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FROM THE HEART




by Jenna Hilary Sinclair




(This story first appeared in First Time 47)








I value truthfulness in my relationships. In my career, truth hasn’t always been possible. I’ve told the social lie when I’ve had to, lied willingly to achieve the goals of the Federation on a mission, lied to save lives or to ease pain. And it seems the higher I’ve climbed through the ranks of Starfleet, the harder it’s been to sift the truth from the chaff of the false or the merely expedient. Motivations in any bureaucracy can become muddied, and as just one cog in the Starfleet wheel, I lurk in the shadows too. I sometimes ask myself why I’m out here on my second five year mission: for the glory? for the gain? because I’m making a contribution I believe is important?



How much of that matters to the mother of Ensign Walchzk? He died last week. Those letters are getting ever harder to write.



When you pass the forty year milestone, as I did last year, stuck in the heavy gravity well of Earth, the whole universe sinks into variations of the color gray. I didn’t fight it. Hell, I was ready for it, welcomed it. The new, ugly, gray uniform I was suddenly putting on every day seemed a perfect accent to my depression back then. The fog in San Francisco, in my life, never seemed to lift.



And then my Lovely Lady, white and brilliant, re-entered my life. I’m waxing poetic here, I know, but that’s how I think of her. My Lovely Lady. Bones once told me my obsession was just this side of healthy, and I should be careful what I personify. He wanted me to protect myself from hurt, I know, sort of like protecting yourself from the ending of a sad vid by not becoming too involved with the characters. I can’t help it, though. She’s my Lady and she pierced through the darkness.



So, that’s one of my relationships, and one of my truths. I hold onto what I know is the truth even harder now because so many of my values aren’t black and white anymore. I can’t look back at what I did to Will Decker without wincing. Taking his command …. How can I reconcile that with my conscience? I’m the only one who knows the burning ambition, the desperation that propelled the “reasonable” actions that were sanctioned by Starfleet Command, and eventually the entire planet. Decker never would have saved us Nogura told me, and I know in my heart he’s right. My need as well as my understanding drove me to the right action for everybody. Where is the truth in that? I don’t know.



So I search for the truth where I can find it, and I find it in my ship, by being the best commander I can be, and among my friends. A list of my friends isn’t all that long or significant. In my profession, you don’t have the chance to keep in touch with the friends you make on your travels. They come and go. You enjoy them while they’re there, and say good-bye and don’t think about them when they leave. I don’t exactly miss the people I worked with in Operations for three years. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? I’m independent, emotionally secure, the way Starfleet wants its starship captains to be.



Bones is one friend. Especially him. I’ll never forget the way he took my hand in the transporter before we went out to V’ger. That old Sawbones.



But I value truthfulness in my relationships, don’t I? So, the truth. There is one who is more than my friend; he is significant to me. Different from all the others who have moved in and out of my life.



I’m not sure when I realized I’d fallen in love with…what do I call him? My Vulcan? My fellow officer? I’m almost afraid to say his name, it carries so much piercing truth. Spock. I’ve fallen in love with Spock.



Men are my friends, women are my lovers. Vulcans and humans—they’re not even supposed to get along. Sarek and Amanda were a one in a billion occurrence. I don’t understand why I feel this way.



But I don’t question it, not anymore. Loving Spock has become one of my truths.



It’s not that there’s been any brilliant epiphany, or that he’s done something special to make me love him. It’s…the way he is. The fact that he is. The fact that I am when I’m with him. We don’t exchange gifts, and I don’t touch him any more than I ever did, although I wish I could. He doesn’t look at me with anything other than the same steady brown gaze he’s always used, whether we’re in the middle of an emergency or eating dinner. Maybe that gaze is a little warmer, though that might be wishful thinking on my part. He is more relaxed than he used to be. I think—all right, I know—that he enjoys the few evenings we manage to spend together and the meals we share. But does he have any idea at all of the way I feel about him? For anyone on the outside looking in, everything is the way it was during the first five year mission. Captain and first officer. Colleagues. Friends. Maybe that’s the way it looks to him, too.



Things aren’t the same, not in my thoughts where it counts the most. Good morning, Spock. What’s the status report? Let’s consult about Ensign Goulet’s promotion. Those are the words that are between us, with an occasional Care for a chess game tonight? Nothing of what I really think. And that bothers me.



For six months now I’ve been hiding this disturbing, beautiful secret that’s somehow blossomed inside me; I’ve been untruthful with the finest being I have ever known. Spock doesn’t know I carry this knot of pleasure in my gut simply because I know he’s alive and that he’ll be part of my life this day and the next and the next.



I haven’t become infatuated with the way he looks or the way he walks or talks. I like his ears, and the expression on his face that means he’s amused but doesn’t want to show it. But I’ve never made love to a man before, never really been attracted to a male before. I can’t even say I’m actually attracted to Spock. He’s skinny and he has no breasts and by God, if I have to pull him from one more stumble on a landing party I’m going to ground him for clumsiness. His hips don’t sway when he walks away from me, though I always do watch when he walks away.



So why do I now have this…this burning need to take our friendship and strip away its comforting layers to expose the naked bedrock? To take our ethereal mutual respect and open it up to base physical passion?



A few weeks ago I was in my cabin. Spock and Bones had been continuing another one of their running feuds right before I’d left the bridge, and I carried a smile at their nonsense all the way down to my bathroom. I leaned on the counter and looked at myself in the mirror, and I asked myself if this was a man who really wanted to touch his first officer’s alien cock. My smile faded.



And then my heart thumped and my smile came back, because the answer to that question is a definite yes. Because I think I can give Spock pleasure. He’ll like it. He who has been through the rigors of Gol, who has denied himself so many of life’s pleasures, he deserves whatever happiness life can give him. Or that I can give him. If I touch his penis, kiss him, brink him to the brink of orgasm and then beyond, then maybe I’ll see him smile. Or he’ll turn to me all sweaty and tousled, soft with the knowledge of the body, and he’ll say Thank you for this, Jim. I can imagine him saying that, being polite even in bed. It’s the way he is.



But I don’t just want him in my bed. I think that’s what surprised me the most, and what’s kept me silent for so long as I assimilated this sea change in me. I want him. I want to give him me. Not just for now, or even just for the next four years of this mission. I’ve never felt this way about anybody else. I want to take chances with him on forever. Penises and breasts and the way we look, those are just incidentals to this emotion bottled up inside me. I want to fill up the empty parts of his life, that I know are there, with me.



And I need him, so very much. I need the black and white of surety. My brilliant Lovely Lady. My dark, mysterious friend. Two weights to my fulcrum.



Here I am again, going after what I need.



Sometimes I think that I’m being arrogant, assuming I can make him happy. What do I know of a Vulcan’s definition of happiness? What do I know of his needs? Just because my life would be desolate if he left, does that mean he therefore must require James T. Kirk? If I ever get to touch him, hold him, be with him, will the years that follow be a time of fulfillment and living in each other, or will they be years of regret?



And then I think of the way even silence between us has always been filled with warm understanding, and I am reassured.



Spock values truth even more than I do. He came back to me from Gol, ravaged and soul-scarred, and he healed during the living silences between us. Earth made me hard and brittle, and with him I softened and regained my sense of self.



For months now I’ve been playing hide and seek with my own desires, testing and rejecting, then testing and accepting this new vision of myself. I know clearly what and who I am and how I feel about my friend. I probably have loved him for years, from the first mission, and probably a part of my dissatisfaction on Earth was being separated from him. I can relinquish that prideful part of myself that says I can’t need him as much as my soul’s yearning tells me I do. I do need him, as a friend, and as a lover of my heart and my body. This is the truth I’ve discovered in the stars.



So tonight I go to him. I’ve been pacing the corridors of the ship since after dinner, with every step becoming a new man, waiting for the right time. This is it.



I go to his door, press the buzzer. Enter, he says, and I think of entering a new phase of my life, of him entering my mind, of me entering his body.



He’s still in uniform, as I am, though it looks like he’s been attending to paperwork while I’ve been roaming through the halls. It’s hard to find the right words to start this off, not too casual, not too pretentious, so I decide to be straightforward. It’s close to the truth.



“Can I talk with you?” I see the assent on his face so I ease into the chair before his desk while he quietly tells the computer to return to inactive status.



He waits for me. That’s one of the things I love about him. Spock is such a strong individual, and yet I never feel as if I am in competition with him, or that he forces himself upon me. I hope I don’t force myself on him. I don’t think I do. My spirit broadens with him, his relaxes with me. When we’re together, it’s more like two tributaries flowing together to form a river, wide and free, with eddies and currents, sometimes wild, sometimes peaceful. I want to be that conjoined river, always.



I look at his face, so unmistakably masculine, so very loved, and my throat tightens at what I am about to say. He still hasn’t recovered from the hell that was Gol. He’s too thin, his skin’s so rough and weathered, and there are lines of stress and deprivation etched deep in his face that I don’t think time will erase.



I stir in my chair with wanting to erase all his pain, to give to him, but it’s an emotion we aren’t sharing. He’s still waiting for me, not knowing.



I point my chin at the darkened screen, delaying but not knowing how else to begin. “Monthly reports?” I hazard.



“Negative. My report on the altercation between crewmen Kowalski and Stovanovich.”



Ah. There was a fight in the galley, of all places, and Spock had been the duty officer to intervene.



We talk about that and about the changes Lieutenant P’Tier’Ton wants to make in shift assignments for lab techs. But finally there’s a little silence, and I know it’s the right time to speak.



“What I wanted to talk about doesn’t concern the ship. It’s something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you. Something personal.”



He nods, the way he does, and yet there is some self-conscious restraint there, too. I wonder if he suspects why I’m here. “Indeed. I have perceived a restlessness in you lately, and I have wondered if there is something wrong.”



“No, nothing wrong. Maybe, something very right. But I don’t know for sure.”



There’s that little smile I treasure. “You are uncertain about something, undoubtedly an emotional issue. I do not believe you have come to the right place for advice, Jim. McCoy is the emotional expert on the Enterprise.”



He’s made a little joke, to put me more at my ease, knowing of course that I’m not going to leave and go down to sickbay. I take a deep breath and feel myself sinking further into the chair, into the special ambiance that is my special love’s.



“You’re right, he is. But I can’t talk with Bones about this. It’s about you and me.”



He folds his hands deliberately before him, and looks down at the deck covering. I think he’s embarrassed. I like the company.



“You and me,” he repeats. “Yet not a matter of command?”



“No. I’ve been…thinking about you a lot lately.” God, this is hard. Why can’t I just open my heart and show him what’s inside? I’m usually good with words, easy with lovers. But this isn’t a seduction. It’s a confession and a heartfelt plea. I love you. Please, tell me that you love me.



His gaze meets mine, shyly. “You no longer need be concerned about me, Jim. I am following McCoy’s regimen for a return to optimum health.”



A deliberate misunderstanding, to give me a way out without revealing my soul and asking the ultimate from his? “That’s not what I meant, Spock.”



He gives a little sigh. “I am aware of that.”



“Then you know what I want to say to you.”



“No, I do not. I…suspect. It would be most uncomfortable if my conjectures were inaccurate. It would be best if you elucidated.”



My love is a walking dictionary sometimes. He makes me smile even as my stomach clenches nervously. I lean across the desk, palm open. This is it.



At first I can’t find the words. I look at his expectant eyes, and love and sex and burning possession race through my mind: warm mornings talking and how it might feel to have his naked body pressed against my back, skin to skin, and how I never, ever want him to give his mind to anybody else but me.



But those aren’t the right words. The silence stretches and we remain two statues, staring at each other. He swallows. I swallow. I want him to reach over and put his hand in mine, to give me an answer to the question I haven’t asked yet. But he doesn’t move. It feels awkward, sitting there with my open hand that isn’t filled, and so I suddenly curl my fingers in on themselves and pull them back.



He isn’t going to make this easy for me. He isn’t beside me in this. Something is holding him back. I take the little knot of fear in my stomach this realization inspires and I turn it into courage.



I wish I could get up and pace, and say this with my back turned to him. It’s a lot harder sitting still, watching his face.



“All right. This is what I want to say to you. You and I, we’ve always been honest with each other. I’ve never deliberately lied to you, Spock.” It’s true. To others, to myself, but not to him.



“I have lied to you,” he says softly. “Twice most grievously. About Talos IV, and then, one other time, by omission.”



Of course I know what he means. Gol. He never even told me he was going. He just left. But I won’t let the subject lie heavy between us. “I know. It doesn’t matter. Because…. I love you.”



It’s an old saying, from the Christian Bible, I think. The truth shall set you free. And it does. As difficult as the past six months have been, the many dark hours and the soul-searching, it’s like a dam that’s suddenly been blown apart. I’ve never said anything easier than those three little words I say to Spock.



I say them again, just to feel the shape of them in my mouth and on my tongue, and to watch the nuances of his face, his eyes when I say them. “I love you. Did you know that?”



My God, he is beautiful to me. Such a man I have chosen to love. My words fall on his skin like soft rain, opening him up from his stiff posture in the chair, coaxing him forward until he’s leaning towards me. He nods, quickly, and his eyes are smiling. “I…suspected.”



“You understand what I mean?” I don’t think I’ve ever had to ask him that question before. Spock is one of the most brilliant individuals in the galaxy, but I’ve got to make absolutely certain we’re on the same ground here. “Not platonic love. Not brotherly love. I mean—”



He finishes it for me. “Sexual love. Yes, Jim. I understand you.”



“So. What do you think?” I suddenly realize I’ve planned this all wrong. I want to be holding him in my arms already, but we’re stuck in these chairs with the desk between us, and it seems an impossible task to rise and pull him up to face me. I think he wants to touch me. His eyes and his soft lips gleaming…. I think he wants to hold me the way I want to hold him. God, the thought of him pressing against me, wanting.



“I think that we must discuss this. I must tell you something.” He tries so hard to be serious, but the words are almost lyrical, like he’s singing them. I think he’s really happy that I told him that I love him.



So I’ll listen to him. That’s another thing I’ve always loved about my Vulcan, his voice. I like listening to him. Speak to me, my love, and I will hear the song your heart sings.



And I love his deliberation, the way he approaches his life quietly, with forethought. Not like me. That’s my Spock, wanting to discuss this emotional situation in which we’re both quivering. I shouldn’t have expected anything different.



I grin at him, probably stupidly, and there’s that little twitch at the side of his mouth again that means he’s restraining his amusement, or maybe this time, his bursting happiness. Then he suddenly becomes aware of the way he’s leaning across the desk, and of how he’s got that beautiful, alive look on his face. I see every thought crossing the windows of his eyes. He leans back just a little and smoothes the blue fabric on his right arm, and then he steeples his fingers before him. By this time he has his expression under control, too.



“Go ahead. What did you want to tell me?”



“That your regard is returned.” I smile at that, such a Spock-like way to say I love you, too. “But also that I thought of coming to you, and initiating this conversation myself many times. But I did not.”



“Why?” That’s another habit he has sometimes, of waiting to be prompted.



He looks at his fingers. “Do you realize,” he says in his most-colorless, scholar’s voice, “that there are literally no words in the modern, formal Vulcan language for various emotions? This is deliberate. What cannot be spoken of will have difficulty existing. If a race has never encountered snow, there will be no word for it. The only words for rage, hatred, love, jealousy are technical terms used infrequently by scientists studying taboo subjects, or expletives used only by the outcast and the rebel. I encountered none of them in my youth. Did you know that?”



I hadn’t expected a lecture in language when I entered my love’s quarters, but I see immediately what he is trying to say, in the language of the scholar that he knows best how to speak. I won’t be getting any passionate declarations from my Vulcan.



“No. I didn’t realize that.”



“It is so. Vulcans have emotions, as you well know, but we attempt to exist as if we do not. My knowledge of emotion has been a learned activity, most of it pursued as an adult, by your side. And in retrospect, alone in the deserts of Gol, because I could not define myself in its absence. My knowledge is imperfect. It is suspect.”



“You know what you feel, Spock. You—” But he won’t let me finish.



“Are you aware that after the age of six, or seven, most beings no longer have the capacity to learn language on an intuitive level? All very young humanoids absorb language easily because of structures in the brain that are only activated in the early years of life, but later a being learns language in a totally different way. Word by word, painstakingly defining and then attempting to implement grammar. The fluency of a native speaker cannot be matched by those who learn later in life.”



I’ve had lots of experience interpreting Spock’s lectures in the briefing rooms of the Enterprise. “You’re trying to say that you aren’t fluent in emotion.”



“Indeed. You are human and I am not, I am a mixture of chromosomes combined unnaturally, and experience gained at the expense of my heritage. I have not come to you before this because I am unsure of what I feel, unsure that you would accept my motivations as being the match of your own.”



“And?”



He seems taken aback, and finally those steepled fingers, a barrier between us during this long, typically-Spockian discourse, drop to the desk. “I wish you to understand that I cannot match your emotions. I will always be a novice in their implementation. As I understand it, a sexual relationship for humans is based upon emotion, and so if we pursue this activity, it may be for different reasons.”



My Spock. This is what I wanted, isn’t it? Yes. Another man might have been discouraged by his dry tone, his lack of obvious passion, but I always listen carefully to everything my Vulcan says. I thought of coming to you, he’d said. An image of him, in this room alone, thinking of me, wanting me. I think of him, naked and quivering in my arms, wanting.



Suddenly the chair isn’t a hindrance any more. I get up and walk around to his side of the desk, and he swivels in his chair to face me when I get there.



I stand there for a moment, looking down at him, examining his face for any resistance to what we both know is going to happen next. I see expectation, and a little anxiety. He’s being his totally honorable self, making sure I know exactly where I stand with him. But I’m not worried. If anything, his little speech reassures me. I’m there, in his heart, that heart that isn’t really Vulcan and isn’t really human, but is uniquely his, and where it seems he always puts consideration for me before his own needs.



And so I lean forward and take his face in my hands, feel the rough, weathered skin that Gol scoured, and I gently rest my lips against his.



I don’t intend to make it a kiss, just a test, but his lips are so warm, and softer than I imagined they would be, and I don’t have any incentive to pull away. Besides, after a moment when we’re both frozen in immobility, he puts his hands on my shoulders and makes a little sound in the back of his throat. I can’t explain what that sound does to me. It seems to carry everything with it: longing, and arousal, and all the emotions that Spock just claimed not to know much about. That sound shoots through me, past my body and right into my soul.



And then I realize that we’re melding.



Such a sweet sensation. I’ve always loved it, never have had enough of the touch of my alien officer’s mind, have spent hours the past months on my bunk with my imagination buried deep in a meld with Spock. Now it’s like honey, thick and beautifully golden, slowly creeping down the windowpane of my being, coating me with sweet, sweet nectar for my spirit.



A whisper. Open the window.



There is only one possible response. I want him so badly. To give to him. To take from him. To make a new being with him.



I open, beckon him onward. Come with me and be my love.



He comes to me, naked down to his constituent molecules, still hesitant over our differences, concerned that the meld isn’t what I really want from him. Sexual love, we’d said.



Love, I say. Love in every way for you, brother of my heart.



It’s what he needs to know, and suddenly he’s really there, over me, through me, and then I have the key, too, and I’m over him and through him. Together. Together!



God. Oh, God. Too much, I can’t stand it, so much, so much.



A gathering of spirits, and then shooting through the sky like fireworks because there’s nowhere else to contain our joy. Oh, God, to feel him like this. To know him like this. Touch me. Touch me. Laugh. Laugh with me. Abandon. Abandon everything we were before and live only in this shared joy so much, so much.



Touch me, yes, be me, be with me, touch me. Lightning streaks through our joined being, made of bliss and such joy, because the sweetness is brilliant light now, and thunder that roars, and I’ve never felt like this, perfection, ecstasy of being, my brain doesn’t know how to translate this, and I’m just a starship captain, a human being, can I die because you are so beautiful not the roar of creation I love you, because he’s touching me completely, and he feels so good, to touch everything he is…I’m going to die, I love you so much and I can’t feel anything more, I’m going to die of happiness, come to me, closer, closer, I need to die from you in joy—



The meld abruptly ends and we’re on the floor in the little space next to his desk, writhing full-length against each other side by side, and he’s kissing me frantically, his lips all over my face, God, he feels good, tastes good, and I love his hands on me, better than my dreams, my imagination, and I’m kissing him back, my tongue thrusts against his. Our legs are wrapped around each other and I can feel his hard alien cock pushing against mine.



I hadn’t planned on this so soon, no, but this is what we are, who we are, and if ever time has taught me anything, these past months have taught me to accept who I am. This is who we are, Spock and me together, two men on the deck, aroused and hard and kissing.



I push my hand between us and feel his cock through the fabric of those damn gray uniforms, and he pulls back, wild-eyed and gasping.



“Do you want this?” I demand. I jerk forward, climb half on top of him, pressing down against him as I squeeze the life in my hand. I kiss him, hard, then again, his lips, his Gol-skin, his chin, his lips again that move so hungrily against mine. I can’t get enough of him, my Spock. “Tell me that you want this, whatever your motivations. Tell me, tell me!”



I don’t even stop talking before he’s moving within my hand, stimulating himself, and gasping “Yes! Yes! I want this!”



I’ve never seen anyone so beautiful. So wanting.



No way we’re going to stop to get out of the awkward uniforms, I just reach to unseal his fly and pull his phallus out. Not a human cock, I know, but a striated penis, like a bundle of thick electrical cords fused together and tied around at the top with another, the whole column pulsing with blood and flushed green, hard and hot to my touch. I’ve seen his genitals before, but never aroused, never before in my hand and squirting little shots of fluid from the three tiny slits at the top. A thrill shoots through my chest and then straight down to my cock, and I don’t know how I’ll live if he doesn’t touch me, too.



And then he does it, opens my pants and pulls out my cock, and just him touching me there has me quivering on the very edge of coming. I’m going to do it, do it, come in his hand, but first I look down at the two of us together, two so different cocks treasured in two so different hands, and then I look up into his eyes.



We both go still. Maybe it’s a resonance from the meld, or maybe just that I know him so well, or maybe it’s because I love him because of exactly who he is. Maybe, because he loves me too. But for a magic moment that stretches and stretches, there are no secrets between us, we are one even here in the physical universe outside the mind.



I lean forward, and kiss him gently, and he lets me, and I say, against his lips, “Come for me.”



I pull back and take one long stroke along the warmth against my palm and then another, and I watch him plunge down into the glory of the body, that only I will ever give him.



And then he pushes me back against the deck, leans over me with my cock in his hand, and says, “Achieve orgasm, now.” So easy to do, to release it all to him, his soft brown eyes and his soaring spirit and his need for me and mine for him. Take it, Spock, I give myself into your keeping.



Peace. After all that tumult, peace of the mind and the body. Our spirits, resting together, as we sprawl side by side on the hard deck covering, our hands between us clasped. This is what has been calling me forward, this being with him.



I roll over to face him, without relinquishing his hand because not to touch him now would be impossible. I glance down at our now languid penises, still exposed, and I marvel at how what would have embarrassed me with any other being in the universe seems all right with him.



He must be thinking similar thoughts, because suddenly his other hand is there where I’m looking and one long finger caresses me. Then we look at each other, and I smile, and he comes as close to it as he’s ever going to get.



I lie back and close my eyes, contentment flowing through my bones. Unsure, he’d said. I am unsure of what I feel. He’d been searching for truth, too.



And afterwards, soft with the knowledge of the body, we finally take off our uniforms and prepare to sleep in the same bunk. He molds his naked body to my back, kisses me on the shoulder, and whispers, “Thank you for this, Jim,” as I’d known he would.



*****
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