A few hours later…

"Good evening, Captain."

"Hey, Spock," Jim greeted nervously when his first officer entered his rooms at 2100. After getting treated for his injuries and talking with Bones, he had resumed his duties on the bridge.

The tension on the bridge had been unbelievable. Jim and Spock were ignoring each other – though Jim could have sworn that he felt the half Vulcan's eyes on him whenever he was not looking. And he knew he was not imagining the way Uhura was looking at him – disbelieving and faintly disapproving.

He was not sure whether she was more shocked about the fact that he had the sex with a male or with a Vulcan.

Chekov and Sulu focused on their work with determination, thankfully – Jim knew he could always count on their professionalism.

He would pay them back by not commenting on the looks they occasionally exchanged off-duty. It was just a matter of time…

But now was not the time to think about that. Spock was in his room – and they were going to play chess and talk.

"I set up the chess board already. Um…you had dinner, right? I guess I could get some coffee or something delivered, if you were hungry. I mean – I know Vulcans don't eat as much as Terrans, but…"

"I do not require sustenance, Captain," Spock interrupted calmly.


Jim stared down at the floor, trying to collect his thoughts and calm his racing heart. Now that he was alone with Spock, he could not deny it to himself – he was frightened.

He had been a bit cautious of riling Spock's temper after almost being strangled on the bridge during the Narada incident, but defeating Nero and saving Earth together had helped Jim get over it. A few nightmares over the first few weeks they worked together – and then they went on their first away mission, and everything just clicked.

But this was different. This was not going to be solved by a near-death experience. Jim trusted Spock, maybe even loved him – and Spock almost raped him.

The captain just kept reminding himself that Spock stopped when he realized that Jim truly did not want to have sex. He needed to trust in Spock – in their history and their friendship. Otherwise, there was no point in even discussing a romantic relationship…

"Chess, Captain?" Spock prompted after a few moments of silence.

"Oh…yeah," Jim murmured, an embarrassed blush heating his cheeks.

He was still kind of out of it…

They sat down on opposite sides of the board and began to play. Jim had thought constantly about what he intended to say tonight – but that didn't make it any easier to start talking.

And Spock certainly wasn't going to start.

So they played chess in total silence – with none of the companionable banter that usually accompanied their matches.

"Check," Spock declared evenly, moving his rook even with Jim's king.

Jim looked down at the board, realizing he was trapped. He could move one space out of the way – and then Spock's queen would checkmate him. Jim could have tipped his king over in surrender, but instead he moved that one, futile space.

And then he kept his hand on his king, staring at the piece.


"I don't want to be trapped, Spock," Jim whispered softly, not meeting his first officer's eyes.

"Perhaps you will win next time, Captain," Spock offered.

He chuckled bitterly.

"Will you call me Jim, Spock? I don't…I don't want that distance right now. And I'm not talking about chess, either."

Spock did not respond, watching Jim carefully.

"I don't want to be trapped," he repeated. "I don't…I care about you a lot, Spock. You and Bones – you're my best friends. But…but it takes a lot for me to trust someone, personally. You know that professionally there is no one I trust more than you, but personally…You almost raped me, Spock."

Jim nearly whispered the last bit – he was kind of afraid that saying it out loud somehow made it more true.

It was ridiculous.

No – it was worse than ridiculous.

It was illogical.

"My actions warrant due punishment, Captain," Spock informed him, voice tight. "I will go to the brig now, if that is your order."

"Goddammit, Spock!" Jim shouted, standing roughly and knocking the board off the table, the pieces noisily clattering to the floor. "My name is Jim! I'm not talking to you as your captain right now – I'm talking to you as someone who loves you – who wants more than simple friendship but is fucking afraid, okay? Is that what you want to hear – that I'm afraid of you? You're three times stronger than me. If you wanted…if you intended…I couldn't stop you."

Jim wiped frantically at his eyes as he turned away, trying to keep the tears from falling and the sobs inside.

"Jim…that is not what I want to hear," the half Vulcan replied softly, tentatively reaching forward to lay a gentle hand on his captain's back. "I do not wish to cause you distress."

The blond let out a laugh that nearly came out as a sob – or maybe it was the other way around.

"Well, you did."

Way to state the obvious…

"How may I make amends?" Spock questioned, rubbing Jim's back awkwardly in an attempt to comfort.

Jim relaxed into the gentle touch, nothing like his first officer's earlier brutal grip – the one that had left finger-shaped bruise bracelets on both his wrists before Bones healed him.

"I'm going to need time," Jim told him.

"I will not pressure you for anything you are not willing to give," the half Vulcan promised, gently turning his captain to face him.

Jim hesitated, before raising his eyes from the floor to look Spock in the eye. His first officer removed his hand from his shoulder to softly caress his cheek, using his thumb to wipe away the tears pooling in the corners of Jim's blue eyes.

"What…what about pon farr?" Jim asked hesitantly. "You either have sex, or you die. So you either have sex with me, or you have sex with someone else and I lose you, or you don't have sex and you die."

"As Doctor McCoy would say, 'We will cross that bridge when we come to it,'" Spock replied evenly, leaning forward slowly – stopping a few millimeters before his lips touched Jim's in a kiss.

Jim knew that Spock was giving him the choice – showing him that it was entirely up to him.

He leaned forward for a sweet, chaste kiss – lasting no more than a second – before pulling back to smile hesitantly.

"We still need to talk more," Jim told him. "And I need to give you Bones's warning, because you really don't want him to slip you some nasty virus during your next routine physical, do you?"

Jim pulled Spock over to the couch, relieved when the half Vulcan allowed himself to be moved – because the blond knew that he could not physically force his first officer to move if he did not wish to do so.

They left the chess set on the floor, pieces scattered. Later – after Spock left – Jim would notice that his king landed on his "feet", while Spock's was on its side.

Just like the Kobayashi Maru…

Rather than be trapped, Jim changed the parameters. It was not cheating - when his back was against the wall, he just played a different game…

There was no such thing as a no-win scenario.