T'serin has noticed him before, an athletic blond length of Federation advertisement for the virtues of the 'Fleet, all precise whipcord muscle under sleek, dark off-duty casuals. He's always been surrounded by his friends, smiling, laughing, quick with a joke or a friendly cuff on the shoulder.
Tonight he is alone, and not smiling, sulking in the corner with his back flat to the wall, arms coiled around his drink.
This is T'serin's chance. He will not get another; their shore leave will be over soon. He's heard them grumbling about it.
"Waiting for someone?" he asks, and winces. That line was rusty when his grandfather was young. But he's never been good around the pretty ones.
"What the hell do you care?"
"I don't," T'serin ventures, "But you seem to." He puts on his very best smile, the one that made grown men offer him presents down on the docks, back home. "A drink would take care of that."
The blond looks him up and down, blinking. Takes in T'serin's height and coloring and ears--difficult to miss, with copper curled back from piercings at their tips.
Vulcans don't smile. The thought prods T'serin like physical fingers, like cold water running down his neck; it isn't his, and he fights to keep smiling, struggles not to bite his lip.
He finally gets the blond alone, only to have another of his god's-cursed headaches.
"You." Incredible eyes, so intensely blue that they probably glow in the dark, widen as his mouth flatlines in understanding. He's even handsome scowling. His shock is like ice, turning to sandpaper with disgust. "You're a--"
"We're not all like that reish Nero," T'serin says, too quickly, loud enough that heads turn.
None of those faces are friendly. Bad to worse. He'll have to leave. Now.
But the blond grabs his hand--fear, surprise, a sudden consciousness of the way he smells, and something like pity all flash across the front of T'serin's brain--and squeezes him close with a false chuckle.
Just like one of his friends.
"You study too hard, Surak," the blond says.
T'serin goes rigid and does not have to pretend to shove him away. He can feel his teeth clench. "Surak?" It's very nearly a shout, but that's an incredible insult.
"Wow," chortles the blond, "no more for you, ever. Just don't nerve pinch me, okay?" He delivers that last with an elbow in the ribs. Come on, get with the program, play Vulcan, get it, get it, jeez--
"That would be--" T'serin makes himself sway, as if affected by all the drinks he hasn't had yet, all at once, "most illogical. As I estimate my blood to polyethanol ratio is approximately point-oh-oh-three-one-four-five, my chances of correctly incapacitating you in this state would be," he casts about for a word, "uh, poor."
He's overdoing it, and he knows he's overdoing it, but none of the other patrons have ever seen a drunk Vulcan before (because there is no such thing, but they're mostly human, here, and mostly ignorant of what he truly is and why did he say that name, Elements rot the soul behind it forever). They're eating it up. It presses in on him, a rising tide of smug amusement at his expense, damned pointy-ears think they're so smart lookit him now, and now the blond is smirking at him, shivering a little against T'serin's shoulder as he strains not to laugh.
"C'mon, buddy. I'll get you a coffee." And he leads the way, half-marching back to wave down an attendant.
He's even more intriguing from the back.
Coffee. T'serin hasn't the slightest clue what that might be, but this is exactly what he wanted. He tries to act suitably drunkenly staid as he follows the blond, managing not to smirk at those amazing legs.
Kirk presses credits into the waitress' hand and holds it, smiling. He's never passed up a flirting opportunity, especially not on leave. "Thanks."
She smiles back, but she's watching the Vulcan--not Vulcan, but she can't tell, or if she can, she's bucking for a bigger tip--who almost started a brawl.
"Enjoy," she says.
The Romulan lifts an eyebrow at him, just one eyebrow, and it's a move so much like Spock's, so much like what started this whole mess, that Kirk's breath catches.
"Certainly," the Romulan purrs, the word slick and warm through bright, even teeth.
His tongue is the color of fresh celery.
Kirk clears his throat and passes the drink over so fast it ripples in the mug. "Here. Irish coffee."
The Romulan lifts it, half-toasting, and gives it an exploratory sniff before tasting. He licks his lips. "Perhaps," he says slowly, "I could reciprocate with--"
"It's fine," Kirk blurts. His face is hot, what the hell? He's usually the one with all the moves. But not around Spock. Not around this guy, either. "I'm fine. I have beer."
"My thanks", the Romulan says. The server smiles at them and moves on.
Then the Romulan turns to Kirk, and the distance between them, the room around them, seems to shrink. Hot, smooth fingers press lightly on his. Before he can move, the Romulan's mouth is almost on his ear, breathing in it. "I'm T'serin."
"James," he says, because he's Jim to his friends and Kirk to everyone else, and James isn't exactly a rare human name. "You remember, buddy. Advanced Particle Phyics? Third row."
"James," T'serin murmurs, like it tastes good, like he's going to lick him. "That's a nice name."
Still grinning, he tips the mug back and takes the whole drink in, one long slow swallow that just doesn't end.
"It--" Kirk breathes deep and finishes his beer, steadying himself. "You look like you could use an escort."
"Indeed." T'serin exhales--an excuse to pout a little, to smile again. "I know a place."
'A place' is a few blocks off the spaceport, just outside tourist row, with one faded sign in front. T'serin edges past him, smooth and liquid, eerily fast, and is already snagging a receipt from the proprietor--an Andorian, antennae crooked, missing an eye--by the time Kirk is through the door. T'serin grins at Kirk, a keycard flashing in his wiggling fingers.
"Come on." T'serin's flushed, verdant, a little hoarse. "This way."
He takes the narrow stairs two at a time, and like hell is James Tiberius Kirk going to let some strange Romulan he picked up in a bar lead him around by the nose, so he stretches out a little, makes three steps at once, and opens the door for his new friend just as the card clears the swipe panel.
"After you," Kirk says, not at all winded, giving his most charming smile--the one that got him into and out of so much trouble as a kid. Looking for all the world like it was his plan, his idea, his place.
T'serin makes a noise low in his throat and mutters something of which the only Standard words are, "such courtesy", and plants both hands on Kirk's shoulders with a firm, feverish squeeze. Their first kiss is a light one, almost chaste. "My hero," he says, mischievous but not cruel.
He's fishing around in the drawer beside the bed. Kirk shuts the door, locks it.
"Ah!" he says brightly. "Here we are."
Kirk sees what he was looking for, and finds himself saluting. In his pants.
There are only so many different ways to package lube.
T'serin feels a flash of guilt as he twists the top off and sets it down in easy reach, but it lasts only a moment. James is smiling. This is easier, because of his--his headache; it's stronger if he can touch the other person, and James likes to be touched, has given him plenty of opportunity. There's no real fear there. Hesitation, a vague sense that something isn't quite right, but it's distant under the warm immediate pressure of desire.
Then James' arms are around him. He gasps. Suddenly James is Jim, is Kirk, is...Captain Kirk, and T'serin doesn't pry. He doesn't want to know, doesn't want to see; he just wants this, this firm lithe body against his.
"Mmm," he purrs, leaning into it, kissing James hard, skimming his tongue over those pretty teeth before pushing it inside. A shock of surprise and pleasure tingles up his arms--he's warmer than James is used to, like a sun-hot wall in summer, and James is cool and slick and eager, turning his head to deepen the kiss, hands brushing down T'serin's shoulders and pushing his jacket open. When they break apart, gasping, he wriggles out of it the rest of the way.
"You, uh--" James scuffs a hand through his hair, making T'serin itch to stroke it. "Wow."
James expected grit and scars--tattoos, sorrow-signs made permanent in anger, in vengeance--he expected anything but sleek bare skin gone mossy bright with heat. But James doesn't linger on his body, that's not what he's looking at, what he keeps staring at.
It's his earrings--no, his ears. He should have known. Outsiders are mad for them. He smiles ruefully and tugs James' belt free.
"Can I?" It's buzzing around T'serin's head, this urge to touch; he's never known anyone with such needy hands. But they're beautiful, broad and strong-fingered and so attentive.
"Of course," T'serin says, like it's nothing, like the pressure of thumbs on his earlobes doesn't reach right to his groin, "you may."
He slides an arm under James' shirt, skin to skin, helping him out of those clothes. He's--so cool to the touch, he'd be worried about a chill like that in his own kind, but James is florid, almost rosy, and he shudders and hums his pleasure when T'serin opens his mouth, lowers his head to lick that chest. There's hair, just a little, golden like the stuff on his head, a pleasant friction and when he wets it and starts to suck--to really taste him--James makes a low liquid sound deep in his throat and pushes with his hips, those hands still tight on his ears.
If James keeps doing that, this won't take very long at all--James finds the post and twists it, gives it a tug, soft and cautious--sharp, sudden, as T'serin trails kisses further down, fingers clenched in that inconvenient waistband, going for the zipper catch he knows is there, that horrible regulation triple-seamed monstrosity only humans could invent. If he could find the gods-rotted pull tab that guides the thing, that's the trick to it...
And then James pulls, just once, hard enough for blood--T'serin has been giving him that idea since they shut the door--and bites where he's been stroking, and they might not even make it to the bed.
T'serin's fairly certain Vulcans could place odds on that to twelve decimal places, but for him it's a hot rush of pressure downward, a jangle of mixed thoughts, mostly now now now. James smells so good.
"Wait," James gasps, fingers tugging, look up, look up. T'serin lifts his head and tries to smile, a clench of thwarted hunger that threatens to crack his teeth. "Wait."
"What's wrong?" He knows his voice is hard, rough, even churlish, but he wants James in his mouth, and does not want to bother with poetry. Humans are constantly asking permission. It's their one great failing.
But James brings him to his feet--he lets it happen--and pushes him to the mattress, face up, nudging his legs apart, standing pressed between them. Oh yes, yes, this will do if he can't have the other; he's good at playing the woman. It's his father's fault, naming him out of raw ambition, giving him a name before learning what he would be--of course James could never guess that T'serin is a girl's name, that the t' prefix was meant to honor his horrible but powerful great aunt.
"That's better." Fuck. He's even prettier than that dick with the gun.
A face swims before T'serin's eyes, sneering prettily and dark with grief, Romulan; his Captain Kirk must have a taste for it. He certainly likes the ears.
T'serin leans on his elbows, rolling his trousers down, pushing as James claws his boots off. T'serin scrambles half-upright, reaching to return the favor, but James pushes him down, pressing him into the mattress. He can't even pretend he doesn't like it. Cool firm lips close on his, and he arches into it, squirming. James kisses his ear, slick wet tongue, lips mouth teeth that make him whimper, make his cock leap. Zipper teeth sing apart and T'serin folds his legs back with a shaky grin, licking his lips.
The lube is cold on James' cool fingers, startling. He clenches involuntarily, but he's never minded discomfort. He rolls his hips to meet the touch. Slow gentle strokes from front to back, a finger that takes forever to curl inside him, drawing a gasp out through his teeth. James is an evil tease. Bless him. James opens him wider a little at a time, the top of that hand, the thumb, grazing his balls almost by accident as the strokes come harder, faster.
But fingers aren't enough, not with James in his reach, thick and scarlet and standing up just for him.
James hesitates, blue eyes glassed over, second thoughts roiling in T'serin's head. Not now, not when he's so close. But he's no Vulcan. His power is fickle and uncontrolled and it hurts.
T'serin relies on his body instead, wriggles on James' hand and moans, leaving no room for doubt.
"Please." He presses fingers to James' temples and cheekbones, gently. This will work. It has to work. "Try to see it my way."
Those aren't the right words--he doesn't know the right words--but it doesn't matter. They connect. James stares at him, into him, and they fall through each other.
The world goes dark and crooked. Hot hands crush the breath from him--Romulans! It's always Romulans, sneering, hateful. That pretty one hissing about his weakness, licking him, squeezing tight and he can't breathe, seeing sparks. Scrabbling for the holster, for the gun.
James growls and pushes into him. It's too fast, hard and hurting; he's too full, like that first time, facedown with splinters raking his thighs, the reek of salt choking him as he waited to die from the shame. He gasps, struggles; James' lips press apologies into T'serin's mouth.
He owes Uhura an apology, too. That whole ear-touching thing is why he's in the doghouse in the first place. That's why they ditched him and won't talk to him, don't even look at him except to pass over reports with a 'Yes, Captain', except 'Yes, Captain' means 'Get bent, jerk.'
Because of this one, who has no idea how special he is. This sufferer of a terrible pain, with deep dark eyes and a pale proud mouth that gives up no secrets, his impassive face holding back a storm of passion. His are the ears James wanted to touch, just from curiosity, without the slightest idea how it would affect--Spock.
T'serin whimpers, arches up, welcomes the hurt that lets him closer and tightens his grip on James' face. He has to know it's not his fault, an honest mistake, an accident they'll forgive him for in time. They're moving together, hard hot too fast and it's perfect.
Except Spock won't go away. It's Spock James trusts, Spock he teased in the turbolift. It's Spock's lovely seashell ears he wanted to stroke so much. His Spock, who left him here.
This can't be. It must not be. Not now.
T'serin sets his mind against James' with a growl through gritted teeth, shoving at his feelings. He knows where those are kept. He reaches in and strokes hard, all affection and wanting, with long slow pressure on the pleasure center.
But something's wrong. Something's different. It's the wrong place. James bucks with a shriek, white-faced, jolting his spine. T'serin hangs on, hurting, shaking, terrified.
Don't, don't don't don't. Panic shudders through him, cold hard fear of Romulans, of their weapons, of their hate. He doesn't want to drown. He doesn't want to die. It's so unfair. They've taken everything from him since he was born.
And Spock. Why is he still there, why is--
His world shatters from the inside, from the outside, he owes them nothing, owes them everything, it's not his fault it is his fault failure failure failure. He couldn't save them, he couldn't stop them, he couldn't catch her hand. She gasped his name and vanished.
He's too close. He has to remember who he is, who James is, that they're safe. James with this burden, with his friend's sorrow inside him--no. They aren't there. Feel it--the mattress rough and unyielding beneath him, start with that, with his hands hot on James' smooth cool cheek, pressing the bones there, skin slick with sweat. His spine and ribs that slide and expand with his breath, their breath, points of connection, intimacy that burns, sore clutching want.
He wants it. James likes him and they chose this. T'serin gasps and hangs on. He kisses James and pets his brain with silky prodding thoughts of lust, lassitude, easy friendly desire.
It will be easier if he is Spock, so that is who he lets himself become, opens himself to the memory of who he should be, and slips the role on with a smile. Mine, so beautiful, mine, safe, so good safe mine yes--
He doesn't know this word, this t'hy'la, but it makes James-Jim-Kirk moan and shudder, clutching him tight. Oh, oh there, contact pressure there, angled close, heat flooding along his backbone. He'll melt, caught, clutched vise-tight and he can't, oh god he couldn't move if he wanted to, doesn't want to, just needs more deeper closer now. Nothing else matters. They are one.
They breathe the names of strange gods and scream with the same voice.
James goes liquid and slack above him, breathing hard. T'serin smiles and nips his chin, and James groans cool breath in his face before doing beautiful things to his lower lip, kissing him deep, withdrawing slowly. He tastes like iron and copper and their sweat. He gasps when T'serin lets go and shakes himself all over, eyes wide, panting like a man half-killed by a dream.
For T'serin the world closes up a little at a time. He's hemmed in by the limits of his skull, his breath, his own heartbeat--he never noticed before how fast it was, never thought it odd to feel it coming from his hip and not his chest. James smiles at him blankly, tentative and confused. It's a look that says You're hot; how did you get here? It's one T'serin would know even without his power, Air's curse on him, to hear the thoughts of others.
Reality crashes over James with shuddering force, sends him staggering in search of his clothes. Real men don't cry, and he regrets nothing. Not a damn thing. That's why his hands are shaking.
"Spock." It's almost a sob.
T'serin breathes deep, finds his belt and closes his eyes. "I know, Jim."