Okay, here it is, the final installment. It got a little graphic, sexually speaking. If anyone wants an edited version of this chapter with the sex scene cut, let me know and I'll put one up. Thank you to everyone who's added this to their favorites and alert list. Thank you for sticking it out and letting me know what you thought. I hope the ending lives up to the build up.

He never thought he'd see the day when the sight of his girl would make him want to be sick. But here he was, clinging to Bones' arm as they approached the transporter pad aboard the USS Farraday, trying valiantly to hold onto his lunch as they prepared to beam over to the Enterprise. It couldn't have been five days already. The time had flown by, filled with paperwork, meetings, painting his house, dismantling the nursery and painting it the deep red that Spock preferred, and purchasing a desk and chair that he thought would be deemed efficient by Vulcan standards. It was a bold move, he knows this, as there was a very high possibility that Spock would never be speaking to him again outside of a professional capacity. Five days. God! He was an asshole.

"Jim. Breathe."

"Easy for you to say. You're not the one about to be eviscerated by an eyebrow. Or worse."

"Such a drama queen. I told you to call him, but do you ever listen to me? No. Now you're worrying yourself sick over shit that could have been resolved days ago. Man up! You're a fucking Starship Captain, for crying out loud."

"He hates me. I know it. I can feel it. Oh God! Why didn't I just call? I should have called. I just didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say. Oh my God, Bones! What am I going to say?"

"That's simple," Bones said, disentangling Jim's death grip on his arm. " You tell him that you're an emotionally stunted boy with commitment phobias and that you're sorry for ignoring him. Then you give that patented pout and all will be back to normal."

"I hate you."

"Yes, yes. You good now or do you need a moment to write in your diary?"

Jim crossed his arms and glared at the young ensign manning the control console. Yeah, that's just great. In all of five minutes the entire crew of the Farraday were going to hear about Captain Kirk's near breakdown over his boyfriend. Life couldn't get any worse.

Or, well, it obviously could.

They materialized onto the Enterprise to find an exuberant Scotty welcoming them back with barely contained glee.

"Oh Captain, it's good to have you back. Things have been right quiet without your presence."

Jim tuned him out while Bones, thankfully, jabbered on about Johanna and offered up the bottles of whiskey that he'd procured for the man. The distraction allowed him to absorb the fact that Spock wasn't there. Fuck.

"I'm going to go up to the bridge to catch up and…" Jim trailed off as Scotty shooed him away, not even looking away from the bottles of liquor lined up on the console before him. Jim handed off his bag to his yeoman who, unlike Spock, was waiting for him outside the transporter room, but clung to the steel cylinder in his hand. It didn't seem right to pass off Winona's remains as though she were baggage. It took less time than he needed to arrive on the bridge, but it turned out fine since Spock wasn't there either. Jim accepted condolences from his crew before quickly making his exit. He wasn't on duty, technically wouldn't be until he discharged his mother's ashes, but he found himself making the rounds on his girl anyway.

It had been too long to be away and he felt the need to reconnect with her moves and sounds. If he kept an eye out for a certain Vulcan while he traversed the ship, well, it was only natural to want to hear an updated report from the Acting Captain.

But he didn't see Spock, and it was with a painful constriction in his chest that he returned to his quarters in defeat. He was being avoided and it hurt like fuck. He knew he deserved it though. After all, turnabout was fair play and all that bullshit. Jim set Winona on his desk, paused to shiver at that thought, then turned on his terminal to access the thousand or so reports that had accumulated in his absence. He made quick work of sorting through the reports that he'd already completed while on Earth and during transport, and deleting duplicated files that Spock had dealt with in his absence. In little over an hour he was finally able to begin sifting through the ship's internal memos and reports that required his signature. He lost himself in the details and paused only to remove his shoes and toss his leather jacket into a heap on his floor. It went on for another hour before his door chime sounded and he called out an automatic 'enter'. He wasn't prepared to see Spock standing there, cool and polished in his Science Blue's, not after searching high and low for the man to no avail.



Oh. Okay.

"I presume you're here to give your report." If Spock wanted to keep this professional then that's what Jim would do, even if it killed him.

"I…am not. Jim."

Oh. Fuck.

"Oh." Jim wanted to smack himself because he's a fucking genius. He knows words. Why couldn't he find them? Where did all the fucking words go?

The room felt small and suffocating, what with all the awkward tension filling it. Jim wanted to break through it, claw his way out of the silence and reach out to Spock. He wanted so many things but he was paralyzed with fear. Seconds ticked away and with each one the tension seemed to grow. It would soon be impossible to breach. He watched Spock shift his footing and the sight nearly broke Jim's heart. His Vulcan never fidgeted, not ever. The words finally came to him but they seemed to rise to his mouth at such a rate as to jam at the bottleneck of his throat. Pressure built inside his head until all he could hear was the frantic beating of his heart. Then Spock stiffened, nodded tightly and turned to leave. It was too much and the damn broke with the weight of all that lay between them.

"Spock, wait!" Jim was frozen in his position of half-leaping over the desk, hand stretched out to the man standing too far away to touch. But his words had halted Spock, had him turning around, if not moving closer. Jim sighed and fully stood from his chair only to find the grain of the faux wood suddenly fascinating. "I don't know what to say."

"I would not force you to share with me that which you find too personal. I only thought to assure you that should you desire a conversation I will be available." Spock's words were clipped and almost spat at Jim. It was a loss of control and Jim felt guilty as hell for being responsible for causing it. Silence fell again as Jim castigated himself for being inadequate, for dragging Spock into a relationship Jim was too damaged to maintain. Spock, again shifted toward the door and the move brought forth a sudden fury, directed at himself, yet unleashed on the innocent Vulcan.

"What the hell do you want from me? Am I supposed to cry on your shoulder while you quietly freak out about having to deal with my human emotions or should I snap and try to choke you in my grief?"

Spock snapped straight, more ridged than seemed possible. Green stole across Spock's cheekbones as anger and hurt flooded his oh-so-expressive eyes.

"I would like you to inform me directly of the termination of our relationship. If you find me so inad-adequate as a partner you need only tell me instead of ignoring my deficient offers of consolation." Spock's voice hitched at the word 'inadequate' and he averted his eyes, but not before Jim saw the sheen that covered them. Jim deflated and sunk heavily back into his chair. He couldn't look at Spock. He was ashamed at what he had said, ashamed of being so broken that he was hurting the one person he cherished above all others.

"I don't-" Jim sucked in a ragged breath and kept his eyes trained on his clasped hands. "I don't find you inadequate."

"It is the logical conclusion."

"Fuck. I'm sorry. I can't-" Jim shook his head, trying to clear the fog that had settled over him. He felt numb, like he was in a waking dream and if he could force himself to concentrate he'd wake up, and none of this would be happening.

"You need not explain. I understand, Jim. It was expected." That brought Jim's head up quick, quick enough to catch the tremble in Spock's lips before they were pressed into a thin, hard line.

"You don't understand! You can't understand and that's the problem." Jim lowered his voice and kept his eyes on Spock when he finally had his attention. "How could you understand that I'm not sad that she died? That I don't grieve for her as she was but for what could have been. I'm fucked up, Spock. I can't talk to you about my past because you can't understand what it's like to be a burden, a reminder of what was lost. You can't understand what's it's like to be shipped away because you were just too much to handle. And if you knew, really knew what I- You'd leave me. If you knew me and all I've done, you'd leave me and you'd be right to."

Jim couldn't hold Spock's confused gaze any longer and pushed himself up only to collapse on his bed a few feet away. He felt drained, like he hadn't slept for days, weeks. He curled over his legs and rested his head on his arms, trying to keep it together until Spock left and he could break down completely. He felt the bed dip next to him and froze in shock at Spock's unanticipated move and quietly spoken words.

"I had a half-brother, Sybok. He is of my father's blood and ten years my senior. His mother died at his birth and my father, at that time, spent much of his working hours on Earth in his role as Ambassador. Sybok spent his formative years among humans and various other aliens. As a result, he never adhered to the teachings of Surak and was openly expressive. My mother loved him instantly and he her. She used to say that they took to each other like ducks to water. It was an illogical phrase but it suited them. When I approached my seventh year, the year of bonding, Sybok breached Vulcan law with a transgression so sever that he was banished and disclaimed."

Jim turned his head to stare at Spock as the man spoke, but he couldn't equate the pained expression he saw with the stoic façade he was so familiar with. Spock sat, slightly hunched, hands loose between his knees, eyes focused on memories from his own troubled past.

"Sybok has a gift. He is able to take onto himself the pain of others, releasing them from that which cages their minds. He was approached several times by the High Council to study with the Adepts of Kolinahr to become a healer. He was uniquely skilled at the easing of disorientation that came from severed bonds and even the madness of-" Spock swallowed heavily. "He was very skilled."

"What happened?" Jim cursed himself and mentally withdrew the question. He had no right to ask when he, himself, offered nothing of his own past. But Spock seemed determined to finish his tale, but for what purpose Jim did not know.

"He entered the mind of his betrothed and severed their link without permission and without forewarning. He was not properly trained in the art and there were complications." Spock drew himself up and crossed his arms over his chest and stared hard at the deck. "He damaged T'Serr's mind beyond repair. She succumbed to her injuries within two standard days of the incident. The sentence for such a crime is death, however, my father argued Sybok's case and, as Sybok was not yet of age, his sentence was reduced. My mother disagreed vehemently with the decision and stood firmly at Sybok's side. At seventeen, Sybok was without clan, without a homeland, and stripped of his name. We were not to speak to him or of him. It was as if he had never existed."

"As a result, tension arose between my parents. Ten months after Sybok left Vulcan, my mother took me to Earth and filed for legal termination of her bond with my father."

Jim sucked in a sharp breath at that revelation. He would never have believed that such an experience marred Spock's childhood.


At the shake of Spock's head, Jim bit off his words. There was more and he would listen.

"We were on Earth for five standard months before my father followed. There were discussions. No. They argued, loudly and with anger. I had never heard my father speak in such a manner. It took him three weeks to convince her to return with him. When we did return to Vulcan, she was considered outcast and open to ridicule for her emotional actions, and I was taunted for my lineage for the first of what would become many times. It was a less than pleasant existence after that. We never heard from Sybok again, other than his query as to our survival of Vulcan. That query came through Starfleet indirectly and we were not provided a means to contact him in return."

"Couldn't he sense you through your familial bonds?"

"No. As part of his sentence, an Adept severed all existing links Sybok housed. He left Vulcan utterly alone."

"Jesus." Jim had no idea what to say to that.

"Jim." He startled at being addressed directly for the first time and looked up into Spock's soft-brown eyes. "After Sybok left, I faced much derision from my peers and the elders I interacted with. I was often required to defend my mother's name and even that of my father. It was discomforting and brought my emotions readily to the surface. I was unstable for much of my youth. The only way I could counteract the emotions forced from me was to suppress them. I immersed myself in the teachings of Surak and became, to the best of my ability, as fully Vulcan as possible. I hurt my mother with my efforts, but I believe she understood my reasons. I apologize for hurting you. I did not wish to appear lacking in your eyes but I fear that I have failed in my efforts regardless. I can not be Vulcan enough to please my race nor human enough to satisfy you."

"Spock, no. Just, God. No." Jim pulled Spock to him and embraced the shuddering Vulcan. "You don't have to be anything other than yourself. You please me greatly. Spock, I love you."

Shaking arms wrapped around Jim and pulled him onto Spock's lap. Jim accommodated the move by swinging a leg over Spock's and cradling his dark head to his chest. He pressed kisses to Spock's crown and caressingly stroked Spock's back in an attempt to sooth him.

"It's okay. Spock, it's okay."

"Do not leave me, Jim. Please. I will try harder."

Jim pulled back and pressed his forehead to Spock's.

"Listen to me, Spock. Listen. You don't have to change. You don't. I love you as you. Not Vulcan. Not Human. Just Spock. Just as you are. I love you so fucking much I can't breathe sometimes and I say stupid shit and run away with Bones because I don't know how to do this. But I'm gonna learn, I promise. I'm going to be the best fucking boyfriend ever because that's what you deserve. I swear it. Please, believe me. I'm sorry I hurt you, that you're hurting still. Fuck. You should totally choke me again because I'm a fuck up and I need to fucking learn to deal with shit instead of running scared all the damn time."


"She left me, Spock. She left us both, Sam and me, because she couldn't deal with life anymore. She ran away and we paid for her weakness. She didn't care what happened or, maybe she just didn't care enough. She was gone and her brother liked to drink and kick us and lock us in fucking closets for days. Sam took it all onto himself for as long as he could before he left me, too. Then it was just me and I asked for it. I begged for every fist and boot because at least when he was wailing on me I was seen. I was invisible for so long. But I pushed too fucking hard and instead of leaving, Frank sent me away. Shipped my ass to Tarsus, right into the middle of a fucking famine."

The words tumbled forth on a frantic wave. He couldn't hold them in now that he had finally started talking. He just burrowed his face into Spock's shoulder while strong Vulcan hands soothed him in long, gentle strokes. Their roles reversed, Jim purged his soul while Spock listened and offered comfort.

"I did things there that I may never be able to tell you. I'm sorry, but it's too dark and it pulls at me and I feel like I'm drowning with it. I killed, Spock. Not in defense, not always. I was hurt in so many ways, so many things happened that I-" Jim didn't realize he had started crying until he felt snot start to run from his nose. Snuffling and thinking that if his past didn't scare Spock off, the mucus staining his uniform might do the trick, and Jim burrowed deeper against Spock.

"I went hard. I cut myself off and didn't think. I just went into survival mode and did so many horrible things. I never thought I'd get out alive, but I did. I survived and was sent back to Frank to get kicked around some more. I was so disconnected from everything normal that I just reacted. I started fights, fucked around, drank and snorted my way through the aftermath until I woke up one day and realized I'd pissed the better part of ten years away. That's when Pike found me. I should have told you. I'm sorry. Before we started anything I should have warned you, but I just wanted you so badly. And when you wanted me too I thought I'd won the fucking lottery because you're so good and kind and fucking brilliant. Then it was too late to tell you because if I lost you after having you I wouldn't survive. I can survive just about anything but not that."

"Jim. Ashayam. You are more than I thought I would ever have in my life. I- the words are not easy for me but I desire you to know that I will never leave you under my own power. I could not. You are T'hy'la. You are Jim. You are mine."

Spock pushed Jim back just far enough to reach up and run his hand under Jim's nose and over his lip, removing the worst of the wet and wiping it on his own pants.

"Jesus, if that's not a declaration of love I don't know what is." At the questioning eyebrow from Spock, Jim just leaned in and kissed him. It was mechanical and precise. One hand moved against the back of Jim's head and the other to his waist while Spock tilted his head to the exact angle necessary for full contact. It lasted all of seven seconds before Spock hummed and sunk into the kiss, fisting Jim's hair and pulling him fully against his body. It was like magic. Jim pushed with his knees and levered his weight against Spock until they both tipped back against the bed and then they were off.

With little effort, Spock had Jim on his back, Jim's shirt sailing through the air and his own half off before Jim registered the move. When he did, his hands went to Spock's pants and began pushing them off the narrow hips holding them in place.

"Missed you. God, want your hands. Need you."

A hot mouth descended to Jim's chest, nipping and licking at his already hardened nipples. Jim arched off the bed at the contact, clutching at Spock's hair to hold the Vulcan to him. Spock couldn't be held and continued licking and kissing and biting his way down Jim's tremulous body. His hand came up and entwined with Jim's, sending a bolt of connection through them. It had never been this strong before, not through simple touch. A door had been thrown open tonight and Jim was consumed by Spock and Spock by Jim.

"K'diwa." Vulcan words caressed Jim's suddenly exposed groin and he hardened fully at the rush of hot air over his cock. Without warning, Spock stood from the bed and pulled Jim's pants down and off in one quick tug before shoving his own down to pool at his feet. Jim couldn't wait for his Vulcan to return to him and rose to his knees to meet Spock in the middle of the bed, mouths colliding as bodies pressed and hands touched everywhere. Their bare cocks slid against the other between them and with a hissed breath Spock fisted both hands through Jim's hair and claimed his mouth with startling possession.

His tongue filled Jim's mouth, skimming his teeth, lapping at the sensitive roof causing a shudder to flow through Jim's body. Jim's own hands slid around Spock to dip into the crack of his ass and fondled the opening there. Need flared through him and Jim pushed Spock back until his legs were over Jim's shoulders and that hidden haven was in front of him. Fuck, Jim wanted that and wasted no time in teasing. Leaning forward, Jim covered Spock with his mouth and sucked and swiped with his tongue until his jaw ached and Spock was mewling from the sensation. The skinny legs draped over him jerked with each thrust and twist of Jim's tongue until Spock cried out and dropped his legs to the mattress.

Grabby hands pulled at Jim until he was over Spock, then under him and a hot mouth engulfed Jim's cock while a slicked finger entered Jim's ass. Jim moaned at the dual sensations and was torn between pushing down on Spock's finger and thrusting into his mouth. Instead he writhed with indecision and moaned a wordless plea. He was rewarded with another finger and a subtle scrape of teeth that nearly finished him off.

"Fuck, Spock! So good. Not gonna last. Want you in me." That earned Jim another finger, a slight burning stretch and a wicked scrape of fingernail across his prostrate that shot his come hard down Spock's swallowing throat before Jim could cry out. Jim could only pant as his spent cock was released from Spock's mouth and Spock moved over him into position.

"I wanted to come with you in me." It wasn't a whine, really. He was gasping too hard for air to actually whine. It was more of a plaintive comment. Spock didn't seem at all concerned and licked over Jim's ear and whispered 'you will' before thrusting forward as his fingers connected with Jim's psi points.

Lustdesirelove swirled into Jim and awoke his cock anew. It was instantaneous and fucking brilliant. Jim hitched his legs up higher over Spock's hips and clung to his shoulders as the thrusting increased in speed and force. His breath was hitching out of him on every forward plunge, perfectly in sync with the grunts Spock was releasing. A kaleidoscope of color exploded through his mind as Spock stilled above him, his hips jerking spasmodically, setting off Jim's own orgasm. Spock extracted himself from within Jim's mind and body and curled around him until they were a tangle of limbs. It filled Jim with such a strong sense of belonging that he felt tears prick behind his eyes.

"I love you." Spock's shuddered words brought them forth and all Jim could do was clutch Spock tighter as the euphoria faded into the blackness of sleep.

Jim awoke to a cold and empty bed, panic racing through him as he sat up, blinking into the dimly lit room. A creak of metal caught his attention and he turned to see Spock, wearing a pair of Jim's pajama bottoms, sitting at his desk with the cylinder in his hands.


"I wish to know you, Jim. I desire your thoughts and memories. I want to bond you to me and feel you in my mind and seek solace within your own. I do not know what you desire from our relationship, but I do know that I ask too much. We cannot join in the manner I need and still allow for the privacy you crave." Spock set the cylinder gently atop the desk and turned the chair to face Jim. "I do not know where to go from here. The urge to link our minds together nearly overcame my control during intercourse. I would not force you into something you do not want, but I do not believe myself capable of resisting the lure of holding you to me permanently."

What the hell could he say to that? Jim watched his hands fiddle with the edge of the sheet draped over him and tried to think of a response. He wanted what Spock wanted, what was being offered, but the fear of having Spock see into him, exposing his dark secrets was still overpowering. Doubt and childhood insecurities flooded him and he cringed at the thought of Spock being tied to him and despising him for what he truly was.

His breathing was becoming ragged and his control was slipping. He wanted Spock in every way imaginable. He wanted a future with him and knew that couldn't happen without a bond. But bonding would open him up and make him vulnerable to Spock's rejection even more than he already was. His thoughts circled back to Sam and what his brother had asked of him. It was, in the end, all Jim could honestly do.

"I told Bones."


"I told Bones about us. I didn't realize that I was in love with you until he pointed it out to me. I, uh, didn't take the news well, at first. Then I told Sam and he figured out that I was in love with you even faster than Bones. Loving you, it's easier than breathing. I want to try. I want you to know me, Spock. I want to know you, all of you." Jim drew in a deep breath before meeting Spock's wide eyes. "How do we do this?"

Spock stood slowly, his eyes never leaving Jim's as he crossed to him and settled across his lap. His hands carded through Jim's sleep tousled hair and he kissed Jim's forehead, his chin, his mouth. They rested like that for a few moments, mouths open and sliding against each other, breathing each others air. Jim tightened his hands against Spock's hips and sighed into his mouth. Then Spock's fingers ghosted over his face and he was suddenly there, inside of Jim, filling up every corner of his mind with his intoxicating presence.

It was too much, Jim felt lost, adrift on the waves of affection coursing through him, yet it still wasn't enough. Then memories crashed through him and he felt the intense heat of Vulcan beating down on him as an older boy ran across a red desert, carrying him on his back and laughing at his own startled laughs. And a woman held him after a nightmare, easing his shame at experiencing illogical fear and poring love into him through her gentle hands. A man, Sarek, looking stern and telling him he married his mother because it was logical then retracting his statement in the aftermath of so much loss. Arguments were heard despite his parents attempts to hide them from him and he watched Sybok walk from them, head held high even as tears coursed from his eyes. And he watched himself provoke such anger and pain and felt the complete loss of control as he tightened his hands around his own throat, intent on killing him.

Then there were Uhura's smiles and Bones' biting words and Chekov's eager expression. And there were his hands on 'his' shoulder, 'his' back. His smile igniting a spark within that was unprecedented and craved. The touch of lips and fingers and that first incredible joining of bodies.

And then Jim's own memories tumbled forth and he could feel Spock absorbing them greedily. He lay on the couch, curled next to his mother as she read to him from Peter Pan. He and Sam laying in the field watching a meteor shower in quiet fascination. The first sign of what was to come as Frank laid into Sam in the living room and Sam leaving and the car and the impact of a fist to his sternum.

Tarsus swam up into his mind and painfearhorror filled him as starved bodies cried out to him for help. The exhaustion of keeping guard over the younger children, the burning, tearing pain of being entered unprepared in exchange for moldy bread. Blood, warm and sticky, spurting up at him from the body beneath him. Then years of emptiness momentarily filled with a stranger's body and booze and bloody fists. Pike, Bones, Starfleet. Belonging. Spock. Spock. Spock.

Jim came out of the meld gasping. Spock was wrapped tightly around him, his body shaking, dampness against his shoulder where Spock pressed his face. Sorrow tickled through him, rage at what he had suffered and a possessive need to tear those who had hurt him asunder. And it clicked. Spock was still there, in the back of his mind, stroking him from within, loving him still.

For the first time, Jim felt a swell of happiness fill him and allowed himself to revel in it without fear.

Jim fidgeted with his tie and felt absurdly awkward as he headed toward C-deck's airlock. It had taken six days to reach the site of the Kelvin's destruction and now that they were here, that the time for his final goodbye had come, he felt unaccountably small and fragile. Spock was finishing up in the lab and would meet him in a few moments time, but the steady trickle of love and assurance streaming through their link was comforting as Jim entered the turbo lift to find Bones, in his fiercely hated dress uniform, waiting for him.

It took him aback and brought a rush of affection and gratitude. He blinked rapidly to stem the emotion welling in his eyes and stepped next to his friend and offered a shoulder bump in appreciation. A dry, calloused hand captured his and squeezed before sliding away. The short ride was silent, the cool steel of the cylinder a heavy weight in his hand. They exited the lift in sync and made their way through the winding corridor until reaching the tiny airlock that sat next to an observation window. Jim just stood, absorbing the pattern of stars and waiting.

The sound of someone approaching had him turning and biting back a startled sob. His crew, his friends approached him, with solemn looks and formal attire, settling behind him in a protective circle. His eyes burned and he quickly nodded before turning to face the view port in an attempt to rein in his emotions. Then warmth settled along his left side and he felt Spock before the man stepped up into his line of vision. Well, it was time then.

Jim opened the airlock and carefully poured the ashes onto the smooth surface before resealing the compartment. He thought he should say something about service and duty or maybe share something pleasant that he remembered. But in the end all he could say was a whispered 'goodbye' as he released the ashes into the vacuum of space.

He didn't know what he'd expected, but the act was very anticlimactic now that it was done. There was no sign of two souls reconnecting, no bursting star to signify the importance of a life finalized. Well, this wasn't a fairytale and Winona was no princess. There, of course, would be no fairy dust or magic. There was a hug from Bones and quiet sniffling from his friends behind him. And there was Spock beside him, and a warm hand slipping into his, holding him for all the world to see. His world, Jim's world. Spock was making a declaration and Jim accepted it with all that he was.

A wake had been set up by his crew, a private affair in the officers rec room, with sandwiches and Scotty's whiskey offered up. Jim nodded to his friends as they drifted away, promising them to be there soon. Bones lingered behind the group and sized up Jim and Spock and their clasped hands.

"It's about damn time." With a forceful clap to Spock's shoulder, he grinned and strolled away, hands in his pockets and whistling a low tune.

"Jesus. You know, by time we get to the rec room everyone will have had time to absorb the significance of this," Jim raised their joined hands in explanation. "And we'll be inundated with questions and comments."

"It is of no concern. I see no reason to hide a facet of my life that is of such importance. Unless…"

"No. I don't care what they say or think. I'm happy, Spock. You make me happy and that's all I really care about."

"That is most pleasing to hear, Jim. Especially, in light of our next assignment."

"Orders came in?"

"Yes. As you will be returning to command tomorrow, I thought I would take this moment to inform you that we will be traveling to New Vulcan to assist with delegations bidding for exclusive trading rights with the colony. The High Council has requested our presence during negotiations as we have personally dealt with many of the Ambassadors that will be present and will be able to provide valuable insight to assist them with their decision. Also, I have concluded that this is an acceptable time to inform my father and the council of our intent to bond."

Jim had been nodding along as Spock spoke but that last line had Jim starring at the composed Vulcan beside him with barely controlled panic.

"What? You want to what?" Jim saw the twitch at the corner of Spock's mouth, more importantly, he felt Spock's amusement through their link.

"Have no fear, Jim. I will protect you from my father." Spock opened his hand and adjusted his hold on Jim until their fingers were entwined. Jim could only gape as Spock tugged him along toward the rec room where their friends awaited them and into a suddenly frightening future that included a terrifying father-in-law.

"You're lucky that I love you. I wouldn't put up with a scary Vulcan in-law for anyone else."

"I am incredibly lucky indeed, Jim." An extraordinary surge of love filled Jim's mind and warmed him with a blinding light. He felt, at that moment, as if the shadows of his past ceased existing and returned the feeling as best he could. Bring it on, he thought, and crossed the threshold into the rec room and laughed as the interrogations began.

Happiness, he thought, was a very strange and wonderful thing.

The End.