Jim Kirk’s eyes shone with happiness and interest as Kirk practically pulled Spock along toward a room filled with noise and happy people. It was difficult not to get caught up in his enthusiasm, but Spock would try. After all, he was Vulcan and quite above merriment.
But Kirk wouldn't let his friend dawdle. “Come on, Spock! You’re gonna love this party!”
Spock highly doubted it, he thought with an unvoiced sigh. But he had vowed to himself that he would follow Kirk anywhere. Even to a party.
It hadn’t been Spock’s idea to attend this gala reception given by Federation Command, but Jim Kirk had been so enthusiastic to attend and to make certain that Spock attended, also. Of course Jim Kirk always acted enthusiastic about anything, it seemed. And generally it was an infectious enthusiasm that caught Spock up in its momentum. And Spock generally went along with it, as he was doing now, because he knew down deep that he needed to expand himself. “Expand his horizons” was the exact phrase, as he recalled.
Yes, he had a Vulcan code of conduct that he tried to live up to, but even he could see that it wasn’t half as much fun as what Jim Kirk was getting out of life. When it was all said and done, what were the benefits of holding yourself in severely while the Jim Kirks in the universe had a good time without dire circumstances befalling them? And people liked them! Were drawn to them, as Spock himself was drawn to Jim Kirk's magnetism.
Spock was not so insensitive to people’s emotions that he did not realize that he made people uneasy. He was probably as welcome as a minister or a policeman to a social gathering. But, nevertheless, here he was, with Jim Kirk, prepared to watch the scum of boredom roll over people’s eyes as Kirk would tow him from one group of party goers to another. Spock wondered how long it would take Kirk to realize that his companion was killing an otherwise successful event.
Spock glanced at his well-meaning friend. Kirk was doing a good imitation of a bird bobbing in the water for a tasty morsel as he scanned the crowd.
“Oh, good, he’s here!” Kirk crowed. He grabbed Spock's arm. "Come on!"
Now who? Spock wondered as he was towed along. Kirk seemed to know everyone. Spock had met so many just this evening that he doubted that he could keep everyone straight. And that was simply getting from the door to where they currently were in the crowded room filled with happy, noisy people.
Kirk’s eyes were shining as only Kirk’s could. “I’ve waited a long time for you two to meet! Just think of it! My two best friends, together at last!”
Wait! That could only mean Leonard McCoy. Spock had heard so much about McCoy and had often wondered what McCoy was like. Spock could even admit to some jealousy and suspected that McCoy felt the same way about him.
Spock wanted to meet McCoy, but not like this. Spock wanted to stand back and observe his rival. He wanted to gauge his strengths and calculate his weaknesses from afar. He wanted to study McCoy as he would a lab specimen, a lab specimen which could not study him back.
Spock wanted time.
But Kirk was pulling Spock through a knot of people. No time. No observation. No chance to catch a second breath.
“Bones! Bones McCoy!”
An officer turned toward them. His eyes were sparkling with recent laughter.
And Spock was mesmerized.
The stranger’s eyes flashed with recognition. “Jim!”
Spock saw a good-looking Earthling with a wide, friendly grin. And Spock was struck dumb. What a handsome man!
Kirk and his friend shook hands, then the greeting quickly turned into a hug. The show of feeling between the two friends was palpable and embarrassed Spock, and he looked away. He knew that men did that to show genuine caring, but that was not his custom to embrace. But he likewise had to admit to a certain envy that they had been able to perform the gesture so easily and without any sign of discomfort.
Kirk backed away and broke the hug while McCoy continued to grin at him.
“Bones, I want you to meet another friend of mine, Mr. Spock.”
McCoy turned, and Spock saw McCoy shine that magnificent smile on him.
“Glad to meet you, Mr. Spock,” McCoy said amiably. "I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“I have heard a lot about you, also, Dr. McCoy.” Spock acknowledged him with a cordial nod of his head, all the while wishing that he could’ve come up with something more clever than he had said.
“So, are you guys enjoying the party?” McCoy wanted to know.
“We just got here, Bones.”
“Well, I’ve been dying for you to get here. There’s a guy over here that needs straightening out on some details concerning space travel,” McCoy said as he pulled his arm around Kirk’s shoulders and prepared to lead him away.
No! Spock thought. I want to be around this fascinating man some more! Much more!
But Spock’s natural inclinations caused him to hold back. He was not pushy or gregarious. But, oh, how he wanted to make an impression on this beautiful Earthling!
“Spock, come on,” Kirk said over his shoulder.
“Hell, yeah, Spock! Didn’t mean to leave you out! The more the merrier!” McCoy turned aside with Kirk in tow.
Their meeting could not end like this! McCoy would not even remember meeting him!
“That is not necessarily true, Doctor,” Spock forced himself to say and hoped that he was halfway coherent in his attempt to say something, anything! His calm voice did not reflect the anxiety that he was feeling inside.
McCoy looked back. “Eh?”
“More is not necessarily merrier.”
McCoy dropped his arm from around Kirk’s shoulders, then held out his hand for emphasis. “It’s just a saying, Spock.” There was just a little hint of irritation in his voice. “That’s all it is. Just a saying. Accept it for what it's worth. Most people do.”
Spock felt hot and cold all over. He must continue to engage the man in conversation if he wanted to keep the man’s attention.
“Perhaps it is better to speak precisely than to resort to generalities, Doctor. Then there would be no misunderstanding on anyone’s part.”
McCoy’s irritation was replaced with interest. He stepped away from Kirk toward Spock.
“I do not know if anyone was misunderstanding what I was saying, except for you, MISTER Spock.”
“Bones, don’t let him bait you. He might deny it, but he loves a good debate.”
“That’s all right, Jim. I’ve got this one.” McCoy waved his raised hand in dismissal back toward Kirk, but he only had eyes for Spock as he stepped closer to the calm Vulcan. Avid interest was now shining in his eyes.
Spock had succeeded!
McCoy stopped in front of Spock. “What exactly didn’t you understand about what I said?”
“I did not comprehend how my attendance would make your appointment any merrier.”
McCoy’s grin was halfway a challenge and halfway an acceptance. “Oh, but you could give us another insight. If nothing else, you can back up what Jim says.” He frowned slightly. “You’re Vulcan, aren’t you? Or are those pointed ears and green skin just a disguise?”
“I assure you, Doctor, that I am not in disguise.” Now that Spock was actually talking to this delightful man, he did not know how long he could continue to hold his attention. He floundered for something to say and told himself to appear calm at all costs.
McCoy’s eyes mellowed. “No, you wouldn’t be, would you? Well, come on. Join the party,” he said as they turned toward Kirk who was waiting for them with obvious relief on his face. “What’s wrong, Jim? Think that Spock and I would get in a knock down and drag out fistfight?”
“I didn’t know, Bones. You do have a bit of a temper, even when you aren’t drinking.”
“We’re both more housebroken than that. At least I am. How about you, Mr. Spock? Do you ever haul off and sock someone in the kisser just because he pisses you off?”
“I must say that I try to refrain from fisticuffs, Doctor.”
“Refrain from fisticuffs?! Do you hear this guy, Jim?! Who talks like that?!”
At that moment, someone backed into Spock.
“Sorry,” the guy muttered, then he glared at Spock when he saw that Spock was an alien. “Who let the Vulcan in here?”
McCoy bristled up. “Nobody ‘let’ him in, understand?!” he spat out. His eyes were flaring with righteous indignation as if someone had just set off a bomb in his britches. “He’s with us!”
“Bones,” Kirk soothed as he touched McCoy’s arm.
McCoy flexed his neck and shoulder muscles. “And even if he wasn’t with us, he has the right to be here on his own! He's a Star Fleet officer and equal to any of us! Okay?!”
The stranger said something about it not being worth it and turned away. McCoy stiffened as if to follow him.
Kirk's hand tightened on McCoy's arm. “It’s okay, Bones. The bad man is going away.”
McCoy was still ruffled, his eyes flashing. “Well. Just saying. It ain't right! That jerk doesn't make the rules around here.”
“I know.” Kirk glanced at Spock. “Sorry about the show of force, Spock. We tend to protect our own.”
Their own?! Warmth flooded over Spock. McCoy had been protecting him!
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“Hey, it ain’t nothing you wouldn’t do for me. Right?”
More warmth spread over Spock. The man wanted his companionship!
“That is correct, Doctor.”
McCoy frowned. “Hey, wait a minute! Our own?!” McCoy whirled on Kirk. “What are you trying to tell us here, Jim?!”
“Why, Spock’s gonna be serving with us on this upcoming five year mission, Bones. He’s gonna be my First Officer.”
Spock was vastly entertained by the varied emotions that played over McCoy’s face. “Five years with this nitpicker?!” McCoy wanted to know. “Every day?! With him?!”
“That’s right,” Kirk murmured as he patted McCoy’s cheek. “Five years.” He grinned. “Every day. With him.”
McCoy huffed, but Spock understood that it was just a pose. Besides the pretended anger and frustration, Spock had seen interest and glee mirrored in McCoy’s eyes. This must be one of those Earthlings whose bark is worse than his bite, Spock decided. Whatever that was.
“Just think of all of the discussions that you two can have,” Kirk said, then brightened with a new thought. “In fact, I believe that you’ll both be very good about giving me different viewpoints.”
It was all that Spock could do to keep the joy and excitement off his face. Five years with this man who fascinated him so much! He had made a good decision to attend Star Fleet! First Jim Kirk, and now Leonard McCoy!
“What?” McCoy wanted to know from Spock. “No complaints? No caustic asides? It might be five years for me, Vulcan. But I hope that you realize that it will also be five years for you, too.”
“Oh, I do, Earthling. I propose that we use the time wisely.”
McCoy studied Spock with just a small twinkle in his eyes. “Never fear, Vulcan. I PLAN on it.”
The space between them fairly crackled.
Many years later, long past that first five year mission, McCoy entered their living room and set two cups of hot tea on the table near Spock. “What are you thinking about, Vulcan?” he asked as he settled on the sofa beside Spock. “You’ve got that wise kitten look on your face again. Keep that up, and I’ll think that you’ve been burying dead mice in the clothes hamper for me to find as some sort of love offering.”
“I was thinking of the night that we met, Leonard. The night that Jim said that we were all going to serve that first five year mission together.”
“That night that you took one look at what was suddenly in front of you and got the hots for me?” McCoy asked as he slapped his hand down on Spock’s nearest leg and rubbed possessively. His hand itched to slide further down between Spock's legs, and both men knew it. Both men knew it and tingled from that secret knowledge.
“I had more restraint than that,” Spock protested and battled with his natural inclinations. He was very aware of McCoy’s massaging hand on his thigh. McCoy's presence still gave him a thrill, even after all of these years together.
But McCoy contradicted him. “You were broadsided by what you saw that night, Vulcan. You fell under my spell.” He gazed up at Spock fondly with a wily smile. “You were enchanted.” He held out his hands. “What can I say? I was quite a package back then. Still am, for that matter.”
“Yes, you are.”
McCoy gave him calf-eyes. “You took one look and fell in love with me that night.”
“I tried not to show it, though.”
“You didn’t know how to show it. But I took care of that.” He sipped his hot tea. “After all, I had five years to work my wiles on you.”
“Surely I did not make it too easy.”
“I never said that it was easy. Nothing’s ever easy with you.”
“Look who is talking,” Spock shot back.
McCoy looked at him aghast.
“That is the expression, is it not, Leonard?”
“Well, yeah, but you are getting kinda smarty, ain't ya?”
“I thought that you liked me to be assertive.”
“I like you any way that I can get you,” McCoy muttered as his eyes gave Spock a look that could laser through steel.
“Just say the word, Leonard, and I am yours. I will not play hard to get.”
“You’re using an awful lot of idioms today.”
“Just an outcome of being around you so much.”
“I didn’t say that it was a bad thing,” McCoy snapped.
“Neither did I.”
“I expect that we sound like a couple of old married people who’ve been around each other too long.”
“Never too long, Leonard,” Spock said fondly.
“Sure didn’t seem that way at first on the Enterprise.” McCoy grinned. “I’m sure that there were times that even Jim thought that we hated each others’ guts.” He winked. “Other times, he knew better.”
“He knew for certain when we asked him to marry us.”
“Yep. Happiest day of my life,” McCoy said with fervor.
“Followed by the happiest night of mine,” Spock assured him softly. "All of my fondest wishes came true that night and have for every night since then."
“Damn romantic Vulcan!” McCoy muttered and couldn’t quite look at his husband.
“Do you ever regret it, Leonard?”
“Marrying you?! Never! Getting my own piss-ant Vulcan?! Who else has ever been entitled to one of those?!”
“I meant the pain that we both suffered before we found each other. Before we admitted that we loved one another.”
“I think it just sweetened the end result,” McCoy murmured back. “It just made me appreciate you more. Now drink your damn tea before it gets cold! Jim will be over here pretty soon to celebrate our anniversary, and I don’t want him to find us fooling around with each other! We’ve got other things to do!”
Spock rubbed McCoy’s hip nearest him. “There is no time for fooling around with each other? Not just a little bit?” he asked wistfully and gave McCoy a pleading look.
McCoy’s eyes sparkled up at him in the old, familiar way that spoke of all sorts of promises that could be offered if Spock would only reach out for them.
“Oh, darlin,’ there’s always time for a little bit of fooling around with each other! And I fervently pray that there always will be!”
“I am glad,” Spock said happily. “I would not like to startle Jim, though.”
“Jim might be old and rheumy, but he ain’t dead. And he knows that we ain’t, either!”
“I am glad about that, also, Leonard.”
“Drink your tea, damn it, before it cools! Damn Vulcan! You don’t appreciate a single thing that I do for you!”
Spock hid his smile, but not the warmth that spread through him for his mate. “Yes, Leonard,” he agreed as he sipped at the herbal love offering that McCoy had made just for him. The tea was sweetened with all of the love that McCoy could muster. Or so it seemed to Spock.
It was true, Spock was ready to admit. He was just as enchanted as that first night they had met.
That first night that Spock had seen a handsome stranger laughing across a crowded room.
That first night when Spock had lost his heart and never regretted the loss.
That first night when the air around them had fairly crackled with the intensity between them.
Just as it still did.
Spock leaned over and kissed the top of McCoy's shoulder, then gazed up at McCoy through his long eyelashes.
"What was that for?!" McCoy demanded, although he was having trouble not letting his heart melt as the sweet, but sexy half-smile was aimed at him.
"Just because I can," Spock murmured as he straightened. "And just because I can do more with you whenever I wish."
"Well, forget it for now. Our door just pinged. That'll be Jim with a bottle of sipping whiskey for me and some dark chocolate for you, as if you need any more of stimulation tonight." McCoy growled.
"You intoxicate me, Leonard. You always will."
"Well, put a damper on it for awhile, okay? Or we will be shocking Jim." Then his eyes lost some of their hardness as he gazed fondly into Spock's eyes. "But remember where you were now on my shoulder. That's where I want you to start tonight."
Spock's dark eyes bore into McCoy's. "All the while that Jim is here with us this evening, you will feel my lips on your naked flesh. And it will make you yearn for what is to come for you later in my arms."
A pulse beat in McCoy's neck as his own eyes widened. "I know," he whispered. Sometime it stunned him about the amount of passion that he could stir in his Vulcan. It always thrilled him that there was a small amount of danger present when emotions from Spock's primitive past threatened to emerge in the otherwise gentle Spock.
Jim Kirk thought that perhaps his friends weren't really home by the time they had finally answered their door. But Spock just had to steal a quick kiss. And McCoy just had to let him.