Author's note: If you have read "Absolution" please know that this story has nothing to do with that one. I wrote them both. That is the only connection. If you haven't read "Absolution," this note may not make sense. All feedback welcome. Thanks.


Shift finally and gratefully over, Captain Kirk entered his quarters, mildly disappointed that he was alone. He had hoped that the comforting presence of his bondmate would greet him. Tied up in the Science lab, no doubt.

He glanced over at the door connecting their quarters, a door which Scotty, bless his soul, had installed as an old fashioned hinged door. Very convenient for leaving fully open or completely closed, as desire and decorum dictated. At this moment, it stood one third of the way open, beckoning him into Spock's quarters. He accepted the invitation, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the relative dimness of the adjourning quarters.

"Close the door," Spock's rich voice said from the depths of the shadows.

Kirk did it, wondering what was going on. He still sensed Spock but he had put barriers in place which rarely stood between them. Kirk found it slightly disorienting and undeniably lonely. Once the door was closed, he stood in the familiar quarters, quarters which had been subtly transformed. It was slightly cooler, candles burning to provide light, and he could hear soft Earth music playing. Even more disorienting.

"You are James T. Kirk, Captain of the USS Enterprise," Spock said, still enshrouded in shadows. "Accept or deny."

Kirk didn't quite know what to think or what to say. "Spock, I…"

Spock emerged from the deep shadows, wearing a black velvet cloak, even his head covered in its rich darkness. Two warm fingers were placed over the human's lips. "Accept or deny," Spock intoned.

Kirk could not see Spock's face under the velvet hood, could not read his thoughts even as his Vulcan touched hm. Uncertain what else to do, Kirk quietly answered. "Accept."

Spock did not move from where he stood, radiating a cloaked warmth from his body to his lover's. "I am Spock of Vulcan, First Officer of the USS Enterprise. Accept or deny."

"Accept," Kirk said, longing to be touched, held, made to understand. He had to be content to wait. Spock gave him no other choice.

"You are my T'hy'la, my love, half of all that I am," Spock said. It sounded like a vow and a promise. "Accept or deny." The last word was a whisper, slowly drown from him and dismissed.

"Accept," Kirk said, wondering if his head was really spinning or if it just felt that way.

"I am your T'hy'la, your love, your master," Spock said in the exact same tone as he had said every word he had uttered. "Accept or deny."

Kirk felt a charge jolt him at that final word. His master. Maybe…no…in all likelihood…wait, was Spock capable of playing this game, fulfilling a barely formed wish in Jim's own mind?

The Human's delay had been unacceptable to the robed figure. "Accept or deny," he repeated with only the slightest emphasis.

Kirk stared up at where Spock's eyes were, eyes he could not see, eyes that would revel his all. Spock was incapable of injuring him. Of that he was entirely certain, with no question. What, Jim wondered, would happen if he did not accept? Was that what Spock expected, anticipated, wanted? Taking a gamble, an impulse born of curiosity as well as intrigue, he finally responded. "Deny."

Spock made no sign that he had heard, not moving, apparently unaware of the response that had been given. Kirk would not be the one to give in, standing motionless, making himself breathe. It was an effort. He managed to retain control of his reflexes when Spock slowly and deliberately took one step back. "Remove your clothing," Spock ordered. His tone remained the same but Jim felt a new power behind the words.

"Deny," Jim responded, hoping he wasn't getting too close to destroying Spock's plans. He knew he had made the right decision when Spock withdrew one hand from his sleeve to reveal a k'rangt, a small ceremonial Vulcan knife. Kirk had no doubt what-so-ever concerning the purpose of that blade.

"Remove your clothing," Spock ordered again, the tip of the knife resting on the waistband of Kirk's uniform pants.

Do it or have it done for him. Which was the preferable method? He would end up naked. The outcome was not in doubt. Would Spock destroy his uniform and risk harming him in the process? One sure way to find out, if he were willing to risk it.

Instead, he continued to stare up at where Spock's eyes would be and slowly pulled his shirt up and off. The knife had not wavered, still threatening even as he complied.

Spock slowly returned the knife to the depths of the velvet, putting one warm hand on Kirk's bare shoulder, compelling him backward to the waiting chair. Jim collapsed into it when his knees hit the edge. He could not suppress his surprise when Spock knelt before him to remove his boots, gently and lovingly. That was odd.

His boots discarded, Spock reached for the fastenings of his uniform trousers, efficiently opening and pulling them down. Jim helped by rising up enough to allow them to be removed. Spock carelessly discarded the pants and then his regulation briefs, adding them to the untidy pile with his boots. Jim sat and waited, one part of his mind wondering what was next, one part wondering why his erection insisted on forming.

Spock remained where he was, moving gracefully and with no wasted motion. Before Kirk could fully register Spock's intention, he had removed a silken cord from around his waist. There was no doubt in Jim's mind what that length of soft rope was intended for.

"Give me your hands," Spock ordered.

"Deny," Kirk said even though his libido screamed for him to accept.

"Give me your hands," Spock repeated.

Kirk tried to back away, not entirely surprised that the chair was tightly held in place. How had he managed that?

Reflexes took over. One foot swiftly landed on the center of Spock's chest and with all his strength, Jim pushed him backward.

Spock had anticipated this attempt at escape, his balanced position and superior strength compensating for the failed action. "I am your master," Spock said, grabbing both feet and securing them to the chair with such quickness Kirk could neither think nor react. He tried to squirm away but to no avail. "Give me your hands."

Fight or give in and have the results the same? Delay the inevitable - to what gain? Jim slowly extended both hands, clinched into hard fists.

"Accept," Spock ordered, a second soft rope at the ready.

So his surrender had to be voluntary. Verbal. Forced to acknowledge Spock's assumed power. "Spock…" he started but again his lips were stilled by two fingers, fingers he longed to have caressing him. He opened his mouth ever so slightly, gratified when those fingers slipped inside. Jim licked them, suckled them, nourished on them.

"I am your master," Spock intoned. Jim noted that the Vulcan was slightly breathless. "Accept or deny," Spock ordered, slowly withdrawing his fingers, Jim empty at the loss. He groaned softly. Those same two fingers traced the familiar lines of Jim's face. "Accept or deny," Spock whispered, a promise and a command.

"Accept," Jim finally said, willingly and hungrily.

With typical efficiency, Spock bound his Human's hands, securing them so no movement was permitted. That done, he freed Jim's feet.

"Let me see you" Kirk pleaded across the bond, hoping he could penetrate the firm barriers around Spock's mind, his essence.

Message received. Spock, with tantalizing and seductive slowness, drew back the deep hood of his robe, allowing Kirk's eyes to drink in his Vulcan beauty.

"Thank you" Kirk sent. There was no mental acknowledgment but he knew Spock had heard.

"Come," Spock ordered, leaving Jim no choice as he pulled him by his bound hands toward the opposite wall. Only then did Jim notice the decorative hook on the wall. It was empty, the ceremonial sword it usually held nowhere to be seen.

Kirk knew what was expected of him but he would not acknowledge it. Nor would he acknowledge his firm erection throbbing for attention. Betrayer.

Rather than ordering him, Spock lifted the bound hands. Kirk resisted, twisting away from him, trying to break free. His strength was no match to the Vulcan's. He was easily subdued, Spock leaning full length against him, trapping him against the unyielding bulkhead. "I am your master," Spock reminded him, staring down at his Human. Jim could feel Spock's half formed erection pressing into his thigh, glad he was not alone in his arousal. "Your hands," Spock ordered, pointing to the hook. He turned Jim so his back to the room, waiting as Jim put the rope into the curve of the hook. It was conveniently at just the right height for Kirk to stand, his arms stretched over his head.

Having his back to the room made him feel vulnerable. He could barely hear Spock's soft movements around his quarters, wanting to know what he was doing, what was coming next. He had to wait. He did consider speaking but decided against it, not wanting to risk being gagged. Would Spock do that to him?

Spock silently returned to stand behind him, his presence bringing a welcome warmth.

Warmth. Spock had removed his robe, Kirk realized with a shiver. How he longed to see Spock, touch him with his eyes, caress every part of his lover.

"Ask for what it is that you desire," Spock said, one warm hand ever so lightly touching Jim's bare shoulders, seductively, possessively, teasingly.

"You," Kirk said, his tongue threatening to stick to the roof of his mouth. He had no moisture to lubricate his mouth, his voice. All of the liquid in his body had apparently pooled in his throbbing erection.

Spock's hand glided lower, skimming Kirk's taut, perfectly formed backside. "Ask for precisely what you desire," Spock directed.

Something in Kirk rebelled at the order. Spock knew what he wanted, what he needed. He would not speak the words, would not surrender that part of himself. "No," Jim said.

Spock's hand still caressed him, his fingers dipping between the rounded flesh that held his home. "I am your master," Spock whispered into Jim's ear.

Jim tried to shake his head. Perhaps he succeeded. Spock made no notice.

"Spread your legs apart," Spock ordered, his voice once more firm and commanding.

"Deny," Jim responded, pulling his feet more firmly together. He twisted in his restraints, trying to get his hands out of the hook. Spock casually reached up over Jim's head and locked the hook closed. Of course it would need to lock. Otherwise the blade might come off during…well, during any number of instances.

Spock wedged one bare foot between Jim's legs, shoving them apart. Jim fought his effort, trying to keep his legs sealed together. "I am your master. I will have what I want," Spock informed him firmly. His right hand still caressed Jim's backside, getting ever closer to the center of Jim's being. Jim could not stop the shivers raking his entire body. Still he fought against Spock's efforts to wedge his legs apart.

"I can allow you to enjoy this. Or I can keep the pleasure as only mine," Spock warned.

"No," Jim responded, sounding harsh, angry. Was he angry? he wondered briefly. And which part of Spock's equation was he denying?

"Ask me for that which you desire most," Spook commanded. His tone, his nearness, his distance weakened Jim's resolve. And his knees. Before he could prevent it, Spock had spread his legs wide. With inhuman swiftness, Spock knelt behind him, locking his ankles to a bar, immobilizing his feet. Denial had been the wrong response. Jim was momentarily stunned into complacency, sagging against the bulkhead. "You will tell me what you want most," Spock ordered.

"Deny," Jim ground out, straightening away from the wall with what reserve of determination he retained.

Spock again made no acknowledgement of the response except for turning away. Jim missed his presence even though it frightened him. He strained his ears and his hands, trying to determine what it was that Spock was doing, what was in store for him next. He could see nothing of Spock, the sounds faint and indistinguishable.

Spock approached, standing close but not touching. Jim could feel his warm breath on his shoulder, in his hair, on his neck. He jerked slightly when Spock spread apart his mounds, relaxing all of his muscles. But it was not Spock that entered him. It was …artificial. Where had Spock found this? When it was fully encased in Jim's body, Spock backed away. Thankfully the pliant, fake penis inside Jim's body was not very large. His body had no problem accommodating it. Except he wanted more. He wanted Spock.

He sensed Spock moving beside him, moving a chair just at the edge of Jim's vision. Spock gracefully sat, his legs wide apart to reveal his own throbbing need. Jim gasped when Spock wrapped his hands around his erection. In all the time they had been lovers, bonded, Spock had never permitted Jim to watch as he masturbated. Jim shied away from that word, finding its sound distasteful. Probably because Spock would never use it.

"Spock," Jim whispered. One elegant eyebrow raised. What did he want? And could Jim give it to him? "Master," he whispered, a strange exhilaration found in the word. He did not like that he enjoyed saying it quite so much.

"Accept?" Spock asked, caressing himself.

Jim's body quivered with each stroke, the object inside his being keeping him aroused and incomplete. He wanted Spock, wanted him to take what they both needed. Burned for. But was he willing to say it? Give in?

"Master," he whispered again, raw need in his voice.

"Dr. McCoy to Mr. Spock," the infernal wall intercom blared.

//Oh fuck. Not now. NOT now,// Jim yelled mentally. Spock heard that.

"Spock here," Spock responded, sounding very nearly normal.

"Do you know where Jim is?" the doctor asked. "I can't find him."

"He is in my quarters, doctor," Spock said, sweeping Jim's body with his eyes, the effect as tangible as if it had been his hands.

"Oh. May I speak with him?"

"He is currently tied up, doctor," Spock said, nearly making Jim laugh. "Is there something you require of the Captain?"

"I just wanted to know if y'all wanted to have supper," McCoy said, sounding confused. And hurt?

"While that invitation is …inviting," Spock said, shrugging one shoulder at his lack of command of basic vocabulary, "we are currently engaged in …recreational activities."

They could almost feel the realization come over McCoy. "Oh dear gods, Spock. I'm sorry."

"No need to apologize. You had no way of knowing," Spock assured him.

"Good night," McCoy responded, closing the connection.

Kirk had to smile at Spock as he approached. The kiss was tender, real, loving.

"Are you alright, T'hy'la?" Spock whispered, caressing Jim's cheek.

"I miss you. I want you."

"Yes," Spock agreed, ever so slightly lowering his mental barriers.

"Thank you," Jim responded, leaning as close as he could for another kiss. "How did you do all… this?"

"Perhaps that discussion would wait until afterward," Spock suggested.

"Yes," Jim agreed.

"Are you frightened, my love?" Spock asked, studying the hazel eyes.

"No. Yes. Maybe a little. But not really."

"Shall we continue? Or do we need to stop?"

"Continue, please. I want to know what comes next," Kirk whispered.

Spock nodded, kissing him once more before resuming his seat. His erection had not diminished during the interruption and he gently stroked himself, feeling Jim's eyes on him, devouring him. "Ask me to give you what you desire most."

Jim stared at the Vulcan, needing to touch him. Wanting him as he had never wanted him before. Why could he not acknowledge it, request the relief they both needed? "Deny," Jim heard himself say, the word wrenched from some dark part of his mind.

"It is possible for me to continue for several hours," Spock told him, almost gently, his hands still caressing himself.

No wonder he had never shared it with me, Jim thought. It would be far too time consuming.

"Why?" Jim finally gasped. But what was he asking? And to whom was the question directed? Spock? Or himself?

"Ahh…" Spock slowly stood to approach his bound lover. Apparently that question was one for which Spock had been waiting. Jim had no idea why. Why? Was Spock about to answer? Respond to a question he could not be sure he wanted answered?

"What makes you capable of commanding a starship? What maintains the loyalty, devotion of your crew?"

Jim didn't know if he was expected to answer or not. Spock waited expectantly so Jim tried. "Mmm…" Jim started, trying to add moisture to his dry lips and mouth. Spock reached over to the small table close by to pick up a glass, ice tinkling against the side. Very gently, he held it to his lover's lips, allowing him to drink. "Thank you," Jim said. "Master," he added hastily at the warning lift of an eyebrow.

"Answer now," Spock said. A request more than an order.

"Does anyone really know?" Jim finally asked.

"There are only 12 Constitution class starships. Why are you one of those Captains?"

Jim considered the question, not for the first time. What was it that made some capable of being in command of a starship while others would never have the opportunity? What distinguished him from all the other capable first officers who would never have their own ship? What qualities did he and the other captains posses they defined who they were? It wasn't just timing and hard work. There was the intangible, the X factor.

"Shall I assist you?" Spock asked gently.

"Accept," Jim said gratefully. He wasn't being stubborn. He simply didn't know. He felt Spock's acceptance of his inability to answer.

"Strength of will," Spock said.

Was that all? Was that the key? Surely not. Jim continued to stare at Spock. If he watched him long enough, he would provide the rest of the answer.

"You do not accept."

"Not enough," Jim responded.

"It is," Spock corrected. "You shoulder the burdens of those around you. Lesser men are incapable of carrying the burdens required of command."

"You could," Jim said.

"No. I do not possess the necessary counterbalancing emotional capacity."

"You do," Jim said, shaking his head to deny Spock's words.

"Your love blinds you," Spock said gratefully. "I wish only to serve you. Serve under you. Lay under you," Spock said seductively.

Jim's erection pulsed at his words and his tone. Dear heavens, if only Spock would take him.

"It is your strength of will that permits you to do without sleep for days. Your mind works faster, more creatively than any I know."

"Not as fast as yours," Jim said.

"I have superior intellect. Your mind is superior in all other ways," Spock told him.

Jim frowned at that. It wasn't true, surely.

"If it were purely intellect that was important, I would win every chess match in which we engaged. I win 63.2% of the time."

"Oh," Jim said. He knew Spock won more matches. He had no idea that he had bested his Vulcan that many times.

"Chess is about strategy," Spock said. Jim sensed he was about to add something but changed his mind. "During alpha shift today, you were required to make 43 decisions."

"43?" Kirk repeated.

"Yes. Major decisions. Minor decisions. On each occasion I predicted how you would respond. I was incorrect 64% of the time."

"43 seems too many," Kirk said with a frown of concentration.

"Yesterday it was 55 while you were in my presence. The prior shift was 38."

"Oh," Jim said, mentally reviewing the last three shifts. "Why are you telling me this?"

"As a demonstration. Today you were asked by Lt Serger if she could reassign Yeoman Blaine. I predicted you would say yes. Yeoman Blaine shows no talent for astrophysics that I or Lt. Serger can detect. Yet you left his assignment unchanged," Spock said with an implied question.

"Blaine earned top marks in astrophysics," Kirk said. "He's in love with Yeoman Tamal."

"In security," Spock said.

"Yes," Kirk agreed, watching Spock consider this information.

"Has he previously requested reassignment to security?" Spock asked.

"Four times. Tomorrow I will be having a talk with Yeoman Blaine," Kirk said.

"Tomorrow we are off duty," Spock reminded him.

"Yes. He always eats at 12:45 in general mess."

"As will we tomorrow," Spock said in realization.

"Exactly," Kirk agreed.

"There are over 400 crewmembers on board. Do you know how each one performed at the Academy?"

"Only the yeomen, T'hy'la. The others have proved themselves."

"Ahh…" Spock said in understanding.

"What does any of this have to do with me being tied to your wall?" Jim asked, no detectable emotion in the words.

Spock gazed back at him, love and patience reflected in his eyes. He was not going to reveal those secrets just yet. His Human had to process the question, find the answer for himself. "Not to decide is to decide," Sock finally said gently.

"Accept," Jim responded although he wasn't sure exactly why.

Spock nodded. Jim felt surprisingly pleased at Spock's approval. "What do you want?" Spock asked, back to the beginning.

Jim knew that Spock wanted, expected something from him. What was it? The answer was still there – surrender, acquiescence. A setting down of his burdens? By giving in to Spock, he would be giving in to…helplessness. Could he do it? It wasn't a matter of trust. It was a matter of …bending his will to Spock's.

"Your love," Jim finally answered, stalling for time, giving himself a chance to consider all the choices before him.

"That is a given, T'hy'la," Spock promised. "Here and now. What do you want?"

"Tell me," Kirk requested. "Please." Jim felt a surge of warmth over their bond. He had guessed correctly.

"I am your master," Spock whispered quietly, gentling his lover.

"Accept," Jim sighed. Spock nodded. Now Jim would get the relief he needed. The fulfillment of desire coursing through his body. Surely he had been aroused forever. He could barely remember a time when his erection wasn't throbbing in unfulfilled need. Still Spock sat, touching his own erection, watching, studying his love. "Master. Please," Jim said, need outweighing… pride? He didn't like that word.

Spock stood and gracefully approached. His hands caressed the smaller, compact body of his love. While caressing his body with his hands, he lowered his mental barriers, flooding Jim with warmth, support, love. "You are justified in being proud of yourself," Spock assured him with a light kiss.

"You heard?" Jim asked, trying to back into Spock's warmth.

"I kept you out. You were not blocked from me."

"Not fair," Jim said, moaning as Spock pressed his warm body against Jim's straining muscles.

"It would not have changed anything. I know what you think."

"Not always," Jim corrected, melting into Spock.

"Not always," Spock agreed.

"My hands are numb," Jim told him, having considerable trouble forming the words. For an answer, Spock reached up and unlocked the hook, moving in front of his love and lifting him over one shoulder as easily as he would a child. Jim's up-side-down position gave him an unobstructed view of Spock's beautiful backside. He used his bound hands to caress him, rewarded with a low moan. Spock gently deposited Jim onto the bed, unlocking the bar from his feet.

"Roll over," Spock ordered seductively.

Jim knew he had no choice but to comply. Once he lay on his belly, Spock sat next to him on the bed, rubbing his feet to increase the circulation. "Must I tie you down?"

"No, Master," Jim promised softly.

Spock straddled Jim's hips with his knees, reaching onto the bedside table for a small, elegant bottle. As it was uncorked, Jim detected the faint smell of pine and grass and …Earth. It smelled like home. Jim felt Spock shift slightly over him, then heard the sound of those sensitive hands rubbing together. Those same hands made contact with his back, massaging the muscles made tight from his confinement.

"My hands," Jim requested.

"Not yet. Feeling has returned," Spock told him.

Jim could only sigh, resting his head on the soft pillow, the one that intoxicated him with Spock's scent. His bound hands rested under the pillow, no longer tingling, much warmer than they had been.

"Sp…Master?" Jim asked quietly.

"Yes, T'hy'la."

"Never mind," Jim said, relaxing under Spock's skilled hands.

"You may ask."

"Ask what?" Jim teased, fully aware that Spock knew the question in his mind.

"Until tomorrow at quarter past twelve," Spock said, verbalizing the period of Jim's confinement. "Your hands will not be secured the entire time unless you leave me no choice."

"Accept," Jim said. "Please make love to me."

"You know that I will," Spock promised, leaning down to kiss his Human's shoulders and the sensitive nape of his neck.

"Soon?"

Spock did not respond and Jim knew he could not repeat the question.

"There is some work I must do tomorrow," Jim said quietly, not protesting, only explaining aloud.

"Yes. As do I. There will be time," Spock assured him. "Starfleet does not contact you until 14:30."

"I know. You'll have the status reports complete?"

"They are on your desk, my love."

"Of course," Jim acknowledged. "Bones will worry if he doesn't see us. Did you not explain to him?"

"We will tomorrow. I was concerned that he would not retain my confidence," Spock said as he continued the delicious kneading of his love's strong muscles.

"Or he would scold you," Jim suggested lightly.

"I have never listened previously."

"True. He'll no doubt approve. Bring me down a peg," Jim laughed.

"You are on the precise 'peg' you need to be, Captain," Spock said, backing up to massage his love's beautiful, perfectly formed backside.

"Except when I'm tied to your wall."

"There is freedom to be found in bondage," Spock said, leaning down to kiss the small of Jim's back.

"That's it, isn't it?" Jim asked softly.

"Accept or deny," Spock responded. His delicious hands made answering difficult but Jim finally managed.

"Accept," Jim said, fully surrendering the last of his resolve.

Spock hugged him mentally and backed down further. "Spread your legs, T'hy'la," he instructed very gently. Jim obediently bent his left knee to his chest, looking over his shoulder to watch Spock, the mere sight of him hardening his erection even more. Jim gasped softly as Spock carefully removed the intruder from his body, the emptiness a relief and a craving.

Without speaking, Spock reached over for the lubricant, coating himself, his black eyes never leaving their hazel counterparts. Jim's breathing was uneven, his bottom rising in anticipation. When Spock was fully coated, he kissed the back of the strong thighs beneath him, leaving a trail of warm caresses to the fold between leg and body. He paused there to nibble on the cooler skin, rewarded with soft incoherent words from his love. Words were superfluous at best. The mental image Jim had formed was much more powerful and persuasive.

Gently and carefully, Spock lay over his Human, kissing his skin everywhere he could reach. He guided his erection into Jim's receptive body, Jim's moans of encouragement his only possible response.

Their melting together was complete and glorious, the ecstasy they created surging between them, captured, reflected, born anew. When they were both fulfilled and complete, Spock covered Jim's body with his, warming, soothing, loving him.

With each breath, Jim moaned very softly, purring into his lovers' beautiful ear. His bound hands had ended up under his belly, squeezed with their combined weight. He didn't mind not having immediate use of his fingers except that he longed to caress Spock's overheated skin, smooth his ruffled hair, touch him everywhere.

"Everywhere?" Spock asked with warmth and love.

"Everywhere," Jim agreed.

"This is not a ploy to convince me to free your hands?" Spock asked.

"It's your loss, T'hy'la," Jim reminded him with a warm laugh.

"I suppose it is," Spock said, not moving from where he lay atop his human bondmate. "We will eat once we shower," Spock answered a barely formed question in his lovers' mind.

"Yes," Jim sighed. He wasn't sure what he was agreeing to. It hardly mattered. Nothing mattered except the cocoon of love encasing them both. Only a red alert would shake him out of the loving place where they had both landed.

"How would we experience a red alert in spaceport?" Spock teased.

"The Klingons might try to take it over," Jim barely answered.

"Doubtful," Spock assured him.

"I hate being docked. Do we really have to stay here four more days?" Jim complained mildly.

"It is not my decision, Captain. The refits cannot be accomplished any faster."

"If they let Scotty help, they'd be done by now," Jim said with a yawn.

"Lt. Commander Scott is not pleased at the 'meddling' taking place with his engines," Spock agreed.

"So he told me. Twice. Today. He keeps it up, Bones is going to have to sedate him."

"Unlikely, my love."

"Highly unlikely," Jim mumbled, asleep before he could stop himself. Spock gazed down in near awe at the face of his love, drinking in the fair skin, the bronze curls awakened by their lovemaking, the absurdly long eyelashes laying with indifferent delicacy on his cheeks.

Spock remained motionless until he was certain his Captain was fully asleep. Still he stirred when Spock left the bed, soothed by Spock gentle words and gentler kiss on his pink cheek.

Spock got into the shower, washing off the evidence of their activities. Once he had on his standard issue robe, he went into Jim's quarters and contacted Dr. McCoy.

"Everything alright?" McCoy asked when he answered.

"We are…far better than that, doctor," Spock assured him.

"Jim okay?"

"He has fallen asleep," Spock said.

"If everything is okay, why did you contact me?" McCoy asked.

"We were concerned that you would be worried," Spock said.

"I see. Thank you."

"In retrospect, I recognize that I should have informed you of my intentions."

"Why, Mr. Spock," McCoy said in exaggerated surprise. "Did you just apologize to me?"

"Provided an explanation," Spock said, giving precisely the answer the doctor expected.

"Uh huh," McCoy responded. "Will I see you two at breakfast?"

"Come to my quarters. 0800," Spock invited.

"You got it. Call if you need anything."

"Be assured that we will," Spock agreed. "Sleep well."

"You too," Bones agreed, disconnecting.

Spock slipped silently back into his quarters, checking that Jim still peacefully slept. Spock sat at his desk, going through the reports on the refit. Despite Scott's complaints, it looked as though it was going well, no unnecessary delays that he could find. That done, he checked the other reports that were sent to him, responding to some, forwarding some to others for review, ignoring several.

At the first faint stirrings from his bed, he returned to sit on the edge. Jim had rolled over, smiling up at Spock even before his eyes were open.

"Hi," he said, his voice still sleep laden.

"My love," Spock returned, kissing his lips with delicacy.

"How long did I sleep?"

"51.38 minutes," Spock said, one finger tracing the imprint left on the pink cheek by the pillow.

"I didn't mean to fall asleep."

"It is often the result of our lovemaking," Spock said softly.

"How often?" Jim teased.

"89.6% of the time."

"Do you know automatically? Or do you keep track in your head?"

"I am not certain I understand the question." That he was distracted by the beauty of the Human in his bed accounted for some his inability to process the question.

"Never mind. It's not important," Jim assured him.

"I contacted Dr. McCoy while you slept. I assured him all is well."

"Thank you."

"He will be joining us tomorrow for breakfast," Spock said.

"Where?"

"Here. I do not believe you want to eat in mess with bound hands," Spock pointed out.

"So I will be tied up the whole time?" Jim asked, not especially unhappy about it.

"For breakfast," Spock said. "Come shower. Then we will eat."

"You've already showered," Jim observed as Spock helped him sit and leave the bed.

"Yes," Spock said, going to the bathroom, one hand resting on Jim's backside in typical fashion. He could see a faint line of green mixed with red dried on Jim's left thigh. "I was unaware that I had harmed you during our lovemaking," Spock said.

"You didn't," Jim assured him, smiling up at him when they were in the bathroom.

"There is blood on your thigh," Spock said, tracing the line from groin to mid-thigh.

"Hmm…" Jim said, twisting in an attempt to see the back of his leg.

"Are you in pain at present?"

"You know I'm not. It's just one of those things," Jim said in dismissal.

"You have not bled for 6…months," Spock said, deciding that was accurate enough for this discussion.

"We haven't made love in almost 2 weeks, "Jim reminded him.

"12 very long days," Spock agreed.

"Longer nights," Jim added.

"It is not required that you work beta and gamma shifts," Spock pointed out.

"How do I know what's going on if I don't?"

"Yes, my love, I do understand," Spock said.

"You do it too," Jim reminded him tenderly.

"Yes," Spock said as he turned on the steaming water.

"Are you joining me?" Jim asked hopefully.

"I can or I can unbind your hands."

Jim frowned briefly at the choice he was given.

"I should decide?" Spock asked.

"Accept," Jim said, looking up gratefully at him.

"I will free them for now. When we are clean, I will tie them again."

"So you'll untie me and join me?"

"Is that not what I just said?" Spock teased, carefully undoing the rope.

"That's a beautiful knot," Jim said, really seeing it for the first time.

"It is a kr'y'nk. Used in ancient Vulcan rituals," Spock said.

"Teach me to do it?" Jim requested, rubbing the faint red marks left where the ropes had lain.

"Certainly. It is said that the mating bond resembles the kr'y'nk."

"That's very romantic," Jim said with a loving smile.

"I take your word," Spock said, kissing his Human's marred wrists. "I regret harming you."

"You didn't. They'll fade."

"Come," Spock invited, helping him into the hot jets of water. With amazing tenderness and care, Spock washed his love's skin, his warm hands seeming to be everywhere at once. "Close your eyes," Spock whispered, scrubbing his head.

"That feels really good," Jim said, as he so often did.

"That is why I do it," Spock responded, as he so often did.

"Mmm…"

"Are you ready to leave?" Spock asked gently, only a question.

"Yes. And then will you tell me how you did all this?" Jim asked.

"While we eat," Spock agreed, drying Jim's body with warm, loving strokes. "May I check you for damage?"

"There isn't any. But you can certainly check," Jim said, spreading his legs and leaning over the cabinet.

"Thank you," Spock whispered into his ear. One gentle finger probed between Jim's mounds, rubbing over his familiar opening. Jim made no sign of discomfort, watching Spock in the mirror as he satisfied his need to keep his Captain safe.

"Okay?" Jim asked when Spock withdrew his finger and kissed Jim's shoulder.

"You are unharmed."

"As I said," He teased, turning to embrace Spock. "Mmm…"

"Indeed. Perhaps I will leave your hands unbound," Spock said into Jim's damp curls.

"The choice is yours," Jim said softly into Spock's warm chest.

"Yes," Spock responded. He silently led Jim out of the bathroom, guiding him to the small table. The two chairs were covered with soft blankets, Spock objecting silently to having bare skin on the furnishings. Jim obediently sat, watching Spock's efficient movements. In only moments, there were three oranges in front of Spock's chair, a tall glass of ice water served to Jim.

Jim sipped the refreshing water, ideally wondering if he were violating the rules. But Spock assured him silently that the water was his to drink. Jim watched Spock peel the first orange, as always mesmerized by the strength and beauty of the Vulcan's hands.

"My love," Spock said, offering the first slice to his Human.

"Mmm…" Jim approved. "You got this at the space dock."

"I did."

"The space dock," Jim repeated in realization.

"There is a fascinating array of merchandise available when one asks the correct questions," Spock confirmed.

"You went into a sex shop?"

"It is not necessary to visit them. One only must enter an order into their computer portal and the items are delivered in an unmarked, extremely discrete package."

"They still know you shopped there," Jim said with a laugh, accepting another slice of orange from Spock's fingers.

"Unlikely. As I used your credits," Spock said casually.

Jim really laughed at that. "So I financed my own subjugation?"

"You did. Very convenient."

"Very. Do you imagine they think I'm using it on you?"

"The only logical explanation. The exclusivity of our bond is well known," Spock said.

"Does that worry you?" Jim asked more seriously. "That they will think I'm planning to tie you up?"

"If I were disturbed by the idea, I would not have purchased the necessary items."

"Why didn't you just pay for them? Whether I paid or you did, you are still part of it."

"It is much more likely that you would purchase the items in anticipation of my cooperation than I would dare to attempt to use them on my Captain."

"Oh. You being the…victim is way less noteworthy," Jim said.

"Precisely. Your former reputation is still subject of some discussion."

"Unfortunately. I hope nobody thinks I got it to cheat on you."

"There are only 3 or 4 individuals who will know of the transaction. They assure their customers the utmost in confidentiality."

"Mmm…" Jim sighed, eating another slice of cool orange. It was followed by almonds, roasted with only the merest hint of salt. "You don't like almonds."

"You do," Spock said, eating a slice of orange, his eyes never leaving the face of his love.

"Did you get macadamias?"

"They will arrive tomorrow," Spock said.

"Will you share?" Jim asked with a smile.

"As you are purchasing them, I can hardly refuse."

"I bought the food too?" Jim laughed.

"You earn significantly more than I."

"There is that. Although I do happen to know that the clan of Sarek will never want for anything," Jim said.

"That is true. Is there something you desire that I can provide to you?" Spock teased.

"I have everything I need. And I don't need any credits to keep it," Jim assured him. "Speaking of which, can I ask you a ship's business related question?"

"Certainly, Captain," Spock said, feeding him more almonds.

"Lt. Matherson told me we are over-budget on uniforms and personal effects. Does that seem right to you?"

"As you requested, I reviewed all of the budgets at the end of the last Starfleet quarter. There was a surplus in each one sufficient for the remainder of this budget cycle."

"That's what I thought. How many new crewmembers have we added this cycle?"

"23 females and 18 males. You have requested 24 new uniforms during the same period."

"Yes, I know," Jim sighed. "It's not like I destroy them on purpose."

"No one believes that you do," Spock assured him.

"So why are we over-budget?" Jim asked himself as much as Spock.

"Did the Lieutenant have an explanation?"

"He was at a loss to explain it. He sent the full report to my computer. We'll review it tomorrow."

"You and Lt. Matherson?"

"Me and my first officer," Jim corrected with a laugh. "Lt. Matherson is also off duty tomorrow."

"Will he be spending his time reviewing budgets and status reports?" Spock asked lightly.

"More likely he'll spend it with Lt. Waverly."

"Lt. Waverly?" Spock repeated.

"They've been together for nearly three months."

"I did not know."

"You don't need to know," Jim said.

"Lt. Waverly is on my science staff."

"And she does an excellent job. Has the quality of her work diminished?"

"Not in the least," Spock said, a thoughtful look on his face.

"What, T'hy'la? What troubles you?" Jim asked, unable to find the thoughts that were disturbing to Spock.

"How is it you know who is in love with whom?" Spock asked.

"Careful observation in part. Some tell me."

"Why?" Spock asked.

"They are asking my blessing," Jim said.

"Asking your blessing," Spock repeated, considering this new idea.

"It's an ancient Earth custom. When two people wanted to court, one would ask permission of the other's parents. It began with the man asking the woman's father. Then all couples began asking their intended's parents."

"To what ends?" Spock asked. "I understood Humans were permitted to choose their own mates."

"That's true for most cultures. Human fathers are notorious for protecting their daughters. Getting a father's blessing meant there would be no parental interference in their relationship."

"So the crew asks your blessing," Spock said.

"One of the many roles a starship Captain fulfills is surrogate father," Jim agreed.

"I cannot imagine any crewmember telling Captain Stansion that they wished to become involved with a colleague."

"They ask Commander Blakeshire's blessings. He is much warmer and more approachable."

"Yes," Spock said, again considering this information, turning it over in his mind. "Do you supposed my father requested my grandfather's blessing?"

"I would think so. Especially as he was planning to take Amanda away to Vulcan. Did you know your human grandparents?"

"No. Mother sometimes speaks of them."

"She speaks of them fondly?" Jim asked.

"When Father cannot hear," Spock said.

Jim laughed at that, accepting more almonds. "Why does it trouble you that I know who is coupling?"

"It does not trouble me that you know. It troubles me that I am not observant enough to see it," Spock said.

"You would be uncomfortable looking for the signs."

"Because it involves open displays of emotion," Spock said.

"Yes. And it's also the case that they would be less demonstrative in front of you than in front of me."

"In what way?"

"They respect that you are Vulcan. They believe that you disapprove of all open emotions. So most are careful around you not to put you ill at ease," Jim explained.

"You see how they act when they are in love. They would not reveal it as readily to me."

"Exactly. Although the crew knows we are married, there is rarely any evidence presented to them. New crewmembers who don't arrive knowing we're married don't figure it out until someone tells them. Since we aren't obvious, most of the crew isn't obvious to you."

"Do not all of the new crew know of our bond?" Spock asked.

"Almost all do. Some have heard and don't quite believe it because we don't act married in public."

"How would one act married?" Spock asked.

"We've never kissed outside of our quarters. I try to be careful not to touch you a lot in public."

"That is so you will not distract me, love."

"I know that. It's generally believed you would object if I touched you in public," Jim told him.

"Indeed?"

"No one else does. And there must be a good reason for it. So surely you don't want me touching you either."

"Do they understand the concept of being a touch telepath?" Spock asked.

"Yes, for the most part. Many of the crew who have been here since before we were married have remarked they wouldn't know we were married if they had not witnessed our ceremony."

"They have shared this with you?"

"Some have. In passing. Some told Bones." Jim studied Spock, lines of concentration on his face. "Are you concerned about what I have told you?"

"Only that you observe behaviors invisible to me."

"You don't need to know," Jim said gently.

"It is not important for me to have information on all forms of crew behavior?"

"You do have it because I have it."

"You do not share it," Spock stated.

"It never occurred to me that you would want to know which crew members where sleeping together. Or how our crew viewed our marriage," Jim told him tenderly.

"You do not consider it important for me to know?"

"If I did, I'd tell you, T'hy'la. They are my responsibility."

"Yes," Spock agreed. "As I recall, you expressed concerns before we bonded that you would be unable to retain confidential information."

"I have an excellent teacher. You are welcome to that knowledge. I don't block it from you. I simply don't invite you in," he explained.

"Yes," Spock said thoughtfully. "I must apologize, T'hy'la."

"Whatever for?"

"I had planed this evening's activities to provide you time isolated from the burdens of command. Instead I have discussed them with you."

"Oh love," Kirk laughed. "We can't stop being the Captain and First Officer. It's not just our jobs. It's who we are. The activities you planned have taken me from the burdens of command and I am grateful."

"You are more generous than I deserve," Spock said, leaning over to give his Human a kiss.

"I disagree," Jim said warmly.

"Will you wait here a moment? I will not be long."

"Of course I'll wait," Jim assured him.

Spock nodded, standing. Before leaving his quarters, he took the time to kiss Jim on top of the head, a heartwarmingly tender gesture. Without speaking, he went into the Captain's quarters, closing the door behind him.

The Captain was content to wait, sipping his icy water, enjoying the coolness it brought. Not too many minutes elapsed before Spock returned through the door, a tray in his hands.

"What's this?" Jim asked.

"This is for you," Spock said, putting down the tray. On it sat a ceramic bowl, filled to overflowing with ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a bright red cherry.

"Real ice cream?" Jim asked, his excitement visible.

"Real ice cream," Spock agreed. "We will not tell Dr. McCoy."

"Oh T'hy'la. Thank you for this," Jim said, staring in wonder at the confection before him.

"I suggest you begin before the component parts are indistinguishable," Spock said. Jim could feel the suppressed laughter behind the words.

"Yes," Jim agreed, taking a very large spoonful. "Delicious."

"I am pleased," Spock said, watching him eat his dessert.

"I'm afraid I would never be accepted on Vulcan. I can't give up ice cream."

"There is no need for you to do so," Spock said.

"I'll brush my teeth before I kiss you," Jim promised.

"I do not object to the flavors that linger."

"Like coffee," Jim said.

"Precisely. Only when you eat meat do I have some difficulty."

"I'm sorry. I try not to," Jim said in apology.

"I know this. It is one of the appetites that defines who you are," Spock assured him.

"At least I've learned to stop gagging you when I eat it."

"And I am grateful. While you enjoy your ice cream, I will change the sheets."

"Mmm…" Jim agreed, picking up the bowl to follow.

"You do not need to help," Spock said.

"I wasn't planning to," Jim laughed. "I want to watch."

"I see. In that case." Spock moved the chair so that Jim would have an unobstructed view. "Do you require anything further, Captain?"

"I'm all set, Commander. Thank you."

Spock bowed slightly, stripping and remaking the bed with his characteristic efficiency.

"Nicely done," Jim cheered.

"Your approval is noted," Spock said, kissing his head.

"Do you want me to go to my quarters while you meditate?" Jim offered, licking his spoon.

"If you are ready to retire, I have no objections to you remaining?"

"Are you coming to bed when you're done?" Jim asked hopefully.

"That is my intention."

Jim nodded at that, putting his bowl on the table. "I'll brush my teeth and be right here."

Spock nodded, kissing him lightly before Jim went into his quarters. He soon returned, smelling faintly of toothpaste.

"Before I get in bed, may I request one favor?" Jim asked softly.

"Certainly."

Jim pressed his body to the taller, warmer one and wrapped his arms around the lean Vulcan. "Dance with me."

Spock kissed him lightly, embracing him with the soft bands of love. With hardly a movement, they became one form, one with the music floating in the background.

"Thank you," Jim said, smiling up at his bondmate.

"I love you," Spock answered, kissing Jim with all the love and passion he felt for his Human. Spock guided Jim to the bed, settling him, covering him, warming him even more with his love. "Will you be asleep when I join you?" Spock asked softly.

"Probably. Since you have to raise your barriers to meditate. I'll be lonely."

Spock shook his head at that. "I have meditated every evening since we bonded. Do you imagine complaining will stop me from doing so?"

"Nope. But if I don't remind you that I miss you, you might think I don't care when I'm kept out."

Spock shook his head again, love lighting his eyes.

"I know, I know," Jim said. "I'll learn to meditate, I promise. Next shore leave you can teach me."

"You have no interest in learning."

Jim shrugged, still looking up at Spock from the pillow nestling his head. "I get bored."

"The purpose of meditation is to still your mind."

"I know," Jim sighed. "I know you sometimes are overwhelmed by my thoughts."

"Intrigued. Not overwhelmed. I am incapable of keeping pace."

"Your brain works pretty fast, love," Jim pointed out.

"In a much more linear fashion."

"Logical, you mean," Jim laughed. "Not so many leaps and skips."

"Perhaps you can instruct me in your methods," Spock suggested.

"I can't teach you chaos. You would go mad."

"Quite possibly," Spock said, far too seriously.

Jim laughed again. "Go meditate so you can come to bed."

"Yes Captain," Spock agreed, covering the Human's mouth with his own. When the kiss was concluded, Spock reluctantly left the bed, pulling on his black meditation robe.

Jim rolled onto his side, watching Spock, careful not to make mental contact.

Spock gracefully sat before the glowing chalice, closing his eyes and blanking his mind. All the day's events were considered and sorted, concerns dealt with, unanswered questions left to be further considered, joy of his love nourished and allowed to blossom.

When he slowly opened his eyes, he found Jim watching him. As he lowered his mental shields, he could see the love illuminating the Human's face.

"I love you too," the Captain said.

"You are not asleep," Spock observed as he rose and replaced his robe in the closet.

"I was waiting for you."

"So I see," Spock said. He extinguished all of the candles which had illuminated his quarters, bringing the glass of ice water with him.

"Thanks," Jim said after he drank from it.

"I can lower the temperature," Spock offered as he joined Jim in bed.

"I'm okay. Ice cream always makes me thirsty."

"Very well," Spock said. Jim put the water on the floor and out of the way in case either of them got up in the night. While Jim's back was turned to him, Spock fit his body to the Human's making them, as Jim always said, spoons. That expression never made perfect sense to Spock but he accepted it as the term for how they preferred to sleep.

"Spoons nestle together in a drawer," Jim explained, his tone warm and loving.

"As do forks."

"Forks don't have bowl shapes," Jim said.

"Nor do we," Spock pointed out.

"Never mind," Jim laughed. "What do they call it on Vulcan?"

"I am not aware that a term exists for laying in this manner."

"That's too bad."

"Perhaps mates do not share this on Vulcan," Spock suggested.

"Could explain why Vulcans are always so cranky," Jim teased.

"You consider my general attitude unpleasant?" Spock asked in mock horror.

"You aren't cranky. Because we do spoon," Jim laughed.

"Indeed?"

"That's my theory," Jim said.

"Worth further study," Spock decided.

"And how will you conduct this research on Vulcan sleeping habits?"

"I have not yet formulated that process."

"Get back to me when you do," Jim laughed.

"Certainly."

"Do Vulcans tie up their bondmates?" Jim asked.

"On occasion. When they are certain the one to be tied will not object."

"I see," Jim laughed. "Will you be tying up your bondmate tomorrow?"

"Yes."

"Mmm…" Jim sighed, his eyes drifting closed.

"No further questions?" Spock teased.

"Not at this time. I'm too sleepy," Jim admitted.

"Good night, T'hy'la," Spock said softly, kissing Jim's head.

"'Night."

The Captain slowly woke the next morning, feeling Spock's absence even before his eyes were fully open. His hands felt strange, which made sense when he discovered they were once again bound together. He rolled over on his back and sat up, wondering where Spock was. He could neither sense nor see him. "Spock?"

The connecting door swung silently open and Spock crossed over to him. Jim was pleased that his mate was still gloriously bare.

"Good morning, T'hy'la," Spock said as he said next to his Human and kissed him.

"Good morning," Jim returned. "Will you let me touch your mind, please?"

"Apologies. I wanted you to be able to sleep."

"How long have you been up?" the Captain asked as Spock warmed him with his loving presence, mind to mind.

"1.38 hours."

"Oh," Jim said with a small frown. "What time is it now?"

"07:45."

Jim nodded, leaning closer for a kiss.

"You need to visit the bathroom prior to Dr. McCoy's arrival," Spock warned gently.

"Yes. How did you tie my hands without waking me?" Jim asked as he left the warmth of their bed.

"I distracted you with other ideas."

"That wasn't a dream?" Jim asked with a laugh.

"If you are referring to the image of us in an Earth meadow, no, it was not a dream."

"Interesting," Jim said, finishing up his business.

"I will assist you," Spock said, washing his hands for him and coating his toothbrush.

"Thanks."

Spock nodded, following him out when his business was complete. "Return to the bed."

It had a feeling of an order, one the Human debated about obeying. What would happen if he refused? Would he be strung from the hook again? While Bones was there with them? Surely Spock would not subject him to that.

"I will if you do not return to the bed," Spock informed him evenly as he pulled on his robe.

Jim looked up at the endless depths of the black eyes, eyes which held his unwaveringly.

"Dr. McCoy will ring the door chime in 18 seconds. You must decide," Spock warned. "Accept or deny."

"You are my master?"

"16 seconds."

Would Spock really dare share their game with the Doctor?

"13 seconds," Spock said, staring steadily at his Human mate.

"Deny," Jim said before he could stop himself.

"I am your master," Spock informed him. "Accept or deny."

"Deny," Jim repeated.

Spock pointed at the hook.

"Deny."

"4 seconds."

Jim shook his head, silently daring Spock to make the next move in this battle of wills. Right on time, the Doctor sounded Spock's chime. Spock raised one eyebrow in question, letting the Captain decide how he would be discovered.

"Dr. McCoy is waiting," Spock said. "I am your master," he added quietly.

"Deny."

The chime sounded again, impatient this time.

"Come," Spock called, continuing to stare down at his Human. Jim refused to look away, neither one acknowledging the Doctor's entrance.

"What in the name of sweet Georgia are the two of you doing?" McCoy asked, looking from one to the other. Neither answered, a silent struggle playing out before their friend. "Somebody explain this to me," McCoy demanded. "And I mean now."

"Tell him," Jim ordered.

"No," Spock responded.

"Somebody tell me or I'm calling security," McCoy warned. "Why are your hands tied, Jim? And why aren't you dressed?"

"Explain," the Captain ordered in his most authoritative tone.

"I will not," Spock said, making Jim's jaw clench.

"Are you two fighting? Spock didn't say anything about it last night. What are you doing?" McCoy asked, becoming increasingly concerned.

"Wait in my quarters," the Captain finally ordered.

"Me?" McCoy asked.

"Yes. Now."

McCoy looked like he wanted to refuse but decided against it. Whatever was going on had to be resolved and maybe his presence was preventing it. With a last worried look at them both, he went into the Captain's quarters, not closing the door entirely.

"How dare you?" Jim demanded.

"I provided you with two alternatives," Spock responded with typical calm.

"That does not excuse what you have done."

"I have done nothing, Captain. You chose to remain where you are, as you are."

"You should have not let him in."

"You knew as well as I that he was coming. You made the choice to be discovered," Spock said.

"You let him in."

"You could have countermanded my invitation, sir. You could have engaged the privacy lock before he arrived. You chose your own fate, sir."

"Don't call me sir. You have to fight fair," Jim said, still staring up at Spock.

"Fight fairly?" Spock repeated in near disbelief.

"Don't pull my rank on me. Do you think he has stopped blushing yet?"

"You are no longer angry?" Spock asked, unable to keep pace with this swift change in his Human.

"I don't think I ever was. I think I wanted to know what you would do. I don't know why I wanted to know," he admitted with a shrug.

"Most illogical," Spock said, one eyebrow raised.

"I know. I'm sorry. If you'll kiss me, I'll get back in bed like you told me. If that's okay," he added quickly.

"I accept," Spock said, escorting his Human to the bed, where Jim sat with his back against the bulkhead, cushioned by one of Spock's pillows. Spock covered his legs and stomach with the blankets, kissing him once more before going to the door to invite the doctor to return.

"What was all that about?" Dr. McCoy demanded.

"A battle of wills," Jim said with a shrug.

"Why are your hands tied?"

"Because Spock decided to tie them."

"What?"

"There's no other reason. He decided and I agreed," Jim explained.

"I don't have the slightest idea what that means," McCoy said.

"You don't have to, Bones," Jim assured him.

"Where'd Spock go?"

"My quarters, to get breakfast."

"He keepin' you tied all day?"

"No. Just until after we eat," Jim said.

"You discussed it?"

"Not in so many words," Jim laughed.

"Oh. He told you over your bond."

"Yes. And that you need to help him because he can't carry all the food by himself."

McCoy nodded and went into the Captain's quarters. "You sent for me?"

"Thank you for your assistance," Spock said, handing him one of the trays.

"Why did you tie up Jim?" the Doctor asked, blocking Spock's way.

"What did he say when you asked?" Spock asked in turn.

"That you decided to."

"That is all?" Spock asked.

"Yes. It's not a real explanation."

"Perhaps there is not one," Spock suggested.

"Don't evade the question, Spock. Answer it."

"Why do you wish to know, Doctor?"

"Because you are my friends. If there is a problem, I need to know."

"Tying his hands was not an act of aggression," Spock assured him.

"It looks aggressive. And angry," McCoy said.

"There is no anger between us. Only understanding."

"Then share some of that understanding with me," Bones requested.

"He is waiting for us," Spock said, nodding to the door.

McCoy sighed, going back into Spock's quarters, sitting in the chair Spock showed him. Spock sat on the edge of the bed, caressing Jim's cheek.

"You aren't going to figure it out, Bones. We haven't yet ourselves," Jim said, smiling at Spock before turning his gaze on the Doctor.

"It makes no sense, you know," Dr. McCoy said in frustration.

"Is that such a bad thing?" Jim asked in return, accepting a strawberry from Spock's fingers.

The Doctor shook his head, eating a banana.

"Bones, do you know about most of the crew who are sleeping together?" Jim asked.

"Of course. Most of them. Why?"

"Spock and I were discussing it. It was surprising to him that I know," Jim said.

"Of course you know," Bones said. "You also know who's not speaking, who pretends to hate each other, who pretends to hate you."

"There are crewmembers who dislike the Captain?" Spock asked them both.

"Yes," Bones said in exasperation. "Jim can name them."

"What is their reason?" Spock asked, carefully handing Jim a steaming cup of cherished coffee.

"I'm their Captain. That can be reason enough," Jim answered, drawing up his knees to rest his coffee. The cup remained cradled in his bound hands as he accepted a piece of banana nut muffin from Spock.

"That is unacceptable," Spock protested.

"Surely you know," Bones said.

"He doesn't," Jim answered for him. "It goes against everything he believes."

"Who does not respect you?" Spock had to ask.

"I didn't say they don't respect his position. They don't like him. It's two different things," McCoy explained.

"Please enlighten me to those who feel this way," Spock requested.

"Why? Are you going to tell them you know?" Bones asked.

"They should know that I know," Spock stated.

"If Jim knows, why don't you?" the Doctor asked.

"We both have our secrets, Bones," Jim said gently.

"You protect him from it."

"Yes."

Spock studied one then the other, his eyes coming back to rest on his Human's beloved face. "You have more secrets than I."

"Not necessarily. And you're welcome to the information. But there's not one thing you can do about how they feel about me," Jim said.

Spock raised an eyebrow at that statement, feeding his Captain another piece of muffin.

"Ensign Blaine is likely to dislike me after we have our talk," Jim said, sipping his coffee.

"He request another transfer?" McCoy asked.

"Yes. I considered leaving him here when we're ready to go," Jim laughed.

"It's what he deserves," McCoy agreed.

"Have you been to port?" Jim asked the Doctor.

"Now Jim, you'd know if I had," the Doctor scolded lightly.

"You're free to come and go when you're off duty," Jim assured him.

"True. I'd still let you know."

"Thanks," the Captain said. "Let's go to dock for dinner tonight."

"That would be most pleasant," Spock agreed, giving Jim more orange.

"Sounds good," McCoy agreed. "I'll invite Scotty when I see him."

"Good," Jim said, sipping the coffee.

"Pasta?" McCoy guessed.

"Always," Spock answered for the Captain.

"We can go anywhere you want," Jim assured the other two.

"Doesn't matter," McCoy said. "I need to get back to sickbay. I'm not off duty today."

"Thanks for coming," Jim said with a smile.

"Doctor," Spock said, standing when the doctor did.

"Call me if you need anything," he reminded them as he left.

"Do you think he disapproves?" Spock asked when he sat back on the edge of the bed.

"I think he's confused. Not angry."

"What more would you like to eat, T'hy'la?"

"Are there any more bananas?"

Spock reached over for one, slowly and seductively peeling it.

"Mmm…watching you is even better than eating it," Jim murmured.

"Then I should keep it for myself?" Spock teased.

"I'll share," Jim offered.

"I accept," Spock said, taking the first bite then offering it to Jim, who took the second bite. They continued eating it silently until it was gone except for the empty peel. Spock peered into the Captain's cup, finding it nearly empty. He took it from Jim's hands, placing it on the table. "I am your master," he whispered.

"Accept," Jim responded, licking Spock's ear.

Spock leaned back, taking the covers with him. "Go to the hook," he commanded softly.

"Deny," Jim responded in the same tone, kissing the Vulcan's warm lips.

"I will have you on the hook," Spock warned quietly.

"Why?"

"Accept or deny," Spock countered.

Jim sighed at those words, leaving the bed. "Facing the room or the bulkhead?"

"The bulkhead," Spock said, returning his robe to his closet. He stopped very briefly by the bedside table before standing behind his love whose hands were held by the hook over his head. "Must I bind your feet?"

"No," Jim said, spreading his legs apart, willing to accept whatever awaited him.

"No denials?" Spock asked, caressing his Human's back and shoulders.

"You'll still win."

"This is not about victory or defeat," Spock said.

"That's the only thing this is about. That's why you let Bones see us…me."

"You are angry."

"No, I'm not." Jim considered what he was feeling, trying to find the words to express it.

"Words would be superfluous," Spock said into his ear as he wrapped both arms around Jim. Jim leaned back against the Vulcan, happy to feel an erection to match the one forming in anticipation.

"Make love to me," Jim pleaded, tilting his head so Spock could have greater access to his neck.

"Yes," Spock agreed, a gentle hand around the Human's need. The other hand quickly and efficiently coated his own with lubricant, also spreading it on the waiting opening.

"Mmm…" Jim moaned, his arousal growing by the second.

"Shh…" Spock soothed, stroking Jim with his slick hand.

Jim moaned in relief this time as Spock penetrated his body, his body quivering with desire.

"Am I hurting you, T'hy'la?" Spock asked.

"Gods no. Harder, please," Jim panted.

Spock complied, no more words spoken aloud. All of their communication was through their physical and mental bond. Jim had to lean against the bulkhead when he had come, Spock covering his body.

"In the name of the gods," Jim whispered.

"Yes," Spock agreed. "Can you take down your hands?"

"No."

Spock reached over their heads, helping Jim out of his captivity. The Vulcan backed up enough to allow Jim's hands to be lowered in front of his overheated body. Jim slowly turned until he was facing Spock, smiling into his neck.

"Why are you smiling so, love?" Spock asked, kissing his head.

"Utter contentment. Thank you for doing this for me."

"The pleasure is mine also," Spock assured him.

"Mmm…"

"We need to take a shower, T'hy'la."

"Yes. I hate to destroy the afterglow," Jim said softly, not wanting to break the spell with his words.

"We will create a new one before the day is out."

"Will my hands be tied?" Jim asked.

"No. I am no longer your master," Spock whispered.

"For now?"

"You wish for us to do this again?" Spock asked, needing to make certain he had understood.

"Yes. At a time of your choosing," Jim said.

"I accept," Spock said, making Jim laugh.

"As do I," Jim said. "Will you please stop worrying about the crew members who don't like me?"

"It is both puzzling and disturbing to me," Spock said with a kiss.

"It doesn't need to be. It comes with the job of Captain."

"As you say," Spock conceded, kissing his smiling mouth. "I must be more observant in the future."

"How will you know what the signs are?" Jim laughed.

"You could instruct me."

"No I can't. I want you to believe the absolute best about all of our crew."

"Even those who do not deserve that belief?"

"Like me or not, they do their job. If they didn't I would have them transferred off. Or have you do it."

"Yes. Come shower with me," Spock invited.

"Accept," Jim laughed, going with him into the bathroom. He waited as Spock untied his hands, looking up at him when he straightened. "You don't mind having dinner with Bones and Scotty, do you?"

"Not at all. Why do you ask?"

"I sensed some hesitation when I suggested that we go to space dock. Did I speak out of turn?"

"No, love. I believe my hesitation was caused by Dr. McCoy stating he would discuss it with Mr. Scott. Do we trust that dinner will be his only topic of conversation?"

Jim laughed again, shaking his head. "Bones won't tell Scotty about this morning."

"You are quite certain?"

"Quite certain, love. Bones won't tell anyone. We can trust him utterly and completely."

"Yes," Spock agreed, stepping into the shower. "I should not have suggested that he would betray our confidence."

"I understand."

Spock waited as Jim scrubbed him, returning the favor. When they were both clean and dry, Spock dressed in his uniform, habit making it hard for either of them to wear anything else.

"Is there more coffee?" Jim asked as he opened the connecting door all the way, wearing only a towel.

"Certainly. I will make myself a cup of tea and join you in your quarters."

"Good," Jim agreed, disappearing into his quarters to dress and refill his coffee cup. As he sat behind his desk, Spock came through the door, a large steaming mug in his hand. "What time is it?"

"09:46."

"Should we go to engineering and check on progress?" Jim asked.

"Rather than review status reports and ship's budgets?" Spock asked as seriously as he could manage.

"I'd rather fight a Klingon bare handed than review status reports and budgets."

"Do you imagine this is a surprise to me?" Spock asked.

"Sarcasm does not become you, love," Jim said.

Spock simply raised an eyebrow in response and sipped his tea.

"Could I have a taste?" Jim requested.

"Once it cools sufficiently."

"Okay. You can review the budgets after lunch," Jim decided.

"And what will you be doing at that time, Captain?"

"Napping."

"I see. Your snoring will make concentration difficult," Spock claimed.

"I don't snore. And that's no way to talk to your commanding officer," Jim said with as much indignation as he could muster.

"On the contrary, sir. You always expect the truth from me."

"Of course I do," Jim conceded, kissing him quickly. "And Vulcans don't lie."

"Not generally," Spock said.

"Not ever. Not even when I need you to," Jim laughed.

"Apologies. I will practice prevarication," Spock promised.

"Please do," Jim said with another soft laugh. "I suppose I should look over these status reports before Starfleet contact me."

"It would be to your benefit to know of their content."

Jim made a noise that sounded decidedly like a snort before inserting the first disk. He and Spock reviewed the information, the Captain finding it flawless as he expected. After inserting the second disk, Spock gave him his cup, the Captain sipping the tea.

"This is a new flavor," Jim said, considering it.

"I requested it along with the food," Spock agreed.

"What is it?"

"A blend of native Vulcan spices with Earth oranges and cloves."

"Mmm… it tastes like Christmas," the Captain decided.

"Holidays do not have flavors."

Jim laughed, sipping it again. "You are wrong about that, love. Flavors often evoke times and places."

"For example?" Spock asked, intrigued by this idea.

"Coconut tastes like a tropical island where we would spend shore leave. Hot cocoa tastes like a snowy day."

"These are simply memory links that have been formed," Spock decided.

"I suppose. But it's more than that. The flavors and smells take me back to those moments."

"I am not certain that I understand," Spock said.

"Haven't you ever eaten something and for that brief moment been some place else?"

"I do not think I have ever experienced what you are describing," Spock said.

"Never mind," Jim laughed. "It's hardly important."

"This is a common Human phenomenon?"

"I'm pretty sure it is. We'll ask Bones and Scotty at dinner."

Spock made no response as none was expected. They both returned to reviewing the status reports, the Captain requesting clarification on various points.

"Is there a hydrogen leak?" Jim asked, studying the report suggesting a faulty valve.

"Atmospheric controls did not find a valve which is malfunctioning. They are still trying to determine why the hydrogen levels are not what they should be."

"I should talk to Lt. Sunderson about it."

"She should be in atmospheric controls at this moment."

"Alright. Then we'll check in with engineering. See if Scotty has blown a gasket yet."

"Would you like the last of the coffee?" Spock asked as he turned off the maker.

"Need you ask?" Jim laughed, accepting it from Spock. When the cup transferred, their hands made fleeting contact, sending a charge through the Captain's body.

"Apologies," Spock whispered, staring down at the hazel eyes.

"Only because I like it too much. A reminder of why we can't touch when we're on duty," Jim said softly.

"Yes," Spock agreed, taking a calming breath and a step back. "Do you wish to let Lt. Sunderson know we are coming?"

"No. We'll just pay her a visit," the Captain decided.

Spock nodded, following the Captain out of his quarters and walking in his customary place at his right side. They entered the empty turbolift, Spock providing instructions as Jim sipped his coffee. "What does coffee remind you of?" Spock asked.

"Coffee," Jim laughed.

"I see."

"No you don't. But it doesn't matter."

"As you say," Spock said. They waited as the lift stopped prior to their destination to admit Engineer Watkins.

"Captain, Commander," he said with a slight nod.

"Lieutenant." the Captain returned. "Resume."

The turbolift was once more in motion, the Lieutenant glancing at the other men. "You aren't going to the Bridge, sir?"

"I'm off duty, Lieutenant," the Captain said.

"I see, sir," Watkins said, considering it briefly. "May I ask a question, sir?"

"Certainly, Lieutenant."

"Why was I not assigned to the refit crew, sir?"

"That was Chief Engineer's decision, Lieutenant, not mine," the Captain said.

"I was on the crew which was responsible for the previous modifications, sir."

"I am aware of your record," the Captain said evenly.

"I expected to be assigned to this refit as well," Watkins continued as though the Captain had not spoken.

"Lieutenant. Commander Scott made the assignments. Have you discussed your dissatisfaction with him?" the Captain asked evenly.

"No sir," the Lieutenant said, unhappy with the Captain's answer.

"Chief Engineer Scott is in engineering, Lt Watkins. You are free to discuss your concerns with him," the Captain said.

"Yes sir."

"I would recommend that you wait until he is finished with the refit. He will have more time to devote to your discussion."

"I have heard it's not going well, sir," Lt Watkins said. Was there a note of satisfaction in his voice?

"There have been delays which are not satisfactory to Mr. Scott. Starfleet reports they are proceeding as scheduled," the Captain commented.

"Maybe he has the wrong engineers assigned to the job," Lt. Watkins suggested.

That was the last straw for the Captain. He straightened ever so slightly and looked the smug Lieutenant in the eye. "Are you questioning Lt Commander Scott's abilities?" the Captain asked. His tone was even, the words hanging between them coated with ice.

"No sir," the Lieutenant rushed to assure him.

The Captain continued to stare at the other man until the lift reached the lieutenant's destination and he rushed off, barely taking time to acknowledge his superiors.

"Resume," Jim said, looking up at Spock. "What?"

"You sounded angry but you were not" Spock observed.

"He was out of line and he finally realized it. That was enough."

"Why did Mr. Scott not include him on the crew this time?" Spock asked.

"Scotty says he keeps trying to take over. He's very talented but very very arrogant."

"Has Mr. Scott attempted to correct his behavior?"

"Several times. Next time, Lt. Watkins has to explain to you why he's relieved of duty."

"I see. Then he will visit you, no doubt."

"The last time he does it," Jim agreed.

"The last time?"

"If I don't scare the crap out of him, Scotty will transfer him. Which he wants to avoid. He doesn't want to make Lt. Watkins someone else's problem."

"This is why you instructed him to speak to Mr. Scott."

"Yes. Scotty and I agreed he would handle it until he has tried everything," Jim said.

"How, precisely, will you 'scare the crap' out of him, Captain?" Spock asked way too seriously, making the Captain laugh.

"I have my ways," the Captain said mysteriously as the turbolift glided to a stop.

"I see, sir," Spock said as he followed Kirk out of the lift. They went directly into the atmospheric control room, finding Lt. Sunderson behind her desk, intently studying her monitor.

"Lieutenant," the Captain said.

"Captain, Commander," she said in surprise, standing up.

"As you were, Lieutenant. I wanted to see if you have found out why the hydrogen levels are off," the Captain explained.

"No sir. I've double checked all of the valves and none of them are malfunctioning. We've run diagnostics on all the gauges and the results have been normal."

"I see, Lieutenant," the Captain said. "May I?" he asked, gesturing to her display screen.

"Yes, please, sir," she said, leaving her chair so the Captain could sit.

Kirk studied the display, sipping from his cup. He paged back a week, watching in revers as the hydrogen declined. "What do you think?" he asked Spock who was looking over his shoulder.

"I am not certain, sir. Has Lt. Commander Scott been advised?"

"Yes sir. I told him three days ago. With the refits he hasn't had time to come," she explained.

"Clearly Mr. Scott is not overly concerned," Spock said.

"It isn't endangering the ship," the Captain said. "I'm going to engineering to speak with Mr. Scott. I'll tell him to come by right after lunch."

"Thank you, sir. I appreciate it," Lt. Sunderson said.

"Keep me posted if the levels change dramatically," the Captain reminded her.

"Certainly, sir."

"Carry on," he said, leaving the control room, Spock close behind.

"Has she desired you for long?" Spock asked the Captain very quietly.

"I have no idea," Jim said with a shrug.

"She is quite lovely, for a Human."

"Is she?" Kirk laughed.

"Did you know how she feels about you?" Spock asked.

"I suppose so. It hardly matters. There's only one person on this ship I have any interest in sleeping with," the Captain assured him as they reached engineering.

"That is very convenient," Spock said, making Kirk smile as they went through the doors. "Mr. Scott does not allow liquids in Engineering."

"He allows me to have them," the Captain laughed, following the sound of Scotty's voice. It was raised in agitation, someone getting the rough side of his tongue. "Mr. Scott," the Captain said when Scotty paused to take a breath.

A red-faced ensign looked gratefully at the Captain for the interruption.

"Captain," Scotty said in agitation. "Can't you do something about those Starfleet know-it-alls?"

"What's going on, Scotty?" the Captain asked. "You are dismissed, ensign."

"Yes sir," the younger man said before he fled.

"They refuse to listen, Captain," Scotty complained. "These are my engines. I know everything there is to know about them. But they come in here and alter this and adjust that. They are going to alter and adjust us straight into a super nova."

"What did they say to you?" Kirk asked him calmly.

"They sit behind their computers and use their 'theoretical modeling.' Like that'll increase the efficiency of my warp engines. Have any one of them been on a real starship before, Captain? I know for sure they've never had to rebuild an engine in the middle of the Neutral Zone."

"No one is questioning your expertise, Chief," Spock said.

"They are. Captain, they won't listen to a word I say," Scotty said in exasperation.

"Alright, Scotty. I'll talk to them. Do you have a list of specific concerns?"

Scotty told him what troubled him the most and what he thought the reasonable alternative was.

"I'll talk to them," Kirk promised. "Did Bones tell you we're going to Port for dinner?"

"He did," Scotty agreed. "18:00?"

"Yes," the Captain confirmed.

"Aren't you both off duty today?" Scott asked in sympathy.

The Captain just shrugged, sipping his cup.

"I know," Scotty said.

"Do you know where the Starfleet engineers are now?" the Captain asked.

"Holed up in conference room Mercury. No doubt plotting the demise of my engines," Scotty complained.

"Alright. Try not to demote any of your engineers before we get back," Kirk requested.

"I'm making no promises," Scotty said.

"Lt. Sunderson asked that you stop by atmospheric controls after lunch," Spock said.

"She there now?" Scotty asked.

"She was when we left," Kirk agreed.

"I'll go now. She at least listens to me."

"We all do, Scotty," the Captain assured him. "We shared the turbolift with Lt. Watkins."

"He complained to you too?" Scotty asked.

"I told him he had to discuss it with you," the Captain confirmed.

"He won't listen to me either," Scotty said.

"Then send him to Spock. That doesn't work, send him to me," the Captain reminded him.

"You okay with that?" Scotty asked Spock.

"Certainly, Chief. I will discuss his behavior with him."

"Good. I'll send you my file on him."

"That would be beneficial," Spock said.

"Go see Sunderson, Scotty. We'll go talk to the Starfleet guys," the Captain said, a light hand on Scott's arm.

"Aye, sir," Scotty agreed, following the other two out of Engineering, going left as they turned right.

"I need more coffee," the Captain decided.

"You desire more coffee. Need is not a factor," Spock informed him seriously, making his Human laugh in response.

"Need, want. Hardly matters. It only matters where I can get more," the Captain said, glancing up and down the corridor.

"Sickbay perhaps?" Spock suggested.

"Yes, but I need to talk to the engineers first. Where are all the yeomen when I need one?"

"The coffee could wait until after the discussion with the engineers," Spock said.

"I guess it will have to," the Captain agreed unhappily.

"Delay makes fulfillment sweeter," Spock said very softly.

"Don't flirt with me here," the Captain laughed, looking up at Spock.

"I was only discussing coffee, Captain," Spock claimed.

"I should make you go get me another cup," the Captain warned lightly.

"Am I being demoted to yeoman, sir?" Spock asked.

The Captain sighed dramatically at that. "No. It would be a waste of a fine officer."

"Thank you, sir," Spock said with a tiny bow.

"Mmm…" Kirk grunted, turning toward the corridor that held conference room Mercury.

The doors glided open in front of them and the engineers stood as they entered. Kirk told the engineers the concerns Scotty had shared with him, hearing their side. Not that he believed for one minute that they knew more about warp drives than his chief engineer but Starfleet seemed determined to have the refits put in place, whether they improved efficiency or not.

"So what I am hearing," Kirk said in exaggerated patience, "is that Scotty's engines already surpass the efficiency which these modifications will supposedly supply."

"Starfleet instructed us to implement the modifications," Commander Randall, the head of the engineers, told him defensively.

"Have you explained to Chief Scott the exact nature of the changes you are intending to make?" Spock asked.

"Not precisely," Randall admitted.

"He is responsible for the engines, Commander. He knows everything there is to know about how Enterprise runs, and some things no one else could possibly understand. Yet you have chosen not to share, in detail, the work you are undertaking on his engines," the Captain said, the anger simmering below the even tone.

"Our orders are…" Randall began.

"I have read those orders, Commander. Nowhere did it say to exclude the Chief Engineer from your modifications," the Captain informed her.

"We provide him regular updates," Randall said.

"Updates and hands-on information are not equivalent, Commander," the Captain said.

"If there were a malfunction due to one of the modifications, Lt. Commander Scott would be ill equipped to diagnose the problem and effect the necessary repairs," Spock elaborated.

"I must ask you again," the Captain said, "why are you keeping Chief Scott away from the modifications?"

The engineers exchanged a glance, and the silence stretched on for too long a time. Captain Kirk straightened and turned away from them. "Very well. I will contact Starfleet directly." He didn't make it quite to the door before Commander Randall spoke.

"Captain," she said. "it isn't necessary for you to contact Starfleet."

"Unless I get a really good explanation for why I shouldn't, contacting them is just what I'm going to do."

"We thought…that is…we are aware of Chief Scott's talents, sir. We were afraid he wouldn't allow us to make the modifications. Because they won't increase the efficiency."

"Chief Scott is a reasonable man," the Captain assured her.

"Yes sir," she had to acknowledge. "We probably approached this in the wrong way."

"You most certainly did," Kirk agreed. "You will include Mr. Scott and you will treat him with the respect he deserves?" he challenged.

"Yes sir. We will apologize to him as well," Randall conceded.

"Very well. I will inform Mr. Scott. He will inform me if he encounters any additional interference."

"Understood, sir."

With a curt nod, the Captain left the conference room, Spock close behind. "They are a bunch of arrogant…"

"Arrogant, what?" Spock asked in silent amusement.

"Never mind. Kirk to Scott," he said over the intercom. When Scotty responded, the Captain explained about their conversation, Scotty grateful for his assistance. "What did you find out about the hydrogen leak?"

"Those Starfleet idiots punctured a line, sir. We can't fix it until we empty the tanks. Which we can't do unless we evacuate all personnel."

"How long will it take?" the Captain asked.

"An hour to empty the tanks. Half an hour to repair the line. Two hours to refill the tanks," Scotty said.

"Can Spacedock accommodate us all for that long?" the Captain asked Spock.

"Unknown, sir."

"Alright. I'll contact the administrator's office and see what they say. When do you want to begin?" Kirk asked Scotty.

"As soon as we can, sir. The leak isn't currently dangerous but it could cause an unsafe build up behind the bulkhead."

"Okay. We're going to Officer's Mess for lunch. You have time to join us?" Kirk asked.

"Aye sir. Be there momentarily."

"Very good, Scotty. We'll meet you in Officer's Mess after I talk to the administrator," Kirk said, disconnecting from the intercom. "Kirk to McCoy."

"McCoy here," came the answer.

"We're going to Officer's Mess for lunch. You have time to meet us there?"

"Sure," the Doctor agreed. "Be right there."

"Good. Kirk out." He turned to Spock, smiling up at him. "Go on to mess. I'll be there after I talk to the administrator."

"Of course. What would you like to eat?" Spock asked.

"Hmm…" Kirk considered it, studying Spock.

//Yes, I do intend to kiss you after lunch,// Spock confirmed, silent laughter transmitting across the bond.

"Fruit salad," the Captain decided with a smile.

"And coffee," Spock said turning to walk away.

"Naturally," the Captain laughed.

Spock entered Officers' Mess to find Scotty already at the Captain's table, waiting for him. Most of the others present acknowledged Spock's arrival with a nod but continued their lunch and conversation. Spock and Scotty went to the dispenser and requested their meals as well as one for the Captain, sitting at the table.

"How many engineers will you require to repair the hydrogen line?" Spock asked Scotty as he began to peel an orange.

"Lt. Sunderson and I can take care of it. Fixing it won't take nearly as long as getting it ready then refilling it," Scotty said.

Spock nodded at that, watching the Doctor enter and come over to their table.

"What'd you do with Jim?" McCoy laughed.

"He's contacting dock administration," Scotty said, explaining about the hydrogen leak.

"I see," McCoy said, eating a slice of Spock's orange.

"Do you currently have any patients who are not ambulatory?" Spock asked.

"Right now, everybody's disgustingly healthy," McCoy was glad to report.

"A fact which has little to do with your medical abilities," Spock said casually, making McCoy laugh.

"I walked right into that one," he admitted.

"You are usually more careful," Scotty agreed.

McCoy shrugged at that, accepting another slice of orange from Spock, a peace offering of sorts. He smiled over at the Captain as he entered. Everyone present stood until he waved them back to their seats.

"What'd they say, Captain?" Scotty asked as the Captain sat and accepted his salad.

"It won't be a problem for spacedock to accommodate us. It might overwhelm some of the restaurants but he'll warm them. He said 08:00 to noon would be best for them."

"Can we do it tomorrow?" Scotty asked.

"He asked that we give him a day unless it's critical," the Captain responded.

"That'll be fine," Scotty agreed.

"Are you going to graze off our plates or get your own?" Kirk scolded McCoy gently.

"I haven't decided yet," McCoy claimed.

"If you do finally go get your own, will you get me some cheese and crackers?" Jim requested, handing Bones a strawberry.

"Sure," McCoy agreed, wandering off. He was stopped several times, some of the officers simply wanting to speak to him.

"Once I talk to Yeoman Blaine at 12:45, I can squeeze in a nap before Starfleet contacts me," the Captain said, considering it.

"Indeed," Spock said.

"You napping too?" Scotty asked Spock with a smile.

"Sleeping during ship's day holds no appeal to me," Spock claimed way too seriously.

"Napping doesn't necessarily mean sleeping," Scotty pointed out.

"Then there ought to be a different term used," Spock suggested.

"I don't think you want Scotty to use that term right here," Jim said with a laugh.

"I would be interested in what term Mr. Scott would use," Spock said.

Scotty had to laugh at his statement. "Touché, Mr. Spock."

"Anyway, I'm planning to sleep until Starfleet contacts me," the Captain claimed.

"You not sleepin' Jim?" McCoy asked, hearing only the end of the conversation on his return.

"I'm sleeping fine, Bones. Just looking forward to a nap because I can."

"I can understand that," the Doctor agreed, giving the Captain the cheese and crackers.

"Thanks We'll need to tell Lt. Akia to broadcast the evacuation for 08:00 day after tomorrow," the Captain said.

"I'll take care of it, sir," Scotty said. "I am in command," he laughed.

"Very true. You go yell at Yeoman Blaine. More time for me to sleep," Jim said.

"You rarely raise your voice," Spock observed.

"Yellin' isn't always loud, Spock," McCoy observed.

"Another human term used inappropriately," Spock said.

"Maybe too loosely," Jim agreed.

"What other term?" McCoy asked, swiping some cheese from the Captain.

"Never mind," Jim laughed. "Why didn't you get your own serving of cheese?"

"I didn't want any until I saw yours," Bones claimed.

"Shall I get you a serving?" Spock asked, standing.

"Sure, since you're up. Thanks," the Doctor agreed.

"Captain? Chief? Anything further?" Spock asked.

"I'm all set," the Captain assured him.

"Nothing more for me," Scotty agreed.

Spock nodded, going over for his tea and McCoy's cheese.

"You still want to go to port, Jim? Since we'll be there in a couple of days?" Bones asked.

"Sure. Then we can have pasta twice," he laughed. "And Scotty can't go with us when we evacuate."

"That's true. Good," the doctor said with a nod. "Are you leaving someone here in case something goes wrong?"

"We'll have a security detail at the air lock. They can't be on board the entire time," he explained.

"Scotty and the Lieutenant will," the doctor said in some concern.

"We'll empty the tanks remotely, doctor. We'll only be on the ship for the half an hour it takes to fix the line," Scotty said.

"And we'll assign security to the ship while they are fixing it, just in case," the Captain assured him.

"Okay. So it's not as dangerous as it sounds," the doctor said.

"Not at all," Scotty agreed as Spock resumed his seat, a steaming cup of tea in one hand, a plate of cheese in the other.

"Thanks," McCoy said, accepting the cheese. "What time do the shops close at the port?"

"Mmm…20:00?" the Captain guessed.

"Sounds right," Scotty agreed.

"Do you have shopping to do?" the Captain asked McCoy.

"Maybe."

"There will be time during our evacuation," Spock reminded him.

"True. Will the crew get bored?" McCoy asked ideally.

"There is a movie theater, shops, food. They can keep themselves amused for four hours," the Captain said.

"True. Is there a bookstore?" the doctor asked.

"There is a purveyor of antiques," Spock said.

"Good. A real movie theater?"

"That's my understanding," the Captain agreed.

"What about gamma shift, Captain?" Scotty asked.

"The administrator is reserving us 40 rooms. They can stay through all of ship's day if they want, just like the rest of the crew," the Captain said.

"Who's payin' for those rooms?" McCoy asked.

"We will," Kirk said.

"We as in Starfleet?" McCoy responded.

"We as in me," the Captain admitted.

"That's not right," the doctor protested.

"We don't have enough money in the ship's budget. I can't expect them to stay awake through the evacuation. So I'm paying for their rooms," the Captain explained.

"Let me pay part," the doctor requested.

"Aye, Captain. I will as well," Scotty added.

"That's really not necessary," the Captain said with a smile.

"We ought to make Commander Randall pay," Scotty suggested.

"We should," the Captain laughed.

"Why's the budget short?" McCoy asked.

"We haven't figured that our yet. We're looking into it this afternoon."

"Captain, it is 12:40," Spock said.

"Okay. Starfleet is contacting me at 14:30. I plan to sleep until then unless you need me," the Captain said to the other two as he and Spock stood.

"We'll try hard not to," McCoy promised.

"Don't forget to tell Akia about the evacuation," the Captain reminded Scotty.

"Aye sir. As soon as I finish lunch."

"Thanks," Kirk said with a nod. After a glance to Spock, they left the mess.

"You should not be required to pay for the rooms," Spock said quietly.

"What choice is there? I'm not making the crew pay it themselves."

"It is the responsibility of Starfleet to provide appropriate accommodations," Spock said.

"I'll mention it this afternoon. Unless you used a lot more of my credits than I thought, I can cover the rooms," Jim laughed.

"Perhaps I transferred all of your credits to my account," Spock suggested.

"Then you'll have to pay," he laughed in response.

"My possible embezzlement of your funds does not concern you?"

"First, you are as incapable of stealing as you are of lying. Second, everything I have is yours. So if you took all of my credits, I would not care in the least."

"I trust you know that the opposite is true," Spock said in a way the Captain especially appreciated.

"I do know," he responded, stopping to smile up at the Vulcan. They did not notice the two crewmembers who passed them as they stood, the only two beings in their private universe.

Spock finally nodded, breaking the spell, the love lingering.

Kirk entered the turbolift first, watching Spock follow. "Maybe I don't really need to sleep," the Captain suggested seductively.

"There are other way to use our time when we are off duty," Spock agreed.

"Mmm…" Jim sighed, leaving the lift when it had glided to a stop. They went directly to forward mess, entering, everyone standing in response. The Captain ignored all the occupants, going over to the table where Yeoman Blaine stood with three of his friends. The expression on the Yeoman's face betrayed the fact that he knew he was the reason for the Captain's visit.

"Yeoman. Come with me," the Captain ordered.

"Yes, sir," Yeoman Blaine agreed quietly.

"As you were," the Captain said to everyone else as he and Spock left, the yeoman close behind. The Captain crossed the corridor to a small conference room where three of his crew were eating. They stood in surprise when the Captain and First Officer entered.

"I need the room," the Captain said. The three quickly collected their trays and left silently.

The Captain turned all of his attention to the yeoman, looking up at the tall young man. He was graced with dark brown hair that had curls barely kept under control. His eyes were the same dark brown, sprinkled with flecks of grey. There was a liberal sprinkling of freckles covering his nose and cheeks, making Blaine look absurdly young.

"Explain to me why you requested yet another transfer," the Captain ordered.

"I would prefer to be assigned to security, sir," Blaine said evenly.

"Why?" the Captain countered.

"I don't think astrophysics is for me, sir."

"It's not for you," the Captain repeated.

"No sir."

"Yet you made top marks at the Academy. You had two journal articles published prior to graduation. Six months ago, your research on the zeta wave bursts was one of the topics of the Federation Astrophysics conference. But astrophysics is not for you," the Captain said, staring up at the younger man.

"Maybe I need a change, sir," Blaine suggested. His reason sounded lame and he knew it.

"Maybe you have other reasons for requesting the transfer," the Captain suggested.

"Yes, sir," Blaine conceded finally.

"Even if I permitted your transfer to security, which I have no intention of doing, the possibility that you would be assigned the same shift as Tamal is very unlikely."

"I would still get to see her, sir."

"You cannot derail your career for a roll in the hay, yeoman," the Captain said.

"It's not a casual fling, sir," Blaine protested respectfully.

"Then marry her and be assigned the same quarters."

"It's not that easy, sir," Blaine said.

"Does she feel the same for you, Yeoman?" the Captain asked, suspicious that he was just now getting the entire story.

"I believe so, sir."

"You believe so?" the Captain repeated. "You are willing to risk your career on someone you haven't told how you feel?"

"I told her, sir. I tell her all the time."

"And what does she say?" the Captain asked.

"She needs time, sir," the Yeoman said.

"Time for what?"

"She hasn't said, sir."

"I see," Kirk said, pinning the yeoman with his gaze. "You are not being transferred to security. You will remain in astrophysics where you clearly belong. If you request another transfer, it will be off Enterprise. Do I make myself clear?"

"Perfectly clear, sir," Blaine responded. "Do you know what it's like, sir?"

"What, Yeoman?"

"To be in love. Utterly and completely. To be able to think of nothing but her?"

"I do know Yeoman," the Captain said.

Blaine glanced at Spock and his carefully blank expression before looking back at the Captain. "Will you talk to her, please, sir?"

"Yes, Yeoman. I will talk to her. Day after tomorrow we are evacuating the ship so Scotty can repair a ruptured hydrogen line. I will speak with her while we are in spaceport."

"Thank you, sir. I won't request another transfer," Blaine promised.

"And you will do your very best work in our astrophysics lab."

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, Yeoman. Return to your lunch," the Captain said in dismissal.

"Thank you, sir,"

Kirk waited until the young man left, turning to face Spock.

"Why are you filled with doubts, T'hy'la? You handled it with your usual expertise."

"Not so much," Kirk sighed.

"Why do you say this?"

"I'll explain in quarters."

"Very well. Do you know that I love you? That you are all I am often capable of thinking about?" Spock asked quietly.

"I do know," the Captain agreed with a warm smile.

"As it should be," Spock said with a nod.

Jim turned to leave, Spock right behind. They walked together to the turbolift, going to the level with their quarters. When they were inside, Spock gently kissed his Captain before sitting down in one of the chairs to watch him pace. "Tell me what troubles you."

"I let him off the hook. I intended to make him sweat. To squirm," the Captain said, an edge of impatience in his voice.

"What changed your intentions?"

"He's very young and very much in love. I understand why he did what he did. She's very attractive, inside and out. I think he's about to have his heart broken."

"He will survive," Spock said.

"I know."

"What leads you to believe she will hurt him, T'hy'la?"

"Her unwillingness to reciprocate. It won't matter if I do talk to her. I don't think anything will change."

"This falls under the category of surrogate father?" Spock asked.

"It does indeed," the Captain agreed with a weary sigh.

"Perhaps you should take this opportunity to nap, love. We will have time for other activities after your discussion with Starfleet."

"I think you're right," Jim agreed. "I don't suppose you want to sleep as well, do you?" he asked with a tired, charming smile.

"I do not intend to sleep. However, I can review ship's budgets reclining in bed," Spock confirmed. He stood to embrace his Captain and used the closeness to remove his gold tunic. He then removed his own. "Sit. I will deal with your boots."

Jim sat, waiting as Spock removed his boots. Spock then reached up for the fastening on Jim's trousers, undoing it and pulling them off.

"Thank you," Jim said, kissing Spock's warm lips and tasting the lingering flavor of his Vulcan spice tea.

"Get into bed. I will be there momentarily," Spock said, pulling back the covers so Jim could lay down.

Jim lay in his customary place, watching Spock until he left the sleep area. It didn't take long for him to return, undressed and holding a padd. "Make sure I don't oversleep," Jim reminded him as Spock joined him in bed.

"You can be certain that I will wake you," Spock promised. He looked down at his Human, unable to resist caressing his hair. "Sleep well, beautiful one."

"Mmm…" Jim sighed in contentment, reaching out one hand to place it one Spock's thigh. Assured of his proximity, the Captain drifted off.

Spock watched his face relax before he pulled his focus to the state of the ship's budgets.

"T'hy'la," Spock said gently, kissing his sleeping Human.

"Hmm…" the Captain sighed, rolling onto his back to look up at Spock. "Is it time/"

"Yes. I have reviewed Lt. Matherson's reports. There was a transposition of numbers. The budgets do not have a shortfall."

"Oh good. Why didn't Matherson see the error?"

"I believe it is because he entered the figures. One often sees what one expects to see."

"True. Did you tell him?"

"Not yet. I was correcting the budgets prior to contacting him," Spock explained.

"That makes sense. I have time to visit the bathroom, right?"

"Yes. You need to put on at least your uniform shirt," Spock reminded him.

"I will," Kirk agreed, leaving the bed. He answered his body's call, splashing cold water on his face in an effort to look more awake.

Spock waited outside the door, a fresh shirt in one hand, a glass of ice water in the other.

"Thank you," Jim said, pulling on the shirt before accepting the water to drink.

"Remember to tell them about the accommodations for gamma shift," Spock said, kissing Jim quickly.

"I will. You coming?"

"Naturally," Spock said, following Jim into his quarters, Spock also wearing only his uniform shirt, making inexplicably sexy to Jim. "You also look most attractive," Spock said aloud.

"Mmm…sure hope they can't see that you are causing an erection to form," Jim laughed as he sat before his computer.

"Not possible," Spock assured him.

"Good thing," Kirk said, taking his focus off his bondmate when his computer beeped to alert him. "Kirk here."

"I have Starfleet for you, sir," Lt Akia told him.

"Thank you, Lieutenant."

She nodded, fading out to be replaced by a panel of three admirals. "Captain," the man in the center said pleasantly.

"Admiral," the Captain responded.

"Ship's status?"

The Captain informed them about all that was occurring, including the need to evacuate.

"Certainly Starfleet will take responsibility for paying for the rooms, Captain," the Admiral told him.

"Thank you, sir. Lt. Randall has assured me that Chief Engineer Scott will be included in all subsequent modifications," Kirk told them.

"He's not to change their protocols," the second Admiral warned.

"Jerry, we aren't going to allow them to decrease Enterprise's efficiency," the Admiral said. "Personnel status, Captain?"

"We have two crewmembers who are pregnant. One is due in six months, the other in five," Kirk informed them.

"Do you want Earth transfers?" the Admiral asked.

"Regrettably, Admiral. I hate loosing them and their spouses."

"Can't be helped, Captain."

"I understand, sir."

The Admiral gave the Captain the next ship's orders, the Captain acknowledging.

"We have heard that the Klingons have been making excursions into Federation space," Kirk remarked.

"We have heard the same. If it continues, Enterprise will join Excalibur on patrol."

"Yes sir," Kirk acknowledged.

"Anything further, Captain?"

"Not at this time, Admiral."

"Very well. Starfleet out."

And with that, they were gone. Jim smiled in relief at Spock, leaning closer to kiss him.

"You want to go on patrol with Excalibur now," Spock said.

"Of course. Better Klingons than diplomats," Jim agreed with a shrug.

"You are a diplomat, Captain," Spock reminded him, silent laughter and love reflected in his eyes,

"Only because I can't avoid it."

"True," Spock had to agree. "Even so, you are highly skilled at diplomacy."

"Thank you, Commander," Jim laughed. "Is there any ice cream left?"

"Indeed. Shall I get you a bowl?"

"I'll do it," Jim said, standing.. "It's in my freezer?"

"Yes," Spock replied absently, caressing his mate's stomach, loving strokes over the muscular form.

"Maybe the ice cream can wait," Jim decided, gazing down at Spock's immaculate cap of black silk as he continued his caress.

"A most delightful suggestion," Spock agreed, leaning closer and making delicious contact with Jim's erection.

"Mmm…" Jim moaned very softly. He put his hands on Spock's shoulders, steadying himself as Spock took him into his hot, loving mouth. "Oh gods," he whispered, swaying in time with Spock's motions.

All too soon, Spock brought him to delicious fulfillment, Kirk shuddering with pleasure. "What do you want?" Jim whispered, looking down at his lover's upturned face, a faint coating of Jim's pleasure on his lips.

"You. Use of your body," Spock requested, once more kissing his Human's hard stomach above the carmel colored curls.

"I'm yours," Jim assured him.

"This I know," Spock said softly. "We will need the lubricant."

"Come," Jim invited, holding out one hand in invitation. He led Spock to his sleeping area, pulling back the covers as Spock got the familiar tube from the drawer. Jim watched Spock, drinking in the sight of his lover, relishing his affirming presence, his unspoken strength, his unquestioned love.

When Spock kissed him, when their mouths met, when their souls merged once more, they were made whole, the concerns of their ship and those on her set aside, no thought possible except the love they shared.

Without considering how it happened, they discarded their shirts, Spock laying on top of his Human, gazing down in admiration at those sparkling eyes before kissing him, consuming him, loving him.

Jim tried to form the words to tell Spock all that he felt, how he knew utter happiness only because of the gifts Spock bestowed on him, but it was not possible. Spock did not require the words to be spoken. He had the sensations, the mental images, the security of his Captain's love, and so much more.

"Will you turn over for me?" Spock whispered into one pink ear, chewing on it and his love's warm lips.

"You need to move," Jim laughed, unable to turn while pinned under the delicious weight of his Vulcan.

Spock kissed him as he slipped off, laying next to Jim as he slowly rolled over onto his stomach, smiling at Spock the entire time. "You'll have to change the sheets again," the Captain teased as Spock kissed his way down the cooler skin exposed to him.

"I cherish the opportunity," Spock assured him, kissing the perfectly formed backside.

"So do I. I would cherish it even more if you would hurry."

"So impatient, love."

"Yes. I need you," Jim said, raising his backside in anticipation and invitation.

"I am aware of your longing, your need, and most of all your love," Spock said, returning to kissing his overheated pink skin. Sensing his love's growing impatience, he slipped gratefully into Jim's welcoming body, their minds and souls fusing, their love and desire all they knew.

Spock lay over Jim when they were complete, both panting to get enough air into their lungs.

"Have I mentioned recently that you are extremely talented?" Jim asked with little breath available to form the words.

"Not recently enough, Captain. I have endeavored to put to good use all of the instruction which you provided to me." Spock slid off his Human, laying next to him to study his face warm from the afterglow.

"And you have, Commander. You could give lessons."

"To whom, Captain?" Spock asked with an internal laugh.

"Well, that is an interesting question. Since you'll never make love to anyone but me," Jim said with a lazy smile.

"You are certain of your facts?"

"Absolutely certain," Jim assured him. "Should I have reason to doubt it?"

"Need you even ask, T'hy'la?"

"Well, seriously, you'll live longer than I will, love. When I die, you should find a new... companion."

"Never. Ours is an eternal bond. Even after your death, you will remain with me. If I were to desire to take another lover, which I never would, no one else would have me as you would be with me still," Spock explained.

"What about when you enter Pon Farr after I've died?" Jim asked, studying Spock's face.

"I will no longer enter Pon Farr."

"I see," Jim said. "That seems a little...lonely for you. Since you could outlive me by a hundred years."

"As half human, my life will not be quite so long. Even if I were to outlive you by 200 years or 400, I would never want to have anyone else by my side."

"As selfish as that is, I find it very...uhm... romantic, I guess," Jim decided.

"When a Vulcan pledges eternal love, that is exactly what it means," Spock said, kissing him lightly.

"I guess I knew that on some level. But I never thought of it in connection to what it would mean after I die," Jim said.

"Must we discuss so somber a topic after so pleasurable a time together?" Spock asked.

"Mmm..." Jim sighed, his eyes drifting closed of their own accord.

"You're falling asleep, aren't you, T'hy'la?" Spock asked softly.

"I'm sorry," Jim whispered.

"There is no need for your apology. Sleep. I will be close by when you wake," Spock promised.

"Mmm..." Jim moaned in agreement. Or perhaps in argument. It was hard to tell and made no difference at any rate.

Spock watched him sleep peacefully for several minutes before leaving the bed to pull on his robe and sit at Jim's desk. He automatically contacted the bridge, reassured that there was nothing to report. Scotty also assured him that all was now well in Engineering, the Starfleet Engineers respectful of his input.

"Very good, Mr. Scott. Alert me if you should need me," Spock reminded him.

"Is the Captain unwell?" Scotty asked, his concern transmitting across the intercom.

"He is...quite well. Otherwise occupied," Spock said, signing off.

Spock used the time to review and complete some of the never ending paperwork involved in being the second in command of their starship. He intercepted two communications intended for the Captain, refusing to wake him for routine matters. Really, those department heads should have decided the matters themselves.

"That is final, Lieutenant," Spock said firmly, disconnecting.

"Who were you yelling at?" Jim asked from he was leaning against the divider, an unmistakable smirk on his face.

"At whom were you yelling," Spock corrected.

"I wasn't yelling at anyone. You were," Jim laughed.

"Lt. Davenport," Spock admitted.

"Let me guess. He wanted to close down the replicators again. Even though Bones has told him there is no reason to."

"Yes. I do not understand his reasoning. They are functioning at top efficiency, according to Mr. Scott."

"Lt. Davenport is angry at Scotty. So he refuses to listen to anything he says. And he doesn't think Bones has the right to tell him anything about the replicators. Either you can referee or I'll have to do it," Jim said.

"Explain his outlook," Spock requested.

"He's mad at Scotty because Scotty told me he was the one who reprogrammed the replicators so all the broccoli had cheese sauce. Not that I minded but then you couldn't eat it. And I have no idea why Lt. Davenport thought broccoli shouldn't ever come plain. And he won't listen to Bones because he doesn't consider him a 'real' officer. CMO is apparently only honorary. Bones is about ready to send him out of an airlock without a spacesuit," Jim said.

"Why has Lt. Davenport become so contrary? He was not antagonistic previously."

"I don't know. Bones said it's because he was denied the promotion."

"He could not be promoted when he had failed to earn sufficient marks on the evaluations."

"I know that. But some humans blame the tests when they fail. Not themselves. I think it's because he has the hots for Lt. Swinson but Lt. Swinson only has eyes for Ensign Parmater," Jim said with a shrug. "I want that ice cream now," he decided, turning for his freezer.

"What does Ensign Parmater think of Lt. Swinson?" Spock asked, watching Jim scoop out some ice cream.

"I don't know. She hasn't told me. Lt. Swinson told Uhura he wants to date the Ensign. She told him to tell me since Parmater is in Swinson's line of command. I advised him against it so he asked me to transfer Parmater. I guess I could but I don't want Parmater to think she's done anything wrong. She likes being in maintenance although I thought her talents could be better used elsewhere."

"Would it be helpful if I discussed her assignment with her?" Spock offered.

"If you want. It might get messy. You can do it when we're at the Spacedock. More casual conversation," Jim suggested, sitting on his comfortable love seat.

"Why do you predict that it will become messy?" Spock asked, sitting next to him and caressing his bare thigh.

"Anytime you start talking about relationships, it can become complicated. And you'll have to decide whether or not to tell Parmater that Swinson requested her transfer. She may not know how he feels so you'll be the one telling her."

"Ahh..." Spock said in realization. "Perhaps I will leave the sorting of personal lives in your more capable hands."

"I don't know that they are more capable," Jim laughed. "More experienced."

"True," Spock agreed, watching Jim eat his ice cream. "You did not want syrup or whipped cream?"

"Yes. But not on my ice cream," Jim said, licking his spoon, studying Spock from beneath his lashes.

"Not on your ice cream?" Spock repeated.

"I'm saving it to put on my favorite Vulcan," Jim whispered.

"It would be wasteful to use it on your non-favorite Vulcan," Spock agreed softly.

"Good thing I have a favorite Vulcan, huh?"

"Fortunate for us both. Just as I have a favorite Human."

"Why does it sound like I'm your pet when you say it?" Jim laughed.

"Are you not?" Spock asked in a quiet voice.

"Well, yes, I suppose I am," Jim agreed with a silly smile. "Especially when I'm tied to your wall."

"Precisely. It has been my experience that pets wander off from time to time. It's best to keep them confined, for their own safety."

"I have no plans to go anywhere," Jim assured him.

"I am confident you would return when you were hungry," Spock teased.

"Hungry for you," Jim confirmed. "I wish you ate ice cream. You have no idea how good this is."

"I have some idea. And there are many Vulcan dishes I enjoy that you refuse to eat," Spock pointed out.

"Yes. Does Amanda eat ice cream?"

"When she is on Earth she does. She ate quite a lot of it when she was carrying me. Sarek would have it made for her on Vulcan."

"Good for him."

"And for her," Spock agreed. "I am planning to go to space dock to swim. Would that be of any interest to you?"

"Absolutely. We'll be done in time for dinner," Jim agreed. "We better shower here."

"I believe they would not appreciate the remnants of our afternoon's activity in their pool," Spock said.

"That's the loveliest way anyone has ever described cum to me," Jim laughed.

"I dislike that word. Which you are aware," Spock scolded mildly.

"Yes I am. I'm not fond of it myself. I mostly said it to see you blush," Jim teased.

"Vulcans do not blush."

"On the contrary. My Vulcan does quite frequently," Jim told him with a smile.

Spock chose to ignore that comment, instead standing and reaching down a hand for his Human. After disposing of the ice cream bowl, they showered and dressed, informing the Doctor and Scotty that they would meet them at the restaurant.

After an invigorating swim, they shared good conversation and excellent pasta with their friends, all declaring it one of the best meals they had ever had. The three humans had a little too much to drink by their own admission but Spock made sure they all got back safely to the ship.

The next morning, they all resumed their regular duties, albeit somewhat abbreviated still being docked. The Captain made certain that all departments were ready to evacuate, Scotty assuring him that they had everything they needed to make the repairs to the ruptured line.

The evacuation was orderly and methodical the next morning, slowed by the fact that all personnel were leaving. The crew was patient in waiting to transport, causal conversations and laughter in the corridors as they discussed their plans once on spacedock.

"Are you coming, Captain?" one of the lieutenants asked as the Captain and Spock walked the line, checking in, chatting.

"Yes we are. As soon as all the crew has transported. Dr. McCoy is already there, making sure you don't get into too much trouble," the Captain joked, all those who heard laughing.

"And if we do get into trouble, sir?" one of the ensigns asked with a laugh.

"Dr. McCoy's retribution will be swift and terrible," the Captain warned.

"I don't want to be unconscious the entire time we're at the port," the lieutenant agreed lightly.

"Wise, Everson. So behave yourselves," he said before continuing down the corridor, Spock by his side.

When the last the crew had transported, Kirk and Spock entered the transporter room, checking with Scotty one last time.

"We'll be fine, sir," Scotty assured him. "I'll contact you if anything out of the ordinary happens."

"Alright, Scotty. I'll buy you and Sunderson lunch when you're done."

"Aye sir. We're looking forward to that," Scotty agreed. "You ready, sirs?"

Kirk nodded. "Energize."

They materialized on the space dock, other members of their crew wandering by.

"Why are you so concerned, Captain?" Spock asked, studying him.

"Because they'll be by themselves except for Lt. Zimmerman. I know it will be fine, but..."

"If you had stayed, you could do nothing to assist them, sir," Spock pointed out.

"Yes, I know," Jim agreed. He straightened slightly, smiling at Spock. "Let's see if we can find the sex shop where you made your purchases."

"You have no more intention of going in that store than I ever did," Spock said sternly.

"What makes you think that?"

"The fact that it is likely you will encounter members of your crew there. You will not risk making an appearance in a store where you would not want your crew to know you had shopped," Spock told him.

"You don't want me to go in there," Jim corrected with a laugh. "You don't want the crew to know I might shop there."

Spock merely stared at him, the bond transmitting Spock's discomfort at the idea of Kirk entering the store in question.

"Alright, T'hy'la. I won't go," Jim assured him, a light hand on his arm.

"Thank you. Where would you like to go?" Spock asked, more than ready to change the subject.

"That antique store you told Bones sold books. Where is Bones?" Jim asked, looking around as though he might find him by their side. Jim took out his communicator, contacting the doctor to find him already in the antique store. "We'll be there in a few minutes."

"I'm fairly confident they do not sell items of an intimate nature," Spock said.

"I'm sorry I teased you," Jim said, sending waves of warmth. "You know I never really intended to go in that shop."

"Your behavior is not always predictable to me," Spock said, releasing the last of his anger.

"It is when it comes to doing anything that might hurt or upset you. I would never intentionally make you uncomfortable."

"Yes, I know this. My anger was inappropriate. My apologies."

"You can buy me a cup of coffee to make up to me," Jim said in his most flirtatious tone.

"It will be my honor, Captain" Spock agreed with a nod.

"Thank you, Commander," Jim said, leading their way to a convenient shop that sold delicious coffee.

"Nothing for me, thank you," Spock assured the proprietor. "Do you suppose Dr. McCoy would like a cup?"

"He might," Jim said, accepting the steaming cup as Spock contacted the doctor.

"No thanks," McCoy said. "Tell Jim I found him a copy of Dante's Inferno."

"How is it?" Jim asked.

"In good shape. Not too expensive. I'm holding it for you."

"We'll be there very shortly," Jim agreed. He and Spock wandered over to the antique shop, finding McCoy immersed in the stacks and stacks of old books. "You find yourself anything?"

"Not yet," McCoy said, handing Jim the antique book. "I found this volume of Srobent's poetry," McCoy said, showing it to Spock.

"Quite a find, doctor," Spock said, accepting it to carefully open it.

"Do you have that one?" Jim asked, leaning closer to see it.

"I do not. I believe that I will purchase it," Spock decided.

"You looking for anything in particular, Bones?" Jim asked, looking at the names of the books on display before them.

"Not really. Just love the smell and the tactical experience of touching them."

"A tactical experience by nature involves touching," Spock said as he too examined the books.

McCoy heaved an exaggerated sigh but otherwise made no comment. Jim had the distinct impression that McCoy would have liked to stick out his tongue at Spock but refrained from doing so.

//What purpose would be served by showing me his tongue?// Spock asked.

//An old old Earth gesture. Used to convey...not anger, exactly. Exasperation maybe. Kids do it.//

//A sign of their inability to verbally express their feelings?//

//Something like that,// Jim agreed.

//Interesting.//

"What are you two doing?" McCoy asked suspiciously when they had been quiet too long for his liking.

"Talking," Jim admitted.

"About what?" Bones demanded.

"Nonverbal communication by immature humans," Spock said.

"Such as?"

"I thought you looked ready to stick your tongue out at Spock," Jim explained with a laugh. "He asked why you would show him your tongue."

"Sometimes it's the only appropriate response to overly literal Vulcans," Bones agreed in his usual grumpy fashion.

"I cannot imagine a situation in which that type of nonverbal communication would be appropriate," Spock countered. Which made Bones do exactly what they had been discussing, Jim laughing at him.

"Well. I guess that's settled," Jim laughed.

"A most interesting behavior," Spock decided.

"I'm going to look at the stacks...over there," Bones said, leaving them to themselves.

//He is not truly angry, is he?// Spock asked.

//No. If you didn't argue with him, he'd think something was wrong,// Jim assured him.

//Very well.//

They looked through the books for half an hour more, Spock finding two volumes he wished to purchase, Jim finding three antique westerns he did not have, Bones deciding to buy a very old copy of Grey's Anatomy.

Their purchases complete and entrusted to the proprietary to send to the ship, they discussed the next possible stop they would make.

"I need to run a quick errand," Jim said. "You two go on to the restaurant. Order me a muffin and coffee. I'll be there in 15 minutes."

"Very well," Spock agreed, McCoy also nodding.

"Where is he going?" McCoy asked as they went down two levels.

"He is blocking it from me."

"Does that concern you?" McCoy asked casually.

"Not at all. We have both learned to partition our thoughts and to respect the privacy of the other," Spock explained.

"I guess you'd have to learn not to eavesdrop," McCoy agreed.

"When we first bonded, he had considerable difficulty segmenting his thoughts. His mental discipline has improved tremendously," Spock said.

"Because you taught him how," McCoy said.

"Yes. He is an adept student," Spock responded.

"Does he know we're talking about him?" McCoy asked out of curiosity.

"He may be aware. But it does not concern him. If we were worried or needed him, he would be more actively with me," Spock said.

"Very convenient, this bond," McCoy decided.

"I find it to be so. As does Jim," Spock said warmly. They entered the small cafe, finding it filled with members of the crew.

"Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy," Uhura called to them from the table where she sat with Sulu and Chekov. "Won't you join us?"

"Thank you, Uhura," Bones agreed for them both.

"Where's the Captain?" Sulu asked when he returned with two extra chairs.

"On an errand," Bones explained, sitting down and looking up at Spock. "Where are you going?"

"To place our order, Doctor. This establishment does not have servers."

"Oh," McCoy said, looking around and finding a long line at the front counter. "I'll go order."

"Thank you, Doctor," Spock agreed, sitting and grateful that he was spared from having to stand in the line surrounded by so many members of the crew and their possibly rampant thoughts.

"I'll go, Doctor," Chekov volunteered. "What do you want?"

"That isn't necessary, Ensign," McCoy protested.

"It will be my pleasure, sirs. Vulcan spice tea for you, Commander?"

"Yes, please. The Captain would like coffee and a muffin. Banana nut if it is available. Any flavor if it is not."

"And I'll have a latte," Bones requested, handing Chekov his credit chip.

"I'll be back as quick as I can," the ensign promised.

They talked about what they had done, trying to decide if they wanted to go to the movie theater. Spock said he thought it sounded interesting and would check with the Captain when he returned. Dr. McCoy was excited about visiting a real theater, Uhura agreeing with him.

"Sulu?" McCoy asked.

"Pavel and I were planning to go. The next show is in 30 minutes," Sulu explained.

Spock nodded, watching as the Captain returned, trading pleasantries with all the members of the crew, helping Chekov bring the refreshments to the table, Sulu bringing another chair over.

"That sounds like great fun," Kirk agreed when Uhura asked him about the movie. "I just need to check with Scotty first," he said, using his communicator to contact Lt. Zimmerman. The lieutenant assured him that all was well and then passed his communicator to Scotty.

"We're all finished with the repairs, sir," Scotty said. "The tanks will be refilled in 24 minutes."

"Very good," the Captain acknowledged. "Let me know if you need me. Kirk out." The Captain returned his attention to his companions as they continued to discuss the idea of going to the movie. "What's playing?"

They admitted that they weren't entirely sure, none of them particularly concerned, the novelty sufficient reason to attend the showing.

"They don't show porn, right?" Uhura asked, just to make sure.

"No, Lieutenant," Sulu laughed.

"Alright. A girl can't be too careful," she said with a saucy wink for Sulu.

"Shall we go?" the Captain asked, standing when everyone was finished with their snack.

They all agreed, going down the promenade to the theater. Several other members of the crew were already there, purchasing tickets. When they all had their tickets, Uhura decided she wanted some popcorn, Chekov agreeing to help her with the purchases for the others. The rest went into the theater, settling into seats on the back row, Spock at the end, Kirk next to him, McCoy next, the others sorting themselves out. There was some chatting as they waited, the movie starting just as Chekov and Uhura returned.

It turned out to be an old western, the good guys triumphing in the end, the bandits vanquished, peace restored to the tiny mining town.

"Not the best I've ever seen, but great fun," the Captain commented when Sulu asked what he thought.

"There weren't enough women," Uhura protested mildly.

"Often the case," the Captain had to agree. "Different time. Different ideas."

"Sadly," Chekov said with a wink. "Russian literature contains many prominent female characters."

"Of course it does," Uhura laughed.

With some conversation and more laughter, they all returned to the ship, resuming their duties as the crew filtered back on. The Captain and Spock went to double check with Scotty, assured that all was as it should be. They went to the bridge, mostly staring at the blank viewscreen and chatting with the Command Crew.

The next day proceeded as days did in spaceport. Time to catch up on paperwork, talking to crew members who needed reminders of their duties, telling those who were excelling to keep up the good work. Ensign Parmater visited the Captain to tell him that she had thought about what they had discussed and she neither wanted a transfer nor entertain a relationship with the Lieutenant.

"Thank you for telling me, Ensign," the Captain said. "You'll tell Lt. Swinson?"

"I already have, sir. He was disappointed but understands. Thank you for not implementing the transfer he requested."

"I would not do so without first discussing it with you," he assured her.

"It is your prerogative, sir," she said quietly, a soft blush covering her cheeks.

"Yes. Is there anything further, ensign?" he asked in a carefully neutral voice.

"No sir. Thank you, sir." She left the bridge, Kirk staring straight ahead.

//Don't say it,// he requested of Spock.

//She cannot help the way she feels any more than can I,// Spock returned.

//Except I do everything I can to encourage you. The exact opposite is true with her,// Jim said.

//I do know,// Spock assured him.

//What are you doing?// Jim asked, turning to study him.

//Recalibrating the external sensors.//

//Do they need to be recalibrated?// the Captain asked.

//Not at this time. However, I find myself with extra time on my hands and thought to put it to good use,// Spock explained.

"Boring isn't it?" the Captain said out loud. "I think I'll go inspect sickbay."

"Do I need to accompany you, sir?" Spock asked.

"No. You have the bridge, Commander," the Captain decided, leaving the big chair for the turbo lift. //Yes, I know I'll pay for leaving you here,// he laughed silently.

//I do not believe drinking brandy with the doctor qualifies as an inspection,// Spock said as he sat in the command chair.

//It could be a liberal interpretation,// the Captain decided with an internal laugh.

Spock responded with a noise that sounded very much like a snort, the Captain laughing again as he left the lift on the level of sickbay. "Bones?" he called when he entered.

"In here, Jim," McCoy said, standing in the doorway to his office. "Need something?"

"New walls to stare at."

"Good thing we're leaving soon. Whole crew's starting to get stir crazy," McCoy agreed, sitting in one of the chairs in front of his desk as the Captain sat in the other.

"Spock and I are going to spend the night at the space dock," Jim said casually.

"Spock know that?"

"Not yet," Jim laughed. "He will soon. Well, as soon as you deliver this envelope to him. Give me half an hour than give it to him."

"Clues?" McCoy asked.

"Uh huh. I've told him that if he can't figure it out, you'll help. Ask him to come down here for them. You two can figure it out together."

"Sounds like fun."

"I hope it will be. I enjoyed doing it. We'll be back tomorrow morning around 10:00. Scotty knows I'll be gone until then. And I'll have my communicator if you need me."

"Alright. You need anything else?"

"Nope. I have everything I need. Or will once Spock arrives," Jim laughed.

"Have fun," McCoy said as Jim stood and left.

Jim went to his quarters to pick up the small tote, certain everything they would need was included. He reinforced his mental barriers, keeping most of Spock's thoughts at a safe distance.

//What are you doing, T'hy'la?// Spock asked when he realized he was being kept out.

//Never mind. Go see Bones when he calls you,// Jim directed with warmth.

//I will. I will see you soon?//

//Soon,// Jim agreed, leaving the ship.

Spock waited impatiently, agreeing automatically to go to sickbay when the Doctor called him. Upon his arrival, McCoy handed him the large envelope, shrugging as Spock opened it to find four smaller envelopes numbered 1 to 4.

"Clues," McCoy said, watching Spock open #1. It was an oversized puzzle piece with a circle and two lines, the shorter pointing to the 5, the longer pointing to the 6, a twelve at the top and the other numbers following in sequence.

"An old fashioned clock," Spock said.

"5:30. 17:30," McCoy said.

"Yes," Spock agreed, opening envelope #2. Inside was a second puzzle piece. On it was drawn a rectangle, longer than it was wide. Near the top of the rectangle was a smaller rectangle with the 530 written in it. Half way down on the left side was a small circle. "A door?" Spock guessed.

"That's what I would say," McCoy agreed. "What's #3?"

Spock opened that envelope, the puzzle piece graced with a stick figure. It could represent any humanoid except for the gracefully pointed ear. Clearly it was meant to be Spock. "Come alone?"

"Sounds reasonable," McCoy agreed. "It's obviously you."

"I had no idea the Captain possessed such artistic talent."

"To draw stick figures?" McCoy laughed.

The last envelope held the final piece, a drawing of a black robe, silver markings down the front. "I should wear my clan robe," Spock decided.

"Definitely. You won't mind wearing it through space dock will you?"

"The Captain is at port?" Spock asked.

"Yes. At the hotel, room 530. You should get there at 17:30," McCoy said.

"Of course. I won't mind wearing my robe," Spock agreed. "Did you know of this?"

"I only know what Jim said when he gave me the envelope. That you would be gone tonight. Nothing else," McCoy said with a smile.

"I see. Most interesting," Spock said, picking up the completed puzzle.

"There's words on the back," McCoy laughed.

Spock sat it carefully face down on McCoy's desk. "PAY BACK'S A BITCH" it said, one word on each piece. "What does this mean?" Spock asked.

McCoy laughed again. "A little like 'revenge is a dish best served cold,'" he explained.

"Ahh...retribution for tying him up."

"That's my guess. Sounds like it could be fun," McCoy said.

"Yes," Spock agreed. "I must go change if I am to arrive in time."

"Yep. Oh, Spock. Here," McCoy said, shaking the large envelope so a key fell out.

"Thank you, Doctor," Spock said, accepting it. "Mr. Scott knows, correct?"

"Yes. That's what Jim told me."

"Very good. We will see you tomorrow," Spock said, leaving sickbay to go to his quarters. He quickly shed his uniform, trading it for his black clan robe, as instructed by the puzzle. Underneath he only wore tight black trousers, knowing that there was little likelihood he would have them on for long.

He went to the transporter, not surprised to find it manned by Scotty.

"Have fun, sir," Scotty said, energizing with a smile.

Spock materialized in the corridor of the hotel, three doors down from the designated room. Pulling up his hood, he used the key to open the door, stepping into the luxurious room. It was lit only by the fire burning brightly in the oversize hearth, a few candles scattered about. In the open door to the connecting room, he could see the giant bed, also cast in the glow of candles. There was soft music playing, Earth's Mozart the composer.

"Close the door," the voice instructed from the deep shadows of the far corner.

Spock did it, entering further into the room.

"You are the one from the agency? The one I hired for the night?" Jim asked softly, seductively.

"I am yours," Spock agreed, standing still to await his instructions.

"Lower your hood," Jim ordered.

Spock did it, waiting, feeling the human's eyes on him.

"I did not request an alien," Jim stated.

"Did you specify a human?" Spock asked in return.

"No, I don't suppose I did," Jim agreed.

"I do not believe you will be disappointed," Spock said.

"What are your specialties?" Jim asked, still shrouded in shadows.

"Whatever you desire. I have been told that I am extremely talented."

"Time will tell, won't it?" Jim asked.

"If you are disappointed, the agency will provide a refund," Spock assured him.

"Yes, yes. I know their policies. You are the most well spoken...companion I've ever encountered."

"One who is for hire is not always uneducated," Spock said.

"It's rare," Jim countered.

Spock shrugged at that, watching Jim.

"It's also rare for a Vulcan to enter your line of work."

"Vulcans are free to choose, as are Humans."

"Yes, well. Your choices are hardly of any consequence to me," Jim said. "Are you bonded?"

"Is that important?" Spock asked.

"I don't want to risk bonding with you accidentally," Jim said.

"That will not be a concern. You need not worry," Spock assured him.

"Very well. Remove your clothing," Jim ordered.

Spock did it, shedding his boots and trousers before removing his robe, draping it over one of the chairs.

"Very nice," Jim said, standing to study the other man. He was wearing jeans and a white tee shirt, Spock's breath catching when Jim entered the light.

"Thank you," Spock said breathlessly. It was for both his Human's words and his attire.

"Turn around."

Spock rotated in a full circle, feeling Jim's eyes on him, studying him, devouring him. "You approve?"

"You sure talk a lot for a prostitute," Jim scolded mildly.

"Perhaps if you will provide me your expectations, I will be better able to fulfill them," Spock suggested.

"No. I don't want to remove the element of surprise," Jim decided. "Come," he instructed, leading the way into the huge bedroom. Jim pulled back the covers, turning his gaze at Spock. "Undress me."

"Certainly," Spock agreed. "May I know your name?"

"No," Jim decided. "Yours?"

"I am called by many names. You may choose the one you prefer," Spock said, carefully drawing the tee shirt over his Human's head.

"So I could call you...Fred?" Jim laughed.

"If you desire. It is not a name previously used for me."

"I see," Jim said, sitting on the bed so Spock could remove his casual shoes. "What if I call you Vulcan?"

"May I call you Human?" Spock asked, reaching for the button on his jeans. "Would you mind standing?"

"No, you may not call me Human," Jim said, standing up to look down at Spock. "You may remove my jeans."

"I will call you Levi. As that is the name imprinted on your clothing," Spock decided.

Jim had to laugh at that, nodding. "Alright. What do the markings on your robe say?"

"It is a request for blessings. On my house and all those who dwell there."

"Will that include me?" Jim asked as Spock lowered his zipper, the sound loud in the relative quiet of the room.

"Yes. Although I would say that you are already blessed," Spock said as he pulled down Jim's jeans.

"I like to think so. In many ways," Jim agreed, staring at Spock's immaculate hair.

"What do you desire?" Spock asked, looking up at Jim from where he knelt before him.

"Hmm…" Jim breathed, considering it.

"You did not decide in advance?" Spock had to ask, reaching to lick the precious drops appearing on the tip of the lovely erection before him.

"I had decided. You're making it hard to think," Jim admitted.

"I see. May I finish what I have started?" Spock asked, licking him again.

"Yes. On the bed," Jim requested, pointing vaguely at it.

Spock nodded, rising gracefully and going over to it, watching his Human lay on the comfortable mattress.

"Do you know what the term 69 means?" Jim asked, looking up at him.

"I know that it comes after 68 and prior to 70," Spock said, making Jim laugh. "And I know it is not a prime number."

"Yes. But we aren't calculating formulas. We're engaging in sexual activity."

"Ahh...then I believe that you are referring to simultaneous oral stimulation."

"Yes. Have you ever done it?"

"Not simultaneously. Those who generally hire me do not express a desire for it to be reciprocal," Spock said.

"Well, I do desire it to be reciprocal. Just please don't bite me. First you have to lay down," Jim invited, patting the bed next to him.

"Yes," Spock agreed, stretching out next to him in the opposite direction from Jim. He was pleased that Jim smelled of soap and pine, not objecting to more natural fragrances but glad he had taken the time to clean his intimate parts. "May I begin?"

"Yes," Jim agreed, reaching out to lick the tempting green member beckoning him. "Delicious."

"It is pleasing to you?"

"Very," Jim said, gasping when Spock took the tip of his erection in his mouth. "Oh dear gods." He could feel Spock smile around him, his own breathing heavy. "Reciprocation may have to wait."

//I am content to wait, T'hy'la,// Spock assured him.

//Good thing,// Jim said. //So much for you being for hire.//

//I will do all I can to please you.//

//You always do,// Jim agreed, rolling onto his back to stare blindly up at the ceiling. "Oh my gods."

Spock could think of nothing besides the joy that he gained from providing his Human such pleasure, using all of the skills Jim taught him to bring him to delicious fulfillment.

"Ohhh…" Jim moaned when he was complete.

"I need some water, Levi. May I bring you something?" Spock asked, kissing his forehead.

"There's some champagne in that little refrigerator," Jim said, gesturing toward it.

"Most pleasant," Spock agreed, going over for it and two elegant flutes. He also found a bowl of strawberries in the miniature cooler, bring those with him.

"If I want to watch you masturbate, can you do it more quickly than several hours?"

"If that is what you want. I can come as quickly as most Humans," he said, sitting up against the headboard and giving Jim a glass of champagne. He also offered him a strawberry, Jim eating it from his fingers.

"I want to watch," JIm agreed. "You'll need to get a couple of towels from the bathroom. I don't want to explain to housekeeping why they must change the sheets."

"Will they be surprised?"

"Of course not. But it's still easier to simply avoid that request," Jim said, accepting another fat berry. "Are you having one?"

"Certainly," Spock slowly and seductively eating it, licking his lips in a tantalizing fashion.

"I'm yours. You don't need to seduce me," Jim reminded him.

"I thought I was yours," Spock teased.

"Yes. I like the way that works out," Jim said.

"Definitely," Spock agreed, leaving the bed to cross over to the bathroom. He soon returned with two towels, the lubricant ready in Jim's hand. "Thank you."

"Mmm…" Jim responded, leaning over to carefully spread the lube on Spock's erection.

"That feels most delightful," Spock said breathlessly.

"I should think so. Here," Jim said, coating Spock's hands as well. "I'm ready for a show."

"I will endeavor not to disappoint," Spock promised, reaching for his proud erection. "Ohhh…"

"Give your testicles love too," Jim reminded him.

"Perhaps you would be willing to assist me in that?"

"I would be delighted," Jim agreed, nudging his thighs apart and reaching for his warm sacks.

"Oh - thank you, T'hy'la," Spock breathed.

"You're so hot," Jim whispered, leaning closer to lick a perky green nipple. "Everywhere."

"Yes," Spock said, kissing Jim's head as he licked the other nipple, awaiting his attention. "Oh love."

"Do you want me to enter you?" Jim asked against the warm chest.

"Not necessary, T'hy'la. It won't be much longer before I...umm…."

"Yes, I see," Jim said, straightening to watch Spock's face contort with pleasure. "You are very beautiful. The tips of your ears are even greener than normal. Your face is covered with a lovely blush, and your tongue keeps peeking out to wet your lips. It's all I can do not to force myself on you, to take you and make you mine."

"I am yours," Spock whispered.

"And I am yours," Jim agreed, leaning closer still to kiss Spock. The additional contact was all that he needed, erupting in a pleasurable orgasm, moaning into Jim's mouth. "Very nice."

"I'm glad you approve," Spock said breathlessly, laying flat on the bed, Jim leaning over him to study his flushed face.

"Do you need a nap?" Jim teased, tracing his beautifully arched eyebrows.

"Not at present. I would not wish to disappoint you in anyway."

"I see," Jim laughed. "This isn't going at all like I expected."

"My apologies."

"You aren't to blame. I'm way too much in love with you to pretend otherwise," Jim admitted.

"Most convenient," Spock said reaching up to kiss him.

"Very. Oh well. This is a very nice place to spend the night," Jim decided, studying the room.

"It is indeed. I was not aware that the spacedock had such fine accommodations."

"Not all the rooms are this nice," Jim said. "I asked for their best."

"That includes me?" Spock teased.

"Do you ever doubt it?" Jim asked, kissing him again.

"So paybacks will be delayed?" Spock asked, gazing up at him.

"Apparently. Oh well. Revenge is overrated," Jim decided, leaning down to kiss him. "At least we get to spend our last night here off-ship."

"This is true. Although I have observed you prefer being no place more than your ship."

"Yes. It's home. Most especially when you are there," Jim agreed.

"Where else would I be?" Spock asked.

"Nowhere. Neither would I. Makes us perfectly suited to one another," Jim decided, laying down, his head on Spock's shoulder, also perfectly suited to his Human.

"We are indeed," Spock agreed, turning to kiss his Human's head. "Which is why I cannot contemplate my life without you in it."

"Neither can I. Thank you for that."

"Thank you, T'hy'la," Spock returned. "We are very lucky."

"Yes we are. Something we should celebrate more often."

"Would that celebration include you being tied to my wall?" Spock teased.

"I will surrender to you anytime. Just as I know you will to me."

"I have already surrendered to you, love. And I cannot imagine a sweeter fate."

"Neither can it," Jim agreed, content and utterly secure in their love, knowing each had fully and voluntarily surrendered to the other. As it should be. As it always would be.