A/N: Credit to sexy-jess for providing one huge plot point for this, which was really the main inspiration. This pretty much wouldn't exist without her. :D
Thanks for all your input, comments, and reviews—you are all awesome—I hope you like this! I'll try to continue being speedy in my updates but I just started summer semester so it might be a bit slower. :(
Note on the Borg: "As of 1484 they were reported as controlling only a handful of systems in the Delta Quadrant, but by 2373 they had assimilated thousands of worlds. In addition to this stronghold in the Delta Quadrant, the Borg also dispatched vessels throughout the galaxy via transwarp conduits." –Memory Alpha
So, I know that they weren't really aware of the Borg in Kirk and Spock's day (we're in 2285/2286 here) even though they were active, but it's a new timeline so I claim my right to play around a little. :)
"Are you sure about this?" Kirk turned to his first officer. Their roles had been temporarily switched; Spock held the controls while Kirk sat in the co-pilot's seat. "I mean, this isn't exactly—well, logical."
Bemused, Spock raised an eyebrow. "Jim, are you—nervous?"
"No," he lied, smoothing out his Starfleet uniform. "No, not at all."
The pair were on a shuttle to Pomonus, the planet on which Spock's elder self had chosen to place the Vulcan colony. Nine thousand Vulcan survivors traveled with them—not including Synok and his supporters, who would remain on Earth until they stood trial by the Federation for their crimes against the Chenari. Officially, Kirk and Spock were here to bring these Vulcan survivors to their new planet. Unofficially, Spock had a compulsion to bring Jim home with him. He wanted to share what was left of Vulcan society with his partner. And though it was, as Kirk had said, illogical, Spock wanted to introduce him to his father. He knew that if there was one Vulcan who would understand his attraction to a human, it would be his father.
As they cut through the Pomonian atmosphere, a world converse to Kirk's expectations materialized outside his window. He knew Vulcan had been a desert, largely arid and hot. But Pomona's terrain rolled out before him like an alien jungle; rolling hills, splashes of colorful flora, canopies of trees with leaves as green as Vulcan blood. As they neared the surface, he understood. It was all growing from a fine sand, so fine that it looked like piles of sifted brown flour. Upon stepping out of the ship, he nearly faceplanted into the ground; the pliable surface would take some time to get used to, for sure.
Three Vulcan elders came forth to greet them. Spock raised his hand in the Vulcan salute. "Tynak. We come to serve," he stated, the standard Vulcan diplomatic greeting.
The eldest Vulcan returned the gesture. "Your service honors us."
"As we discussed, the 8,917 Vulcan survivors are aboard the Calliope," Spock reported. "They await instruction."
"Perhaps you and Captain Kirk should come with us," Tynak said.
Spock and Kirk wordlessly followed the elders into a large structure built of soft-hued sandstone. Spock lifted his eyes; above the door, the phrase Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos, using reason as our guide was engraved on the arch.
As they entered the hall, Spock turned to Kirk. "This is the temporary meeting place of the Vulcan Council," he explained, and took a seat in one of the low-backed chairs. Kirk sat beside him.
Tynak, who was obviously the leader, fixed his eyes on Spock. "We must discuss assimilation."
"Perhaps 'integration' would be a better term?" suggested Spock.
Tynak paused. "Yes. Integration. You are aware that the Vulcan colony is quite different from the world to which we were acclimated. The Vulcans with you have obviously been living in a different culture for months. You have interacted with them; do you foresee any problems?"
"No. Synok and those who supported him are not with us. The Vulcans on the shuttle only wish to return to their people and assist in rebuilding our lives."
Tynak inclined his head. "Synok remained on Earth to stand trial before the Federation?"
Spock and Kirk exchanged a look.
"At first," Kirk said slowly. "They've kind of escaped. But we don't think they're heading here."
Tynak raised an eyebrow, and Kirk shuddered, privately creeped out by the likeness of Vulcan facial expressions. He'd seen that same look plenty of times from Spock, especially when he suggested trying something new in the bedroom. Spock usually trusted him, though, so he was hoping Tynak would do the same.
"And what reasons do you have to expect they are not?"
"Well, they don't have the coordinates, for one," Kirk replied. "They have no idea where you are. They don't even have the name of the planet. And outside Chenar, we offered to give him coordinates if he'd take his ship out of the quadrant. No such luck. I don't think he wants anything to do with you guys."
Beside Kirk, Spock's lips twitched. He was perfectly aware that no Vulcan elder had heard such casual talk in their presence before.
Tynak sat stiffly, even for a Vulcan. "Are they aware of the new—mating requirements?"
Not one of you can just come out and say it, can you? Kirk laughed inwardly.
"Yes. I have informed them of the responsibility to choose a mate. Some have already done so. I have also informed them of the injection to induce pon farr."
Every member of the Vulcan Council looked taken aback, as though Spock had just divulged a great secret in front of a stranger. Though Spock immediately realized his faux pas, he decided it would be best not to dig himself a deeper hole by explaining how his Captain knew about that particular bit of Vulcan physiology.
"Very well," Tynak said finally. "Bring them out of the ship and we will begin to issue domiciles."
"Sanik and T'Peil, your temporary residence will be with—" He looked at the list in surprise. "With Stonn and T'Pring."
T'Pring, whose belly swelled with child, bowed slightly. "Spock. I had hoped you would bring your mate. I must admit my curiosity to meet her."
"Actually—" Spock indicated Kirk, who was helping announce residences—"I did bring him."
"The Captain?" A note of surprise permeated her voice. "A Human man? Spock, that is—"
"Most illogical," Spock said, completing her thought. "You would not say so, T'Pring, if you knew him as I know him."
She ignored this. "I should not be surprised at your irrational decision. After all, you chose Starfleet over the Vulcan Science Academy."
"Without Starfleet," Spock said levelly, "you would not be living here today." Coldly, he turned his back on her and returned to giving housing assignments.
Later that night, Spock and Kirk arrived at Sarek's modest home, a square building with little regard to decoration or flair. It was far from the home of Spock's childhood, a sprawling villa with a terrace overlooking a beautiful desert canyon, on which he and his father often sat playing Kal-toh. He felt a stab of longing at the memory.
"I must admit, Spock," Sarek said, as they sat down to dinner in the small kitchen, "I was unsure when you turned down admission to the Vulcan Science Academy in favor of Starfleet."
Again? Must we continue to revisit this decision in every conversation? Spock picked up his fork and stabbed a piece of fruit which resembled a cantaloupe in color, but a strawberry in size.
"I am impressed, however, with what you have accomplished while there."
He inclined his head. "Thank you."
Sarek raised an eyebrow at Kirk, who was busy examining a pink-colored bean. Feeling the gaze upon him, he looked up.
"What are you doing?" demanded Sarek.
Kirk was confused. "Eating."
Spock's lips twitched. "Vulcans do not handle food with their fingertips."
"But you touch food on the Enterprise," Kirk pressed, remembering the infamous cherry tomato explosion.
"Unfortunately, Starfleet only equips its crew with sporks—which are not suitable substitutes for the tools we use." He indicated the array of eating utensils on the table. "I am forced to improvise."
Kirk nodded, dropping the bean.
"So," Sarek said, his voice grating, "I encountered T'Pring earlier this evening."
It was at this moment that Kirk realized Vulcans really weren't too different from humans, at least in one respect. He sensed a very real tension in the room.
"She informed me that you have brought your mate to Pomonus." He turned to Kirk.
Kirk didn't know exactly what he was supposed to say at this point, so he did what he would have done in his earlier days when a girl brought up the topic of commitment over dinner—stuffed his face full of food. Luckily, he had Spock to speak up in his place.
"Yes," Spock said calmly. "I assume that she informed you whom I have chosen, since you are glaring at Jim."
Sarek turned to his son in surprise. "Do not mistake this for anger, Spock. Your decision in choosing a mate is most illogical."
Spock stared his father down. "You told me," he said levelly, "that you married my mother because you loved her. Now you chastise me for making what amounts to the same choice?"
"That was in another time." Sarek's voice was vaguely wistful. "A time when reproduction was not a necessity for every Vulcan."
"You want me to choose a female in order to mate."
"Yes. That is my wish. That is the logical choice, Spock. Do not forget T'Plana-Hath's wisdom. 'Logic is the cement of our civilization—'"
Spock stood up, his eyes ablaze. "I have seen many civilizations now, Father. Though we may be intellectually superior to most, and at peace with our neighbors, the suppression of our emotions is harming us."
"If you felt for my mother what I feel for Jim, you understand me when I say that logic must take emotion into account."
"I have lived for over a century, Spock. Do not presume to know more—"
"You have no human experience," Spock interrupted stiffly, "and thus it is logical to presume that you will never understand the human emotions which aided my decision. This is acceptable to me, so long as you agree to respect my choice."
Sarek stared back at him.
"I see. Good night, Father."
Kirk quickly rose, following him out. "I'm sorry," he said instantly, not knowing what else to say.
"I have never understood the human predilection to apologize for actions that are not their fault."
He shrugged. "Just our nature, I guess."
Spock inclined his head. "My mother," he mused, "always used to tell me that she would be proud of me no matter what course of action I chose."
He draped an arm around Spock's shoulders. "I know you miss her. I'm sorry. I mean—I'm— well, I don't know any other way to say it."
"I appreciate your concern. But let us refrain from speaking of such things. I have been anxious to show you this."
He led Kirk into the thick forest. Trees towered above them. In the shade, it actually felt warmer; dense foliage trapped heat under the thick leaves. Fountains of fuchsias spilled from the knotted canopy of tree branches, specks of firefly-like light at their hearts, casting a soft golden light over the forest. Teal blooms, roselike in appearance, veined the smooth, twisted black trunks of the trees. But where moss and grass would grow in Earth's forests, where cool soil would give life, the fine brown Pomonian sand covered the forest floor.
They sat down against the the wide trunk of a tree; Kirk pinched a teal bloom from a vine with his fingertips. "The older you—he picked a hell of a place," Kirk said, pulling off his boots and socks. He dug his toes into the sand. "For the colony, I mean. It's really nice here."
"I am certain aesthetics were the least of his concerns in selecting a planet."
"Are you sure? There's got to be plenty of plain desert planets that looked more like Vulcan. I mean—not that—I'm sure Vulcan was nice—" Damn it.
Spock put a hand on his arm. "I admit, after visiting other planets, I found that I preferred Earth to Vulcan with regard to its flora and fauna. This planet seems to be the perfect balance between the climate of Vulcan and the beauty of Earth."
"Just like you, then. The best of both worlds."
Surprised, Spock turned to him, a small smile on his lips. "You know, Jim, you can be very endearing."
Embarrassed, he lifted his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. "I try."
"No. That is precisely what I find endearing about you. You do not try." He let his fingertips brush the back of Kirk's hand, and he shivered.
"Why is that so amazing?" Kirk demanded.
Spock just blinked. "That is how Vulcans kiss. Through our fingers."
"Through your—" He lost his breath for a moment. Flashbacks flooded his mind; that first long moment on the original Enterprise, when he and Spock stood quietly in the center of his cabin, fingers touching, foreheads together. He knew it had felt intimate—but he hadn't guessed it was a kiss. "Why did it take so long for me to figure this out?"
His lips twitched. "You did not figure it out. I told you."
Kirk stared up at the flickering fuchsias while Spock slowly traced patterns on his open palm. Vulcan letters, perhaps, staking a secret claim to Kirk's body and soul. Who knew? Who cared? It was bliss, here in this sand-dune jungle with his Vulcan lover, the flowers dancing in the evening breeze, an insect serenade in cello-like tones.
"Teach me," Kirk said suddenly.
Spock raised an eyebrow.
"To kiss like Vulcans do. You can kiss like a human." And you're damn good at it, too. "I want to learn the right way—"
Wordlessly, Spock aligned his fingertips with Kirk's. As the pads of their fingers connected, he absorbed that unique, unmistakable electricity which forced him to consciously remember how to breathe. The tiny flower-lights, even, seemed to glow a bit brighter.
Without any of the tentativeness Kirk was used to from his Vulcan lover, he began to move his fingers in soft, small circles. Sensations Kirk had never felt before exploded at his nerve endings, trickled through his veins, took hold of his skin. Spock pressed his hot palm against Kirk's cool one, intertwined their fingers, let his fingertips trail the back of Kirk's, over the knuckles, the cuticle, the tip of the fingernail. Kirk let out a satisfied sigh. I never knew hands could be quite so sensual.
And then, in a flash of inspiration, he took Spock's hand in his. With a smirk, he took three of Spock's fingers into his mouth, letting his tongue flicker over the skin.
Spock's eyes became very wide and, for a very uncharacteristic moment, he was rendered completely speechless.
Then, he tackled his captain to the ground.
[Kirk's brainstorm to put Spock's fingers in his mouth comes from Lanaea's "Home." According to her, I am allowed to use this idea without crediting, but that just doesn't feel right to me. So there you are.]