The med bay was mostly empty by the time Spock managed to make his way to Deck 5. Doctor McCoy was busy quietly ordering around a few of the remaining nurses and only spared him an accusatory look and a nod towards the back of the room. Spock, despite having trouble making sense of Human emotions, was quite sure he knew what the look meant. He had intended to visit earlier but every time he was about to leave his station, something had come up. As first officer it was naturally understood that he was to take on the captain’s duties, should he be incapable of performing them himself. The little human part that seemed to rear its head at the most inopportune moments as of late had other reasons too, like the inability to face his captain in a weakened state and the shame he felt at his own failure to keep his superior officer, his friend, safe.
“Spock!” Jim's face, however pale and scarred, lit up with an almost blinding smile when he spotted the somewhat bashful looking Vulcan approaching his bed. “How's my ship doing?”
“Everything is in order, captain.”
Jim's expression softened into a more comfortable, less forced smile, letting some of the exhaustion and pain he was experiencing show through. “And how's my first officer doing?”
Spock moved closer to the bed, eyes not daring to meet Jim's. Not when he felt this emotionally compromised. Now that he had taken care of his duties to the ship and its crew, it seemed that his more logical and rational side had decided to take a break. There was a burning in his eyes and a pricking under his fingertips. He felt the need to touch his captain, to feel firsthand that he was... what? Safe? Alive? Here? He settled for looking up instead, eyeing the wall just left of Jim’s head.
“I am doing adequately, Jim.”
Jim leaned back into his bed but his eyes didn’t leave Spock. He almost wished that they would. He felt that there was more for him to say, but he couldn’t find the right words, he wasn’t even sure what it was. Finally, he continued.
“I wish to convey my apologies. Had I not miscalculated so grossly we may have avoided your injury.” It wasn’t exactly what he wanted say but it would suffice.
Jim scoffed. “We already knew that we wouldn’t make it out of there without some damage. This was really the best-case scenario, I’d say.”
Spock’s frown grew deeper, once again running over his faulty calculations as he had done several times already. There should have been more time. The derelict ship that had turned out to be a trap had been rigged to explode after contact with the lower deck, with a force field shielding the upper decks from the immediate aftermath of the blast. He had presumed that with the force field in place they should have had 10 minutes to retrieve the-
His internal monologue was interrupted by a weak hand squeezing his arm, respectfully avoiding his hand. “There’s no point in mulling over the past now. We’re fine, the ship’s fine. That’s good enough for me.”
Spock finally dared to look at Jim. He could see large bruises peeking out from underneath his shirt, undoubtedly from the debris hitting him as he was attempting to make it out of the blast. They were accompanied by smaller scars and larger wounds, now stitched up and covered by McCoy. Jim’s eyes were still bright however, always fighting the odds. Resilient. Beautiful. Normally Spock would have fought the sentiment, or at least worded it differently, but now he suddenly found that he was too exhausted to suppress his feelings.
“Very well, Jim.”
Spock rarely dreamed. If he did it was usually about the vast expanse of space or perhaps the hot deserts of Vulcan, but he would always be alone. Lately, however, his dreams had been occupied almost exclusively by Jim. It didn’t matter if he ended up under starlit skies or on unknown planets, he would always be joined by the captain. He was never out of place either; it always made perfect sense to his dream self when Jim would come along, playful smile on his lips and fingers wrapped around his own.
This time he was back on Vulcan, lying supine in the sand, staring up at the night sky. He heard a shuffling at his side and turned to look at Jim who was laying only a few inches apart from him with a delighted expression on his face. Spock studied his profile and noted the small grains of sand stuck in his hair and the reflection of the stars in his eyes. Then Jim turned his head to look back at him, noses almost touching. His expression grew fond, and he reached up to caress Spock's cheek with a tenderness he dared not even dream about in his waking hours. Now, however, it was the most natural thing in the world when Jim carefully moved so that their legs tangled together, resting his face in the crook of Spock's neck. He sank further into the sand, which still retained some of the heat of the day. He brought his hands up to the small of Jim’s back and turned his head enough to breathe in the smell of his hair, enjoying the feel of the coarse strands against his nose. Spock closed his eyes and sunk further, Vulcan skies giving way to a sea of stars. They were floating in space, breathless and weightless in a comfortable silence.
Spock found that he and Jim often engaged in different forms of physical contact; a gentle push on his back, a hand on Jim’s upper arm, legs bumping into each other at lunch, an embrace to pull one or the other out of dangers way. While such a display would have been scandalous on Vulcan, Spock knew that Humans often sought out such contact with their friends, so he allowed it. He had not however expected his own need for this contact, going so far as to actively seeking it out and getting frustrated when he was without it for too long.
He kept up his barriers out of respect for his captains privacy but Jim was a deeply passionate and intense individual and skin-to-skin contact felt like watching a rainstorm from the confines of one's own home. Spock could not stop himself from examining the emotions bearing down on his shields whenever they happened to touch. After a lifetime of suppressing and compartmentalizing his feelings he reveled at the opportunity to submerge himself in them, if for only a short while. He had already cataloged some of his favorites (and Surak spare him if his father knew he had favorites ), like the giddy excitement that his captain felt at a new finding or the genuine and warm affection that welled up whenever Spock called him Jim.
Despite the fact that Jim had only been in the med bay for a few days Spock had to suppress a sigh of contentment when he finally took his seat on the bridge.
“Any updates on that project down at the labs yet, mister Spock?” He asked as if he had never been gone at all, as if there weren’t lingering bruises peeking out from underneath his uniform.
“Yes, sir. Allow me to show you.”
Jim rose from his seat and made his way over to Spock’s station, leaning in close and resting a hand on his back. This close he could smell the shampoo he used and feel the gentle heat that seemed to radiate from his very core. Spock soaked up the contact like a dry sponge and tried to not be too conspicuous when he handed over his PADD, letting his fingers linger near Jim’s wrist, occasionally bumping into him when one of them moved. He wasn’t so sure that his deception had succeeded when he noticed a small smile tugging at the corner of Jim’s lips and the hand on his back momentarily brushed the nape of his neck.
“Excellent, mister Spock. Could you please come to my quarters after the shift? I’d like to discuss something in private.”
“Of course, captain.”
The gentle heat had grown into a roaring fire beneath his fingertips. Spock allowed his hands to slide down, observing the way Jim’s eyes fluttered shut at the sensation and the gentle blush that made its way up his neck and cheeks. He leaned in and kissed his forehead in a comparatively chaste way, briefly tasting the slightly salty skin and allowing himself to enjoy the emotions pooling up from somewhere deep inside him. Jim opened his eyes and looked up at him, just as playful as he was in his dreams.
“Say Spock, could you hurry up a bit?”
He huffed and pressed a small kiss right beneath his ear, on one of the fading bruises.
“Going to call me that in bed as well?” He asked gazing up at Spock from underneath his lashes, lazily stretching out beneath him like a large and satisfied cat. He didn’t bother answering the question, opting to instead press himself as close to Jim as he could without hurting him and sinking deep into the feelings that seemed to wrap themselves around him like a blanket. Spock closed his eyes and for a moment he was floating weightless in space, with Jim in his arms.