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checkmate (i love you)

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It’s been a long day. 

 

It’s been a really, really long day. Spock almost died. 

 

It was supposed to be a routine exploratory mission--aren’t they always routine exploratory missions? But there had been an illness, one that was deadly to the people who used to live on the planet, an illness that turned human tongues blue and that was it, an illness that was harmless to humans--and deadly to Vulcans. 

 

So Spock had almost died. 

 

He hadn’t, of course, and McCoy had saved him, and everything was alright, except the away team’s tongues were still blue. 

 

(Even Spock--half human, after all.)

 

Anyway, it’s been a long day, and Spock almost died, and Kirk is just so tired. 

 

Now that they’re off duty, and Spock is alive, he and Kirk are playing chess. Sometimes when they play chess, they have long conversations that stretch beyond the game and well into the night. Sometimes when they play chess, they make small talk about the ship, about Spock’s experiments, about nothing at all. And sometimes, when they play chess, they say absolutely nothing. 

 

This is one of those times, and Kirk watches Spock examine the board. He watches Spock make his moves, carefully and deliberately. When it’s Kirk’s turn, he sticks his tongue out in concentration--not because that’s a habit, but because his tongue is blue. All day, people have been sticking their tongues out at each other. 

 

They’re professionals, and yet. 

 

Kirk moves his bishop, and leans back in his seat. Spock puts his fingers together and studies the board, studies Kirk’s move. Like this, so focused, as if this chess game is the most important thing in the world, Spock is so beautiful. 

 

Not for the first time, Kirk thinks, oh, I love him. 

 

He thinks about how much he loves Spock on a daily basis, every time Spock opens his mouth. The thought is a gentle presence in his mind, something important but not so important that Kirk has ever felt the need to say anything. He supposes it’s the most important thing, besides maybe his ship, but vocalizing it isn’t necessary. 

 

But today--today has been a long day. Today, Spock almost died. And today, Kirk is tired. 

 

Spock moves his piece. Kirk picks up one of the pieces he’s captured from Spock and spins it slowly between his fingers. 

 

“I love you,” Kirk says, breaking the silence. Spock looks up from the board without moving his head. Their eyes meet. Kirk clears his throat. “I’m in love with you.”

 

Then he moves his piece. 

 

“I know,” Spock says, and his eyes fall back to the board, calculating his next move. 

 

An undetermined amount of time later, Spock speaks again. 

 

“Checkmate,” he says, and Kirk accepts this loss. They both stand, and begin to put the chess set away. 

 

“Jim,” Spock says. Kirk turns to look at him. Spock is standing loosely, holding the 3D chess board in his hands. “The feelings are mutual.”

 

Kirk smiles, a soft little thing. 

 

“I know,” he says, and they finish putting the chess set away. Kirk walks Spock to the door, like he always does. Never do they go through the bathroom, although Kirk’s not really sure why. 

 

“Goodnight, Captain,” Spock says after the door opens and he’s stepped into the hallway. Kirk leans against the doorframe. 

 

“Goodnight, Mister Spock,” he says, and then before Spock can turn and walk away, Kirk holds out his hand, index and middle finger extended. 

 

Spock doesn’t hesitate before he meets the touch; there’s a spark of something there that Kirk would love to explore--at a later time, though, because Kirk really just wants to go to bed. 

 

Spock gifts him with a small, secret, smile, and then he departs. Kirk closes his door and goes to his closet, strips down to his undershirt and briefs. 

 

He heads to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and then Spock is there, washing his face. Kirk watches him, this most important man, and oh, Spock had almost died today. 

 

Kirk finishes brushing his teeth and doesn’t leave the bathroom, just leans against the counter with his arms crossed. When Spock finishes brushing his teeth, Kirk says, “Spock.”

 

It’s really one word, one syllable, but Kirk feels like it’s so much more than that. 

 

“Jim,” Spock says, and then, without saying anything, they reach an agreement. 

 

Spock follows Kirk back to his room, and they both get in the bed. Kirk rolls to face him, and looks at him, and Spock leans down. 

 

Their lips meet. 

 

Kirk moves in closer to Spock and puts his arms around his middle, feeling his heartbeat under his hands. Spock’s arms go around Kirk’s shoulders, and they hold each other. 

 

It’s been a long day, and Kirk is so tired, and Spock is alive in his arms. 

 

Nothing has changed, really. They’ve slept in the same bed for no reason other than comfort before. The only thing that’s really different, Kirk thinks, is that they’ve shared two kisses now. 

 

“Stop thinking,” Spock says, and Kirk isn’t sure if Spock is touching his bare skin somewhere or if he just knows him that well. 

 

Kirk moves even closer to Spock, and he closes his eyes, his nose pressed to Spock’s chest, and he falls asleep.