A/N: Happy Birthday to The Problematique! Here is your birthday present, my dear. Enjoy. It's a bit disjointed, but I hope it's still fun to read, and I really enjoyed dreaming it up!

Notes: I usually write K/S for the Original Series, but this plot just didn't work with those characters. So I bumped it over to nu!Trek. So, if you can, make sure you've got the 2009 reboot in mind when you read this. It just doesn't work with TOS.

Disclaimers: Star Trek is not mine. Duh. Also, I invented the park, although the name is far too cliché to be original. Also again, the names and descriptions of the rides in the park are not original. But since they're not exactly important and I'm not making any money off of this, I didn't feel like it was an issue. Think of it as fanfiction for an amusement park. *shrug*

Shore Leave

Kirk opened his eyes blearily. The ceiling above his head was very familiar, although he hadn't seen it in years. It was the dark blue ceiling with glow-in-the-dark star stickers of the bedroom he had shared with his brother Sam as a boy in Riverside, Iowa. He looked at his clock and groaned. 10:00 am. They were going to be late. He rolled over.

"Good morning, sunshine," he said to the person occupying his brother's bed.

"Must we do this, Jim?" Spock asked. The Vulcan was lying flat on his back, hands folded over his chest, looking intently at the ceiling.

"Yes, Mr. 'Earth is the only home I have left,' we must. You've spent way too much time on Vulcan and not enough on Earth."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I spent six years on Earth at the Academy."

"Yeah, that doesn't count," Kirk said. "Get up." He tossed his pillow at Spock. It landed on his face. He didn't move.

"Hmm hmmm hm hmmm hmmhmm hmm hmmmm," came from beneath the pillow. Kirk sighed and stomped over, snatching the pillow off of Spock's head.

"Would you mind repeating that for me?" he asked.

"The stars on your ceiling are wrong," Spock said.

"Yeah, well, I was eight when I put them there. Cut me some slack, okay?" he said, tossing his pillow back onto his own bed. "And get dressed." Kirk turned away, pulling his white T-shirt over his head. Pulling off his tie-dyed pajama bottoms, he tossed the bundle into the laundry basket across the room, narrowly missing Spock, who was making his bed.

The Vulcan looked over at Kirk as he bent to pull on a pair of brown shorts. Evidently, the hour that Kirk had spent in the ship's gymnasium every day for the past year had not been wasted. His body was… pleasing to the eye. Kirk straightened, shirt in hand, and noticed Spock watching him.

"What?" he said suspiciously.

"Your shirt is the same color as your eyes," Spock said.

Kirk looked at his shirt. "Huh," he said, slipping it over his head. "Ah, this is so much better than those Starfleet pajama uniforms."

"I believe they are made that way to maximize comfort, as they must be worn at all times," Spock said, stepping into a pair of blue jeans.

"I'm sure they are," Kirk said. "They still feel like pajamas. Hurry up. I'll be in the kitchen." He went out. Spock could hear him bounding down the stairs. He pulled a black T-shirt over his head. The thin cotton felt good against his skin. After stopping in the bathroom to brush his teeth and smooth down his hair (how had it gotten so rumpled?) he followed Jim downstairs.

Kirk looked up from his bacon and eggs when Spock walked in, and felt his jaw drop. Spock looked good. Well, duh, he was Spock, but damn. The T-shirt fit him like a glove, accentuating his musculature in all the right places. Kirk tried not to gawk as the Vulcan strode to the refrigerator and picked out an orange. The way the jeans sat just so on Spock's hips, and the way the denim hugged his—


Kirk looked up. Spock was looking at him curiously. "Your shirt is the same color as your eyes," he blurted out, and then grimaced. That was dumb.

Spock's eyes smiled as he sat down across the table from Jim. "Not quite. The shirt is black. My eyes are brown."

Jim resisted the temptation to get right up in his face and say, "Let me see," and turned back to his breakfast. He could feel a blush creeping up his cheeks. He had come to terms with his bisexuality many years ago, but something about Spock made him feel like a giddy schoolgirl, even after spending nearly every waking moment with him for the past year and a half. Perhaps it was Spock's strange, alien beauty. Perhaps it was the way he seemed to see everything. But more than these, Kirk thought, it was the way Spock looked at him. It wasn't a bad look, quite the contrary in fact, but it sent goose bumps crawling up and down Kirk's arms. He looked back up. Spock was looking at him like that.

"Ready to go?" he asked, a little to loudly.

"Ready when you are, Captain," Spock replied.

"We're on leave, Spock. Stop calling me 'Captain'."

"If we are on leave," Spock said slowly, "then I do not have to follow your orders, Jim."

Kirk tried to ignore the fact that his name on Spock's lips sounded delicious. "You're coming with me. You already told me you would. Unless you were lying…"

Spock knew he'd been caught. "Very well," he said. "I shall accompany you. But I will not enjoy a moment." He strode out the back door to where Jim's hovercar was parked.

"We'll just see about that," Jim muttered, following him. He didn't know that Spock had heard him.

Adventureland, an amusement park a few hundred miles of Riverside, Iowa, had been built in the 1920s, and steadily increased in size and grandeur until about 2020, when the turmoil of North America in the 21st century had threatened to close the park down. By some miracle, it had remained open and flourished for the last one hundred years. No one had built a new roller coaster since 2020, but the park was regularly maintained by engineers who specialized in Old-Earth machinery.

"Jim," Spock said as they pulled into the parking lot after a two-hour drive, "it is my understanding that Old-Earth amusement parks served the types of food that were the most harmful to Humans. I trust you brought something for us to eat?"

"Nope," Kirk said, enjoying Spock's slightly shocked expression. "Don't worry about it, Spock. They've updated the menu since the twenty-first century."

"I should hope so," said Spock. "I could not bear the thought of eating a hot dog."

Kirk laughed out loud. "I'm surprised you even know what a hot dog is. Well, not really... It's just like you to go research everything."

"It is wise to be prepared," Spock said simply.

Kirk hopped out of his door and headed toward the park entrance. Spock followed, his long stride catching up quickly. Kirk looked over at him. Although the Vulcan was clearly trying to keep his face inscrutable, he could tell Spock was anxious. He swung around to face him, putting his hands on Spock's shoulders to stop him walking.

"What's wrong, Spock?" he asked. Every trace of humor was gone from his voice, replaced by the deepest concern for his friend. Spock looked down at him. His face was absolutely still (he was good at that) but his eyes reflected a familiar anxiety.

"Remember what I said about being prepared?" he asked. Kirk nodded. "I am not prepared. Despite my best efforts, I am not prepared." He seemed extremely annoyed by this fact. His eyes traveled up, following the harsh lines that the roller coasters made against the sky. "I feel… afraid."

Kirk smiled softly at him. "Welcome to being Human, Spock. And don't worry about it; it's natural to be afraid of roller coasters. That's the point of 'em. You should have seen me on my first day here. I was crying like a baby."

Spock quirked an eyebrow. "How old were you, Jim?"

"Um…" Kirk said, "Well, I was…six? But that's not the point. Don't worry," he said again. "We'll start small. Hey, if you want, we'll even walk through the entire park so you can see it all before you get on any ride." His mouth twisted down though; he wasn't looking forward to merely walking through the park.

"That will be unnecessary, Jim. I trust you." The look on his face was soft, and he almost smiled. Kirk smiled back.

"Come on," he said, striding toward the entrance of the park. He paid 30 credits for each of them at the ticket window and strode into the park, a particular spring in his step. Spock lagged behind, watching. It pleased him to see his closest friend so happy. Jim turned and waved him over.

"Hurry up, Spock, or I'll leave without you!" But he was smiling, and he waited patiently for Spock to catch up to him.

"So, Jim, what do we do first?" Spock asked.

"Ferris wheel," Jim said. He tried to walk slowly, but excitement was radiating off of him like a kid on Christmas morning, and he was walking almost as fast as he could. Spock matched his pace, hands clasped behind his back, as though this were any other morning aboard the Enterprise. When they reached the Ferris wheel, Kirk couldn't resist saying, "Ta da!" and giving a little wave with his hand.

Spock craned his neck back to look at the towering Ferris wheel. His eyes followed a single car all the way around before looking back to Jim. "Almost two-hundred feet tall. A little over sixty-six meters."

"Very good, Spock," Jim teased. "Of course, you could have just looked at that sign over there." He pointed to a sign near the queue. It detailed the operation of the Ferris wheel, down to the measurements and estimated ride time. Spock's eyes flickered over the information.

"Fascinating," he said. Kirk grinned and grabbed his arm, pulling him towards the ride. When Spock didn't budge, Kirk looked at him quizzically. Spock glanced pointedly down to where Kirk's hand wrapped around his upper arm.

"Oops," Kirk said, dropping his hand. Spock nodded once and strode ahead to the end of the line.

After a fifteen-minute wait - during which Jim questioned why they didn't load every car on the Ferris wheel and Spock explained that it was most likely for weight balance although he did not understand why as the Ferris wheel was very stable - they were ushered into their car by a teenage boy with tons of curly brown hair.

"I must admit that I find it somewhat unsettling that the operator of this attraction seems hardly more than sixteen years of age," Spock said, looking around their cart. The seats were arranged in a circle around a central pole, which led up to an umbrella-like roof.

Kirk shrugged. "It's safe. Every high school student in about a thirty-mile radius has worked here every summer for probably the last… what, two hundred years? I worked here too, back in the day."

"Oh," said Spock. "In that case, I am perfectly comfortable with it." His voice was dripping in sarcasm. Jim punched him lightly on the shoulder. They were nearly to the top of the Ferris wheel now, and their cart rocked slowly as the attendants stopped the wheel.

"Check it out," Jim said, leaning slightly over the edge.

"Don't do that," Spock said, his voice tight.

Jim grinned devilishly at him. "What, this?" he asked, leaning out further. Spock's hand shot out and closed around his wrist, pulling him forcefully back into the cart. Jim smirked up at him from where he sat in a heap on the floor. "Really, Spock, I had no idea you cared."

"As illogical and ridiculous as you are, Jim, I have no desire to see you splattered all over the pavement. Quite the opposite, in fact."

Jim tried not to let his smile get too big as he hoisted himself back into his seat. The truth was he felt like doing back flips right about now, but he was trying to remain in control of his inner Spock fangirl. It was working okay, for the moment, but eight more hours of this and he might be in serious trouble. To cover his silly grin, he reached out and wrapped his hands around the pole in the center of the cart, slowly rotating it, and the cart began to spin.

"Jim," Spock said slowly. Jim looked over. Spock was staring at him, jaw clenched tight. Jim gave him his best puppy-dog look. Unless he was very much mistaken, Spock almost smiled. "Fine," Spock whispered. Jim grinned and spun the cart faster, watching Spock the entire time. The Vulcan's eyes were closed, his hands clenched stiffly around the edge of the seat, fingers digging grooves into the reinforced plastic. Kirk marveled at how those long fingers could be so harsh and strong when last night they had been perfectly soft and gentle – oh wait, that was just a dream. Shit.

They were back to the top of the Ferris wheel again. Jim stopped spinning the cart and stared, transfixed, across the park. Spock watched him closely, basking in the happiness radiating off of his closest friend.

Some time later, they stood in line for the ski lift-like ride that would take them over to the other side of the park. Spock did not see the point when they easily could have walked, but Jim kept going on about how "fun it was." The two teenage boys operating the lift kept nudging each other and gawking at Kirk. He sighed and turned his back on them.

"Why is the prospect of fame so repulsive to you, Jim?" Spock asked quietly. "Most humans would love the chance to be famous."

Jim shrugged. "I've always been in the spotlight because of my dad. After a few years, I got sick of it. That's part of why I like being on the Enterprise so much. No one gawks at me up there."

"That is understandable," Spock agreed. The line moved up. Jim stayed turned around, walking backwards until it was their turn to board. He composed his face into a 100-watt smile and turned to face the teenage boys. One ushered them into their seat while the other pushed a scrap of paper and a pen at Jim.

"Captain Kirk, can I get your autograph? Please?" he said shyly.

"Sure, kid," Kirk said with a smile. Spock raised an eyebrow. "Kid" was not a nickname that Kirk was likely to give someone. He scrawled his signature on the paper, tossing it back to the kid as the lap bar closed over them. The lift seat swayed as they were swept upward. Spock curled his long hands around the lap bar. Jim flung an arm across the seat back, both trying and not-trying to touch Spock as he did so.

"I am beginning to see why you enjoy this facility so much," Spock said. "The atmosphere is quite relaxing."

Jim grinned. "We'll make a human out of you yet," he said, giving Spock a slap on the shoulder. The Vulcan gave him a look of utter disdain. "Oh, come on, it's not that bad." Jim put on his best puppy-dog face again. Spock raised an eyebrow.

"Do not look at me like that."

"What are you gonna do about it?" Jim taunted. Spock didn't move, but Jim saw the corner of his mouth turn up ever so slightly.

Suddenly, the ride lurched to a stop. Spock gripped the lap bar so tightly that his knuckles turned white. He stared straight ahead and didn't move a muscle. Jim leaned in, his chin brushing Spock's shoulder.

"Hear that, Spock?" he hissed, taking great delight in the goose bumps that crept over Spock's skin. "It's the sound of steel cables snapping." A muscle twitched in Spock's jaw. Jim had a rush of sympathy for the Vulcan. He knew what it was to be really afraid. "Hey…sorry," he said. "What is it that bothers you so much?"

"I cannot say," Spock admitted. "I do not know why, but I do not feel comfortable at such heights. It causes such strange sensations in my stomach and I find them… unpleasant."

Jim resisted the urge to give Spock a hug, but he was just so adorable in that oh-so-scientific explanation of his nerves. "I don't know how many times I'm going to have to say this, but don't worry about it. That's the point of roller coasters: 'To experience fear; fear in the face of certain death. To accept that fear, and maintain control of oneself…'" He laughed. "They give you the funny swoopy, falling sensation, but you're totally safe. That's what makes them fun. It's a safe kind of danger."

Spock blinked a few times, apparently surprised that Kirk had found his words worth memorizing. "I will not waste my breath commenting on how illogical that is," Spock said.

Jim chuckled. "We're humans, Spock. Illogical is our middle name. But the Ferris wheel was fun, wasn't it?"

Spock pondered that for a moment. The lift started up again before he spoke. "Yes, it was pleasant. I enjoyed seeing the view from above."

"I know, it's awesome, huh? Just you wait until you see the view upside down!" Jim said gleefully. Spock looked at him quizzically, but Jim didn't say another word until they were on the ground again. He led the way over to another ride, giving no information except for the name: The Screamer.

The Screamer turned out to be a bright blue contraption that looked like a Ferris wheel on its side. Thirty cars shaped like mini spaceship shuttles dangled from its edge. The bottoms and tops were bright blue, and the walls weren't walls so much as bars, spaced apart to allow the wind to rush through. The wheel spun in dizzying circles as the long arm that supported it lowly lifted it up until it was perpendicular to the ground. Joyous shrieks could be heard from the riders as the carts swooped close to the ground. Spock looked over at Jim.

Jim was staring up at the ride. Spock could see the large wheel reflected in his blue eyes. Jim's eyes followed the wheel, and Spock's eyes followed the wheel in Jim's eyes. After a few moments, he blinked and looked at Spock.

"What?" he asked. Spock just shook his head, his face unreadable. Jim's eyes flicked back and forth between Spock's eyes for a moment before he turned away. The wheel was on its way back to ground level now. "It's two people to a car. Is that okay?" He didn't feel the need to add that Spock could have his own car if he really wanted to.

"Of course," Spock said.

After a brief internal celebration, Jim realized he had a problem. If there was only one seat in each car, then the two-person-ness was accomplished by one sitting between the other's legs. And having Spock between his legs was… well, awesome, but would not be helpful right now. On the spot, Jim made something up.

"And since you're taller, you'll have to sit in the back. If you were in front and we stopped suddenly, your head would break my nose. But since you're taller, if you're in the back, it wouldn't matter." Or something, he thought. Spock simply raised an eyebrow as if to say, "If you say so." Kirk grinned. "Thanks."

When it was their turn to board, Kirk dashed all the way around the ride before settling on car number twenty-two. He climbed in and scooted to the front. Wordlessly, Spock slid in behind him, stretching out one long leg on either side of his body. Kirk felt a delightful squirming in his stomach and tried not to giggle. He reached out and pulled the sliding door shut. It slid closed with a bang, and Kirk slowly inched backwards, closer to Spock. He could feel the Vulcan's higher body temperature warming the air around them.

"Hey, Spock, see that little latch?" He twisted around to point out the latch in the top corner. Oh. Spock was a lot closer than he'd thought. Spock reached up and latched the door, his eyes never leaving Kirk's face. The attendant operating the ride mumbled some rules and regulations into his microphone and the ride lurched forward. "Here we go," Kirk whispered.

As the ride spun faster, the centrifugal forces pulled the cart sideways, until it was almost parallel to the ground. And then the wheel started rising. Kirk whooped at the familiar butterflies in his stomach. When the cart crested the wheel and came back down the other side, he braced his legs against the floor to keep from slipping forward. Spock's hands were gripping the side bars, and an idea came to Kirk as they were swept upwards again.

The next time they sped downwards, Kirk let himself slip forward. Almost instantly, Spock's arms fastened themselves around his waist, pulling him in. Kirk laughed out loud. "I'm not gonna die, Spock," he shouted over the noise of the ride, half turning towards the Vulcan.

"Correction: you are not supposed to die. Not on an amusement park ride. However, why take the chance at all?" Spock loosened his grip, but didn't remove his arms from around Kirk's waist. Kirk grinned widely.

"Look outside," he said, turning his head. The horizon spun as the ride did, looking very backwards and upside down. "Cool, huh?"

"Fascinating," Spock whispered. Jim grinned. Spock was still Spock, even at an amusement park. Of course, Jim couldn't actually say that out loud, because all he would get was a, "Of course I am still myself, Jim. Who else would I be?" but the fact that Spock's Vulcan-ness was unshakable, even on a roller coaster, was extremely amusing to him.

A few hours later, they sat at a table as the park darkened around them. Jim was heartily disappointed that Spock didn't seem to be enjoying himself as much as he should, but tried to hide it as he tucked in to some fried chicken. Well, Spock had started touching him more than usual, especially on rides where no one was looking, but he only did it in cases where he thought Jim was in danger. Jim was extremely annoyed that the Vulcan was trying (albeit in vain) to make excuses for physical contact. You know you want to, Spock, he thought. Come on already! And there had been that one spinny ride the squished them together in the corner. Jim would be lying if he said that wasn't the best thing that had happened to him all day. But surely Spock understood that he was going to die from all this unresolved sexual tension. I mean, come on, he's Spock! He's supposed to be smart. He looked over at the Vulcan. Spock sat quietly, delicately eating his salad, with a side of Vulcan Plomeek soup.

"Oh my God! Jim!" a voice squealed. "Look, it's Jim!" Two blonde girls hurried up to their table. Jim cringed inwardly. The Harleen twins were…not his favorite people in the world. But they had provided solace in his troubled teenage years, and he grinned broadly as an idea came to him.

"Hello, ladies," he said, turning around. The girls giggled in unison. "You haven't changed a bit!" he lied. As teenagers they had attracted him with their revealing clothes. Now he saw them for what they were: vulgar, ill-bred sluts. They would be perfect for his plot.

"Oh, haven't we, Jim?" The way they squeaked his name was literally painful. He much preferred his name to be caressed by a low baritone voice (no, not Spock's, whatever gave you that idea?), not screeched by a soprano.

"Of course not," he said. "You don't look a day over eighteen." The girls shrieked with laughter. Jim stood, putting an arm around each of their waists. He kissed them each on the cheek. "Girls," he said, "This is Spock. Spock, this is Candi and Mandi." Spock nodded politely. Candi (or was it Mandi?) leaned behind Jim and whispered to her sister.

"I think we've got some competition!" she said. "Look how he's looking at our Jim!" The other twin giggled her agreement. Jim could feel himself blushing. He hoped that the noise of the croud around them had drowned out Candi's voice. The last thing he needed right now was for Spock to guess. He tightened his arm around Candi's waist. Burying his face in her hair, he whispered into her ear.

"You really think he likes me?" He pulled back and gave her a wink. She grinned, nodding. Jim swooped in and kissed her on the neck. She shrieked with laughter. Oh, shut it, Jim thought. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Spock's face, and a delightful shiver rippled through him. There was that look again. Turning to Mandi, he asked quietly, "Can you help me make him jealous?" An evil grin spread across Mandi's face.

"Yes," she said, leaning in. She pressed her lips to his. Jim risked a glance at Spock before closing his eyes. He tried to recall how much he had loved these girls once, and not focus on the revulsion that filled him now. Her hands were tight in his hair, pulling him away from her sister. She wrapped herself around him.

Jim felt a tug on his hand and turned around to face the other twin (by now he'd forgotten which was which). She was glaring at her sister over his shoulder. He latched both hands onto her waist and pulled her sharply against him. She gave a low giggle as he kissed her neck, tossing back her mane of blonde hair. Jim was just wondering how long he would have to keep this up when Spock cleared his throat and stood up.

"Jim," he said simply. Kirk looked around. Oh. Whatever look had delighted Jim in the past was nothing, nothing compared to this. Spock's face was frighteningly open, his eyes narrowed and burning. Jim bit back a nervous giggle. "Come with me," Spock said, turning around and striding off. Jim pushed Candi off of him.

"Wish me luck!" he said as he dashed off after Spock. The twins' giggles followed him through the crowd. Spock was striding along at an incredible pace. In just a few minutes, they had reached a deserted corner of the park that housed an out of order restroom. He disappeared around the far corner. Jim hurried after him.

Spock was standing perfectly still, his hands behind his back. Jim stopped short at the sight of him standing there, breathing heavily through his nose. To an outsider, Spock probably looked extremely relaxed, but Jim could tell that the Vulcan was furious. ….and probably several other things as well, Jim thought wickedly. But he decided to play along.

"Hey, Spock," he said slowly. "What's up?"

"I am usually content," Spock began, weighing each word carefully, "to let you run amok and do whatever you want."

Jim smirked ever so slightly. Spock's eyes flickered down to watch his tongue as he ran it over his bottom lip. After a moment of silence, he said, "Go on."

"However," Spock growled. Jim shivered. "In a case such as this in which you insist on creating such a disgusting display, I must put my foot down." His eyes slowly traveled down Jim's body and then back up again. Jim's smirk grew.

"Oh really?" he said apathetically. "And here you had me thinking you were jealous."

With a growl, Spock closed in, pressing Jim into the wall of the building they were sequestered behind. Jim felt the Vulcan's fingers digging into his shoulders. "How dare you make such an assumption," Spock snarled. "I am not—" he swallowed "—jealous."

"And you're sure about that," Jim hissed. It was more a statement than a question. Spock took in an eternal breath, his eyes boring into Jim's. Jim smirked back at him. For a full minute, neither of them spoke. Then…

"No," Spock whispered, lowering his gaze and dropping his hands to his sides. Jim was almost unsure he had heard him at all. But then he spoke again. "No, I am not sure."

A true smile broke across Jim's face, dazzling the Vulcan with its beauty. "That's just fine, Spock," Jim said. Before he could talk himself out of it, he gave Spock a quick kiss on the cheek. "Of course, that is why I did it," he admitted. "I wanted to see how long it took you to snap." Spock growled again, but he was almost grinning this time. He wrapped his long hands around Jim's upper arms and pressed him into the wall. Hard.

"Vulcans do not believe in the concept of revenge, Jim," he said. "However, as you are so fond of pointing out, I am also half Human. I believe the appropriate phrase would be 'you are going to pay for this'." He crushed Jim's body into the wall, taking no mercy on the weaker Human. He closed in, his mouth hovering millimeters from Jim's. A small whimper escaped Jim's mouth. Spock chuckled, his warm breath blowing over Jim's face. Jim's eyes fluttered closed.

Spock's lips ghosted across Jim's face, never stopping. Slowly, he slid his hands down Jim's sides, and then dragged them back up, stretching Jim's arms up above their heads. Jim arched his back. A low purr echoed up from Spock's chest, and he leaned in. Apparently the whole non-contact thing wasn't working out so well for him either.

He tried to be gentle as he pressed his lips to Jim's. He tried to go slow. He tried not to overwhelm the Human with his superior strength. He failed. The wood against Jim's back caved slightly, soft with age. Jim gasped into his mouth, and a flash burn flickered through their joined hands.

"Oh, God, Spock!" Jim hissed as Spock slid one finger under the waistband of his shorts. "Not fair."

"Neither is watching you throw yourself at two human sluts," Spock snarled. The words sounded harsher in his velvet voice. "I am merely returning the favor. Now be quiet, Jim, or I will make it worse." Jim knew better than to doubt him, so he shut right up. He tried to plot his own revenge, but Spock had his hand down his pants, and oh God-!

Jim didn't know how he was doing it, but Spock was everywhere. Whatever contact rules – physical or mental – that he had followed before, he was not following them anymore. Jim could feel Spock's lips against his, but he could also feel his lips against Spock's. And it was so awesome! Every feeling doubled, and Jim thought he might black out from the intensity.

And echoing through it all was this white-hot current of possessive anger laced with a deep and permanent fear.

Later, they found themselves back atop the Ferris wheel, staring out at the carnival lights below them.

"One of my favorite sights in the world," Jim said. "I will always love carnival lights, I don't care how campy that is."

Spock didn't reply.

"Spock?" Jim said quietly.

"Yes, Jim?"

"Are you okay?"

"I am okay," was the reply.

"No you're not. Okay, look... listen… When we were…y'know… Well, I felt something."

Spock, if possible, became even more still. Not a muscle moved, and Jim knew that he was feeling ashamed of what he'd done. Jim scooted closer to him.

"You were afraid. You were angry, and very sexy I might add, but you were afraid. It must have been you, because it wasn't me and, well, there's really no other option." Jim groaned inwardly. This was not coming out right at all. "Why?" he asked simply.

Spock was silent for a moment. Jim held his breath. "I am not like you, Jim," he said finally. "I cannot have a 'fling' and move on. I was … afraid that you would simply cast me aside once you had taken your fill."

Jim sighed and slipped his hand into Spock's, twining their fingers together. "I'm not going anywhere, Spock," he promised. "I don't want to know what that would do to me. This is different. You are different, and I'm different when I'm with you." He squeezed the Vulcan's hand lightly, trying to convey what he could not say with words. Trust me.

Slowly, he felt the cold hardness of a shield melt away. Spock did not say a word, but Jim felt him through the connection they shared. I do trust you. I always have.

Jim felt something rising, trying to come out, pleading to be heard. But how could he manage it? Of course, he had said the words before, but he had never meant them. He could not make his mouth say those words. Not now, when it mattered most. But then Spock's mind nudged his again.

"I love you too, Jim," it said.