things that have been found
kirk/spock, pg-13, ~3000
thanks to gidget_zb for running in and saving me and performing a fantabulous beta
not mine, making no profit
"It's so cute how he wants his first official holiday with the captain to go so well."

"Is it… bigger than a breadbox?"

Their courtship had been a tangled, confusing matter.

Although grueling in every way that could be considered, it had left Spock with an ability to handle his bondmate's more childish mental qualities that was far superior to many of the highest-ranking officials in Starfleet.

"For the fourth time, I will not answer these questions."

Several minutes of quiet consideration is disturbed only by the dull sound of Jim's fingers drumming rhythmically across the table. Then: "Bigger than a big book? Or… a small book?"

Spock patiently ignores the question.

Does not even blink when a white rook flips off the table to rebound against the wall and then clatter across the floor. When he glances at Jim in caution, he receives a smile too broad to be reassuring. "Oops."

"I ask that you do not allow your hand to slip again."

"Hey, I'm still learning how to do this… game thing," Jim shrugs, allowing his fingers to hover threateningly over a bishop. "Butterfingers, you know."

Spock does not acknowledge the absurdity of the threat with a response.

As expected, Jim does not try this course of action again.

"Animal or mineral?" Jim probes, and then nudges Spock's foot with his own slightly too roughly to be any form of foreplay. (Spock is developing a healthy appreciation for Jim's skill in this subject, enough to offer his own suggestions when the opportunity for further development arises.) After a second nudge, one that Spock also refuses to acknowledge: "Vegetable?"

"It is your turn."

"Pass," Jim replies without hesitation before: "Smaller than a starship?"

Spock does not gift him with a response, simply returns to the game that he has spent so much of his spare time trying and failing to help Jim understand beyond the concept that he had dismissed so many years before.

"Can a bread box fit in it?"

Unyielding after long days of constant questioning, he is not surprised by the slow, clumsy press of a mind against his as Jim tries a different approach.

Nor is he troubled.

The long-denied truth is that Spock's strongest mental walls had never done an adequate job of shielding his vulnerabilities from this man. His best attempts to strengthen them had only damaged them further, strained his mind in a way that he had since come to realize had been unnatural, harmful.

Now, bonded, his mind is eager and greedy for even this basic contact, Jim's best attempts at stealth which are impossible to miss. Comes across as something not unlike a toddler's fumbling touch, too nervous and excited to succeed in his attempt at secrecy and yet unable to accept defeat.

A lifetime of distant knowledge of the depth offered in a true bond offers no comparison to what has finally been solidified between them.

Tonight, stubbornly clinging to his refusal to give Jim what he wants, he manages to draw back from the strongest points of their bond and feign stillness. Too close to amusement, he feels Jim stretch forward to prod more in frustration before issuing the mental equivalent of an angry huff and closing himself off.

The game pieces tremble as Jim kicks the table and shifts restlessly in his chair. He casts Spock one last glare and then looks over the board, still only half-interested but now aggravated enough to at least try to play the game that he's already ruined, small white figure lying still on the floor.

Spock simply waits, awareness like a liquid heat under the surface of his mind.

A minute later, Jim's arm jerks and a black piece flies out of his grasp, bounces off the wall and skitters under the bed as a startled, ragged noise escapes his throat. It's amusing, satisfying, and Spock has already slid the board to the side and is getting to his feet and coming around the table as Jim takes several slow breaths through the pleasure Spock draws so easily through the bond.

Jim's satisfaction is a irresistible thing, it is direct and fearless, and Spock remains frighteningly possessive of it even months after the bond is finally consummated and allowed to fully form. Spock knows this— and he knows just as surely that this knowledge means nothing in the face of the contentment it gives him.

Just as he knows and is too pleased by the fact that Jim asks nothing else until he wonders, "Okay, then… can I eat it?" out loud hours later just before shift.

Nyota informs Spock of Jim's next efforts to learn about his gift three days later in the officers' lounge.

"McCoy walked in on him going through his office last night in the dark, almost had a heart attack, he said," she announces as she slides into a seat beside him, speaks in low tones that won't carry. "And Janice says he's been sniffing around for information. Keeps following her around, wondering what she's heard. She's about to go crazy, Sulu says she's started hiding out in the botany lab."

Indeed, Yeoman Rand is not where she usually is this time of day, ready for a card game with Nyota or Sulu, whomever she can catch first.

He hopes that she will not come at him from around a corner as if he is the cause of Jim's more juvenile traits.

Janice Rand has done such a thing before, refuses to be affected by any of his best attempts to intimidate her.

"… Jim does not seem to comprehend the definition of the word 'surprise'."

"He's crazy," Nyota corrects. "You've seen how he gets when anybody mentions the word 'fireworks.' Twitching, bouncing, drove me crazy at the Academy. I didn't even know he liked fireworks until he dragged me out, ran me around all night to watch them." She goes quiet for a moment, considering a fumbling friendship difficult to solidify and too-close dispositions that sometimes scrape uncomfortably even now. Turns her attention away to the other officers until she grins suddenly, broadly. "I told you it wouldn't be safe with just anybody."

Yes. Which is why he had originally followed Nyota's advice, given the gift to her when it had finished and let her chose a place. Judging by Jim's increasingly instability in the last days, she had been correct in her estimations that she would be able to hide it better than he could have on his own.

Nyota shifts beside him easily, fearless in her emotion when no one can use it against her— and he is reminded of how similar this woman is to another.

Wonders curiously, perhaps warily, what it says of him that he can only be so fearless when he is around them.

"You don't even celebrate Christmas. You think Hanukkah's more interesting… And, hey, remember that lecture you gave me the first time I gave you a gift?" Spock remembers that it had been an endeavor not to be affected by the gift, by Jim's dragging him so persistently outside of the parameters he had found some sense of safety in. Remembers that it had been ultimately ineffective and that he is glad for it. "You can't just turn around and change your position now."

"You have always enjoyed my previous changes in position." There's an immediate flickering sensation through the bond, Jim as always too pleased with Spock's simple acceptance of his sexual competence. But even that ends abruptly now, Jim's excitement clouding everything else. "This is no different."

Jim lifts the weight of his body off Spock's to peer down at him, narrows his eyes after a moment's consideration in an order. "Tell me."


"Spock," he insists in a tone that can only be classified as a "whimper" and Spock takes some sympathy on him, strokes an open palm down his spine in a way that often brings him some comfort when he wakes, restless or fearful. "Spock, please."

"After spending so much time insisting that I participate in Human customs, you have minimal right to demand I once again alter my stance on this subject."

"I do too have a leg to stand on," Jim insists but settles in temporary defeat, a sure sign of how tired he is. Burrows to hide his face in Spock's throat, mutters, "Don't know why I had to bond-marry a damn smart-ass, there's only room for one in a marriage…"

Hours later, Jim leaves his quarters early (managing to stumble twice into a wall despite his best attempts at secrecy) and yet is four-point-two minutes late arriving on the Bridge.

The captain shows up with a wounded, slightly irritated expression and walks too fast to his chair, settles and then turns to stare quite openly at Spock. When Spock quite openly ignores him, attention on his work, he blurts a little too urgently, "Tell me you've got something new to show me."

"Happy holidays, Sir, we've found you a beautiful new gaseous anomaly," Lieutenant Sulu replies without hesitation. Yeoman Rand, leaning on a console beside Lieutenant Madeline, gives a choked noise and ducks her head to hide her face, turning away fully when Jim shifts his stare to her.

Ensign Chekov doesn't bother to muffle his laughter.

All of the senior staff knows.

None of them are speaking.

True anxiety flares and fades through the bond, becomes a furious tug begging for some form of notice until Spock curves the touch warmly back. But when even that contact becomes something similar to a small Earth child locked around his leg, pulling at his tunic insistently, Spock brushes him away again.

Jim gives a huff and stares too fixedly at the viewscreen.

"Blowjob for a hint?" Jim offers over breakfast and only several years of experience allows Spock not to lift his head from his work, regard Jim with badly concealed surprise.

"No," he answers when he knows his voice is steady.

"I give good ones."

Spock is aware of this fact. "No."

Nyota informs him nine hours later that their navigator had walked in on Jim interrogating their helmsman in the ready room and quickly put a stop to it with such force that the captain is now "moping around with his tail between his legs" and that "even Giotto's starting to feel sorry for him."

When Jim crawls into bed later, presses too close in mortification, Spock allows him to pretend the story has not reached every corner of the ship.

Spock pays little attention to the Beagle that trots past him on his way to engineering, having accepted that the dog contributes quite well to the ship despite the incongruity of the situation but still unable to admit such a thing aloud.

His mother had always insisted that feigned ignorance was best in these situations.

The canine has vanished around a corner by the time Spock reaches his destination, turns quickly and strides without hesitation through a scattering of engineers running final diagnostic checks before they disperse through the ship to celebrate with friends or spouses.

The man lingering near the office that is only rarely used spots him instantly, comes forward to offer him the box with a level of reverence he generally reserves for the alcoholic beverage he shows alarming devotion to.

"Nothing's happened to it," Scott assures needlessly, as Spock can see that the package is in perfect shape, bears no sign of damage. "He doesn't know about it, either, only Keenser could have gotten to it."

Yes. Which is why Nyota had arranged these things, given him assistance.

"Good luck with… uh," the chief engineer adds, gesturing at the parcel with barely-concealed amusement and Spock nods shortly, uncertain what his relationship with this man is and yet aware it is something close to camaraderie.

If he hears Lieutenant Gaila's too pleased, "It's so cute how he wants the first official holiday with the captain to go so well" directed to Keenser behind him as he leaves engineering, he will deny it.

And if he passes Nyota coming the opposite way, carrying a bottle of Scott's favorite alcohol and a pack of playing cards, offers a quiet, "enjoy yourself" that is returned in kind, then he also will not admit that it happened.

"Janice is going to crack any—" Only half-aware when he first raises his head from his work, Jim goes visibly stiff when he spots the object in Spock's hands, mine sparking red-gold through his thoughts as the datapad is dropped carelessly to the side.

It is a far more endearing image than anything a captain of Starfleet should be capable of managing.

Spock is too amused by the way he admits, "It's not Christmas yet" even as he leans forward out of the chair and reaches futilely for the gift. By the way he performs the gesture that he has explained to Spock as "grabby hands" and makes a muffled needy sound in his throat, back legs of the chair lifting from the floor.

The box is accepted eagerly as Spock takes a seat, watches, but there is hesitation at the last second, unease as fingers flex against the box. "I got you something," he offers, and then relaxes when Spock simply looks at him. "Okay," and then, voice colored with delight, "okay" as he pries the box open.

There's a momentary confusion, the likeness startling enough that his mind blanks white, slowly bleeds back as he realizes that his initial thought is wrong.

This is not his father's chess set.

This is only Spock's attempt to replace it.

He says, "Spock" then, too quietly, edges of his mind jagged but grateful, original hurt connected to too many injuries to be defined in any one term.

"I was initially unsure how to approach Commander Kirk but Yeoman Rand offered her support," Spock admits slowly, still doubtful about his relationship with the Human woman who gave birth to Jim and yet acutely aware that he does not wish to disturb the relationship they have managed to foster. "Your mother agreed that the chances of finding your father's set were…"

"Yeah." The tone is short, too calm, a promise that Jim had once tried nevertheless and been forced to accept that what had been taken was now gone.

"When I suggested an alternative, she assisted me in designing a close reproduction of the old set. You know that your great-grandfather had the original personally created for your grandfather. I had to rely on your mother's memories of the design to have this one created." Jim's tongue swipes too fast across his bottom lip, eyes darkened with a mix of pleasure-pain. "She assured me that this is the closest possible reproduction of the original set that can be created."

"Jesus, Spock…" He watches Jim set small pieces in a line in front of him, black and white, black and white. Watches him pause repeatedly, obviously surprised when he notices paint that has been applied to imitate chips, or feels small dents in wood that can be felt if not seen. "How did you—"

"I was informed by someone else that you felt a strong sense of pride for the physical damage inflicted on your father's game before you received it."

Jim says nothing to this, expression too calm.

There is only one individual who knows how Jim would have felt about his father's chess set if he had been allowed to possess it, share his father's love.

Through the bond, Jim feels too much, has been effectively shaken with emotion. He drags in one breath and then another. Glances over the game once more carefully and then pushes to his feet. "You make me look bad," Jim informs him but digs the book out from under his mattress anyway, sets Through the Looking-Glass very carefully onto the table between them before he retakes his seat. "And cheap." His mouth quirks, his balance mostly returned. "Anyway, now you can stop giving me guilt face every time you sneak off with my copy. Even though I already said you could have it."

This is the third book gifted in such a way. "I do not—"

Jim stares at him and Spock quiets, aware of the fact that he has read Jim's copy eight times since Jim first insisted he "borrow it for a few days" and is partway through it again. That he continues to put it back on the shelf only to continually draw it down again, reopen it. "So that's your copy now."

"I continue to steal your possessions."

"You're just getting yourself a collection together." Jim shrugs, ignores the way Spock's fingers run along the edges of the book helplessly and allows the weight of the moment to ease as he taps a rook against the table.

Pretends he does not suffer from the same behavior.

His mother's beloved collection of Earth literature is long gone, was taken from him as completely and utterly as she had been. Her clothes, her work, the books that lined a small shelf in her study that were a waste of time and resources that she had nonetheless loved, cared for and added to when she could.

Tried to share with him even when he had drawn away from the offer.

Spock feels at times that he is the only evidence that she had ever existed.

"I knew Rand had something to do with it, she can't lie to me." A foot nudges his, movement playful, as Jim looks over the game set yet again. "Although I'm probably going to have to start taking the chess lessons seriously, huh?"

"That would be appreciated."


He draws his hands from the book he's gripping too tightly, firmly dismisses the lingering echoes of beliefs that he had realized in no uncertain terms to be incorrect. Beliefs that had caused him irreparable damage before he had accepted weakness, understood what Nyota had attempted to explain to him. ("You were an idiot," Jim mutters insistently each time the subject is raised. "What the hell kind of self-preservation instinct is that anyway?")

"Are you going to tell me where you hid it?"