23:54

Spock slowly woke, momentarily unsure where he was. As awareness returned, he remembered that he was in his Captain's quarters, in his Captain's bed to be precise. He turned over to find the bed empty save for himself.

"Jim?"

"Hey," the man in question said from his small table where he sat cradling a mug in his left hand. His hair was standing up in some places, plastered to his head in others. His eyes were slightly squinted, his mouth surrounded by lines. From Spock's vantage point, he looked as though he was not wearing anything but his concerned expression. "How are you?"

"In what way do you mean?" Spock asked, sitting up and retaining one of the blankets to cover his bare body.

Jim sat the cup gently on the table, studying Spock with intensely blue eyes. "In every way. Are you still angry? Do you regret what happened? Do you understand now?"

Spock considered the questions, not needing any further explanation. "I am not angry. I do not believe I was. What happened is what I would have requested, had I been brave enough to admit it. I am beginning to understand."

"That's a start, at least," Jim said, watching Spock as he continued to stare down at the rumpled blanket.

"And you?" Spock asked, still not turning his gaze to Jim.

Had he been looking at the human, he would have seen the momentary flash of surprise cross his face. "I'm fine. Wondering what we do now."

"After we go to MedBay to have your broken fingers repaired, I would like to return here," Spock said, finally turning to watch Jim, to gauge his reaction to his words.

"How do you know about my fingers?" Jim asked in a carefully level voice.

"I was aware of the moment I broke them. And I regret having done so."

Jim shrugged at that, trying to keep his right hand immobile to help control the throbbing of the three fingers Spock had accidentally broken. "It was an accident." Jim finally rose from his chair, crossing the short distance to the bed to sit next to Spock, wearing only standard issue briefs. "Did you mean what you said?"

"I did," Spock confirmed, looking into the depths of those blue eyes. "Can you accept my words?"

"What do you think?" Jim asked, his smile telling Spock everything he needed to know. That smile that had ultimately been Spock's undoing. And now that it had been decided, Spock was glad he wasn't immune to it.

22:48

With his usual efficiency and strength, Spock divested them both of their uniforms, pushing Jim onto his bed, Jim staring up at him, his breath coming in quick snatches. Jim reached out for his pulsing erection as Spock stood next to the bed, touching with only his eyes, the sensation as real as if it were Spock's hot hands.

"I have no experience with a man," Spock informed him, his tone the same as he used to announce the presence of an unknown space anomaly.

"I have enough for us both," Jim assured him, holding up his right hand in invitation. Spock accepted, letting Jim pull him down to lay on top of the human who seemed suddenly small and vulnerable. "You won't break me," Jim said, as though he could read Spock's thoughts. Jim reached up to consume Spock's mouth to prevent whatever response Spock might have given. Spock leaned into the kiss, taking it over and exploring Jim's mouth and tongue with savage need. His hips were undulating on top of Jim's, their erections rubbing together and making them both even harder. "Lube. Second drawer."

Spock reached over his head into the appropriate drawer, all the time kissing Jim, bruising his mouth, teeth contacting teeth sending shivers down both their spines. When he had the tube, Jim efficiently turned them both over so that he lay covering Spock's hard, warm body, their lips never breaking contact, their mouths sealed together, their jaws aching but neither willing to give up the sensations they were creating.

Jim finally had to raise his head to breathe, showering Spock's face with kisses as he too gasped for air. Jim's trail of kisses lowered, lavishing caresses on his neck, his protruding collarbones, biting the place neck met shoulder, marking him, making Spock squirm beneath him. Spock's hands were on Jim's narrow hips, trying to guide him lower but Jim resisted, taking his time to arrive at his destination in frenzied leisure.

"Do you always think in oxymorons when you make love?" Spock whispered.

"Do you always eavesdrop on your lovers' thoughts?" Jim countered, pausing to lick into the dimple of Spock's navel, Spock moaning and raising up for more. After one more lick, Jim crawled down, blowing a cooling stream across Spock's weeping cock. "Can you hold off while I put this on you?" Jim asked, kissing the side of the beautiful green column beckoning him.

"Hurry," Spock pleaded, thrusting his hips in the air in wonton need.

Jim laughed deep in his throat, pouring the lubricant in his palm before coating Spock, watching with glazed eyes as Spock squirmed from the attention to his rigid erection.

"Please," Spock whispered.

Jim nodded, positioning himself over Spock's need. "Let me know if I go too fast."

Spock managed to just barely nod, waiting breathlessly as Jim way-too-slowly descended over him, taking his cock deep in his body. "Oh t'hy'la," Spock breathed.

"Good?" Jim asked though he did not need to.

"That is an understatement," Spock said, forcing his eyes to open and look at the man that had held all of the answers to the mysteries of the universe. And now they would discover the questions together. "I need your thoughts."

Jim nodded, stretching out on top of Spock very slowly, his thighs straddling Spock's lower body. "Raise your knees."

Spock did it, keeping his erection firmly inside the tight opening of his lover's body. He held up his left hand, Jim entwining his fingers, feeling Spock's heat through the touch, a heat that was mental, emotional, and physical. Spock's right hand went to the meld points, infusing Jim with Spock's need and desire and fear and essence while their bodies remained in synch, their hips in the ages old dance.

"You have no reason to be frightened," Jim whispered to Spock, not sure if the words were out loud or solely inside his head where Spock was finding welcome.

"You are not predictable, t'hy'la. Now that I have what I want, will I keep it?"

"I don't think that's my decision," Jim replied, kissing Spock's parted lips to nourish on all that Spock had become to him.

//I want you. I cannot force you,// Spock said from inside Jim's head, not words exactly and neither were they images. They were thoughts, shared between the two.

//Wanting is fine for now. But not long-term, when love must…uhm…// Jim responded, hoping he was conveying his thoughts in a way that Spock could understand.

//I do understand,// Spock said, his right hand caressing Jim's taut ass as he continued to piston into Jim's receptive body. Spock thought that it should be hurting Jim but he detected only pleasure.

//It hasn't hurt in several years,// Jim assured him, his thoughts blurred from the sensations beginning to overwhelm him, the climax building in every muscle. "I'm nearly there," he whispered into Spock's beautiful ear before chewing on the fleshy round bottom.

"As I am, t'hy'la," Spock confirmed, thrusting harder when Jim raised up to find an angle which provided deeper penetration. Spock felt him tense around his cock, the additional tightness sending Spock into a blazing orgasm as Jim also found completion, his seed splashing on Spock's stomach and chest.

"Oh wow," Jim whispered when he lay down on the inferno that was Spock's body, his fluids slick between their bellies.

"Indeed," Spock agreed, stroking Jim's back in lazy movements, barely enough energy left to breathe.

22:39

"There's two ways to resolve this," Jim said, standing behind his desk, his face a mask of anger, sparks in his blue eyes.

"Only one resolution is acceptable, sir," Spock countered, his stiff body communicating his absolute determination that he would win this argument.

"Yeah? And what would that be, Spock? That you crawl up my ass and stay there so I don't make my own decisions? Because you clearly believe I'm not capable of it," Jim said, the volume of his voice rising with his refusal to bend to Spock's will.

"On the contrary, Captain. You need to heed my advice only in this instance. You need to absent yourself from her presence."

"And I told you I'm not going to do that."

"You will," Spock said, staring at Jim in defiance of his Captain's flaring anger.

"When did you become the boss of me?" Jim demanded, leaning over his desk and intruding into Spock's personal space. Spock did not retreat as Jim expected, but instead leaned even closer, his body heat filling the space between them with more than the tension that had been present since Spock entered.

"When I determined you would not keep yourself safe. When I determined that you are mine."

Jim gasped softly, staring at the black eyes of his First Officer. "Yours."

"Yes," Spock responded, placing one hand on the side of Jim's face. "You are mine. As I am yours."

"You decided this too? Without asking me?" Jim asked, his tone softening but still holding a fierce determination to it, one Spock recognized, but he would not be deterred by it, not this time.

"I don't need to ask you. I know the truth," Spock informed him.

"Your truth," Jim countered, straightening and backing away from Spock's intoxicating closeness. "You should return to your quarters. We'll finish this discussion in the morning," Jim said, turning for his sleeping area.

"We will finish tonight," Spock corrected, grasping his arm and turning Jim to face him. Jim tried to back away but Spock's grasp was too tight making escape impossible. "You will admit how you feel." Any response Jim might have made was cut off when Spock kissed him, his lips and tongue making no allowances for Jim's, cutting off his retort and the air to his brain. That was the only explanation for the roar in Jim's ears and the way the world had suddenly tilted. Spock's mouth was taking everything he wanted, Jim swallowed by the fire, the want, the need present in the kiss. When Spock finally released Jim's mouth, Jim could only stare at him with hazy blue eyes.

"What just happened?"

"What I have wanted to happen for far too long," Spock said, kissing Jim's bruised lips more gently. "And I know that you have wanted it as well."

Jim tried to shake his head in denial but it was pointless. He couldn't lie to Spock any more than he could continue to lie to himself.

22:13

As soon as the buzzer sounded, Jim knew who was on the other side of his door. What he didn't know was whether or not he wanted to acknowledge that he was still awake as Spock buzzed a second time.

Sighing, Jim released the door control, standing just in front of them as they slid open. "It's 10:15, Spock. What is it?" His patience was slipping further away, his eyes narrowed as he waited for his first officer to explain his presence. Not that Jim needed his words.

Spock stared steadily at him, black eyes hard in disapproval. "You are alone?"

"I have been all night, Spock. Which I told you earlier. When did you start thinking everything I tell you is a lie?" Jim wondered just when it was that he had begun having this need to explain himself to Spock, but that proverbial ship had left the shore too long ago to reverse course now.

"I do not believe everything you tell me is a lie, Captain. Primarily those statements concerning your personal life."

"Then why is that any of your business?" Jim shot back, his patience growing even more tenuous. "What do you want?"

"I do not think this is a conversation you wish to have where we can be overheard," Spock stated.

"This is a conversation I don't want to have with you at all," Jim said. "How I spend my time off-duty is not your business."

"On the contrary, Captain. Anything that could jeopardize your welfare is my concern," Spock said, one accusatory eyebrow raised as he steadily watched Jim.

Jim sighed, backing up and waving Spock into his quarters. "Fine. Do you want a cup of tea?"

"This is not a social call, Captain."

"Yeah. I do get that. But I'm thirsty. And where I'm from you don't get yourself something to drink without offering it to everyone in your company," Jim said, his fists on his hips as he impatiently explained this simplest of human concepts, one he was pretty sure Spock knew but was being stubborn about on purpose.

"In that case, I will have a cup of spice tea," Spock said, waiting as Jim got the requested beverages from his dispenser. He accepted his cup, sitting in one of the chairs facing Jim's desk as Jim sat behind it. The Captain needed the distance and the desk between them. Being too close to Spock right now was in neither of their best interest.

"Okay. Tell me why you are here and so pissed," Jim instructed, ordered.

"I am not 'pissed', sir," Spock said, almost sounding pissed. And offended.

"Fine. But you're still in my quarters at 10:15 looking like you want to punch my lights out."

"I am uncertain that you have any lights to extinguish," Spock responded, his Vulcan control momentarily buried beneath his all-too-human indignation. He gave a tiny start when he realized what he had said and to whom, but he wasn't going to take back the words that exactly described his evaluation of the situation. He watched Jim with guarded eyes, sure his Captain was about to douse him in coffee. To his surprise, Jim laughed.

"Is that any way to talk to your Captain?" Jim asked, shaking his head at both Spock's words and the remorseful expression that came over his face as soon as he said them.

"It is not, sir," Spock had to agree. "However, your actions toward the plenipotentiary have not been appropriate to your rank."

"And I told you we didn't do anything except visit the observation lounge and talk about the differences between Earth and TauBootis. I still don't understand why this is any of your business."

"The inhabitants of TauBootis are known for their seduction of other species, sir. You could have been put in a compromising position."

"I am fully aware of their unusual abilities, Commander. I do read the briefings. YulJie and I talked. That's all. She didn't touch me. She didn't attempt to give me anything to eat or drink. She can't seduce me by talking," Jim said, his own indignation rising.

"You must still be vigilante," Spock insisted. "She could be …"

"Spock," Jim said in exasperation. "This isn't really about YulJie."

Spock stared at him, his mouth set in a straight line of disapproval. "It is about your safety."

"No it's not," Jim contradicted. "In fact, it's only peripherally about me."

"It is about what is best for you and, by extension, for your ship."

"It's about you being angry because I had dinner with the plenipotentiary without you. It's about you thinking I don't have any sense of self-preservation," Jim corrected.

"That was not my interpretation."

"Then what exactly is your interpretation, Spock? I'd really like to know," Jim said, slowly rising and watching as Spock did the same.

"That I must strive to keep you from harm."

"To keep me safe from myself," Jim suggested.

"That is not what I said."

"You didn't have to," Jim said, his words hard, his expression determined.

"You are taking meaning I do not intend," Spock informed him, staring at him sternly, daring him to disagree.

21:05

"Thank you for the tour of your starship, Captain," the beautiful emissary from TauBootis said to Jim as they sat on the bottom riser before the window of the observation deck.

"You are more than welcome, Plenipotentiary," Jim said, careful to remain a safe distance from her. He could feel the temptation of her, one of the defining traits of her species. They were known for their seductive abilities, whether intentional or not. He understood how anyone would be drawn to her, glad to surrender to her beauty and her grace.

"Won't you call me YulJie, Captain?" she requested.

"I don't think that would be in my best interest," he responded, smiling when she laughed, the sound enhanced by the soft ringing of the tiny chimes decorating her tunic.

"I have given my word, Captain. I will not exploit any member of your crew, including you," she assured him.

"And I appreciate it," Jim returned with a smile. "Excuse me," he said when the wall intercom signaled for his attention. "Kirk here."

"Are you in your quarters, Captain?" Spock asked.

"Not presently. Why?"

"I had hoped to have a brief word, sir."

"Is it urgent?" Jim asked, knowing the answer before Spock provided it.

"No sir," Spock admitted, defeat clear in his tone.

"Very well. We'll talk tomorrow. Kirk out." Jim disconnected before Spock could respond, crossing back to sit next to YulJie.

"He does not trust me," YulJie said with a shake of her beautiful head, her white curls bouncing at the action.

"He…" Jim stopped. Why was Spock acting so…protective? It was not like him, and his uncharacteristic behavior not only worried Jim but, worse, pissed him off.

"He cares for you, Captain. He sees me as a challenger," she said quietly.

"I apologize, YulJie."

"You have no need to, Captain. We are often perceived as a threat. I can assure you that I pose no danger to you or any member of your crew."

"I do know this. Vulcans are extremely…controlled, I guess. Your race is very much the opposite," Jim said.

"I have met very few Vulcans," she said thoughtfully. "Each one I have encountered has been gracious and formal and distance."

"Precisely," Jim agreed.

"And Humans are open and cheerful and yet guarded," YulJie said.

"We are open and guarded," Jim said as he considered her words. "We try to believe the best of everyone but are aware that our faith is often subject to being shattered."

"Yet you continue to bravely explore and extend the hand of friendship rather than attempt to conquer and subjugate," she said in approval.

"It's our nature to find out what is beyond the horizon, around the next bend or the next solar system. Why has TauBootis decided to allow contact?" Jim asked.

"We too are curious. We are also aware of our reputation among those already members of the Federation. We would like to be fully accepted and not looked at suspiciously."

Jim nodded at that, watching her planet slowly rotate beneath them.

"It is late and has been a long day," YulJie said, standing and watching Jim also stand.

"I will see you back to your quarters," Jim said, escorting her out of the observation deck and strolling down the mostly deserted corridor, his hands clasped behind his back. "I will have Yeoman Rodriguez come for you in the morning, so that you can join us for breakfast."

"I appreciate that, Captain. She has been gracious and helpful," she said, staying several feet away from him so there would be no accidental contact. "And you will leave orbit tomorrow morning?"

"Yes. Around 11:00. The real ambassadors will arrive in three days," Jim said.

"You do an excellent job even though I sense you are not comfortable in your role as diplomat," she said with a light laugh.

"Being a starship Captain means I must wear various hats," he agreed with a nod.

"Are all Human Captains so young? If it is not impertinent for me to ask."

"It's not at all inappropriate, Plenipotentiary. I received command under some unusual circumstances and Starfleet decided I would remain Captain."

"So you are unusually young," she stated.

"Yes, ma'am."

"As I thought. If you were on our planet, you would still be studying at our colloquium."

"If it weren't for the circumstances under which I was given command, I would still be at our academy," he agreed.

"Running it, no doubt," she said with a laugh as they stopped before the door to her quarters.

"I did try," he agreed with his own laugh. "I will bid you good night, YulJie," he said with a tiny bow.

"Good night, Captain. Thank you again for the tour and the discussion."

He nodded, watching as she disappeared into her guest quarters before returning to his quarters to take a shower, as cold as he could stand. It was a relief to finally be away from the undeniable allure of her presence, a temptation that could too easily become a reality if he did not remain vigilant.

When he emerged from his bathroom, he saw the indicator alerting him to a message awaiting his attention. He knew who it would be and reluctantly sat behind his desk to hit play.

"Would you contact me when you have the time, sir?" Spock's recorded face asked from Jim's computer. Jim decided to at least temporarily ignore the request, instead turning to status reports to make sure that everything was running smoothly on board his ship. The emissary from TauBootis had consumed his entire day, not that he particularly minded. But engaging in diplomacy precluded overseeing the efficient management of his command.

"Yes Spock," Jim automatically said when his communications program activated itself.

"Am I interrupting anything, Captain?"

"My review of status reports," Jim informed him.

"I see," Spock responded, clearly not the answer he had been expecting.

"What is it, Spock?" Jim asked with an edge of impatience.

"Did you see that I had left you an earlier message, sir?"

"Yes. You didn't tell me what you wanted then either," Jim pointed out.

"No sir," Spock agreed, still not explaining why he had contacted Kirk.

"What Do You Want?" Jim asked, each word distinct.

"Is the Plenipotentiary…."

"She's in her quarters, Spock. Which the computer could have told you. Just as it no doubt informed you when I had returned to mine."

"You were in your quarters when I previously contacted you, sir," Spock said, making it sound like the accusation that Jim suspected it was meant to be.

"And?" Jim asked, not giving him the satisfaction of confirming or denying his suspicions.

"May I ask why you did not respond, Captain?"

"No you may not, Commander," Jim said firmly. "Unless you have something of ship's business to discuss with me, this conversation is over."

"No ship's business at this time, sir," Spock said. He was prevented from saying anything else when Jim cut the connection.

9:05

"TauBootis is contacting us, sir," Uhura said to the Captain who was standing next to her as they waited for their instructions. "They will beam up the Plenipotentiary in ten minutes."

"Acknowledge their message, Lieutenant," Jim requested, turning the Bridge over to Spock before leaving with Dr. McCoy to take the turbolift to the transporter room.

"Now you remember what I told you, right, Jim?" Bones asked.

"Yes, Bones. Don't touch her. Don't accept anything from her hands. Don't get too close."

"Right. I can't vaccinate you against her pheromones. You'd be in anaphylactic shock

before the hypo was empty."

"So you've said," Jim reminded him. "I studied the protocols, Bones. I'll be fine."

"Yeah, yeah. Just make sure you stay fine vertically and not horizontally," Bones said in mild scolding.

"Shut up," Jim requested as they left the turbolift.

"Why isn't Spock here?" Bones asked as he once again tried unsuccessfully to loosen the overly tight collar of his hated dress uniform.

"Because."

"What are you 4? That's not an answer," Bones complained.

"The Captain doesn't have to explain," Jim retorted in a tone that made McCoy want to stick his tongue out at him.

"Fine. I'll get to the bottom of it eventually."

"You're welcome to try. You won't succeed," Jim warned, putting on his best diplomatic smile as the lights of the transporter shimmered and solidified into a woman who confirmed every rumor anyone had heard about the breathtaking beauty of the inhabitants of TauBootis. "Plenipotentiary," Jim said in greeting, bowing to her as McCoy did the same.

"Captain," she said as she gracefully descended the transporter steps, her luminous blue dress creating a glowing halo around her entire being.

"May I present my Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Leonard McCoy. And my Chief Engineer, Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott."

"Doctor, Chief," she acknowledged in turn, smiling at them. "And this is Elgard, my trusted amanuensis."

The three men turned to smile at the smallish man who they had barely noticed arriving with the Plenipotentiary, her beauty eclipsing any other thoughts from forming.

"Captain, Doctor, Chief," Elgard responded with a small bow and a firm frown etched on his craggy face. Jim couldn't imagine him ever smiling any more than he could imagine the Plenipotentiary without one.

"If you will accompany me," Jim invited with a wave of his hand. "We will go to our conference room to discuss your petition for membership."