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The Bond

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“And tell me today’s stardate. Not to the millisecond, if you can restrain yourself.”

Bones asks offhandedly, his tone barely loud enough to be heard above the beeping of the machines, while he’s mostly absorbed in the task of shining a light into Spock’s pupil and entering the findings in the PADD resting on his hands. 

Jim just stands there, bored, gaze wandering around the MedBay as he bounces on his feet. This is dull. Spock’s fine. His skull is thick enough that he could probably take ten times the hit he just did and still keep going, and come on, he barely lost consciousness. They could already be beaming down on the planet, if it weren’t for Bones fretting like it’s an olympic sport.

“2263.356”

“Okay,” Jim interjects, clapping a hand on Bones’ shoulder. “Can we go now? Those soil samples aren’t gonna collect themselves and the planet has pink snow.” He wiggles his eyebrows at Spock as he says it. Jim’s totally planning a snowball fight. Chekov has it coming.

“Commander, repeat today’s stardate.” 

The question gives Jim pause.

Not because Bones ignores Jim, which is not that unusual, but because he’s also unironically addressing Spock as ‘commander’, and being remarkably civil about it to boot, which is unusual, enough to be maybe be the second—nope, Jim thinks, the very first time it's happened, and they’re about four years into the mission. 

And, wait. That would make today’s stardate…

“2263.356,” Spock repeats, his tone holding trace amounts of condescension. 

Jim straightens up and he and Bones exchange a glance. Then they lower their eyes to the upper corner of the PADD in McCoy’s hands, where the numbers 2264.165 are written in large, black, easily readable, standard characters. And then, they look at each other again.

“Fuck,” they both say at the same time.

~

He slips in love with Spock inconspicuously, during an uneventful afternoon, on an unnamed planet destined to become little more than a Greek letter and a Roman numeral on Starfleet’s chart of the Beta Cygni system. 

In hindsight, he should have known it would end poorly.

The planet is as M-class as they get, with shallow lakes and rolling hills and very short yellow-orange grass that reminds Jim of Iowa while simultaneously being radically different from it. One year into the mission, and after over six weeks coped up in a spaceship at warp, it feels like a much needed reprieve from the void and darkness and the long hauls of deep space travel. Which is, unlike Jim's expectations, not that entertaining. This mission is like a visit to paradise. 

However.

The planet also hosts exceptional reserves of pergium, which means that any paradise-like quality will be wiped out pretty soon to make room for a mining colony. As soon as they file their reports, probably.

“We could just omit, I guess.”

They’re on top of a hill that overlooks about ninety acres of sprawling, golden fields, interrupted only by the occasional pond and Spock’s staff milling about and pretending to collect soil samples they don’t need. By unspoken agreement, everyone on the planet has decided to ignore the fact that the geological survey is long completed.

Jim has even managed to persuade his first to climb up the nearest hill with him, and Spock is now sitting with his arms propped on his knees, face upturned to take in the warmth of Cygni. 

A cat. Jim has this working theory that his first officer is, deep down, a cat.

Jim’s laying supine beside him, head cushioned by the soft grass. This planet smells amazing.

“Omit that twenty-four percent of the geological structure of the planet is pergium?” Spock doesn't even bother opening his eyes. 

“Why not?” Jim turns and takes in the side of his face. The point of the ear is visibly greener than the earlobe. Wow, Jim’s brain provides. Vulcan sunburn. Cygni-burn

“I know your opinion of the admiralty is quite negative, captain, but I believe they are, in fact, able to count to one hundred.”

Jim huffs, not quite convinced of that. “We could just… substitute.”

Spock opens his eyes. “Excellent idea, Captain. What do you propose?” He's wearing what Nyota sometimes refers to as his ‘Jim expression’. A mix of condescension, amusement, and genuine curiosity. I am slightly shocked and I hate to admit it, but I actually think Spock finds you… fascinating, she had laughed. Jim had shrugged. It’s still a vast improvement from not too long ago, when Spock’s ‘Jim expression’ had been poorly concealed disgust.

“Mmm. I was thinking quartz.”

“The resulting material composition would make the core geological structure of the planet unstable. I doubt anyone would believe that the planet lasted longer than a few hundred years, let alone that we landed on it.” Spock fingers a longer straw of grass peaking out of the ground. Jim has troubles looking away from his fingers. 

Distracting. Spock can be distracting, sometimes. The things he says and does. The way he moves.

“Mmmm. What about Dickite?”

Is that an eye-roll? “I was waiting for you to mention that specific mineral.”

“You know me so well, Mr. Spock.” Jim grins and hoists himself up until he’s standing, his shadow blanketing Spock. “What am I thinking right now?”

Spock mulls it over for a moment. “You wish to bathe in the pond.”

Jim can feel his grin spread wide. Not exactly what was on his mind, but… good guess. “Excellent idea, Mister Spock. Let’s do it.” 

He offers Spock his right hand. Not that he needs help standing, but... 

Vulcan and hands, Nyota told Jim once, it’s a funny business. You might want to avoid that. 

Not that Jim would ever let that stop him.

Spock looks at Jim’s hand for a second longer than he probably should, the corners of his eyes creased by the brightness of Cygni, the tips of his ears pea green, and is that a freckle on his nose? And then Spock reaches with own hand and takes Jim’s, for no reason other that Jim is offering, and then

That.

That’s the moment Jim knows he’s already halfway down the slide.

“What if we just make some shit up? I like ‘corbomite'.” Jim’s vaguely surprised that his voice is not shaking.

Spock just shoots him a mocking look, a non-smile obvious on his face. 

And that is a freckle.

By the end of day, Jim has bathed in a purple lake, submitted a very inaccurate report to Starfleet, and is madly, hopelessly in love for the first time.

~

Jim’s not ashamed to admit to having been scared shitless once or twice in his life, namely whenever he crosses paths with the Romulans, or when Uhura catches him reading comic books in the captain chair during Alpha, and even that time he almost… scratch that, he actually died.

But this panic. This is not something Jim knew he had in him. He crosses his arms on his chest and lowers his chin, trying to contain it. “Fix him.”

He’s standing with Bones and M’Benga about ten feet from Spock’s biobed. “How? With my magic wand?”

“With you medical degree? You fixed Hendorff when he couldn’t make memories anymore.”

Bones throws his hands in the air. “Retrograde amnesia’s not like anterograde, it doesn’t have specific neural correlates. I can’t fix it ‘cause there’s nothing to fix!”

“Okay. So we do what?”

Bones just shakes his head and begins compulsively re-stacking hypos, which must be M’Benga's cue to deliver the bad news. “We wait.”

They all turn at the sight of Spock walking towards them, straightening the hem of the blue jersey he just put back on.

“Spock, do you remember who I am?” Jim asks tentatively.

Spock raises one eyebrow, right at the same time as Bones elbows Jim in the ribs, mumbling something about melodramatic infants who sometimes conveniently forget how to count. “He’s only lost a few months, Jim. If you can plot navigation vectors in your head you can figure out what he’s missing.”

“Doctors. Captain.” Spock crosses his arms on this lower back. He looks remarkably unconcerned, for having woken up six months into the future. “This is no cause of concern. Retrograde amnesia usually resolves itself naturally following its inception.”

Bones just looks at him, shaking his head and muttering bitterly to himself. “Goddamn hobgoblin. Amnesia. How cliche can you be?”

“I apologize if the banality of my psychogenic illness causes you distress, doctor.” Spock looks at Bones with that shit-eating non-expression he has, which becomes a little more intense as a vein on Bones’ forehead starts throbbing noticeably harder. And then… then he turns to Jim, and the non-expression softens, the sarcasm melting away. It’s a private look.

Intimate.

Which becomes even more intimate when Spock touches Jim’s fingers with his knuckles, and the entire MedBay, with the possible exception of the beeping of the heart monitors, goes silent. “I do not remember how we came to be bonded, Jim.”

It knocks the wind out of him. 

Jim knows, distantly, that there are about seven pairs of eyes on them. There’s Bones, who’s working his way towards a heart attack, and M’Benga, and two nurses, and three lab technicians not ten feet away. Jim knows that they’re all staring, but he cannot move, especially when Spock presses his fingers tighter agains Jim’s and holds his eyes for a long moment, and it’s closer than they’re ever been, except of course for— 

“Jim. I am sorry.”

Jim swallows through a dry throat, and says nothing.

He presses back on Spock’s fingers, though.

Because it feels amazing. 

Right. 

Amazingly right. 

And Jim could probably stay here for the rest of his life, provided that Spock stays too, and keeps looking at him like that, and doesn't move his hand, and—

“What makes you think that you have bonded with the captain, commander?” It’s M’Benga who breaks the moment, apparently deciding to ask the question after clearing his throat about three times does not seem to do the trick. 

Spock cocks his head, but doesn’t step away from Jim, he remains right there, warm, and available, smelling amazing— “The mind link, of course.”

A loud sound. Something crashes to the floor and breaks in a million pieces. Jim immediately snaps out of it and takes a look, and... Bones’ jaw is slack, and his tricorder is at his feet, the separate components scattering across the MedBay floor. The transistor hits the tip of Jim’s boot before skittering noisily inside Bones’ office.

Yep. Jim concurs. 

~

He sullenly informs Spock sometimes at the beginning of the third year of the mission, while they’re sparring. 

“You’re number four.” He ducks and barely avoids a jab. 

Jim tries not to pay attention to ship’s scuttlebutt, since around sixty percent of it is about himself and Bones, or himself and Uhura, or himself and some slimy, betentacled ensign. So it’s not his fault if he cannot help overhearing that he’s polling behind Spock in the shockingly inappropriate list of ‘hottest guys on the Enterprise’—get it, Jim? it rhymes!—that has been circulating for a while on certain private loops. 

He’s also polling behind Sulu, though that’s to be expected, given the Lieutenant’s degree of self-grooming. 

The fact remains that Spock is number four and Jim’s barely breaching the top ten.

“Fascinating.” Another jab, which hits Jim this time. “And what about you, captain?” Spock’s voice doesn’t even catch while he delivers a well-timed hook.

Jim leaps back, eyes trained on Spock’s fist. “I’m number nine—Ouch.” Kick in the shin. He should have known.

And that’s the end of the conversation.

At least, until Jim is defeated and lying spread eagled on his back. “Interesting,” Spock says, helping him up. “I wonder what the judging criteria are. The list editor must be employing sophisticated quantitative method to account for individual differences in esthetic preferences, as well as each responder’s state at the time of the survey. Perhaps mixed-effect modeling might do the trick—”

“Really? Stats? C’mon, Spock, aren’t you flattered? Not even a little bit?”

Spock straightens the hem of his Starfleet regulation t-shirt. Jim grabbed it when he was going down and almost managed to pull it off completely in a last-ditch attempt to win, revealing what has got to be a six-pack. At a minimum. 

Probably eight, the voice inside him that didn’t complete sensitivity training tells him.

Jim tears his gaze away immediately.

“Indeed, captain. Outranking you by five positions is my proudest accomplishment.”

“Oh, come off it. You, even you, have to be pleased.” 

Spock just looks at him with his confused expression, the same one he has when Jim and Bones exult because the Academy parrises squares team won, or when Jim won’t stop snickering after watching holos of people slipping on a banana peel. “Why would I be? My physical appearance is solely the product of my genes and the environment in which I was raised. I have little claim to pride, and the fact that members of the crew find me attractive does not procure me any advantage.” He finishes by crouching slightly in sparring position, ready to start another round. 

Jim’s not ready, though.

“Right.” He narrows his eyes and crosses his arms over his chest. “It does though, doesn’t it?”

Spock straightens his spine, looking a little aggravated at the forced pause in his workout. “In which manner, Jim?” Is that a sigh? 

“Well. Heaps of manners. People are more likely to go out with you, for example.”

“I see.” Spock nods solemnly. “I shall make sure to take advantage of it.“

Wait. “Wait. Are you planning to start going out? Like, on dates?”

“Is that not what you just suggested?”

“I—” Not precisely. No. But kind of? Without meaning to? He feels a bubble of panic swell inside him. “Do Vulcans even date?”

“Captain, I see I must have previously neglected to inform you that I am half human—”

“Smartass.”

“—furthermore, and I do remember filling the relevant paperwork, Lieutenant Uhura and I engaged in what you refer to as ‘dating’ for nine months, five days and—”

“Fine, fine.” Jim waves his hand. “So…the dating thing. With who?” 

Jim’s not feeling possessive. And panicky. Not at all. 

Oblivious, Spock raises one eyebrow, maybe at the inappropriateness of the question, most likely because of Jim’s grammar. “With whomever is interested. I have several options, as you just mentioned.”

It's okay. It's fine. “Um, do you have someone in mind? I mean, she should, you know. Probably not be in your department. For example.”

Spock nods, solemnly, while somehow making it perfectly clear that he is only humoring Jim. “I will ensure that she or he is not under my supervision.”

She or…?

“Okay.” She or he!?  “Okay, good.” Jim thinks that he does a good job of not skipping a beat in the conversation. 

Considering that his head just exploded. Catastrophically. She or he.

Spock just nods, going back into sparring position. 

And Jim, exploded brain and all that, just blurts it out. 

“The dating… What about me?”

And that’s it. Years of longing and wanting and pining and telling himself to just stop, stop, he’s not for you, and Jim just asked Spock out, and Spock—

Spock sighs.

“It appears likely that several crew members will be equally interested in engaging socially with you, captain. Although perhaps less than with me, as I do outrank you by five positions. Now, would you like to resume our session?”

“That’s not—” 

Spock raises an eyebrow, impatiently. 

And Jim just drops it. 

Spock takes him down in about ten seconds, and it hurts like a motherfucker.

 ~

“He said there is a… link?”

“A link?” Uhura stops in the act of rubbing the sleep out of her eyes with her index fingers to throw Jim an incredulous look. She was very ready to murder him for interrupting her sleep, only letting him in when he mentioned Spock’s injury. Jim thinks it wise not comment on how adorable she looks like this, her hair wavy around her shoulders and wearing a definitely non-regulation t-shirt that says ‘Linguistics Ninja’ over plaid pajama bottoms.

“A mind link. A bond. Some kind of Vulcan thing. You know what I’m talking about?”

She nods. “It’s a marriage, basically. With whom?”

Jim tries to minimize his eye-roll. She did just wake up after taking Gamma yesterday, after all. “With Scotty,” he deadpans. “With me, of course!”

She’s suddenly looks considerably more awake. “Wow.”

“Wow what? Wow good or wow bad?”

“Just… wow. You have a link with Spock?”

“I don’t know. Do I? Could he be wrong?”

She gives him a skeptical glance. 

“Well. How often have you known him to be wrong?”

There’s that, Jim concedes. “Could he be lying?”

“Sure. Who wouldn’t lie about having a mind link with you, Kirk? I do it all the time. It’s what keeps me going in the cold, vast desolation of outer spa—”

“Okay, okay.” He raises his hands defensively. “So, there probably is a link.”

Nyota nods, pensively. “Wow.” Is that a smile? Why is she smiling? Is she enjoying herself? “Why wouldn’t he have mentioned it before, though?”

Jim shrugs. “Is it possible that he didn’t know?”

It’s not that Jim hasn’t asked all of this stuff and then about forty more questions to M’Benga. It’s that no one on board knows shit about any of this, because Vulcans are ridiculous, and they insist on acting like some fucking space masonic lodge. 

Nyota shrugs. “Maybe? It’s possible that Spock took stock of his mind links when he regained consciousness and noticed it for the first time. He did mention once that he couldn’t really feel his familial link with Sarek unless he focused on it. But…” She looks to her right, staring unseeingly at a picture of the bridge crew taken last year during shore leave on Omicron 4. The good times. When everyone was oriented in space and time. “How would it have formed? Not spontaneously. At least, not without some kind of very intimate physical contact happening between the two of you. And even then, the chances would be…”

She must see it in his eyes when she looks back at him. Or maybe it’s in the way he has crossed his arms on his chest, or lowered his gaze to his own boots, or flattened his lips in a thin line. She is a comm officer, after all. She is good at reading this stuff. At reading people. And Jim is bad at making himself opaque. 

“No.”

Jim firmly shuts his eyes, for just a fraction of a second, and says nothing. When he opens them, she's still there. The whole situation is. Fuck.

“Jim.”

“I…”

“Jim.”

“It was only—”

“Jim.”

“—the once.”

Jim!”

“I know! I know. Don’t think that I don’t know.”

“I told you to stay away from him!”

She did. A little less than a year ago, when Jim had been hitting a rough patch, always so fatigued and stressed out that it had been so hard to push down that thing inside him clamoring for more closeness, for more time, for more of Spock, there had been more lovesick looks thrown at Spock than Uhura could ignore. Except that she had interpreted them less as lovesick, and more as staring at her best friend’s ass out of boredom and a misplaced tendency to engage in challenging pursuits to break the monotony of deep space. So she had given him the “don’t hurt him or I’ll carve out your testicles with a rusty scalpel and eat them in front of your eyes” talk, and Jim had thought it best to put the brakes on the whole thing. 

Because he’s Jim Kirk, after all, and hurting people is what he does.

“I tried to. It was really hard. It was impossible. And I mean, it’s not like you did any better than I did.”

“Good point,” she mumbles. “Well, now you have a mental link to show for it. Congratulations, captain.”

“I should have listened to you.”

She snorts. “When have you ever?” She walks to the chair in the middle on the room and sits in it with both her legs underneath her. It would look lazy and sprawling if it were anyone else, but she manages to be as graceful as a work of art.

“So how did you tell him?” 

“…How did I tell him, what?”

“That you’re not really bonded.”

“I didn’t. We all just kinda, um, went along with it?”

Nyota’s eyes widen. Then they widen more. Jim has the distinct impression that they would open even wider, if it weren’t for obvious structural impossibilities.

“Wow.”

“Listen—”

“Wow.”

She’s using that one word a lot, for a linguistics ninja. 

“What was I supposed to do? He’s missing months of his life. Should I confuse him further by telling him that this thing he can feel in his head is not a thing?” 

Especially because, Spock didn’t exactly seem to mind it. Jim remembers his warm fingers pressing against his own, nerve endings buzzing and fluttering under his skin, and abruptly feels the impulse to flex his hand.

“Wow.”

“Uhura—”

“Listen, I’ll tell you two things.” She stands again and walks up to him, he expression intense. “First, hurt him and your testicles are as good as surgically detached from your body. Without numbing agents, of course. Second,” she suddenly grins, “please, do keep me updated. I want to know everything about this shit show.”

He can still hear her laughter from the corridor outside her quarters.

~

“I thought you were straight.”

It's about a month into the third year of the mission. This morning, during Alpha, he and Spock decided to meet in Jim’s quarters to play chess. 

It’s now 21:13 PM. 

In the intervening time, Jim has spent an inordinate amount of time and mental energy trying to settle on a good strategy to finally ask Spock, in an offhand kind of manner, what he meant exactly about dating, and dating other dudes in particular.

And if there's any chance. Even a small one. Minuscule. Infinitesimal. Nanoscale.

That this dude could be Jim. 

He has polished and rehearsed at least eight different opening, and made an effort to predict all of Spock’s possible responses to ensure that his line of pursuit will actually lead to the topic of interest. It’s a fine tactical game, not unlike the dozens of diplomatic negotiations with more or less hostile populations he’s gotten commendations and medals for over the past few years. Not unlike chess itself, in a way. It’s an art, as Jim has learned. And there is a reason, if Jim is often referred to as the best captain in Starfleet. Not to mention that he became a grandmaster at the age of eighteen. 

Which is why it’s all he can to not facepalm when the first thing he blurts out, barely five moves into their game, is, “I thought you were straight.”

Very smooth, Kirk.

He’s frantically wondering if he should make up some kind of excuse, maybe sound a ship wide alarm just to get himself out of this clusterfuck, when he notices that Spock is looking at him with a genuinely confused expression on his face, hand still in midair and holding his knight.

“…Straight?”

Now. Spock can be—is—the worst kind of troll, with the whole pretending not to understand Terran slang thing—dude. Knock it off. Your mother was Amanda Greyson. She basically invented Standard—but this time, this fucking time, Jim can tell with absolute certainty that he truly has no clue what Jim is referring to. 

Damn him.

“Is that it? The knight stays airborne?” he asks, playing for time.

Instead of replying, Spock takes Jim’s rook without even breaking eye contact. “Check.”

Jim frowns at him and hurriedly moves his king.

“Straight, Jim?” Spock prompts him. Jim’s clearly not getting out of this.

“Ehm… you know. Strictly, um. Straight. Heterosexual.”

“Oh. I see.” Spock looks back at the board, clearly unperturbed by Jim’s question. He should have figured that it would be easier to agitate Spock by misremembering Tungsten’s atomic number than by asking sex-related questions. “It was a reasonable assumption, based on the available information.”

“Oh.” Jim narrows his eyes. “Was it?”

“Indeed. Most logical.”

“That’s high praise from you, commander.”

Spock nods once, acknowledging his words with what Jim knows to be pure, undiluted sarcasm. Although everyone else on the ship, except for Uhura and maybe Bones, would interpret it as solemn agreement. 

And Jim knows that as far Spock is concerned, this is the end of the topic. 

Which, no.

No fucking way. 

He leans back on his chair and starts the questioning. No need to be subtle at this point, obviously.

“So… Have you dated a lot of guys?”

Spock looks up from perusing the board. “Thirty-seven percent of my sexual partners have been males.” He inclines his head. “You appear surprised.”

Jim will not get turned on because Spock used the word ‘sexual’. He. Will. Not.

“No. No, not at all.” He looks at the ceiling for a second. “Well, maybe a bit. I mean, you were with Nyota, and there was that lady you had gotten stuck with before…” They don’t mention the fall of Vulcan. Ever. “Yeah, before. Spring? String?”

“T’Pring,” Spock supplies patiently, his tone dry.

“Right. Her. And you never mentioned being into guys. Or males, I guess.”

“You mean, over the multiple conversations we have had regarding our sexual preferences?” 

Spock really needs to stop saying sexual.

“Come on. We’ve had some.”

“There have been instances of you elbowing me and inviting me to, and I am quoting, ‘check out’ the occasional ‘hot chick’, but that is the extent of what I remember.” Spock moves his bishop and takes a sip of his tea.

“Well, if you wanted to talk about hot guys you could have said so. I'd have listened. Happily.”

“If I recall correctly, all I wished was for you to stop your blatant sexualization of unaware passersby.” Oh, Spock knows nothing about the magnitude of Jim’s sexualizing habits. “It is your turn to move, Jim.”

“The point is, I feel like I didn’t know this really important thing about one of my closest friends that I’m only finding out right now. Not that it’s not in your rights to keep it from anyone.” Not that what Jim’s saying is one hundred percent true, either.

“I see.” Spock’s expression softens minutely. “It was not something I sought to hide. Although for reproductive reasons bonds are usually initiated between people of different sexes, on Vulcan sexual experimentation was highly encouraged, if not expected. Perhaps as a consequence, I find the male body equally sexually arousing as the female one. This is quite common among my species, I believe. To the degree that mentioning it would be redundant.” 

For a fleeting moment, Jim thinks that he can see something in Spock’s eyes, as if there were something to add that he is hesitant to say, but it’s gone before he can investigate further.

Meanwhile, Jim’s fight against his boner crumbles under the weight of Spock’s words. 

He clears his throat. “Well. I’m not Vulcan. It would have not been redundant.” He says it a bit sourly, moving his rook to threaten Spock’s bishop while he surreptitiously adjusts himself under the table.

There is no way in hell Jim’s winning this match.

“True,” Spock concedes, “But what difference would it have made, had told you?”

It’s there. 

The opening he's been waiting for. The one he plotted to reach and failed at achieving, miserably, until now, when Spock handed it to him on a gold platter. 

The one in which Jim tells Spock several things, like how sometimes it’s hard for him to stay focused on the bridge when Spock is leading even very low-risk away missions, or that he’s the one who programmed that gross plomeek recipe in the cafeteria replicator, or how he has thought it through in the past few months, and he actually believes that he can bear watching a holomentary about terrace farming on ninety-fourth century Andoria, if that’s what constitutes Spock’s ideal date.

Or maybe just that he likes Spock, a little more than how one likes a friend.

And that he thinks Spock might like him too, if he actually decided to give Jim a chance. And that they might have even more fun than they’ve be having, together.

In bed, for example. But also out of bed. Really, mostly out of bed.

That’s how bad Jim’s got it.

So he swallows, and he searches for the right words, a process made no easier by the patient, intent way Spock is staring at him. He finds them, he thinks. He’s gonna go with, “I think I would have asked you out myself,” since it’s not a declaration of undying love, which would horrify a Vulcan, and it’s also pretty concrete and straightforward, which should appeal to a Vulcan. All the facts. None of the feelings. He’ll couch in the least possible threatening way, and—

When the shipwide red alert sounds, he’s not even that surprised. 

~

Jim offers to bring Spock back to his cabin, and it takes him a moment to realize that the puzzled look M’Benga gives him is due to the fact that Spock is perfectly capable of finding his quarters on his own. 

Right. Six month memory loss.

It’s not as bad as it could be, for sure. Spock could have lost the last five years of his life, which would require a lot of explanation about what exactly happened to his home planet and family, not to mention how Jim was promoted to captain of the Enterprise and not booted out of the Academy for cheating on that stupid test. Or he could be missing four, which would place them as that weird pre-Khan moments when Spock had still been weirdly reluctant to admit that he cared whether Jim lived or died. 

Then again, he could have forgotten just a couple of days, which would have left them both on the same page, regarding this bond thing. 

“We do not share quarters?” is the first thing Spock’s asks him when they step into his room, a vertical line between his brows. His wound, now cleaned of the green blood, is hidden by his hair.

“Um, we… share a bathroom. You know.” Of course, Spock knows. They always have, since day one, and they are now on day one thousand and something. “Starfleet doesn’t exactly… know.”

The line deepens. “How new is the bond?” 

Ha. “Very.” A remarkably imprecise reply, that Spock for some reason decides not to focus on. 

“Was a healer present?”

Finally something he can answer with certainty. “Nope.” No one was present. Not even their common senses. Though, if Jim recalls correctly, there was the sensation of a strong arm wrapped around his ribs, and hands clenching around his waist through his t-shirt, and the fan of an inhumanly hot breath at the base of his jaw. An unfamiliarly angular ear pressed against his mouth, its taste magnificent under the tip of his tongue, like spices and cream. And something pooling low at the base of his spine, and he had wanted to make it last, but Spock had been so close, and the pleasure so lovely, and Jim had been so in love it hurt— “No healer,” he says, shrugging away whatever that was.

“Does the crew know?”

It’s getting harder and harder, to hold Spock’s gaze. Jim runs a hand through his hair and walks to Spock’s desk, studying the stacks of PADDs and the absolute lack of clutter on it. The chessboard is there, on the right side. The pieces haven’t been moved in several weeks. It’s still set as the last game they played, before…before. 

“Most don’t.”

“I see.” Spock’s voice sounds nearer than Jim would have expected, and when he turns he finds him not a foot away. Close. Very close. Not excessively close, but definitely closer than Spock would have chosen to be were he in possession of the entirety of his memories. 

Jim loves it.

Which in turn makes him feel nauseous. Suffocated. Because Spock should know that…

“Listen, you should probably know that—”

Whatever Spock should know, gets lost in the way he wraps his hands around Jim’s, so that their palms are brushing. “Jim. You are distressed. Let me help you.” 

It’s unlike anything Jim has felt before. It’s a very concrete awareness of Spock’s warmth, Spock’s body, Spock’s flesh, shifting upwards and taking its place beside Jim’s, occupying his personal space. The contact irradiates upwards from his hands and into his arms. It presses inside Jim for a second, and then for minutes, and Jim wonders if he’ll have to forcibly scrub Spock away from his skin. 

He feels calm. And cozy. And contained. 

He is also aroused. Not an impatient, urgent arousal, but a pleasant one. Enjoyable, even should it lead nowhere. Nothing like the last time he and Spock—

“What did you do?” His voice is unexpectedly raspy. He knows he’s flushed, and visibly. Damn blondie complexion.

“I simply attempted to soothe you through the bond.”

Spock’s hand moves upwards, coming to push Jim’s too-long hair back from his forehead. 

Okay, so maybe he’s more horny than he thought. He’s really, really quite turned on, but he’s not so far gone that he doesn’t realize how close to his meld points Spock’s fingers are getting. 

“Can you read my thoughts?” he asks.

“Not without a meld, no.” Spock’s forehead creases. “Did I neglect to inform you of the nature of the bond?”

It’s the perfect time for Jim to take a step back. To explain. And yet. “You might have… omitted a few details.”

“I see.” Spock is running his thumb back and forth on Jim’s cheekbone, now. Undoubtedly, he’s convinced that this, standing mere millimeters apart, breathing the same air, making the other’s pupil dilate, is something they do regularly. 

Among other things.

Like…

No. No.

This has been fun, to use a euphemism, but Jim should really disabuse him of the notion. Come clean. Set the record straight. And yet. 

“Jim. I cannot read your thoughts or memories through the bond. However, if we are sufficiently close I can perceive your feelings. And… physical sensations.”

And that’s what does it. It’s all well and good to lie to one’s first officer about being in love and Vulcan-married or whatever, and even to let him go through with what Jim’s perfectly aware are pretty filthy Vulcan kisses. But knowing that Spock can feel his hard on in his head… 

Jim steps and clears his throat, taking a second to collect himself. “You should just… rest. Meditate.” He waves a hand inchoately. “Solve equations. I’ll be back later.” He doesn’t wait for Spock’s answer and heads for the door.

“Jim,” Spock calls him, right as the doors are about to open. “I am sorry I cannot remember how the bond came to be. But it changes nothing.”

Jim swallows and nods, exiting without looking back.

Then, he spends five minutes slumped on the bulkhead right outside of Spock’s quarters.

~

Three years and nine months into the mission, and Jim and Spock finally have a system.

It’s a relatively elaborate protocol, that they only use to deal with away missions that are so disastrous that they require something more than Jim raiding Bones’ stash of whiskey, or Spock meditating himself into oblivion. They seldom use it for anything below a heavy number of casualties, or injuries so severe that are likely—certain—to end in Jim making subspace comms that interrupt the peaceful lives of a handful of families on various federation planets, and Spock spending a night or two filling forms to request replacement personnel. 

It works like this: they beam back without exchanging a word. They stand in front of Bones, shoulder to shoulder, as he tells them what the state of everyone’s injuries is, and what to expect in the next few days, still talking to each other as little as necessary. Then come the reports, sometimes conference calls with the Admiralty, mostly depending on whether they are in range. At that point, they have to talk some, to make sure they have their story straight—they have learned so much since Nibiru—but it’s minimal, and it usually involves little to no eye contact. Finally, each goes back to his own cabin. Take a sonic shower, spend some quality time staring bitterly out of the viewport, engage in some overdue reevaluation of their life choices (at least, that’s what Jim does; Spock probably meditates or eats spinach while reading peer-reviewed scientific journals).

They don’t reemerge from their quarters until halfway through Gamma, when the corridors are dark and silent with ship’s night.

Spock is usually already in the sparring room when Jim arrives, wearing an exact replica of Jim’s clothes—Starfleet-issue sweats and t-shirt, all in combination of black and gray— going through the moves of that weird martial art whose name Jim can’t quite pronounce and thus refers to as Vulcan Tai Chi. Spock drops whatever he's doing as soon as notices Jim’s presence. 

And then. 

And then, they proceed to beat the shit out of each other. 

It’s not sparring. 

It’s not training. 

It’s not exercise.

Spock lays into Jim with little restraint, and yes, he’s supposed to be impossibly stronger, but Jim has spent way too many years fighting people stronger and bigger and meaner than himself not to have learned how to put up a good fight. So they’re almost evenly matched, and they fight like they hate each other instead of… yeah. And it feels good. It feels amazing to be beaten, because deep down Jim knows that he deserves it. And it feels good to dish it out, too, to punch the shit out of someone, someone who can take it, who’s not gonna die because of Jim’s poor decisions. Someone who’s still gonna be there at the end of everything. With the dermal they snuck out of the MedBay, ready to use it on himself and on Jim. And then again tomorrow, on the bridge, without mentioning any of this.  

It’s on one of those nights, Jim thinks—Jim knows—, three months and two weeks before the Enterprise jerks and Spock hits his head and then brushes his fingers against Jim’s, that the bond comes to be. Right after Bones looked at them and shook his head, and Jim had to make seven—seven—subspace calls, and Spock’s face went more and more impassible as time went on, which is never, ever a good sign. 

So they did the reports and shower and meditation dance, and now they’re here, shoving and kicking at each other, and Spock’s lip is bleeding green, and Jim's side is purple and hurting like a son of a bitch, and as he tries to avoid Spock’s kicks, Jim is feeling for the first time in hours like maybe—maybe—he can bear to be alive and captain of this ship for one more hour. One more day. 

He’s hard, too. It has nothing to do with fact that he’s flush against Spock—or at least, very little. It’s the adrenaline, and that special brand of exhilaration that comes from the fact that, holy shit, Spock hesitated just a millisecond there and totally missed his window of opportunity with that uppercut, and Jim was able to dodge it pretty easily and to retaliate while Spock’s defense was not quite in place, and now he’s absolutely dominating the fight and at least he gets to be in control of something. So he stays hard, and becomes harder as he corners Spock with punches and almost knees him in the balls once, twice (dirty, they both fight so dirty), leading them away from the sparring mat until there’s no more room for Spock to retreat, because Jim’s got him pinned against the wall, right forearm pressing into Spock’s throat, body flush against his.

Which is when Jim realizes that Spock is hard, too. Again, no big deal—or is it? How do Vulcans work? How does Spock work?— probably just one of ten billion anatomic responses elicited by this weird, shitty situation, except that. 

Except that Spock is looking at him, inside him, and though Jim has his upped body completely immobilized, Spock definitely can still shift his hips, and suddenly he does, and their erections are not two parallel lines, but they’re brushing against each other, and yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes.

It’s maybe ten thrusts. Maybe.

The friction is good, for sure, but not enough to make them come, and definitely not enough to make them come like that, like a fucking freight train, sound and sight receding under the waves of pleasure while Spock mouths what has got to be ‘Jim’ against his cheek. It’s not enough to make Spock’s hands spasm against Jim’s waist until they leave imprints that will last eleven days, or to make Jim forget himself to the point that he is biting hard into Spock’s ear. It should not be enough, which is how Jim knows that this orgasm is coming straight from his brain.

Trust Spock to redefine fucking for Jim in less than thirty seconds.  

Also, trust Spock to immediately kill his buzz and look at Jim like that while his balls are still tingling. 

Horrified. Appalled. Revolted.

Jim has seen him this way before, maybe twice, and one of those times Jim was in the process on dying in front of him, so the expression is pretty vivid inside his head. Which, yeah. It brings him down real quick from his high—finally, finally, it’s been so long and Jim is so bad at wanting and not having and no one ever told him that being in love was all about wanting, wanting, wanting—to a new low—what’s that in his eyes, is it panic, is that fucking disgust, did I make him, did he feel coerced, is this the end, is it over now, me and him and the Enterprise, how far would he go to get away from me, cut your losses, Jim, just cut your losses—

And Jim. Jim cannot bear it. Jim is clearly not built to be in love, because this is excruciating and it’s way more than he can stand. So he takes one step back, and then another, and he ignores the wetness at his groin—it’s not just his come, it's their come so why the fuck is Spock looking at him like Jim just punched him—and swallows around the lump on his throat. He looks straight into Spock’s eyes. 

“This didn’t happen. Is it clear?”

It takes several moments for Spock’s nod to come. As soon as it does, Jim gets the fuck out of there. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

He finds Spock in Lab 5, in the midst of something that looks remarkably like an experiment but cannot possibly be, because he hit his head and lost six-months worth of information not twenty-four hours ago. Who even goes to work after that?

No, scratch that. It’s a stupid question. 

“How’s the memory?” Jim asks from the entrance, and when Spock does not give any sign of being surprised by his presence, he wonders for a moment exactly how much awareness passes through this mind link thing.

“Still missing.”

Yesterday, Jim would have given his firstborn, his extensive collection of strategy hologames, and the left nacelle of the Enterprise, too, to hear the opposite of what Spock just said. Now, after spending a solid twenty hours engaging in the ancient Vulcan art form of implying—he had a great teacher—, his concern is beginning to be adulterated by the dread of Spock remembering exactly how the bond thing came about. 

Jim really, really needs to sit down with Spock and tell him.

The truth. Everything. 

It’s just.

The way Spock’s eyes take Jim in when he finally looks up from the petri dish. 

And the way he tilts his mouth into something that is not a smile, but sure feels like one.

And the way he moves a decanter from the right side of his work station so that there’s room for Jim to sit on the lab bench, which Jim knows he should never ever do because it’s a hazard, with all the explosive and corrosive and murderous shit lying around in weirdly fragile containers, but Jim’s been doing it anyway from day one whenever he’d visit his first officer in the labs, and Spock would always inform him of the existence of this type of furniture named chair, remarkably similar to a table but built with the expressed purpose of sitting upon, and Jim would grin and not get down from the bench and his heart would hum and sink a little harder into this sweet, inescapable feeling that’s always there when Spock is— 

It’s heady, all of this. The potential for addiction gives opioids a run for their money.

Jim pushes it all back and hops on the bench.

“Starfleet should be informed of the situation as soon as possible,” Spock says, going back to poke at the content of the petri dish with a pipette.

“Yeah. I sent in the report before coming here.”

It’s shocking enough that Spock takes his gaze off his gross purple goo. “You did?” The Eyebrow of Bewilderment is up. If Jim had more dignity, he would probably take offense. As it is, he just grins at Spock.

“See. Even though you always say that I never send in reports in a timely fashion.” It’s a direct quote.

“I must correct my assessment, then. You once sent in a report in a timely fashion.”

“Hey. You're missing six months. Maybe I got better at it. Maybe now I’m a bundle of timeliness.”

“Are you?”

Jim is still grinning. “Nah.” 

This is nice. Very nice. To talk with Spock like this. Outstandingly nice. Especially after the terrible mix of awkwardness and distance and resentment of the past few weeks, full of averted gazes and stilted conversations and weird maneuvers to avoid being left alone. 

“So. How do you even know what you’re doing? Since you… you know.” He motions at what Spock is working on with his chin.

“You are vastly overestimating the number of scientific advances that can occur in a matter of months. And it appears that I have kept extensive logs of all my experimental protocols.”

“Are you surprised?”

“No. I am validated in my quest for thoroughness.”

Jim snorts. “So, this is the real repercussion of the whole amnesia thing. That you’re gonna write even longer reports, in even smaller fonts, with even more details. Starfleet’s gonna love it.”

The corner of Spock’s lip curls up. “And require it of anyone under my authority.”

“Yeah, that’s everyone one the ship except for me, Spock. Do you really want more detailed stream-of-consciousness abuse from Scotty because we didn’t let him put vinylic glue in the warp transistor?”

The corner of Spock’s eyes creases imperceptibly, and he sets his dish aside. “Unless this has changed in the past six month, you highly enjoy Mister Scott’s reports.” Spock steps to the right. 

Towards Jim. 

It’s one step, only one, but there isn’t much distance to be covered between them, anyway.

Wasn’t. 

There is none now, since Spock is basically standing between Jim’s legs, and the lab bench is low enough that Jim’s only a couple of inches taller than him in this position.

He is Jim Kirk. He’s not flustered because his first officer is standing close to him—between your legs, Jim, he’s basically between your— 

He. Is. Not.

“I, um. I do. Kind of. I also like not spending entire nights reading sheep-related Scottish insults, though.” Spock cants his body slightly forward. It’s minimal, but Jim notices, and he also notices that Spock’s fingers are now a slight weight over Jim’s, while his right hand is pressing against… 

Jim’s inner thigh.

Jim Kirk. Driven out of his mind by a hand on his thigh. 

“What are you doing, commander?” His voice hasn’t been this hoarse since he was a teenager. Jim would bet three months of Gamma on it. 

Spock lifts his chin, and his breath is hot against Jim’s lips when he answers. “I am simply—”

Jim’s comm goes off, loud and offensive in the quiet of the small lab. And clearly Jim’s brain goes off, too, because for the life of him he cannot look away from Spock’s eyes for at least five seconds, and then, only then it occurs to him that yeah. It’s his comm. He should probably get that. He starts patting his belt blindly, once, twice, three times, but the comm is nowhere to be found, and will you look at that, now his husbands’s competent hands have to reach for it and unclip it.

Jim’s fucked.

Spock hands him the comm and takes one step back, his attention back to the gross petri dish. 

Captain, your presence is required on Deck 7 for a Comm Bay meeting.” Uhura’s tone sounds reproachful even through the poor reception of the insulated lab. Jim checks the time, and fair enough, he should have be there five—okay, fourteen—minutes ago.

“Right. On my way. There was a, um, thing. To do. In one of the labs.”

He flips the comm shut lighting quick, ending the call right as Uhura’s silvery laugh starts to sound like she knew exactly what Jim had to do.

Jim’s fucked, squared.

He tries not to look at Spock as he hops down the bench and waves a hand at him as he heads for the entrance.  

“I will see you later, captain. In your quarters.”

Jim’s still flushed when he gets to the Comm Bay.

~

“So?”

“So, what?”

“Come on.”

“That’s c’mon, captain.”

“Has he remembered yet?”

Jim considers leaving Uhura alone to wait for the turbolift and using one of the Jefferies tubes to climb up to the bridge. “You know he hasn’t.”

“Have you told him, then?”

He keeps staring straight ahead. “You know I haven’t.”

“Mmmm.”

“It’s mmmm, sir, lieutenant.”

“Have you had sex yet?”

“What?!” He turns to face her so quickly that he pulls something. “No, I—I’m not gonna have sex with him.” He massages the strained nerve on the side of his neck, with little relief. 

No relief, actually.

“Again, you mean.”

He sighs. “It was not… Listen, he can’t remember shit. I don’t want to—”

He’s going to want to.”

Jim would like her so much better is she weren’t enjoying herself so openly.

“He’s not. He’s sick. He has a legitimate medical condition and—”

“Just saying. Because, you know.”

“Just saying what?” 

She just smiles, a tiny, little, secret smile that could mean everything and nothing and he really, really should not give in and ask but he’s itching to know and—

“Uhura. What?”

She turns to face the turbolift—why the fuck is it taking so long for it to arrive, anyway?—, that ghost of a smirk still on her lips.

“Lieutenant. Finish the sentence. It’s an order.”

“Oh, captain, I’m pretty sure you can’t order me to—”

“Please.”

She’s punishing him. For all the years Jim spent teasing her, and the admittedly poor jokes about her oral skills—come on, it’s a comm officer’s lot in life—, and for that semester in which he booked the linguistics lab every Wednesday from six to seven for the sole reason that he had a thing for the chick who used it from seven to eight and how was he supposed to know that Uhura liked that specific slot, and yes, he could have given it back to her once he managed to sleep with the girl (four days into the semester) but it was just so. much. fun. to see Uhura glare at him when he showed up and made her vacate the lab at five fifty-nine, so that he could nap in it for one solid hour. He thought it was all in good fun, but she clearly bottled it up and now, right now, she’s relishing his downfall.

In hindsight, Jim kind of had it coming.

“Well…”

“Well, what?”

She shrugs. “It sounds like your… thing. You know. With Spock. When you guys… It sounds like it was just a one-off.” She eyes him coyly. “So maybe you don’t know.”

“Maybe I don’t know what?”

She makes a show of looking around, although with her hearing she must already know that the corridor is completely deserted aside from them. Still, apparently unsatisfied, she steps a little closer to Jim and rises onto her tippy toes, her lips mere inches from his ear. When she speaks, it’s little more that whisper.

“That Spock is really, really, really good.” 

She is a witch. Or maybe she actually is a freaking ninja, linguistic or not. Either way, she must have some kind of special skills, because with seven words—one of which repeated three fucking times—his knees have gone week and his head is spinning and he’s half hard and he thinks that his breathing must have sped up quite a bit there—

The ping of the turbolift jostles him out of that, and when the doors swish open… 

Fuck Jim’s life. 

Fuck’s Jim life, because Spock should be in his cabin deriving functions or meditating or sharpening the tip of his ears or whatever it is that Vulcans do in their spare, convalescing time, not on this turbolift while Jim’s head is still reeling from Uhura’s words, memories of getting off to nothing but a clumsy fumbling mixing with the mental image of Spock actually making an effort to…. With his hands. Or maybe his mouth. Or maybe his—

“Commander Spock.” Uhura’s voice is warm as she enters the turbolift. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am Lieutenant Uhura, communication officer of the—”

“Nyota.” 

Spock is looking at her indulgently, with an expression Jim has seen on his face only when he’s around her.  

She stick out her tongue. “Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”  She hugs him and Spock doesn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around her. Jim tries not to wonder how it must feel to be on such intimate terms with Spock. 

 Which is stupid. Because, really. Jim and Spock have this mind link job. And Spock thinks they’re married. They kind of are on intimate terms, right? As intimate as one can—

“Captain, are you intending to board the turbolift?”

“Oh, um…right, yes.”

He hurries inside, ignoring Uhura’s amusement as he stands next to Spock, and ignoring her smirk even harder as she notices—how does she notice everything?— the way Spock shifts his arm so that the back of his fingers is brushing Jim’s. 

It’s still amazing. 

Phenomenal.

So phenomenal that Jim can feel his pulse in his hand and something pooling low in his belly, and he is mildly surprised that Spock can carry out a normal conversation with Uhura as she tells him about the novels they read for their book club in the past six months, and very surprised that Spock’s the one who notices that they’ve finally arrived to the bridge. Spock exits the turbolift with the promise of meeting Nyota for dinner and one last caress to Jim’s hands. 

Slowly, sluggishly, Jim remembers that he’s the captain and all that, and he’s probably supposed to be on the bridge, too, and follows the straight line of Spock’s back.

He looks back once after he steps outside. 

Uhura looks straight into his eyes, and mouths something that looks remarkably like ‘really, really, really good’.

~

He doesn’t go back to his quarters that night, not to avoid Spock—not only—but because Scotty does something whose specifics Jim neither wants nor should know, and there are real, actual fires to be put out in Engineering. Not that anyone needs the captain to stick around to take care of that, but Jim deems it best to keep an eye on the whole mess and make sure Scotty doesn’t break the gravity generators in the name of warp 13.

It’s the dead middle of Gamma when he stumbles on observation deck 3, too tired to deal with whatever he might find in his own quarters. 

Maybe Spock has finally remembered. Maybe he’s waiting up for Jim and having fun drawing the chemical structure of caffeine. Maybe he tried to stay up and wait for Jim, but it’s ass o’clock and Spock is technically still convalescing and so he ended up falling asleep in Jim’s bed, down to his underwear. 

Holy shit, could he be down to his underwear

He lets his forehead hit the coolness of the window and admits it to himself. 

Yes, he has made a mess out of this. 

Yes, this is a hopeless shitfest. 

Yes, he’s a moron. 

He needs to tell Spock that not only they’re not married, but that in the past few weeks they have barely even been friends, and that bond that he thinks means something is nothing but the unwanted by-product of a despair-fueled orgasm. A really nice orgasm. The orgasm that ruined all other sex for Jim. But nonetheless, one Spock clearly loathed both himself and Jim for—

“You should come to bed.” 

Jim hears the words at the very same time he feels a warm hand envelope his nape, and the fact that he doesn’t yelp, or startle, or tense completely, is a testament of how exhausted he is. Or of how much he likes that hand. And its heat. And its size. And its owner. 

“Yeah.” He doesn’t lift his head from the glass.

The hand tightens marginally. Pleasantly. Too pleasantly.

“Jim. I can feel your fatigue.” 

“You mean, through the bond?”

“Of course.”

He needs to tell Spock, right now. He can. Spock’s a good guy. For all his pretending to be dumbfounded whenever Jim uses expressions like “What’s up?”—the bulkhead, captain—or insists on making him wear a Hawaiian flower necklace on his birthday (which Jim actually had to do some minor hacking to discover, it wasn’t even in his freaking file), Spock has never been anything but open minded about Jim’s human nature, and he has never been unreasonable. 

He will understand. Jim’ll explain that he felt put on the spot when Spock went all chummy on him in the MedBay, and that he just didn’t know how to react. And maybe he will also add that he might have been harboring half a crush on Spock—no L word, not in this conversation at least—and Spock will be as gracious as he’s always been when having to deal with Jim’s poor choices—

The warmth of Spock’s hand leaves his nape, and Jim is really considering it, taking a deep breath, and turning, and starting the conversation that will end all of this when…

Lips. 

There are lips on the back of his neck now, and they are just as warm as the hand was but softer, and they are clearly, if barely, parted, and Spock’s palms are suddenly pressing against the window, effectively caging Jim, crowding him as the front of his body presses against Jim’s back— 

Jim whips around in Spock arms. 

“Spock. I—”

Spock’s eyes linger, caught on Jim’s mouth, before shifting up to his eyes, searching. 

No. This is exactly what—no.

“We can’t…”

“It is Gamma.”

“What does that even mean?”

“The deck is deserted.”

Jim gasps a little. “Wait, are you—are you kidding me? Aren’t you supposed to be the adult in this relationshi—”

“Computer, lock doors, authorization seven four nine beta, Commander Spock.”

Instant. Hard. On. 

Jim shakes his head, exhaling a silent, slightly desperate laugh. “No, Spock, you don’t really…” Really know. Really understand. 

Really want.

Although maybe Spock does. Judging from the way he’s looking at Jim, he does want, and Jim wants too. And whatever Spock is offering can’t be as bad as the awkward conversation Jim had in store, and wait, it actually has the potential to be about one thousand times better. So Jim gives in, hating himself a little, and it’s…

Glorious.

It should probably be awkward, or uncomfortable, or guilt-laden, but Jim has just a couple of seconds to ponder precisely how deep he’s digging his grave, and then Spock’s hand is gently cupping his nape, and his lips are pressing against his, and Jim should have known, that Spock kisses like he does everything else.

Thoroughly. Intensely. Masterfully.

Jim should feel terrible. If nothing else, because Spock is technically ill, and Jim is now deceiving him, actively taking advantage of his condition. But it's only electrifying, and erotic, and as their tongues meet they both moan and within less than a minute they’re holding each other’s faces, their groins are flush against each other, and Jim could probably come in the next five seconds. 

If he really had to.

“Holy shit,” he exhales, and Spock is busy tugging at the collar of his uniform and then sucking a bruise into his collarbone, and Jim lets his hands slide down to the small of Spock’s back, to press him tighter against his erection, which he has totally began to thrust against Spock’s hips. 

And it’s happening again. They are just—they have barely—they haven’t even—and Jim is already—

“This is… Spock, this—” he gasps “—needs to slow down.” 

Or stop altogether.

Spock just bites Jim’s earlobe. “It does not,” he breathes, and pushes Jim deeper into the window. His long fingers are unbuttoning Jim’s fly, with some difficulty due to the fact that Jim’s cock is like fucking iron right now. 

Not that it slows Spock down more than a handful of moments, since his hand is already inside Jim’s underwear and what the fuck, Spock fingers are so hot, and Spock’s hand is large enough that he can actually span his girth, and there are so many points of contact between their bodies, not to mention that Spock’s tongue is licking the corners of Jim’s gasping lips, and—

“Fuck. We need to—I’m really close to—”

Spock swipes his thumb on the head of Jim’s dick, on that bundle of nerves right underneath, and simultaneously whispers against Jim’s cheek, “You may, Jim.” 

Which is good, because Jim completely loses it. He spurts what feels like a year worth of come, spilling everything in Spock’s hand and on both their shirts. His head is thrown back, so he can’t see Spock’s face, but he feels his tongue rough on his neck, right underneath his chin, and this fucking orgasm…. 

It lasts so long that he’s afraid he’ll never come down from the high. The pleasure pulsates through him, inside his head, until it’s physically uncomfortable, and Spock’s hands are still on him, around him, keeping it flowing, and this. 

This is it. 

All these years, all that Jim has ever wanted, and this is it.

In the end, after seconds, minutes, hours, what cuts through the haze is the sound of a comm ringing.

Which is what makes Spock steps back a little and close his eyes, whispering a surprisingly heartfelt “I am sorry, Jim,” into his skin. Spock retrieves his comm from his back pocket and flips it open with his clean hand, while he…

While he licks Jim’s come off from the other one. 

Jim’s feels his jaw go slack, unable to tear his eyes from the scene.

Spock is—

Okay. It’s okay. 

Considering that he is on active military duty, it takes Jim him an outrageous amount of time to tune into the conversation taking place less than a foot away from him.

… could have been compromised, but we still do not know the extent of the virus aerobic capacity. There is a risk that the mice will have to be euthanized, and if so it should happen as early as possible.” The voice is female, young and competent. 

“Agreed. I will be there as soon as possible to examine the chamber.”

Thank you, commander.” 

Spock flips his comm off. 

Jim’s abs are still quivering with the force of his orgasm. His brain and his knees feel like mush. His cock is, not surprisingly given the stunt Spock just pulled in front of Jim, still hard. 

“I have to go.” The tone is level, but the glance Spock gives to the length of Jim’s body is full of regret.

“What about you?” Jim asks, trying to sound like he doesn’t need the window to remain upright.

“Next time.” Spock’s already turning to the doors. 

And… no. 

This is wrong. The whole situation is completely, utterly wrong, but having his fake husband, who has a medical condition, to whom Jim has been consistently lying for what is now days, get him off like that and then go solve a minor crisis on his ship at 3 AM while he still has that in his pants… well, that makes it fucking wronger. 

Spock has barely taken two steps when Jim catches his hand and drags him back. Spock might be stronger, but he’s caught by surprise.

“No way,” Jim tells him, grabbing the front of his pants. His erection obviously hasn’t gone anywhere, even through talk of viral contagion and lab animals. 

“Captain, I cannot—”

But Jim has already dropped to his knees, and is pulling down Spock’s pants. 

“I’m pretty sure you can, Mister Spock.”

Spock is… big. It’s not that Jim hadn’t noticed in the sparring gym, or even a few minutes ago, it’s just that he didn’t know quite… how, big. Whether it has to do with Vulcan anatomy Jim has no way of knowing. He is also not sure if what is enjoyable for a human man would also be pleasurable for Spock, but it doesn’t really matter much, because this is Spock, and Jim will do what he has to make him happy, to make him like it, to make him come. So he just goes for it, opening his mouth, and sliding his tongue everywhere, and Spock definitely does not seem to mind, judging from his groans, and the way he alternates between looking into Jim’s eyes and letting his head fall back, and how he runs his hands through Jim’s hair, tugging at Jim’s scalp as he forgets himself little by little. It all makes Jim bolder and bolder, hornier and hornier, uncaring of the obscene noises he’s making. So he licks Spock’s balls, and tongues the frenulum, and runs his teeth down the shaft, and Spock might not be obvious in his appreciation but Jim has spent years learning to read him, and it comes in handy right now. So Jim relaxes his jaw, and his throat, and Spock is too heavy and too large and just perfect, and when half of his thrusts are little more than involuntary jerks, Jim pulls back a little and looks him straight in the eyes before speaking.

“You may come, Spock.” 

The bad news is that about half of Spock’s load—and there’s… a lot of it—ends up on Jim’s face.

The good news is that once Spock can breathe again he kisses Jim’s cheek and chin clean, and gets Jim off all over again with his hands as he does.

~

After that time in the sparring room, when they… yeah. After the sparring room, Spock did not make eye contact with Jim for three solid weeks. 

He wasn’t overtly avoidant—couldn’t be, because someone had to tell Jim about them fascinating space anomalies, and the newest planet’s classification, and whether they risked being eaten by giant slugs if they beamed down—but he definitely stared at a weird spot somewhere over Jim’s left shoulder whenever they were talking, and would suddenly develop a strange fixation with the tip of his boots if they happened to cross paths in the corridors. Jim remembers being annoyed and frustrated during that time, mainly because he was the one who was head over heels in love, and he was the one who had to make an effort to pretend not to be, and he was the one who had everything he’d been wishing for handed to him and then immediately yanked away by that terrible, self-disgusted look in Spock’s eyes. If Jim could pretend nothing had happened, so could Spock. Or at least he could fucking try.

This time, though.

This time it’s the exact opposite, and Jim, who is habitually so not-shy that at the Academy his dorm residents had to petition him to stop walking around naked—formally, in writing, and he did it anyway sometimes, mainly when he used the water showers because fuck towels, he likes to air dry—, suddenly kind of gets why Spock found his own shoes so incredibly riveting. Because whenever Jim thinks of Spock doing… that on the observation deck, usually closely followed by remembering that Spock was convinced he was doing that with his husband, he suddenly finds himself all flustered and stuttering, with the urge to pick at the hem of his own shirt. 

Which is a problem. 

Because Spock is fucking everywhere, and he acts so fucking… 

Husbandy.

In the mess hall, where he casually drops an apple and an apricot on Jim’s tray before turning to ruthlessly tear into that K’thai’s theory of nuclear fission with Scotty and Chekov.

On the bridge, three hours into alpha, when somehow—how? really, how? he’s facing the other direction!—he catches sight of Jim surreptitiously attempting to stretch his back in the captain chair and offhandedly offers to take the conn while Jim inspects Engineering ‘as planned’ (Jim’s pretty sure it wasn’t, but gifted horses and mouths and all that). 

In the arboretum, when Sulu has to stop his presentation because Jim has been train-sneezing for one and half minutes—it’s not his fault if his immune system thinks flora of any type is some kind of arch-nemesis, what’s he supposed to do, stop breathing?—and Spock produces a hypo out of thin air and proceeds to cure Jim of all his symptoms and to gently stroke the injection site with the pad of this thumb, all the while regarding him with gentle humor, and thank god, thank god everyone else is looking the other way, because Jim’s achingly hard and probably even blushing. 

In Jim’s quarters, when Jim wakes up sore from the barely padded couch and finds a blanket over his legs and the PADD he fell asleep reading on the coffee table, a glass of cool water placed right next to it.

Spock is fucking everywhere, and he acts so fucking husbandy, and Jim finds himself forgetting that the whole thing is more lie than truth.

~

“I want it.”

“You mentioned as much, captain.”

“No, but I really, really want it.”

“Mmm.” Spock makes a noncommittal noise as they walk side by side.

“As in, I don’t think I can survive any longer without it.”

“Jim,” Spock keeps walking, but turns to look at Jim indulgently. “You already own seven gaming consoles—”

“Right, why stop now?”

“—which you barely use.”

“I would use the shit out of that one.” Jim is so absorbed in his whining that he almost misses the turn for their quarters.

“All evidence suggests that you would not.” 

“This one’s different.” 

“The sole relevant way this one is different is that you do not own it nor have the possibility to acquire it, while Ensign Chekov does.”

“Ok.” He grins as Spock opens the doors to Jim’s—How? Why?—quarters. “Say I were to acquire a console identical to Chekov’s by tomorrow morning, and that Chekov’s console went missing overnight. What’s the likelihood that you wouldn’t push the matter any further?”

“Negligible.”

“What, no precise estimate?”

“One-point-two-five times ten-to-the-negative-eight.”

“Fuck. That low? Scientific-notations-low?”

“Indeed.”

“I mean, he’s young and impressionable. I bet we could just trick him into thinking he never owned it in the first place.”

“Jim.” Spock is emptying his pocket—comm, a small PADD, three stylus, two hypos, is that tricorder? Does Spock walk around with a survival kit? And how does that shit even fit in there?—and neatly placing each item on the left corner of Jim’s desk. He’s not facing him, but Jim can hear the amusement in his voice from where he’s idling by the door.

“C’mon, what’s the point of being captain if I can’t have Chekov’s gaming console?”

Spock sets his plastic ID on top of the tricorder and turns to Jim. “None, in fact. Are you planning to hand in your resignation?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Hey. Are you angling for my job?”

“Of course. It has been my design all along.”

“Well, watch out for that stupid chair, because it’ll screw up you spine and flatten your butt in about twenty minutes…” 

He hears his words lose momentum, because Spock is walking towards him, and then he’s standing in front of Jim, and then, yes, they’re finally alone in private. Which is what hasn’t been happening in the past two days of non-overlapping shifts and run-of-the-mill space anomalies and random emergency crap, thus preventing Jim from finally telling Spock that no, they’re not married, and yes Jim technically tricked Spock into making him come his brains out twice, but he didn’t mean to, and it’s not as it seems.

The problem is.

Had someone asked him three days ago, Jim could have told them many things about the kind of guy Spock is.

He would have probably said that Spock is the type to clean his dishes as soon as he is done with dinner.

The type to read and memorize the reference section at the end of an academic paper, and report minor mistakes in the citation style to the managing editor.

The type to name his pet tribble like a semi-essential amino acid—probably arginine.

The type to collect stamps.

He would definitely not have pegged him as the type to initiate sex as soon as he and Jim are alone inside his quarters.

“Um… should we be doing this?” He says it against Spock’s lips, right after Spock has leaned into Jim and right before what they are doing can be technically referred to as a kiss.

Human-style kiss, of course. Because Vulcan kisses… not only there’ve been plenty of those in the past couple of days, but the hand that is not currently resting on Jim’s lower back is totally busy sneaking a couple more.

“Why not?”

“Well, you’re technically still recovering and…stuff.”

“Doctor McCoy did not say we should not.” Spock’s mouth, warm and soft, actually shifts to the corner of Jim’s lips. His tongue darts out, quickly. Just a taste, it seems to say. In the meantime, a thumb slides underneath Jim’s uniform shirt, swirling back and forth with an ease that suggests infinitely more familiarity than they’ve had the opportunity to build.

“Maybe, uh, he forgot?”

“You believe Doctor McCoy forgot to impart his medical advice in a repetitive, loud, and unnecessarily pessimistic manner?” Spock angles his head to bite Jim’s earlobe.  

Jim exhales a silent laugh. “Yeah. That doesn’t sound right.”

Which is how Jim can’t delay that kiss anymore and…yeah. 

Spock is patient, and thorough, and he really, really knows what he’s doing, with the way his tongue traces the inside of Jim’s mouth and then retreats, only to suck lightly on Jim’s, putting ideas in his brain that, to be honest, have been there all along. 

Jim doesn’t stand a chance.

“You… you drive me absolutely crazy.” Jim’s tone sounds apologetic to his own ears, and he fervently hopes Spock will take that into consideration if he regains his memory. 

When. 

It’s scary, Jim thinks, this ability of Spock’s, who hasn’t dated in years and cannot possible have gotten laid that much, to get them both down to their regulation boxers while walking them backwards towards the bed. Just as it’s pretty impressive the way he shoves his hands first under Jim’s pillows, and then in both drawers of his bedside table, looking for something that Jim does not care about because that hollow at the bottom of Spock’s neck just beckons to him and is absorbing the entirety of his atten—

When it hits him, Jim immediately sits up, almost head butting Spock’s chin.

“Ah, I don’t…um, have any.”

Spock doesn’t do expressions, but if he did, this one would be frustration. “In my quarters?”

Unlikely. “I think we’re, um…out.”

Spock lets his eyes slowly travel down Jim’s chest and licks his lips. “No matter.”

He’s gonna blow me, Jim thinks. Spock is gonna blow me, and I will die, and it will be absolutely fine. 

Spock doesn’t, though. He takes himself in hand—and where the fuck did he hide that thing in the past four years?—and leans forward, balancing himself on one arm and managing to stroke both their cocks at the same time. 

It should not feel so good. It’s just a hand job. Jim has gotten a million of those in the past, and Spock himself has made Jim come before, exactly like this, with his hand on his cock, and yet. 

Maybe it’s the way he looks at Jim, like he’s trying to take in every reaction, like he couldn’t bear to miss even the smallest gasp; or maybe it’s the way he has to shut his eyes thigh every few stroke, as if he were about to lose it; maybe, again, it’s just the way he swirls his thumb around both their heads. Jim comes, and it’s ruinous, and mind-blowing, and embarrassingly fast. The moan that goes with it is embarrassingly loud, too. 

And then, while Jim’s trying to remember how to breathe, it really starts. 

Spock runs his hand, still dripping with Jim’s come, up and down his cock, and then uses his knees to spread Jim’s legs further.

“Holy fuck, Spo—”

He has aligned himself and pushed inside that first inch before Jim can finish the sentence. He drops down, one hand by Jim’s head to be able to press his mouth against his, while the other hand, the one Jim came into not a minute ago, still sticky and messy is… giving Jim the filthiest of Vulcan kisses. 

Spock pushes further, and Jim never stops being hard. Some time to adjust to Spock’s fucking size would be nice, but absolutely unnecessary, because Spock’s litany of “Jim, Jim, Jim,” into his neck has him make the most superhuman effort to accommodate him, and suddenly Spock’s cock hits everything, every single spot inside Jim. It takes him less than three thrusts to find that angle. The right angle. Jim clenches around Spock as the back of his head hits the pillow, and he lets himself sinks into the knife-sharp pleasure at the base of his belly.

“Can you come like this?” Spock exhales the words against Jim’s cheek, and the speech pattern is all Spock but, there is a curl in his voice makes Jim…it makes him…

“I—” Can he come like what? Rammed into the mattress? Full until bursting? With this thing shaking, pulsating, radiating pleasure in the dead center of his mind?

“I cannot recall—” Spock is losing it, fucking harder and harder, his rhythm becoming erratic. “Can you come without me touching you?”

No, Jim thinks. Not that he knows.

But the pressure is building is his balls, and he could live forever in this precise moment or die in this very moment, Spock everywhere inside and outside of him, and it’s not even about coming, really, except that it is, it’s solely about that, and it’s unstoppable, it’s humiliating, it’s an avalanche, and—Yes. Yes. Yes.

When he’s coherent again there is a sticky mess between them, and Spock is groaning something in Vulcan inside Jim’s ear.

~

He tells himself that it’s fine.

Throughout the night, with Spock’s arm heavy around him, and in the early morning, in a lazy, sleep-laced attempt at sex that has them both regret the lack of lube, looking for friction first unhurriedly, then desperately; later, when Spock’s hair is sticking up on the side—adult Vulcans are not adorable, Jim—, and under the sonic shower, as the smell of freshly replicated eggs and bacon seeps into their small shared bathroom. 

He repeats to himself that it doesn’t mean anything—just sex, Spock won’t care when he remembers, he came too, anyway—as he tries to tame the cowlick in his own hair, while Spock rewrites a message Jim drafted for Komak to make it ‘less obviously aggressive’, and again, after firmly rejecting each one of Spock’s edits—That’s the way Komak and I communicate, Spock. It’s our thing, don’t interfere.

He chants it in his head, that this, last night, is nothing they can’t go back from, while they walk side by side down the corridor, after Spock reminds him of the conference call with Captain Marshall scheduled for tonight, and as they wait for the turbolift, while he tells Spock of that time he and Marshall made a bet and, long story short, it involved nineteen shots of Andorian brandy, eleven jars of plasma coolant, and four garden gnomes—that appears excessive, captain.

Then.

Then they are on the turbolift, Jim and Spock and two junior science officers, and the ping signals that they’ve reached the Science labs. 

And Jim finally knows.

Because Spock and his geek squad exit the lift, and Jim braces himself for a light brush of Spock’s fingers against his, bites the inside of his mouth hard to stave off the tingling that always travels up his arm and makes something coalesce and beat like a drum somewhere inside his chest, except that there is no need, because Spock doesn’t touch him. 

Spock just gets off, and once he’s out of the turbolift he turns, and.

It’s a smile. Spock smiles at Jim.

And it hits Jim, right there and then, that this, all of this, is not fine at all.

~

“You have to help me talk to Spock.”

Have to, and help me, and talk to Spock, Jim. Three of my least favorite things in a seven word sentence.” Bones doesn’t bother looking up from his salad. Which is appallingly… green. “About what, precisely?”

“Eight. About the marriage thing.”

Bones silently counts on his fingers for a moment, glaring at Jim when he reaches the eighth digit. Then he leans back on his chair. “The marriage thing.”

“Mine and Spock’s, um,” Jim lowers his voice, “bonding.”

Bones is all faux recognition. “Ah, yes. Of course. The bonding.” He shakes his head. “These Vulcans. They come here, take our jobs, take our women—”

“Bones. I’m serious.”

He leans forward. “I’m serious too, you idiot. Why didn’t you tell him right away that the bond is nothing but a fluke? Now you have days worth of lies and—”

“We had sex.”

It shuts Bones up. 

“Last night.”

It also launches the longest facepalm of his life, apparently. 

“Jim,” Bones says when he re-emerges, and what worries him is that he sounds more drained than furious. Kind of like he did at the Academy, when Jim craved s’mores and tried to start a bonfire in their room, or when he thought it’d be a good idea to host a Lord of the Rings re-watch marathon the night before finals started. “You do realize that this is sexual misconduct, right? This could be construed as you forcing him to be intimate with you under false pretense—”

“It’s not. Spock totally initiated it—”

“Because he thinks you’re married, you moron!”

“Because he likes me. He really, really likes me, and he’s just like he used to be, the same Spock, but it feels like… like he’s letting himself like me, now. Like there was something that was holding him back and he only got over it in the last six months, and even though I know he didn’t, I get to reap the fruits of it.” He turns to look around the mess hall, unseeing. When he talks again, his voice his subdued. “What are the chances that he never remembers again?“

Bones closes his eyes for about ten seconds before answering.

“I will pretend that you did not just ask the most unethical question I’ve ever heard, and tell you this: given that he’s half Vulcan and probably made of green dye and computer hardware it’s hard for me to estimate. But, and listen closely, however high the chances might be, they are low enough that you don’t want to bet your entire relationship with him on it.” Bones just stares at Jim while his words sink in. “You need to tell him. The longer this goes on, the more pissed he will be. And we’ve all seen him pissed.”

Jim sighs heavily, and nods. “How do I tell him?”

Bones shrugs. “At this point there’s no good way. Just blurt it out and make sure there’s nothing sharp lying around.” He thinks about it for a minute. “Maybe tie his hands behind his back, too. Just to be safe.”

~

The thing is.

Jim might have told Spock.

He surely would have, he wants to think. If.

If they hadn’t gotten orders from HQ, and if the orders hadn’t come with old, useless intel, and if Jim hadn’t been forced to beam down on a hostile planet with eight crew members and then beam up twenty-five minutes later with four. If there hadn’t been reports to write, and subspace messages to send, and forms to fill, and shoulders to pat uselessly, and a conference call with one mostly unrepentant admiral.  

If Jim hadn’t walked back to his quarters, wondering exactly how to deal with the situation and whether Sulu, or Bones, or maybe Hendorff, might be up for a round or two in the gym, to find Spock already there. Working quietly at his desk. Ready to put away his PADD as soon as Jim stumbles in. Looking at Jim with sorrow, and understanding, and patience, grounding Jim with his eyes, taking off both their uniforms in that graceful, methodical way he has, holding Jim tight under the water shower, and then, when they’re barely dry, fucking Jim deep, sweetly, allowing him to bury his face into the pillow and letting it all wash over him, though him, away from him. 

And to think of all those years spent beating each other up, when this is all Jim has ever needed.

So, yeah, Jim might have told Spock, but really, how could he have?

~

“How’s the shit show?”

Jim’s pretty sure Nyota wasn’t specifically looking for him, not at four thirty-seven AM in the observation deck right off the Med Bay. Still, her hand on his shoulder, cool through the material of his thin t-shirt, is hardly unwelcome.

“Shittier and shittier.”

“Did he yell at you for eating in bed? I know he seems totally uncompromising about it, but he’ll turn a blind eye if you try to minimize the crumbles. No pastries, but fruit’s usually okay—”

“No, I…” He shakes his head, unsure of how to continue.

He sees it with the corner of his eyes, Nyota biting her lip and debating with herself for a second, and then he feels the couch dip under her slight weight. She sits angled towards him, right leg bent under the left, and it’s all Jim can do to keep staring at the stars, straight ahead.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Jim. Don’t nothing me.”

“I…” He sighs. “I—we did it.” She is quiet in response, and he feels compelled to add. “Several times.”

He can feel her staring at him for long moments, and Jim can imagine what she’s thinking, how she must despise him, and he cannot even blame her— 

“Duh.”

He turns to look at her. “Duh?”

She shrugs. “It’s been over a week. I know you—well, I don’t know know you, but I know of you, and I know know Spock. Of course you’ve had sex.”

“He still doesn’t know. He still thinks we’re married.”

“Ah. Well, that’s not ideal.”

“Right.”

“Of course, you could have explained the situation to him at the very beginning, when we all told you to—”

“Of course,” he mutters under his breath.

“—but that ship has kind of sailed, so…” 

Jim wipes at his face. “What would you do if you were me?”

She laughs. “Oh, I could never put myself in this—”

“Right. But I am sure you recognized my use of the subjunctive mood.”

She looks at him and nods, impressed. “Very good. You get brownie points for that.”

This is not a funny situation, not in the least, but Nyota’s teasing has always been a bit a weak spot for Jim. “Well, lieutenant?”

She appears to think it through for a moment, and then puts her hand on his thigh. “Listen… Jim.”

“Hey. Are you finally hitting on me? ‘Cause I’m married now.”

She ignores him. “I’m not saying that I condone anything of what you have done. Ever. Since birth.”

He smiles weakly at her. “But?”

“Spock seems—” she frowns “—happy.”

“Yeah.” Spock is happy. Jim knows. Jim can feel it, thrumming in his head, the same way he is able to recognize his own happiness, hunger, fatigue.

Nyota continues cautiously. “You should consider that… he might never remember.”

“Right.” Except Jim Kirk is rarely that lucky. Actually, make that never.

“But if he does… Don’t get me wrong. He’s gonna be… well, he won’t like it, but—” Nyota takes a deep breath, and Jim tries to remember the last time he has seen her this hesitant. He comes up blank. “Jim. The bond is there. And I don’t know much about bonds, but I doubt it can be broken.”

“Right. Which means that I’ll be stuck with someone who hates me—”

“It means that he will be stuck with you. And hating… Spock doesn’t hate anyone, least of all you, because hating you would not be an efficient use of his time. Not as much as working through whatever issues you guys might have because you lied to him.” She moves her hand to his shoulder. “Also, even if he does remember about the past six months, he won’t forget about the last few days. About being with you like this.”

Jim turns her words around in his head. “So what you’re saying is to just… wait? And see what happens?”

She shrugs. “Just putting it out there. If you tell anyone it was my advice, I’ll flatly deny it.”

He huffs out a silent laugh. “You like me, don’t you?”

Nyota lifts her chin. “I like Spock. You are, unfortunately, his bonded mate, which is the only reason I am willing to overlook your obnoxious—”

“Nope. You and I are best friends.”

“We are coworkers. Who barely tolerate each other. You are a meh boss, at best, and I blame you for the severely limited options on the mess replicators.”

“Friends.”

“Acquaintances. Who pretend not to see each other in the corridors.”

“Friends.”

“Frenemies. Maybe. Without birthday obligations.”

“I’ll take it.” Jim wonders if she is aware of how wide her grin is as she stands to leave. 

She’s maybe ten steps away from him when he calls her name.

“Nyota.”

She turns to face him.

“I’m happy for you. For the both of you.”

She just stares at him, blinking slowly, and crosses her arm on her chest. “I have no idea what you’re taking about.”

He shrugs. “Ok.” She’s almost out of the doors when he adds. “Say hi to Bones from me.”

She speeds up.

As it turns out, Spock doesn’t remember for weeks. 

And Jim gives up on telling him.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

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.