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The thing about James Kirk, starship captain, three years into the Enterprise’s five-year mission, was that he was hopelessly in love with Mr. Spock.
 
Now, this wasn’t one of those terrible secrets, buried under layers and layers of good acting and careful nonchalance, because everyone on the Enterprise knew. This may have been because the crew of the Enterprise were all exceptionally bright and insightful individuals, but McCoy generally went with the theory that there was very little to do on a starship when not trying to overcome psychic control by the alien of the week, or worrying about imminent warp core breaches, and no one, no matter how highly-functioning they claimed to be, could ever resist a good piece of gossip. So, when crewmen weren’t speculating about just how close Sulu was to the sentient plants in his botany collection, or just why Ensign Corbuh had run from the mess halls, shivering and covering his genital pouch when his uppermost tentacle got gravy spilled on it, the personal lives of their two most high-ranking officers were waiting to be picked over once again.
 
The thing about James Kirk being hopelessly in love with the Commander was estimated to be known on three thousand, forty-two space-faring vessels, variously sized, two hundred and seventy-one worlds, including seventy-nine colony planets, belonging to various races, one hundred and seventeen Federation member planets, fourteen Klingon-allied planets, twenty-nine dilithium cracking stations, four large asteroids, two stars inhabited by the Federation Coalition of Energy Beings, and twenty-six planets claiming ‘neutral’ status, as well as every Starbase and space station in the alpha and beta quadrants, and the majority in the gamma, as well as the few in the delta. This estimate was completed by Ensigns Chekov, Osaka, Schneider, and Irma, with the assistance of Lieutenant Uhura of Communications. It had been a very, very slow week between crises. Captain Kirk had, of course, turned a very unconvincing blind eye to the study. And had most definitely not checked up on the results and done a very un-captainly face-palm.
 
Kirk knew that they knew, and they knew that he knew that they knew, and expansions thereof that could go on infinitely, but for reasons unknown, he chose to pretend that no such knowing occurred. It was with fierce determination that he pretended to have the hardest of hearing whenever the subject was discussed, whether it was overheard whisperings from the lower crewmen or an interventional talk from Leonard McCoy. Despite, or maybe because of, the fact that it was such widespread knowledge, without any acknowledgement from anyone that it could possibly be untrue, Kirk let none of the rumours affect his daily life. The content of the rumours, however, was an entirely different matter.
 
One uses the word ‘hopelessly’ in the context of amourousness rather differently than they would use it in another situation. However, from Kirk’s perspective, three years (and thirty-eight minutes, Spock would add) into the mission, he could say with no small amount of certainty that he was not hopelessly in love in the sense that it was pathetic, or desperate, or terrible, or completely encompassing of his person, but in the sense that took into account the original meaning of one of its component words. Hopeless. You see, there was this other thing, which unfortunately interfered with the thing about Kirk being in love with Spock, and that was his asking for dating advice.
                                                                                            
Ask the average Federation citizen, and they will tell you that Vulcans do not ‘date’. Ask Spock, and he’ll tell you that, indeed, Vulcans do not, as such, ‘date’. Spock, however, is in the habit of not telling the full truth, which Kirk would tell him does amount to lying. And Spock would disagree, and explain that giving people information about what Vulcans do is not misleading, because obviously anyone of intelligence could determine that he was half-Vulcan and therefore not subject to such restrictions, and he did not hide this information. Kirk would then tell him that trickery through semantics was generally not appreciated by humans, and the argument would go on for the next half-hour. The point, however, is this: while Vulcans, as a general rule, do not ‘date’, Spock most certainly did.
 
When the whole thing first started (and yes, it was a ‘thing’, most assuredly a thing, because Spock seems to have scheduled their little talks into his work week, each one lasting no longer than twenty-four point seven minutes, which Kirk did finally give in to timing, which qualified it for the designation ‘thing’, in Kirk’s mind) the soon to be hopelessly in love captain was only beginning to realize that there was something strange going on in his mind. Something strange that seemed to connect happiness with the presence of his First Officer. Unfortunately, before he could shove it to the back of his mind, ignore it as best he could, mislabel it in hopes that it would turn out to be less devastating than he was worried it would be, or otherwise deal with it in an emotionally unstable manner, he was hideously tricked into confronting it. Or, something.
 
 
If Kirk had placed a bet on how long it would take for the hostilities to cease between himself and Spock, he could have made a killing at two weeks, because the odds had been stacked against such a fast friendship. Not that any betting on the matter had occurred, because that would have been against Starfleet regulation (and its general moral code) and thus illegal. In any case, most people betting would have lost a great deal of money, because they would have taken into consideration the logic of the situation between the two men, and wouldn’t have blindly pulled a number out of a hat, like Lieutenant-Commander Kim of the USS Constellation (who, of course, had won nothing, because there had been no bet). There really wasn’t any logic to the connection between the two, at least none the common person could explain.
 
Of course, Kirk hadn’t placed any bets, and if he had, despite the fact that it would have been extremely unusual to bet on something involving oneself, and more unusual still to enter a pool that didn’t exist, he wouldn’t have put money down on a period of time somewhere between ‘when pigs fly’ and ‘never in a million years’, like a certain newly appointed CMO would have (or perhaps did, in an alternate dimension where the bet did exist), because somewhere between saving the goddamn world and landing back in San Francisco to an appropriately dreary drizzle, he had warmed up to Spock. He couldn’t help it. He warmed up to people extremely quickly.
 
Which was, of course, the problem.
 
Many people had trouble believing the rumour about Kirk and Spock because they couldn’t believe that James Kirk, interplanetary playboy, could every do something as stupid and endearing as fall in love. When twenty of their friends refused to talk about anything else, they would usually come around, but the skepticism was understandable. Misguided, but understandable.
 
This never, ever came up in one of Kirk and Spock’s weekly talks about ‘social conduct in the context of romantic and/or sexual interplay’, because Kirk decided that it was much, much easier to pretend that he was a ladies’ man and didn’t do stupid things like fall head over heels for a girl after knowing her for three hours, and proceed to make a fool of himself in front of his friends, because that wasn’t exactly something he was proud of. (And we won’t tell Kirk that in a few years, he could be doing the same thing, except this time it’ll be with an android named Rayna.
 
Although if we did, he could avoid a great deal of trouble, and a technically non-consensual mind-meld…)
 
The point is, Kirk fell hard for far too many people, and it was looking like Spock was the worst of them all. And of course, along with the head-over-heels in love thing, he was also closer to Spock than anyone in the universe, meaning that if he lost his friendship over some silly thing like having harboured intense feelings of a romantic nature for three years, he would likely lose his mind. And he’s not exaggerating. Dr. McCoy may have run a simulation.
 
So, he did what any hopelessly in love friend would do, and discussed the relative merits of Lieutenant-Commander Ross’ pan flute abilities over bowls of tomato soup, while trying to resist the urge to bash his head against the table. He must have made some sort of twitch towards the action, since Spock did look at him funny, and he was forced to give him one of his trademark grins, which his First Officer seemed to be mostly immune to. At least, immune in the ways that really mattered. They remained an important persuasive tool, along with the other varieties of facial expressions he had at his disposal.
 
Now, tonight’s dinner wasn’t much different than any other. Yes, the pressure inside of Kirk’s head felt like it was finally reaching a boiling point, but with careful control, he was able to keep up the appearance of being really very, very interested in Spock’s plans for lunch with Rachael Ross. And he was certainly not ready to run screaming from the room when Spock asked yet another question about the woman’s intentions when she said she did not want anything for her birthday.
 
“I was under the impression that a human’s date of birth was an event to be celebrated with the giving of gifts.” Spock sounded suitably confused, which was adorable, and Kirk shoved the impulse to grab his head and kiss him stupid into the box with all of the other impulses he really, really didn’t need. The box made signs of strain, since it was really, really damn full by then, but Kirk ignored it, and tried to explain to Spock what little he knew about the mind of the female of his species.
 
“Look, some girls say they don’t want anything when they do, and are testing you somehow, or want you to surprise them, but other girls actually don’t want anything, and get really pissed off when you don’t listen to them. So, I think your best bet is to make a nice dinner for her, because that could be a present, but it could just as easily not be… if things are looking good, you could always open a bottle of champagne.”
 
“I see.” Spock looked very much as if he did not, and even through the agony of giving the love of his life dating advice, Kirk couldn’t help but feel a little bit bad for the guy. Human females were confusing enough for human males; to a Vulcan, they must seem the height of illogic. Then again, the human males Spock had dated didn’t seem to be much better, since most of them had embraced the fact that Spock showed no emotion and decided that they would take that as an excuse to be uncommunicative and distant. And Kirk knew that Spock wasn’t in it just for the sex, although his First Officer had a much greater interest in that than he had expected. No, Spock seemed to want some sort of genuine mental connection, which Kirk knew he could offer him, if only… well, he didn’t quite know what, yet. It seemed to the very esteemed Captain of the USS Enterprise that the if only stage of his infatuation was going to last forever. He had enough experience to know that there was never one moment where confessions of love were just right, but he argued that some moments were more right than others. He was determined not to make any sort of move on a bad moment. And of course, this waiting had been going on for the better part of three years. Certainly the longest he’d ever pined over someone, since he usually fell in and out of love very quickly.
 
“Captain?” Kirk jerked himself out of his thoughts, an action he had near perfected into an art since this thing started. At least Spock called him Jim 60% of the time, which was a marked improvement over last year’s 35%.
 
“Oh, and, uh, if she asks you anything about her looking older, don’t say anything. Women like to feel like they look young, which, yes, I know, is illogical. With guys it doesn’t matter so much, but girls are usually pretty concerned about wrinkles and laugh lines and those kinds of things. Tell her she’s, I don’t know, as aesthetically pleasing as she was the day you met, or something. Just don’t tell her if she’s gained weight or has bags under her eyes, okay?”
 
“But she is not as aesthetically pleasing as she was the day we met.” Spock told Kirk, and he used all of his captainly discipline not to jump in the air with the force of his hopefulness. Which turned out to be a good thing, since Spock then said “She is much more aesthetically pleasing.” His heart would have fallen a lot farther had he let it leap into his throat, so it was a very good thing that hadn’t happened. Totally hadn’t happened. Kirk never ever read too much into things Spock said, because that’s what teenaged girls did. And, he supposed, teenaged boys. Maybe twenty-somethings, sometimes. Definitely not himself.
 
“Hmm.” he said, because he couldn’t think of anything else; it was an extremely sweet thing to say, but, as usual, it was about the wrong person. “You know, you just might have something there. Say that. You know, if the opportunity arises.”
 
“I shall think about this. Thank you, Jim.”  And Kirk smiled, and was pretty sure Spock didn't know about the million kinds of smile all smushed onto his face, probably just saw the human facial expression signifying happiness and left it at that, which is totally fine, because Spock didn't need to know anything else about him, even though that’s what Kirk has wanted for way too damn long. No, no, him knowing more about the smile would mean he knew too much about what Kirk was in his presence, and that would mean nothing good, unless it was the right time, of course, and he was single. Spock was most definitely not single, not if he was asking about what to do about Rachael Ross’s birthday. Nope. Not a chance.
 
Spock took Kirk’s smile as his cue to leave, and did so, leaving Kirk to resist the urge to bang his head into the wall. The one time he hadn’t resisted had not ended well for his forehead. McCoy had almost refused to remove the scar.
 
*****
 
The Enterprise was running a bit low on moral. Kirk wasn’t even thinking about parties when Lieutenant Uhura brought the subject up, instead following the trend of wallowing in misery over the outcome of their last first contact, which, to put it most mildly, had not gone well. However, when Uhura did suggest they put a little something together for the lull between Halloween and the variety of mid-winter celebrations in December, he came out of his funk enough to tell her that if she really wanted to do something, she would have to plan the damn thing himself. Of course, later that evening, after realizing that he had been rather testy towards the well-meaning Communications Officer, Kirk did figure out that it would be a good idea to have some sort of moral booster to tide them over before the holiday season really began. So, Kirk found himself nursing his fifth drink of the evening of November 4th, old calendar.
 
There wasn’t anything particularly special about the date. Spock had informed Kirk after his ship-wide announcement that an Earth holiday, originating in England, took place the day afterwards, which Kirk had never heard of, which led to Kirk spending three hours listening to his First Officer explain the lore behind Guy Fawkes Day; this ended up being more about Kirk enjoying the sound of Spock’s voice after the first five minutes.
 
Had this not been a night of revelry, one of their talks would be taking place. In the month since their last, Spock’s relationship with Lieutenant Commander Ross had ended. However, Spock had been asking about the availability of Lieutenant Sulu, so the drinks Kirk had consumed seemed very much understandable.
 
When Uhura came over to talk to him, Kirk was under no illusions that she was going to be any comfort, and he was quite right. Though they had managed to cobble together a relationship containing equal parts affection and exasperation, the lieutenant rarely gave Kirk any semblance of unrealistic sympathy. Tonight, he could tell by the set in her eyes, would be no different.
 
“I’ve come to a conclusion.” Uhura said passively, after downing about a third of her Cardassian Sunrise.
 
“And just what might this mighty conclusion be?” He knew full well that after  about another drink and a half his world would decide that staying upright around the entity James Kirk was too much effort to bother with, but he took Uhura’s proffered beverage anyway. He figured, with the way Spock was chatting up Sulu not six metres away, that it couldn’t possibly hurt.
 
“It’s about… love.”
 
“Love? Heavy stuff, Lieutenant.”
 
“It’s this, Kirk: when you’re in love with someone, or even just trying to get somewhere with them, you get onto this awful ride that takes you up and down and never lets you stay in one place for more than three hours. It’s agony”
 
“I’m listening.” Uhura was gorgeous when she talked; he could watch her all day, and seeing her slightly tipsy and eloquent was a particular treat.
 
“See, you start off thinking that you might have a chance with them, and they do something to make you think that you don’t, and then they turn around and do something stupid like make you think you’re the only person in the world when they talk to you, or remember your favourite brand of chocolate, and you’re up at the top again, but you know they’re just going to do something innocent and unintentional to make you think you don’t have any kind of chance, after all. It’s the worst ride in the world.”
 
“I agree.” He nodded his head to her, and noticed that the world had started spinning ahead of schedule. Interesting.
 
“And I’m totally pitying you, Kirk, against my better judgement, because I’ve been on that ride with Spock, and let me tell you, he makes it a hundred times worse. “
 
Kirk stopped grinning, or at least he tried to, since a quick check of his face confirmed that he was still smiling at Uhura with all of the drunken gusto he could muster.
 
“I don’t believe I know what you’re talking about, Miss Uhura.”
 
She raised her eyebrows at him, and the part of his mind most connected to the booze he’d been swilling for the last hour decided that smiling wider might throw her off the scent. Damn. That kind of hurt.
 
“You know, he used to call me that, before we started going out. I thought it was sweet. And that I had a chance with him. Which I did, actually, but Professor Spock calling me ‘Miss Uhura’ didn’t do anything for my mental stability before I knew that.” 
 
Kirk didn’t say anything, because he was convinced that saying anything would confirm that he knew what she was talking about, when he was obviously pretending he didn’t.
 
“And then I figured out that the only way to get off the damn ride was to make a move, and I did, and let me tell you, it was one of the smartest decisions of my life.”
 
“But you aren’t together anymore.” Kirk said, before he could stop himself. Of course, he still tried to stop himself after the words came out of his mouth, which meant that one of his hands came up to cover his mouth with a bit too much force, which also kind of hurt. Saying and confirming nothing appeared to be bad for his safety.
 
“But, we were together, and if I hadn’t taken a chance, that never would have happened, and I’d still be wondering ‘what if’, which also really sucks. So you know what, O Captain, my Captain, I am telling you to tell tall, dark, and Vulcan that you’re head over heels for him so you can stop mooning over him and sighing when I’m trying to get work done.”
 
Kirk’s hand was still over his mouth, which meant that there wasn’t any danger of any confirmations escaping. Uhura looked at him for a few more seconds, before noticing that Scotty was behind her with still more alcoholic beverages, at which point she decided that fifteen seconds was enough time to stare Kirk into acquiescence.
 
“Nyota’s a smart girl, Captain. Ye should listen to her.” And either Uhura had gone a long way when it came to what men at bars could do with her, or she had gotten off of her own ride in regards to Scotty, since the hand at her waist seemed more possessive than friendly. Yeah, whatever. He had so seen that coming. Or would have, had he been paying actual attention.
 
“Says the man who doesn’t like my hair.” If Kirk weren’t a closet incurable romantic, he might have choked at the saccharine look that passed between the two, but he was, which meant that he merely sighed into the hand that was beginning to get a little moist. Maybe he should take it off of his mouth. Actually, that sounded like a fantastic plan.
 
“You two are disgustingly sweet. I want details later, Scotty.” The man just gave Kirk a broad grin to rival the captain’s earlier one, and said to Uhura, “It’s nae that ah don’t like yer hair. But a face like yers, like a fine paintin’, deserves tae be framed.” Okay, maybe that was a bit much. Then again, at this point, Kirk would take a thousand cheesy lines, Vulcan-style, if it meant he had something with Spock. Oh shit, did he just say that out loud?
 
“Found out, Mr. Kirk. No more denying from you!” Uhura looked insufferably smug at her triumph, Scotty looked insufferably smug at having Uhura in his arms, and Kirk… well, Kirk didn’t mind so much when he got a saucy wink and a friendly punch in the shoulder before the two disappeared, presumably to dance the night away, or something nice and couple-y. Damn.
 
Now all he needed was Bones to hook up with Yeoman Barrows, and he’d be… yup, there was no mistaking that signature ‘waltzing’ not five metres away; Bones was definitely on the dance floor with Tonia. And getting up close and personal from the looks of it. Not that he didn’t think his friend was attractive, but he definitely didn’t need to see that. Now he remembered why they stopped going on double dates back in the academy.
 
Well, at least he had a glass of…. whatever it was for company. Actually, he really couldn’t tell. Maybe a mix of coconut milk and that awful whiskey Scotty liked to pretend his second-in-command didn’t brew in the more difficult-to-get-to areas of Engineering. With a bit of peppermint for fun. Which kind of reminded him of… oh dear. This wasn’t some cocktail from the seventh circle of hell; it was a liqueur originally from Vulcan that Spock was rather fond of. Great. Now he was thinking about Spock again.
 
He couldn’t even see the bastard anymore. Spock had probably gone off to some dark corner with Sulu. And come on, Sulu was only single because Chekov had decided that at twenty, he should really be playing the field. And from what Kirk had heard, he had really been taking advantage of his youthful refractory period. The point, however, was this: Spock should not be wasting his time being a rebound for Sulu, when he could be getting married to Kirk. Obviously.
 
Actually, he was starting to get a bit worried, because he really couldn’t see Spock anywhere, and he knew there were a few convenient corners in Rec Room 3, and Sulu had seemed pretty into Spock when he’d seen them earlier, and maybe… maybe Spock was actually right behind him. Yup. There he was.
 
“Greetings, Jim.” Oh, damn, hearing Spock say his name in that dark, chocolately voice of his (shut up, he tended to describe things in terms of food) kind of made him want to cream. It was like McCoy getting hot over negative feedback when he’d studied it as an undergrad (not that he’d ever admitted, drunk, of course, to getting hot over biology).
 
But Kirk wasn’t worried, not one bit, because he’d been drunk and in love with Spock while around him dozens of times before, and not once had he spilled the beans, so there wasn’t really any risk of—
 
“You know what, Spock, I’m tired of this.  I’m in love with you and Uhura’s totally right about this waiting and wondering thing, ‘cause it really is a load of bullshit and the worst damn ride in the world and it’s making me nauseous except the analogous equivalent, or some shit, and I’m fucking done. Yeah. Fuck.” He took a deep breath, since it turned out he hadn’t done so for the entirety of that verbal diarrhea, and looked up at Spock, who, most curiously, appeared to actually be a statue. Huh. He hadn’t thought up that particular theory before. Maybe Spock was a living statue and he had a secret fetish for man-shaped stones that he’d never stumbled across before, and that was why he was so ridiculously attracted to him. He’d have to think that over when he was sober.
 
Then again, he was pretty sure he never wanted to not be sober, because from what he could tell, Uhura’s advice, which he had somehow decided was good, had gotten the kind of results that one would prefer to be drunk to live with.
 
Of course, after that happy little spiel, there was really only one course of action left. Grab the bottle of oh-god-why-is-it-green-and-orange-and-labelled-in-Andorian, down it like water, and run the hell away. Which he most definitely did, knocking over both McCoy and Yeoman Barrows and Scotty and Uhura, both of whom were acquainting their partner’s backside with the wall using a most unusual method that seemed to use the tongue as a ramming device.
 
Needless to say, the rest of the night was a giant black hole that swallowed up any possibility of recollection, thanks to the Andorian who-knows-what. He could have been wrestling wild le matyas, or getting a hands-on demonstration of Chekov’s refractory period, or trying to invent an interdimensional traveling device with the empty punch bowl and the carapace that Lieutenant Aniias had just shed, for all he knew.
 
And Spock… well, Spock did not speak to him in a non-professional context for the remainder of the month. In addition, the thing which was Kirk being in hopeless love with him seemed to have interfered with the other thing, and Spock did not ask for further dating advice. And Kirk soon realized that he’d rather hear Spock go on for hours about some pretty Ensign in Maintenance than not hear him go on about anything at all.
 
*****
 
So, it was to be expected that Kirk was not so much looking forward to the next party aboard the Enterprise, which happened to fall on the night before Christmas. Once upon a happier time, he had dreamed of celebrating the holiday with Spock, introducing him to all sorts of warm and fuzzy Terran holiday traditions, but not only had his happy little bubble been crushed, but he’d learned recently that Spock had celebrated Christmas for most of his childhood, which probably meant that he knew a hell of a lot more about it than Kirk did. So much for that.
 
And the Spock-totally-not-talking-to-him business was really starting to drive him round the bend. After Chekov had cornered him the morning after that disastrous party, (and after he’d been offered a free visit from the Ensign’s ‘foaming beef probe’), he’d tried to start getting over the stupid, pointy-eared bastard, but as much as he told himself that he was firmly ground in ‘no chance’, the damn thing which was him being in love refused to budge even an inch.
 
Spock fastidiously avoiding his eyes apparently had turned the angst dial up to fifty, and when Kirk was drunk enough to try and fuse his life and the machine from Princess Bride together, which he often was, he let Bones know that you really, really weren’t supposed to turn things up to fifty because there was heart-wrenching screaming, or something. Never mind; Kirk was clearly still losing it. And was in love with twentieth-century book-to-movie films from the twenty-second century just a little too much. His favourite was Javier Arnold’s fusion of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and the Portrait of Dorian Gray, all set on Earth Colony 2, although most sane film critics tended to disagree. Bones certainly did.
 
The only bright side was that, as far as he and the ship’s rumour mill could tell, Spock wasn’t dating anybody. Sulu had explained to him, after said rumour mill had processed Kirk’s… well, confession, that he hadn’t seriously considered dating Spock, not even as a rebound, which was… not really all that comforting, since he had still been rejected, and even every sentient being in existence swearing that they would never, ever bone Spock couldn’t fix the part where Spock didn’t want to bone him.
 
Uhura was once again in charge of the festivities, although this was only after Kirk had made her promise that there wouldn’t be any strange Andorian drinks, or any of that Vulcan liqueur. She’d taken far too much pity on him; thankfully that pity hadn’t extended to the same hook-up campaigns that Chekov seemed to be employing, which, aside from not being appealing to Kirk in the least, mostly involved Chekov’s friends, who
were all super-geniuses and under twenty-one years of age.
 
Kirk had assigned Bones the duty of making sure that he didn’t drink anything stupid. His relationship with Yeoman Barrows was once again in the off stage, which meant that Kirk had also agreed to make sure that Bones didn’t drink anything stupid. Sitting at the makeshift bar trying to drink beer at snail’s pace definitely sounded like his idea of a good time.
 
The funny thing was, at every other ship’s function, Kirk had held his liquor properly. He knew most people would be watching him, waiting for something like what had happened at the Party Not To Be Spoken Of (whose full events Kirk was still not sure of, and did not want to be made aware of), so that also kind of sucked. A lot. He cursed his vow to interact with the crew like one of their own.
 
And there were still four more days until the party. The closer it got, the more Kirk stressed over it, and as usual, Bones wasn’t helping. The man was torn between futility over the situation with Tonia Barrows and some mad plan he had concocted to win her back, the focal point of which was, naturally, mistletoe. Kirk’s response to the plan had not changed.
 
“Love is stupid, Bones.” he told his friend for what was surely the millionth time. “It just screws you over. It can’t end happily. Do you realize that all relationships end in break-up or death? Isn’t that just the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?”
 
“Someone’s gotten into the melancholy juice again.” Bones muttered, trying to get his captain to hold still for the routine check on the functionality of the elbow he had broken two weeks ago. “And stop squirming!”
 
“I can’t help it; that tickles! And don’t pin the blame on me.”
 
“Oh, I’m pinning the blame on you, kid. One damn guy doesn’t return your puppy dog eyes and you’re resigned to a life of loneliness? Give me a goddamned break. What happened to the guy who used to get teary-eyed at all of those ridiculous romance holovids? You know, the guy who wouldn’t move from the couch if Colony 7 was on because he couldn’t miss the second that Alice and Walter got back together, even though they never would?”
 
“That man is gone, Bones.” He could almost hear Bones rolling his eyes. He wasn’t being melodramatic. Not at all. He didn’t know what the man was complaining about. “And you know Alice and Walter were meant to be. Admit it.”
 
“Oh, sweet Jesus, Jim. This is getting ridiculous. And you’re not fooling me with this galaxy-weary act you’ve got going on. I know you’ve been renting soap operas by the dozen since Spock decided he didn’t want to hop on your dick.”
 
“You really need to stop abusing your medical override.”
 
“And you need to stop moping around, living vicariously through housewives from Mars on your off time. We’re going to go to the Christmas party, we’re going to hold our liquor properly, and I’m getting Tonia back.”
 
“So we’re back to that, then.”
 
“Oh be quiet, Jim, and hold still.” Jim didn’t need to be told twice. McCoy had further mastered the art of administering medication through a painless delivery system and somehow causing him pain anyway. The man had an arm like a wrestler.

 

He’d been at the party for two hours, and he still wasn’t having any fun. After telling the bartender not to serve himself or Jim any more drinks, Bones had figured that duty was done and had gone chasing after Yeoman Barrows. Predictably, the two had vanished from the party, and Jim was once again left alone at the bar, trying to beat his previous beer’s record at slowest consumption, as he’d known he’d end up doing. And it was just as entertaining as he’d thought it’d be.
 
Uhura was off singing carols with the Enterprise’s informal choral group, while Scotty tried to show off his new skill at the piano, since his girlfriend had refused to be accompanied by bagpipes. And unfortunately, Scotty really wasn’t any good, which meant that Ensign Palmer, who was acting as the party DJ, had turned the background music up to headache inducing levels. He really wished he could just leave, but he had promised himself to stay until midnight, at which point he’d leave and let the real festivities begin. He’d heard rumours of a group trying to break the record for most participants on a starship orgy. He did not want to stick around for that clusterfuck.
 
So, he could barely hear Uhura’s lovely voice, there were occasional bursts of discordant keyboarding, and the bass was making his head pound despite the fact that he had had almost nothing to drink. On top of that, Sulu had ditched him to hang around the buffet table, which Jim wasn’t allowed near since Bones had put him on a diet. Even Chekov wasn’t trying to get into his pants. He was alone.
 
“Jim.” No, no he wasn’t. Kirk cursed the universe and its infinite cruelty, since there was no way any benevolent existence would deliver all of his agony in the form of Spock sneaking up behind him and the situation inevitably degenerating. He mouthed all of the swear words he could think of into his beer and turned around. Fuck.
 
“Spock. Hello. Hi. Nice to see you. You look nice. Goodbye.”
 
“We have not yet finished our conversation.” And goddamn, but puzzled Spock was far too adorable to resist. Kirk heaved a sigh and gave Spock the most insincere smile his face had ever formed.
 
“Well then, Mr. Spock, fire away.” It was to Kirk’s utmost surprise that Spock did not comment on the idiom. He instead reached into his pocket, put something that looked suspiciously round and chocolate-coloured into his mouth, and said “You have been avoiding me for 43.344 days.”
 
“Me? I’ve been avoiding you?” Okay, he was not expecting that one. And was it just him, or were Spock’s pupils super blown? It had to be the lighting. Or wishful thinking. Either one.
 
“Yes. I have been attempting to talk to you for quite some time, but you have been most efficacious in your exits from rooms I have just entered. It is fortunate that this evening you have chosen to remain stationary, at this bar.”
 
“Well, no offence, Spock, but I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, since you’re the one who avoided me.” Just where was Spock getting off on this ‘avoiding’ thing? Kirk had tried several times the week after the incident to get Spock to play just one game of chess with him, and he’d been shut down every time.
 
“Indeed; I did do so, for 7.119 days. However—” At this point, Spock slumped—no, actually slumped—himself onto the stool next to Kirk’s. “However, at the end of this interval, I had finished processing your… admission, and was ready to discuss its implications.”
 
“I didn’t really think there was much to discuss. I want you; you obviously don’t want me. That’s pretty damn straightforward.”
 
“But in fact it is not—”
 
“Oh, but in fact it is.”
 
“Is not.”
 
“Is.” Spock paused to reach into the pocket of his jacket and grabbed a few more of what Kirk now knew to be some kind of chocolate, looked around to make sure no one was watching (completely missing the fact that Kirk was staring at him) and popped them into his mouth.
 
“Is not.” he repeated, and ate another chocolate.
 
“Is.”
 
“Is not.” More chocolate.
 
“Is.”
 
“Is not.”
 
“What are you, four? And Bones would kill you if he saw you shoving those truffles down your throat. Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.” Spock paused mid-handful and looked up at Kirk with the most curious expression. Kirk peered a little closer. It wasn’t the lighting; Spock’s pupils were definitely dilated. And if Jim didn’t know better, he’d say that Spock was looking a little off-balance, too.
 
“I am not four years old.” Spock looked at him as though that statement had won him an impressive argument. And when Kirk raised his eyebrows at him, he gave a quick, jerky nod in affirmation, which prompted Kirk to ask “Spock, you’re not drunk, are you?”
 
“I am not intoxicated. If you wish to ascertain my level of sobriety, you may ask me about politics.”
 
“Fine. Is Admiral Komack an asshole?” Spock appeared to ponder this for a few seconds, before grabbing Jim’s chin, rather tightly, and decreasing the distance between them to a mere 30.998 centimetres, or so Spock would have calculated, had he been sober, which, as Jim was definitely suspecting, he was not.
 
“Yes. Yes, he is, if by asshole you mean someone arrogant, rude, obnoxious, or a total dickhead, as opposed to the slang term for one’s anus.” Kirk blinked. Oh, dear. “Was my definition of asshole incorrect? I have been assured by crewmembers that the Urban Dictionary database is the best source for vernacular terms.”
 
Kirk continued to blink at Spock, which was interpreted by Spock as some sort of odd Earth custom, because he began to mirror his blinking back at him, which was super weird and definitely not something his First Officer was supposed to do.
 
“Spock, you are drunk. I am sorry. If you want, we can go down to Sickbay and get you a hypo—”
 
“I do not want a hypo, since I am not drunk. You may ask me more questions about politics, if you wish.”
 
“No, I think that’s enough for now. And actually, come to think of it, Vulcans don’t get drunk off of ethanol.”
 
“Correct. Vulcans, however, can be affected similarly by refined sugars.”
 
“So those truffles you’ve been eating…”
 
“Have obviously had no effect on me. There is a certain threshold that needs to be reached in order for intoxication to occur.”
 
“Right. You’re not drunk. And Bob’s my uncle.”
 
“This is true, Jim. You have mentioned him several times in relation to your mother. Why would you wish to repeat this fact now?”
 
Kirk just groaned softly, which didn’t turn out to be such a good idea, since Spock just leaned in a little closer and, well, looked at him. It was weird, and didn’t really help with the whole Kirk wanting to have sex with him thing, since at this distance, his face looked especially kissable.
 
“Jim, you have successfully changed the subject. I would like to return to the beginning of our discussion. You have not yet heard what I would like to say.” Jim sighed. Fine; if they had to have the stupid discussion so they could get back to being super bros, then that was what they had to do. He just really did not want to do that at the moment, since he was definitely not drunk enough.
 
“Okay, so, apparently I was avoiding you for 43.355 days or whatever it was—”
 
“43.344 days.”
 
“Yeah, whatever. And you wanted to say something to me. Well, you’ve cornered me. You can say it.” Kirk waited for a few moments. Spock continued to stare at him, before realizing that it was his turn to talk.
 
“I love you.” Oh. He wasn’t really expecting that.
 
Kirk opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and left it there, not caring that in the minutes that passed, his mouth became rather drier than he preferred it to be. Unfortunately, when he looked down at the bottle to avoid the Stare of Inebriated Spock, he noticed that he was out of beer.
 
“No, you don’t.” Kirk finally said, which seemed to sum everything up quite nicely. Or rather, it didn’t, which also suited him fine, since Spock was obviously out of his mind and didn’t need to hear the awful sputtering noises Kirk had initially wanted to make. 
 
“Yes, I do.” This was accompanied by another drunken Spock nod, which was, of course, adorable. Kirk wanted to plant his face into the bar.
 
“No, you don’t.” Kirk shook his head, thinking that maybe if his words were accompanied by gestures, Spock would get the message, and remember that he totally didn’t love him. Why this was his goal, he wasn’t entirely sure, since it seemed counterproductive to his true aims. Whatever. Spock totally didn’t love him.
 
“Yes, I do.” And the head shaking didn’t appear to have worked.
 
“No, you don’t.”
 
“Yes, I do.”
 
“Jesus, are we back to this again? Spock, if you actually, you know,” Kirk looked around, saw that no one was paying attention to them, and continued in a whisper, “Loved me, then why the hell did you freeze up tighter than an Aldebaran shellmouth when I told you I was in love with you?”
 
“Not only was I unprepared for the declaration, Jim, but I was not aware at the time that I had feelings of the same nature. Furthermore, you spent the remainder of the night, as the doctor would put it, ‘sucking face’ with Lieutenant Sulu. At first glance, the two events seemed to contradict each other.” Oh. No wonder Sulu hadn’t talked to him much the next day and blushed every time he saw him. Huh.
 
“Upon further examination of our relationship, I was forced to conclude that you had in fact been sincere in your assertions. After determining that the ill feelings I had towards Lieutenant Sulu after the party were rooted in jealousy, I also concluded that because of our mutual regard, a relationship of a romantic nature would be logical. It was at this point that you began avoiding me.”
 
“Right.” So, Kirk kind of screwed that one up. But, to be completely fair, he’d never had an emotional relationship with a Vulcan before, so it was completely expected that he’d do something wrong, right? Also, his coping mechanism for heartbreak consisted mostly of avoidance and McCoy’s best bourbon, so that probably hadn’t helped so much, either.  “Okay. So, um… basically we totally suck at communicating with each other and we’ve wasted all of this time, and we could have been screwing like rabbits for the past… month and a bit?”
 
“Affirmative.”
 
“Oh. Well, that’s settled, then.” He looked around, with what Chekov liked to call ‘shifty eyes’, and took another breath. So, this party sucking ass? Totally didn’t happen. He liked it when things turned out better than expected. It made him have a little more faith in the universe.
 
“Yes.” On any other occasion, in any location having something resembling privacy, Kirk would have definitely appreciated Spock’s next move, but since they were prone to observation by some member of the crew at any given moment, he was forced to stop Spock from leaning in and…. well, from what he could tell, it looked like Spock was going in for a lot more than a friendly kiss. He liked to keep in PG around the kids.
 
However, he did not expect Spock to pout when his cunning plan to shove his tongue down Kirk’s throat was thwarted. Okay, Spock intoxicated was totally dangerous to his health. And damn, come to think of it, he could openly appreciate him without having to worry about Spock wondering what all of the drooling was for. Awesome.
 
“I’d love to, Spock, but unless you want to become the talk of the ship tomorrow, I’d suggest that we, uh, move this to a more private location.”
 
“I agree. Perhaps my quarters? I have an ample supply of lubricant in my bedside table.” And oh, shit, the pretty Lieutenant from Communications totally just heard that. He needed to get a muzzle for Spock when he was like this, because his voice was currently a few decibels too high, even over the awful music that was still playing in the background.
 
“Spock, if you keep talking like that, number one, we’re so going to be top gossip tomorrow, but I’m also at risk of throwing you on the floor and having my way with you here, so you’d definitely better stop because that would really give the gamma shift something to talk about.”
 
“I would not be adverse to this.”
 
“But sober Spock would be. Not that you’re drunk,” he added quickly, after seeing that Spock was about to protest. “You’re just a little, uh, affected.”
 
“I may concur. I believe the chocolate has had the effect of raising my body temperature significantly. In addition, I find myself unable to look away from the bulge in your trousers.”
 
Kirk blushed. He’d really hoped that Spock hadn’t noticed that, but there was nothing to be done now. “Okay, we’re definitely getting you out of here. Maybe we’ll hold off on the sex until you’re in your right mind, too.”
 
“I am choosing to take this statement to mean that you wish for our first time to be ‘special’ and not that you are currently finding me unpleasant.”
 
“No, no, definitely not. How about we go to bed? Not to bed, I mean, like go to sleep, together, not sleeping together in that sense, but—”
 
“Yes.” Spock got up before Kirk could figure out that the conversation had ended, and yanked him out of his seat, somehow managing to keep both of them from toppling over. He was impressed.
 
The doorway was almost in sight when Kirk spotted Uhura coming back from the choral group. At least that meant that Scotty was no longer attempting to play the piano.
 
But he could tell from that evil look in her eyes that the communications expert had figured out something had happened between the two of them. He looked over at the doorway forlornly, knowing that Uhura wouldn’t let them go for at least five minutes.
 
“Hello, gentlemen. Leaving already?”
 
“Yes. Jim and I have recently been able to reach certain conclusions that preclude our remaining at the party.” Uhura gave them both a once-over, no doubt noting the decreased distance between the two of them, and said, “I’ll bet you have.”
 
“Uh, yeah, so we’ll just be going now—”
 
“Hang on, O Captain, my Captain.” He really wished she’d stop calling him that. “I do believe there is some lovely foliage above you that you seem to have missed. Maybe you should take a look.” Yup. Mistletoe. Great.
 
“Well, see, we’re in a bit of a hurry and we really don’t have time to mess around, and it would really be unprofessional…”
 
“I don’t think the Commander agrees with you, Kirk.” No, from the look in Spock’s eyes, he really didn’t. He tugged on the man’s arm, but was forced to re-evaluate his earlier statue theory since he didn’t move a goddamn inch.
 
“No, I do not.”
 
And suddenly Spock was on him, around him, nearly in him, with his chest and arms and legs, and oh, Lord, his groin pressed against him, and it had to be the best thing in the universe. Spock had to be the best kisser in the universe, since he hadn’t gone to full erection so quickly in ages and that definitely couldn’t be dealt with here, even though Spock was delicious and rubbing against him—and yes, he did just hear a catcall— oh, never mind, this was too good to stop. So he didn’t.
 
They eventually made their way over to Spock’s quarters, where they somehow both completely forgot that they weren’t going to have sex. His bedside table did indeed have ample amounts of lubricant, and it was because of this that Kirk did not get any sleep that night, and Bones found grounds to laugh at him the next day.
 
“My ass hurts.”
 
“Too much information, Jim. And it’s your own damn fault.” But the grumpy old doctor was smiling, and Jim smiled back at him, and he grabbed Spock’s hands under the table and squeezed. And Spock squeezed back. So much better than any other present he’d gotten that morning. 

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