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It’s a testament to the newness of their relationship that Jim writes off Spock’s strange behavior as fatigue, even if there is no newness to knowing Spock is not human. It’s just, Jim never gave much thought to Spock’s biological differences until his biology became—ahem—important to their daily lives.

Or. Nightly lives, as it were.

The point of it is, Spock’s distraction, and the slight shake in his hands, and the fact that he broke into a sweat on the bridge didn’t make Jim think twice until Lt. Uhura said, “Captain, do you think he’s alright?”

And Jim waved her off and said simply, “He’s probably just tired.” He allowed himself a moment of pride thinking that he was the one who had worn Spock out just hours before. And then it occurred to him that regardless of any of their sex marathons, Spock had never behaved like this.

And he’d returned six hours prior from the Heraklion V settlement.

Which probably means…

“Captain, if you could come down to sickbay, there’s a matter that needs your attention. Bones, out.”

Jim tries to stay calm as he passes bridge to Sulu, but he never once considered that maybe alien environments might be very hostile to the immune system of a Vulcan-Human hybrid. He makes it to sickbay in record time, not even stopping to nod at a few passing ensigns, and he all but throws himself through the door and comes to a skidding halt next to the bed where Spock is sitting, looking more irritated than anything else which…

Well. At least that’s normal.

“Two days leave,” Bones says, and Spock opens his mouth to argue, but Jim holds up his hand to silence him and let his CMO continue. “Plenty of fluids, rest, hypo if he needs a fever reducer.”

“As I have explained to the good doctor,” Spock says, his voice dripping with irritation, “I am not in need of medical care as I am Vulcan and…”

“And he’s got a damn cold,” Bones says, looking almost gleeful. “Native to the planet—humans are immune to it, but apparently Vulcans are susceptible. I’ll be forwarding the lab findings to the VSA and let them take care of it for now. But two Vulcan ambassadors were already infected, and I was able to access their records. Just a little rest and relaxation.”

Jim fights the urge to slap his hand over his face, and instead takes Spock’s arm and eases him up. The way his XO falters would make him laugh if Spock didn’t look so horrified. Which gets even worse a second later when the Vulcan surprises them all by sneezing.

Spock looks stunned, and Bones is staring at him like he’s a new specimen.

“Have you ever done that before?” Bones asks.

In a very terse tone, Spock replies a short, clipped, “No,” and then walks off.

Jim is quick to follow.

~*~

Alpha shift drags impossibly long, but they’re in dead space and a week away from meeting the Andorians for trade talks, so Jim doesn’t feel too bad when he basically flies from his seat the moment Scotty arrives on the bridge. Jim gives him barely a nod before he’s rushing to Spock’s quarters, and uses the Captain’s Override to let himself in.

Spock is exactly where Jim left him, looking disgruntled on the sofa with a heating blanket curled around his shoulders, a pile of tissue slowly building into a mound at his feet, and a fresh cup of tea between his hands. He’s leaning over it, letting the steam clear up the clogged sinus passages, and there’s a green tinge on his cheeks, and his hair is mussed.

Jim almost wants to die at the adorable picture Spock makes, and wonders if the Vulcan really will kill him if he attempts to preserve this moment with a photograph on his PADD.

Then Spock sneezes again, and looks like a furious cat with his nostrils flaring and his inner eyelid losing slight control and sliding over.

“Perhaps we can ask the doctor to recommend a stasis for me until this passes,” Spock says, and Jim absolutely does not laugh at the sound of Spock’s nasal tone. Or the way he sniffs after.

Jim clears his throat, then sits on the end of the couch and looks at him. “I thought you’d be in a Vulcan healing trance by now.”

Spock sniffs again, then grabs a tissue to wipe at his nose which is very, very green at the tip. “I have…attempted one such trance and it was unsuccessful,” Spock says, then clarifies. “I discovered I could not breath effectively.”

Jim can’t quite hide his snort of amusement, which makes Spock look disgruntled all over again, and Jim just loses it, reaches out, and draws Spock in close. Spock puts up a little fight, but it’s all for show as after only a moment, Spock goes pliant and allows himself to rest against Jim.

“I have read in the documents Dr. McCoy provided that physical contact is essential to the healing process,” he murmurs, his face pressed against Jim’s throat.

Jim grins, and runs his hand through Spock’s hair, a vain attempt to bring order to disordered. “When I was a kid, my mom would always make me soup, and run me a bubble bath. Then I’d get to wear my favorite footie pajamas and she’d give me a coloring book and a fresh set of crayons.”

Spock huffs. “I am not a terran child, Jim.”

“No. But you’re clearly suffering, so at least let me try to help make you feel better.”

After a pause, Spock sighs and adjusts so his cheek is resting against the top of Jim’s shoulder, and his arms have wound around Jim’s waist, holding him tight. “I find this is sufficient comfort.”

“Alright,” Jim murmurs, and shifts so they’re laying with Jim’s back propped against the arm of the couch, and Spock between his legs. He looks down and sees the green-tinged profile of Spock, looking more vulnerable than Jim has ever seen him. He sighs and runs bare fingers along the exposed flesh on the back of Spock’s neck, and catalogues every sigh and every shiver. “My Vulcan,” he says. “Get rest. I’ll be here when you wake.”

After a long while, just when Jim thinks Spock is asleep, he feels his head turn, and warm lips press against the crook of his neck. “Thank you,” Spock says, and then his breathing—though stuffy—evens out.

Jim smiles, and thinks maybe that one thanks isn’t illogical at all.

Chapter Text

Spock smells it before he’s really aware of what’s going on. Something rich and forbidden. It draws him from his reading, disengaging his attention from his time to relax after shift, and he finds himself in the little make-shift kitchen Jim had insisted upon being built in their now-shared quarters.

Spock sees him at the counter, one hand hovering over a large bowl, the other feeling along the counter for a bright purple measuring cup, the likes of which Spock hasn’t seen since he was a small boy watching his mother bake in the kitchen.

The small measuring cup contains that forbidden ingredient, something Spock has never tried before, but will not deny the small, human part of him that was always tempted.

Jim senses his presence not a moment later, and turns with a smile. “You just gonna stand there all day?”

Spock makes a conscious effort to huff in place of what would be a raised brow to accommodate Jim’s lack of sight, and he moves forward, his hands going for Jim’s waist, exactly where his t’hy’la will expect them. “May I inquire as to what you are doing?”

Jim shrugs just as Spock leans his chin on Jim’s forehead, the motion knocking his equilibrium off for a moment. “Baking.”

“Baking?” Spock echoes.

Jim sighs. “It’s…uh.” There’s a sudden twinge of sadness in his tone, and a slight hunch to Jim’s shoulders. “Today’s my mom’s birthday. And…I found myself missing her, I guess.” He runs a finger around the rim of the cup which contains the cocoa. “She taught me to bake when I was little. I was about five, I think, and I overheard some of my aunts talking about how sorry they were for me that I’d never be able to do anything normal like make a meal or play a sport. Other stuff.”

“Clearly they possessed incorrect information,” Spock murmurs, tightening his old imperceptibly.

Jim notices, and grins, and squeezes back. “My mom was furious when she heard me crying about it, and she took me into the kitchen and told me that we’d practice every day and I’d learn all her recipes. She brailled them all, fixed up all the kitchen utensils, and this was the first thing we baked. Brownies,” he clarifies, waving his hand in the direction of the bowl which contained a mixture of what looked like sugar, eggs, and some sort of fat. “We always did it on her birthday, so I thought…why not.”

“I understand the nostalgia,” Spock says quietly. “My mother used baking as a way of bringing comfort. Though I never saw the logic in it, it is a treasured memory.”

Jim hums and turns his head for a kiss which Spock obliges. Deeply. When they break apart, Jim adds the cocoa to the flour, then the flour to the rest of the mixture and it becomes something rich, and smelling that same scent of temptation.

“You’ll love this recipe, trust me. I know you’re not much of a sweets guy, but no one can resist my mom’s brownies.”

“I,” Spock says, and hesitates long enough that Jim turns.

“You,” he prods.

Spock sighs. “It is perhaps unknown to you, but the cocoa in your baking mixture acts as an…intoxicant,” he says the word quietly, “in Vulcans.”

“You’re serious,” Jim says, and there’s a brightness to his expression that exasperates and enthralls Spock at the same time.

Spock touches Jim’s cheek with fingers, then his whole palm, turning his face up for a kiss. “Affirmative. It acts similarly to terran alcohol on human biology.”

“So eating a brownie will get you drunk?” Jim presses.

Spock sighs and says again, “Affirmative.”

Jim’s smile could light a planet, Spock thinks illogically, and is unsurprised when Jim says, “That’s the best fucking think I’ve heard all day. No better way to celebrate. You’re having one, and I’m going to have some of Bones’ Andorian whiskey, and we’re going to make a real night of it.”

Spock says nothing, his hesitation clear.

Jim leans in. “Only if you want.”

Spock thinks maybe he should be ashamed, the way he cannot turn Jim down. The way he does not wish to. The way temptation is far too easy under those bright blue eyes, and the way Jim bites his lip. “I want,” Spock finally says.

Jim’s hands abandon the mixing spoon in favor of curling around the back of Spock’s neck and drawing him in. For the moment, the brownies are forgotten.

Chapter Text

She doesn’t mean to let herself feel so exhausted, but as the only xenolinuist on the ship, and the translator fucked beyond repair at the moment, Nyota doesn’t have much of a choice but to fill in where she can. And she’s good at what she does, and the delegates are mostly satisfied with waiting until Scotty finishes the repairs.

All the same, she returns to her quarters with her entire body aching, and her shoulders tense.

She’s just getting ready to fall face-first on her bed and let sleep take her when the buzzer sounds, and she groans into her pillow before pushing herself up, groping for her robe, and shuffling to the door. She palms it open without bothering to check first, and her eyes go wide when she sees the woman standing there.

T’Pring.

A rush of conflicting emotions hit her all at once because T’Pring is gorgeous, and she’s smart, and ruthless—and everything Nyota falls for in a woman. She’s also Spock’s ex, and even if Spock is more than happily bonded to their captain now, it still feels weird harboring feelings for the woman who made the two of them fight to the almost-death.

She understands why, of course. Understands that given the circumstances, T’Pring was offered little choice in the matter. She understands that for all the Vulcans are advanced and intelligent, they can be feral and primitive in the strangest ways. And things change. At the hands of women like T’Pring who decided in the heat of a single moment that being gifted as a prize to a man wasn’t enough for her, and that there were enough of them to start a protest—a movement.

It’s why she’s here, on the ship. Though maybe not why she’s standing in Nyota’s doorway.

“May I help you with something?” Nyota asks.

T’Pring nods her head. “I wish to…request that we continue our conversation from earlier.”

Nyota can’t help but feel her cheeks heat, because earlier there had been wine and chocolate, and loose tongues, and the careful brush of T’Pring’s fingers along the backs of her own, and Nyota knows enough about Vulcan culture to know what that means. But it had grown late, and T’Pring had excused herself first so in a way, this is a surprise.

“Of course,” she says, and steps aside. The door slides shut the moment T’Pring is through it, and before Nyota can move, a warm palm reaches for her, touches her cheek. A thumb brushing along the corner of her mouth as T’Pring’s large, almond-shaped eyes flicker up and down Nyota’s form. Her expression is impossible to read, but the heat in her gaze is not.

“Humans,” T’Pring says, her voice rough, low with want. “They touch lips, to indicate affection.”

“That’s one motivation behind kissing,” Nyota says, then licks her lips, and her tongue catches the corner of T’Pring’s thumb.

“Fascinating.” T’Pring crowds right into Nyota’s space, her other hand lifting to curl around the back of her neck. “The other reasons?”

“Relief,” Nyota says, “hellos and goodbyes. Good nights, and good mornings.” She cannot tear her gaze away, and feels the heat of T’Pring’s body pressed against her own. “I love yous. I want yous.”

“Such complexity for such a simple gesture,” T’Pring murmurs, “though it can be the same with this…” Her hand lifts away from Nyota’s neck and she extends two fingers. Nyota mirrors her gesture, and feels a cascading warmth along the skin of her arm when T’Pring’s fingers brush the backs of hers.

She can’t help but lean in, turn her face up, close her eyes when she feels a puff of breath from T’Pring’s mouth.

“If I wished to participate in such a human custom…”

“I am willing. I am so willing,” Nyota murmurs, and she can’t help a smile as T’Pring’s hand presses more firmly against her cheek, and the space between them grows infinitesimal, and then non-existent. Nyota’s lips part gently, slotting against the Vulcan’s, and then she dares press her tongue inside, gasping when T’Pring’s pushes against hers, warm and slick and everything Nyota had ever imagined.

It’s over quicker than she wants it to be, but the space between them remains closed.

“It would only be logical to experiment further in such human custom,” T’Pring murmurs. “If you are willing.”

Nyota grins, and lets her hands fall to T’Pring’s waist. “I am absolutely willing.” She winks, then tightens her grip.

Chapter Text

“…and his levels are dropping! Aren’t you paying attention to this?”

“Captain…”

“I don’t know who the hell appointed you, but I don’t think you’re qualified to…”

Captain.”

“…anything happens to him I swear to god I will have you thrown on some desolate planet on the edge of fucking nowhere…”

Jim!”

He turns and sees Spock looking at him, an eyebrow raised, his mouth drawn into a thin line. Jim’s words die on his lips and he allows himself to be pushed back so M’Benga can have better access to Bones’ body.

Arms come around his waist and Jim sags against the warm body, and his eyes close just for a second when a nose presses against his pulse point. “You are aware that both you and Leonard appointed Dr. M’Benga based on his qualifications in both human and Vulcan anatomy. As such, you have allowed him to intervene on my medical behalf no less than seventeen times. You trust him. Leonard is in good hands.”

“He’s just never been,” Jim says, and chokes on the words because Bones is just laying there still, and not moving, and his levels aren’t really promising—though they’ve stopped dropping which is at least something.

Spock’s hands tighten on his waist, and Jim knows what this public display is costing him—even if it’s only in front of Christine and Geoff. It’s really just a testament to how worried Spock is, and how much he’s willing to compromise when Jim can’t keep it together.

“He’s stable,” M’Benga says, turning away from Bones and peeling his gloves away. “He’ll need twenty-four hours rest, but he should be awake by morning. The two of you are also under medical advisement to rest.”

Jim crosses his arms and hopes his look conveys exactly how much resting he’s going to be doing before Bones is awake.

“Thank you, doctor,” Spock says for them both, and it’s also a testament to how well Geoff has known them that he doesn’t order them out, but instead slips away and closes the door to give them privacy.

Spock’s hands fall away from Jim’s waist and he moves toward the bed, unable to stop himself from grabbing up Bones’ hand and pressing the knuckles to his mouth. “Idiot,” Jim mutters. “I told you not to go in that damn cave. I told you…I told you…” Jim trails off when his voice cracks and Spock places a warm hand at the back of his neck.

The moment hovers in still silence, and then Bones’ head turns slightly and one eye opens. Jim startles, and grasps Bones’ hand even tighter.

“You’re supposed to sleep until morning.”

Bones huffs. “You know me and rules, Jim.”

Spock, in a moment of rare display, reaches out and pushes a lock of hair away from Bones’ forehead. “You should rest, ashaya.”

Bones sighs. “Only if you promise to make this one sleep,” he compromises.

“I shall endeavor to do so,” Spock promises.

Bones’ eyes are already starting to drift closed, and Jim is certain that he fought through the medication out of sheer spite just so he could bitch at Jim about getting rest. He wants to laugh, and cry. Instead he lets Spock gather him close and kiss him softly in the privacy of the shared sickbay room.

“He will be fine. He is strong, and by morning he will be giving out orders and telling us both what fools we are,” Spock assures him. “The best we can do for him is rest, regain our strength. He will need it—whether he asks for it or not.”

Jim swallows, nods, lets Spock take him to the door. He stops him though, and tugs him close again. “I just can’t stomach the thought of losing either of you.”

“I echo the sentiment, Jim, but fortunately no such thing has occurred. Now come, we will be of no use to him if we are dead on our feet.”

It’s a very Bones thing to say, and that alone is what gets Jim’s feet moving.

Chapter Text

In retrospect he supposes it’s his own fault for being an unobservant dipshit. Or for not having a real understanding about xeno-culture. Especially since several of his crew members are not human, and his first officer—and best friend—happens to be half Vulcan, and raised there.

But really, he just doesn’t think about it when things start to change. He doesn’t think the chess games mean anything more than, you know, chess. Or that his favorite tea waiting for him is anything other than Spock’s meticulous attention to detail. Or that Spock’s meticulous attention to detail has anything to do with him.

To be fair, he does question it a little when Spock’s meal shifts coincide with his every single Thursday evening—like clockwork. And that Jim arrives to find his favorite food already prepared for him. But he thinks it’s just Spock’s attempt at understanding, you know, human friendship.

The problem with it is that it only makes Jim’s crush on his XO worse. Spock is actively spending more time with him—being more protective on planetside missions, making sure Jim gets enough rest, sometimes taking report duty from him when Jim feels particularly worn down. And part of Jim wants to tell him to stop because it’s emotional torture, but the bigger part of him clings to it because he’s pretty sure the only way he’s ever going to have Spock is like this.

And well, it’s awful, but he can live with it.

So it’s bearing all that in mind when it all comes crashing down. They’re on a Class M planet which is almost completely covered in water except for a couple of large island masses. The life there has evolved semi-aquatic—similar to earth amphibians, and with a name most humans can’t pronounce. The closest he can get is, “Mfbathatn,” which takes extreme care because he’s pretty sure messing it up more than he already does is a total insult.

Spock is better at it, because of course he is.

The High Priest—or whatever their equivalent is—is trying to marry Jim off to the King’s first daughter to solidify a treaty with the Federation which Jim is desperately trying to convey isn’t necessary since they’re warp-capable now and they just you know…need to sign some forms and attend some meetings.

But it looks like this priest is going ahead anyway with the ceremony until Spock steps in and places his hand over Jim’s and says pointedly and effectively, “He is already spoken for.”

Jim’s mouth drops open, like maybe he has something to say, but the words die on his tongue.

The priest blinks both sets of eyelids, and his big, gel-like eyes flicker to Jim. “Is this so?”

“Uh,” Jim says.

Spock sighs. “We are bonded.”

“We are?” Jim blurts.

Spock turns and gives him a look and says, “We have melded, our minds are joined. We are t’hy’la. You know this.”

Jim swallows. “I mean yeah but…” He licks his lips. “Together?”

Spock frowns. “Captain, I believe it would be against protocol and social propriety to discuss this here. Do you wish to dispute our union and bond with the Princess?”

“No!” Jim blurts, then clears his throat. “I…I mean. No, of course not.” He turns to the priest. “You heard my First Officer. He and I are bonded, so I can’t participate. But a Starfleet Commodore—Mendez, I believe—will be arriving shortly to discuss Federation agreements with his highness.”

The priest seems to take this in stride, and the princess, who hasn’t even blinks, gives a sort of shrug, then dives into the water and is gone. Jim is dumbstruck and remains that way until they’re standing on the transporter pad.

He thinks maybe it was all a hallucination induced by the strange atmosphere, but then Spock reaches over and seizes Jim’s wrist to pull him along. For only a split second he finds it normal, until the revelation on the island hits him, and then he realizes that Spock doesn’t touch people. Because Vulcans don’t touch people. He only touches Jim.

“Oh my god,” Jim breathes out as Spock drags him down the corridor. “Oh my god. Spock. We’re together.”

Spock only pauses to give him a flat look before he palms his way into Jim’s quarters and Jim wonders briefly when Spock’s print was added. It’s…been a while now, he knows at least that much. He’s kind of working on autopilot when he crosses the room and eases into his chair, and Spock sits in his, and Jim realizes that it’s been Spock’s chair for…yeah.

Shit.

“I didn’t know.”

“That much is obvious, Jim,” Spock says, but he sounds more amused than hurt or annoyed. When Jim dares look up, there’s a twinkle of laughter in Spock’s eyes. “It was my mistake in not taking into consideration you may need something more…direct.”

“We haven’t,” Jim says, but the words die out because he was about to say kiss, but actually he thinks they might kiss. In the form of soft, plaint presses of palms and fingers. Vulcan kisses. He knows about those. “Oh.”

Spock’s eyebrows go up, and the corner of his lip curls gently.

“You might have told me, you know,” Jim says. Moot point, and sullen, but Spock nods a concession.

“If you are opposed…”

Jim’s on his feet, and crossing the short distance between them, and leaning down to take Spock’s face between the palms of his hands which effectively silences his First Officer. “I am not opposed,” he says—full sentences, weighty with promise. “I just wish I had known, because we could have been doing this a lot sooner.” He leans in slowly, giving Spock time to adjust, or to pull away, or show any sign of discomfort.

Instead of those things, Spock merely curls his hands around Jim’s hips and tugs him until he’s in Spock’s lap. Then he leans in and their lips meet for the first time, but it doesn’t feel like a first time. It feels familiar and warm.

It feels like coming home.

Chapter Text

Spock notices it first, which in retrospect isn’t all that surprising, but Jim just didn’t consider Spock would notice something like that. And Spock doesn’t say anything right away. Jim only notices because it’s not exactly ordinary for Spock to do something like brush his hand along the back of Bones’ neck, or press their knees together during meal time.

But he does it, and Jim notices, and it’s during gamma shift when Jim and Spock are quietly watching the stars shoot by on the observation deck that he brings it up.

“You’ve been touching him more.”

Spock looks at him for a long moment, his expression considering. Then he asks plainly--without any real motivation, “Does that bother you, Jim?”

Jim blinks, then fights back a laugh. “No! God Spock. I’m not...I’m not jealous. It’s just, you don’t do that. I mean you do. We touch a lot. But in private. You practically took his hand during dinner.” He emphasizes that last part to show he knows how scandalous that is for a Vulcan.

Spock then nods, and shrugs. “He requires it.”

That startles Jim more than anything. At any rate it startles him into paying attention. Like to the way Bones leans in to any contact. The way he stands close whenever they’re on a mission, or looking over a report, almost like he’s hoping they’ll be jostled together.

And Jim, more than anyone else, knows what starvation looks like--even if it’s not for food. It’s really all the same. The quiet fear and desperation of not knowing where the next sustenance will come from. He never considered that Bones might be...

And then he feels like a fool for not realizing it sooner. But he supposes now is as good a time as any to join in. Like when Spock takes a seat on Bones’ left, Jim will take the one on the right and press in, just so. And the way Jim makes sure that their fingers brush every single time they exchange a PADD, or Jim passes over a fork, or a cup, or a shirt.

And how Jim immediately shoves Bones in between them on the nights they share a bed. He smiles into Bones’ shoulder when he feels Spock turn into the embrace. Warm, thin Vulcan fingers find Jim’s hip while the rest of his arm lays snug against Bones’ lower body, and Jim tangles his fingers with the Vulcan’s as he lets his face rest in the crook of Bones’ neck.

Soft. Secure. Here.

He tries not to laugh when Bones grumbles, “Don’t think I don’t know what y’all are up to.”

And he tries not to laugh when Bones knows, but does nothing more than burrow deeper between them.