Chapter Thirteen

Jim stepped onto the transporter pad to hug Winona. Spock simply raised his hand in salute to his father. "Peace and long life."

Sarek returned the salute. "Live long and prosper."

Winona's arms tightened around Jim. "Take care of yourself."

Jim stepped back. "I will, Mom."

Winona turned to Spock. She raised her hand in a salute, then dropped it. "Screw that. I want a hug." She stepped off of the pad and embraced Spock warmly. Spock didn't return the gesture, but that didn't stop Winona from squeezing him even harder. "You take care of yourself too, Spock. And watch out for Jimmy. He gets himself into too much trouble."

"Mom!" Jim whined.

"I will watch over him. Live long and prosper, Winona," Spock said softly and she released him and took her place on the pad again.

"I'll keep in touch," Winona promised. "After the Vulcan memorial service in a couple months, we're going to Earth. Sarek'll have to return to New Vulcan periodically, but I'll hang around Earth for the rest of my pregnancy. Let me know when you have shore leave so you can visit."

Jim grinned. "Of course. And let us know when you have the baby. I want to come corrupt my little brother."

Sarek cleared his throat. "Dr. McCoy has determined from genetic scans that the fetus is female."

Jim's mouth fell open. "A girl? But I don't know anything about sisters! Who am I supposed to teach how to steal and crash cars now?"

"Well, next time we have a kid, I'll be sure to leave the gender up to you," Winona said sardonically.

"Don't make fun of me!" Jim puffed out his chest. "I'm Captain James T. Kirk."

Winona's snickers deflated Jim's pride. "You're my Jimmy, and don't you forget it. Now beam me down to Vulcan. My old bones are tired and I'm ready for bed." Her eyes shot to Sarek and she smirked.

"Again?" Sarek exclaimed, to Spock's shock. He had never heard his father sound so amused.

Winona nodded. "Most definitely. I'm very, very ready for bed."

Sarek didn't meet anyone's gaze. "I believe we are both ready to depart then. Farewell, Captain Kirk."

Jim moved to the transported controls. He offered Sarek a Vulcan salute. "See you later, Pop!"

He energized them. Spock and Jim watched in silence as their parents faded away. When the last trace of them disappeared, Jim burst into laughter. "Poor Sarek. Mom was really laying it on thick there."

"Indeed." Spock was uncertain what Winona had been 'laying on', but he didn't care to find out. He needed to begin his meditation cycle. "I shall retire for the night now. Good evening, Captain."

Spock turned to exit the room, but Jim raced around the transporter controls and grabbed his sleeve to stop him. "Wait a minute, Spock! We haven't talked in almost a week! Can't we at least eat dinner?"

Spock prepared himself to reject Jim's request, but Jim cut off his reply.

"Please, Spock. Please." Jim released Spock's shirt. "We need to talk about ship business."

It was an acceptable request. Spock could not refuse. "Very well."

Jim gave him a little smile. "Great. Let's eat in the officers' mess, okay? That way we don't have to worry about confidential information getting out."

The officer's mess was rarely used for dinner and rather private. Spock would prefer to eat in the public main mess, but if they would be discussing confidential information, the officer's mess would be more practical. "Very well." Logic overruled preferences.

Jim's smile grew a bit bigger. "Good."

In the mess, Jim waived away the crewmember that attempted to serve them, opting instead to get his own food from the synthesizer. Spock requested a serving of plomeek soup from the synthesizer and took a seat next to Jim in their normal places at the main table. Sulu was eating in the corner with Chekov, who was not an officer and should not have been in the officer's mess, but Spock would not complain. With them there, Jim would have to remain professional.

Jim nodded to Spock's bowl. "Feeling homesick already?"

"No. I have been meditating faithfully for the past week. My emotions are completely suppressed." Spock tasted his soup. It was a little too warm for his preferences, but it would not burn him. He began to eat.

Jim's fork hovered motionlessly over his plate. "What? Why are you squashing all of your emotions? You were just starting to really show them!"

Spock had only shown blatant emotion to Jim. The consequences of that experiment had proven that emotions were detrimental. "I am Vulcan. Such actions are logical."

Jim slammed his hand down on the table, his fork pinging against the metal. "You're Human too! It's not logical to throw part of yourself away."

Spock's neck and shoulders stiffened. "I shall not discuss my actions." He forced his muscles to relax.

Jim stared at him for a minute, then shoved his fork into his cornbread stuffing. "Fine." He lifted up his fork and shoved a huge bite into his mouth. He chewed in silence and didn't attempt to speak until his mouth was clear. "So. We lost Nilly Velasquez to New Vulcan. She's sticking around with her new bondmate. Robert Nelson is still shipping out with us though, as are the other two women from our crew who decided to bond with Vulcans. The women are going to try to keep up long-distance relationships, but Nelson's bondmate is attempting to join Starfleet and transfer onto the Enterprise."

Torek wanted to be at his bondmate's side. Spock understood the feeling. He would remain by Jim's side for as long as he could. It was not an emotional decision, but a logical one. They made a strong command team and it would benefit the Enterprise if Spock remained Jim's First Officer for as long as Jim was Captain.

Jim pursed his lips for a minute as though he was thinking. "Hey, Spock, when we saw Nelson and his bondmate coming out of the scanner, they kept touching fingers. I thought that was a Vulcan no-no."

"Touching fingers with another person in that way is a gesture reserved for bondmates, Captain." Spock could remember his parents doing it often. When Spock was young, he had often wished he could share the gesture with his bondmate, but the one time he had attempted it with T'Pring, she had rebuffed him. "It signifies that their emotions and thoughts are already touching, as their fingers do, and so the touch telepathy is not invasive or taboo." Jim leaned forward, as if asking for more information. "It is similar to a kiss, in Human terms."

"Huh. Cute. No wonder Uhura says Nelson and his bondmate are romantic." Jim sighed and poked at his turkey. "Personally, I think the women's relationships are more romantic. Even though they knew they couldn't stay on New Vulcan and that their bondmates had to stay, they still bonded with the men they loved. Now, no matter where they go, they'll never be alone." Jim jabbed at the turkey until it split into two pieces. "I don't like being alone."

Jim wouldn't ever have to be alone if—

No emotions. Just logic. Spock focused his attention on his soup.

Jim straightened up. "That's enough of that. We need to go over the plan for shipping out tomorrow."

The conversation remained on professional matters for seventeen minutes, only to be abruptly disrupted by Chekov's appearance next to Jim.

When Jim looked up at him, Chekov smiled. "Sorry to interrupt, Keptin, but I heard today about you and Mr. Spock. Is very romantic, I think, to have the Keptin and First Officer in love. Is like the great romances of some of Russia's Tsars and Tsarinas!"

Jim winked at Spock. "I think you're the queen in that simile, Spock."

Chekov's eyes widened. "No, no! Mr. Spock is no queen! I should say Tsar and Tsar then, but there was no Tsar and Tsar, but Mr. Spock is no woman, so I do not know—"

Jim patted Chekov on the arm. "It's okay, Chekov. I was just teasing Spock." Jim leaned over and wrapped an arm around Spock's shoulders. "It's just something we do, right, sweetheart?"

Spock's response died in his throat when Jim followed up the pet name with a kiss on the cheek. He forced himself to remain calm. It was a handshake. Nothing but a handshake.

Chekov's eyes were so wide that the eyeballs seemed to protrude slightly from their sockets. "Um, Keptin, Mr. Spock, sirs. I am... I will return to my dinner. Now." He scampered back to Sulu's side.

Jim squeezed Spock's shoulder. "I think we freaked him out."

Just a handshake. "We are leaving New Vulcan tomorrow, and Pon Farr can now be cured. There is no reason for us to pretend to be bondmates any longer." Spock's bowl wasn't quite empty, but his appetite was gone. He would have to throw away the rest.

Jim's arm slipped from his shoulders. "Already? But having sex is so much easier now that we don't have to hide!"

Spock's breathing was beginning to accelerate. He forced it to slow back down. "Our sexual relationship should end now as well."

"No! I don't want to stop."

Jim's shout caught Sulu and Chekov's attention. They peered at them over their shoulders. When Chekov caught Spock's eyes, he blushed and looked away.

"This is not an appropriate place for this discussion, Captain."

Jim stood up and grabbed Spock's arm. "Then we'll find an appropriate place to have it. I'm not going to let you avoid it though."

Spock stood and attempted to pick up his bowl, but Jim was already pulling him away. "Our dishes—"

"Leave the damn dishes!" Jim's forehead was furrowed and his mouth tight. "We're going to my room, now."

Spock could not allow the argument to continue in front of their subordinates, so he was forced to allow Jim to drag him out of the mess and down the corridor to his room. Jim put in his lock code so quickly that he missed a number and had to start over. When the door opened, he shoved Spock inside the dark room.

"Lights to one hundred percent," Spock said.

Jim followed him in, and then locked the door. "First you avoid me. Then you don't want to talk to me. Now you won't even have sex with me." Jim gripped Spock by the shoulders. "What did I do?"

Spock shook his head. "You did nothing. I made a decision to suppress my emotions."

Jim burst into laughter. "Oh, that's good. Usually I'm the one giving the 'it's not you, it's me' speech." He released Spock and collapsed into a chair. He buried his face in his hands. "I don't want to lose you." The words were muffled, but Spock heard them clearly.

"I am not going anywhere, Captain."

Jim sighed and uncovered his face. His shoulders slumped. "Jim." His face was blank when he looked up at Spock. "After Boldun, you promised you'd call me Jim."

Spock took a step forward. He was hurting Jim. It was illogical. He needed to stop. His own pain didn't matter, not when he was hurting Jim. "Jim."

Jim held out his hand. "If you want to be more Vulcan, if that's what you really want, then I'll support you. I don't need sex. I do need you."

Spock wanted to take Jim's hand, but that wasn't the Vulcan way. Jim held out his hand for a few more seconds and then began to lower it.

Spock grabbed it with his own. "I need you as well."

Jim stood. Through their hands, Spock could feel so much pain and sadness. Pain he had caused. He wished he could take away the pain.

Jim wrapped his other hand around Spock's neck and pulled his head down as he lifted his own face. Before their lips could touch, Spock tried to draw away. "Jim..."

The pain increased. "Please," Jim whispered. "One last time. Let me say goodbye."

Spock refused to let Jim pull his head back down. "I am not going anywhere."

Jim locked eyes with Spock. "Please."

The pain was so deep and so heavy. Spock was drowning in it as the waves of sadness washed him away. The pain had overtaken all of Jim's other emotions, even his lust. Spock wanted to take away the pain.

He pressed his lips to Jim's.

Jim responded hungrily, clinging to Spock as if he was a lifeboat in the midst of that sea of pain. His hand slipped from Spock's neck to his back and he tugged Spock closer. Then his hand slipped under Spock's shirt and began to lift it.

"Jim..."

"Please."

There was no lust in the touch. Spock floundered to understand as Jim tugged off his shirt. Jim then stripped himself and began to remove the rest of Spock's clothes. His hands were gentle, almost loving, and Spock still couldn't feel any lust.

When they were both naked, Jim guided them to the bed. From the nightstand, he withdrew the bottle of lubricant. He handed it to Spock, wrapping his fingers around Spock's so they both held the bottle. "I want you in me," he said quietly. He released Spock's hand and climbed onto the bed, shoving pillows underneath his hips.

Spock absorbed the sight before him. His control was gone. He could feel emotion's welling up within him. "I cannot. My control..."

Jim reached out, gripping Spock's hand. "One last time."

The pain was still there. Spock could do this one last time. He would keep the memory of this night forever, but he would forget all of his emotions. He could do this.

He tried to enter Jim slowly, but Jim thwarted his efforts by thrusting upwards. "I need you in me," he cried as Spock was fully sheathed in his body.

Once he was inside, Jim let Spock set the pace. He reached for Spock's hand, and Spock let him take it. Jim pulled the hand up and placed it on his face.

Spock yanked it back. "No, Jim."

The pain overflowed.

Jim looked up at Spock. His eyes were bluer than Spock had ever seen them, as blue as an ocean. "Please."

Spock couldn't meld them. What if he couldn't hide his emotions? Jim couldn't find out about his love. It would break their friendship more than anything Spock had done in the past week.

Jim's eyes darkened. "Please."

How could Spock refuse? He gathered up his emotions and locked them in the brig of his mind. Then he pressed his fingers to Jim's face.

He only meant to initiate a shallow meld, but the moment his mind touched Jim's, it was sucked in. He delved further and further inside Jim, while Jim began to melt into him. It was a shock when Spock found himself in Jim's core. It appeared to him like wide open space with all of its disorderly anomalies and simple planets. The stars burned brighter as he approached them, his own core touching Jim's. He had always seen himself as a starship, a machine full of people, people full of emotions. The logic covered the emotions, but it didn't keep them in. At any moment, the emotions could choose to escape and wander away. The compatibility of the images produced by his and Jim's core did not escape him. Jim truly was his t'hy'la: his perfect match.

The longing to let his starship soar free in the universe that was Jim was strong, but Spock forced it to fly away, back inside him where it belonged. Slowly, he forced the meld back to a more shallow level where he could feel physical sensations again. Jim was breathing heavily now, and the sadness was finally gone. In its place was sheer joy and affection that burned Spock as surely as the pain had drowned him.

I missed you, Jim whispered through the mind link.

Spock didn't understand. He hadn't gone anywhere. I will not leave, he promised Jim in return.

At his words, Jim cried out and climaxed. Pleasure, joy, affection, and contentment, mixed together and burst through the meld, pulling Spock into his own orgasm.

Spock collapsed onto Jim, his breath gone. He forced himself to roll over so that he was not squashing Jim. His hand remained pressed to Jim's face.

Jim smiled at him. Stay. He blinked sleepily.

Spock wriggled around until they were under the covers and the pillows were back where they belonged. I will not leave, he promised again. He would stay by Jim's side for the rest of his life. "Lights to five percent." The room darkened till Spock could barely make out Jim's face next to him.

Goodnight, Spock.

Spock watched Jim's eyes flutter closed. Goodnight, Jim.

He couldn't bring himself to break the meld until Jim was fast asleep. He slipped out of Jim's mind then, regretting it the moment he pulled his fingers from Jim's face. He couldn't stay linked to Jim though. He had been lucky that Jim hadn't seen his love while they were melded. He couldn't take that chance ever again.

Spock climbed out of the bed. His eyes had adjusted to the light level, and he found his clothes on the floor. He tugged them on, then straightened his hair. Before he left the room, he paused by the door to look back at Jim. He was frowning in his sleep, and Spock wanted to go back to him and soothe the expression away, but he couldn't.

Jim had been right. Even if Spock remained by Jim's side for the next fifty years, this was a goodbye.

"Farewell," Spock whispered, and then he slipped out of the door.


Sarek woke to find himself alone in his new bed. Winona's side was cool and long-abandoned. He couldn't hear her in the bathroom, so he climbed out of bed and made his way downstairs.

He found her in the living room, holding a holo-image. "You are up early."

She turned to smile at him. "Morning, Sarek. I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd get up and make myself useful." She held up the holo-image. "I was trying to decide what wall to hang this on."

"What is it?" Sarek peered over her shoulder and discovered the holo-image was a picture of Amanda on the Starfleet Academy campus.

Winona traced the edge of the image with her finger. "I asked Spock if he had any pictures of her, and he gave me a copy of the only one he had. He said she had him take it when she was visiting him on Earth one year, and then she left the camera behind on accident." She smiled up at Sarek. "She was a beautiful woman."

Sarek reached out and took the image from her. "You are not jealous?"

Winona shrugged. "If she were still alive, I might be. Since she's not, I'm not. She made you happy, and that makes me happy. I know you love me just as much, even if it's in a different way." She tapped the side of her head. "This bond really is amazing."

"Yes, it is." Sarek returned the image to her. "Where you do think it should go?"

Winona padded over to the far side of the room in her sock feet. Next to one window, she paused and held the image against the wall. "Here, I think." She looked back over her shoulder. "In this spot, everyone who walks into the room will be able to see it."

It was perfect. "I... I am..." He was filled with emotion, but he wasn't sure what words to use to describe them.

Winona set the holo-image on a chair and crossed back to Sarek. "You're welcome." She kissed him on the cheek. "Come see what I want to do with our other rooms."

She tugged him down the hallway by the hand. She stopped in front of the larger of the two extra bedrooms and pushed open the door. It was empty inside, with plain white walls. They had not gotten any furniture beyond what they absolutely needed yet, since supplies were in high demand. "This one will be the guest bedroom, since it's farther from our room. I figure that Spock and Jim can stay here when they visit, and if Sybok or Sam ever come, they can use it too."

Sarek squeezed her hand.

She moved on to the smallest of the three bedrooms in the house. It was also empty and white. "And this room will be the nursery. We probably won't be able to come back to New Vulcan until she's at least a year old, but I think I'll send back some decorations from Earth for you to put up when you have to come back for your ambassadorial duties." She pointed into the corner beneath the room's window. "I want a rocking chair there, so I can sing the baby to sleep. I never had a rocking chair for Sam and Jimmy."

Sarek stepped into the room. "I had expected you would choose this room for the nursery, so I placed this in here." He opened the closet door and took the small stuffed animal down from the shelf. He had rather abused his ambassadorial privileges in order to replicate the non-essential toy. "Jim assured me that this is an appropriate toy for a Human child." He handed it to her.

She squeezed the sheep to her chest. "Oh, Sarek, I love sheep!"

"I know." She dreamed of them rather often.

She hugged him, squishing the sheep between them. "Thank you."

Sarek ran a hand through her loose hair. "You are welcome."

Winona laid her head against his shoulder. "Do you think the boys are going to be okay? It's nearly time for them to leave orbit."

"As long as they have each other, they shall be fine." Sarek lightly propped his chin on her head. "You should go back to bed. You need some more sleep."

"Come with me?" Sarek couldn't see her face but he felt her lips brush his collarbone. There was no lust in the touch—or at least no more than usual—merely comfort.

The Romulans, Humans, and Vulcan women were all settled. Sarek had no more research to attend to, as that had been passed on to more specialized scientists, and his ambassadorial duties could wait for a little while. "Yes, let's go back to bed," he said. She pulled away and looked down at the stuffed toy a little sadly. Sarek sighed. "The sheep may come as well."

At the sight of her grin, Sarek knew he would have to get another one for the baby. He'd never get the toy out of their bed now.


Spock spent the night meditating and locking down all of his emotions. When 0500 hours arrived, Spock roused himself from his meditations. He hadn't regained all of his control, but he was in better shape than he had been when he left Jim. He needed to proceed to the mess hall now if he wanted to avoid seeing Jim off of the bridge. Spock couldn't face him in a less-than-professional situation.

Spock had showered and dressed in clean clothing upon his return to his room, so he simply extinguished the candles he had lit and made his way to the officer's mess. Chekov was in there again, along with McCoy. The doctor was glaring at Chekov, but Spock doubted it was real anger, judging by the smile on Chekov's face and the fact that Chekov's sock foot was creeping up McCoy's leg.

At another table, Scotty and Uhura were bent over their PADDs and mumbling to each other as they ate. From the bits of the conversation he could hear, he was helping her with a small problem in the engineering of the New Vulcan communications network that had just been discovered. In between sentences, they were eating and every once in a while they would steal food from each other's plates without asking.

For them it was a romantic gesture. Jim had just taken for granted that Spock would let him steal food even though they were just friends.

Spock solidified his controls. He couldn't let himself fall apart. After ordering his food from the synthesizer, Spock took a seat in the far corner of the room, away from the happy couples.

Spock had nearly finished his food when the door to the room slid open and Jim burst in. He was breathing heavily and his face was flushed and sweaty. He scanned the room quickly, and when he spotted Spock in the corner, he rushed to his table.

"Spock, are you okay?" He slid into the chair next to Spock. "I woke up and you were gone and you weren't in my head! Shouldn't you be in my head?"

"Of course not. I ended the meld." They had melded before; why was Jim so confused?

Jim's shoulders slumped. "Oh. It was just a meld." He looked away. "I thought..."

Spock could handle this. He had logic. "You thought what, Jim?"

Jim looked back at him with the same sad blue eyes as the night before. "I thought you were bonding us."

No matter how hard he tried, Spock couldn't keep his chest from tightening. "I would not bond with someone who did not love me." There. He had said it. He put his illogical truth out there.

Jim flinched away as if hurt. "I thought you knew." He looked Spock straight in the eyes. "I love you."

Spock slammed his fork down on the table. "Do not lie to me!"

Jim set his shoulders. "I would never lie to you! Not after Boldun."

"I can feel your emotions." Spock caught Jim's hand with his and delved in deep to be certain. It was a lie. "There is no love there."

"What do you feel?" Jim leaned forward. "Tell me."

Spock named off all the emotions he could feel in Jim. "Anger, sadness, longing, affection, compassion, empathy, fear, lust, companionship, understanding, confusion, joy."

Jim squeezed his hand. "And what does love feel like?"

Spock floundered. "I do not... I know..."

"How did you learn to suppress your emotions?"

Spock had shown Jim those memories on Boldun. "I was taught to understand my emotions, name them, and then set them aside."

Jim leaned in closer. "And did they ever teach you what love felt like?"

"They tried to make me set aside my love for my mother." Spock had not learned that lesson.

"But they didn't teach you what romantic love felt like?" Jim pressed.

"I...no." All Spock had to judge by was the love he had in his own heart, the complicated mix of emotions that...

The complicated mix of emotions that he felt for Jim.

"Love is not one emotion." The revelation blindsided him.

Jim nodded. "And I love you."

"But the lie!" Spock had hated the lie, still hated the lie. "You do not want a commitment."

"I always thought I didn't want commitments, until I got them. I didn't want friends to tie me down, but Bones changed that. I didn't want responsibilities, but then I joined Starfleet. I didn't want to be in charge of other people's lives, but then I became a captain." Jim looked down at their joined hands. "I didn't want to get married, but then I pretended with you. Having someone who's there for you all the time and who cares about you is more than worth being tied to one person."

Spock's hands were shaking. This couldn't be right. This had to be a dream, except Spock had never dreamed in his life. "But you said last night we would end it."

"I didn't want to," Jim said softly. "I never wanted to let you go. I think I've wanted you since Boldun, but I didn't realize it until you started to block me out. I realized I was losing you, and I didn't want to let you go."

"But you did."

"I tried." Jim looked up into Spock's eyes. "I tried so hard after you said you wanted to give up your emotions. But then you let us meld, and I thought you were bonding us. I asked you to stay in my head, and you said you wouldn't leave." His eyes pleaded with Spock to understand. "But this morning you were gone. I was so afraid you were hurt. Mom said she can always feel Sarek, and you were gone. I looked in your quarters and in the main mess and on the bridge and you were gone."

"I was here. I would never leave you, Jim. I will stay by your side forever."

"That's not good enough." Jim tugged his hand free from Spock's and then held it out. His pointer and middle fingers were extended, the others tucked into his palm.

Spock stared at Jim's hand. He couldn't be asking what he was asking.

Jim held his fingers a little closer to Spock. "I want to bond with you. I don't ever want to be alone again."

Spock reached out with his own two fingers and pressed them to Jim's.

Jim's emotions sang inside of him, bright bursts of joy and affection. Spock soaked up the emotions as best as he could, while pressing his own emotions through to Jim.

Spock had never passed on his own emotions before, and Jim gasped at the sudden onslaught. "You love me too. I was so afraid you didn't."

"I tried to hide my emotions," Spock admitted. "I was afraid they would chase you away, and I would rather have you as a friend than not at all."

"It's amazing." Jim closed his eyes. "I want to feel it all of the time. Can you... will you bond us? Right now?"

"This is not the most appropriate place." Regardless, Spock pulled his fingers from Jim's and pressed them to the meld points.

Jim leaned into the touch. "Do it, now."

Spock threw himself into Jim's mind. Again, it sucked him in much faster than a Human mind should.

Jim laughed through the meld. My mind's not fully human anymore. Bones told me after he did the scans that I was already starting to grow a telepathic lobe. Mine's still tiny, but it's there. And your lobe's a bit bigger than it should be too.

Amazing. Does he have any theories as to why?

None. Just melding didn't do it because our brains were normal after Boldun. I think it must have been that time we had meld-sex.

Fascinating.

Spock continued to sink into Jim's mind. When he reached the core, he again marveled at the beauty of Jim's galaxy.

It's not beautiful, Jim said. It's empty. All of the planets are uninhabited. No matter how bright the stars are, they're cold. A galaxy without life is pointless. You give the galaxy a reason to exist.

At Jim's words, some of that space spread until it was a part of Spock too. Then Spock allowed his starship to fly free. As it passed from his mind to Jim's, it left behind a trail of subspace amplifiers to pass communications between them, a mental representation of their new link. The galaxy now belonged to both of them, the starship captained by each of them in turn.

We are bonded. Spock pulled out of the meld, and the connection between them remained.

Jim pressed two fingers to Spock's fingers, and then leaned in and kissed him deeply. When he pulled back, Spock realized that the room was full of people, very few of whom were officers. All of them were staring at them.

McCoy cleared his throat from the back of the crowd. "I thought it'd be interesting for everyone who went by in the hall to pop in here and see what the officer's mess looked like. It was just random idea."

"Sure, Bones." Jim grinned at all of them. "Congratulations, people. You just witnessed a wedding."

Hoots and hollers fill the room. Crew members proceeded to slap Jim on the back or give him a hug. Thankfully, they refrained with Spock, instead offering him a Vulcan salute or a few words of congratulations. When everyone in the room had had their moment with them, Spock spoke up. "This is the officer's mess. If you are not on duty in this mess or an officer, leave."

Everyone sighed, but filed out. Chekov remained at his table with McCoy. He really didn't belong there.

Don't worry about it, Spock. The kid's about due for a promotion anyway.

Spock peeked through their new bond to pick up Jim's surface thoughts. You just like seeing McCoy turn red when Chekov plays footsie, he accused.

Jim chuckled. "Hell, yes!"

Affection for Jim suffused him, along with the realization that this had really happened. They were bonded now, at least for as long as Jim would stay bonded.

Don't doubt me! I'm in this forever. You're not getting rid of me unless you kill me.

It was hard to believe that everything he had wished for could come true like this.

Well, believe it.

He would. It would just take time.

Jim leaned over and grabbed a piece of toast off Spock's plate.

Spock grabbed it back.

"Hey!" Jim frowned. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I really dislike it when you steal my food." Plus, it was Spock's last piece of toast.

Jim snatched it back and licked it all along one side. "But now it's my food!"

That was truly disgusting and juvenile. Also, Spock was never going to be able to eat an entire meal on his own again. He could see a distant future where he and Jim were aged and wrinkled and Jim was leaning over to steal Spock's toast. And even when he was eighty, Jim would probably still lick it.

Jim bit into the toast. "So, are you still sticking to your 'emotional suppression' thing?"

"Please chew with your mouth closed, Jim."

"Because it's fine with me if you are," Jim said. At least he had swallowed. "I love you no matter who you are."

Spock considered emotion. Emotion had given him Jim, and taking away his emotions had almost taken away Jim. "I do not think I shall be as stringent in my control as I have been. A little emotion can be useful."

Jim grinned. "Great. If you're not meditating, I bet I can seduce you with mind sex anytime I want." He happily took another bite of his toast.

Spock sighed. "I am not quite that 'easy', Jim."

Jim smirked. "I'll break you by lunch time."


Jim broke Spock in less than two hours.

Spock couldn't bring himself to mind.

The End