Chapter 41 - Dress Uniform, Part 2

Spock sat in his too quiet dorm room attempting to reread for the fourth time the 21st century Martian Colony short work entitled Hills Like Moon Landers, Elephants Like Pole Ice. If someone had generated a random collection of phrases, it might have accidentally contained more meaning for Spock. The possibility that this work held less meaning than random phrases at least strongly implied intelligent, systematic input into its creation.

Spock could not concentrate deeply for as long as he usual could. He kept remembering the aura of Kelia's touch upon Kirk, perhaps unnaturally heightened by his own priestly sensitivity. Perhaps humans barely perceived her aura, although he was certain Kirk noticed it.

Spock was unable to imagine Kirk would accept anyone else's attentions, but it bothered him simply to know that she was still near Kirk. Spock longed to go where Kirk was, to insert himself between them. Very soon, Spock wouldn't have that option. Better to perfect coping with the idea now, while the choice was present and control a real thing to be practiced. Spock considered meditating, but worried that might not constitute practicing control. He calmed his anxious energy and worked on his Propulsion assignment instead.

It was just after twenty one hundred when the door to his dorm room slid open. Kirk leaned on the door jam, still golden and aglow with medals. He brought the scent of the Academy mess and alcohol into the room.

"All right if I come in?" he asked.

Spock noticed the liveliness of his eyes, assumed the question was intended to be a greeting.

"Of course, James."

Kirk stepped inside, let the door swish closed behind him. He flipped down the bunk and sat on it opposite Spock at the desk. Spock sensed a staticky yet fatigued membrane in Kirk's body as he moved.

Spock could not hold back. "Is she partly Deltan? That is Lt. Grange's theory."

"No. Based on past experience, I think one hundred percent Rigellian. Some of them are that good. Deltans keep it to themselves, or take a hint."

Kirk reached down to tug each boot off, put his stocking feet up on the bunk, knees bent. His medals bunched together, clinked.

"She was working only on me. No one else paid much attention to her, especially given her looks. That's another reason I'm pretty sure Rigellian. They can create negative attention at will. Too. Deltans are one-hundred percent positive attention."

"I was not aware of any of this."

"Starfleet doesn't cover it in Cultures. I think they assume you'll learn it on shore leave."

"I see."

"How'd the talk seem to you?"

"Appropriate. Lt. Grange grudgingly approved of it. Did you hear from Lt. Ducal?"

This cut through the strangely active fatigue pulling Kirk's limbs down. "I did. He said his report to the admiral would be positive, especially fielding the question about Pritchard." Kirk looked around the room. "I was just being honest. It's a potential weakness needing to believe in something, but it's really what we are."

Spock stood and joined Kirk on the bunk. He tucked one of his stocking feet under his other leg to sit comfortably sideways. He could feel a difference just being a few feet closer. Light years of separation over an extended time period was going to be displeasing.

"I think you are worn down," Spock said.

Kirk straightened. "I'm trying to resist. But I know I'm going to fail and am incredibly relieved to know I'm going to fail." Kirk sniffled and looked around again. "I don't know what my problem is. Why I'm resisting."

"May I guess?"

Kirk's moist lips crinkled into a painful smile. "Sure."

"You continually set higher expectations for yourself so that you can fail to meet them."

Kirk shifted his shoulders as if uncomfortable and resettled his arms on his bent knees. His dress uniform made silky sounds when it moved.

"Maybe. I also worry as much as I ever have that I can mess this up royally. Nothing I'm used to applies with you and I feel like I've barely learned anything." He stared straight ahead. "And I can't mess this up."

Kirk bit his lips and held them. "I got my orders and my transport already. I'm departing in ten days. I've never felt so at a loss and so certain that I'm doing the right thing in my life."

They looked at each other.

Kirk spread his hands. "I'd like to hold you . . ."

Spock didn't move. "But?"

Kirk bent his head, grimaced. "I've been suffering. Have been for what seems like hours." He laughed through his nose and shifted back against the wall at the head of the bunk, parted his knees, which showed off the sheen of the stripes on the insides of his dress pant legs. He made a noise of frustration.

"Would you like a count of how many times we have been intimate?" Spock said.

"I can count. You're missing the point."

"No, I am not." Spock switched his voice to soft, let it reflect his affection. "It is all one thing. You insist upon striving for the unreachable."

Kirk looked away, his face went from annoyed to resigned. "I have to."

"I understand this. And accept it." Spock put one hand on Kirk's ankle and one on his foot. "I also wish to be with you. Very much so. Can you understand and accept that?"

Kirk smiled wryly, nodded. He lifted his hands and held them out in invitation.

Spock levered up on a knee to get closer, took hold of Kirk's hips and physically moved him down the bunk, pushed him flat when he tried to sit up.

Kirk held his hands out to the sides and looked up in surprise at Spock looming over him, straddling him on his knees, one hand on Kirk's sternum, pressing moderately, but Kirk suspected it would press harder if he tried to sit up again.

"It was surprisingly difficult to remain here in my room this evening," Spock said with no expression.

Kirk let his arms fall at his sides. "You managed."

Spock nodded, gaze distant. "I needed to prove I could. Very soon, I will not have the option of being present."

"I'm entirely yours, Spock."

Spock's hand relaxed on Kirk's ribcage. "That was not at issue, interestingly enough. It is not trust. It is something else."

Spock drew his hand down Kirk's dress uniform tunic. Kirk tilted his head back in anticipation. Kelia's tantric aura had triggered pure animal need in him. But even as Kirk's body had responded, his desire had emptied. As if this part of himself wasn't his to give away anymore.

Kirk closed his eyes. These hands knew him, moved without hesitation. When he tried to move, Kirk was restrained. Spock took his time, held him back. He knew him far too well, it seemed. Kirk only gave in and relaxed when it no longer mattered.

Spock rose up and considered Kirk, eyes bright, possessive. Kirk had never seen such a look from him.

"You okay?" Kirk asked.

The look was gone in a blink, replaced with Spock's normal calm curiosity.


"Okay." Kirk gave him a small smile.

"I am not finished, however. I do not like your arousal to be kindled by another."

"I wouldn't like that to happen to you, either."

Spock climbed up and pressed close, began kissing Kirk's exposed abdomen. Kirk looked him over. Spock's uniform was still fully sealed, his hair neat and trim.

"I didn't mean bring that out in you," Kirk said. "I'm getting the sense that even without a melded bonding you have a bond of sorts to me."

"Thy body's pleasure is mine."

"I noticed." Kirk felt distinctly unsatiated. "We might have to do more."

"Indeed." Spock settled in beside him, lay pressed against him, holding fast.

"We're going to get out of these uniforms for round two," Kirk said.

Spock's hands tightened on Kirk. He rested his head closer to Kirk's on the pillow.

"No, really we are. I was just too far gone to care just now."

"Yes, James." Spock sounded sleepy.

Kirk wondered if jealousy could be exhausting for Spock. Kirk curled forward enough to inch his uniform tunic up and off. He tossed it onto the desk where it clinked as the medals hit each other and the padd. He rested back with his bare chest catching the room's warm air.

"That's better."

Spock's eyes were on him. He traced a finger over Kirk's ribs. "Indeed. But I enjoy the other, too."

Kirk shook his head. "You aren't fetishizing Starfleet. Are you?"

"No. Just you."

"I suppose I'm the same way. I fetishize those ears on you, and wouldn't on another Vulcan. And other parts too."

Kirk reached for the seal at the neck of Spock's uniform and peeled him open.

"Lieutenant," Kirk said.

Kirk had found Grange alone in the intern office, collecting up tapes and electronic notice sheets. It was early, but Kirk had correctly assumed Grange was a morning person.

"Sir. If you are looking for Cadet Spock, I have not yet seen him today."

"I wanted to talk to you, now that I have you alone."

Grange stood straight, set the things he held behind him on the desk. His mottled skin flushed unevenly. "Of course, sir. I do apologize for-"

"We went over that already. I was honest when I said just keep your criticism directed to me."

Grange sighed, rolled his eyes. "Especially given who I was directing it at."

"You aren't going to change Spock's mind about me. So it doesn't matter on that count. It's just not productive to spread criticism where it won't do any good."

Grange met Kirk's gaze with his own dubious and hard one. Kirk smiled. "I'm glad Spock has you to interact with. You provide balance to his experience."

Grange shifted minutely, appeared to wish their interaction was over with.

Kirk said, "I've just received an eight month assignment. So, I hope you can continue to be there to remind Spock he has a lot of support around him."

Grange made an annoyed face that wasn't entirely a put on.

Kirk said, "I imagine it gets exhausting seeing so many kids come through here, then never seeing them again. Hearing the worst, too often about their first assignment. Emotionally easier to stay above it all."

"That what you think, sir?"

Kirk lifted his left shoulder. "It's the guess I'm working from unless you feel like telling me your story." He paused, but Grange didn't say anything. "If Spock needs advice he's got Captain Chanel he can rely on, or Commander Overlander. Spock too often doesn't want to bother anyone, assumes he can figure things out, even if the problem involves systems composed of humans. I hope you can remind him that it's okay to bother people with questions. Especially people who want to see him do well."

Grange nodded sideways. "I see. I can do that, Commander."

"Thank you."

"So. Where's your assignment?"

"Lohanna Sector."

Grange wet his lips. "Not enough of a hero, yet, sir?"

"Just doing my part. I'm going to be given two light strike platoons. It's a chance to see if I'm more than light and hot air."

Grange's voice grew an edge of anger. "And when you come back in a tube, sir. What do you want me to tell Spock?"

Kirk held back to keep his voice level. His eyes were threatening to get damp. "I knew you cared about him." He cocked a grin. "It's tough not to, believe me, I know. But in answer to that, I guess tell him the best path is the one that better informs him who he is, and to never shy from that."

"Even if you end up dead doing so?"

"Even if. But I don't plan to. I plan to return, hopefully get another ship command. Although. At that point Spock will be on Vulcan. I'll probably extend once or twice in Lohanna unless the operations have wound down or I'm offered something that provides better command experience."

"I hope this isn't just a game to you."

Kirk considered the question, and Grange. "No, it's not. I sound lighthearted because I enjoy what I do. But I'm deadly serious."

Grange picked his electronic notices up off the desk, struck the stack on the side to make them neat. "Interesting seeing all sides of you, Commander Kirk. The other night when you were out of uniform, the talk yesterday, you addressing me now. I admit I underestimated what you were made of." He looked down at the floor, shifted his feet. "I do wonder if I'd had a commander more like you, if I wouldn't have stayed in space."

"I think you're valuable here, if that's any consolation. You teach the cadets that hardnosed doesn't have to be cruel so if they encounter cruel that it's worth calling it out."

Grange held the stack of electronic notices with both hands, straightened the already perfect edges with his fingers. "For the record, it isn't that they die too soon. It's that every time you get attached, they do something insanely stupid, or they move on and become something you didn't really want to see, and one day you realize you've given away too many pieces of yourself and they aren't coming back." He switched off the terminal beside him, put the sheets under his arm and bent that arm, looking official. "I'm stingier now."

Kirk nodded. "I can understand that. And it's a load off my mind knowing you're here. Spock doesn't at all mind emotionally stingy. He prefers it."

"So. That's where I went wrong. I kept getting harder on him and he kept baiting me more blatantly, then going perfectly obedient, as if encouraging my behavior. I know what Skinnerian shaping looks like. I've just never been on the receiving end of it, not like that. And he's not an ass, he's good hearted. He's so unusual." Grange looked up, stiffened. "Sir."

Kirk kept his laugh reined in to a small smile. "No. It's okay. You've seen a side of him I've yet to see. And I could talk about him all day, so I should get going."

Kirk turned at the doorway. "Unless there is anything else, Lieutenant."

Grange said. "Stay safe, Commander."

Kirk fell somber. "I'll certainly try."


A/N It will be a bit (weeks? a month?) before the sequel, Distant War will be posted. Got a lot of projects going on right now.