“Top ‘o the mornin’ to ya, Mister Scott.”
Jim didn’t bother to hide his grin at Scotty’s disgruntled, clearly still-hungover response. Frankly, he was surprised that Scotty didn’t give him a two-fingered salute with his chipper greeting. While none of his crew would ever report to their duty stations still inebriated, McCoy had taken the liberty of creating a detox hypo that still left the recipient feeling, in his words, ‘a mite delicate, but more than able to perform their duties.’ Most of the crew had cottoned onto the fact that the cure was worse than the hangover, and had planned their alcoholic-induced celebrations to end with sufficient time for recovery before reporting for duty.
Last night though?
Last night was one for the record books. Lieutenant Jones and Lieutenant Ba’re’l had finally gotten married, after five years of flirting, longing glances, and absolute and steadfast adoration for one another. While Jim couldn’t give the newly married couple a real honeymoon, he could excuse them from the next few duty rosters, and did so with what Nyota had called ‘childlike glee.’ Jim couldn’t exactly help it though, space was often terrifying, endlessly fascinating, and also-- on occasion-- boring as all hell. A big wedding had been a perfect respite from all that tedious star charting.
Well, okay, it wasn’t tedious. It was important, fulfilling work. Spock’s team of scientists just about arm-wrestled each other for the privilege of taking on a new quadrant. But for Jim? Nope. Not one of his go-tos for a good time.
“The Commander’ll be here soon, sir.”
Jim started whistling a jaunty tune, taking smug note of Scotty’s wince out of the corner of his eye when he hit the really high notes. That was the best part. With his crew collectively (except for a skeleton crew of volunteers) coming to work a little late this morning, it meant that he and Spock were going to be the first two people on the new planet. Sulu had taken to calling it Hoth, but its real name hadn’t been declassified yet.
That didn’t matter though. Jim was damn near bouncing on his feet. This was what he lived for. Adventure! Exploration! He and Spock would be the first two beings on this planet, and there was damn near nothing more exciting.
The echoing click of a bootheel signified Spock’s arrival, and Jim, at the sound of a snort of amusement, looked up. Spock was in the process of yanking a pair of earmuffs off of his head.
“You don’t like my gift, Spock?”
“Your gift is admirable, Nyota, yet the inflection of your voice clearly signifies amusement at my expense.”
“Spoilsport,” muttered Nytoa, lips still twitching in a smile. The red earmuffs were horrifying, even by Jim’s standards. They had ugly-sweater wearing reindeer with light-up red noses on one side and what looked like a chartreuse dreidel on the other. No wonder Spock had jerked them off of his head. Jim was surprised that Spock hadn’t obliterated them with a phaser (probably because it wouldn't have been logical, and his mother had drilled simple manners into him from the time he was young).
“This will be acceptable.”
Spock pulled a black stocking cap onto his head, meeting Jim’s eyes for the first time since arriving. To Jim’s delight, Spock’s gaze flicked upwards in a Vulcan version of an eye roll.
“Well, here. At least let me handle the E kit,” Jim said. Nyota thrust the familiar medical kit of emergency supplies such as food packs and first aid items towards Jim who took it with a nod and a grin of thanks. It felt a little heavier than usual but at Nyota’s impish look, Jim thought that he would just wait and see. It would be more fun that way.
“Thanks, Ny. You’re duty officer until we get back. Shouldn’t be more than three hours.” Nyota saluted with her customary sardonic eyebrow, and Jim returned the salute in a habit that both Spock and McCoy had drilled into him in their five years together. At first, it had been a drag. Jim couldn’t walk anywhere on the damn ship without someone freaking saluting him, and expecting one back. Then, after Khan and the brouhaha that had followed that, Jim had realized that Pike had been right. In a roundabout way of course, but Jim had realized that no. He couldn’t be everyone’s friend on the ship, that there had to be some kind of obvious divide between the officers and the rest of the crew.
Jim wished that he’d understood what Pike had been trying to tell him before the other man had been killed, but he supposed that maturity came to everyone, eventually. It seemed to have finally arrived for him, anyway.
Jim jumped and blinked, realizing that while he’d been wool-gathering, Spock had not only moved to his place on the transporter pad, but had arranged the stocking cap over the top of his ears, pulling it down almost covering his eyebrows.
It was impossibly cute.
Jim immediately reminded himself that he shouldn’t be thinking of adjectives such as ‘cute’ about his first officer, and turned to a still bleary-eyed Scotty.
Jim had to admit to an almost shamefully giddy feeling of anticipation. It wasn't just that he and Spock were getting ready to go into the great unknown, although that certainly appealed. There was something... something almost greedy about the fact that for a good three hours it would only be Jim and Spock, out there on this virgin planet.
Jim looked to his second in command and raised his eyebrows in inquiry. Spock's infinitesimal nod as he tightened his gloved hand on his bag of equipment in return was all the answer Jim needed.
"Energize, Mr. Scott."
It was perfect.
Jim had travelled to a lot of places, but he hadn’t realized there were so many different shades of white: whites so bright under the four suns that it hurt to look directly at them, whites so dull that they looked almost grey. There were jewel tones to some of the snow patches that would sparkle, throwing an incandescent shimmer of deep ruby reds or aquamarine blues onto the expanse of white as the sun beamed down.
The wind made Jim thankful for his winter-issue ‘Fleet regs. Since there were so few trees, the wind blew snow and ice across the plains and lakes of solid ice. Even with the extra warmth, the wind had a habit of finding the few nooks and crannies that existed between material and skin and worming their way inside to say hello.
After Jim caught Spock darting a few surreptitious looks at his tricorder, he made a ‘have at’ gesture at his first officer, knowing that Spock would very clearly have an itinerary for them to follow that would no doubt encompass the most efficient way to explore the whole area. It was the scientific equivalent of going to a swimming pool and Spock taking a sample set of the temperature of each section of the pool, factoring in current and chemical composition to know where best to enter so the water would not provide a shock to the system while Jim got a running start and jumped into the deep end, yelling “Cannonball!!”
“Captain, I believe a core sample of the ice in the lake would be the best place to begin.”
Spock had heard Jim correct him hundreds of times in their five years together, yet still insisted on calling him by his title when on duty. Of all the smaller bits of protocol that he and Bones had drilled into Jim’s head (neither of them were gonna let him make a mistake and give HQ a reason to take away the Enterprise from Jim again), that one was the most often ignored. Jim thought that it was a sign of respect when his bridge officers used his first name. He had curbed his instinctive lack of respect for authority, and didn’t want them to think him a tyrant. Off duty (or off-planet) was enough of a reason to use first names as far as Jim was concerned.
“Initial scans of the planet show that there is no sentient life here. The ambient temperature is 1.6667 Celsius, although information scanned shows that this planet is currently experiencing its most mild temperature, and should do so for the next twenty-three-point-six Terran days.” Spock pointed at the surface of a large lake to the east. “Ah. There would be an ideal place to gather our samples.”
Jim shrugged. “Sounds good to me. You brought the arctic hydro-drill thing...y?”
Spock favored him with the Vulcan equivalent of ‘yes, of course’, and Jim ducked his head. It had been a stupid question.
The wind blew tiny ice crystals across the snowy surface as they made their way over the small hill and down to the beach area. Spock immediately bent over and started assembling the drill that would give them answers that a surface scan just couldn’t do. This ice sample would not damage the ecosystem, and it might give them clues to what had happened here. It wasn’t the weirdest thing that they had seen by any stretch of an imagination, but it appeared the entire planet was experiencing a significant ice age: one that encompassed the entire surface.
More to have something to do than from any desire to get in Spock’s way, Jim slung the E pack from his shoulder and started digging into it.
“Ice skates! Spock, Nyota packed us ice skates!”
Spock stopped what he was doing and turned towards Jim. “For what purpose?”
“Probably for some of the same reasons that she put you in those horrible earmuffs. But joke’s on her- I love ice skating! Used to do it at Grandpa Tiberus’ farm when I was a kid.” Jim immediately sat down on a rock and attached the skate to his boot. Its design was such that it automatically adhered to any surface- be it bare human foot, a ‘Fleet regulation boot, a clawed and scaled reptilian appendage or sucker on a tentacle- and adjusted the length and width of the blade so that its user could skate safely.
“I do not---”
“Ah, ah, ah, Spock. I’m Captain here and we have another two hours before anyone beams down to relieve us. Your drill--thingamajig will-” Jim waved his hand towards it dismissively- “drill without you standing there to watch over it, so I’d really, really like it if you’d come skate with me.”
Spock opened his mouth, then frowned minutely.
“I could order you.”
“That will not be necessary, Captain. I am more than capable of partaking in such an exercise.”
Had it been anyone else, Jim would have called it a case of the gentleman protesting too much. There was a slight green cast to Spock’s cheeks that could have been a blush or could have been just the frigid temperature. Jim didn’t ask, instead making sure that both of his skates were secured correctly.
Jim grabbed the tricorder to double check that the ice would hold both their additional weights before skating out onto the glassy surface. The wind was cold enough that his breath puffed out in little poofs of air as he shakily got his sealegs, before doing a quick turn and making his way back to Spock.
Spock didn’t really do nervous, but every bit of his body language fairly screamed it as he cautiously skated out onto the ice with legs as stiff as a board.
“Spock? You okay?”
“I am not accustomed to this method of movement.”
That was quite an understatement considering Spock grew up on a desert planet.
“Do you want some... help? Just to get you started?” Jim skated over closer to Spock.
“That would be acceptable, Captain.”
Jim muttered “Jim” under his breath as he skated back towards Spock. “Okay, so I think if we link arms like this, it will be easier. Just shift your weight when I do, and move with me. The gloves are warm enough, right?”
“Affirmative.” Spock’s answer was clipped as Jim pressed fully against him, from shoulder to hip. Linking arms was familiar enough, although Jim felt decidedly awkward; like he and Spock were on a date or something.
It took them a little while to get going. The awkwardness lingered as Spock’s usual gracefulness was stymied by the trickiness of moving with Jim on the slick surface. The wind kept Spock just off-balance enough that Jim found himself clutching more than guiding, his fingers digging into Spock’s hipbone in a way that couldn’t possibly be comfortable. They made a shaky lap around the front part of the lake, then Jim guided them to an even shakier stop. Spock’s legs went out from under him, and it was only the fact that Jim had quite a lot of skating experience that kept them both upright.
Spock didn’t frown, but his whole demeanor was that of one who was exceedingly grouchy about their lot in life.
“Look, this might be easier if we change positions.” Jim realized what he said and felt his face heat. He was agonizingly pleased that Spock was not looking at him.
Jim swallowed with rather more force than he intended. The sound seemed incredibly loud in the vast white emptiness of the planet, and he knew that Spock had to have heard. But he couldn’t help it. Spock’s ‘indeed’ had sounded much more ... thoughtful than Jim had expected.
Jim sucked in a quick breath and moved so that he was standing behind Spock, his hands resting lightly near Spock’s hips, about two inches from actually touching his body. They were close enough in height that Jim could have hooked his chin on Spock’s shoulder. Jim was essentially straddling Spock’s left leg; if Spock moved backward just slightly, Jim would be riding Spock’s leg.
The thought caused Jim to blush.... actually blush hard enough that he was dizzy for a second. It was though in that split second, Jim realized that Spock was not only impossibly intelligent, and attractive, and all of the things that he had been trying not to think about because of their friendship... that one thought merged together the idea of Spock, and Spock + sex, and Jim’s poor brain couldn’t handle the overload.
He cleared his throat, and cleared his throat again. “This okay?” Jim’s voice was soft, but he knew that Spock would hear him.
In answer, Spock pressed Jim’s hands against his sides with his own. Jim felt his mouth go dry.
“Oh-okay then. To the right.”
They began taking shaky steps, becoming more and more graceful as it became very obvious that yes- this position was much more efficient. They quickly gained speed. It wasn’t until they were halfway across the lake that Jim realized that Spock was still pressing Jim’s fingers against him. The shock of it- of Spock willingly touching him for so long when it wasn’t actually necessary caused Jim to stumble. He overcompensated, throwing his weight back. Spock’s skate tangled with Jim’s, and Spock managed to turn completely so that when Jim fell onto his back onto the lake’s surface, Spock fell on top of him, landing so that their lips were only inches apart. Jim gasped at the iciness at his back, his mind rapidly trying to parse that with the incredible heat of Spock’s body on top of him, legs still tangled together, bodies flush against one another.
Vulcans were quite heavy.
Jim realized he was staring at Spock’s lips and jerked his gaze back to Spock’s eyes, only to have his widen in shock. Spock was gazing at him with a hard, intense look that Jim recognized. It was the same look he’d received a handful of times before- almost always preceded by something that Jim had done that put his life at risk.
The time with the Gorn came rather readily to mind.
The few inches somehow became a few centimeters. Jim caught his breath. He couldn’t say who had moved that last little bit of space, but Spock’s lips were warm and a little dry as they brushed against his. Jim responded by pressing his mouth to Spock’s.
They separated, and Jim sucked in oxygen. Jim hadn’t had a lot of kisses like that before, kisses that were sweet, and tentative, and so fraught with meaning that Jim knew he’d need a few days to untangle everything that he was feeling.
Jim licked his bottom lip, a nervous habit that normally drove his bridge crew crazy, as it was an obvious tell as to what he was feeling. Before he could think of all the reasons why he probably shouldn’t, Jim pressed his lips to Spock’s again, parting them slightly.
Spock’s punched-out sound of want was all the answer Jim needed. Spock met him move for move. When Jim sucked a little on Spock’s lips, Spock traced the open seam of Jim’s mouth with his tongue. When Jim slid their tongues together, Spock shifted on top of him so that one had cupped the back of Jim’s head, tilting his mouth to where he most wanted it.
It was the best kiss of Jim’s life. The potential for more, without being filthy or an immediate precursor to sex was not something he’d ever experienced. Nor was the feeling of being absolute equals, of both partners knowing exactly what the other one wanted, almost before they did.
Eventually though, Spock pulled away. He moved his hands so that he could do an awkward sort of push-up, removing his heavier mass from Jim’s body.
Jim found himself wanting to stretch his neck up to prolong the kiss, but refrained. He did shiver though, at the absence of heat.
Spock untangled their skates, then moved to a crouch, reaching for Jim’s hand to help him up in one graceful movement that made Jim the teeniest bit suspicious of their recent fall to the ice; obviously the half-Vulcan was more than agile enough that he could have stopped it had he truly wished to do so. Before he could comment on this stunning new discovery, however, Spock leaned over and kissed his lips again with a quick brush of lips that reminded Jim of taking that last bite of a terrific meal, even when you were full. Like he couldn’t quite stop himself, and had no intention of trying.
“The rest of the away team will be here in approximately twenty minutes. We should return to the shore, Jim.”
Jim’s grin was as bright as the sun. They started skating back to the surface, the ice fairly eaten up by their smooth, skillful strides. Part of Jim wanted to discuss the kiss in detail, and ask Spock what he thought of every single nuance. The rest of him knew damn well what Spock had been thinking, and couldn’t wait to get to a more appropriate location to further discuss it. In detail.
It wasn’t until the rest of the away team arrived, and they had gotten their samples by Spock skillfully skating around the drilling area with a large piece of gangly equipment that Jim realized that Spock’s ice skating skill had improved dramatically. Either Jim was the best teacher ever- or Spock had already known how to skate. If Spock had already known how to skate, then...
“Oh my God!”
“Captain? It is time to return to the ship.” Spock came to a sudden stop with a shower of ice crystals fountaining up near the side of his skates, raising an eyebrow significantly. Spock’s lips may or may not have been twisted into the tiniest smirk that Jim had ever seen.
“Yeah. I heard you the first time. And you know, Spock, we’re going to have a few things to discuss when we get back.” Jim was shocked that Spock would go to all this trouble... just for a kiss. It was both the most ridiculous... and possibly the most romantic thing that Jim had ever had done to him. Before he could respond, the familiar breathless moment of the transporter working overtook them.
“Indeed, Jim. Nyota assures me that our conversation is quite overdue.” Spock leaned down and kissed him again, both shivering slightly from the feel of Jim’s cold lips in the ship’s climate-controlled air. “I am off-duty at 19:00 hours. Would you care for me to order... dinner?”
Jim knew he was grinning again and couldn’t have stopped it for anything. Spock had kissed him in front of their crew- which he knew that he should probably be upset about, but in actuality was too busy with the mental equivalent of hopping up and down in glee to get much more than a very calm and collected, “Yes. Mr. Spock. See you then.” past his grinning lips. Jim knew there would be a debrief from the away mission, and probably Bones would rappel from the ceiling at some point to give him his snarky brand of dating advice, but honestly?
He couldn’t freaking wait.