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Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m.

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He woke at two in the morning to find it raining.  His windows were
open, and the fan blew softly across his bed, but the heat had broken
and he was shivering.  It had been hot for days -- when he'd beamed
down, his first action had been to strip off his coat, and then his
shirt, so that he'd walked across the farm's yard in uniform pants and
singlet, burningly aware of the dark eyes focussed on the suddenly
visible muscles of his back.  

The first night, he'd paced and shifted, unable to sleep.  He couldn't
remember when he'd been so hot.  The Enterprise's climate control
dropped the temperature sharply during ship's night, so that he was
always ready to bury himself under layers of bedding and sleep like
that, nested.  Six months before, he'd been on Vulcan, but the dryness
of the air had undercut the heat so much that more often than not he was
off-balance and almost shivering.  And in the Vulcan night, the
temperature would fall so far that he needed blankets and a searingly
warm body to wrap his own around.

A bedmate was something he hadn't had in weeks.  Spock had beamed down
with him, quietly accepting the offer of a home during shore leave, but
settled himself in the guest room without consulting Kirk on the matter.  
Maybe twice in their ten days on Earth so far, Spock had come with him
on his walks.  Kirk was surprised how much it comforted him.  The Vulcan
was always a low, steady presence in the back of his mind, but his
physical proximity made the connection vivid.  He'd lived in Iowa since
childhood, and only the alienness of Spock's experiences could make the
place immediate for him again.  He'd been content to walk with his eyes
almost closed, feeling Spock's

//alien wetness    searing green blue sky    air like a living body    
air like something breathing all these layers of humidity that have to
be pushed aside like curtains     small insects     deep gold colour of
Jim's hair his eyes like the grass drying    sudden birds trees houses
in the distance  things living    home t'hy'la   the liquidness of you//

thoughts.  They'd been lovers for so long they forgot to touch for days
sometimes.  Never this long before, but Spock was touching on something
that Kirk didn't have words for, and he had to breathe deeply, hope for
patience and wait.

The thunderstorm had woken him.  Sound came in through the windows and
drove him up out of sleep so violently that Kirk started to his knees,
hyperventilating.  The next thunder strike was farther away, less
startling, but he was fully conscious by that time and conscious that he
was cold.  He shook himself to get rid of the last of his fear and got
out of bed, padded over to the big closet and dug in it in the dark
until he found a blanket.  The first night, he'd stripped the bed in his
room as well as setting up the fan.  Now he was only too grateful for
the patchwork sensation of the quilt under his fingers.  Wrapping it
around his shoulders, he found his jeans, still in the dark, and pulled
them on.

The house had been his alone for almost five years.  His mother had
died, not suddenly, and certainly not unexpectedly.  She'd been of an
age for it, and he hadn't been able to begrudge her that peace, though
he'd cried for her more than once and still felt her absence.  In his
mind, the Iowa house was hers even more than simply his family home.  
Peter (Sam's son, Sam who was dead, who wasn't something Kirk wanted to
think about) hadn't visited it since he'd grown out of being a child and
become a young man with a life of his own.  Kirk hadn't had shore leave
on Earth since the funeral until this trip, and he'd had to think about
it long and hard before he'd decided to come home.  

He'd been relived that Spock had agreed to come with him.  They hadn't
fought, but there had been a silence growing between them that even late
night psychic caresses weren't bandaging.  He was damned if he knew what
he'd done wrong.  In any other relationship, he might have pushed, but
there wasn't any sense of disturbance, only distance.  Not anger, he
thought.  Just stillness.  And his own growing restlessness as he missed
his lover.

He'd grown up in this house, and he could find his way in it well enough
without the benefit of illumination.  For some reason, he was as
reluctant to turn the lights on as he was to forcibly break the silence
between Spock and himself.  He paused on the stairs for a second,
getting a sense of the house in the dark.  Most of the furniture was in
storage to keep it from being damaged, and what was left gave the house
a cabin feeling of improvisation and unfinishedness.  The wooden stairs
slanted downward a little.  At the base of them, he caught a glimpse of
himself in the mirror by the door, a middle-aged man wrapped in a quilt
and a pair of jeans, barefoot in the empty house.

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the next lightning flash,
counted the seconds until thunder hit.  Coffee, he thought.  He could
make coffee, watch the storm through the porch screens.  No one would
miss him if he wanted to sleep on the porch swing instead of in bed.

The kitchen was a dozen steps away.  Once, he brushed the doorframe with
his hip and blushed a little at his own clumsiness on his home ground.  
To reassure himself, he kept moving in the dark, finding a mug and the
coffee filter, filling the old-fashioned steam kettle from the kitchen
tap.  Drops of water on the kettle's sides hissed as they touched the
burner.  His parents had never added food synthesizers to the kitchen
appliances, and by his teen years he'd considered cooking to be a
vaguely mediational activity.

It was the sound of breathing that finally alerted him.  He twisted from
the waist and made out Spock seated at the kitchen table, watching him.  
Startled, he spilled the tablespoon of ground coffee onto the counter.  
The smell was as much of a shock to him as the sudden presence, and it
was that that made him jump.

"Jesus, Spock!"  He cupped a hand under the counter ledge and brushed
the loose coffee into it, lifted the hand to his nose to smell the mess
before throwing it away.  A second later, he realized he must have
brushed the quilt through it, because he could still smell dry coffee
close to his face.  "You move like a cat, you know that?  You're going
to be the death of me."

"I apologize, Jim.  I was under the impression that you knew I was
here."

Kirk snorted.  "It wouldn't hurt to announce yourself when you came in."

"I was seated here when you entered."  A raised eyebrow, his lover's
equivalent of laughter.  He could feel the amusement tugging at his
thoughts across the bond.

Oh.  "I think I need that coffee."  The kettle whistled and he lifted
it.  The water running through the filter made a soft nose that was
almost drowned out by the rain.  He repeated the process, waited for the
water to drain, and moved the filter to the sink without looking back at
his lover, then poured out two cups and handed one to Spock.  The Vulcan
accepted it ceremoniously, though Kirk knew he seldom actually drank the
stuff.  In the decade they'd known each other, he'd watched Spock
develop an aesthetic appreciation for Kirk's addiction, inhaling the
fumes and tasting it softly, though rarely drinking an entire cup.  

Spock followed him onto the porch.  The space was screened against the
insects that whistled around the house at other times, and roofed
against the rain.  Kirk would have liked Spock's body curled against his
on the porch swing, but the Vulcan settled himself in one of the wicker
chairs set against the house's wall and only watched Kirk inquisitively.

He hated this silence.  He'd become awkward in the presence of the man
who owned the largest part of his soul.  Spock was preternaturally
still, a slender body in dark clothes that were neither formal nor in
any real way of Earth.  God, he wanted that body against him.  He wasn't
adequately dressed, really, and he would have loved the other man's heat
close to his own.

"You know what I'd really like?  A cigarette."  It was a strange
thought.  He hadn't smoked in years, certainly not since joining
Starfleet, and only once or twice before that.  In spite of that, it was
a real want, not quiet a craving, but he would have liked to taste the
small fire in his mouth and have the smoke spike through his lungs.

"I do not have to tell you how illogical that is."  More Vulcan almost-
laughter.  "The obvious hazard to your health should deter you even if
the semi-legal status of Terran tobacco within the Federation did not
give you pause."

It was as many words as Spock had said to him at one time since the
beginning of their shore leave.  He wanted suddenly to demand that Spock
talk to him.  But what could he say?  There wasn't any anger between
them, not even any real tenseness.  It was only, again,

//where are you beloved   why can I feel you but not touch you   I
haven't had you in my bed in weeks I want you I want to taste you   I
want your mouth on mine, your hot tongue and the smoke of your coffee
against my teeth   I want you I want you I want you to talk to me//

silence.  He was only tired of waiting for Spock to find the words he
was looking for.

What he said was, "I miss you."

Spock watched him, dark eyes sharp over the rim of his mug.  Kirk had
drawn his feet up onto the swing cushion so that he was almost totally
wrapped in the quilt.  His own coffee was warming both his hands, and he
was reluctant to give up even a little of that warmth by drinking it.  
He wasn't angry enough for a battle of wills, but he suddenly wanted to
challenge Spock's silence with his own.  It was enough to keep him from
saying anything as his lover set his cup down on the adjoining chair and
stood, walked around Kirk and studied him in the half-light that the
electrical flashes made.

Behind him, out of a mouth level with the back of Kirk's neck, Spock
said, "I have been thinking that you and I have been lovers for eight
years, and bondmates for five.  In spite of that, I frequently am at a
loss for how to approach you.  When I see you, I can see you as you have
been.  As you were on Epsilon Hydra, reading in the Terran restaurant
you found.  As you looked while ice-climbing on Tellar.  As you have
been several hundred times in the recreation rooms of the Enterprise, in
conversation with Lt. Sulu on the subject of Middle Kingdom poetry.  I
find myself wishing that I had studied the literary arts while I was a
child, so that I might record you like this."

Softly, "Spock."

"I have never told you this, but there are times when I love you so much
that I am sure, in spite of logic, that my heart has stopped."

He didn't have any answer for that.  He'd felt the sensation of it run
across the link thousands of times, but his lover had never spoken so
blatantly of emotion.  Spock was kneeling behind him, face level with
his neck.  Kirk could feel the other man's small movements as the dark
head dipped forward and he was kissed at the base of his skull.

"Spock."  Just a breath, this time.

Spock came around almost without rising and knelt beside the porch
swing.  Kirk was only vaguely aware that it was still raining; the
thunder was still a sound like steady, low breathing, but it was more
and more distant.

//love you//

The dark body leaned in and he pulled Spock hard against him.  God, he
hadn't had that contact in so long.  It flared across their connection,
drew Spock closer to him, even, so that they were pressed together along
the length of Kirk's side, all of him held against Spock's abdomen and
chest.  Just against his hip, Spock's heart was beating.  He shifted,
pulled his lover on top of him and kissed him hard.

Instant give, Spock's mouth on his, deep, deep, they hadn't kissed this
deeply in as long as he could remember.  Spock's knees on either side of
his hips were a reassuring pressure, holding him down.  They were still
kissing, mouths locked, and Kirk wondered, desperately, if he still
remembered how to breathe, whether he could tell which lungs were his
own.

//breathe t'hy'la//

//?//

//!// Psychic laughter.

Against Spock's shoulder, he whispered his whole name, the hundred
elaborate syllables that had been the first erotic touch between them.  
The first year they'd been lovers, Spock had taught it to him, sound by
sound, until he could speak it as easily as his own.

//love you Jim   beautiful golden-eyed alien what do you do to me//

He was hard, hammeringly so.  His erection was pressing hard against his
jeans, held against him by the weight of Spock's body on his, and he was
almost screaming from it.  He had both hands on Spock's back, holding
the man against him and questing under his clothes.  Such hot skin.  He
could count every vertebra in the spine, feel each rib branching away.  
Kirk shifted a little, enough to rock his hips against Spock's and beg
for release.  He was kissed again, quickly, without getting any hold on
his lover's mouth, and then Spock sat back and started peeling the denim
away from him.  He felt the flash of almost-priggish humour as Spock
discovered his nakedness underneath the trousers, and for a half a
second wanted to apologize, to explain how hot he'd been sleeping, that
he hadn't expected to be exposed in this small impropriety, that it had
just felt good and he'd wanted to be naked.  He wasn't able to give
anything more coherent than a moan when a moment later Spock bent and
kissed him just below his navel.

More touches.  Spock stripped him and sat back, fully clothed, between
Kirk's spread thighs.

//want you//

"Yessss."  It was as much a hiss as a word.  With his erection brushing
his belly, Kirk couldn't assemble anything coherent beyond desire.  

Abruptly, Spock shifted away from him.  He had a flash of cold before
the quilt was wrapped around him and Spock vanished into the house.  
Kirk was still questing after his lover's intention when the man came
back, padding silently across the threshold.  In the darkness, he was
simply a shape in the doorway, very still.  Kirk had to reach with his
mind as much as with his eyes to catch his lover's disrobing, though he
could just faintly hear the clothes pooling on the unvarnished porch
boards.

When Spock settled against him again, it was with the quilt between
them.  Through it, Spock traced the lines of his body.  Fingers probed
to make out his arms and his chest, the softness around his waist that
middle age was bringing.  He knew he had to be flushed, and he was
unreasonably grateful for the absence of light.  It hadn't crippled his
lover's touch.  Hot, dry hands settled around his ankles and ran
steadily up his legs, pushing the blanket aside, until he was naked to
the waist.  

Almost before the air touched him, he had Spock's body between his legs
and his lover's head bending to take him in.  Tongue against the
underside of his cock, warm breath in his pubic hair.  Spock cradled his
hips, letting Kirk thrust as urgently as he needed to.  He'd needed
this, he'd needed this so badly.  In the weeks of silence between them,
he'd been reluctant even to relieve his own needs, and he was suddenly
desperate.  

//love you Jim   love your voice   love your hands on my shoulders  your
fingers at the back of my neck   love the smell of you the taste of you
the way you move come for me//

He came, shouting harshly in the back of his throat, and let himself
thrash with Spock there to cradle him.  He relaxed only gradually,
settling back against the swing cushions, almost purring as Spock
stroked his hip gently.  He felt Spock release him, but the hot cheek
only pulled back far enough to rest against his thigh.  Across the bond,
he whispered, //still want you//

//.//

Spock shifted, re-wrapping Kirk in the blanket, and came up to kiss him.  
Kirk could taste himself in that mouth, but he was losing himself in the
heat of it, in the taste of coffee and something like smoke underneath.  
Kirk raised and spread his knees, shrugging the blanket off, and waited
like that until Spock slid a hand between them and pressed gently.  He
opened, but slowly; they hadn't made love in weeks.  He felt his lover
shift against him, and the next touch was slick.  He accepted the
finger, gasping a little as it pressed deeper, and wriggled against it
as he gradually relaxed.  The other man added a second, stretching him
very gently, and probed until he hit the correct angle and Kirk bucked
against the penetrating hand.  They were kissing again, as deeply as
they had when they were new lovers trying one another's limits, and he
had to have this, had to have it.  

He desperately needed the body between his legs to take him.  He raised
his knees higher and held himself open until he felt his lover's cock
pressing against his asshole.  For a dozen breaths it was too much, it
burned too intensely, and then he felt the intense pleasure he
remembered from other lovemakings flaring up from his hips to his eyes.  
Spock settled against him, shifted until Kirk's legs could wrap around
his waist, and then thrust once, hard.

Kirk didn't so much scream as shriek.  He didn't have breath for more,
no volume, just an expression of the flaring pleasure and the underlying
burn.  He couldn't imagine being cold, not with the dry fire of that
body against him and in him.  Spock re-angled and thrust again, bent his
long torso to kiss the man under him, and rocked them together until
Kirk started to buck for attention against him.  Without breaking
rhythm, he broke the kiss and leaned up enough that he could fit a hand
between them to stroke Kirk's rising erection.

//God yes   please//

The porch swing swayed almost violently with the strength of their
movements; at any other time he would have put a foot down to still
them, but he didn't want to let go.

//anything   anything anything for you anything you want//

The fingers against him felt too good.  He had to let go of the last of
his control and tremble his way through a second orgasm.  He'd only just
begun to breathe again when Spock's mouth locked onto his, hard, and
pushed air into his lungs, breathing for him through the kiss while his
lover thrust again, and once more, so hard Kirk's teeth shook, and came.

Kirk had to relax, eventually, and let his legs slide down.  The changes
in angle had demanded as much of his hips as any man his age had any
right to ask of his body.  Even without the clasp, Spock stayed resting
against him, and Kirk eventually found enough of the quilt that he could
throw it over them.  On the other side of the screens, it was still
raining, and the cooling sweat on his body made him frighteningly cold.

He was half asleep by the time Spock roused and kissed him.  It was
unlike Spock to have released control to that extent -- his reserve at
any other time would have demanded absolute discipline even in the
depths of their lovemaking.  Being touched like this in total relaxation
was a gift he'd seldom been allowed, and he let his gratitude for it
drift across their connection.

"Yes, t'hy'la."  Kiss at the corner of his mouth.  "However, I believe
that even with your quilt, the cold will shortly be uncomfortable for us
both."  Kiss just below his ear.  "Perhaps we should move," kiss between
his eyebrows, "indoors."

He hadn't realized how tangled they were or how stiff he was until he
went to sit up and nearly fell sideways.  He needed all of Spock's
support to get him to his feet and gently propel him into the house.  
Just at the doorway of the kitchen, though, he regained enough balance
to twist Spock and pin him against the wall.  After nearly an hour awake
in the darkness, he could see well enough to make out all but the
smallest details of his lover's face.  The expression didn't change, but
he hadn't expected it to.  It would have shifted little enough even in
the seconds before orgasm.  Only tiny shifts in the lines around the
almost-black eyes communicated his lover's tolerance and willingness to
wait and be studied.

In the instant after that, though, Spock's hands caught him, one at the
back of his neck and the other at the side of his face.  He was tilted
towards the small light coming through the kitchen windows, and then the
one hand traced down his cheekbone to his jaw.

//you are still there//

//?//

//when I first met you, you were a boy of thirty   I can see him in
you//

Later, he didn't remember climbing the stairs, only the process of
shutting off the fan and arranging his body against Spock's on the bed.  
When he finally settled, they were spooned with Spock in front of him
and his hand on Spock's side to feel the alien heart beating.  The
breeze from the open window shifted across the blankets, making Spock
shiver a little as he settled and eventually slept.  Kirk stayed awake,
resting between Spock's body and the wall, listening to it rain.  Once
he felt Spock's dreams start, he freed a hand to run across the other
man's features, trying to memorize them by touch alone.