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It had been a bad day. Actually, it had been bad two months, almost. But soon there would be at least a much needed break from the madness that was the career of a starship captain.

 James T. Kirk was inches away from salvation, also known as the door to his quarters, when he was once again stopped by an officer.

 'Sir? Sir? Do you have a moment?'

 Jim turned towards an old, serious officer and adjusted his face to look attentive. It was as far as possible from his true feelings, but he did his best. He forced his eyebrows to rise and the corners of his mouth to relax. His back and shoulders stayed slumped, however. There was only so much strength left in him, and the officer was probably experienced enough not to care if the Captain did look a bit rumpled on occasion.

 'Yes, what is it?' Jim glared at the man. The Captain's bleary eyes caught the golden stripes on the man's sleeves. '… Lieutenant,' he added.

 'I put forward a procurement request some time ago, but it hasn't been approved as of yet. We cannot defend the crew or you, Sir, without those disruptors, upgraded phasers and close-range tactical scanners!'

 'I will look into it,' Jim promised, and forced his hand to rise so he could pat the man's shoulder. As an afterthought he tensed the corners of his mouth to twist his lips to a smile.

 'Thank you Sir,' said the officer, looking slightly wary. 'I appreciate it.'

 Jim let go of the smiling attempt when he saw the officer's uncertain face. It seemed to relax the older man, so Jim dared to proceed with a nod. His eyes closed on their own volition, and he lurched slightly before regaining his balance. His eyes were gray and watery, and the door right in front of him seemed fuzzy. As Jim took a single step forward the door recognized him, opened and let him in.

 

 'Only that's what you said six days ago,' murmured the officer, looking at the closing doors next to him. 'And a few days before that, too. I don't like this.' He sauntered off, shaking his head and mumbling to himself.

 The doors closed behind Jim. The Captain whispered a hoarse command to lock the door, swayed on his feet and slumped down on the floor, where he remained for a while. His head lolled on his chest and kept his eyes open only by sheer willpower.

 First there had been Christmas. Not a happy occasion to everyone, especially to those who've spent Christmases protecting other children from the insanity of a murderous tyrant. The Christmases spent alone, listening to his mother argue with his step-father had been only slightly better. The Christmases in the Academy had been much better – he had been so drunk he had no memories whatsoever. Finally there had been those few Christmases aboard the Enterprise, which Jim had spent wooing pretty girls, because that's what they expected of him, and feeling miserable inside.

 Then there had been the New Year. Happy New Year! Happy! Happy happy happy! First of all, flying around the unknown space, they could not count years, months or weeks. But it was the New Year on Earth, so the crew wished everyone to be happy, all the time, forever. Secondly, Jim had barely survived his Christmas Gloom, and thirdly, someone had to work while the rest celebrated.

 And now there was Valentine's Day.

 Jim pulled himself up and swayed for a moment before he was sure his feet would carry him. Valentine's Day. Jim had known a Valentina once, a pretty blonde but too dumb for more than one day's amusement. He had never known a Valentine.

 

 He had to sleep. He took one tentative step towards the bed, when his sluggish brain registered something unusual. A fruity aroma; a warm, spicy scent he could not recognize. Jim flared his nostrils and inhaled the delicious scent.

 

 'It is a type of Vulcan tea, known for its refreshing and revitalizing effects,' said a voice.

 

 Jim turned his head towards the voice reflexively more than consciously. Only now his bleary eyes saw the familiar shape of Spock sitting by the workstation. Spock was pouring light green liquid from a thermal container to a standard white Starfleet cup.

 

 'Thank you, Spock, but what I really need is sleep,' Jim grunted, but tried to look apologetic. 'It smells delicious, though. I'd be happy to try it sometime.'

 

 Without even glancing at the Captain Spock replied, calmly: 'No. You cannot afford to be anything less than perfect.' Spock finished pouring the drink, and reached towards a small pouch on the table. Jim watched as the Vulcan's long, nimble fingers pried the pouch open, picked up a pinch of dark powdery substance and sprinkled it on the tea before extending the cup towards Jim.

 'Spock, I...'

 Jim looked at his First Officer, saw his unrelenting gaze and picked up the cup with a resigned sigh. He took a careful sip, swallowed and smacked his lips appreciatively. 'Hey, it's not bad!'

 Spock tied the strings on the pouch and tucked the little bag to his pocket. 'Humans visiting Vulcan often drink this, sweetened with birkeen, when the heat fatigues them.'

 

 'Was that what you sprinkled on the top? This... bierkheen?'

 

 Spock nodded and watched calmly as Jim emptied the cup in two gulps. The Captain set the cup down on the workstation, blinked and smiled a genuine, happy smile. Spock's gaze turned from stern to warm and contented, looking like a sehlat curled up in its nest.

 

 'Where were you and your Wonder Tea during the long exam periods in the Academy?' Jim chuckled. 'I could have used this then.' He flexed his fingers and peered at his hands as if expecting them to shimmer magically from the power of the herbal drink. His eyes began to regain their playful glint.

 

 'As I recall, you were too busy for studying at nights,' Spock commented. Jim grimaced. 'The tea includes herbal oils, which the body metabolizes into substrates. Some of the metabolites react with enzyme-bound adenosine, causing a-'

 

 Jim had regained enough energy to stop Spock short. 'So what did you want to talk about?' the Captain asked, stretched his back and combing his hair with his fingers. He had regained his military posture, and his eyes were again sharp and attentive. 'I assume you came to my quarters for a reason other than this tea?'

 

 'I did not indicate a need to converse,' Spock said and stood up. He pushed the chair back to its place under the workstation. Jim heard it snap to its fastenings, which would keep the chair in place if the ship made any sudden moves. Spock eyes met Jim's.

 

 Jim felt a strange flutter in his stomach. He noticed again how velvety and deep Spock's eyes were, and the long, dark eyelashes made his look almost dreamy. The slanted eyebrows reached almost up to the perfect bangs, which shone like the jet-black feathers of a raven. This was not the first time Jim had noticed it, though... but it was the first time he allowed himself to feel the way he did.

 

 'Oh,' was all Jim could manage to say. He prided himself for even that accomplishment. His eyes fell on Spock's lips, tracing the line from the corner of the mouth upwards, over the double peaks below the regal nose and down again to the other corner. The lower lip, Jim noticed, was distinctly more round, soft and moist where Spock's tongue had touched it.

 

 The brief thought about Spock's tongue sent the butterflies in Jim's stomach to a frenzy. A small flock apparently flew lower and made his loins tickle pleasantly.

 

 'If your physical condition has improved, Captain, there is something you should hear,' Spock said, apparently unaware of Jim's racing thoughts and hungry gaze. When he spoke Jim caught a glimpse of that pink, wet tongue, as it darted between Spock's lips.

 

 'Oh?' Jim mustered all his strength and military prowess. 'What is it?' He wanted to pat himself on the back for managing to produce this wonderful piece of exact and fluent Federation Standard English. He settled for a quick glance at Spock's ears. That was definitely a better prize than a pat on the back.

 

 Spock walked away from Jim, who only just managed not to pull the Vulcan back to him. To his relief Spock only took a few steps in the small compartment and picked up a sturdy case from the floor. He placed the case on the table, pushed the empty tea cup farther away and used the fingerprint scanner to open the locks.

 

 The lid of the case sprang open. Jim found himself looking at a genuine Vulcan lyre. Jim watched, astonished, as Spock picked the lyre up carefully but expertly. Jim searched his mind for a polite way of refusing the gift, for he had no musical talents whatsoever, and would probably end up breaking this piece of art Spock was offering to him.

 

Spock picked up the lyre and ran his fingers over the strings. The sharp, harmonious notes reminded Jim of the sound of water drops falling on tree leaves back in Iowa. Spock's earlier sentence managed to push away some of the raunchier thoughts in Jim's mind and forced its way to the conscious mind. There is something you should hear.

 

 Jim felt how his heartbeat increased immediately, and his palms began to sweat. Was this... would Spock... but he'd never... Jim stepped towards his bed and slumped down, much like he had slumped against the door a year or so ago. Spock sat down on the floor only a few yards away from Jim. He held his chin down, but looked straight at Jim through those long eyelashes. He drew a few solitary notes from the lyre.

 

 'My mother used to celebrate Valentine's Day by baking heart-shaped cookies for me. I was not able to acquire all the necessary ingredients, so I had to settle for another option, as I believe giving gifts on this day is an appreciated custom among Humans.'

 '… Yes,' Jim breathed. His eyes were locked on Spock's fingers, admiring the way he held the lyre so strongly and yet so delicately. The long fingers picking at the strings had almost a hypnotizing effect.

 'The computer entry on Valentine's Day mentioned that special, personal gifts are usually given to loved ones. Perhaps you will find my gift satisfactory.'

 Jim's heart stopped entirely. Loved ones. His world tumbled, shook and finally turned around. He thought it strange how his personal apocalypse did not sound like an explosion, but like melodious, soft music. He sunk into the bed, through it, floated in space for an indeterminable time and finally returned to his own quarters. For decades he stared at Spock, sitting there before him, playing his lyre. Somewhere out there planets collided and stars went supernova, but inside Jim's cabin time stood still. The world ended, quietly and harmoniously.

 Still Spock played. The notes left the lyre, twirled around Spock and danced in the air.

 Jim stared. He listened.

 And still Spock played.

 Eons came and went. Jim stared, listened, and his heart swelled until his chest ached. Spock's fingers picked the strings expertly even when he lifted his head, looked at Jim with his eyes glinting, and smiled.

 With a soundless explosion the wreckage of Jim's universe imploded, and a new Universe was born, bright, magnificent and full of wonders to be explored.

 Jim pushed himself off the bed and fell on his knees on the floor. He sat down on his calves, mere inches away from Spock. He could hear Spock breathing.  The last, drawn-out notes slowly faded away. Silence returned. Jim licked his dry lips without a hint of nervousness. He could sense Spock starting to get up, which would lead the Vulcan to packing his lyre, returning to his own quarters and leaving Jim all alone in his new Universe. That was not acceptable.

 Jim reached his hand towards Spock, who actually flinched. Jim spread his fingers and waited for Spock to relax before placing his palm softly on the Vulcan's arm. Jim's bright eyes monitored for any tension in Spock's face while his fingers, which felt so clumsy after watching Spock play the lyre, stroked the blue fabric of the uniform. Slowly Jim drew his fingers towards Spock's hand. He heard the Vulcan's breathing quickening when his fingers reached the naked skin on Spock's wrist.

 With his one hand Spock laid down the lyre. His other hand rested on his thigh, and his eyes followed Jim's fingers, which softly caressed the back of his hand.

 Some of the biggest changes in the world occur due to major events: earthquakes, supernovas, meteor strikes. This time the world changed because of a minor movement, as Spock's lips parted slightly and he raised his other hand, palm towards Jim, his index finger and middle finger held up.

 Jim swallowed. He understood.

Jim lifted his fingers from Spock's wrist. He mimicked Spock's gesture by bending three fingers against his palm, but letting the two fingers stay up. He held his hand steady and watched how Spock let his own fingertips brush against Jim's. Jim gasped. The sensual touch of the Vulcan sent electric shocks throughout his entire body and made his hair stand on end. It was so innocent and yet so incredibly erotic at the same time, enough to drive Jim half-mad with anticipation.

Jim watched, hypnotized, how Spock's fingertips caressed his own fingers, moving gently up and down, sending those pleasant shivers darting up Jim's arm. Jim smiled. He saw his smile reflected back at him in the tender eyes of the Vulcan.

A tiny voice inside Jim's head finally managed to make itself heard. It struggled a bit more to form an actual sentence and to push that sentence through Jim's tense vocal chords and quivering lips.

 'Spock... I do not have a gift for you. I didn't expect you to, well, care. No, that's not the right word, I-'

 This time it was Spock who interrupted Jim. He had a human-half, too, and events such as Valentine's day sometimes made that part of him override the logical Vulcan one. Or maybe it was the closeness of Jim which relaxed him enough to bring out the impulsiveness in him.

 Spock attacked Jim's fingers with his mouth, sucking at the two digits gently, while his tongue swirled around the fingertips. It was not a logical thing to do, but scientifically it was fascinating to see how a trained Captain would react to such an unexpected action so soon after a chemically-induced wake-up. Spock congratulated himself on this perfectly logical reasoning.

 The reaction Spock observed was enough of a gift. Jim's pulse rocketed, he blushed, gasped for breath and showed all the signs of a surge of testosterone and adrenaline. Comforted by this scientifically sound result Spock now focused on tasting Jim's skin. His tongue caressed the sensitive nook between Jim's fingers.

'Spock....' Jim panted.

Spock recoiled at Jim's voice. His eyes turned cool again as the logical Vulcan took over his body, and berated him for luxuriating in such useless acts of expressing devotion and romantic interest. Spock's head whipped back and he stood up, leaving the flabbergasted Captain sitting on the floor.

Spock packed his lyre carefully. 'You never were, sweetheart. You never were', he whispered to himself. But the Captain heard. He even heard the endearment, which sounded so alien yet so incredibly touching coming from Spock.

'Were what?' he managed to ask, clambering up from the floor, and blinking his eyes. His new world was magnificent but apparently very, very unstable. A faint sweet scent caught his nose, and he knew exactly where it originated. He turned away from Spock to hide a certain anatomical detail, obvious as it was in those somewhat tight uniform pants of his.

 Spock picked up the case and made his way towards the door. He did not show any signs of surprise or shame of having been overheard. Spock simply turned and looked at Jim straight in the eyes. 'Less than perfect,' he replied.

 In a flash Jim reached towards Spock and pulled the unresisting Vulcan to his arms.

 This Valentine's Day just kept getting better.

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