"Yeah, I get it," the Captain spit at his First Officer as he spit out the last of the blood. He knew he sounded childish and petulant and not the least bit captainly and at the moment he did not give a flying fuck. "You and your superior intellect. Your superior reflexes. Your superior fucking self. I get it." He glared at Spock in the mirror of his bathroom when he straightened from washing the blood off his face. The way in which he had gotten a bloodied nose and a split lip was the reason for Spock's latest condescending, smug evaluation of Kirk as a person and his complete failing as a Captain.

"I do not recall ever telling you that I am in any way superior, sir," Spock corrected, nearly sounding haughty but managing to be get right to the edge yet not cross over. He was leaning against the door-jam of the bathroom, his hands grasped tightly behind his back, appraising his Captain as he dried his face.

"Bullshit. You tell me all the time and you know it. 'Captain, that is not in the best interest of the ship. Captain, that is counter to Starfleet regulations. Captain, you an utter and complete fuck-up.'"

"Perhaps we should continue this conversation when you are not so agitated, sir," Spock suggested in that calm, never-changing, infuriating voice of his.

"Being near you agitates me, damn it. Haven't you and your superior intellect figured that out yet?" Kirk practically yelled at him.

"Then I will leave you, Captain, so that you might regain a measure of calm."

"You may be superior in every way, Commander. But I am still your superior officer. And I did not give you permission to leave," Kirk told him, his voice steely and cold.

Spock stopped in the middle of the Captain's quarters, standing completely still and refusing to turn to face the man even now circling him.

"What exactly did you expect me to do, Spock? Leave Uhura to defend herself against those idiots?" Jim demanded, standing right in front of Spock, blazing blue eyes daring him to look away, his body blocking the Vulcan's way out and to safety, the Captain's anger blocking everything else from his view.

"The lieutenant is perfectly capable of defending herself, sir."

"Against three huge Veltens? And why the hell didn't you stop them? I know you aren't dating her any longer. But honest to gods, Spock, I'd have thought you'd at least care enough to stop them from pawing all over her."

"The former relationship I shared with the lieutenant in no way affected the reaction I had to what was happening, sir," Spock told him evenly.

"You didn't have a reaction. That's what I can't understand. Why did you just stand there? What the hell is wrong with you?" Kirk demanded.

"Perhaps that is the question I should be asking you, Captain. As you are the one with the bloody nose and split lip."

"Don't make this about me and my 'failings.' I did what I did because Uhura was in trouble. You just stood there. Why didn't you use your superior Vulcan strength and nerve pinch them into oblivion? Then I wouldn't have yet another bloody nose, giving you yet another excuse to look down your nose at me."

"I had alerted security, sir. Had you not allowed your emotions to overcome your restraint, they would have rectified the situation without harm coming to you or the lieutenant."

"They were practically molesting her and you 'alerted security'? How long were you going to wait for them to come, Spock? Where were they?"

"They arrived shortly after you were rendered unconscious, sir," Spock informed him.

"Which would have been avoided if you hadn't stood by like some goddamn spectator," Jim ground out. "You know what I think?"

"I would not presume to try and understand your thought processes, sir," Spock returned, Jim wanting to hit him more than he ever had before. Kirk's hands clinched in fists by his thighs and he made them stay there.

"I think you want to kick my ass. Again. But your Starfleet training and flaunted Vulcan reserve won't allow you the pleasure of assaulting your Captain. So you waited and watched while the Veltens did it for you. That way you could have what you wanted but not be blamed for it," Kirk said in accusation, his voice not reflecting the agitation so clear in his blazing blue eyes.

"You are mistaken if you are of the opinion that the Velten attack is what I desired, sir," Spock retorted, his slipping calm making his voice tense. There were faint lines around his mouth, lines which showed the Captain how hard the Vulcan was fighting to retain in control.

"It sure seemed that way to me. Why didn't you do anything? Why?"

"Veltens are immune to the Vulcan nerve pinch, Captain. Had I rashly entered the fray with you, I too would have a broken nose and a split lip."

"I'd rather have a split lip and broken nose than stand ideally by and watch Uhura be mauled. Had your phaser suddenly stop working, Commander?"

"It is against…"

"So help me, Spock, if you tell me it's against Starfleet regulations to use your phaser, I will bloody your Vulcan nose myself," the Captain said through clinched teeth. The color had risen in his face, his eyes even more frozen than before. Spock reconsidered the words he had intended to say and stood silently, not flinching from the anger emanating from the Captain. "What if it had been me, Spock? Would you have ignored Starfleet regulations to stop them hurting me?" the Captain demanded. He didn't know what he expected as a response, but the fact that Spock flinched as though Jim had in fact hit him was not the reaction he thought he would see.

Spock looked away from the too-knowing eyes of his Captain, studying instead the wall over the Human's left shoulder.

This reaction was one Jim had to consider. Why had Spock looked away at the question? Not guilt. Jim had seen the way in which guilt manifested itself in Spock and this wasn't it. What had caused him to look away, to refuse even now to meet his eyes?

"Would you, Spock?" Kirk demanded. "Would you stand by and allow the Veltens to attack me?"

"No sir," Spock said, all defiance gone, his voice barely above a whisper.

"What?" Kirk asked.

"No sir, I would not allow anyone to attack you if I were able to prevent it," Spock told him more firmly.

"What happened when I lost consciousness, Spock? Did security stop the Veltens?" Kirk asked, his voice more modulated, not so angry any longer. He thought he was beginning to understand what had happened but was not yet willing to admit it even to himself.

"No sir," Spock said.

"You stopped them, didn't you?"

"Yes sir," Spock admitted quietly.

"Because they had attacked me," Jim said to him, studying Spock's face that revealed far more than the Vulcan would have liked to believe. Spock did not answer except for meeting the Captain's eyes, the answer shining in his own.

"Why did you and Lt. Uhura break up?" the Captain asked. His voice was calm, the anger gone, or at least well hidden. His eyes were questioning, not daring, not defiant. Curious. Wanting to understand.

"I am uncertain as to the motivation behind your question, sir," Spock said, falling back on his diversionary tactics. They had been successful in the past. Maybe they would work this time as well.

"The motivation for the question isn't important. The motivation behind your break-up - that is important."

"Why do you wish to know, sir?" Spock tried. If he could manage to ask enough of his own questions, the Captain would eventually give up. At least that had been his past experience. The Captain was stubborn and determined. But he was not stupid. He knew when he was defeated by Spock's own determination not to answer a question he did not wish to address.

"Are you going to make me order you to answer, Commander? Because I will," Kirk warned, the steel returning to his voice and his eyes.

Spock considered the Captain's words, the set of his jaw that said this conversation would not be concluded until the Captain decided it was over. "We determined that we were not compatible," he finally admitted.

"Not compatible. You looked awfully compatible to me," Kirk suggested.

"We… we are not meant for each other."

"Not meant for each other," Jim repeated. Had he lost his capacity for original thought? Was he reduced to repeating everything Spock said? Maybe it was the ocean roaring in his head that was making it hard for him to think clearly, a roar that had nothing to do with the ass-kicking he had gotten while trying to ensure Uhura's safety. "Just who are you meant for?"

Spock's black eyes were drawn to their blue counterparts, searching the depths to find if the answer was already there. "You," he finally whispered, hope and despair flaring in equal parts.

"Me." Jim had to say it aloud. Had to release it to the universe and whatever sick and twisted omnipotent bastards were controlling their intertwined fates. Because he knew as surely as did Spock that their lives were as tightly coiled as Spock's rein on his emotions. And what would happen if those emotions were allowed their freedom? Would Jim survive the onslaught? It never even occurred to him that he had the option not to find out. He knew Spock's confession was his own. He knew that Spock was already a part of him, inexorably and completely.

"Yes," Spock said, watching the emotions race across the Captain's expressive face. Spock knew there were two and only two possible outcomes to this conversation - he would end up in Jim's bed, or shoved out an airlock with no space suit. At the present, he wasn't sure which fate was more terrifying to him. It was a toss-up.

"Yes," Jim echoed.

"Yes?" Spock asked, uncertain where they had gotten in the conversation. Jim's nearness was distracting, intoxicating, terrifying.

"You are meant for me," Jim said softly.

"You knew?"

"How could I not? When you are one half of all that I am."

"You knew?" Spock repeated, infected with Jim's earlier inability to say anything original.

"Yes, Spock, I knew. I know. Can you stop hating me long enough to love me? Or at least make love to me?" Jim asked quietly.

"I have never hated you," Spock said softly.

"You sure had me fooled. And the rest of the crew," Jim informed him, no humor to the words. Spock found he craved the smile that came so easily to his Captain but had been missing the entire time he had been in these quarters. The laughter that filled him with warm bubbles, a most illogical metaphor but he could think of no other description.

"I forced myself to remain distant from you. Because otherwise I would have made you mine without your consent," Spock explained, his voice a caress, the warmth melting some part of Jim he was unaware was frozen.

"You have my consent, Spock."

"If we come together, if we make love, it is forever. A Vulcan bond is unbreakable, irreversible. You will be bound to me for all time," Spock explained, needing to make sure his Captain understood what he would be committing to. "It will not be a casual affair. We will merge, become one. That is why I had to keep my distance."

"I know," Jim responded, still looking at Spock with a mixture of awe and… fear, possibly.

"You are frightened," Spock observed.

"Yes. Of how much I want you. How much I need you to want me. Of how much I'm afraid I won't live up to your expectations. And I'll disappoint you like…"

"You could never disappoint me. Except by turning away from me."

Jim took a deep breath and a step backward. "We're still on duty. I have to go to sickbay or Bones is going to come find me and drag me there. Go to the Bridge. We'll return here when Alpha shift is over."

"Before we leave, Jim, may I kiss you?" Spock requested, staring at the Human's lips with hunger and need.

"Gently," Jim responded, smiling and returning to stand oh-so-close to Spock. The smile was dangerous to Spock's control, the light shining from the Human threatening to completely melt his resolve.

"Perhaps we should wait," Spock whispered in regret, his forehead against Jim's. He felt rather than saw his Captain's nod.

"Yes. I'll see you on the Bridge when McCoy finishes yelling at me," Jim said softly.

"You will not change your mind? You will not banish me from your ship?" Spock asked, needing the illogical reassurance that he had not just imagined the lightening change that had come over them both.

"It's our ship. And I don't want to be on it if you aren't here," Jim whispered.

"Yes," Spock returned, slowly and reluctantly straightening to look into the depths of the blue eyes that saw his all and accepted him without question. "I regret I angered you."

Jim shrugged at that, dismissing it. "Consider it forgotten. Although I probably deserved it."

"I request that you demonstrate more caution in future," Spock said with a very gentle kiss on his forehead.

"I can't stop being who I am, Spock. Not even for you."

"True. Then I will continue to do all that I can to protect you. Even when it angers you."

"Understood," Jim said backing up another step. "Please go to the Bridge so I don't have to put us both on report."

"Yes, sir," Spock agreed. He reluctantly left Jim's quarters, making his way to the Bridge. Everything seemed new to him. The corridors were brighter. The turbolift smoother. The air fresher. He knew without a doubt that it was in fact a new day. And he was the one who finally did get it.