planets, I wouldn’t be surprised if vampires existed on Earth."
Eyebrows inching into his hairline, McCoy asked, "You drunk?"
"Read his report, then ask if I’m drunk."
"I wouldn’t take what any ten-year-old wrote as gospel." Joanna was almost ten and her latest piece of creative writing had been a rant on the how talented the lead singer of some godforsaken boy band was and why McCoy should buy her tickets to his next concert.
McCoy’s deep voice caught Sonak’s attention. He directed his focus from Joanna’s complaint about a box of raisins to his father’s reply.
"It doesn’t matter how hold he is, he’s still one of the smartest people I know," Kirk said. Oblivious to the way that Sonak had gone still, he added, "And I’m surrounded by geniuses on a daily basis."
McCoy made a rolling motion with his hand and gestured to the street around them. Fake cobwebs, carved pumpkins, and ruined bed sheets captured the essence of Halloween in a nutshell. "Ghosts stories. That’s all this day has ever been."
Shaking his head, Kirk fished his phone from his pocket and tapped away at the screen. "I’m sending you the report. Don’t bother calling me when you can’t get to sleep tonight."
"You’re serious," McCoy said, throwing the man an assessing look. "Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe any of it. Where I’m from, you respect stories ‘cause you know there’s a grain of truth in them." That didn’t mean most of the decorations weren’t tacky as hell.
As they approached the next house, the girls rushed forward to a large candy bowl that had been placed on the porch with a note that read: "TAKE ONE."
Sonak stayed behind and faced his father. "I regret that my findings troubled you," he said.
Kirk’s surprise was fleeting. He pocketed his phone and pretended to adjust the broach on Sonak’s cloak. "No, kiddo. Don’t worry about it." He gave the broach a gentle tug. It was the closest approximation to a hug he could give. "It just made me think, which is always a good thing." He still planned to talk with Spock about drawing a line on what information they allowed Sonak to access.
Delighted screams rent the air before Sonak could reply. Joanna bounded down the steps, pink gown hiked to her knees. Her friends were close behind. The candy bowl had been a lure. A black robed figure stood at the top step, hunched and growling.
Kirk and McCoy waved to the man, who promptly straightened and returned the gesture. "Happy Halloween!" the figure called out pleasantly.
"Same to you," McCoy called back.
The girls laughed over the encounter while Sonak eyed his father one last moment before they headed off to the next house.
With no set path, the group meandered down streets that looked promising. Sonak continued to win the girls’ favor when he proved unflappable. Residents jumped out from behind bushes or sat limp on chairs pretending to be stuffed scarecrows. The girls squealed with frightened delight, but Sonak simply tilted his head as if confused by the attempt. It came to the point where if the girls thought a house looked suspicious, they gathered behind Sonak and followed him.
At the sight of McCoy’s rented townhouse, Joanna pleaded with her father to go around the block once more.
"We’ve already been to half these houses," McCoy pointed out. "We can cross the street and go down to the end, but then we’re done."
Despite dragging feet, the group soon found themselves back in front of McCoy’s. Joanna and company fretted over the blown out candles in the pumpkins.
"Dad, someone blew out the candles."
"The wind got to it. I’ll relight it in a minute. Take the ladies inside and put on one of the movies we ordered."
Joanna was almost inside before she remembered Sonak. She turned and waved the boy up the stoop. "Sonak, come on. We’re gonna watch a scary movie and make popcorn."
Sonak inclined his head. "Thank you for the invitation, Miss McCoy, but I must decline."
Crestfallen, Joanna asked, "How come?"
"I have yet to complete my study of the trick-or-treating ritual. Furthermore, I intend to visit my sa-mehk at the academy."
"You sure you guys don’t wanna hang out for a bit?" McCoy asked Jim.
After double-checking the time, Kirk said, "Between walking to the academy and then walking back home, it’ll take at least an hour. I want to be home before it gets too dark."
"Scared of the dark now, are you?"
"Shut it," Kirk said with a smile. "Later, Bones. Bye, Joanna."
"Happy Halloween!" Joanna called. She offered Sonak the Vulcan ta’al.
Sonak returned the gesture. "Live long and prosper."
McCoy ushered Joanna inside and threw a wave over his shoulder before closing the door.
Kirk set a hand on Sonak’s shoulder and directed the boy to start walking. "They were an excited crowd, but you seemed okay." He let his hand fall away, wistful at the loss. So many concessions had to be made, but he made them on a daily basis. Even as he denied himself the indulgence of hugging his own son, he would never regret a single moment. Sonak had made concessions of his own. Like dressing up for Halloween to please an all too human father.
Sonak stared at the ground while contemplating a reply. "Miss McCoy has always been emotional in her manner. I expected similar displays from her friends. Sa-mehk foresaw the need for a strongly guarded mind and aided my meditations prior to his departure."
A half smile curled one side of Kirk’s mouth. "They liked you," he said. He bit his lip when Sonak’s next step was a near stumble.
Sonak turned, eyes slightly widened. "Please clarify."
"They liked you," Kirk repeated, and then elaborated, "They thought you were cool, that your costume was great. They think you’re fun to be around."
"I see," Sonak said, eyes lowered in thought. Was his acceptance among human peers so easily acquired? He felt pleased with himself, but quickly remembered his goal. "My aim was not to incur the favor of Miss McCoy and her schoolfellows. I endeavor to better my understanding of this holiday’s rituals."
"Of course," Kirk agreed. "Nothing to it but collecting information."
"Alright then, get to collecting. Next house is on the corner." Kirk gestured down the sidewalk and strolled past his son. Sonak caught up and matched his pace.
As they wound their way toward campus, the street blocks became more industrial. The alleyways were darker and deeper; the stretches between houses longer and quieter. Every so often, Kirk caught a drift of laughter from trick-or-treaters farther up the street or around the corner, but the night seemed to hold its breath in silence.
He slid his jacket on and set his hands in the pockets to keep warm. On the sidewalk, he rocked on the balls of his feet to keep moving. A short distance away, Sonak stood on a porch, patiently waiting for someone to answer the bell.
Something shifted in Kirk’s periphery. He glanced over, expecting to see someone walk past. The stretch of sidewalk was empty. He dismissed the stray movement. It had probably been the rim of his glasses. He pushed them to the top of his head, giving his sad excuse for a costume up for lost.
The clopping of heavy steps on cement had Kirk turning again. There was a group farther down the street, but no one nearby. He frowned, eyes scouring the houses. People had begun turning their lights off. He couldn’t see far into the shadows. There was no movement inside any of the parked hovercars.
"Yeah?" Kirk said, still distracted by his search.
"What are you looking for?"
Sonak surveyed the street. "Indeed?"
Dismissing the noise, Kirk looked at his son and studied the darkened tint of Sonak’s eyelids. "You look tired," he said. "Think we should call it a night?"
"The aim is to collect as much candy as possible, is it not?" Sonak said, eyes measuring the remaining space in his bag. "To conclude the evening at this juncture fails to incorporate the remaining two point four hours left until midnight."
"Midnight, huh? You think you can make it that long?" It hadn’t escaped Kirk’s notice that his son had been staying up late the past week in a bid to finish the report. He didn’t care how much sleep Vulcans required, everyone was susceptible to exhaustion.
"I am certain of it."
Sonak’s voice was an exact imitation of Spock. Kirk knew which parent had the heavier influence when his ten-year-old used words that forced him consult a dictionary. "A little longer," he said. It was already later than he’d intended to stay out. He dared to hope that Sonak was actually having fun.
An hour and another neighborhood later, Sonak was a walking zombie. Most of the bay area residents had turned their lights off already. Kirk called an end to the night when Sonak yawned.
"That’s more than enough for one night. You’re not even going to eat the candy."
"It lacks nutritional value."
Kirk guided Sonak across the intersection. There was little traffic, but he wasn’t taking any chances on a night when beer kegs were in high demand.
The campus was marked by a fenced perimeter. The tall brick wall was a concession to local aesthetics. Kirk used a side entrance, knowing that cadets would be milled near the main gates. At the ID checkpoint, he fed his chip to the machine. Sonak swayed, not quite managing to stand still. Kirk doubted if the boy could make it across campus.
When console spit his chip out, he reached to collect it. His hand stilled, followed by the rest of his body. A cold prick of unease surfaced along the back of his neck. Someone was watching him.
Calmly, he slid his chip back in his pocket. When the gate opened, he ushered Sonak through, heedless of his grip on the boy’s shoulder. Once on the other side, he crouched in front of the boy. He motioned with his hand and said, "Give me the loot."
Sonak complied without argument, yet another sign that he was ready to keel over.
Kirk tied the opening in a loose knot, tugging to make sure it was secure. "Okay, now come here." He held his arms open.
"I’ll carry you."
"My legs have not ceased to function properly."
"Be that as it may, come here."
Sonak heard the sterner edge to his father’s voice and complied. He moved closer until he bumped into the man. Strong arms wrapped around him, braced above the back of his knees and around his shoulders.
"Just lay against me," Kirk instructed. "Kup tu kal yuk-tor." [You can sleep.]
The suggestion seemed impractical to Sonak, but he revised his opinion when he leaned forward and found the perch of his father’s shoulder.
Kirk stared intently at every shadow and recess near the gate. Tall streetlights lit the footpath and nearby dormitory. Security wasn’t exactly high by military standards. Starfleet Academy was a school, not a barracks outpost. Cadets came and went.
The shadows didn’t move and Kirk wanted to laugh at himself for expecting them to. One too many away missions gone awry had tainted his judgment. He didn’t doubt that someone had been watching him outside the gate, but any number of cadets could’ve been nearby. It could have been someone sitting idle in a car or someone glancing out the window. There were endless possibilities, though none of them eased the chill along his neck.
Kirk kept to the path even when it detoured. Sonak slept, arms tucked close and head propped on his left shoulder. The dead weight made him walk at a slight tilt. Inch for inch, Vulcans were heavier than humans. If there was one thing he’d imagined about having a dad, it was that his dad would always be able to carry him no matter how big he got. Smiling at the thought, he adjusted his grip on Sonak and relished the puff of air and cold nose against his neck. Having Sonak this close was a rare treat. He wished the occasion hadn’t been marred by his continued unease.
The pathway threaded past the engineering building and Science A. Science B was a geometric structure of metal and glass. The bubble curve of the sensor lab’s roof wasn’t visible from Kirk’s current vantage, but from a distance it looked like an observatory. The unlit windows on the ground floor reflected orbs of the lights on the walkway. The windows on the higher levels were a wet onyx color that reflected the grey night sky. No stars, no moon.
The trot up the stairs jostled Sonak awake. "Kup im’roi nash-veh," he murmured. [I am able to walk] His cloak kept him sufficiently warm, but the heat that radiated from his father was impossible to resist. The Enterprise was never warm enough. Earth was not warm enough. Held against his father, he remembered the strength of Vulcan’s sun and sensation of fine sand skimming through his fingers.
"Go back to sleep," Kirk said, tracing his thumb over the nape of Sonak’s neck. By the time he reached the doors and input his code, the boy was asleep again.
The air inside was warm and sterile. The building had closed for the night, lights turned off and the opening hours posted on the front desk’s console.
Kirk had nothing to guide him except the soft red glow of EXIT signs and ambient light that filtered in from outside.
There was a shrill beep in the distance, the sound of the security panel on the door denying access. When a full minute passed and the door didn’t beep again, he continued.
He took the next stairwell down to the ground floor and navigated the cement-paved corridor. Exposed pipes ran along the ceiling. The red auxiliary lights had him squinting to see the numbered markers on the doorways. Every so often, he thought he heard the tread of someone behind him, only to dismiss the sound as his own footsteps echoing back.
Captions from Sonak’s paper flitted through his head. Werewolves, vampires, and reanimated corpses. Similar myths on planets lightyears from their own corroborated all the stories.
The shadows seemed to stretch along the walls, trailing after his steps. He chose that moment to remember Jack the Ripper, the mass murdering entity that had jumped from body to body on Argellius II. There were other aliens like Jack in the universe, creatures labeled as poltergeists and demons. Creatures that fed on death.
Lost in thought, Kirk nearly missed the lab door. He backtracked and hastily pressed the release on the side panel. He hurried inside before the door had opened fully.
The lab was a brightly lit cavern with a ceiling that arched four stories. In the center, a giant sensor extended up through the ceiling.
The sight of Spock’s lithe frame bent over a long console loosened the tension in Kirk’s spine. His unease vanished, replaced with embarrassment. He hadn’t been this jumpy on Halloween since he was twelve and spent the night in the barn’s loft on a dare. Scotty would have said he had a healthy respect for the occasion. Spock would have deferred to logic and judged his own to be unsound.
"Hey stranger," Kirk called out. He walked over, eyes sweeping Spock with interest.
Spock snapped to attention. "Jim," he said, an edge of surprised pleasure in his tone. "I did not anticipate your arrival. Given the late hour, I presumed you retired for the night."
It took Spock a moment to realize that the bundled form in Jim’s arms was their son. His mouth twitched before settling back into a level line.
Kirk studied the readouts on the panel. "Have you hit three parsecs without losing the signal’s integrity yet?" His eyes flashed over lines of data, discerning only the bare minimum.
Poised to answer, Spock’s reply never came. Something in Jim’s demeanor caught his attention and made him look closer. He lowered his shields and attuned his mind.
A sidelong glance revealed a strange expression on Spock’s face. Kirk straightened beneath the Vulcan’s scrutiny. "What?" he asked. He felt a familiar presence in his head.
"You are frightened," Spock observed, his confusion conveyed by the furrow of his brow.
Eager to dismiss his neurotic behavior, Kirk said, "I was a little too caught up in my head." Frightened was too strong a word. He preferred to think of it as being spooked by an overactive imagination. He had imagined someone following him and the movement of shadows. Snippets from Sonak’s paper and his experiences on past missions had congealed together.
Thoughts adrift, Kirk failed to register Spock’s movement. He gave a small start when a hand touched his cheek.
The crease between Spock’s eyebrows deepened. "Are you frightened of me?" he queried, his voice sharp. He could feel the icy coil of anxiety wrapped around Jim’s mind.
"God no," Kirk said as he set the candy bag on the nearest chair. He took Spock’s hand and squeezed it gently. "It’s called jumping at your own shadow."
Kirk cast a glance over his shoulder. The closed door simply sat. There was nothing menacing about it, no apparent threat contained behind the steel barrier. When he turned back to Spock, he explained, "It’s nothing. I thought there might have been someone. I’m getting paranoid." He wouldn’t have been the first captain to succumb to paranoia.
Spock stalked across the room and jammed the door’s release button. He held it open and he stepped into the hall, eyes scouring left and right. "Was someone following you? Have you contacted the authorities?"
"Relax. No one’s out there."
"I have never known you to ‘jump at your shadow.’ You have keen instincts. It would be prudent to contact the campus police." Spock swept back inside the lab.
"Or we could just head home. Sonak fell asleep, so there’s no point in wasting more of your time. When will you be back?"
Though Spock clearly had more work to do, he collected his coat and began filing things away. "I will escort you."
"You have work."
Spock sat for a moment, processing the sensor’s shut down and storing the data. He didn’t look up when he spoke. "My work can wait. I will escort you."
"Spock, it’s fine."
Spock took in the sight of his husband. He saw every detail. Soulful blue eyes, their child held close, and glasses askew in wayward hair. "I will accompany you home whether you agree or not," he said.
"Okay," Kirk conceded, frowning around the lab. Spock’s work was important. He hitched Sonak higher in his hold. The boy stirred for a moment before settling.
Spock studied Sonak’s sleeping face. He understood the comfort of Jim’s embrace, the warmth of the man. At night, he kept Jim close, absorbing heat. Ambient temperatures on Earth and the ship were never warm enough. It was little wonder that Sonak slept easy in Jim’s arms.
Spock retrieved the bulging pillowcase and eyed it with curiosity before he remembered himself. He set a hand on the small of Jim’s back and guided the man out of the lab. Once in the corridor, he settled his hand on the dip of Jim’s hip, ignoring the scowl thrown his way.
The shadows seemed thinner now, more transparent. Kirk could hear Bones laughing at him already.
By the time they were outside, Kirk felt the need to say something. But before he could speak a flash of light went off. The flash repeated. Spock’s grip tightened on his waist at the approach of a cameraman.
"Captain Kirk!" the stranger shouted unnecessarily. Camera still snapping away, a man wearing cadet reds approached. "How do you account for the failed treaty with Crenshaw? How do you explain that while the Federation faces escalating attacks from the Romulan Empire, you’re out trick-or-treating?"
Kirk almost felt sorry for the guy. The man didn’t have a chance to protest before he tumbled to the ground. A nerve pinch was a hell of a move.
Spock retrieved the camera and studied it before deleting its content.
"Get his name," Kirk said.
"The camera is registered to a magazine publication." Though it was overkill, Spock took satisfaction in twisting the camera until it shattered.
Kirk gestured to the prone form. "Check his back pocket."
Spock produced an ID chip and read the name off. Kirk filed it away for later. With the right skill set, it was amazing how much damage a person could do with nothing more than someone’s name.
Kirk’s earlier suspicions hadn’t been unfounded. Any vindication he might have felt was buried beneath his annoyance at having not caught the guy himself. It was doubtful that the man was an actual cadet. Going to such lengths for pictures and a headline wasn’t unheard of.
"He will not regain consciousness for approximately twenty-two minutes. Nevertheless, there remains the possibility that he did not come here alone. I suggest we vacate the premises."
Kirk didn’t realize that he was stroking Sonak’s hair until Spock reached out and touched the back of his hand.
"Sonak is safe," Spock said.
With a stiff nod, Kirk dropped his hand. "I know."
Spock called for a cab, which would arrive by the time they reached the gate.
Shoulder to shoulder, the couple made their way in relative silence. Spock remained alert, head swiveling to scan the area.
Spock’s overprotective tendencies had paid off. Kirk had a feeling the Vulcan would never let him forget it. "You better not be smug about this when we get home."
The use of ‘captain’ said it all. The next time Kirk tried to refuse Spock’s help, the Vulcan would remind him of the time that help had been needed.
"Sonak’s down," Kirk said as he crossed the room to the dresser.
Seated on the bed, propped against the headboard, Spock kept his head bowed over his datapad. Through lowered lashes, he observed the snug fit of Jim’s jeans. He waited for the man to strip.
Kirk rifled through the drawer for a pair sweatpants. It wasn’t until he’d already donned the pants and ducked into a ratty t-shirt that he turned around and found dark eyes watching his every move. Dark eyes bored through his clothes.
Kirk clambered onto the bed and laughed when Spock set his datapad aside with an uncharacteristic clatter. Suddenly on his back with the firm press of his husband’s body between his legs, he met eager lips with a smile.
"I desire intercourse," Spock said, direct as ever.
Kirk would never grow accustomed to hearing what amounted to dirty talk for Vulcans. "Fine by me," he said and hitched his legs higher to hug narrow hips.
Tongue exploring the searing recess of Jim’s mouth, Spock’s eyes fluttered shut. Nimble fingers slipped the loose band of Jim’s sweatpants and boxer shorts down. He kneaded the exposed flesh, pulling the cheeks apart and gliding a finger along the cleft. He grazed the puckered entrance to make his intentions known.
Arching into Spock’s hold, Kirk began to tug his shirt off. He had one arm free when a timid knock sounded at the bedroom door.
Both men tensed. Kirk scrambled to pull his pants up and shrugged out of Spock’s hold.
A spike of annoyance passed through Spock as he watched Jim cross the room and open the door for their son. Jealousy and resentment were misappropriated emotions. He dismissed his annoyance and set about calming his aching erection. Back turned, he took several meditative breaths and willed his blood to cool. Lust lapped at the back of his mind, but he contained it.
Kirk didn’t need to will his erection away. Just thinking that Sonak was on the other side of the door was like a cold shower. He took a moment to make sure his clothes were in place before he opened the door. It was impossible not to fidget when he felt certain Sonak knew exactly was he and Spock had been up to.
"Hey, kiddo," he said, a little stilted. "What’s wrong?"
Sonak did not answer immediately. Instead, he stared at the floor and studied his father’s bare feet. How did he explain his unease over sleeping alone? How did he explain that when he stared at the shadows of his room they seemed to move? How did he explain that he had dreamt of glowing red eyes that chased him?
Concerned now, Kirk knelt. "Are you okay?"
Spock approached, standing behind Jim and searching for some sign of the boy’s distress.
When Sonak raised head and met his father’s worried gaze, he faltered over a fabricated explanation. He could feel his sa-mehk watching. Fear was illogical. He did not wish to shame his sa-mehk with the admission of dreams. "I am here to inquire after you, Father. You professed that my report was unsettling. I became concerned for your well being."
Perplexed by the cause of Sonak’s interruption, Spock said, "Your father is quite well."
"I’m scared," Kirk declared. "Terrified, actually."
Twin Vulcan gazes widened to stare with evident surprise. Spock recovered first, neutral mask falling into place.
"It might help if you slept in here tonight," Kirk reasoned. "I’d feel safer with someone else."
Spock’s eyebrows shot high. "I am present," he pointed out.
Kirk threw Spock a look that told him to stop being dense. "Two people then."
"Would my presence pose an unwelcome imposition, Sa-mehk?" Sonak asked, noting the hardness in the older Vulcan’s eyes.
Spock finally understood the backwards nature of the situation. Sonak was frightened, enough so to seek physical comfort. In the morning, he would discuss the importance of honesty over pride. It was illogical to hide one’s fears. Doing so encumbered one’s ability to process and overcome the fear. "I have no objections," he said.
Kirk moved aside and gestured to the bed. "Hop up."
Sonak clambered somewhat ungracefully onto the high mattress. He yanked at the comforter and settled beneath it, then turned a look of patient expectance on his fathers.
While Spock retreated to the bathroom to ready himself for sleep, Kirk slid in beside Sonak. Half sitting against the pillows, Kirk encouraged Sonak to lay his head on his stomach. He didn’t know whom he was indulging. If Sonak took comfort in his touch, then he took just as much comfort in giving it.
"Are you well, Father?" Sonak asked. He shifted until he was comfortable, his head nearer his father’s chest.
"I feel safer now," Kirk said. He began carding his fingers through Sonak’s hair, scratching gently. He pulled the blanket higher until it was over Sonak’s shoulder.
When Spock settled on his side of the bed, he extended his hand to Jim.
Kirk pressed a kiss to Spock’s fingers and smiled. "I love you," he whispered.
"And I, you."
Noting how Spock watched him brush Sonak’s hair, Kirk asked, "Want me to pet your hair too?" He gave a teasing smile.
A glint of laughter came to Spock’s eyes. "Sleep, ashayam. You are not as cute as you think you are."
Early the next morning, Kirk found Spock’s side of the bed vacant. Sonak lay in the center of the mattress with perfect form, as if he were at attention. Careful not to wake the boy, Kirk slid free of a tangled blanket and made his way to the bathroom.
A wide cubicle of fogged glass blurred Spock’s nude figure. Steam rose, sucked into the vent overhead. Water was a rare indulgence. Kirk knew the Vulcan was stressed, overworked even during shore leave. He had his own projects underway, but Spock was always an overachiever.
After locking the door, Kirk rifled through the cabinet above the sink. The noise caught Spock’s attention.
"Jim?" Spock queried, sliding the shower door open. The rush of cool air made the steam curl.
Thoughts stuttering to a halt, Kirk stared at the wet body in front of him. Black hair heavy with water framed Spock’s face and accentuated his high cheekbones. The peeks of pointed ears were flushed green from the warmth of the shower. The lines of muscle and sinew were sharp. Dark chest hair tapered off into a thin trail over toned abs.
Kirk held up a packet of lube. "Feel like finishing what we started last night?" The tip of Spock’s manhood descended from the apex of black curls over his groin. He watched as the penis slide from its sheath, expanding until it stood rigid and olive.
Spock’s chest heaved with a sharp inhale. Arousal flared through him. Jim’s mind and body made his every synapse vibrate with desire. The compulsion to touch and taste overwhelmed him. He took Jim by the arm and hauled him closer, careless that the man had yet to undress.
A demanding kiss forced Kirk’s mouth open. The shower’s spray soaked him through, his sweatpants clinging and sagging uncomfortably.
Spock stripped the wet garments and slung them away. They landed outside the shower with a sodden slop. He returned to Jim’s mouth, memorizing the shape of full sensual lips with his tongue.
Kirk shivered at the press of cold tile on his back. Spock wedged a thigh between his legs and snatched the packet from him.
Despite Spock’s eagerness, there was something contained about his actions. Kirk felt it in the way strong hands caressed his skin. Spock stroked his manhood, firm but gentle.
Spock broke away from Jim’s mouth, allowing the man to regain his breath. An unmarked neck became his focus. He suckled until color blossomed and dragged his teeth over the areas to inflame them.
"Spock," Kirk gasped, hands fisting into silky wet hair. The shower pelted against Spock’s back. The mist clouded everything and made each breath hotter than the last. He rocked against Spock’s thigh and groaned at the friction.
Hands on slim hips, Spock pulled Jim closer, away from the wall. With his husband’s body flush against him, he slid his hands over the slick skin of a muscle lean back. He followed the dip of Jim’s spine and edged lower. Gripping the fullness of Jim’s buttocks, he spread firm cheeks.
Kirk kissed his encouragement into Spock’s neck. He heard the crinkle of the packet being torn open. Slick fingers ghosted over his entrance.
As always, Spock was careful and controlled. He nudged gently and maintained a slow pace even when Jim’s body opened beautifully for him.
Impatient, Kirk clenched around sensitive fingers until Spock gave a strangled groan. Those fingers gave a sharp thrust, pressing deeper. He squeezed again.
Spock ground his erection against Jim’s thigh. He dragged his fingers out slowly and circled the opening before rubbing along the perineum. He shook with the effort to control himself.
Kirk drew the lobe of Spock’s ear into his mouth and said, "Aitlu nash-veh du svi’t’ak’shem. Lerash-uh." [I want you inside me. Hard.]
Spock grabbed lean thighs and spread them. He hitched Jim higher and pressed him into the corner of the shower. "Do not test my control," he admonished. Heavy breaths fell against the hollow of Jim’s throat. He breathed in the scent of the man.
Kirk could feel the slick erection pressed along his cleft. He rolled his hips against it.
Spock’s grip tightened until he dented delicate human skin. "Do not test me," he reiterated. His eyes were dark with warning.
"Then fuck me."
Spock teetered on the edge. He knew he should prepare Jim more. He shook his head, a purely human reflex that did nothing to dispel his lust. Regaining what little control he had left, he released his hold and set Jim down. Before he could resume his preparations, Jim turned around.
Hands braced on the wall, Kirk leaned forward. "I need you," he said over his shoulder. "Yontau plak t’nash-veh." [My blood burns.]
"Tempter," Spock hissed. He aligned himself with the offered entrance and forced his way inside. The single spearing thrust rocked Jim against the wall.
Crying out, Kirk’s fingers curled and scratched at the tiles for a better hold. Spock was seated deep. His body welcomed the fullness, squeezing around it.
"Such heat," Spock exclaimed. He began to move, losing all sense of self as he became absorbed in his other half.
Rough thrusts had Kirk clawing to stay upright. Spock resolved his problem by wrapping an arm around his chest. Secured in the Vulcan’s embrace, the thrusts came faster. His cock bobbed from the force, the glistening tip red with need. Spock’s hand splayed over his heart and plucked at his nipple. He came with a shout.
Thrusting faster and harder, Spock desperately sought his release. He rushed higher. The slap of their joining echoed around the narrow shower. He came, the force of his orgasm sucking him forward. Burst after burst of his seed filled his husband. Jim would drip with it.
Forehead pressed against the cool wall, Kirk caught his breath. Steam filled his lungs. When Spock slipped free, he felt the seep of semen run down his thighs. He spasmed around it, trying to keep it in.
Spock pressed a thumb to the swollen hole. He rubbed the area and watched his essence coat it. "Did I hurt you?" he asked. His voice tempered with control again.
Standing upright, Kirk turned around. "No," he assured. He wrapped his arms around Spock’s neck and gave his weight over to the Vulcan. Ready for bed again, he kissed Spock with languid enthusiasm.
Spock gathered Jim close. Their flaccid lengths touched, his own only half exposed. He chased Jim’s tongue from his mouth and lavished swollen lips.
The shower continued to beat down on them.
"I’m thinking pancakes for breakfast," Kirk said.
"Will they be colored?"
Spock squeezed his husband tighter when the man laughed. He kissed Jim again and tried to taste the enchanting sound.