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Jim leaned his chin into his palm and rubbed it slowly side to side as he watched Spock on the other side of the luncheon table.  The Vulcan was methodically working his way through a salad.  Nothing to look at really, but somehow Jim was finding that it was times like these, when Spock was engaged in something mundane, that Jim’s gaze tended to wander over that cheekbone, that eartip, the pulse in that long lean neck …

Spock brought a fork of leafy greens up to his mouth.  Jim’s eyes focused on the narrow top lip and full lower lip.  Leaves went efficiently into that mouth, lips closing over the fork, the utensil pulled smoothly out, the jaw working rhythmically.

Jim frowned and deliberately looked away. Where was this need to study Spock coming from?  Yes, his Vulcan looks were different from Jim’s other crew and friends.  Elegant, sculpturally artistic, sure … beautiful even, if you needed to put a description to it, but surely after all these months there was nothing new there for Jim to see. 

Jim wiggled a little in his seat, that edgy feeling that so often had become difficult to dispel niggling away at him again.  He sighed, then leaned back and stretched his arms back behind and over his head, linked them and engaged in a luxurious push/pull of one arm against the other.  “Done soon, Spock?  Open matt starts in five.”

Spock cast his eyes slowly over the Captain’s torso and then raised them to the hazel eyes and replied softly, without any hint of inflection, “Eager for exercise, Captain?”

Damn.  Jim scowled.  And where the hell was this coming from.  Lately he was turning every word out of Spock’s mouth into some kind of double-entendre.  Which was just ridiculous.  Even if Spock were interested, and even if he thought Jim might be interested, he’d hardly flirt.  Hell no.  If Spock wanted to invite someone to fuck he’d be more likely to issue one of his socially inept inquiries. 

The image of Spock, hands clasped behind his back, inquiring politely ‘Do you wish to engage in sex?’ cured Jim’s irritability.  He chuckled and shook his head at Spock’s inquiring look.

“Bones tells me I need to eat less or work out more – or both, and hell if I’m going to turn into a leaf-lover …” he paused and his eyes tracked another forkful of leaves as it disappeared into Spock’s lips.  “I’ll leave that to you.”

“Very well, Captain.”  Spoke pressed a napkin, completely unnecessarily, against his mouth – he was as neat as a cat – and then placed it on the table and rose.  “I am ready to partner you.”

Jim shot him a suspicious look.  That was not typical phrasing.  Gods, did Spock have some inkling of the direction Jim’s thoughts had been going?  Surely not, how could he?  Jim could feel his cheeks flushing and turned away from the table hastily.  “That’s an odd way to put it, Mister Spock.”

Spock noted the suspicious look, and the flush and decided reluctantly that it was time to moderate his pursuit.  “My apologies, Captain.”  He joined Jim in crossing the mess toward the corridor.  “Perhaps I did not understand you correctly.  I presumed that when you invited me to accompany you to the gym, that you wished to continue our wrestling match from last week.”

Jim’s shoulders tightened.  He stopped walking and turned to face Spock.  “Continue it?  You didn’t think it was decisive?”  Out of nowhere, Jim was furious. 

It had started out like their other sparring matches; Jim trying his best to gain an advantage against Spock’s greater strength and reach by using whatever leverage their surroundings allowed, or by telegraphing one move but using another.  Or in this case playing it a little dirty by adding the distraction of twisting one of those narrow ears – whereupon Spock uncharacteristically pushed him to the floor and firmly held him there under a long unblinking and unusually intent gaze, while Jim struggled ineffectively to budge him.  That struggle lasted rather longer than Jim cared to admit – once he’d been clearly beaten, he could have, should have, given in gracefully.  Instead, he’d bit out angrily, ‘Alright, you made your point Mr. Spock – get off me.’

Spock tilted his head and frowned slightly at his suddenly belligerent Captain.  “Jim" …” he began softly …

“Nevermind.” Jim snapped.  “I don’t need your assistance – I’m sure there’s someone else who’d be a better match for you.”

Spock watched, his brow furrowed, as Jim disappeared down the corridor, and then he turned and walked slowly to his cabin. Clearly, it was time for meditation.

……….

By the time he’d reached the gym, Jim was shaking his head in frustration at his own stupidity.  What the hell was wrong with him?  As he finished removing his boots and stowing them in the locker, he took the towel and draped it over his neck and paused head-down as he tried to trace the source of his anger.  Sure, he’d been a bit frustrated last week that Spock had restrained him so easily.  He wasn’t used to feeling Spock’s full strength.  In their earlier matches, when he’d accused Spock of babying him, Spock had pointed out that it was illogical to use more strength than necessary to oppose Jim in their workouts.  But it wasn’t Spock’s strength that was bothering him.  There was something about that memory – held there with Spock’s gaze so intent on him – that felt intensely uncomfortable.  Like Jim was holding his breath, waiting for something … for an expression, an emotion, for Spock to tell him something, do something ….

Jim turned, sank onto the bench and gazed blankly at the opposite row of lockers.  Was that it?  Was he waiting, expecting Spock to …what … to feel something for him?  To make some kind of declaration?  To …. want him?  And if so, why?  Jim was quite certain he didn’t have some hidden need to be wanted by a male – of any species.  Let alone a green, skinny, sinewy, lean … 

Jim liked boobs!  Female soft, rounded, bouncy flesh that you could dent and shape and mold with your body, that pillowed beneath you and cushioned you and provided that exquisite contrast between your own muscle and bone and force … 

He wasn’t turned on by men – or to be fair, turned off either … he was just indifferent.  Certainly some men had bodies that were very attractive – but if he saw a really nicely put together male body, like, well, like that security lieutenant Carson or Crissolm or whatever his name was – his thoughts were generally to wish his own build were more similar; that he could exchange his admittedly somewhat stocky barrel-chest for something a little more streamlined.

So no, he didn’t want Spock to want him …. did he?  Jim recalled Spock’s intent gaze   again … what was that gaze saying?  Was he angry, aggressive, …. possessive … horny?

Jim sighed and cradled his head in his palms … there he went again.  Was he trying to humanize Spock by placing desire where none existed?  Surely not … he liked Spock’s non-human differences … liked the way he challenged Jim’s assumptions.  But damn it something was behind that intent look.

There was always something between them, some connection or complementary chemistry.  It played itself out whenever stakes were high.  He knew, and he was sure that Spock knew, that their incredible mission success rate was due in large part to that intangible … whatever it was.  He could count on that … attunement … to carry them through conflict – almost without words, with just a few shared looks.  They could anticipate each other, and coordinate their efforts … and it was incredibly satisfying. 

It was similar, he mused, to the seasoned camaraderie crews exhibited after enough shared missions - but different too … deeper somehow, richer.  And it existed full-blown and full-grown from the first moment they began to work together.  It was unprecedented in Jim’s experience, and yet … he trusted it.  The very center of it was that feeling of acceptance… trust… faith.  Blind faith perhaps, but that didn’t make it any less real.  And for some reason … he couldn’t muster up any interest in questioning it.  It simply was.

So … maybe this weirdness with Spock … maybe it was just Jim trying to put that ‘connection’ into a recognizable human box.  Maybe it was easier to translate Spock’s attention and attunement to him – outside of mission situations – as attraction.

If so … then … Jim stood up resolutely and pulled boots and clothes back out of the locker and began dressing.  Then, he owed Spock an apology, and an explanation.

……….

Spock gazed into the attunement flame and reminded himself once again that dwelling on his failure to correctly predict Jim’s responses was non-productive … and that his focus instead should be on how to now adjust his strategy to most effectively achieve his objective given Jim’s new attitude.

Except … he truly did not know what Jim’s new attitude was.  His old attitude … that of oblivion to any male-male overture … is what prompted Spock’s most recent campaign – to create at least speculation in his Captain’s mind.  And while he wasn’t sure that it was having that effect; it at least had not yet failed as spectacularly as his first campaign.

……….

When Spock realized, within a few weeks of meeting his new Captain, that they had a high probability of being compatible life-partners, he wasted little time to convey his willingness to explore that possibility.

Since their mental compatibility – that instant attunement that confounds explanation or study – was already astoundingly clear, even without a mind-meld that was typically required to focus and hold it, the only important remaining question was, would the Captain consider him a compatible sexual partner?  The Captain certainly appeared to engage in an active sex life, and judging by the number of lethargic female embraces Spock had observed at Jim’s doorway over the last eighteen mornings, he was apparently capable of outlasting most of his partners.  To Spock, this seemed promising.

Spock chose his moment carefully, after even more carefully researching the most appropriate way to conduct a respectful male-male overture. 

The dinner banquet at Forquat IV was over, and most attendees, Jim and Spock included, had variously dispersed to the offered diversions.  Jim had insisted that they first try their ‘luck’ at something called a roulette wheel, but when Spock had absorbed the payouts for bets and subsequently refused to participate in what he described as ‘quite literally legalized theft, Captain’, Jim lost interest as well and they’d eventually found their way to the lounge. 

Jim was looking relaxed – leaning back into his chair and smiling at the holovids displaying the various shops and restaurants that the central city had to offer.  Spock had already ascertained that Jim had no further plans for the evening (nope – no bedmate of the night, Spock … can get as drunk as I like, and tuck the last star in under the covers, and kiss the sun good morning if I want).  So Spock judged that the time was right.

Carefully and gently, he slid his right hand, palm up, under Jim’s left hand where it rested on the tabletop.  He believed he was prepared for any of the three most likely results; acceptance, uncertainty, or rejection. 

But instead of clasping his hand (acceptance), removing his hand (uncertainty), or leaving the table (rejection), Jim shot him an amused look, then turned Spock’s open hand over with his left and patted it with his right.  This so exceeded typical Vulcan foreplay that it sent Spock careening into immediate physical arousal; a condition that made it very difficult for him to focus on Jim’s verbal response. 

Spock clenched his free hand fiercely around the table draperies.  He would not act the barbarian warrior and attempt coitus with Jim in public.  Why had he not considered how impulsively Jim could act … he should have chosen to proposition him in private – no matter what his research suggested.

“Look Spock, I know I told you that you need to adopt more human social conventions … but, well … men don’t hold hands with men … unless they’re gay.  Um … maybe you ought to ask me before trying something new out.”  He then released Spock’s hand, picked his napkin off his lap, placed it on the table and said, “Oh – and girls tend to think a simple handhold is either an emotional commitment, or a somewhat wimpy come-on … so if you do ever want to come on to one of our fair ladies – you might try asking her to dance instead.  You still get to put your hands on her – but she won’t think you’re a wimp.”  And with that Jim rose and said, “Gotta visit the head – be right back.”

It took 6.2 seconds for Spock to process Jim’s response – a good 2.1 seconds of that simply to isolate and tightly barricade the physical assault of his arousal in a corner of his mind.  Jim’s hands caressing his might be the equivalent of Vulcan foreplay – but Jim was not a Vulcan.  And if Jim’s physical touch was intended to encourage Spock, then why would he suggest that Spock might want to come-on to a female? 

Slowly Spock clenched and unclenched his fist.  Jim wasn’t encouraging him.  In fact, Jim was so oblivious to the possibility … he thought Spock was inept enough to proposition him by accident.  Insulting.  Infuriating

And yet … Spock straightened his tunic with only a slight tremble … he had not been rejected.  Perhaps once he had opened the Captain’s eyes to the possibility, by discussing the matter …

But by the time Jim returned to the table, Spock had reluctantly concluded that he had a very low probability of successfully leading such a conversation, while still so disrupted by arousal.

“My apologies, Captain, but I find it necessary to return to my room.  I wish you a pleasant rest of the evening.”

“Oh?  Not staying?”  Jim cast him a distracted smile and then said, his gaze returning to the holovid which was now displaying a series of variously clothed and unclothed dancers undulating to pulsing music, “Well, sweet dreams then … I wonder how far those dance clubs are – not far I bet.”

It was perhaps fortunate Spock thought, that the Captain was not looking at him just then.  Irritation had caused a most definite clenching of jaw, a highly inappropriate display that Spock would have to guard against in the future.  Spock strode with a somewhat awkward gait toward the hotel lift.

……….

Was Jim still as oblivious as he had been then, Spock wondered?  Or had Spock made some small progress over the ensuing weeks?  He could not feel confident of that - since Spock had attempted only a few prolonged gazes, the occasional comment that could be taken either innocently or as sexual innuendo, and several leading questions posed to McCoy - in the Captain’s presence - about social mores regarding dating, and the arrangement of sexual partners.  Those were coached of course as ‘Vulcan asks dumb question any human would know the answer to’, but had hopefully served the purpose of starting the Captain thinking about sensuality and sexuality as it applied to Spock. 

Unfortunately, Spock still hadn’t decided how to attack the central problem.  After greater consideration of Jim’s comment ‘men only hold hands if they’re gay’ he had to conclude that Jim was, at least in this attitude, as deplorably unscientific as most humans, and just as inclined to assign individuals to rigid behavioral categories - no matter if that individual’s actual experience had been limited to only one or two examples of different partner types.

And thus Spock’s question to McCoy earlier in the week;

……….

“Why is it Doctor, that humans actively seek to limit their own options?”

“Oh, hell, Spock. … What, did somebody say no thanks to your considerate offer to educate them about the nebula thingy again?”

Spock inhaled slightly, his nostrils narrowing.  It was true that he still lacked proficiency in determining when humans had received enough information on some topics …

“I refer Doctor” he persevered, “to the tendency that humans have to categorize themselves as one thing or another, which effectively discourages exploration of whatever they are ‘not’.”

Damnit, Spock I’m a Doctor, not a psychology professor … go look it up already.”

Jim snickered … “Uh Bones, hate to remind you … but you are a psychology professor … that’s where I saw you the first time, remember?  You were teaching that class and…”

“Oh go fuck yourself Jimmy-boy.  I was a psychology professor – but not anymore, thank Hippocrates … don’t gotta grade no papers no more, no sir.”

“Perhaps” Spock said, “It is fortunate, given that you have so little aptitude for answering inquiries.”

“Whooo….” Jim whistled softly.  Spock apparently really wanted an answer.  “C’mon Bones, humor our boy … you know, he’s probably read a dozen different theories from a dozen different dissertations … how’s he to know that they’re just doctoral exercises?”

Bones crossed his arms in front of his chest and just glared at Spock.

Jim sighed, rubbed his forehead and offered, “Spock – I’ll take a whack at it … but maybe you could give me an example?”

This was not going as Spock intended, but perhaps an oblique approach would serve. 

“Captain, a specific example is … when Lieutenant Uhura relayed the overture of one ensign to another.  The first ensign was inviting the second to dance, and the second ensign said, ‘Honey, that is so sweet … but I have to turn you down.  I’m gay … and I make it a rule never to dance with anyone prettier than I am.’.”

“Oh man …” Bones grinned.  “Go ahead, Jim … let’s hear you explain it.”

“Um…” Jim said, “ I guess we better start with the implication that the first ensign was female … and uh … interested in the second ensign who was male … and …”

“Captain.” Spock said patiently, “Let me assist you.  I perfectly understand that the story is a joke – that there are two aspects that are considered funny; the first is that the male ensign, being a stereotypically effeminate homosexual, cared more for his appearance as it compared to that of the first female ensign, than he did about his attraction, or lack of attraction to the female ensign.  That this humor relies on the audience having a shared perception of what attitude a homosexual male would have.  The second is that the female ensign, was made to appear foolish by not properly identifying the homosexual male as such, before propositioning him.  And further, that the audience, in listening and laughing at the story, is affirming their solidarity in attitude toward expected homosexual male behavior, and providing a warning to heterosexual females that propositioning males can lead to embarrassment – and by implication, that the correct role of propositioning is reserved for heterosexual males, or dominant homosexual males.”

Spock stopped for a moment and looked from Jim to McCoy.  Jim looked … bemused … and McCoy … the good doctor looked … satisfied? 

With a last curious glance at McCoy, Spock continued, “My question is not about the joke, or the audience, or the orientation of the ensigns … my question is why individuals choose to self-assign sexual orientation to themselves, and thereby self-limit their opportunities to experience a variety of sexual experiences.”

Jim gazed wordlessly at Spock for a moment, brow wrinkled and then said, “Spock … I .. I guess I don’t get why, if you understand everything else about that story, you don’t understand how men or women know what … or maybe I should say who ... they are.  Are you telling me that Vulcans can’t … what, aren’t capable of being homosexual or lesbian … that everyone is straight … or … or everyone is bi…?”

Rather than answer, Spock turned his gaze on the doctor.  “Perhaps you would care to offer a comparison of Vulcan and human perceptions on the topic, doctor?”

Bones pursed his lips and looked speculatively at Spock and then at Jim.  Damned if he wasn’t pretty damn sure his suspicion was right.  That pointy eared bastard started this whole conversation just to get him to explain the birds and bees to Jimbo.  Might be kinda fun to see where this went.

“Well, now … I could do that … but you know … there’s the basic science, and then there’s the sociologist’s explanation of our differing views or interpretation.  I’m guessing you would like me to offer up the science first?”

Spock dipped his head in agreement.

“O-kay … here goes.  Jimmy boy … sorry to break it to you, but you’re not straight.”

“What?”  Jim shook his head and laughed.  “Right!  Okay, well … good to know …um, what am I exactly?”  He grinned.

“Well Jimmy, according to most scientists, Human, Vulcan, Romulan, Deltan …you name um …there actually is no such thing as gay, straight, bi, sadist, masochist, hedonist etc…. all there is … is sexual.  Or to be more accurate - sensual.”

Spock drew in a satisfied breath.  Finally.

Jim was tilting his head at the doctor … “I don’t get it – of course everyone’s sexual, sensual, whatever … but in different ways … some people get hot for guys, some for gals, some for ….”

Bones was shaking his head.  “Nope.”

“Really … come on, Bones, that’s nuts … all you have to do is look around at how people respond ....”

“And what I’ll see is social construct after social construct.  Our societies, Jim, they succeed because they shape individuals into groups.  And as groups, we can accomplish more than we can as individuals.  That’s a great thing.  But to be a part of a social group, we each give up some of our individualism … most of the time, perfectly willingly, and without the least awareness that we’re doing it.  I know you’ve had all the basic sciences Jim, so this isn’t an entirely new concept to you.”

“Okay … so … you’re saying that I’m straight because the society I was born into made me that way … that if I was born into some other society … Vulcan for instance, or an earth society where homosexuality was more prevalent than heterosexuality … that I wouldn’t prefer women to men?  I’m not sure I buy that.”

“No … that’s not quite it.  It’s that you view yourself as straight.  So – you make your choices based on that.  You created your own self-image as you navigated the options that presented themselves to you during your childhood, adolescence and early adulthood.  And,” McCoy paused and sent an indecipherable look in Spock’s direction, “Here’s the kicker, Jim.  Even if you move through new societies and meet people that offer you different options, you are most likely to continue to make your new choices based on your view of yourself as straight.”

Jim frowned slightly.  “Ok … I almost get that, I think.” Jim said, “but …” he glanced at Spock, “but why doesn’t Spock … er … why does he … aaaah, sorry .. how to say this … How – or why do Vulcans see this differently?”

McCoy looked at Spock and back at Jim, and back at a silent and somehow somber Spock and then said slowly, “I’m not sure I can say why they see it differently Jim, but I can tell you that from a human sociologist’s standpoint, Vulcan’s lose even more of their individuality to satisfy social constructs than human’s do …”

Spock quirked a brow disdainfully but said nothing.

“… but … for some reason … maybe the strength of their clan system, or the moderating effects of telepathy … or their bonding of childr …” Bones broke off as Spock stiffened and his eyes narrowed.  “ … Well, for whatever reason, Vulcan’s don’t self-identify into different preferential categories.  They acknowledge that a sexual or sensual component exists in each individual to varying degrees, to be acted on or not, as each individual chooses, among whichever other individuals they may have opportunity to interact with.”

Jim gazed vaguely into space … and as he did, Spock gazed at Jim.

 “So, Spock ….. “, McCoy ventured as the silence seemed to be getting a little long, “How’d I do at describing the Vulcan viewpoint?”

“As usual, Doctor, with an entirely unnecessary degree of editorializing”, Spock replied dryly, “but your facts are essentially correct.”

“And I answered your question, Spock?” McCoy asked silkily.  He hadn’t, he knew.  Would Spock pursue it?

Spock darted a glance at Jim, but the Captain did not appear to be paying much attention.  “Yes, doctor, thank you.”

“Uh huh .. thought so.” McCoy muttered to himself. 

Spock rose from his chair and addressed the still contemplative Captain Kirk.

“Captain, I have some supplemental reading to do that will likely be more productive now.  Thank you for your contribution.  Perhaps you will be willing to entertain future questions that I may have on the topic?”

“Hmmm?”  Jim eyed his first officer thoughtfully.  “I don’t think I contributed much, Spock.”

“Your perceptions are helpful to me, Jim.”

“Well, okay then.” Jim said somewhat sheepishly. 

As Spock disappeared down the corridor, Jim’s gaze followed him and then transferred to McCoy.

“So Bones,” he said, “Do you have any idea what that was really about? I get the idea that Spock already knew damn well nearly everything we discussed – and if that’s so – what was the point of the conversation?”

“Hell Jim, you expect me to have any idea in my tiny little brain of what that unfathomable Vulcan has in his head?  Forget it … I’m a doctor not a ….”

“Yeah … yeah… tell it to somebody who listens.”  Jim grinned, rose, and strolled out of the room, hands in his pockets.

……….

Perhaps, Spock thought, perhaps if Jim had been thinking about that conversation, if he’d been even a little challenged by the idea that he was limiting his own options … then he could have begun to reconsider …. 

And perhaps Spock was building a tower from a deck of playing cards.

As the flickers of his attunement flame turned more red – a sign that he’d been meditating unproductively for more than 14 minutes – Spock thought irritably that even if Jim did decide to consider intimate physical activity with a male – there was absolutely no reason for Spock to predict that he would turn to a friend … and indeed, it was not at all improbable that he would turn instead to a professional for such an experiment.

Spock spine jerked as the thought took form.  How had he not considered that?  Flame flared in Spock’s eyes.  It took him only three seconds to decide.  Enough!  To patiently guide Jim’s curiosity and encourage his adventurous spirit toward a first intimate experience with Spock was a reasonable strategy.  And yes, it was perhaps unlikely that the Captain’s heterosexual self-image would readily accept Spock taking a dominant role in courtship.  But Spock could not, would not allow another male the opportunity to claim his t’hy’la.  Female’s were no threat … for whatever reason, Jim strictly limited his committed friendships to males – but should another male initiate him in … no!

Whether the Captain were ready or not – it was time that they Spoke.

Spock had removed his meditation gown, and was reaching for his tunic when the door chimed.

He raised a brow … ‘Enter’.

The door slid open and Jim stood in the entrance, framed against the light in the corridor.

“Spock.” he said nervously.

Jim?  Nervous?  Spock chest tightened against a breath.  Perhaps Jim had considered …

“I, uh … I need to apologize to you.”

Spock tilted a brow.  “Indeed?”  Not what he had for one brief moment envisioned, but perhaps an apologetic Jim would still prove of some advantage.

“Yeah …. Can I come in?  I need to explain.  Might take a while.”  Jim’s shuttered eyes cast around the room, everywhere but at Spock.

“I already said enter, Jim.”  Spock replied.

Jim took a few more steps into the room and finally, resolutely looked directly at Spock.  And then stared.  “Uh .. I’m interrupting?  You were meditating?”  Jim’s gaze slid down the bare glistening shoulders, caught on the dark navy runes painted on his pectorals, and after a couple of slow blinks, ran down the sinewy arms to narrow wrists ringed with red stone … bracelets?

“Are you wearing bracelets?” Jim asked in the Captain’s forbidding tones.

“No.” Spock replied severely.  Obviously the Captain did not care to see his first officer in feminine trappings.

“They look like bracelets.”

“They are knife guards.”

“Knife …”

“Knife guards.  They are to protect the wrists where veins are close to the surface during hand to hand knife combat.”

“Oh.”  Jim’s voice lost its terse quality.  “Well, I guess that makes sense – although why you’d wear them to meditate….”.  Jim rubbed the palm of his right hand on the seam of his pantleg.

“It is symbolic, Jim.”  Interesting.  His Captain was nervous, off-center … very un-Jim like.  Was it Spock’s lack of clothing, the close quarters of his cabin … ?  Or was he simply attempting to delay a conversation he knew would be unwelcome.  Spock frowned.

Jim flashed a less than convincing grin Spock’s way.  “And, uh - what’s the paint for?”

“It aids in concentration – providing a visual and tactile reminder of the desired thought-paths during meditation.”  What did Jim think he needed to apologize for?  Was he contemplating a change to their relationship?

“What does it say?”

“That is personal”.  Spock’s voice was flat.  If Jim was preparing to reject his friendship … he would not allow it … if necessary, he would invoke a mind meld and search out what mis-step had brought him to this point, and then …

His Captain looked at him directly then, and said, “Oh hell, Spock … I’m sorry.  I keep … I don’t know … I keep imagining things that aren’t there, keep imagining what you’re thinking instead of asking you what you’re thinking.”

Jim’s expression was serious, eyes intent on Spock’s.  “I keep acting as if I know you when, really, I probably don’t know you at all.”  Jim spread his arms wide – “So – I’m here … to ask you … to tell you … that I want to know you better.  And so … and so … maybe you can tell me … what you’re thinking.”

Spock gazed at his Captain, his Jim, his t’hy’la in silence for a moment.  Relief sang in his blood.

“Are you mad at me?  For yelling at you?  For being a jerk?”  Jim asked softly. “You probably should be.”

“No.”  Spock took a few steps to within inches of where Jim stood.  A palm’s width away.

“So … talk to me – what are you thinking?” Jim asked quietly.

“I am thinking ….” Spock raised a hand and held two fingers up together and then slowly, gently, passed them over the skin of Jim’s right cheek.

Jim’s eyes widened, and he took a breath and held it.  And didn’t move.  And held it.

“That you should breathe.”  And Spock took his fingers away.

Jim exhaled and coughed and sort-of laughed.  “Oh … yeah, breathe … right.”

Spock gazed at his t’hy’la.  Would he be brave?  Or would he attempt to leave?  He would not succeed.  Spock had decided that much at least.

“So … so, um, Spock.  Do you … uh …” Wow, Jim thought, I’m a fucking idiot.  Pull yourself together asshole.  A little dignity at least.  “Spock … you and I, we … we seem to have this … connection, this weird, but somehow feels-right kind of nonverbal thing going on.  And at times, at times it seems like I know you so well, so well that there’s no reason to talk – except for the fun of it … but then there are times …like now …when, well, when I think that you know what’s going on, but don’t have any intention of cluing me in.  That it’s some Vulcan thing, some secret Vulcan deal … and you’ll never tell me, but I’ll always .. I’ll always…”  Jim took a deep breath. 

“Spock … it feels like I’ll always be connected to you – no matter what, no matter if I want to or not, whether you want to or not – that for better or worse we ….”

Jim let his words trail off as he saw Spock’s eyes turn from merely smoldering, to pitch-dark Vulcan flame.

“Yes, Jim.”  Spock said gutterally, his voice coming low and deep in his throat.  His hands went to Jim’s wrists and circled them.  “Always.”  He leaned his head forward, his height putting his lips at Jim’s brow.  He leaned in, lower, to just above Jim’s left ear.  “T’hy’la”.

“T hi lay?” Jim breathed.  His heart was racing.  Racing.  Like he’d been running hard but it was just Spock.  Acting weird, sure .. but still Spock.  He wasn’t scared was he?  Scared of Spock, scared of this intensity, scared of … of, well hell … was he scared of Spock, or maybe … scared of sex with Spock?  This sure as hell felt like a come-on, but was it?

Suddenly Jim pulled his body back and looked at Spock, looked at him with that commanding eye and said firmly, “Hands off, Spock.  Right now.”  Whatever this was – or wasn’t – he was the captain, this was his first officer – and he was in control.

And Spock … Spock removed his hands from around Jim’s wrists, locked them away behind his back as if nothing had happened … and quirked an eyebrow at him.

Jim let a breath out again, rubbed a hand across his forehead and scalp, once, twice, hard.

“Ok, Spock – I came here to talk – but I’ve been doing all the talking.  Now it’s your turn.  I’ll help you get started.  What’s the fucking big Vulcan secret that you’re not talking about.”

Spock considered his hopefully future mate carefully.  “Jim, there is no fucking big Vulcan secret that I’m not talking about.”

Jim narrowed his eyes at Spock, drew himself up and lifted his chin pugnaciously.  “I know damn good and well ...”

“What there is …” Spock continued, “... is a big Vulcan who has secretly always wanted to be fucking you.”

Jim stared.  So much for thinking he’d been inventing meaning behind those looks, those innuendos.  Jim lowered his head, shook it, looked at the ceiling, shook his head again, looked at Spock and said, “Oh.”  And then he grinned.  And then he laughed.

“Sorry Spock … guess from where you stand it isn’t very funny.  But I … well, to be honest I thought I was inventing human behaviors for you where there were none … and came here to apologize for trying to turn you into a human.”

Jim grinned, “ Spock, if this is just about sex, and you don’t have some, you know, deep-seated desire for us to oh – I don’t know – get married and rule the galaxy together as Star Fleet’s first ever co-captains, well … I’ll try anything twice.”  Jim paused and took in Spock’s expressionless face.  He tried for levity, “Hell, I might even like it.”

Spock stared at him in distaste.

“Jim.”

“Yeah?”

“It is about more than sex.”

Silence

“It is about sex, and friendship, and marriage, and a lifetime together.”

Silence.

Spock raised an eyebrow and said frigidly, “I am waiting for your response.”

“Dammit, Spock I’m not fucking gay!” Jim bit out.  Immediately he winced and looked warily at his first officer.

“No – you are a coward.”

“What?!”

“I do not believe it is necessary to repeat myself.”

His Captain, his idiot t’hy’la, his soon to be lover took an angry step toward him and said, “I am not a coward.”

“Indeed.”  A disbelieving eyebrow swept up.

“Fuck you!”

“I would like to see you try.” An eyebrow quirked.

Jim tried to resist, but it was beyond him.  He laughed.  “Ok, ok, I’ll just bet you would … but it’s not happening, I’m not …”

And Spock kissed him.

It was a simple matter.  He just reached out an arm, hooked it around Jim’s waist, tucked his right foot behind Jim’s left ankle and pulled him off-balance into his arms.  And leaned down, and in, and … swept his lips against Jim’s surprised, half-open lips.  They proved petal-soft and yet firm.  He swept against them once more, and then pressed his lips more firmly, angled upon Jim’s, and then nibbled, carefully at one corner, and then the other, and all this while Jim’s arms were gripping his biceps and his left foot was scrabbling for purchase on the floor, and then … and then he pressed his tongue into Jim’s mouth, pressed it gently on Jim’s tongue, teased under Jim’s tongue, then went back to nibbling at Jim’s lips with his own.  But finally, unable to bear Jim’s apparently determined lack of response, Spock pulled his lips away, and pressed his temple to the side of Jim’s throat and held it there for a moment, two, three.

And then he carefully placed Jim’s feet back on the ground, removed passion from his face, and his hands from Jim’s waist and … the really hard part … took two steps back.  Because one wasn’t far enough.

Jim stood there, silent and … somehow … shattered.

“Jim.”

Silence.

“I apologize.”

“Why did you stop?”

Silence.  Why did I stop?

“Did you not want me to stop, Jim?”

Silence.

“Jim?”

“I couldn’t have stopped you.  Why did you stop?”

“You did not like it.”

Jim stared at his Vulcan first officer, his friend, his … his illusion.  This man was something entirely different than the perfect friend that Jim had painted into a nice neat box.

“But you want me.”

Spock closed his eyes.  His nostrils flared.  His eyes opened.  Flame.

“Yes.”

Jim took another deep breath.  Ok.  Okay, I can do this.  He’s logical … I’ll just … logic my way out of this mess.

“Spock”.

“Yes.”

“What will you do if I leave?”

“You will not leave.”

“What if I do?”

“You won’t.”

“How do you know that?”

“I will not let you.”

Silence

“Spock, you can’t just … just force me to be what you want me to be.  It doesn’t work that way.”

“You are what I want you to be.  I do not wish to change you.”

“You want me to be gay!”

“No.”

“No?”

“No – I want you to … be mine.  But you are mine.  I am yours.  That is already true.”

Jim stared and shook his head, and jammed his fists onto his hips.  Ridiculous.

And yet, Jim thought as he glared across the inches at Spock, and yet, if I am being honest, I know he’s right, I know that I am his, and he is mine.  It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make sense, it’s still true.  And I can’t, don’t even want to change that.

So why … Jim thought … why am I having trouble with this?  Why does the idea of sex with Spock scare the hell out of me?  Is it because, like McCoy suggested, I’m so fixed in my own self-image, that I won’t try anything else?

Jim frowned.  No, it wasn’t the sex.  Those kisses that had seared his lips, that passion he could feel pulsing even now across the inches from Spock, invisible, but heavy in the air … that wasn’t the problem.  If Spock hadn’t had him dangling in midair, if he’d given Jim even one or two more breaths between tonguings – he’d have been kissing him back  - and probably more than kissing.

It was something else.  Something more elemental that was bothering him.  Something so deep in his bones that it couldn’t be removed without leaving him an empty husk.

“Spock.  Spock – how can I be the Captain of the Enterprise – and your lover?”

Silence.

“Spock … Spock … I … I want us to be friends.”

That disdainful look again.  And then, “We are friends.”

“But you want us to be lovers.”

“We are lovers.”

“Oh fuck, we are not … for crying out loud … even a Vulcan can’t be that …that metaphysical about fucking.”

“We are lovers … you just haven’t decided to begin it yet.”

Jim stared at the man opposite him.  At the certainty in his eyes.  At that lanky body with cords of muscle.  No soft boobs.  No rounded fanny to sink into or rub against.  No soft arms to dent with his fingers, no silky belly to press his cock against. Nothing but hard bone and hard muscle … and at the moment, hard eyes.  Flinty.

“Why would you want me?  I’m not soft like a woman, I’m not round and fluffy, I’m not … I’m not anything a man should want!”  And I don’t want you to want me.  How can I resist your wanting me?  And if I don’t resist it … if I can’t resist it …

“You are mine.  My t’hy’la.  My Captain.  My friend.  My lover.  My husband.”  Spock said.

Jim rubbed his eyes, his hair, his ears and sat down on the floor.  Insane.  This situation was insane, Spock was insane, and he, Jim was insane for not calling security right now and ... and …

“Even if you are being a stubborn, childish, selfish fool and taking the slowest possible path to get us to where we will eventually go ...” Spock added, “… you are still mine.”

“Oh for ….”

Silence for a long time.  And then.

Jim raised a resigned head.  Held out an arm, a hand.  To Spock.

Cautiously, Spock took his hand.  Jim used it to leverage himself up to standing position again.

“Ok.”  Jim said.

“But,” Jim said, “We’re doing this my way.”  Spock wanted sex, so fine … sex it would be.  But on Jim’s terms.

And he put his hands on Spock’s waist, and turned him around so he wasn’t facing Jim anymore.  And he put his hands on the waist of Spock’s briefs, and pulled them down past his thighs, then released them to drop onto the floor.

“Step out.” Jim said.

And Spock did.

“Okay, lean over – grab your knees.”  And Spock did.

Jim took a breath, clenched and unclenched his hands, and then began running them softly, slowly from Spock’s neck down his shoulders, over his arched back, and down his buttocks.  And again.  And again.  He tried not to think about what he was doing.  Just get it over, get it done.  DON’T get too into it, don’t lose it, don’t lose control of it.

“Feel good?”  Distract him, please him, appease him – a little.  Make it impersonal and then, when Spock sees how unsatisfying that is, and how much better their friendship is in comparison …

“Yesss.”

With the next soft stroke Jim passed his hands under Spock’s buttocks and over his scrotum, barely grazing his hair and skimming, barely touching, the skin of his penis.  Jim’s hands shook a tiny bit.  His breath shuddered.  Then back to Spock’s neck, over his shoulders, over his arched back, down his sides this time, then back to the center and over his back. 

“Nice?”

“Yesss.”

A few more repetitions of that and then,

“Jim?”

“What?”

“Are you going to take me?”

Silence for a few strokes and then, “Working up to it.”  The words were terse, bitten off, pissed.

“I’m not particularly interested in a pity fuck, Jim.”

“Oh well, hell, that did it.”  Jim said.  “I almost had a hard-on.  Not quite – but getting there – I think, but that did it.”  A bit of a stretch to the truth there – the problem had been to not get a hard-on.  Spock’s clear pleasure, his catlike responsiveness … hard to ignore and very, very appealing.

Spock rose from his grasping knees position and turned to face Jim.  “You’re going about it all wrong.”

“Really – you think?  And just how do you think I should go about it?”  Jim glared.  This was NOT his idea, it was a bad idea, he did not want to do it in the first place, and now he’s getting a lecture on it?  Who was the captain here and who …. Jim’s thoughts stuttered and stopped.  What the … was that the problem?  Who was in command?

“It will not be productive to imagine me as a woman, or to pretend my body is soft.”

Silence. 

“Jim – did you like no part of what I did to you?”

Silence.

“Jim?” There was the slightest hint of pleading in his Vulcan’s voice.

“Shut up - I’m thinking.”

Spock’s gaze sharpened on his captain. There was indeed something going on behind those hazel eyes – they appeared to be lost in the nothingness of the cabin wall, but the stance was tense, the lips firmed, the arms tensed.

“Jim?”

Jim’s gaze swung back to Spock’s.

“Spock?”

“Captain?”

“You know … when you were kissing me ...?”

“Yes.”

“I was dangling in mid-air – no breath, no idea if you were ever going to let me down … I was just enduring, Spock, holding on until the end, whenever that was, whatever that was.  I wasn’t in control – you were in control – and … well, … Houston … we have a problem.”

Silence.

“Perhaps it was not the best approach.  However … you were not trying.”  Spock held his hands out, palms up in front of him.  “Will you try to kiss with me, Jim?”

Jim looked at his friend … his very naked, rune-painted and suddenly solemn friend.

Jim looked at his feet, at the floor, at Spock’s feet.  One, maybe two steps.

Jim took them.  One.  Two.  Looked up.

Spock breathed at him … “T’hy’la ...”

Jim imagined the word floating on the air, coming to rest on his shoulders.

A breath, two, and then he placed his palms on Spock’s belly (hard, not soft, fuzzy, not silky) and leaned in, and up and over just a little …

… as Spock leaned out, and down and over just a little …

and their lips met.

And met again.

And again.

And Jim thought … not bad … not bad … not silky soft, more like satin than silk, they’re firm really, but … nice, … warm and … and not pushy … he’s not pushing … he’s, he’s, he’s … Jim leaned back out of the kiss, hands still resting on that not-soft belly and looked inquiringly up at Spock.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m savoring you.”

“Savoring me.”

“Yes.”

“What, like a beefsteak?”

Spock’s eyes smiled.  “Precisely.”

Spock leaned slowly in toward Jim’s mouth again, but instead of kissing he murmured, “Juicy and firm, hot and red, and moist, … tender … and … delicious.”

Jim leaned back and looked at Spock suspiciously and said, “But you’re a vegetarian.”

Spock’s shook his head in false sorrow.  “Jim, Jim … you are doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Self-selecting us into categories … carnivore … vegetarian …”.

Jim’s eyes widened … “Fuck!  Oh man … you … you’ve been hunting me, haven’t you …. I wasn’t imagining any of those double-entendres … you were teasing me.”

“Yes.  Come here, Jim.”

Jim went.  But this time, he thought, goddammit, this time it’s my kiss … and he leaned in and up and over and pressed his lips firmly to Spock’s, and then rubbed his cheek against Spock’s, and then licked at the corner of his mouth … and when Spock sucked in a tiny gasp of air … Jim slid his tongue into that small opening, and then traced Spock’s lips with just the tip of his tongue, and then back through that opening to touch Spock’s tongue with his own and then, and then … when Spock pressed his own tongue forward, Jim sucked on it, soft at first, and then harder, bolder, stronger.

“Ooohhhnnnngggg.”

Spock’s moan, deep and loud startled Jim out of the kiss.

“Noooo … Jim!” Spock’s eyes were wide and unfocused.  “Please … please, Jim.  Do not stop.  Do not …”

 now, vividly aware, Jim felt the press of each of Spock’s fingers in his biceps, biting into him, heard his labored breath, saw the faint green flush suffusing his face, his neck and even the top of his chest.  The green nipples (green nipples?) pointed and hard amid the pelt of dark tangled chest hair.

What do they taste like?  Apples?  Mint?

Spock saw Jim’s eyes move to his nipples, saw the speculation in his face and … did … not … dare … to breathe.

Jim moved his face near those nipples, that hair and blew softly on the nearest.  Heard Spock’s quick inhalation.  Blew softly on the furthest. 

Spock’s fingers dug more deeply into his biceps.  I’ll have bruises, Jim thought.

And as if that was the catalyst his cock had been waiting for … it stirred.  Jim stared down the length of his own body and realized, for the first time – he was still fully clothed – and Spock … Spock was not only fully naked … but fully erect … his penis standing at almost right angles to his body, it’s normal olive-hue deepened almost to emerald.

Jim looked up.  Spock’s chin was raised, his eyes closed, his mouth very slightly open.

Ok, thought Jim … ok. 

And he touched his tongue to one of those sharply standing nipples.

Spock moaned …

Jim laved the nipple, coated it with his tongue, blew on it, nipped it – just a little, very gently … sucked it into his mouth and … tugged.

‘Aaarrrrhhhhhh …”

Ok … so this was kind of fun.  Jim grinned suddenly.  He might not be soft and smooth and cushiony … but his Vulcan was apparently very … responsive.  Jim moved his lips over the second nipple, and here started with a nip, and then strong suction, and then laved only around, and not on the pointed tip. 

“Jim, jimmm … jimmmm.”

Hmmm, yes, he liked that.

Jim dipped his head and brushed his face across that fuzzy chest and murmured … Spock …”

“Urmph?”

Jim grinned and sing-songed, “Oh, Spo oock … my arms are going numb.”

It took a full four seconds for the words to penetrate, and then abruptly his arms were free and Spock’s hands, fingers spread, were hovering beside Jim’s shoulders.  Spock looked dazedly at Jim’s arms, at the impressions in them, and whispered … “Sorry … sorry … I, … Jim …”

“‘S okay”, Jim said, “but I need a little more mobility.”

Spock stared uncomprehendingly.

“In fact …” Jim said.  And then put his hands at the base of his shirt, waited until Spock’s eyes were on them, and then grasped it, drew it up over his chest, his neck, his head … and pulled it off his arm to drop it on the floor.

Spock stared.  That chest – only inches from his own, that seemingly sturdy solid chest that none-the-less held a fragile human heart, and lungs … so vulnerable … so … so … that smooth skin and flat tan nipples, the faint glimmering line of hair slyly pointing the way to …

Jim thought Spock had looked long enough.  He took firm hold of Spock above those ridiculously bony hips, below the ribs and gave a gentle, steady pull.

Spock gazed down into Jim’s suddenly mischievous eyes and let himself be drawn chest to chest … and almost groin to groin.  Except that their difference in heights meant that his penis was now pressed against Jim’s lower belly and Jim’s cock (unfortunately not yet in evidence, Spock thought) was no doubt hanging out somewhere in the space below Spock’s scrotum.

“Spock,” Jim said.

“Yes …?”

“Do you like this?” Jim rubbed his torso side to side, the movement rolling Spock’s penis between his skin and Jim’s.

“Unnhhh.”  Spock grunted.  Jim grinned.

“And how about this,” Jim asked and brought his hand up to wrap around Spock’s cock and squeezed gently at the tip.

“Nnnggha.” said Spock. 

“Is that Vulcan, Spock?” Jim asked with a wicked smile as he coated his palm with the beads of moisture forming at the tip of Spock’s penis, and then slid it slowly down, around and back up the shaft.

“Hhhnhgn.…!” Jim’s hand, Spock thought.  Jim’s touch!  Every control, every logical thought melted into oblivion.

Jim wrapped his fingers fully around Spock’s cock and applied just a little pressure, then pushed and pulled up and down, back and forth, keeping the pressure and friction just tight enough to gently constrict.  “You know, Spock, … if we’re going to be lovers, we’re going to have work on your communication skills.”

At that, Spock forced his eyes open, and directed a pointed glare at his Captain.  “Jimmm.” he gritted out between clenched teeth. 

“Yeah?” Jim replied casually, now using less pressure and more of Spock’s juices to pump Spock’s cock wetly and rapidly through his fist.

 

“Kum-tor nu!” Spock’s arms shot out and his hands clutched at Jim’s biceps. His voice was harsh with need, dangerous with it, as he grated out, “Take me!

Jim’s heart shuddered in his chest as he looked up at his dazed and disheveled First Officer.  Spock’s skin was flushed with passion.  His cheeks, throat and eyelids were suffused with soft green, like the fleshy interior of a ripe avocado.  His lips, now a dark moss green, parted with each accelerated breath.  As his chest and ribcage heaved, mint-green buds, peaked tight, were pushed nearer and then teasingly away from Jim’s gaze.  His eyes … his eyes were intent on Jim’s.  Deep, dark pools of inky black …

“Jim…” Spock moaned, “Puh  lee – Unh!…” His breath was caged, his chest so tight with delicious tension … he could not keep syllables together.  His attempts were reduced to meaningless pants.  And then Jim stopped pumping, and instead squeezed firmly at the base of his staff.

“You want me inside you?”  Jim asked with deceptive gentleness.  Spock observed the knowing smile; lips pressed flat, eyes narrowed.  He knew …, of course he knew … the question was proffered only to see Spock to wrestle his body for the breath to answer.

Spock’s hands released Jim’s biceps and moved instead to his hips, gripped them hard, and tugged.  His eyes glared.  If he could not manage words, actions must suffice.

“Spock,” Jim said, drawing Spock’s eyes back to his.

With Jim’s hands stilled to just that single ring of fire, Spock could finally breathe.  He trapped pleasure and sensation in one corner of his mind, and managed a response.  “Yesss…?”

“Where’s your bed?”

“I … I do not use one.  I sleep on the meditation stone.”

Jim dropped his hands.  “You’re kidding me.”

“No.” Jim dropped his hands! 

“You sleep on a rock.”

Spock knew of no reason that he should feel embarrassment, but somehow Jim’s incredulous and frankly disgusted look did make him feel …

“Jim … if you require cushioning, we could use the extra uniforms.” 

“Out of the mood now.  Sleeps on a fucking rock.  No wonder you don’t mind men … feel nice and soft under you after getting your rocks off against a fucking slab of stone on any other night.  Geeez.”  Jim shuddered.

Spock realized he’d made a grave miscalculation.  How to get Jim’s hands back on him?

“Jim, I lied.”

“You what?”

“I lied.  I do not sleep on the meditation stone.  It was a joke.”

“A joke.”  Jim put his hands on his hips.  “So, where is the bed.”

Spock walked to the alcove currently holding his holos of Vulcan, the ‘paperweight’ Jim had bought him at a San Francisco pawn shop, the 3-D chess set his mother had given him (non regulation but he knew it would distress her if he returned it for a regulation set) and his lyre.  Silently he moved each item into an adjacent drawer – and then pressed the button that retracted the alcove cover to reveal the bed.

“Spock – you move all this stuff every night before you go to bed?” Jim asked softly.

“Yes”.

“And you move it all back every morning after you get up.” Jim stated even more softly.

“Yes.”

“You’re lying.  You’re lying about lying!”

“Yes” Spock said helplessly.  This was a disaster. Jim would surely conclude that Spock was untrustworthy; lacking in control and integrity.

Jim stared at Spock.  How sexy was that?  Spock wanted Jim so bad he was willing to lie about something as trivial as where he slept!  Well, that was just … huh.

Spock stared at the bed and then finally raised his eyes to Jim’s and said hopelessly, “It is a very soft bed, Jim.”

And Jim, his friend, his lover, his captain, his t’hy’la, his soon-to-be husband sighed, dropped onto the bed and began pulling off a boot.

“It had better be, Spock.”  And then as the first boot hit the floor, Jim looked up at his first officer, his friend, his soon-to-be-lover and maybe-even-husband and asked, “Well – aren’t you going to help me get my other boot off?”

Chapter End Notes:

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