Written for the K/S Valentine livejournal meme.
It was the scent of flowers that got him.
They were scattered in random vases all across the mess hall, as if someone had attempted to reproduce an Iowan spring in floral form. And not in a super-subtle way, room was awash with petals in clashing shades of pink, turquoise, orange and gold. The overall effect was beyond repellent. It didn't help that Jim was allergic. Because really, flowers were huge on the whole pollen thing, and his reactions to pollen were wild and varied, but none of them were generally pleasant.
Fitting, really, that Valentine's Day would literally make him sick.
When did he give his crew permission to outfit the Enterprise like a contestant for the Rose Bowl Parade? Answer, never. He had obviously been far too lax with them, letting them celebrate any random holiday, regardless of planet of origin, in order to boost crew morale. He drew the line at having his baby, his very robust ship, thank you very much (the Enterprise might be a lady, but she was a tough ol' bird), reek of petunias and God only knew what else.
He should have known that granting his crew shore leave on a Federation outpost with a large and renowned botany lab not two days prior to Valentine's Day was a mistake of nauseating proportions.
Yes, Jim would easily admit, to anyone that asked, that he was one of those… an individual who scoffed at a day set aside for the sheer purpose of romance. Or novelty romance, anyway. In fact, he reveled in his righteous indignation. Jim Kirk would not meekly conform to the dictates of a holiday kept alive by the retail industries' need to sell saccharine drivel, no sir. Because, really, people who needed a reminder to be romantic obviously weren't the romantic sort to begin with. So the day prompted its celebrants to act out of character-and how was that supposed to equal real, true love? It had always seemed to him that Valentine's Day turned something that was meant to be fun into an expectation, almost a duty.
Of course he might grudgingly admit that an ex-girlfriend or two might have had something to do with that philosophy and that their overly annoying pouting at Jim's distinct refusal to kowtow to the expectation of the day will forever haunt his nightmares. Because sulking in that I'm-ever-so-disappointed-in-you kind of way? Really not attractive… And yet just one more reason why Jim was eternally thankful that the universe was wise enough to pair him up with a Vulcan for a soulmate.
The day Spock pouted over failed romantic expectation would be the day Bones gave up drinking and cut four letter words out of his vocabulary or the day Scotty gave up tinkering with engines and decided underwater basket weaving was more his forte.
One thing Jim was utterly sure of was that Spock would not treat Valentine's Day ('an illogical human tradition with frivolous undertones'… which was also his description of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and pretty much any other wild celebration) as anything special or different. There would be no vase of flowers at his table, thank God, although…
This was the first year that Jim realized that there was a definite flip side to his anti-Valentine sentiment, though he wouldn't voice it, reputation and all that. But now that, miracle of all miracles (Bones was still amused by the whole thing, and teased them both relentlessly) he was actually in a committed relationship with a man he honestly loved, there was something to be said for the spirit of the day.
Finally…. Fin-al-ly, despite a broken childhood, and the constant flirting with death, despite countless bar brawls and forever tucking his heart safely away lest it receive even more harm, he had someone to love. Really, really love - more than he'd ever thought himself capable of feeling. He damn well wanted to show it, hell, broadcast it, and wished desperately that he could.
Sometimes Jim wondered if fate were molding things simply for amusement, to give him a job that he adored (if Socrates had truly stated, via Plato, that the definition of justice was that each man did that one thing for which they were the most suited, then Jim was only issuing justice by becoming a starship captain), but to have that job come with rules against fraternization, rules against he and his bondmate showing their commitment to each other in a publicly expressive manner, was just fate screwing with him. Hell, for Jim, the love 'em and leave 'em Cassanova of Starfleet Academy, receiving a soulmate at all was an entertaining bit of irony.
There were days, like today, when he wondered if it would really be all that bad to say 'fuck it, Spock and I are a couple, deal with it' to his superiors. And everyday it was a tremendous struggle to keep hidden an aspect of himself he held sacred above all else.
It was a pretty huge accomplishment, in his book, to be granted the love of Spock, to be the focal point of that all-too-brilliant mind. To commit to someone, body and soul, when Jim had previously felt that he would never connect to anyone on that level, that he had been meant to be alone. In fact, he considered himself pretty damn lucky to be given this gift. Would it be such a bad thing to show it? To pass it off as holiday spirit and, for once, let himself get swept up in the momentum of the day, cloyingly sweet though it was?
"Ow, the hell?" The sudden pain in the neck, as much as the tell-tale hiss, signaled the arrival of Leonard McCoy.
"Antihistamine for the flowers," the good doctor announced with a thicker than usual southern drawl, appearing by his side flourishing his hypospray in one hand. "Looks like Georgia fucking threw up in here."
"I was just thinking the same thing," Jim responded dryly, "only replace Georgia with Iowa." He sent the doctor a mock glare."And thanks for the new and improved pain in the neck, by the way. Somehow you make it more agonizing with each application. I'd almost rather deal with the watery eyes and the sneezing. You, my friend, are hypo crazy. Or maybe just crazy, I haven't decided quite yet."
His gentle rib had the desired effect and he saw his friend's eyes light with humor. Each of them grabbed a tray and moved quickly through the breakfast line, all the while unobtrusively trying not to breathe too deeply and risk death-by-floral-inhalation.
"Oh har, har, Jim, gee, you're just a barrel of laughs." Bones's tone positively dripped with sarcasm. " And you're welcome, by the way, since you thanked me ever so appreciatively for my kind deed. Don't say I never did anything nice for you."
"Oh, I won't, and happy Valentine's Day to you too, sunshine," Jim teased, grabbing a cup of coffee and a sweet roll, only to receive the Glare of Untimely Death from Bones. He snatched up an apple to balance things out. A positive negating a negative, fully logical, as Spock would say -although not, because it was more likely that Spock would agree with Bones on Jim not being allowed anything fun in his diet at all. Why did he surround himself with over-protective killjoys, again? Or perhaps, in his heart of hearts, that question should really be how had he lived so long without them? "Nice to see that you stalwartly refuse to allow this 'Day of Love' to put a damper on the surly. The determination is commendable, truly. Now, come on, give us our chocolates."
His efforts at revelry were rewarded with a snort and a quick grin as he and the doctor carried their trays to the table Spock had waiting for them. Baiting Bones was never dull, never; it gave Jim such pleasure in life.
"And the humor keeps coming… 'Day of Love'? More like an excuse to grope in the hallways and get away with it. And I'm not giving you excessive sugar. A) your teeth will rot out of your head, which they're already going to do because of that sweet roll, by the way, and B) your better half is over there, Tonto, make him waste his credits on your ass."
They were close enough for Spock to hear this exchange and Jim couldn't help but meet his bondmate's eyes, curious about what his reaction to their topic of discussion might be. Yes, the holiday was sappy, and excessive, as were the gifts traditionally given on it, but Spock had always been sensitive to the traditions of other cultures and would likely temper his more scathing opinions on the 'illogical ceremonies of the human species' until they weren't surrounded by crew members throwing themselves into the holiday with zealous fervor.
Jim knew it would be amusing watching Spock try to be diplomatic amidst the explosion of flowers that had seemingly taken over their ship, and the couple from Engineering blatantly making out on the table to his left. It was the small things in life that made it grand.
Until a flash of vaguely repressed anger and annoyance made its way across the bond, coupled by the irritation shining brightly, well, brightly to those who knew how to look anyway, through a set of impossibly beautiful brown eyes. These signs gave Jim a clue, before Spock even opened his mouth, that his bondmate had reached the tail end of a usually very, very long fuse of patience, and was a bomb likely to detonate in four, three, two, one...
"There are an infinite number of better ways to invest credits than on floral displays likely to expire within hours of removing them from their various soil and root systems or on fructose concoctions of which excessive amounts can be detrimental to one's health. I also take exception to the crew smuggling items on board without going through the proper channels to declare said items. Many of these items have the potential to be hazardous to those who have an intolerance, including, most notably, the Captain of this vessel. Furthermore, the lack of decorum exhibited during this appallingly decadent holiday is disturbing and directly violates the regulations meant to standardize the behavior of Starfleet officers."
Spock's face began to flush faintly green as he ranted, his tone becoming more cutting and sharp with each word spoken, while Bones, in contrast, had gone bright red and looked seconds away from issuing a rebuttal, and at a significantly higher volume. Meanwhile Jim just wanted the floor to open up and swallow him whole, trying to sort through his own rapidly escalating feelings of hurt as his lover and his best friend geared up for their own, predictable spin on the "Clash of the Titans".
"Captain," Spock continued, making Jim cringe at the formal use of his title, a sure sign that whatever Spock was about to say, he considered it a professional request, outside their purview as bonded mates. "I believe it would be in our better interests to put an immediate halt to the decline in proper conduct the day has wrought upon our crew. I recommend that the celebratory nature of the holiday be banned for the four remaining years of our mission."
Spock's request seemed to be the final straw for McCoy.
"Why, you judgmental bastard! Seems the day has come, I'd better schedule a surgery to extract that stick from your ass. Hell, screw 'stick', you probably have a whole fucking tree wedged up there. Just because you Vulcans couldn't be romantic if it was defined for you on a PADD, complete with step by step instructions, doesn't mean the rest of us don't enjoy a little lovin' every once in a while. Hell, celebrating Valentine's Day might do wonders for that unfortunate disposition of yours." Bones gave one final glare before taking his seat next to Jim.
"Doctor, it is ironic that you of all people would accuse me of an 'unfortunate disposition'…"
Jim only heard his friend's response distantly, feeling like he'd just gotten the wind knocked out of him. And all he could think in that moment, with any sort of clarity, was that it was a good thing he had Bones here with him. Bones who took offense to any disparaging comment Spock could or would or even might make against humankind on a good day, even if the habitually cranky doctor had, not seconds earlier, stated pretty much the same opinion himself, in not so many words. Bless Bones for being himself; he easily provided the distraction Jim needed to figure out why Spock's statements felt like someone had just reached into his chest, grabbed his heart, and squeezed it, hard.
The words shouldn't have hurt, Jim knew this - even through his stunned shock - even with the sudden urge to go back to bed and bury himself under the covers. Nothing he'd heard was all that new, hell, he'd predicted Spock's opinion pretty accurately in advance. In fact, most of it echoed his own feelings about Valentine's Day, except that Spock, of course, used far more scathing words than Jim would have chosen to describe it. But it wasn't so much the words themselves, but the fervency coupled with the anger behind them. While Jim remained somewhat amused by the saccharine tendencies of the day, despite his rumblings, Spock, with his much-vaunted control over his emotions,was genuinely and thoroughly pissed-off…. Because of a stupid holiday like Valentine's Day? Because of the romance and love being exhibited all around them? What in all shades of hell merited that kind of reaction?
So much for Jim wishing he could be publicly demonstrative to his bondmate. So much for Jim thinking that maybe he and Spock could find a way to do Valentine's Day, or, at least the spirit of it, their own way, even if they could never exactly shout their love from the rooftops while they still served in Starfleet.
For the remainder of his breakfast, Jim let his friend and his partner battle it out, only picking at his roll as he stoically tried to hide his disappointment from Spock, squelching his side of their connection as best he could.
He did not look up once, afraid his expression would give him away, even when he felt Spock's eyes on him, the Vulcan's gaze burning like sunbeams across his skin. More than anything he didn't want Spock to know of his disappointment, didn't want his bondmate to feel guilty over voicing his justifiable irritation, nor its surprisingly disheartening effect on him.
Avoiding your First Officer was difficult enough. When he also happened to be your spouse, telepathically connected to you through a committed life-bond, and was your warrior brother/partner/mate in a primal, ancient Vulcan, ooga-booga, your life fiercely-protected-beyond-any-stretch-of-sanity kind of way, it was a damn sight easier said than done, no matter how large the Enterprise.
And Jim felt kind of like a heel doing it, roaming the halls of his ship listlessly, and all-the-while being grateful that he wasn't on shift with Spock, an occurrence that usually had him forlorn. It was just… his rational mind couldn't justify his disappointment, no matter how much he wanted to for the sake of his own sanity, and there was no way he wanted to be around Spock in his disappointed state. It just wouldn't be fair to him.
He absolutely hated the thought of being one of the annoying ones; someone who sulked because their significant other didn't meet a set of unvoiced, slightly embarrassing expectations.
And-Christ and his twelve angry men!-his partner was Spock! Spock, the I-am-Vulcan-hear-me-roar guy. Spock, the most level-headed man in Starfleet. (Well, as long as you don't mention the topics of Jim, Spock's dearly departed mother, and the Freaky Good Time of Wildly Amazing Sex that Jim wasn't allowed to refer to again for another seven years).
He shouldn't have to remind himself that he had known who Spock was when he'd married him: proper and reserved in turns, brilliant, fierce, and intense yet kind in others. Nowhere in that list was a promise of flowers, chocolates, sonnets, or overly syrupy declarations of undying love… what kind of person did it make him to even contemplate missing any of that (though less the flowers - really, no flowers - and more the declarations of undying, unrelenting, wildly passionate love)?
One of the very people he used to scoff at, that's who; the clingy and overly emotional type.
Gah, he felt like a kid suffering a bad case of puppy love.
His hurt and disappointment were his problems. He realized this fully. But knowing and feeling were two separate things.
Perhaps the whole thing boiled down to a case of karma coming back to bite him in the ass. He had been the emotionally distant, I-scoff-at-romance type in the past, to an untold number of lovers, and now he was the one moping over the inattention of the one he loved.
Carol had warned him once, in her kind-yet-succinct way, that he would one day meet someone who would be able to get under his skin. He wondered what she would say if he called her now and told her of his predicament…
She would probably find the entire thing vastly amusing.
'Hey Carol, remember when we had the chemical components of love discussion and you said I would meet someone who blew my mind, well, guess what, mind blown. Tons of oxitocin here - maybe even too much - conjured by a Vulcan no less. Well, a half one, anyway. A little repressed but an absolute tiger in bed. Maybe you've heard of my First Officer, Spock?'
'Only, you, Jimbo, only you. Boy was this a long time in coming. I'm enjoying this, you know?'
'Yeah, Carol, I know.'
God, when he thought about it, it was hard to wrap his mind around the boy he had been then, an angry know-it-all kid, with a chip on his shoulder that was actually more the size of a boulder, and the man he was now, Captain of the Federation's Flagship, and the devoted soulmate of Spock. Carol would probably get a kick out of that, too.
'I think Valentine's Day is a learned behavior, something you watch your parents do in order to get it just right. And since I didn't have a decent father figure, but rather the world's biggest asshole as a role model, I never learned how to do it right.'
'Jim, that is the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard. You want to know what I think? I think you just haven't met the right person to inspire it in you. You and I? We have fun together, and I like you a lot, but I think we both know there's nothing more to us than that. You're either compatible with someone or you're not. One day you're going to meet someone who will blow your mind, and then tell me whether or not you're capable of being romantic.'
'Blow my mind, huh? Is that a true biological term, Madam Scientist?'
'Jim, if science ever managed to come up with a hypothesis that explained, in full detail, what attracts two minds to one another, I haven't heard of it.'
'And you call yourself a Biologist. Didn't you know that love is defined by the simultaneous release of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline in the brain, followed by the release of oxytocin after the sex - the cuddle hormone - so you'll want to stay and whisper sweet nothings after the adrenaline has run out? Come to think of it, that may be it. There you go! We've discovered the source of my issues, I have a distinct lack of oxytocin, a very girly hormone if there ever was one so there's no loss there, but hey, big on the adrenaline, so it's not a bad trade.'
'You know, I sometimes forget that you're a genius with an IQ well over the legal limit, why do you hide that brain of yours again?'
'It's more fun when people underestimate me… well, more fun for me, anyway.'
'You're such a dick, Jimbo. Anyway, that explains the mechanism of attraction, sure, but doesn't explain what sparked that attraction between you and this person to begin with, or what makes you want to stay around after wards with that one person to the exclusion of anyone else. I suspect that when you find the answer to that, the romance will just come pouring out of you…. Or maybe not, it could be you're just an asshole who does lack oxytocin. A lovable asshole, but an asshole nonetheless.'
'You're probably right… I'm probably just an asshole. Hey Carol, my serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline are all a-rearing and ready to go. You up for some chemical experimentation?'
'Definitely an asshole.'
Perhaps that was the source of his problem, repressing all of the love and longing inside him through the bad years, and then releasing it in one fell swoop once he'd met and fallen for Spock.
Where Spock was concerned he couldn't fucking be cuddled enough.
A tad disconcerting, that, and also a tad not. For the most part it was… nice.
Jim had been expecting to find his quarters dark and bare when he entered them, just as he had left them that morning, so it was a surprise to find them brightly lit, the little table he normally used for chess neatly organized for dinner, and Spock waiting for him, hands locked behind his back, looking more apologetic and humbled than Jim had ever seen him.
He didn't like that look on his lover, it made his heart clench.
He wouldn't insult Spock by pretending that he didn't know what this was all about; apparently he sucked at hiding his feelings from their bond.
"Spock, you didn't have to do this," Jim said, his hand unconsciously reaching up to cup the back of his head while he struggled to hide his embarrassment. "I'm okay with not celebrating Valentine's Day. In fact, I agree with your recommendation. The whole thing is ridiculous. Let us just chalk today up as we humans being our crazy, emotional selves, huh?"
Spock continued to gaze at him, his eyes wide, deep and unfathomable. Sometimes Jim wished he could drown in those eyes, to escape from the outside world. Like, um, right about now, actually.
Then, finally, Spock spoke.
"It is not ridiculous." The words were soft, barely audible, though they caused Jim's heart rate to speed up nonetheless. "The last thing I intended was for you to feel unloved, or unappreciated. You are neither of these things. I do not think I could love you more than I do, as my regard for you already seems limitless. I admit that I allowed my emotions to get the better of me this morning. It will not happen again. It was on your behalf that I became so angry."
Jim knew that he must have had a big fat 'huh?' written all over his expression, for Spock quickly followed up with, "I saw Doctor McCoy give you a histamine block to counteract your allergic reaction to the floral arrangements brought on board. The necessity of the action disturbed me, particularly when I found the reason for your discomfort to be unwarranted. Secondly, I felt your longing to be more demonstrative of our attachment to one another and the desire to share our happiness with our fellow shipmates through our bond. It is a desire that I share. It made me… agitated that those who serve under us could be so obvious with their affections while we can not afford that luxury."
The wave of love that washed over Jim in that moment nearly bowled him over, it was so intense. He had the strongest urge to go to Spock, wrap his arms around him, and just squeeze as hard as he could, as if he could somehow hug Spock tight enough that their bodies would become fused, permanently joined, just as their minds already were.
Jim opened his mouth to speak, found that he couldn't talk over the lump lodged in this throat, swallowed heavily, then tried again.
"Spock, you blow my mind. Really, there is so much oxytocin running through my bloodstream right now it's not even funny."
Spock's eyes lit with mirth, his eyebrows raising to his hairline as he struggled to remain impassive, to not grin, his stiff shoulders noticeably relaxing, obviously getting the connection, as Jim, aware that his bondmate was ever the scientist and smart as all hell, knew he would.
"I am pleased that this is so," Spock replied, his chocolate-brown eyes dancing.
It amazed Jim that nothing more than a few words, a hidden smile, and a sentiment that sent his heart soaring, could alter his mood so minutes earlier he had been moping around non-stop, his world slightly askew, and now he wanted nothing more than to grab his bondmate and take him to bed. To reaffirm with his body and his biology how lucky they were to have found one another.
He took a quick cursory glance at the table holding their dinner, wondering if they were to dine on anything that would spoil if they didn't get to it right away, eager to cast food aside for far more pleasurable activities, when his eye caught something that put that lump right back in his throat… on his plate was a sweet roll, identical to the one he could only pick at earlier that day.
"I observed that you did not finish the one you chose for breakfast and thought it an injustice that you should be deprived of a well-deserved indulgence," Spock announced, noticing the direction of Jim's gaze.
"Did Bones see you grab this for me?" Jim asked, attempting to be light-hearted, though his heart was tapping, and he loved so fucking much in that moment that he thought he might explode from it.
Spock raised his eyebrow, as if to say, 'like I would care if he did' and that was it, Jim was thoroughly and completely gone, all of the blood in his body heading in one direction and one direction only.
Jim took the two steps between them to reach forward and grab Spock's hands, a gentle current, a mixture of their energy, their bond, and something just plain them, sizzling at the contact like an electric charge. As soon as they connected, Spock closed his eyes and took a deep breath, overcome by the feelings their touch elicited, overcome by Jim's passion merging with his own through the bond that twirled and twined vibrantly between their minds, enriching their perceptions.
"Can dinner wait?"
And that was the only affirmation he needed before moving one hand to cup the back of Spock's head to bring it down for a kiss.
Hot lips burned against his own, firm yet pliant, and he felt Spock let go of his other hand to reach up and cup his cheek, his fingers resting not millimeters away from the three pressure points that would connect their minds more thoroughly than even the bond could accomplish.
Jim pulled back, just for a second, to capture Spock's gaze with his own, his breathing labored and his lips bereft at the loss of warmth and sensation.
"Do it," he said, and it was all the invitation that Spock needed.
Spock moved forward, herding Jim against the wall, his free hand moving to unclasp the button of Jim's pants, release the zipper and reach in to free his prize. Jim felt a rush of feeling sweep over him. His body became taut, every muscle simultaneously constricting, his head fell back against the wall in reckless abandon, his torso thrust out in an uncontrollable display of passion, as his cock swelled to a painful stiffness.
He felt sloppily uncoordinated as he worked to release Spock in turn, barely managing to free his lover from the cloth that bound him and wrap his fingers around the familiar green-tinted weight of him, before Spock moved to connect their minds fully.
A torrent of passion engulfed him, smudging edges and dimming the lines of their thoughts, molding, shaping and sculpting landscapes out of their joint fervency and combining it together into a whirlwind of color and light composed from both their minds. It felt like being caught in an undertow, surrounded on all sides, the power of Spock's essence flowing against Jim as a current would, every nerve ending in his body simultaneously awakened, as if a switch had been flicked on. His senses increased, his body yearned, and he had never felt more in tune, or filled so completely in all of his life. As if this storm had always meant to rage, and the two of them were the eye of it.
He distantly felt Spock push him more firmly against the wall, felt his legs lift to wrap themselves around his lover's waist, automatically trusting, without heed or thought, that Spock's greater strength would support them. Felt Spock use his free hand to grasp Jim's ass and force their bodies even closer together, never relinquishing the meld.
They moved simultaneously, synchronized, both of them rutting with every bit of strength at their disposal, keening noises filling the air, though Jim was unsure which of them made them, pushing and reeling, pulling and stabbing, timing their thrusts together as a pleasurable ache built and built and built until finally Jim felt himself, and Spock, explode, little lights coming to dance before his eyes as all sense of gravity and time left him.
Long moments elapsed before Jim felt steady enough to unwind his legs from around his bondmate to stand on his own two feet, his eyes opening to catch and hold Spock's gaze, the warmth of their actions and their obvious affection surrounding him like a familiar and comfortable blanket.
"You know," he said, after a beat, his voice almost jarring as it cut through their languid after-glow silence, "Valentine's Day isn't really such a bad little 'frivolously illogical celebratory endeavor'. I think I can actually learn to appreciate it."
What he left unspoken at the end of that proclamation, but trusted Spock to get in the same way he trusted Spock in pretty much everything was 'now that I have you to appreciate it with'.
Spock's eyes lit up, glowing from a source of contentment deep within, and the edges of his mouth curled in his own Vulcan approximation of a grin, one Jim had noticed was reserved for the occasions when they were alone together and loving each other so silly they practically shone with it, as he replied, "Indeed, I think you are right."
Jim didn't bother to tuck himself back in to his pants, or give their neglected dinner another cursory glance as he grabbed Spock's hand and moved away from the wall, pulling Spock in the direction of the bed without hesitation or preamble.
"Let's appreciate it some more."
The 'oh yes' he felt through their bond was the only response applicable or necessary.