Kirk pulled the towel about his waist, rubbing his thighs and lower stomach with the tail ends of the Starfleet terrycloth. The fabric brushed beneath his genitals, soft and warm, however; the cool air caused him to shiver slightly. He lazed about for another two minutes, naked and unmotivated to dress. Dressing meant preparing for the next shift, and he certainly longed for a break. Their last mission landed him in sickbay. He wasn't injured, he wasn't even scraped, but his insides turned as though he'd contracted the worst plague in human history. He coughed roughly at the memory, his lungs still itching with alien flora secretion. The least it could've done was make him hallucinate, and preoccupy him through imagined spectral reflection (pretty colors) whilst McCoy jabbed and prodded him like a medical pincushion.
He swore that the multitude of phaser fire, the number of stuns; the frequency in which he was captured and tortured by opposing forces was less threatening then having every one of his innards bend to the will of a genetic affliction.
An alerting chirp startled him followed by an admittance flash above his door. Kirk's brow quirked. He hadn't locked his cabin and he was sure it was open for anyone to approach. Whoever stood outside knew he was recovering. McCoy, or Spock?
Kirk thanked the hesitant intruder. After all, he still wasn't dressed.
The captain quickly retrieved his Starfleet issued robe, white complete with an insignia above his breast. He usually despised wearing casual command wear, but the first time he tried the robe, he fell in love. It was warm, and soft like the blanket his mother made for him before he shuttled off to Tarsus IV. He'd lost it during the ordeal, and this faux Starfleet warmth was the closest thing he had to the original. He could ask his mother to recreate it. But the memories he had…
They were something to leave at rest.
He'd rather remember the fabric as an embrace rather than the sheet he'd used to bury a dear friend. A soft caress than the only thing that kept him alive when Kodos decided to cut off the environmental controls to the dormitories he and 74 others inhabited. Freezing, and starving.
Kirk shook the thought. He was over this… tragic as it was, he made his peace with the dead.
No, the robe would be enough.
The door chimed again, followed by a smooth dark voice.
"Come in, Mr. Spock." He called.
Spock took the extra step to activate the doors.
The swish brought a wave of smells and sensations the Vulcan quickly adjusted to.
The sweet bouquet of shampoos and deodorizers seemed illogical to the half-alien as he was sure the human's natural odor was mute compared to the spicy sting that hit his nostrils. It wasn't bad. Just strong.
His captain approached slowly.
"What is it Spock?" Kirk prompted, as the Vulcan had yet to account for his presence.
Spock held a small cup to his breast, just above a scientific PADD. Kirk could make out temporal calculations and small diagrams, but nothing significant. He absently wondered why certain sciences caught his First Officer's attention. Was it the complexity? Or was the actual problem just that fascinating. Did he revel in figuring it out…or was the process more gratifying then finding an answer? Kirk decided he'd have to watch for signs of compulsion and pattern.
Spock set down his PADD and extended the cup as if it held an explanation.
After his Captain failed to take the cup he began.
"The doctor insisted that you continue a regular regiment of antihistamines until he can find something more direct for the particular allergy that has affected you. He also mentioned that you should eat. I decided to combine the two necessities."
"You put my medicine in my food? Logical as always, what did you replicate Mr. Spock?" Kirk asked, leaning in the smell the soupy contents.
"I did not replicate anything; I merely created a broth in which to give you sufficient strength and medicinal boosters to help you finish out your duties. I believe you are required to secure the treaty agreements and relay your finished mission reports to Starfleet command.
Although I must confess took it upon myself to summarize the findings on the planets geological surveys that will aid Starfleet's excavation teams in obtaining the several hypersonic elements found on the southern tectonic plate."
"So basically you completed my report for me."
"Basically." Spock chimed, dropping his hand with the cup, dubious if Kirk was accepting his offer or rejecting his help.
"I appreciate the gesture Mr. Spock, but this isn't a First Officer's prerogative. You don't have to complete work that I'm capable of doing."
"You were incapacitated for a duration of the mission and I took it upon myself if you were still ill that I should take over your responsibilities. I did not mean to overstep my bounds, sir.
Besides, I would have done it anyway."
"And why is that Commander?"
"You are my friend, and I had no other obligations to attend to. Doing the work was what I'd like to refer to as a gift. I wish you would accept it and take the extra time to rest."
"Alright, Mr. Spock. But if I'm going to be holed up in my quarters against my will, I'm going to want some company."
Kirk pulled out a guest chair and took his own behind the desk.
He scooped up the cup and pulled it close to his body. The spoon reminded him of a Japanese ladle for miso and stirred the broth suspiciously. Spock had yet to inform him of what it contained.
"I hate the taste of those antihistamines. It will be a wonder if you are able to hide that awful bitterness."
"I endeavored to do so, but my taste buds are by far more advanced… tell me if the seasoning is adequate for your human palette."
Kirk lifted the soup to his lips, letting the liquid swirl beneath his tongue. There was a small hint of numbness followed by a smattering array of tastes. All of them pleasant and made him hum in appreciation before swallowing the first spoonful. He could make out onions, coupled with celery and a chicken broth. It was salty and fulfilling. He could distinguish a few more tastes that didn't seem organic, but they didn't interrupt his enjoyment of the soup. He imagined Spock wouldn't stop at antihistamines and probably added a few supplements of his own. He decided not to question it or look this particular gift horse in the mouth. Even if that gift horse had a spectacular set of lips, currently set thin and tight as he awaited Kirk's opinion.
"Fantastic! I can't believe you made this. The seasonings almost taste real… where did…"
"Lt. Sulu assisted me. He's been growing an array of natural foods in a small section of his botany laboratory. Some of them included spices. I took it upon myself to "mix and match". I'm glad it is to your liking."
"Wait… you said you tasted this…"
"That is correct."
"This has a chicken broth."
Spock remained silent.
"Spock, you didn't have to go that far. I know your distaste for animal byproduct…"
"Nonetheless it was logical to sample it before passing it to you."
"Alright, alright." Kirk settled for smiling. Spock started to look uncomfortable under Kirk's scrutiny in a way the captain had never seen before.
"Would you like a game of chess before you retire, Captain?"
Kirk set aside the soup for a second.
Spock eyed him for a moment.
"Finish the soup and then you may pick the color."
"I didn't think manipulation was your game Mr. Spock, but I concede!"
Kirk returned to his soup, taking large, slightly exaggerated sips.
"I wasn't…" Spock silenced himself. Sometimes it was better not to recount all of his logical judgments. It usually led to confusion or misunderstanding. Such reactions from the Captain never bothered him but tonight he didn't wish to play the verbal games.
Either way, his captain was eating.
Once the cup was drained, Spock suggested tea or coffee for the upcoming game. Kirk settled against the recreation table and took the proffered cup.
The warm aroma mixed with the inner warmth he experienced whilst drinking Spock's homemade soup.
He smiled to himself.
He truly had the best First Officer in the fleet.
"Is something amusing, Captain?" Kirk shook his head and picked from one of Spock's closed hands.
Fingers brushed Spock's fist, something he was usually careful of avoiding given his Vulcan's touch telepathy.
Maybe he was tired.
Spock seemed to not notice, or at least pretended not to.
Kirk smirked slightly. He liked starting but it was much more satisfying to beat Spock after being given the disadvantage.
Spock would always point out that neither opponent had a strong gain at the beginning of the game, but Kirk always knew the line was bull.
Spock started, assertive as always. He usually pushed first to set up a threat, and then as the opponent battled that threat, covertly built up his defenses. By the time Kirk got done defending his pieces, he had no protection and Spock would actually attack. The trick almost worked.
Except Kirk always kept a line of pieces that could jump levels and jump certain threats that Spock hadn't considered. They were always secondary. Moves that weren't threatening by themselves, but in their succession took an inordinate amount of pieces.
Spock was left defending his king, being checked ruthlessly as his entire front faltered.
Spock now regretted switching his rook and king so early in the game.
The Vulcan sighed. It wasn't loud or noticeable, just a small exhale that followed the tipping of his king.
"Fair play, Captain." Spock resigned. He quickly reset the pieces, a ritual he upheld since they started their frequent games. Kirk could put the pieces away in their felt case but rarely did the pieces every stay put for long. It seemed more logical to just reset the 3-dimensional board in anticipation of their next game.
Spock glared at the cup of coffee and took the empty ceramic mug away from his captain. His emptied tea cup joined its place next to Kirk's.
"Hmm?" Kirk looked up at some unknown voice.
"I thought you said something." His voice was soft and low. Spock lips twitched and watched a small daze fill dark golden eyes.
"Did you…" The captain blinked, finding his eyes heavy. Spock slipped his hand beneath Kirk's arm as he slouched forward. He lifted the human easily, one arm under his arms and around broad shoulders, the other hooked beneath his legs. Spock only took two steps into the bedroom with his long strides. He didn't look where the robe parted over strong thighs or notice how soft the fabric was beneath his hands. Or even how light Kirk felt, despite his superior strength.
He gently laid Kirk upon the bed off-center on purpose as Spock ruffled the edges of the blankets so the captain's body could be easily tucked away.
Jim groaned softly, his body fighting the sedative. His hand searched randomly, connecting with Spock's sleeve and tugged.
"Don't go." He whimpered before giving into the insistent lull that washed over unraveling senses.
Spock found he hadn't the heart to move. The captain's hand was secure on his arm, and it led Spock to sit beside his bed. He could have detangled Jim's hold and left, certain his captain would be unaware of his last request.
But the fingers that squeezed then relaxed against his wrist were soft and comforting. The feeling of Jim's emotions all falling in succession with his slowing breath and soft hiss was comforting. He rarely felt his Captain's emotions at peace, and it was not hard to stay. He memorized the hum of Jim's mind, content and sluggish. Spock knew sharing emotion was dangerous. If Jim woke realizing the feelings Spock projected, it would look poorly against him as a Vulcan. Jim never cared, but Spock always felt an automatic amount of shame. But as half human…
Spock thought of Vulcan's heat, thought of his mother's smile, thought of the first time Jim played chess with him. Every warm memory slipped by Spock's net, seeped through the holes and drained from the pads of his fingers into the cool skin of the human nestled beside him.
Kirk dreamt that night. He dreamt of that blanket, warm and fuzzy woven with love and affection holding him tight.
Spock kept a watchful vigil until his internal chronometer passed 0500 and snuck out before alpha shift started.