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The Bond

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The thought has been swirling around inside his head for the whole afternoon, and yesterday, and the day before, too, and when it becomes clear that Jim is going to be losing this match—too—he just dries the sweat from his forehead with the hem of his t-shirt and lets the words spill out as he catches his breath.

“Is it it weird for you?”

Spock holds the ball against his racket and looks at Jim, barely affected by twenty solid minutes of running around. “The concept of repeatedly bouncing a ball against a wall for recreation does appear illogical upon first consideration, but—”

“No. No, I meant—wait, did you just say that squash is illogical?”

“It does have some entertainment value, I suppose.”

“Hey. It’s an Olympic sport. Since 2024.”

The eyebrow lifts. “So are dressage—”

“Come on. Not comparable.”

“—table tennis—”

“Harder than it looks.”

“—and trampoline.”

“Well, you don’t have to play if you don’t like it. I could play against Bones.” Jim really, really wishes he could say something to counter Spock’s eyebrow raising even higher, but the idea of Bones playing any type of competitive sport is pretty preposterous. 

Spock steps closer to Jim, and then closer still. He stops at that weird distance that they seem to have settled on in the past couple of weeks, which magically manages to be both quite shorter than ever before and still not embarrassing to maintain in public. At least in a mostly Terran environment. Jim wonders if standing like this is the equivalent of doing it in a public square, for a Vulcan. 

“Jim. I enjoy spending time with you. No matter how foolish the activity.”

Jim frowns. “Oh, now squash is foolish?”

“You seemed to object quite strongly to the word illogical.” Spock lifts his hand a pushes back a sweaty strand of hair currently falling Jim’s left eye.

“I don’t—I wasn’t even talking about squash. Which is awesome, by the way. And logical. And not foolish. Anyway, I meant… this thing.” He waves his hand between the two of them, and there is very little space. “Us. The… bond.”

“What about the bond?”

“Is it weird? For you?”

“Why would the bond be… weird?” He repeats the last word slowly, cautiously, and Jim figures that ‘weird’ is probably an expression Spock doesn’t really use that much. Variable definitions, and Vulcan shit like that.

“I mean, if you don’t remember how we got here, it must be weird, right? You wake up one day and have to be my husband because someone told you that you are, because someone turned on a switch. How can it not be weird?”

“Jim.” Spock is eyeing him levelly, but Jim thinks he can see a tinge of worry. “Are you concerned about the impact of my condition over our bonding?”

“No. Yes. But no, I’m just…wondering. Just… not remembering. It can’t be easy, for you.”

It just can’t.

And yet.

Incredible, how grounding Spock’s hand cupping his cheek can be. Shocking, really, the addictive effect it’s been having on Jim, considering that he went through most his life without it.

“Jim. It does not matter. It is not… weird.” He leans forward to kiss Jim on the cheek, and the following words are a warm wash against his ear. “It is very easy.”

~

“Demora’s birthday’s next week.”

“Hmm.”

The sound vibrates gently, spreading warmly through Jim’s torso. They’re on the couch in Jim’s quarters, Jim half sitting, half lying between Spock’s legs, back flush against the warmth of his chest. Spock is reading something that looks about as entertaining as dental reconstruction—Jim’s not sure what, but he peaked at the PADD three times, twice catching the word methylprednisolone. Not his jam, really. 

Jim has a book in his lap. Which he hasn’t been reading.

“Guess how old?”

“I do not need to guess. We visited Ben and Hikaru exactly three days after she was born, four years, eleven months and—”

“Okay, fine, I’ll tell you. Five. She’s turning five.”

Spock doesn’t answer, nor he lowers his PADD, but through his hair Jim can feel the muscles in his cheeks shift minutely. Just his imagination, likely.

“Guess what Sulu’s getting her.”

“Getting her?”

“For her birthday. As a present.”

“Ah.” Spock dips his head, and Jim wonders if the lips pressing into his temple are meant to be a kiss. Probably not. Maybe yes. 

“I have no elements on which to base my guess.”

Jim smiles. “What? You mean you can’t predict her eighteenth birthday presents based on the color of the pacifier she has in that picture Sulu hung in his office?”

Spock takes a deep breath—could be a sigh—that Jim does not see, but feels in the way his chest rises. “A PADD.”

“A PADD. You think they’re giving her a PADD.” 

Spock must hear the derision in Jim’s tone, because he drops his own PADD on the coffee table more quickly than is necessary.

“An isolinear microscope.”

“An isolinear micro—Is that what you got when you were five? No, don’t answer that. It would break my heart.”

Jim feels Spock’s hand slip below his t-shirt, to wave patterns somewhere between the hem of his pajama bottoms and his bellybutton. He tells himself that this is nice, and they’re having fun, and he wants this to last, so he really should not get turned on. 

At the very least he should try not to. 

“Spock. Try to think like a five year old girl.”

“She is presently four years, eleven months and three wee—”

“Lemme know if you need a hint, okay?”

Spock’s nails scrape lightly agains Jim’s belly, and if that’s not revenge—

“A doll?”

“That’s the most heteronormative shit I’ve ever heard.”

“I—” 

“When we have kids you’re gonna be completely useless for birthdays, aren’t you?”

“Birthday celebrations are illogical.”

Jim snorts. “Right. What do you think the chances are that I’ll let you not celebrate our kid’s birthday.”

That is a smile. Jim can feel it. “Negligible.”

“Right. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you. There’s still plenty of time.” He feels Spock’s arm tighten around his torso. “Hopefully you haven’t knocked me up already.”

Spock’s amusement seeps through him—and god, this bond, the things he just knows about Spock, the things he knows deep in his bones. “Jim, I believe you have been operating under a grave misconception.”

He gasps. “What do you mean?” 

“Jim.”

“Are you implying you’ve been tricking me, and that we haven’t been doing it three times a day so I could get a Vulcan bun in the oven? To shower in love and PADDs and isolinear microscopes?”

“I must apologize.”

“You better. And I might want a divorce.”

“Very well. I believe these are grounds to have the bond rescinded.”

It doesn’t penetrate the thick layer of Jim’s amusement for a while, and when it does it’s still nothing more than a pinprick. Enough to make Jim shift a little between Spock’s legs, but not so much that his smile fades completely.  

“Wait. You can’t rescind the bond though, right?”

Spock replies into his hair. “Jim. I find it hart to believe that I did not inform you of the characteristics of the bond.”

Jim feels himself stiffen and wills himself to relax. “Well. Not all of us have an eidetic memory.”

“But you do. Or very nearly so. Which is why I—“ 

Jim turns his head, his whole torso, until his eyes are level with Spock’s.

“Can it? Be broken?”

Spock just looks at him. “Yes, of course.” 

The words are soft, and yet they crash into him, make his stomach plummet, coalesce to form a tentative answer to the simple question Jim hasn’t stopped asking himself in the past few weeks: why is it that Spock never informed him of the bond?  

Because he always meant to have it rescinded, anyway.

Because he never planned for this.

Never wanted this.

Spock eyes him worriedly. “Jim, did you bond with me thinking the bond was not rescindable?”

Jim shakes his head, trying to bring his attention back to Spock. “I—”

“Jim, I can feel you distress, let me—”

“How?”

“…How?”

“How can it be broken?”

“I am not familiar with the precise procedure—”

“Then how?”

“A trained healer would aid us.”

Jim says nothing, but his neurons are doing the math and sure enough, they have not been anywhere near a planet that would host even the crappiest of Vulcan healers in the past six months. Sure enough, even if Spock had wanted to get rid of the bond he still would have been stuck with it, barring quitting his job and heading immediately to New Vulcan.

Fuck.

Uhura said… but obviously she didn’t know, couldn’t know, because damn secretive Vulcans, and…

Fuck.

“Promise me something.”

“Jim, are you well—”

“Promise me something.” 

Spock’s eyes are searching. “Jim.”

“Promise me that no matter what, you’re going to discuss it with me before you break the bond.”

Spock just stares at him for several moment, uncomprehending.

“I would never break—”

“Promise me.”

“There is no—”

“Do I have your word?”

Spock just blinks, several times. When he speaks, his voice his soft. “Jim. You may have anything you wish of me.” 

“Good.” Jim swallows. “Good, because I want everything.”

They’re kissing before Jim can say more, ask for more, beg Spock for more than the everything he has already offered. Jim presses a hand to Spock’s chest and pins him to the armrest, and Spock lets him, uncharacteristically pliant, seemingly understanding Jim’s possessiveness, his need to do, grab, mark.

He is not giving this up. He is not stepping back, or giving Spock space, and if, when he remembers, Jim’s not letting go, never, not even if…

Never. 

Jim lets his palm slide down between their bodies and inside the elastic band of Spock’s pants, and if the soft gasp that Spock lets out is not music then Jim doesn’t fucking know what music is. So he closes his hand around Spock’s cock—all those years, all those thoughts under the sonics and in bed late at night and early in the morning and on the fucking bridge sometimes, and Jim never imagined, never knew that Spock had this between his legs—and savors the difference between their temperatures, the way the head is already slippery, how Spock is always, always hard for him. 

And Spock… Spock always loses it a little bit, when Jim uses his hands. Vulcans and hands, Nyota once told Jim, and he hadn’t really understood, but now, looking at how Spock falls apart like he never—almost never—does, one hand leaving indentations on the back of the couch, the other closing into a fist and coming up to his mouth as he tries to shore up the pleasure. Now he does .

And Jim… Jim is an asshole. Because he could help himself, but he doesn’t want to, and forces the words out, dirty and subversive and terrifyingly true, hanging between them, fully knowing their effect.

“You like this, don’t you?” A slight turn of his wrist, his thumb lingering on a sensitive spot, and Spock’s hips are arching up a little desperately, with barely a trace of his usual grace. “You like my fingers on you even more than fucking me, or coming down my throat. You love my fist more than the damn periodic table. You could spend the rest of your life in my hands, couldn’t you?” He is playing dirty, and he knows that. It’s the nastiest, filthiest thing anyone could ever do to a Vulcan, and it drives Spock just outside of his mind, and Jim will spend the rest of his years making sure that Spock gets it every single day. 

Every. Single. Fucking. Day.   

“Jim. If you…Please.”

There is nothing better than this. 

There is nothing in the world other than Spock coming apart.

It’s less than a minute before Spock’s eyes are shut firmly, as if he’s trying so hard to make it last, to dam the sensation as long as possible, and Jim, Jim just can’t have that. “You’re gonna make a mess, aren’t you? You’re not gonna be able to stop yourself—”

Jim spills in deep pulls inside his pants as he watches Spock loose control and come. Hard. As he eases Spock down, chaste kisses fluttering over his flushed cheekbones, he tells himself, for the millionth time, that everything is going to be all right.

The alternative is unimaginable.

~

“You look beat.”

Spock pauses in the act of folding his uniform shirt, and turns to look at Jim, all tired eyes and black regulation boxers. 

“I did not mean to wake you.”

Jim’s shrug is absorbed by the mattress. His sleep is as light as it gets, courtesy of a shitty childhood and even shittier teenage years. As a result, there is no amount of caution on Spock’s part that can guarantee that Jim will not wake up when he comes to bed. 

Although sometimes he pretends not to. 

He tries not to stir. Buries his head in his pillow, and paces his breathing and heart rate, acting as if Spock entrance hadn’t happened at all. It’s different, the way Spock takes Jim into his arms when he thinks he’s asleep. It holds a sweet, resigned greediness that speaks of things Spock wants but will not ask for. Jim fell in love with the sealed, uncompromising Spock of Alpha shift, but the unguarded Spock of the witching hours is something different. 

Delightful.

Jim rolls until he’s on his back. Spock, in a rare display of inefficiency, drapes his uniform over the back of a chair and comes to sit on the edge of the bed, hand cupping Jim’s cheek. “How’s my ship, commander?”

Spock’s thumb moves back and forth over Jim’s cheekbone. “It has not exploded.”

Jim attempts to raise one eyebrow, but sleep has his muscles uncooperative. “Is that all you can say about it?”

“That is all you recommended I avoid before handing the conn over to me.”

“True. I guess it’s my fault if you sold the nacelles to the Klingons. You didn’t though, right?” He yawns into Spock’s hand, a long, stretchy business of several seconds, and when he opens his eyes he is surprised to see Spock’s gaze fixed on him. And by the sweetness in his expression.

In the past four years, Jim has spent more time than he wants to admit wondering what Spock thinks of him. If he thinks of him, anyway. He still does, even now that they are… yeah. Married. And then, then he’ll catch Spock with that in his eyes, and he’ll feel like a moron. 

Ridiculous.

“Well, thanks for taking Beta. We played Poker. I think I might have lost all my savings to Keenser.” He rubs his cheek into Spock’s hand. “There might be no waterfront property on Risa in our near future.”

“How dreary.” Spock better watch out. That non-smile almost looks like a smile.

“Also, Uhura kissed me.”

“Indeed?”

“Yep. We may have ended up playing truth or dare. Since we’re not in our late twenties or anything.” He presses a kiss into the flesh of Spock’s palms, grinning. “Do you mind that I have a bit of a crush on your ex?”

Spock’s non-smile intensifies. “You are not alone.”

“Good. At least the two of us can pine together.” He scoots over and pulls at Spock’s arm, until they’re laying front to front, nestled under the blankets. Spock’s hand travels soothings up and down Jim’s back. He leans forward and tucks his face into the crook of Spock’s neck. Jim can feel him radiate contentment, through the bond, through his flesh, through the warmth of his breath of Jim’s ear.

“Your heart rate is so high.”

“It is within normal range.”

“I know. It’s so cool that we’re so different.” The contentment intensifies, and he feels Spock swallow against his cheekbones. There's always something swirling in Jim’s head, something to follow, to chase, but this… this is as calm as Jim gets. 

Ever. 

“I miss you, when you’re not with me.” He yawns again, the warmth of his breath absorbed into Spock’s skin, sleep slowly seeping back inside him.

Jim’s almost unconscious when he hears it. 

“You have no idea, Jim.”

~

“What’s that?”

Spock pauses for a second to give Jim a blank look and then goes back to typing on the screen on Jim’s desk—seriously, the past few weeks are the most action his desk has ever gotten. How does anyone work anywhere but on the couch? 

“You will have to be more precise.”

Jim narrows his eyes. Not at all fooled. There is something running through the bond, something sticking out of the usual currents, something hard to point out and define, something— 

Anticipation.

“The package on the bed. What is it?” He tries not to sound suspicious—and fails miserably.

“If only there were a way to find out.”

He gives Spock a dirty look and tears into the box. Jim’s not… good, at presents. At receiving presents, in particular. With any measure of grace. There was probably a window of opportunity he missed, sometime during his formative years or something.

Which is a pity, really, because this…

This is…

He has been fucking dreaming of this console for the past three weeks, and here it is, and Spock is looking incredibly pleased without having moved a single muscles on his face or anywhere else, and Jim should probably be saying thank you, but that would require accepting that someone did something for him for no reason other than the fact than they wanted to and he’s not quite comfortable with that, so the one, ungrateful line that comes out his mouth is: “How did you get it?”

“I purchased it.”

“Right. You casually went online and bought me a console that’s been sold out for months.”

“Has it?”

“Spock.”

Spock types some more. The conversation is over, clearly. Though…

Amusement. That’s easy to recognize though the bond. That, or Jim’s getting really good at it. Who would have guessed, that Spock spends about eighty percent of his time being indulgently amused by the humans around him.

Okay, fine, mostly by Jim.

“Spock. How did you get it?”

“Perhaps I am more resourceful than you imagined.”

“Did you steal it from Chekov?”

The amusement ramps up. “Jim.”

“Did you build it yourself?”

“In my abundant spare time, you mean?”

“Did you have to kill anyone?”

“You are being overly dramatic, Jim.”

“Yeah, well, you’re being overly mysterious.”

“Perhaps you should funnel your inquisitive energy into something different.” Spock saves and closes the file he is working on with three quick strokes, crossing the room to Jim. Close. Though not that close, because Jim folded his arms on his chest halfway through the discussion, which he sort of regrets now, but he’s trying to find out things, and Spock is being all Vulcan and cagey and secretive, and Jim’s gotta try to be a little mad, right? Not that Spock seems to mind. He just leans forward, and his kiss is lingering and savoring and just plain sweet on Jim’s lips, his hand warm on Jim’s lower back, and why, why does he not care that he just gave Jim a beautiful gift and in response Jim can only act like an asshole, how can Spock be so fucking… good, and understanding, and accepting, and yeah, you know what, this is weird, fuck this shit, perhaps they really should funnel this energy into something else, which could involve a replica of this morning, with Spock deliciously on his knees and Jim slowly losing his mind until— 

“You will need to explain how the commands work. And I would prefer using the blue controller. Or the green one.” Spock eyes the console skeptically. “I am certain any controller but the pink sparkly one will prove adequate.” 

They play until a red alert sounds, ninety minutes into Gamma, and Jim trashes Spock.

It’s not as good as sex. 

But it pretty much is. 

~

Spock doesn’t remember with a bang.

There is no dramatic reveal, no second brain injury that fixes the first one, no laud gasp as the missing six months flash in front of his eyes.

It’s subtle and low-key, barely noticeable, seamless. And yet, full of consequences.

Of course. 

This is Spock. It makes sense for him to remember Spock-style.

They’re on the bridge, collectively trying to decide whether they should actually haul ass and pursue the smuggling ship they have encountered. Apprehending smugglers does not fall under the Enterprise jurisdiction, unless of course what is being smuggled is people, in which case it still doesn’t but it becomes worth incurring the wrath of the admiralty—which usually translates into two or so months in deep space during the height of Parries Squares season, reduced to violently manhandling the monitors out of static when the receiver gives out right before Mars is about to beat the Academy team—again.

“They look like regular, old-fashioned smugglers to me. Romulan ale smugglers.” Sulu doesn’t seem very keen on the idea of following them through an asteroid belt.

Jim can relate, but, on the other hand, “The ship looks pretty similar to the one we chased in the Alpha quadrant a couple of months ago.” Which was definitely not carrying Romulan ale. Romulans, maybe.

“It is not.” Spock says in his ‘the sensors know best’ voice. “The cargo capabilities of the current ship are unlikely to allow transportation of living beings, let alone sustain an eleven hours chase like the one we engaged in.”

Jim nods. “Alright, then. Take us back into the planet’s orbit, Lieutenant.”

And that, is that.

Except that after a few minutes, when he’s already sitting back on his chair and reading stupid memos about hand-washing policies from the admiral, it occurs to him that the Alpha quadrant thing happened about three months ago. And that they didn’t really write a report over it. Or, actually, Spock did write it, but then Jim edited it heavily enough that an eleven hour chase got turned into a ten minutes half-hearted attempt at pursuit. So that even if he had accessed the mission logs, Spock would still not be able to know what they did, unless he…

Unless he.

Jim turns, and maybe it’s through the bond, or maybe it’s Spock’s freakishly accurate peripheral vision, damn Vulcan rods, or maybe it’s sheer coincidence, but at the same time so does Spock, and.

Yeah.

Spock is looking at Jim like he’s seeing him for the first time, and Jim can’t say how he is looking at Spock, but what he feels is a strong, loud, giant sorry.

And an equally strong, loud, giant fuck.

Spock drops his eyes and turns back to his console, and Jim remains in his chair, the five hours between now and the end of Alpha painful and imposing before him.

~

The walk to their quarters—Spock’s, Spock’s quarters, this is clearly not the time for their—is tense and punishingly short and excruciatingly long, but hey, at least they’re on the same page, and they both know to head for the confrontation as soon as Alpha’s over, the look Spock gives Jim as Lieutenant Samanez relieves him of the conn brokering no disagreement.

This was always going to happen.

Jim might have played at being in total denial in the past few weeks, but in the dead middle of Gamma, with Spock fast asleep and deliciously warm beside him, it’s not as if he wasn’t well aware that this is how things were going to end. This was was always going to happen. Now it has, and if there’s something Jim’s good at, is dealing. With stuff. With everything.

And wow, Spock hasn’t even killed him. 

Yet. 

And won’t, hopefully, if Jim does what he knows he’s supposed to.

He will apologize.

And explain.

And tell the truth. 

And Spock will be logically pissed, and then he will be logically upset, and then he will slowly—god please not too slowly—but logically come to terms with the whole thing and understand how, why Jim acted like he did, and then they will make up and fuck and go back to being how were until twelve hours ago and in twenty years they will unabashedly (Jim, at least) lie to their kids about how they really got together and Jim will tease Spock about the fact that it only took a catastrophic failure of his eidetic memory to get them to where they are and—

Except.

Except, no. 

Except, something ugly, and ancient, and a little reptilian pipes up, bubbles inside him and then it blooms, flourishes and takes roots, fed by panic and exhaustion and something else. Love, maybe. Desperation, probably.

It’s there, completely formed, when they are about ten feet from Spock’s cabin, and in those last few steps, right before they enter his quarters and stand facing each other, Jim feels it like he hasn’t in months, years. Ever, maybe.

This anger. 

That he should have to feel ashamed about what he did, when Spock’s happiness has been pulsating in head for weeks. 

That he should be blamed for reaching out and taking after years or denying himself.

That he should be made to apologize for… this

For all his shortcomings, Jim’s never been above admitting having screwed up. But apologizing for this. It’s just obscene.

And just like that, Jim is pissed.

“Why?”

Spock is standing at least five feet from him, and Jim’s not used anymore to being so… apart. The bond is silent. Not even a small leak. The inside of Jim’s head is completely…empty. Spock’s expression his blank, his voice perfectly even.

Jim feels his rage kick up a notch. If there is something he’s always been big on, it’s defaulting to anger when he feels cornered. Scared. 

“Good question. I’m assuming you mean to ask why you neglected to tell me you screwed up something inside my brain?” His voice is loud, and aggressive, and he doesn’t think he has talked with Spock quite like this before. He is sure he hasn’t, actually, since he hasn’t talked like this with anyone since he was too young and drunk to know any better.  

“Jim. You lied about—”

“Spock, you lied way before I did. Or did you just forget to mention that you had stuck something in my head? Like a fucking marriage, for example?”

“Jim—

“Because it seems like a pretty gross oversight, from the guy who once wrote a nine page report because three unused petri dishes went missing.” 

“I—”

“But that’s the way things are with you, right? Ready to make a scene if someone misremembers pi’s nineteenth decimal place, but always taking your sweet time when it actually comes to communicating the crucial shit.”

Jim could go on. For hours, probably. He could yell at Spock years worth of heartache, of wanting and not having, of trying to forget and give up, of hoping he was over it right until the moment he would catch sight Spock, or talk to him about something ship related, and then it would be back, and Spock, damn Spock, he just would not leave him alone. He has the words, and the ammunition, and all the anger and the desperation in the world. He could go on like this for hours, except… 

Except that Spock is not letting him. Spock doesn’t yell back, or try to talk over him, or punch him through the bulkhead. Spock doesn’t head for the doors and leave Jim to stew in his own rage, or even throw him the nasty, contemptuous look Jim knows he deserves. In fact, Spock doesn’t even look at Jim. He just stands there, eyes lowered to the ground, back painfully straight, and… No. No. Really, no.

This is not what Jim wants.

He feels his anger dissipate. Instantaneously.  

“I— Listen, I’m sorry, Spock.” He wipes at his face. “I didn’t meant to—I just—I didn’t—” He really needs to start speaking in full sentences, but the way he feels right now, it might not be a possibility for a while. “I’m so sorry—”  

“You said we should act like it had not happened.”

Spock’s voice is deep, and clear, and he’s looking at Jim now, and his eyes are… naked. For a second, Jim thinks that he could pretend not to remember that night in the sparring room. Not to understand what Spock is talking about. 

Or. He could tell the truth.

“I—You seemed… disgusted. I don’t know. You looked like you had just made the worst mistake of your life, like you hated yourself, and I—“ I panicked. I was a fool. I loved you, so much. “I just wanted you… not to. So I pretended it had never happened.”

“Jim—”

“I’m not—This is not—I have never felt anything remotely similar to what…” But it’s not a good excuse, and Jim feels his shoulders slump, and lets his chin dip close to his chest. “I’m sorry. What I said… This is all on me. And I’m so sorry, and don’t think that I don’t understand the repercussions of what I’ve done here, because I really do. This is not like another Kobayashi Maru or me shitting on the prime directive or a pissing contest with the admiralty. I thought long and hard about what would happen if, when you’d remember, and I knew that you would…yeah. I knew, and I still—” he shakes his head “—I couldn’t help myself.”

There it is, the truth. That deep down, underneath the insignia and the captain stripes and the smiles for the promo holos, he’s still Jim Kirk. Nothing but a brat who takes what he wants, and he might have that genius level IQ that lets him figure out exactly what the consequences are, but that’s no use at all if he can’t stop himself anyway. And this time… he presses the heels of his palms in his eyes, despising himself a little, a lot, because this time he really—

“You asked if it was… weird. When I could not remember.”

Jim looks up, letting his hands fall uselessly to his sides. “I—I had no right to—”

“Jim.” Spock hesitates for a beat. “There was little difference between my…regard for you at that very moment, and during my last memories from months before.”

Jim struggles to register the meaning. Meanwhile, he can feel himself blink stupidly.

“I never questioned the presence of the bond, because it felt…” Spock’s eyes skitter away to a corner of his quarters, where they remain as he continues. “Plausible.”

“Plausible?”

Spock replies slowly, as if searching for words right as he speaks. “It was not difficult, to imagine that I would want to be with you.”

Jim would give his captainship, his firstborn, and probably an embarrassing amount of credits to be able to read Spock’s expression right now. But for some weird Vulcan reason the lights in his quarters are always set at sixty percent or something, and he’s still looking away from Jim, and when Jim takes one step closer he actually retreats a little, shaking his head.

“Spock…”

“I think of you—” Spock wets his lip “—constantly. I did not know it was a possibility. Before you.”

Jim runs a hand through his hair. “It’s probably just that stupid bond—”

“Before.” Spock’s voice sounds about one octave lower than usual, and it makes Jim’s breath hitch, and his heart skip a beat. “It started before. My…preoccupation began fairly early in the mission, and it was not…” Spock swallows. “I could not…”

Jim takes one step towards him, and he can tell that Spock wants to back away some more, but this time his retreat is blocked by the bulkhead.

“Spock, I…”

“I realize that the bond was in place the moment it formed. I did not feel… disgusted, as you said, but…”

“Spock.”

“Although it formed from no intention of mine, or at least none that I was aware of, I should have informed you of it immediately. That I did not, speaks of my…”

It hangs like that, between them, until Jim cannot bear it anymore. “Of your?”

Spock just shakes his head. “The bond can be severed, and although for you the procedure might be accompanied by some… discomfort, initially, it will not cause any lasting damage.”

“What about you? What would you feel?”

“It will be uncomfortable for me, too.”

Hell. It will be hell for Spock, and Jim doesn’t know how or why he knows, but he’s sure that Spock would probably never recover. Not that Jim would, either. Spock has got that wrong, on so many levels.

“Is that what you were planning to do? To have the bond removed?”

Spock takes a deep breath, but does not answer for several seconds. It makes Jim’s spine chill, and he takes one step further, until there are maybe three feet between them now. He knows he’s crowding Spock. It’s shitty of him. He wishes he could stop himself.

“Were you going to severe it, Spock?” He doesn’t mean to be aggressive, really, but he needs to know, and Spock can be so damn silent.

“Jim—”

One more step.

“Were you, or were you not?”  

“You should not—”

“Spock, I swear to god, if you don’t—”

“No.” Spock is looking at Jim now, and there is something that looks suspiciously like resignation in his eyes. “I never, not even for a moment, thought to severe the bond.”

The admission knocks the wind out of Jim, but not in an entirely bad way, and not enough that he cannot advance one more step.

They are breathing the same air now. 

Which is how it should be.

“That’s why you didn’t tell me. Because you were afraid I’d force you to get rid of it.”

“I am sorry.”

Jim shakes his head. “I’m not. I’m not sorry, and I would never—I could never. The bond is…”

“Jim.”

“The bond, and you losing your memory, all of this… I cannot be sorry. Spock, you must feel it. You have to know—”

“I do. I do.”

He thinks, he’s actually almost sure, that it’s Spock who pulls him closer, so that there is nothing, not even air between them. At the same time the emptiness in his head became full, and warm, and yes. 

Perfect

Jim buries his face in the hollow of Spock’s throat, a smile bubbling out of him and into Spock’s skin. “I can’t fucking believe you needed to get amnesia for this to happen.”

Spock’s amusement, mixed with happiness and relief, is scalding in Jim’s head. In his chest. “It does appear to be unnecessarily contrived.”

“How screwed up can we be?” Jim is laughing. “I mean. At least you’re Vulcan, it kinda comes with the territory. What’s my excuse?”

Spock doesn’t even take offense. “Jim. I would not want you any other way.”

“Yeah, well. Good. ‘Cause you’re stuck.” 

“Am I?”

“Consider yourself very stuck.”

“Very well.” Spock’s breath is warm on his temple.

This is it. Years, all those nights, and days, and meals sitting across from each other, and missions standing side by side, and looking back at Spock from his chair, and this is it. Finally. 

Forever, Jim hopes. 

He inches his face back to look at Spock in the eyes. “So, are we, um. Making this official?”

“Official?”

“You know.”

“You mean, inform Starfleet?”

“No. Well, yes, but—”

“I will be happy to take care of the paperwork.”

“That’s not—I can fill out a form. I told you, I’ve gotten way better at it. I made the requisitions for the arboretum last week, all by myself.”

“Which is the precise reason we now have thirty-four Venus flytraps and one baobab on board.”

“Yeah, from the names I figured they’d look cooler. Listen, I’ll take care of Starfleet.”

“Are you certain?”

“Hey. Terran schools teach you how to read and write, too. Can it.”

Spock nods dubiously. “Very well, then.”

Spock kisses Jim on the cheek—which, wow. Just, wow—and makes to slip away from between Jim and the bulkhead (they must be way late for the department heads meeting, though they are always late, anyways—well, Jim is, Spock is usually five minutes early and probably busy mentally reciting prime numbers to deal with the illogicality of Jim’s tardiness). Which, no. Spock’s not going anywhere yet, and neither is Jim, so he blocks his only exit way with his arm. 

“That’s not what I wanted to say.”

Spock appears vaguely relieved. “I see. It is for the best. I will submit the relevant forms to Starfleet at my earliest—” 

“No, Spock… Bond with me. The human way.”

It shuts Spock up. Which, all things considered, is probably still a first. 

“I believe it is called marriage,” Spock says cautiously, after a silence that is too long by all standards in the galaxy.

Jim orders his eyes not roll. “Right. Terran schools teach us vocab, too. Shocking, I know.”

“Jim—”

“Listen”—Jim cups Spock’s face in both his hands— “the bond just kind of happened, and that’s fine, but.” He licks gently at Spock’s mouth. “I wish I had known. While it happened. I wish I could have, I don’t know, felt it, chosen it, savored it, and maybe if we—” 

“Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes.”

“Yes, you will…?”

“Yes.”

Jim thinks he’s laughing. “Okay.”

Spock nods, and smiles. A little.

“So we’re really—”

“Jim. Yes.”

“You won’t forget that—”

Spock kisses him, and shuts him up.