More or Less
SPOILERS FOR STAR TREK BEYOND. LOOK AWAY NOW IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET! :D
Over the past three-hundred and eighty-six-point-three days, Spock had become more than adequate at hiding his body’s responses to his Captain’s presence. When Jim’s blue gaze met his own, Spock’s heartrate increased by four percent. When Jim touched his shoulder, or brushed against him on the deck, Spock’s heartrate increased by nine percent. When Jim smiled at him, Spock’s heart often beat arithmetically in his side, often accompanied by an almost verdant flush to the very tips of his ears.
It was, perhaps, unfortunate that Nyota noticed Spock’s reaction before he did. Or perhaps not. Once they had finally finished the conversation that Spock had started before they had received the distress call, Nyota had understood both his desire to return to Vulcan, and supported his decision to do so. That their intimate connection had, by design, ended did not provoke the emotional response that Spock been lead to believe would normally accompany such a change.
Spock knew that Nyota understood his reticence in this matter. He found her presence next to him calming. While she did advocate for ‘telling the Captain everything, Spock’, he was not unaware that there was usually a time period between relationship statuses. While it was not the Vulcan way to spend much time with regrets, Spock could appreciate the sentiment.
However when Doctor McCoy asked Spock whether he was “gonna give Jim a radioactive Vulcan tracking device,” Spock knew that he must cease with his cowardice and explain to Jim how his regard had changed.
It was.... difficult to find a way to phrase such things. Given that the crew of the Enterprise was essentially on shore leave while their ship finished being built, Spock should be able, to use the human vernacular, ‘find the time’, yet that time remained elusive.
Prior to this, Spock had made his decision. His presence was needed on New Vulcan, perhaps even more now that Ambassador Spock had died. “Making Vulcan Babies” was yet another duty that Spock would assume as logic dictated that his race needed active procreation in order to perpetuate his species.
Spock had met with Chekov, Scott, and the newest member of Starfleet, Jaylah regarding ship’s schematics. Spock was not an engineer, but the Lieutenant Commander had felt it necessary to report to one of the command staff, and Jim was not available.
(Spock did not care to reflect on the reasons that Jim would not be available at this time.)
Spock had met with Sulu, his husband, and his daughter for dinner one evening. Their daughter had many questions for Spock, although Spock found that Sulu’s husband did not partake in much conversation.
Spock had met with McCoy, frequently. Almost as much as he met with Nyota. Ostensibly for medical follow-up, but ultimately for the Doctor to both inwardly and outwardly mock the differences in Spock’s relationship status. Spock often found human relationships perplexing, but he could find no fault with the good Doctor’s somewhat irascible behavior towards Spock’s wellbeing.
Spock had met with Nyota each day of their enforced shore leave. When he had tried to put distance between them, assuming that would be the logical step, Nyota had refused such particularities and remained his friend. When Spock had opened his mouth to inquire on this subject, Nyota’s beautiful brown gaze had sharpened in a way that Spock knew did not often bode well for him. Perhaps Spock had not been meant to hear her muttered ‘somebody needs to help the two of you get your head out of your ass,’ but perhaps so. Nyota was more than familiar with the nuances and rage of Vulcan hearing.
Spock had not met with Jim. Jim had left one message to check in, and there had been no further communication.
It was that more than anything else that caused Spock to tense momentarily in shock when Jim appeared at his door, unannounced and still bruised from his fight with Krall with no prior indication of his desire to visit.
He stood back and allowed the captain to enter the room Spock had been assigned, using the time to surreptitiously acquire what information he could. The doors swooshed shut, and Jim made his way to a settee, a small frown on his face. Spock allowed himself one breath to adjust for the effect the Captain’s civilian attire appeared to have on Spock’s nervous system before gripping his hands behind his back as was his nature.
Jim huffed a breath and ran his hand through his hair. He sat rigidly, as though at attention.
Spock knew that custom dictated he speak in invitation, but he could not find words that would be measurably appropriate. He cocked his head slightly, waiting for Jim to speak. He raised an eyebrow, reminding himself once again that just because his... level of admiration has changed, did not follow that Jim’s would have done. Jim was his... friend.
Spock watched as Jim’s mouth tightened. Were he one to ascribe to the figurative, Spock would describe the energy in the room to be rife with tension.
Jim opened his mouth, then looked down at the floor, as though he could not bring himself to meet Spock’s gaze.
That was... troubling.
“How may I assist you, Captain?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Spock blinked. Both of them had spoken at the exact same moment, as they had done on the turbolift. Unlike that instance, however, Jim would still not look at him.
And then Spock knew exactly what had upset Jim.
Only one thing could possibly have made him respond in such a way. While on the Franklin , Spock had caught McCoy’s gaze when Jim had made a reference to not doing without Spock, and indeed McCoy had been rather forthright while in the cavern on the planet, that Jim would find exception to Spock’s decision to leave.
Spock was accustomed to the human emotion of guilt: Guilt for surviving when so many of his race had not. Guilt for constantly feeling pulled towards two worlds; only able to survive in both if he ignored traditions and needs of the other. Guilt to his crew, for those who had perished while under his and the Captain’s command.
This was a new and not entirely welcome emotion. He would not be able to fully understand its implications until he had meditated. As it was, it was rather less than ideal.
Jim darted a look up to Spock, meeting his gaze for the first time without skittering away. It felt not unlike being struck in his stomach.
Yet Spock still could not find the words to adequately articulate his thoughts.
Jim’s lips twisted into something resembling a smile. It was unequivocally not a smile, although someone who did not know Jim as well as Spock did might have termed it such. Spock found himself awaiting Jim’s words with something not unlike trepidation.
“I need to apologize, Spock.”
That was most unexpected.
“I need to apologize for being a selfish asshole. I know. I mean... I know that you and Uhura are... I mean, you were so worried for her on that planet. I know that kind of worry for someone.” Jim’s face had flushed slightly. “When the ship was going down, and I heard you take fire, I went after you. Do you remember?”
Spock felt as though his throat had tightened to an unhealthy extreme. Jim’s eyes were impossibly earnest, as though he could somehow telegraph the extent of his emotion with the strength of his gaze. Belatedly, remembering that Jim had asked him a question, he managed to nod.
“When Chekov told me that he was picking up the signal, and we beamed you back, I’d never been more thankful. Here I am, my ship gone, my crew captured, and Scotty tells me you’re severely injured and--” Jim broke off, huffed another breath. He made a sound as tangentially close to a laugh as the expression on his face had been to a smile.
Spock was not able to say when he and Jim had become so close to one another, but he could feel the humidity of Jim’s breath on his chin.
“When I was flying towards that vent, I knew that was it. I knew I was done, and the last thing that I could think of... the very last thing was that I had never had the guts to.” Jim broke off abruptly, his throat working without producing sound.
There were two shades of blue interwoven in Jim’s eyes. Spock might have known the names of the exact shades at one point, but he... he could not...
Jim’s low whisper caused Spock’s heartrate to increase; he almost felt the need to regulate his breath by panting as though he were an animal. Whatever rigid control he once had over his reactions was memory. “And then you were there. You had me. You... saved me, Spock.”
If Spock moved even slightly, their lips would touch. They shared the same air for several moments.
“Nyota told me.”
Spock blinked. Jim shifted back and the absence of his body near Spock’s seemed unnatural.
“Nyota told you what, specifically?”
Jim seemed affected by Spock’s words, as much as Spock had been by Jim’s mere presence.
Jim straightened, breathed deeply for a moment. He jerked his chin up slightly as though preparing for a battle. The sight of Jim like this was inexplicably painful.
“Nyota told me that you broke up. That you’re leaving. Going back to Vulcan.” Jim’s mouth did the not-smile again, and Spock stared at him, stymied. “I understand that the needs of the many--”
Spock stepped forward, observing the way his hands wrapped around Jim’s biceps as though they belonged to someone else. Jim made a low sound in his throat and Spock stepped closer, back into the warmth produced by Jim’s body.
“It is true that the Ambassador’s death did make me aware of a desire to finish his work on New Vulcan. I have also become fully aware that my duties as a Vulcan to propagate my species cannot be ignored, but neither of those things must necessarily preclude leaving my post on the Enterprise , Jim.”
Jim appeared to be struck by the same affliction of silence that so recently affected Spock.
“I will not leave you. I... cannot.”
Spock’s words rang in the silence of the room around them. He watched as Jim’s eyes closed, and moved forward that last fraction of an inch until their lips touched.
The kiss was brief; a mere brush of lips that did very little to whet the need that coursed through his veins. Jim’s lips trembled as they separated, and it took several heartbeats for Jim’s eyelids to open.
When they did, the smile that lit up Jim’s face rivalled the brightness of a supernova.
Their second kiss was much longer, and their third Spock could not precisely remember the specifics, as his mind and body and katra were rather occupied. When they separated, Spock found that Jim had somehow managed to push him up against the wall, and their fifth, or was it twelfth? kiss made Spock very grateful that neither he nor Jim had any duties for the rest of the evening.
“Are you sure, Spock?” Jim ducked his head slightly, and the sight of his uncharacteristic shyness made Spock want to kiss him for several more hours.
“I am not wholly Vulcan.”
Jim’s lips twitched. “I am aware.”
“I will need to travel to New Vulcan in order for our scientists to take several biological samples.” The fact that many of his race might notwant his DNA- either to inseminate or as progeny of a half- human was not something he wished to speak of at this time, as Jim’s tendency to defend his ‘Vulcanness’ to anyone who expressed an alternate opinion was not currently appropriate to the sudden anticipated end of this evening’s... activities.
“I am also able to continue the Ambassador’s work when not on duty.” Spock almost wanted to shrug, but he didn’t wish to move from his current position. Spock watched as Jim’s gaze darkened. Spock’s heartrate increased once more, and he leaned forward a minute amount.
“Are you... sure, Spock? More or less?” Jim repeated his question. If Spock hadn’t been certain, the barely restrained emotion in those few words would have changed his mind.
Spock cupped Jim’s face and kissed him again, ensuring that Jim would never find it necessary to question his decision to stay with his crew, or his Captain, ever again.
“Yes, Ashayam.” Spock waited a beat.
“More or less.”