The phone rings; it is thirty-eight minutes before three in the morning.
He answers because he is already awake, or nearly so, unable to sleep without the presence of a second body pressed hard and warm against him; when he blindly gropes for the phone beside the bed he reminds himself that he does not work tomorrow and can, at least for this, afford the late night. The phone rests where it always does, placed on a stack of paperbacks with edges worn soft from use and surrounded by photos of their friends; the framed photo of him and his mother smiles brightly at him when he turns on the light. “Hello?”
“Spooooooooock,” the voice at the other end whines. He’d known who it was before answering, not needing anything beyond the day and the time and the growing-cold pillow beside him, but still smiles softly to hear Jim’s familiar drawl through the speaker. “Get up. Come get me.” He clears the not-sleeping out of his voice with an exasperated huff of air, which Jim takes for the agreement it was meant to be. “Come on, it’s tradition. Also if you aren’t here in twenty minutes I’m just going to keep calling and calling and call-”
It’s hardly a tradition, once and maybe now twice in a lifetime, but he does not immediately hang up. It’s hardly a tradition yet but the potential is there, and he’s probably not going to sleep otherwise; if it wasn’t Jim’s absence that did it would be his calls, loud and persistent like the man himself. “Where are you?”
“You know where I am,” Jim drawls – his voice is light like when he’s teasing and Spock cannot see him, not from miles away through a phone, but he can hear the other man’s smile. It turns up the corners of his words like it does his lips, crinkles the edges of his vowels like it does his eyes, and Spock has made a career of studying languages only to find himself completely, utterly without words to describe Jim Kirk – and Spock wants to laugh because oh yes, he knows.
Spock slides his feet into his shoes, and the line goes dead.
He assumes that this newfound tradition of theirs begins at the picnic table in the park; this is confirmed when he pulls into the farthest left parking spot to find Jim already waiting for him, perched on the table and grinning crookedly. He’s wearing the sweatpants he’d been wearing that evening – the ones with the Batman pattern that Spock continues to deny were originally his – and the wool coat Uhura had gotten him for Christmas over the tell-tale blue of a Yale University sweatshirt. “We gotta stop doing this in January,” he says, pulling his zipper up to his chin and releasing a breath with a short burst of fog. There’s movement at his chest and a muffled meow before Bill appears, popping her head up through the collar of his coat.
“I can’t believe you brought our cat.”
Bill meows again at the sound of his voice, ears pricking toward him and she blinks her too-blue eyes happily. “It’s not the same without her,” is all he says, but Spock is hardly complaining; if anything, he agrees. Kicking his feet happily he vaults from the table, one arm tucked across his stomach to keep Bill securely under his coat, and the tip of her too-short tail pokes beneath his sweatshirt comically. “I’m getting too damn old for this.”
Spock is tempted, in that moment, to leave him in the park to freeze; he’s dreading the arrival of his thirtieth in only a few short months now and Jim hasn’t stopped making age-related jokes since Christmas. But it is his birthday, after all, so instead he kicks open the passenger side door. “You’re obnoxious, is what you are.”
“Uh-huh,” and he nods his head in accordance, unzipping his coat to allow Bill to leap to the gravel; she steps primly over the console into the backseat. “It’s part of my appeal.”
“You’re not half as charming as you think you are,” Spock retorts. From the backseat, Bill purrs her agreement with him and bats at his hair over the headrest; he reaches an arm back to flick at her paws, rewarded when she skitters to the opposite side of the car.
Jim watches their antics with a soft smile, Spock’s words completely disproven when he reaches over the center console to flick at the strings of his sweatshirt; Jim catches his hand on the retreat and tangles their fingers briefly. “Liar,” he offers by way of retort, clicking his seatbelt together. “I am like, five times more charming than I think I am.” He warms up the car with his presence – legs splayed, knee nudging Spock’s hand on the gear shift and he leans across to fiddle with the radio, shifting from cool silence into something soft and familiar and he beams at Spock over the opening notes Bastille’s ‘Pompeii.’
Spock ignores him, instead turning over the engine and shifting into reverse. “Do you make a habit of getting into cars with strangers?”
“Only ones I plan on spending the rest of my life with.” When Spock glances over in surprise, not unpleasant, he meets too-blue eyes and an affectionate smile. “And only if they’re hot.”
He’s not sure if they’ve ever said the words aloud before or only expressed them with the unspoken moments between them, but Spock knows without question it will be what inevitably comes to pass. It’s warm in the car, first from the heater and more so now with the way the words ignite the air between them, but for all that he wants to live in this moment forever he simply refuses to have this moment in their car. “Hmm,” and Jim’s face crinkles with joy when he hears the hoarseness in his voice, “Have there been many of those?”
Warmth and affection radiate from Jim like a wildfire. “Just the one. He’s a total dick, but I’m ridiculously in love with him.”
“What a very fortunate man,” he says, and he means it to sound sarcastic but it apparently does not, not with the way Jim surges across the space between them to crush their lips together. He has the presence of mind to throw the car into park before threading his fingers through Jim’s hair, slotting his long fingers behind his jaw to draw him in – his lips are slightly chapped, rough and warm like the rest of him. “Jim,” and his lips burn with the scrape of stubble and the toothpaste-hint of cinnamon. “You’re my goddamned geodetic north, but we’re not doing this in the Prius.”
He laughs as he sits back, eyebrows wiggling lewdly. “Where are we doing it then?”
“Well,” and Spock doesn’t bother to hide his wink in response. “If you’re free later, there’s a party for this guy I know. He’s a total asshole.” Jim glares at him playfully, interlocking their fingers loosely enough that Spock can still shift gears into drive, and he wonders exactly where in the year his life went so completely right. “But,” he turns the car towards home, “I’m ridiculously in love with him.”
It is thirteen minutes before three in the morning.