He is beautiful.
Even under the bleeding sun, as he sits on the odd silk couch next to Kirk examining his PADD with a slight furrow of concentration. Damask and amber rays leave their watery marks on pointed ear tips and serene face, and stain the creamy greenish skin an approximation of deep orange. His hair is painted with gold-speckled charcoal - auriferous meteorites in clean-cut lines streak down an obsidian field of even hairs.
Kirk dares not blink even as his heart stutters.
Instead, he allows his seeking fingers to touch one of two treasures that keep his heart beating.
Spock, who takes most things literally, who maddeningly prizes logic above emotion, who smiles in beautiful non-smiles. Every day Kirk needs to know he is there, that he’s real; he needs to feel the way Spock’s hummingbird heart thrums at his wrists. Every day Kirk watches Spock on the bridge and sees how he does not stand as tall since Vulcan was lost, and fights the urge to hold Spock up in his arms, smooth away the pain. But today - just this once, in the hope of a forever - he permits his hands this forbidden fruit.
As the pads of Kirk’s fingers trace over the slightly dimpled temple, cautious brown eyes lift and turn to meet his blue gaze mere inches away. Spock stiffens and, after a long moment, exhales slowly.
A shiver skims across Kirk’s cool skin.
“Nothing, Mr Spock. It’s just... Just really beautiful this evening.” I’m glad you’re here.
Spock raises a beloved upswept eyebrow, an outline of a gently-sloped hill on the pale expanse of his forehead. He smells of dry desert. Shoulders squared and body tense, Spock’s Adam’s apple bobs once - up and down.
“Captain, it may not be prudent to -”
“Spock, Spock. Shut up.“ Kirk slides a finger down to Spock’s lips but does not move any closer - they feel unexpectedly soft. Spock’s raised eyebrow sinks sadly, guarded eyes avoiding the trap of brilliant blue. Green-tinged lips press into a downturned line before parting.
“Captain, you know I will not -”
“C’mon, Spock. It’s not like I’m the worst bachelor in the Federation or something, I’m even prudent. See, Spock, my future thinks of and cares for you, you’re all it needs. Everything else, they don’t matter, so what do we have to lose? Huh?”
Spock’s eyes close, shutting the world out.
Kirk feels his heart twisting and grasping in his tight chest, desperate for a certain stubborn half-Vulcan to understand just how much he aches. Kirk’s hand shifts to lightly hold the angular jaw of his...friend. Friend. This is the very height of illogic when they so clearly want - need - more. It is clear in the way Spock’s eyes follow him closely across the bridge every shift, the way Spock lets Kirk win at chess just to see Kirk’s happy dance.
The way Spock placed his index and middle fingers across Kirk’s at the end of one of their chess games, in what Kirk later found out to be a Vulcan kiss, before excusing himself hurriedly.
Another shiver dances across his hand at the memory.
“No. Sir.” A burning hand moves Kirk’s fingers away as wary brown meets eager blue. Spock clears his throat weakly and levels his eyebrows in spite of the turmoil in his eyes. “No. You are... You are the best one I know.”
There is a brokenness in Spock’s whisper, but also elevating strength, as though he is stating a fact. His eyes tear away from Kirk’s to run across his face, then back again, the sudden openness offering a golden sliver of hope Kirk has not dared to harbour in a long time. It loosens the iron band that chokes Kirk’s ribs and his heart ventures to beat in freer, bigger pulses.
Yes! Yes. Say yes.
Spock’s eyes shutter abruptly. His blink will be the only evidence of any emotion other than the blank mask now pulled over his features.
“Captain, the Empress has returned.”
Kirk’s lips tilt down of their own accord as he hears faint squelching footsteps. On his lap now, his hands curl and uncurl; Kirk bends forward to concentrate on his spontaneous task of examining them sullenly. Spock is still turned towards his captain. His brows furrow deeper and eyes narrow as though trying to see through a fog.
Kirk squares his shoulders and arranges his hands carefully on his lap when the footsteps grow louder. With a practiced smile, he ignores the warm gaze on his neck, ignores the iron band that returns to fetter his diaphragm and lungs, and rises to his feet to greet the Empress.
They have a deal to close with this planet’s people.
Later, when Kirk and the Empress have shaken hands - and tentacles - over a signed contract, Kirk knows he cannot let things lie as they are. Hell, this thing is rearing its ugly ninja head and taunting behind trees and bushes of sticky gum. Someone should write a guide on how to deal with a side-stepping Vulcan.
Even God can’t help you. James Tiberius Kirk, you stupid. Masochistic. Idiot.
His mind races and rifles through flashbacks and facts before remembering that it is Spock’s turn to call the Enterprise when they get to the pick-up point.
Ah-ha! Spock will typically want to return to the Enterprise quickly, so he can return to some draggy experiment or run results for some utterly boring substance from a foreign planet. Then, Kirk can corner Spock in that little nook just beside the transporter room and at least get a reason why Spock is so averse to the idea of them.
Wow. It’s actually a simple, flawless, James Kirk-like plan. He’s a genius.
A James Kirk-like plan.
When they reach the pick-up point, Spock does not appear to be in a hurry, with his thumb hesitating over the communicator button. His gaze is fixed on the ground in an uncharacteristic show of unsureness. Kirk itches to press on the button for him; each passing moment coils his muscles tighter, the tension urging him to run.
“Jim. Despite the fact that it was - and may always be - oddly pleasing to be in contact with you, you must cease your...pursuit of me. This venture... This venture is not possible.”
The quiet words are fireworks, primed in Kirk’s chest and launched without care to aim. Spock sets a hard gaze on him.
Kirk’s shoulders inch their way upwards and blue fires seek some contact - any contact - with those achingly familiar brown eyes.
Maybe the connection will get Spock to reconsider, think again - Hell, accept him on the spot! Kirk will take anything, anything - maybe his next words will convince him. His hands reach out, barely resisting the urge to physically shake Spock. A response bubbles frantically at the fringes of his heart and clambers to his lips, and -
Spock turns away.
“Please beam us up, Mr Scott.”