Beyond Dreams 6

From In Any Universe by Deanna Gray

Kirk arose an hour earlier than usual, so he was showered, dressed, and ready by the time the soft chime rang to wake him.

After three weeks on medical leave he was anxious to return to duty. In his opinion he could have gone back several days ago, but McCoy would not be budged, making comments on how lucky he was to have been released to his quarters the last few days.

Kirk studied himself in the mirror. He was a little thinner but that was all right. He looked and felt healthy again. There was no sign that he’d almost died after that zulaac had mauled him. Lasering him back into one piece had been the easy part; the blood loss and subsequent infection from the animal’s claws were what had complicated his recovery.

But McCoy had pulled him through again. And Spock. Kirk smiled. Spock had played a major role in his rapid recovery, spending hours in sickbay with him while holding down the three top posts on the ship.

His recollection of the days his body had burned with fever was poor, but he did remember a soothing presence nearby, which later he’d learned was the Vulcan, stationing himself by his captain’s bedside whenever he was off-duty. After the fever broke and his recovery was underway Spock was still there, bringing him news of the ship, playing chess, or just sitting in companionable silence. Once Spock had even brought his lyre and given him a private performance.

Spock had helped him escape from sickbay as well, promising McCoy to check up on him often. And the Vulcan had made good on his word, keeping him company and not letting him do too much too soon.

There wasn’t another captain in Starfleet that had a first officer like his. They had forged a friendship that was close and special, and Kirk was grateful for it. Life on the Enterprise was rich and challenging but not always easy, and Kirk was glad that Spock was by his side for all of it.

His mind turned again to the end of the mission, as it had so often these last few months. There were only four months left—what would happen once they returned to Earth? Kirk knew he wanted to stay in space, but the odds were high he would be given a promotion and possibly a ground posting. Captaining a starship was what he did best, and he was prepared to fight for another command. But what about Spock? The Vulcan had never mentioned the end of their tour together, and Kirk hadn’t either. He was pretty certain Spock would prefer to stay in space. But in what capacity would he serve? It was possible Starfleet would offer Spock a command of his own. Would Spock accept it, despite his claims of preferring scientific duties? Would HQ let him refuse?

The simple, disturbing fact was that unless they were both posted to the same ship or to similar ground assignments, they would hardly see each other. His hands balled into fists and his muscles tensed as if preparing for a fight. He would not allow that to happen. He couldn’t contemplate life without Spock. The vehemence and determination behind his resolution didn’t surprise him as much as made him nervous. There was such an intensity lately between him and Spock, like they were on the edge of something, some new truth between them, but he wasn’t sure he was ready to acknowledge it.

Kirk shook his thoughts away, chiding himself for them. There was still time before they returned to Earth, and at least two or three months of debriefing following that. Later there would be time for such decisions. Right now he had a ship to run.

Glancing at the chronometer, Kirk decided he would head for sickbay early for his final clearance. If he hurried, he could meet Spock in the mess and they could have breakfast together.

Kirk left his cabin and walked the corridors of his ship. His step was light and his good mood restored. He was not going to let worries about the future bother him today. All he wanted to do was get back on the bridge where he belonged.

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From Your Move by Dreadnought

Kirk looked up from his scrutiny of the chessboard to study his opponent instead. Spock had lost a record two matches in a row and his unusually determined air indicated he did not intend to lose a third. The austere Vulcan lifted his hand as if to move his knight from level three, then rested it again on the table, an event Kirk had never before witnessed. It brought a teasing smile to his face.

“Your attempts at distraction will not affect your chances in this game, Captain.”

“What! My smiling distracts you?” Kirk asked, incredulous. A few grins from nearby observing tables in the recreation room joined Kirk’s.

Spock crossed his arms. “Indeed not, Captain,” came the indignant reply. “I am simply trying to save you the trouble of the attempt.” His eyes never left the board, where he finally moved a bishop on level two to the far corner of the same level where it would protect his next move of his pawn on level one.

“Smiling at you is no trouble, Spock,” Kirk said. The gold braid on his sleeve caught the light as he moved a knight down two levels. “Check.”

A raised eyebrow accompanied the Vulcan’s settling back to restudy the board. Kirk almost felt sorry for his friend: he was about to lose a third. Kirk had learned to read Spock faster than the Vulcan had learned to adapt his play and Kirk had been taking maximum advantage.

The comm whistled. “Bridge to Captain.”

Kirk stood and thumbed the comm stud on the nearby wall. “Kirk here.”

“Additional orders from Starfleet have just arrived, sir. As well, Commodore Mendez requests a channel to you.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant, I’ll take the comm in my quarters.” As he closed the connection Spock’s voice floated over to him.

“It is your move now, Captain.”

“Queen to Knight level one, Spock,” was Kirk’s reply as he started for the rec room door without even seeing the other’s move. He turned at the door in time to watch the other straighten in realization. “Mate in two?” Kirk asked for confirmation.

Spock nodded and stood, still studying the board. He finally met Kirk’s look of sly sympathy, if that is a combination one can believe possible.

In his quarters Kirk acknowledged the additional orders: a four-day stopover on Brendi Two for what appeared to be a routine check of the Federation colony there. At least the stopover was long enough to get some of the crew on leave. Kirk’s thumb traced his teeth unconsciously as he attempted to read between the lines of the orders. No political, economical, biological or even geological anomalies were listed in the most recent entries for the Brendi System or its neighboring systems.

Mendez was no more illuminating. The commodore only added to the mystery by insisting that Kirk attend a formal opening of some or another institute of research. Kirk agreed to it with less reservation than normal: a dearth of recent social events had lowered his resistance to the prospect.

The door chimed. “Come,” Kirk commanded as he popped the order tape out of the reader slot and stood up. Spock entered carrying a computer notepad. The usual affectionate smile lit Kirk’s face.

“If I may, Captain, obtain your permission to run the weapons drills?” Spock held out the padd for Kirk to read.

Kirk took it from him, his gaze resting just a moment too long on his First. The outline described a standard set of drills. “Looks okay.” He started to hand the unit back then paused, setting the padd on its end on the desk and resting his hand on it. “No hard feelings?” Kirk asked in a teasing voice.

“Captain?” Spock retorted in a tone of disbelief.

Kirk grinned and sat down. He and Spock had fallen into such a comfortable friendship, one Kirk would never have imagined having with an officer, especially not a Vulcan one. Even with Bones he felt a constant desire to censor himself on some topics, but not with Spock.

Kirk studied the other, standing patiently, waiting for his padd to be returned.

Something was changing between them. Kirk hadn’t dared dwell on it, but it was there. An air of expectation seemed to vibrate around them when they were alone together, as they were now.

Spock’s eyebrow rose in continued patient question at the delay. Kirk relented and handed the padd across the desk. He then rocked back in his chair and steepled his fingers across his lap and waited for Spock to ask if he was dismissed. He didn’t ask right away. Your move, Mr. Spock.

“Is there anything else I can assist you with, Captain?” Spock asked finally. Kirk sat with an attitude of self-centered inner knowledge—the same body language he projected in battle when he had worked out a tactic he knows will be successful

Kirk’s eyes sparkled. He shook his head. “No. You can go.”

Spock bowed his head slightly, his dark gaze studying Kirk an instant before he turned and departed. For his part, Kirk’s gaze passed over the Vulcan’s lean backside before the doors sealed, obscuring him. Kirk shook himself and turned his attention back to his terminal.

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From Guarantees by A.T. Bush

Kirk breezed into McCoy’s office, surprised to find the doctor directly by the door—beside a variety of instruments arrayed on a standby cart. “Uh oh,” he muttered under his breath. Spock was not going to like this visit one bit. Not that he ever did.

“Aft’noon, gentlemen.” McCoy smiled pleasantly. Falsely. He was about to try to outwit the best captain and first officer in Starfleet.

“Bones?” Kirk moved as far away as possible in the small office.

Barely inside, Spock swallowed hard and forced himself to stay put. “Doctor?” Physical control slipped and sweat began to pop out.

“Right on time. I wanted to talk to you both. But first….”

After locking the door, McCoy selected the largest scanner either had ever seen and proceeded to slowly move the multi-function sensor from the top of the sleek head to the top of the black boots.

Spock gritted his teeth and remained stoically silent and motionless. His friends had already risked everything for him, and he owed them his total cooperation.

“Hmm….” McCoy put the instrument away and gestured to the two chairs. “Have a seat, Jim, Spock.”

Kirk gaped in surprise. “Is that all you’re going to do to him?”

Spock shot Kirk a dirty look but kept quiet.

Kirk realized how insensitive the unthinking comment had sounded to his friend. “I didn’t mean I want him to hurt you, Spock. It’s just that sometimes—most of the time—his exams are…are….”

“Painful? Invasive?” Spock was taking a big risk offering even a few complaints.

“Boys! Boys! I do try to stay current with the latest medical technology.” McCoy gestured to the loaded cart.

“Rattles and bones,” Spock muttered.

More than hearing him, Kirk read his lips. “Spock! For god’s sake, shut up!” Kirk didn’t want either of them instigating one of the infamous exams.

Spock didn’t acknowledge Kirk’s agitation. “Your diagnosis, Doctor?”

McCoy took his time circling his desk, deliberately waiting until both sat before slipping into his chair. “To put it bluntly, your hormone levels are damned near the same as before, but I think you already know that, Spock.” McCoy waited for the hesitant but confirming nod. “I’m assuming the psychological compunction—the mental link—being mentally drawn to her is gone?” McCoy still didn’t fully understand the definition he had read in the Vulcan data.

Spock nodded again, allowing himself to feel immense relief at being free of T’Pring. For as long as he managed to live.

“Also I’m assuming you can have sex—mate—with anyone you choose now?”

Kirk held still, afraid to call attention to his presence during this intensely personal discussion. Then again, they were all in this together. He prayed that McCoy would not even mention the unsuitable Nurse Chapel. He could think of no acceptable crew….

“I am capable, if certain parameters are met—a totally passive, compliant, non-threatening….” Spock glanced at his friend, sensing a surge of deep concern for him. Jim had “died” for him so that he could live. He was unworthy of the sacrifice. He vowed to banish embarrassment and be open, honest.

“Ideally, you should be with someone you love and who loves and wants you,” McCoy said flatly and looked directly, pointedly, at the unnaturally motionless Jim Kirk. After a long, pregnant pause, he turned to the sweating Vulcan and raised a brow in imitation of the one already vaulted sky-high. Spock knew exactly whom he meant.

“Using—inflicting my—” Shocked by McCoy’s audacity, Spock automatically began to refuse. McCoy raised a silencing hand, as effective as an authoritative kroykah.

Astonished, speechless, Kirk glared at his human friend. McCoy had just disclosed a late night confession of his. At first meeting, he had been intensely sexually attracted to the exotic alien. As they became friends, a deep affection had grown in him.

“Jim, are you willing to help your friend in the most intimate way possible?” McCoy was blatantly putting both of them on the spot. “And Spock, are you willing to accept his help?”

Spock didn’t dare look at his captain. Kirk’s expression of disgust would devastate him. “Females….”

Kirk squirmed tellingly. Apparently, more of his own secrets were to be revealed than vice versa. “Actually, I’m omni-sexual. I’ve always considered myself an explorer—in sexual areas, too.”

Spock’s blank expression slowly cleared. “I believe I see.” Omni?

“Jim’s the walkin’ example of that ol’ try-anything joke.” McCoy vividly recalled the inter-sexed female with the over-developed clitoris. They had both “explored” her—and she had enjoyed it, too.

“Bones, please! Don’t embarrass Spock any further. Or me!” Kirk felt his face pulsing hot.

“All right, Jim. But I see no workable alternative. And believe me, I’ve considered everything and everyone. It’s gotta be you, Jim.”

“Out of the question!” Spock stated firmly. “No!” Adamantly.

Kirk blinked, feelings hurt by the stern rejection. “Be reasonable. I’m willing. I thought you cared for me, Spock.”

Spock quickly reached out, regretting his cruel harshness. “I do,” he blurted and just as quickly withdrew his shaking hand. His worsening condition was obvious to anyone with eyes.

McCoy considerately ignored the emotional slip. Spock was pitifully vulnerable in every way. He cleared his throat officiously. “Then it’s settled. I’ve authorized medical leave for the travel time to Altair.” McCoy calmly met the two glares. A CMO could not be easily intimidated. “Well, it’s not like either of you has anything important to do for the next few days.”

Spock opened his mouth, thought better of a stinging rebuke, and shut up. If he lived, the contemplation of retaliation….

Kirk didn’t dare even open his mouth. McCoy had them and he knew it.

McCoy cut both of them off. “It’s the logical solution. Damned if it ain’t the best remedy I’ve come up with lately.”

Kirk lowered his head, hiding his eyes behind his hand, sorting through his own feelings.

“Doctor, you might very well be prescribing the end of our—Jim’s and my—friendship.” Guilt often doomed relationships. His own guilt.

Kirk instantly straightened in his chair. “Hell no! I won’t let that happen, no matter what. Besides, now that I’ve had a moment to think about it—it’s the only logical solution. Spock! Do you realize that this is probably the first time McCoy has ever conceived a logical idea?”

“Indeed. Unprecedented.”

McCoy was overwhelmed with relief by their familiar interaction. His gamble had paid off. Time for his act. “Well! I don’t take kindly to insults to my intelligence. I’m real tempted to kick ya’ll’s butts out of my sickbay.”

Kirk forced a grin. “Not without a thorough briefing. I—we—want to know everything you know about pon farr. What to expect, when to expect it, etcetera.”

McCoy shrugged, on the spot. “I’ve blackmailed the Surgeon General’s staff to release as much information as they will. My ass is probably goin’ to be in a sling over it, too.” The grin belied his concern. “Spock, you got anything?”

Kirk looked over at a telling frown. “I have a hunch Spock doesn’t know any more than you do, Bones.”

“And possibly much less,” Spock revealed, sotto voce. He had left Vulcan before he reached sexual maturity, his education sadly lacking. He had been deliberately and dangerously remiss in not rectifying his ignorance. Procrastination….

Kirk’s only real concern was the return of the deadly plak tow. Spock’s violent attack had scared the shit out of him! He knew himself fully capable of handling the sexual aspects. “As long as the plak tow doesn’t return, and I certainly won’t be challenging Spock.”

“Unlikely to recur. If no aggravations occur and hormones are expelled expeditiously.”

The two humans recognized the “shut up and fuck” imperative.

Kirk studied the uneasy expression. It was time to ask the hard question. “How did you intend to cope with this? Eventually?”

Spock gulped and shrugged one shoulder. “I was hoping….” He trailed off, too mortified to offer pitiful excuses. Just an hour ago, he had vaguely considered contacting a pleasure house on Altair. Then, uncharacteristically, he had vacillated between incipient panic and depressed resignation.

McCoy shook his head in utter dismay. “You can’t control this condition. And I thought humans were the optimistic idiots of the galaxy! No miraculous remission this time, Spock.”

Spock silently endured the well-deserved scolding. “So I have discovered. Shall we review the data you possess?” His uncomfortable physical condition as well as his curiosity would stand for no more delay.

McCoy swiveled the computer screen toward them and activated the pertinent files. “Read all of this, even if it doesn’t seem relevant. I gotta check on Simon’s leg.” He withdrew to let them read together in private.

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From Hero Worship by Bersakhi

You bucked and rocked beneath me as they watched. I could feel the rage welling up inside me, ready to burst.

What was it that you had said to me earlier? “Size, shape or color doesn’t matter to us.” You’d said it with such warmth, meant just for me, that I did not know how to respond. I was enraptured by your image, your friendship, what you represented. All that you are, I am not. Until you came, no one had cared for poor Alexander. It didn’t matter to you that I was a dwarf, a slave. All those years I had been treated like a buffoon, a plaything, and the tediousness of my chores had led me to believe I was capable of little else. They made me participate in their games of life and made me feel constantly afraid. I did not care what happened to me anymore. But look what they were doing to you, my beautiful one.

You reared up and I clutched your neck as sickness began to overwhelm me. That was the moment I began to harbor a darker feeling, and I could no longer hold it in.

“I’m ashamed to be a Platonian! Ashamed!”

But Parmen was just lying there beside Philana, the both of them smirking at us, entirely amused by the antics they forced upon us. I held on as you were made to rear up again and make ridiculous horse sounds. But I felt most sorry for the other one, Spock, tossed aside to deal with the emotional outburst forced from him. McCoy had said such an outburst could kill him. This I cannot understand, but all I know is that they were trying to make him into something he isn’t, just like they had been doing to me for years.

I will never forget the way Spock looked at you when he began to cry in anguish. I stood by helplessly as you tried to reach him, encouraging him to hold on. “Don’t let them break you,” you urged. I couldn’t watch but I couldn’t look away. I had seen glimpses of what was between the two of you from the start. You showed me such compassion, and you barely knew me! Yet that was nothing compared to what was between you and your Vulcan friend. The moment I witnessed was powerful and made me feel a strange pang, for now I see that was when I began to love you, too. It took no time at all for me to fall for you, your inner strength, your outer beauty.

All of this was made a mockery as you bucked under me like a horse for the amusement of those animals. I did not expect anything further to happen after my outburst; even Parmen bores of his own attempts at entertainment. But I was wrong.

“How can you let this go on, Doctor?” Parmen’s voice was oozing with blackness, evil.

In despair I looked up at McCoy. You can stop this! I tried to shout, but my vocal cords were no longer under my control, punishment for my condemnation of them. I recalled my earlier words. “Let the Platonians die! One scratch, Doctor….” But you had told McCoy, ordered him, pleaded even, to not give in. “No matter what they make us do!” you said. But did you really know what they were capable of?

Parmen must have grown weary then as suddenly the whole circus ended and I slid off you. You were heaving with exhaustion, with fury. I could not even look at you. I’d hoped my hand on your shoulder would let you know how I felt. But it fell away when you crawled over to Spock. I ached watching you hold him, ached for you not out of jealousy but out of wonder at this love so openly displayed. I should have known then that Parmen would exploit that, too.

You bent your forehead to his, speaking words so softly I could not hear, and you slowly rose as if gathering strength. Then Spock was standing, steady. You were close to him but not touching and your eyes didn’t even waste time with Parmen. They went straight to McCoy. You said simply, “No matter what,” in a voice so quiet and meaningful I almost burst with pride to know someone with such conviction. Complacency and ease had made my masters blobs of flesh. And here you were after this ridiculous display, brimming with all that made humanity great: purpose, strength of will, perseverance.

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From Ease Into Love by kira-nerys

When Spock reached the house, it was still empty. No one answered the doorbell, but he entered, remembering the captain’s firm invitation that it would be all right for him to do so at any time. Moving through the house, he noticed that it consisted of two bedrooms and a large living room, apart from the evidently well-stocked kitchen. The cottage was fairly large, with windows on all four sides, and it was cool inside although the sun was shining from a sky as blue as his science shirt. Spock dropped his bag in the middle of the living room and swallowed. It seemed he would get some respite before having to explain to his captain why he had changed his mind.

It was not too late to turn around and go back to the Enterprise—or find some other way to…. Spock rubbed his face, as if that would take away the tension. He didn’t look forward to this conversation, but he’d never considered himself a coward, and he wouldn’t start acting like one now. He’d made up his mind, and he would follow his determination. McCoy was right. It must be better to know.

He would not put himself through the ordeal of binding himself to another again, not before finding out if the one he truly wanted was there for him. He had believed that he would have more time to prepare himself, to prepare Jim. The last few months had not been pleasant. Denying to himself that something was wrong, trying to keep the truth hidden even from himself, had been difficult, and in the end he had been unsuccessful. He should have learned from his mistake the first time. Ignoring pon farr was not the way to solve anything.

Crossing the spacious living room, he concluded that the cottage was a beautiful place, comfortable and pleasing to the eye. The carpet was white, as was the sofa covered with navy blue and off-white pillows. Large and U-shaped, it took up most of the room. It was placed before a large 3D vid-set and Spock was sure that one could get most Federation channels on it.

Two doors behind the sofa led to the bedrooms. They were both larger than his quarters on the Enterprise and the beds were what humans called king-size. If he got what he wanted, one of them would not be touched…. His mouth went dry at the thought of Jim sprawled naked and wanton on the bed. The heat that gathered in his belly was strong, but not as debilitating as the plak tow. He still had time, a few days or maybe as much as a week.

Spock closed his eyes and willed the image of Jim away. There was no sense in dreaming about things that might never be. Perhaps the day would end with him returning to the Enterprise. Perhaps he would have to go to Vulcan and find another mate—a woman as cold as T’Pring. His guts twisted at the thought, but he would rather do that, and live to share his life with Jim as his friend, than die. He’d been on the Enterprise for almost fifteen years, but it was only during the last three, serving under James T. Kirk, that he could admit to himself that he viewed the starship as his home.

Was it really worth saying anything to Jim if it meant that Spock ended up having to leave? Would it not be best to return to Vulcan immediately, while there was still time?

Spock entered the untouched bedroom. Jim Kirk had already made himself at home in the other. Spock had peeked inside, and Jim’s clothes were strewn all over the bed. The bag lay, still half-packed, at the edge, flung open as though Jim had rummaged through it until he found his swimming trunks and had not wanted to wait another second before venturing into the warm, inviting sun.

Spock gazed out the window. A small sliver of the beach peeked through the thick bushes just at the end of the lush garden. The sand was white as ivory, and the waves were golden-flecked blue in the sunlight. It was absolutely beautiful, a paradise even Spock had to admire. He decided to change clothes and at least try to make a pretense at being relaxed. Jim would probably not appreciate it if he showed up on the beach still wearing his uniform. He might even think Spock had come to call him back to the ship.

Pulling out a pair of jeans Jim had given him a long time ago, and a sleeveless shirt, Spock changed quickly, opting to leave the bag where it was. There was no point in getting comfortable, in case….

Spock tightened the belt around his slim waist and was ready to go. He decided against wearing shoes. If the sand on this beach were anything like the sand of his home world, it would seep into every crevice. It would be most uncomfortable. Besides, Jim would approve if he were barefoot. Jim was after all a sensualist. Spock admitted to himself how much he wanted to find out just how sensual Jim Kirk could be under the right circumstances.

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From Storm Tossed by Elise Madrid

They didn’t notice the storm until the first rumbling of thunder drew their attention. The light breeze that heralded its approach had been welcomed after the warmth of the day. But now the clouds were rapidly building and Kirk knew they were in for a big one. He wound his way through the guests looking for his mother. He had left Spock in the capable hands of Jake Edwards, the local vet. The man was almost as insatiably curious as Spock, and the two were in the middle of a discussion that had left Kirk totally at sea. He glanced at the sky when he caught the flash of lightning out of the corner of his eye.

Kirk found his mother in the kitchen. She was taking more food out to restock empty platters. “You might think about putting that away. There’s a storm coming.”

She looked up in dismay. But Kirk could tell she had already been upset. Her eyes were slightly reddened and there was a tightness around her mouth. “What’s wrong?”

She put the container she had been struggling with down and tried to push past him. “Nothing. I’ll go tell our guests.”

“Wait a minute.” He grabbed her arm to stop her flight. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“Nothing. It’s just….” She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling.

“Mom? What is it?” Kirk took her in his arms.

She hesitantly brought her arms around him. “Everything is going wrong. I wanted you to really enjoy your stay. But all we’ve done is argue, and now the party is ruined….”

“Hey.” He lifted her chin. “Nothing’s ruined. We’ll just bring the party inside, that’s all. And as for arguing…it’ll be fine. I promise you.”

“Jim, I want you to be happy. You know that, don’t you?”

Kirk smiled and kissed his mother’s forehead. “I know that, Mom.” He drew away and wrapped an arm over her shoulders, leading her outside. “Come on. Let’s get everyone inside.”

Several people were already gathering up their things when they walked out the door. While his mother directed their guests in, Kirk looked around for his lover.

¤¤¤¤

“I really have to thank you for letting me pick your brain, Mr. Spock. It’s not often that I get the opportunity to discuss anything with a fellow scientist,” Jack Edwards said enthusiastically.

“It was my pleasure, Dr. Edwards. But though I am fascinated with the work being done in the field of genetic manipulation, it is not my specialty.”

“Could have fooled me. You know more about the latest research in animal husbandry than any four of my colleagues combined.”

The two men walked slowly back to the gathering. They had taken advantage of the quiet and calm the barn offered to further their discussion. But the wind that had started to gust through the building had sent them on their way.

The doctor studied the sky. “It looks like we’re in for a rough ride. That’s too bad. It’s going to spoil Winona’s party. She really worked hard to set everything up.”

“Do you know her well, Doctor?”

Dr. Edwards nodded. “Yeah. I’ve spent many a day and night here, caring for one of her sick animals. Nothing’s too good for them as far as she’s concerned. She’s a remarkable woman.” He looked at Spock. “You two getting along?” There was a note of more than idle curiosity in his voice.

Spock hesitated slightly. “She is, as you say, a remarkable woman.”

“But you don’t get along—no, you don’t have to answer that. I already know what you’ll say.” The older man sighed. “Winona has so much invested in that son of hers. She’s had a hard time accepting, well, the way he is with….” The doctor’s voice quieted.

“I assume you mean his…relationship with me,” Spock responded stiffly. “I was not aware it was common knowledge.”

“Oh, no. It’s not. But Winona’s needed someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on. I’m not saying she’s right, but it really bothers her. She wants her son back, and you’re in the way far as she can see. It’s nothing personal against you.”

“I am aware of her difficulties. But she must realize that her son would never be content on Earth. It is not his way.”

“I’ve tried to tell her that. Hasn’t done much good.” The human wiped his face and scanned the sky. “We’d better hurry. They’re going to need help getting everything put away.”

The two men rejoined the party just as the first drops of rain began to fall. Spock was gathering the chairs and piling them on the front porch when he saw Kirk approaching.

Kirk came up on the porch. “We’re moving inside.”

“I assumed so.” Spock surveyed the sky. “It is intensifying rapidly.”

“Storms have a tendency to do that this time of year.” Kirk turned to go. “I’m going to help my mom get the rest of the food inside, then I’m going in. Don’t stay out here too long.”

“I need only finish stacking these remaining chairs. I will be in shortly.” He returned to his work, but his attention was drawn back to the sky when it suddenly blazed with light. Seconds later, the sound of thunder rolled across. Spock frowned. The lightning was only a few miles away.

He finished his task and entered the house. The front room was filled with people. Some sat with plates on their laps, talking loudly between bites of food. Others milled about the too small house and complained about being forced indoors. Spock gradually made his way through. He passed the entry to the parlor and scanned the room. More people crowded the area, but there was no sign of Kirk.

The kitchen, by comparison, was relatively empty. A handful of women were helping Winona Kirk set out trays of food in the narrow room. The back door was open, and the sound of rain accompanied their soft chatter. Spock approached Jim’s mother. “Do you know where Jim is, Mrs. Kirk?”

She startled at his nearness, but her demeanor towards him had changed slightly. She seemed less ill at ease in his presence. “He’ll be right back.”

Spock blinked in surprise. Back from where? But he was reluctant to ask the woman for more information. He did not wish to inadvertently antagonize her again. Another clap of thunder dimmed the lights. For no reason he could ascertain, Spock suddenly felt uneasy. It gave him the impetus to push for answers. “Where did he go?”

“Mrs. Hatcher left her purse on one of the tables. Jim went to get it.”

“Jim is outside?” Spock asked in alarm.

“He won’t be long. The table isn’t that far away….”

Spock reacted instantly. He turned and hurried to the back door. He almost made it. But then the windows of the house filled with an unearthly glow as lightning crackled across the sky and the roar of thunder drowned out all sound. Spock felt a strange sensation in his mind, like a balloon popping. And then his world went black.

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From Starbase Eighteen by Katherine Cooke

A human heart beat slowly in the body pressed against him and the sigh of regular breaths made a cool patch on his skin.

Spock did not sleep. He lay and felt the weight of the head against his shoulder and the slack limbs entangled with his own. He smelled the cocktail of bodily aromas, Vulcan and human.

Stroking his face against the sleeping head, Spock tightened the clasp of his arms around his captain’s body. Precious, precious time. He would not waste these hours sleeping, not when there were such sensations to experience and memories to savour.

Like the memory of Jim’s words of love and surrender. The feeling it gave Spock, remembering, was more than pleasure or happiness. Lazily, he examined the concepts. He had known these emotions, certainly, in their short time as lovers and sometimes in the months leading up to this astonishing change in their relationship.

Pleasure was Jim’s smile at breakfast, his hand on Spock’s arm, supporting or claiming, the hard pressure of Jim’s organ moving inside Spock’s body. And happiness…. Spock considered carefully. Perhaps, Jim’s look of acknowledgement when Spock had assisted him on the bridge. His sleeping body in Spock’s bed gave happiness.

But remembering Jim’s words last night, soft yet firm with choice: surely, this feeling was joy. He closed his eyes, not unaware of the irony. The experience he now treasured above all else arose from human emotion. He could love.

More accurately, he could recognise the love which he had felt for a very long time, and name it with confidence. He had thought friendship and the devotion he gave to his duty were all there was to offer the man who fascinated and enchanted him. Then Jim had shown him there could be intimacy he’d never even considered. Spock wondered about that; he realised he hadn’t believed Kirk could want him and had therefore tried not to think about it. Illogical and erroneous.

All his loneliness, his weary quest for some integrated sense of himself and his place in the universe had led him here, to the bliss of Jim’s arms and the solace of his mind.

Jim had surprised him by offering his body so unequivocally. In human culture, the act of intercourse was laden with symbolism. That Jim could trust him enough to allow it told Spock two things: first, that he was indeed highly valued by his beloved and second, that Jim’s generosity of spirit was even greater than Spock had thought. Knowing this just made Spock love him more.

He stroked the cool skin beneath his hands, somehow knowing Kirk would feel his touch without waking. Perhaps the tenderness would filter through his dreams.

In fifteen hours the ship would drop Kirk and himself at Starbase Eighteen and then continue on for three weeks under Scott’s command. Spock estimated he had five-point-two hours remaining in which to watch over Jim’s sleep.

Spock thought about the beauty of the melds he and Jim had shared since they had become lovers. He had been very careful because Jim was human. Spock had felt the wonder in his lover’s thoughts as the mental isolation that was natural to Jim’s species had been gently lifted away. It had shaken Jim on a spiritual level as they explored further together and Spock began to show him that other dimension of experience a Vulcan took for granted, encapsulated in the word Nome: the All.

Not rushing the process, Spock had first let their minds embrace very tentatively. The closeness between them was deepening and spreading, he felt it daily, their minds growing naturally toward the state he desired above all things, when they would become one.

Finally succumbing to temptation, Spock dropped his mind-shields and allowed his thoughts to touch the sleeping human’s, quietly, taking care not to wake his love. He basked in the unique aura for thirty-seven minutes and knew a soul-deep peace he thought he might have been searching for all his life: belonging.